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A. What is ham radio? For those new to the hobby, a brief explanation.
B. Why use ham radio? With cell phones & Internet, is amateur radio still relevant?
C. How do I get an FCC ham license? What it takes, where to go, and how to get started with your amateur radio license.
D. Study Tips. You've decided to take an exam, so here are tips on how to prepare.
E. Classes & Online Help. Options on taking classes or proceeding with self-study.
F. In-person Help & Discussions. How to participate and learn new ways to enjoy ham radio as a hobby. How to become a member of West Seattle Amateur Radio Club.
A. What is ham radio?
Essentially, ham radio (officially called amateur radio) is the licensed use of radio equipment for private recreation, experimentation, self-training, practice, emergency communications, or any other non-commercial use. In the United States the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates the Amateur Radio Service and issues licenses to allow "hams" to work the airwaves.
The word "amateur" is defined as a person who engages in a pursuit, study, science, or sport as a pastime rather than as a profession.
Learn more at ARRL.org
B. Why use ham radio?
Ham radio is still relevant today because it is a two-way communication that can endure earthquakes, hurricanes, and most any other disaster as it is not dependent on infrastructure like cell phone towers or the electrical grid. It works in areas where cell phone coverage is not available. Besides using ham radio to keep in touch with your family and friends, you can use it to help your community. Ham radio is an essential component of emergency and disaster planning.
There are many fun aspects to Ham radio: social activities such as Field Day; contesting for making distant (DX) radio contacts; technical challenges of communicating with portable equipment (SOTA), Moonbounce and communicating with ISS; the list is long.
Learn more at ARRL.org
C. How do I get an FCC ham license?
Before you can start using ham radio, you need to be licensed. Fortunately, that isn't hard! Here are the basic requirements:
- Have a valid Taxpayer Identification Number (such as a social security number)
- Have a valid mailing address
- Pass a written exam (you'll need to have 2 government issued IDs and pay a testing fee of $15)
Amateur radio licensing is managed by the Federal Communications Commision (FCC) . Being licensed means that your name is listed in the FCC Universal Licensing System with an associated ham radio callsign. Testing is done locally by qualified volunteer examiners from the ham community called VE's.
Find "Technician" exam sessions at
Western Washington Amateur Radio Licensing Classes, Training Classes and Examination Sessions
Federal Registration Number (FRN)
If you don’t already have an FRN (Federal Registration Number), go to the FCC website using the link below and register for one. Be sure to take your FRN with you to the exam so it can be entered on your license application.
D. Study tips for taking FCC ham license exams
Passing the "Technician" license exam is easier than ever. Thanks to the removal of the Morse Code requirement, full access to the test material, study sites like HamStudy.org, and help from your local amateur club you'll be a licensed amateur operator in no time.
These study tips will help you focus and ensure success on your testing day. Use them as guidelines -- you know best how you learn, so adapt these tips to suit your learning style:
2. Use multiple modes of learning (e.g., text books, flash cards, practice exams, etc.).
3. Study the correct answers (i.e., the ARRL License manuals display a set of multiple choice answers in its Question Pool section, while HamStudy.org in its "Read the Questions" section has the question and the correct answer in dark print and the wrong answers in a very faint print). So, use HamStudy.org to study the correct answers.
4. Spend 1 hour per day for 2-3 weeks prior to the test.
5. Use HamStudy.org; a number of our members have used it and highly recommend it. HamStudy.org has the updated questions, flash cards (with explanatory information available by clicking on the upper right hand corner), practice tests, and progress tracking.
6. If you only use practice tests, you are not guaranteed to see every question, as each test is randomly generated. The HamStudy.org flash card module monitors which questions you have seen and which you’ve answered correctly and also allows you to narrow the flashcard pool to particular parts of the Technician exam that you may find problematic.
7. Although FCC exam questions are updated every four years, older study guides are still useful because most of the basic material is recycled. Be sure to use up-to-date practice tests and flash cards.
8. The Technician license exam is a 35-question test drawn from a question pool containing 423 questions. The question pool is divided into 10 sub-elements (T0–T9). Sub-elements are subdivided into question groups (topics). There are 35 topics represented in the question pool. One question will be randomly selected from each topic to make up a Technician exam. You must correctly answer a minimum of 26 questions on the exam to obtain a Technician license.
9. Take the exam after you consistently score better than the minimum passing score of 74% on practice exams.
Learn more at HamStudy.org
1. Read the questions without the distractors (a.k.a. wrong answers)
2. Use flashcards as they guarantee you will see every question.
3. Do not guess on flashcards select "I don't know". This way the algorithm will make sure this question will be repeated so that you will learn the correct answer.
4. If you don't understand the correct answer, click on the upper right hand corner to get an explanation. If you still don't understand, refer to your textbook, and if you still don't understand see your instructor.
The flashcards work on a learning algorithm that ranks questions based on these criteria:
- Whether or not you have seen the question
- Whether or not you have answered it correctly
- How many times you have seen the question
- How recently you have answered it correctly
- How you have done the last 10 times you have seen the question
- What percentage of people answered this question correctly the first time they saw it.
Can I narrow down my FlashCard studies?
You sure can! At the top of the flashcard screen you will see “Technician Flash Cards: All”. (Of course, the pool name will vary).
Pro tips (from HamStudy.org):How can I best use the resources on HamStudy.org?There are easy answers to this and hard answers to this =] The main thing is to find what works for you and do it! Here are some overall suggestions, though
- Use practice tests as a progress gauge, not as a study tool. When you finish the test you can see where you missed the most questions, so focus on that subelement for awhile. Rinse and repeat.
- Don’t underestimate how useful reading the questions can be! That’s why we have the section there, and you can click “Hide Distractors” in the top right corner to hide all but the correct answer.
- Flash cards can get tedious after awhile; break the monotony by reading questions and taking a practice exam now and again. It can also help to select a specific subelement to study.
E. WSARC Classes and Self-study
WSARC volunteers teach an amateur radio license course once a year in Seattle during late fall or winter. The amateur radio license examination, required by the FCC, is administered at the end of the course. There are three license levels: Technician, General, and Amateur Extra. The class is oriented toward the beginning Technician license.
Online video course is available at http://dcasler.com/ham-radio/training/ Dave Casler's YouTube video's are numbered the same way the sections are numbered in the ARRL Ham Radio License Manual, 4th Edition as it follows this manual. It’s in convenient chunks of short videos followed by short sections of self study. You can watch the the first video at: Chapter 1, Welcome to Amateur Radio. (Updated for Fourth Edition.)
The license syllabi found here have everything you need to study for the Technician, General, and Amateur Extra licenses. All possible questions and their answers are covered with additional explanations, if needed, to enhance your understanding. These syllabi can be used for self study or in an instructor-led class.
The No-Nonsense Technician-Class License Study Guide (for tests given between July 2018 and June 2022) FREE PDF version of commericially available book.
While studying the ARRL Ham Radio License Manual, you may find that you need a bit more background to fully understand a topic. Maybe you'll just be curious and want more detail. Either way, the Ham Radio License Manual Web site is intended to act as your "study buddy" - known as an "Elmer" in ham radio. We recommend that you "bookmark" this site in your Web browser to make it as easy as possible to find timely help or launch an interesting browsing session.
For video study with the manual, visit the guides by Dave Casler.
F. In-person Help & Discussions
As a non-member, you are invited to attend the monthly 3rd Sunday Club Breakfast to meet members and get answers to your questions. For quick responses to your questions, use WSARC's website email contact. Once you have your FCC ham license, you are encouraged to apply for full membership.
For up-to-date meeting details, visit WSARC's Upcoming Events web page.
Once you’ve passed the license exam and gotten your FCC call sign you can now submit a Full Membership Application.
As a Full Member you can vote, be eligible to hold an office in the WSARC, and take part in all WSARC sponsored activities. By submitting the application to become a member of the WSARC, you agree to and accept the WSARC Constitution and Bylaws, and the following requirements:
1. Hold a current valid FCC amateur radio license or a license issued by a foreign country of which you are citizen; and the government of said country has entered into a bilateral or multilateral reciprocal operating agreement with the US.
2. Have an interest in the WSARC and want to take part in our meetings and/or functions.
3. Agree to use good amateur practice as established by the ARRL when operating in the name of the WSARC.
4. Submit a formal application for membership to the Secretary of the WSARC, with new-member online form..
5. Pay the annual dues of $12.00 via the online Paypal form.
To join WSARC, use the new-member online form.
When you join WSARC, you will be invited to join the club's G Suite. You will be given an account with your call sign for your email. You can also request a G Suite account with the WSARC's website request form.
You will be invited to monthly meetings: 1st Saturdays for Elmers' Breakfasts and 3rd Sundays for Club Breakfasts. First Mondays 6PM have Ham Jam for new members. At Elmers' Breakfast new members will get help from more experienced hams. You will be invited to check in to the Monday nets to practice your ham skills. There will be field days, short seminars, and other opportunities to develop your ham skills, and to acquire more skills.
For up-to-date meeting details, visit WSARC's CALENDAR .