New HAM Information
Here you will find help to become a Ham, and enjoyable information about the hobby.
DO YOU WANT TO BE A HAM?
Amateur (Ham) radio is a rare hobby that opens a new world of opportunities for fun, education and to be of unique value in emergencies. Great places to find an overview of Ham radio are at these links. What is Ham Radio? Ham Radio video overview.
In San Diego we are also very lucky to have a local Ham Radio Outlet (HRO) store with a wealth of radios, books, accessories and smart folks to ease your journey.
There are three simple steps to becoming a Ham; (1) Get your personal FRN number, (2) then Study, (3) then Test.
Here are some details:
FRN - An FCC Registration Number (FRN) is a 10-digit number that is assigned to a business or individual registering with the FCC. This unique FRN is used on all business transactions with the FCC. Click here and then on the Register box to start getting your own FRN.
Study - You can study by buying one of many books (see the selection at HRO) or use any of a number of online classes such as Ham Test Online. Do a web search for online Ham classes and practice tests.
Test - Locally the San Diego Amateur Radio Council (SANDARC) also conducts regular classes for new Hams on most Saturdays of the month, immediately followed by the test. If you study first, then take the class and test on the same day, you are almost certain to pass on your first try. CLICK HERE for class and testing details. (NOTE - you cannot take a test without an FRN!) You can also take a combined class and test with San Diego Ham Classes. CLICK HERE for information.
What kind of Ham experience appeals to you?
You can have a great experience and talk all around the county, or even the world, with a simple handi-talki (HT). Handi-talkies can talk directly between each other for group activities, or talk to repeaters in your area that greatly expand your coverage. Most all mountains in Southern California have repeaters on them that can cover 100's or 1,000's of square miles. Some repeaters are connected to the internet, so for example with the right codes you can talk to a repeater on Palomar Mtn, then connect by internet a repeater in Sydney Australia, London, Paris, Dallas, Orlando or most anywhere. Our local repeater system is an amazing resource better than many government systems, and you use it with a radio you can hold in your hand.
If you go beyond a Technician license to General or Extra, then many new bands are open to you for worldwide radio-to-radio communications using voice, CW or many digital modes. You can try talking via satellite, moon bounce or many others. You can run high power system and huge antennas, or go low power (QRP) with hardware you can put in a backpack and set up in minutes when in camp. And you can have mobile rigs of all types. So many choices, so little time.
You can play with any or all of the technology you have curiosity for. Click here for a video of the many things you can do as a Ham. Find what you enjoy. It's your choice. Fun folks are everywhere.
Have you ever wondered why radio amateurs are called "HAMS"?
The word "HAM" as applied to 1908 was the station CALL of the first amateur wireless station operated by some amateurs of the Harvard Radio Club. They were ALBERT S. HYMAN, BOB ALMY and POOGIE MURRAY. At first they called their station "HYMAN- ALMY-MURRAY". Tapping out such a long name in code soon became tiresome and called for a revision. They changed it to "HY-AL-MY", using the first two letters of each of their names. Early in 1901 some confusion resulted between signal from amateur wireless station "HY-ALMU" and a Mexican ship named "HYALMO". They then decided to use only the first letter of each name and the station CALL became "HAM".
In the early pioneer days of unregulated radio amateur operators picked their own frequency and call letters. Then as now, some amateurs had better signals than commercial stations. The resulting interference came to the attention of congressional committees in Washington and Congress gave much time to proposed legislation designed to critically limit amateur radio activity.In 1911, ALBERT HYMAN chose the controversial WIRELESS REGULATION BILL as the topic for the Thesis at Harvard. His instructor insisted that a copy be sent to Senator DAVID L. WALSH, a member of one of the committees hearing the Bill. The Senator was so impressed with the Thesis that he asked HYMAN to appear before the committee. ALBERT HYMAN took the stand and described how the little station was built and almost cried when he told the crowded committee room that if the BILL went through they would have to close down the station because they could not afford the license fee and all the other requirements which the BILL imposed on amateur stations.
Congressional debate began on the WIRELESS REGULATION BILL and little station "HAM" became the symbol for all the little amateur stations in the country crying to be saved from the menace and greed of the big commercial stations who didn't want them around. The BILL finally got to the floor of Congress and every speaker talked about the "....poor little station HAM." That's how it all started. You can find the whole story in the Congressional Record. Nation-wide publicity associated station "HAM" with amateur radio operators.
From that day to this, and probably until the end of time in radio; and amateur is a "HAM."
Our call signs are unique to each of us, and become part of who we are.
In Ham activities they define us more than our names do. But have you ever wondered how they came to be, and why yours is different than older call signs, or international call signs? It wasn't the simple story you may have thought. In fact it was amazingly complex. At this link is a great article that gives you all the wonderful call sign history. CLICK HERE