[Hpr] Amateur radio round table?

Christopher M. Hobbs cmhobbs at cryptolab.net
Fri Jan 6 14:30:20 PST 2017

Hash: SHA256

On Sat, 7 Jan 2017 10:40:13 +1300
Klaatu <klaatu at member.fsf.org> wrote:

> I'd be elated if someone could at least provide a general overview.
> Abstract it as needed, to allow for localized exceptions, but the
> process, surely, must still be the same?

Not entirely because different countries specify different modes, power
levels, and bands to different classes of licenses.  Again, it all
depends on what you want to do with the hobby.

In the US, most people's entry to the process looks something like this:

0.  Acquire study materials for a Technician class license from the
ARRL, Gordon West, the Internet, or whereever.
1.  Find a local Volunteer Examiner Coordinator and get scheduled for a
2.  Memorize a question pool from the study materials.
3.  Cough up $15 to the VEC and take the test.
4.  Wait a few days for your ticket.
5.  Buy a cheap handheld radio (probably one of the Chinese units).
6.  Lament about the fact that you can only operate on VHF/UHF or use
CW on some slim parts of bands and the repeaters are dead and there's
no activity and...
7.  Leave the hobby or upgrade to General class, sink your life savings
in to high end radio gear and complain that there's nobody to talk to
because the solar cycle is low and you have gout or something.

Joking aside, usually hams in the US get their Technician class license
first and get bored with VHF/UHF (usually short range) operation and
want to work on HF so they move up to General class eventually.  A few
test for the Extra class license at some point.  Many just stop at Tech
and either get bored or get involved in public service. 

There are further complications with explaining things beyond
differences by country.  The number of modes of operation and facets of
the hobby are head spinning.  Here is just a sample of some things you
can do:

- - Emergency and public communications coordination
- - Talk on local repeaters
- - Talk on satellites
- - Bounce a signal off the moon
- - Use Morse Code
- - Send digital signals over a variety of protocols... dozens of them!
- - Talk to repeaters through the Internet
- - Play with low power (QRP) transmissions
- - DXing and contesting
- - Experiment with Extremely Low Frequency
- - Foxhunting
- - Geolocation fun with things like APRS
- - Slow scan television
- - Talk on HF nets across the country through SSB if the solar cycles

There are many other things you can do within the hobby and even just a
single slice of it can fill up all your time.  I'm just a technician
class operator and I only work satellites and QRP CW (low power morse
code) these days.  I currently have no desire to upgrade.  In the past,
I used to spend my time on terrestrial repeaters and help with storm
chasing or public events.

All of that to say you should probably know what you're interested in
with the hobby before figuring out how to get into the hobby.  You'll
be disappointed if you want to talk on SSB hundreds of miles away if
you just get the Technician class license and a Chinese HT.

Maybe it would be good to approach the round table or an intro series
to the hobby with a few basic scenarios like what each license class is
capable of working?  It could get complex quickly but, if carefully laid
out, could be informative.


- -- 
Happy Hacking!

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