How Do I Become A Ham?
There are a number of ham radio clubs in the greater Houston area that provide classes on the material necessary to become a ham. These clubs also provide testing that is necessary to get a FCC license. Amateur radio is a very diverse hobby with just about every mode of communication available to use. You can chat with people locally, around the nation and even around the world. There are digital modes of computer to computer communications, orbiting satellites, that act like repeaters, and even Television modes.
- Brazos Valley Amateur Radio Club (SW Houston - Richmond/Rosenberg)
- Clear Lake Amateur Radio Club (SE Houston / Harris County)
- Houston ECHO Society (Central Houston)
- Katy Amateur Radio Society (West Houston / Katy)
- Northwest Amateur Radio Society (Northwest Houston / Harris County)
- Pearland Amateur Radio Club (Pearland / Brazos County / South Houston / Harris County)
- Texas Emergency Amateur Communicators (Humble / NE Houston / Harris County)
- Tidelands Amateur Radio Society (Galveston County)
So what all do I need to know? First, a little info, understand, all of us were new to the hobby at one time or another, and even once you have your license, while not hard, the learning of new things almost never stops. There are three license classes offering different privilages, one building upon the previous. The entry level "Technician" class license is very easy to achive. The next is the general and we have seen people come in to take the Tech and just for grins take the General and pass it too. The "top" license is the "Extra" class and while a little more challenging, is still easily within the grasps of most who prepare. The following links will take you to the American Radio Relay League which is an organization to provide a number of services for the ham radio community. Take the time to browse around on their site.
More information on getting your license is here
There are a couple of study books. The most common one used is the Ham Radio Licesnse Manual
So, what what do I need in the way of equipment?
To answer this is very complex.
Most experienced hams will tell newcomers who have no other prior exposure to hold off making any sizable purchases for a couple of months after getting that licenses. Go to some local club meetings, explain that you just got or are studying to get your license and you would like to look at some different radios and see what the owner likes and even dislikes about those particular radios. Do not be afraid of asking serveral different people thier opinions. Other topics with newcomers need to revolve around, just what do you intend to do with the radio and license once you get them. If an individual is just interested in having something for an emergency back up in their house then a simple inexpensive (even used) mono-band "two meter" (144-148 MHz) a power supply and a simple antenna even if just mounted in the attic. This set up alone will allow one to listen in to and even communicate with others quite well. Harris and surrounding counties are very organized and have emergency communication plans that detail the frequencies that we would be using in the event of an emergency or the aftermath from an event like another hurricane. All this information is also available in other places on this web-site.
A valuable tool for a newcomer is to join the American Radio Relay League (ARRL). Membership includes a monthly magazine, QST, with an enormous amount of information each month.
New hams who are getting the radio for such emergencies need to take advantage of opportunities to check in to their immediate weekly local nets and first become familiar with their radios and how to use them, but more importantly how we actually pass information.