The Amateur Radio Service (“Ham Radio”) is a radio service licensed in the USA by the Federal Communications Commission. It’s more than just talking with friends over the radio, it’s many facets can keep you fascinated for a lifetime.
You need a license issued by the FCC to legally operate on the Ham bands. In order to get a license you need to pass exams of varying difficulty depending on the class of license you get. The beginning license, the Technician class, gets you all amateur privileges above 30 MHz and some HF band privileges. The test is mainly about the rules and regulations you will be expected to follow and some light electronics theory. You do no need to know Morse Code for any FCC license class any more.
The higher class licenses (General and Extra) get you more HF privileges and are more about radio and electronics theory. HF, of “High Frequency” are the frequencies that allow for world-wide communications day or night.
Those taking the Technician and General class tests must achieve a passing score of 74 percent or greater to receive their amateur radio licenses from the FCC. Because there are 35 questions on both exams, you must answer at least 26 questions correctly at your test session. The questions are multiple choice.
The 35 questions on the exam are selected from a pool of 412 questions published by the FCC. You may find the questions here: https://www.arrl.org/tech-question-pool There are many on-line sites that have practice tests you can try. Once you feel good enough to take a test, you need to find a test site.
Tests are administered by volunteer examiners. Locations and times for testing may be found here: https://www.arrl.org/find-an-amateur-radio-license-exam-session. Many new hams take their first tests at Milwaukee’s Ham Radio Outlet store where exams are given monthly. But there are many other locations as well. Before you can take the test you must register for an FRN number with the FCC. Instructions on how to do that may be found at the ARRL site above.
When you get your license get an inexpensive radio and join us on our KR9RK repeaters. We have a large group of Hams that meet every day at 5:00pm and it is especially welcoming to newcomers. You will immediately make new friends. One thing is important: don’t be afraid to ask questions. We were all newcomers to the hobby at one time. You will find a lot of help with that firehose of information about ham radio you will find on the Internet.