What is HAM Radio and why is it important? I hear this question from time to time. HAM radio is just another word for Amateur Radio. It has frequency bands available to it that range from Kilohertz to Gigahertz and many are used to transmit around the world with relatively low power. These frequency’s are divided in to “Bands” based on their wave length. For example, I have a 100 watt HF (High Frequency) radio and it covers the 10 Meter band through the 160 meter band and allows me to talk around the world using just a length of wire that can be rolled up and put in my go bag in a moments notice and deployed using any tree (or two) to hang it in. Most of the radios operate of 12 volts so they are completely portable. All you need is a radio, a piece of wire, a tree, an old car battery and you are good to go. I mean, if you trust the media ( and I do not) then you will only need local communications. However, if like me you believe that the Media is completely controlled by the Government, then you will want the ability to receive unbiased information about what is actually going on in any crisis. I mean news that has not been altered to make you believe what the Government wants you to believe. I believe both local and world news will make the difference between life and death when SHTF hits. My HAM radio is an indispensable part of my preps. and I couldn’t imagine going with out them.
Yes, you will need a license to use a ham radio for now. Some people say that when SHTF hits no one will need a license, so why bother? There is a critical flaw in that thinking. Like so many of the things we Preppers store up, if you don’t practice with them now you will find that you may not know as much as you need to when the time comes. When it comes to Radios, this especially true. There are literally thousands of frequencies to choose from. Which one should you use? What type of antenna works best in your area? How do you call someone in a different country? How do you know if they are a reliable source of data? What time of day or night should you be on the radio to make contact with someone in Europe? As you can see, there are a lot of variables that one needs to learn before SHTF hits and you can’t do that without a license. Believe me when I say that the test you take to get your license is easy and inexpensive as are many HAM radios. We have a young boy in our club that received his Technicians class license when he was just 5 years old and now at 8, he has his General class license as well.
There are three levels of HAM radio license (Technician, General, and Extra class). all you need to get on the air and start learning is the “Technician” class which is the easiest to get from the FCC. Test are usually give in your local area by local HAM radio clubs and usually cost about $15 to take the test get your license. It is then good for 10 years. In case you are wondering, “NO”, you do not need to know Morse Code to get your license. That requirement was dropped from the test several years ago and is no longer required. The Technician class test is basically about rules and regulations and a little radio theory. HERE is a link to a site that just about anyone can use to get there license. It helps you study to understand the questions that will be on the test, as well as letting you do Practice exams using the exact questions and answers that are on the test. The test is only 35 multiple choice questions. It can’t get any easier than that! It’s a great way to get your license in a short time and get on the air as quickly as possible.
You can get a hand held portable radio on Amazon for about $26 at the time of this writing. There are radios to fit anyone’s budget and needs. You can also purchase used equipment from other HAM radio operators in your area once you get to know a few of them. There are also what’s called Hamfest where you can buy lot’s of new and used equipment from both vendors and other operators. Don’t let the price of equipment hold you back from getting your license because there is always someone willing to help out a new ham by letting him borrow an old radio that they have lying around to get them started. You have to get out there and make some contacts before you will know who you can trust. There are also sites like AMRRON that are setup just for helping people communicate when SHTF happens. They even practice regularly just to be sure that when the time comes, they will be ready.
Still not sure about getting started? Here is a great way to find out more and really get a feel for what it is all about. On June 27th and 28th of 2015, is the National Field Day for HAM radio and Ham Radio Operators all over the US will setting up in public places and practicing field communications. If you look around, I am sure they will be setting up somewhere near you and you will want to check it out. If you can’t find them then check the internet for the closest one. Another great reason for the exercise is to show the public how easy it is to get involved with HAM radio and even let you talk on one. It is an exiting hobby and a must for any Prepper. In fact, many Ham radio operators are Preppers. Go out and visit them and learn more about it and you may soon be on your way to learning something that will help you get the information that you may need to survive after SHTF hits. Study, take the test and get involved. You will be glad you did. Until next time, keep on prepping and hopefully I will talk to you on the air soon!
Sgt, Cooley K5IVR