Getting Started in Amateur Radio
I'm glad that you have an interest in earning a ham radio license. Those who've successfully passed an amateur radio license in the US is now a radio operator that is licensed by the Federal Government and authorized to transmit radio signals within the limits of the license class earned. It's an opportunity that is not as easy to come by in some of the other countries.
The pages referenced below will guide you in your quest for that coveted license!
Click on this link for listings on classes, instructors and testing sessions for getting an amateur radio license.
Studying for the Technician Class license
There's a separate set of web pages with study materials and information for the Technician Class License. Click on this link to get to those web pages.
On Oahu, there are several organizations offering amateur radio license testing. Check out these links:
- Civil Defense Amateur Radio Club, Honolulu
- Emergency Amateur Radio Club, Honolulu
- Lee Wical testing team, Honolulu
- Kauai Amateur Radio Club, Lihue
- Maui Amateur Radio Club, Wailuku
For the other islands, check out the Hawaii Amateur Radio Organizations Web page for details.
You can often learn quite a bit by listening to hams on the local VHF repeaters on a police scanner or other radio monitor. The list of popular frequencies can be found here.
Setting up your first ham station
There's a number of things to think about and think through to help you identify the needs and capabilities of your first ham station. And, you don't have to get all the pieces at once -- you can grow the station as your interests and capabilites grow.
Getting on the Air
Now that you've gotten your radio license, there's no better way of learning than to get on the air.
On Oahu, in metropolitan Honolulu, perhaps the easiest repeater to access and make a contact is the 146.88 Megahertz repeater locate on the northeast side of the Diamond Head crater rim. As of this writing, there is no CTCSS / sub-audible / PL tone needed to access the repeater. You just need to program your radio for 146.88 MHz, and use a negative or minus offset (the standard transmit offset for two meters is 600 kilohertz.
To program your radio, get it to "VFO mode" (Variable Frequency Oscillator -- an old term for "tuning" the radio) and program it to 146.88 Megahertz. If it is a modern radio, it will automatically select a negative offset of 600 kHz.
After you've set up your radio, you can call out on the repeater. Assuming your callsign is WH6ZZZ, you press the PTT (press-to-talk) switch and call out "CQ from WH6ZZZ, is anyone monitoring?" Release the PTT switch to listen for a response. If someone is monitoring the repeater, they'll respond something like "WH6ZZZ, this is KH6AAA, good afternoon, name is Tom. What's your name?"
To which you reply "KH6AAA, this is WH6ZZZ, name is Joe. I'm located in Hawaii Kai. Where are you located?"
Typical comments exchanged are name, location, signal strength and reception, and radio used. You can ask a question, or say what's on your mind. In general, religion and politics are not discussed to keep the conversation from being controversial. You can state what you do for a living, or whatever else you wish to mention. If this is your first contact, you might be inclined to state that it's your first radio contact. The other station may send you a "QSL" card commemorating your first contact.
When you are done, you can close out the contact by thanking the station for your first contact, and to sign "KH6AAA, this is WH6ZZZ, clear."
There's no better way of learning amateur radio than to ask questions and let your fellow hams tell you about their experience or knowledge.
There are email reflector lists available for you to sign up and stay current on items of interest to the Hawaii amateur radio community.
HIHAM is a email reflector run by Allan Waller, K3TKJ and is moderated by Ron Hashiro, AH6RH. It is a reflector of general interest and is funded by the subscribers. There are many other topics, including other states, Icom, Yaesu and Kenwood interest groups and many more. You can sign up here.
hamradiohawaii is a email reflector run by Yahoo! and is moderated by Jim Yuen, WH6GS. It is a reflector of general interest and is funded by Yahoo. There are many other topics, including other states, Icom, Yaesu and Kenwood interest groups and many more. You can sign up here.
I subscribe to both. The content may be the same, it may differ, but at least you have two ways to stay current. Sometimes one or the other list encounters problems, and you're left out in the dark.
Amateur Radio Organizations in Hawaii
To foster your growth, join one of the amateur radio organizations in Hawaii. Click on this link to see the list.
Mantras for Amateur Radio
Here's some of my sayings that sum up key thoughts in just a few words. If you don't understand these right away, give it some time or ask around. After a while, you'll come to know the underlying truth.
- Amateur Radio: It's about MAKING CONTACTS.
- The first rule of amateur radio: If you can't hear 'em, you can't work 'em.
- The second rule of amateur radio: It's more fun to give away contacts than making them.
- The third rule of amateur radio: We're only one generation away from extinction.
- The first rule of emergency communications: Move the message forward.
- The second rule of emergency communications: Get ready today, be ready tomorrow.
- Radios: Real radios have knobs.
- Two meter SSB (Single Sideband): More fun per watt.
Books for Your Library
Now that you're newly licensed, you'll find these books useful for your library and learning.
- Your Log Book
- The ARRL Operating Manual
- The ARRL Radio Handbook
- The ARRL Antenna Handbook
- The ARRL Antenna Book
- The ARRL ARECC Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course, Level 1
Amateur Radio License Plates for Oahu
Your callsign can be placed on special vehicle license plates as a means of identifying your vehicle. For the City and County of Honolulu (Oahu), the details on how to go about getting amateur radio license plates can be found here.
Items for Your Vehicle
Now that you're newly licensed, you should keep a copy of the ordinances in your vehicle glove compartment that permit mobile amateur radio in Hawaii.
- Ordinance 09-6 for Honolulu/Oahu was effective July 1, 2009. The url for information on the City and County of Honolulu is "http://www.qsl.net/ah6rh/am-radio/cellular-phone-ordinance.html#honolulu".
- Ordinance 09-82A for the Big Island of Hawaii was effective January 1, 2010. The url for information on Hawaii County is "http://www.qsl.net/ah6rh/am-radio/cellular-phone-ordinance.html#hawaiicounty".
- Ordinance #892 for Kauai was effective May 23, 2010. The url for information on Kauai County is "http://www.qsl.net/ah6rh/am-radio/cellular-phone-ordinance.html#kauaicounty".
- Ordinance #3573 for Maui was effective July 6, 2010. The url for information on Maui County is "http://www.qsl.net/ah6rh/am-radio/cellular-phone-ordinance.html#mauicounty".
Useful Web Sites for Amateur Radio
Now that you're newly licensed, you may find these popular web sites of interest.
- ARRL - Amateur Radio Relay League
- FCC Part 97 Rules
- Ron AH6RH's Amateur Radio Web Page
- Hawaii Repeaters
- ARRL Pacific Section
eham.net Product Reviews
You may find these product reviews at eham.net to be of interest:
- Icom IC-215
- Icom IC-22U / IC-24E
- Icom IC-28A/H
- Icom IC-251A
- Icom IC-910H
- ICOM Q7A
- Icom IC-3AT
- Kenwood TM-541A
- Alpha Delta Outpost Tripod
- Directive Systems UHF/SHF Loop Yagis
- Bencher Mercury Paddle
- Logikit CMOS 4 Keyer Kit (Complete!)
- MFJ-418 Morse Code Tutor
- West Mountain Radio PWRcrimp Powerpole crimp tool
- VK3YNG VHF Foxhunt Sniffer Mk 4
- Arrow Loop Fox Hunt Antenna
- ELLI Print QSL Cards
- Afreet Software Morse Runner
- GCMWIN23 - Great Circle Map Software>
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Updated: June 22, 2012
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