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OT Any Ham radio experts here?


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I'm now AB9BE but I've not been on the air in a long while.

There are a lot of questions, mostly about your son's level.

Is he licensed, or want to be licensed?

If he is starting, there is good news. The FCC has dropped the code test for all levels. This puts the USA in step with the rest of the world. The technical tests are still demanding enough that it is not anything near CB radio. A solid technical training.

Also, ham radio is at the forefront of emergency communication, interfaces with the Internet, and works through ham satellites and the space station. It is not your grandfather's hardware; but it is the same spirit.

Tell us more about the fellow and his interests.

www.arrl.org is the primary source of info. The Icom 7000 is pretty much a ham station in a cigar box.


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Is he actually interested in ham radio? It would seem that if he were interested enough he would have read enough web material to know the primary manufacturers and models.

Before buying a radio, I'd have him try taking the practice tests at www.qrz.com

having the radio before he's licensable doesn't make a lot of sense. Its illegal to use without license and user manuals can all be downloaded from the web to study how to use the radio before being licensed.

So the main thing: is this truly his interest.

Second, I recommend he start at the Technician level, and use a handheld portable radio for a while to see how it is talking to quirky old men on the radio, because that's what 94% of hams are. He can get involved with public service organizations like red cross or a local ham club assisting with communications on large public events like runs and triathalons etc. I use the ICOM IC-T90A handheld. A quality unit. Don't get cheap junk if you can afford good stuff. Icom, Yaesu are sure bets. Kenwood is midgrade. Alinco is garbage.

The other angle is to push the technical side and go for long distance communications. HF is the freq range of that type of communication. That requires a General or Amateur Extra license. As well as a HF radio and HF antenna setup. That's when the real science starts and when the real money starts getting dropped.

I entered ham radio on my own. Its never something that works very well when a parent forces the issue on kids. People need to lead themselves into it. That's not to say that you can't let him work his way in on his own driven by his own interest while you provide funds for equipment. That's the only way this can really work: when someone enters the hobby under their own interest....

I hope he enjoys the hobby and finds a life long love. Its truly a wonderful hobby and we need more hams to carry the torch forward.

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Get him a REAL radio, something like a Hallicrafters Sx-24 off of ebay, and let him have the joy of restoring it. He'll learn something valuable and wind up with a stunning set. There are plenty of forums out there to help the beginner (Antique Radio Forums, Click Communications Receivers. I can also answer many questions.


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Just tell him NO. If you think your Klipsch habit is expensive, just get him hooked on Ham Radio[:|].

Actually it's a great hobby that you can spend as much or as little as you want. I've been partial to Yaesu products over the years, but now that Motorola has bought them I don't know what their future is. As Dr Bill says, the old tube radios are a lot of fun too, but some of them are pricier than new stuff.

WB7ECS for 31 years.

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