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HAM RADIO

HAM RADIO

We wanted to help spread the word about the Ham Radio hobby. Rockford Scanner goal is to help bring back the scanner and similar hobbies. Over the recent years, the passion for these hobbies have dwindled and it is our goal to help reignite the passion by educating and helping spread the word. The Ham Radio (amateur radio) hobby has been around since the late 19th century.


What Is Ham RADIO? Amateur radio, or ham radio, is a fun and exciting hobby including a vast array of activities:

  • Kenwood TH F6A handheld amateur radioTalking around the world without wires.
  • Talking locally through repeaters.
  • Emergency communications.
  • Public service communications.
  • Contests and awards.
  • Legacy communication modes like Morse code and Radioteletype (RTTY).
  • New communication modes like digital packet, Automatic Position Reporting System (APRS), and spread spectrum.
  • Amateur radio satellites in space.
  • Foxhunting (using “radio direction finding” techniques to find a hidden transmitter).
  • Moonbounce (talking by bouncing radio waves off the moon).
  • And much, much more…

Ham radio is not CB

Ham radio is different from Citizens Band (CB), Family Radio Service (FRS), and the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS), which only allow local communications using strictly limited modes and frequencies (although some CB operators do manage to talk fairly long distances using illegal linear amplifiers). Icom 706MKIIG mobile amateur radioBy comparison ham radio operators are allowed to use to every mode of communication: AM, FM, CW, SSB, RTTY, SSTV, ATV, Packet, and a hundred others you’ve probably never heard of. We have privileges all across the radio spectrum, from shortwave to microwave. We routinely talk to other hams across the globe, from Antarctica to Greenland, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, all without breaking a single law.

Ham radio is also polite radio, without the crude and foul language of CB, probably due in large part to its licensing requirements.

Licensing requirements

To use ham radio, you must pass a written examination and be assigned a call sign from the FCC. For example, my call sign is “W1AI”. I’m the only licensed radio operator in the world with that unique call sign. Until recently you also had to pass a Morse code exam to get a ham license. However, the FCC did away with that requirement a few years ago. There are no more Morse code tests! The FCC currently issues three different classes of amateur radio license: Technician, General, and Extra. The examination for the entry-level Technician license is fairly easy, covering basic ham radio regulations, safety, operating practices, and simple electronics. The exam has 35 questions, and you need 75% (26 questions) correct to pass. The questions are selected from a published pool of about 400 standard questions. It only takes about 10 hours of study, more or less depending on your background and memory, to prepare for the Technician exam using our online course. And while you’re preparing for the exam, you’ll also learn a lot about your new hobby! The Technician license is primarily useful for talking around town using repeaters, although it also allows all modes of communications in the VHF, UHF, microwave, and beyond. Unfortunately, it only gives very limited privileges in the HF bands, the ones primarily used for long-distance communications. Icom-7800 amateur radio base stationEach subsequent license exam is more challenging, butalso conveys additional operating privileges. The General class license gives you extensive privileges in the HF frequencies, enough to talk to every country in the world. The Extra exam is quite difficult, with a pool of over 700 questions. It is considered to be the “crown jewel” of amateur radio licenses.

What can I do with it?

Ham radio is basically a social hobby — whether you’re talking around town, around the world, at club meetings or conventions, you’ll be getting to know some pretty darn nice people! QSL card from the International Space StationSome hams enjoy collecting QSL cards, postcards from other hams confirming contacts around the world. Some go for awards, like the DX Century Club (DXCC), which means you have confirmed contacts with hams in 100 different countries. (DX is the abbreviation for distance, but we use it to mean contacting someone outside of our own country.) Some go on DXpeditions, traveling and operating in obscure and remote locations, helping other hams get contacts with rare locations like Clipperton Island and Scarborough Reef. There’s nothing like the excitement of being on the “pointy end” of a pileup! Some hams like to experiment, designing their own radios, or building them from a kit. Some experiment with radical new designs for antennas. I personally enjoy public service, providing communications support for events like the Boston Marathon and the Jimmy Fund Walk. When large crowds of people try to use their cell phones all at the same time, the cellular systems are swamped and unreliable, but ham radio gets the message through. And most important of all, emergency communications: from 9/11 to Katrina, when the primary communications networks go out, amateur radio operators are trained, equipped, ready, and able to provide emergency communications. When all else fails, there’s amateur radio!

How much does it cost?

You can get started for under $75! As of this writing, you can get on the air for:

  • $24.95 for an online entry-level (“Technician”) license exam course.
  • $15.00 for a license exam session fee.
  • $31.79 for a BaoFeng UV-5R Dual-Band Ham Radio for local VHF/UHF communications.

 

Amateur Radio exams are held the 3rd Saturday of every month in Rockford IL. Walk-ins are welcome. Check-in is from 9AM-10:30AM. We require two signature ID’s and a photo ID. If you are a licensed Amateur Radio operator, bring your original current license and a copy. If you are using a CSCE for an element credit, bring the original and a copy (We need to see the originals & keep a copy of each document used for element credit). No copier on site. The test fee is $14.00. Bring a non-programmable calculator.


The location is:
OSF St Anthony Medical Center
5666 E State St (Bus US20)
Rockford IL
Exams are held in the St Francis Room (Main Entrance then turn right).

Make sure you are using current study guides:
Technician: July 1, 2010-June 30, 2014
General: July 1, 2011-June 30, 2015
Extra: July 1, 2012-June 30, 2016

Contacts:
Rusty Cordell, WB9QYV
815-978-8775
wb9qyv@aol.com
Alternate sites:
Freeport IL. For info, contact: Joel Schroer, NW9J, 815-616-5179,nw9j@comcast.net.
Janesville WI. For info, contact: Scott Fry, N9FRY, 608-774-5250, n9fry@arrl.net.


Local Repeaters

144 – 148
Location
Output
Offset
PL Tone
Call
Janesville WI.
145.450
123.0
WD9ACY
Janesville WI.
147.075
+
123.0
K9FRY
Clinton WI.
146.715
123.0
K9RIJ
Rockford IL.
146.610
114.8
W9AXD
Rockford IL.
147.195
+
114.8
K9RFD
Rockford IL.
147.255
+
114.8
WX9MCS
222-225
Beloit WI.
224.300
open
N9BUL
Rockford IL.
223.880
118.8
W9AXD
Rockford IL.
224.040
K9AMJ
Rockford IL.
224.280
N9CCE
Rockford IL
224.440
K9AMJ
420 – 450
Edgerton WI.
442.300
+
123.0
N9QIP
Janesville WI.
443.525
+
123.0
WI9HF
Rockford IL.
442.075
+
N9CCE
Rockford IL.
443.450
+
114.8
WB9TFX
Rockford IL.
444.350
+
K9AMJ
Rockford IL.
444.725
+
107.2
WX9MCS
Rockford IL.
444.850
+
K9AMJ
Rockford IL.
442.775
+
118.8 WW9P

 


Ham Radio Frequencies

Ham operators often transmit emergency information when other communication methods break down. The following chart shows some of the frequencies that Hams use.

Wavelength (Meters) Frequency
10-meter 28.000-29.700 MHz
6-meter 50.000-54.000 MHz
2-meter 144.000-148.000 MHz
70-cm 420.000-450.000 MHz

 


Sources & Links:

Be sure to visit these links, they have excellent information and were able to help us created this page (copy/paste) to help spread the word in this great hobby!