Welcome to the Rockford Area Ham Radio Page! 

You can get your ham radio license at:

In Rockford, Amateur Radio Exams for all amateur radio classes are given by W5YI-VEC volunteer examiners on the third Saturday of the month in the St. Francis Room of the OSF St. Anthony Medical Center, 5666 East State Street, Rockford, IL, 61107.  STUDY for your license at https://www.hamradiolicenseexam.com/

Testing starts at 9:00 am, no applicants are accepted after 10:30 am. The fee for the session is $14.00.
All applicants must show two forms of identification with their signature on them, one must include a photograph, such as a drivers license. All licensed amateurs and/or holders of a Certificate of Successful Completion of Examination must show the original and leave a copy of the Certificate. Details at http://w9axd.org/exams.htm


Rockford Area Ham Radio Nets:
Note: You can listen to the nets without a license on your scanners.
But to participate and talk on the nets, you will need your ham radio license. 

Sunday Night:

  • 7:30 pm  Green County ARES net on the 145.110 repeater   with a 123.0 PL tone and a   – offset
  • 8 pm Boone County Big Thunder net on the 147.375 repeater   with a 100.0 PL tone and a   + offset
  • 8 pm  Whiteside County ARES net on the 146.850 repeater   with a 114.8 PL tone and a   – offset

Monday Night:

  • 7 pm Rockford Amateur Radio net on the 146.610 repeater   with a 114.8 PL tone and a   – offset
  • 8 pm Ogle County net on the 146.970 repeater   with a 82.5 PL tone and a   – offset
  • 8:30 pm Kishwaukee Amateur Radio on the 146.730 repeater   with a 100.0 PL tone and a   – offset

Tuesday Night:

  • 7 pm Rock County Public Service net on the 145.450 repeater   with a 123.0 PL tone and a   – offset
  • 8 pm Tuesday Night Tech Net on the 145.110 repeater   with a 123.0 PL tone and a   – offset
  • 9 pm Ogles County ARES/SKYWARN net on the 147.165 repeater   with a 146.2 PL tone and a   + offset

Wednesday Night:

  • 7 pm Stephenson County ARES net on the 147.390 repeater   with a 114.8 PL tone and a   + offset
  • 7:30 pm Greater Beloit Area Amateur Radio Club on the 147.120 repeater   with a 123.0 PL tone and a  +  offset
  • 8 pm Wednesday Night Swap Net on the 147.390 repeater and a 114.8 PL tone and a + offset

Thursday Night:

  • 7 pm Winnebago County AREA & SKYWARN net on the 147.195 repeater with a 114.8 PL tone and + offset
  • 7 pm Digital net on the 146.715 repeater
  • 7 pm Dekalb ARES net on the 146.730 repeater with a 100.0 PL tone and a – offset
  • 8 pm NW IL Salvation Army SATURN net on the 146.165 repeater with a 146.2 PL tone and a + offset

Friday Night:

  • 8 pm  Friday Night Fun Net on the 146.610 repeater with a 114.8 PL tone and a – offset
    (Note: Sometimes held on 147.195 repeater, pending band conditions. 147.195 with a 114.8 PL and a + offset)

Saturday Night:

  • 9 pm Saturday Night Fun Net on the 146.910 repeater with a 127.3 PL tone and a – offset.

Local Repeaters: 

Note: Be sure to monitor the 146.520 simplex frequency!

  • 147.195 with a 114.8 PL and a + offset
  • 146.610 repeater   with a 114.8 PL tone and a   – offset
  • 147.375 repeater   with a 100.0 PL tone and a   + offset
  • 147.000 repeater  with a 114.8 PL tone and a + offset
  • https://www.slarc.club/area-repeaters

Local Ham Radio Groups: 

RARA: http://w9axd.org/

State-line Amateur Radio Club: https://www.slarc.club/


What is Ham Radio?

Amateur radio, or ham radio, is a fun and exciting hobby including a vast array of activities:

  • Talking 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.  Originally, you also had to pass a Morse code exam to get a ham license.  However, the FCC did away with that requirement about 10 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, but also 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.)

Scarborough Reef DXpeditionSome 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!

STUDY for your license at https://www.hamradiolicenseexam.com/







Disclaimer: This is for entertainment purposes only.