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Rockford Area Ham Radio Page (Updated with Ham Radio License Testing Dates)

 Welcome to the Rockford Area Ham Radio Page! 

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You can get your ham radio license at:

UPDATE: Rockford has currently suspended their testing sessions
due to Covid restrictions, and will resume at a later date.

But you can get your ham radio license in Freeport!   Below are the dates you can do the testing.
Social distancing and masks are required.  The testing is held at the Freeport Public Library.
That is located at 100 E Douglas.

Date: Aug 06 2022 & 10/01/2022

Time: 12:30 PM (Walk-ins allowed)
Contact: John Alvin. Mitchell
(815) 238-7485
Location: Freeport Public Library
100 E Douglas St
Freeport IL 61032-4116

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

Northern Illinois SKYWARN:
When severe weather is in the area and Skywarn is activated.

They use the frequency 147.195 

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 ARES & 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
  • Update: Fusion digital net will be starting up again on the Clinton repeater 146.715, it will be the 4th Thursday of each month at 7:30PM and Fusion doesn’t require PL
  • 8 pm NW IL Salvation Army SATURN net on the 146.165 repeater with a 146.2 PL tone and a + offset

Friday Night:

Saturday Night:

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

Fusion digital net will be starting up again on the Clinton repeater 146.715, it will be the last Thursday of each month (starting Sept 24) at 7:30PM and Fusion doesn’t require PL .

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
  • 147.3900 repeater with a 114.8 PL tone and a + offset

Local Ham Radio Groups: 


State-line Amateur Radio 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 and simplex.
  • Meeting new people.
  • Emergency communications.
  • Storm chasing.
  • 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

Illinois RepeaterBook

Amateur Radio Satellites 



Disclaimer: This is for entertainment purposes only. 

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