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Amateur Radio or as it is often called Ham Radio is a fantastic hobby
that anybody can enjoy. It is a hobby that an individual or whole family can be a part of.
Regardless of age, sex, religion, race, or nationality it doesn't matter. You can talk to your neighbor down the street or talk to someone on the other side of the world. Getting a ham radio license has never been easier. All you have to do is pass a fairly simple FCC test and you can have a ticket.
See the License Info page for more information.
A little Ham Radio History...
Years ago you actually had to go to an FCC regional office to take a
test (this has changed see below.) There used to be five classes of amateur radio licenses; Novice, Technician, General, Advanced and Amateur Extra. All the tests have to be taken in order. Plus you had to learn Morse Code to get a license.
To get a Novice license you had to take a test plus be able to copy
morse code at 5 words per minute.
The Technician license only required another test.
The General license required another test plus be able to copy morse
code at 13 words per minute.
The Advanced license only required another test.
The Extra class license required another test plus be able to copy
morse code at 20 words per minute.
The only short cut allowed was on the morse code tests. If you could
pass the 13 WPM test you didn't have to take the 5 WPM test. Or if you could pass the
20 WPM test then you didn't have to take the 5 WPM or 13 WPM tests.
I really admire and personally have a deep respect for the ones who
got their license back then for they are the True Amateur Radio Operators.
You no longer have to go to an FCC regional office to take an amateur
radio test. We now use the
Volunteer Examiner (VE) system. A minimum of
three certified volunteer examiners can give you any of the tests you want to take. Test
sessions are given all the time just about everywhere in the country. You can check the
American Radio Relay League (ARRL) website for some
testing sessions. You can check with local Amateur Radio clubs to see when they are having
test sessions. Most Hamfests (amateur radio flea markets) have test sessions. Search the
web, a lot of ham radio sites list when they are having test sessions. Just ask around it
shouldn't be difficult to all to find a place to take the tests.
Back in the early 1990's some changes began...
The FCC started the "No Code Technician" license. Beginning on February
14, 1991, If you passed the Novice written exam and the Technician written exam the FCC
would grant you a "No Code Technician" license. With the No Code Technician license you
were allowed full privileges above 50 MHz. You were not permitted any privileges below
30MHz. This actually created a second entry level class.
If a you passed any of the Morse code tests, you gained access to the
so-called Novice HF privileges, essentially "upgrading" to what a Tech had before the new
rules went into effect. In 1994 the FCC started calling this class "Technician Plus."
On April 15, 2000 the FCC moved to simplify the Amateur Radio Service
operator license structure this restructuring as it was called streamlined the number of
examination elements, and reduced the emphasis on morse code.
Then the major changes began...
A reduction of the number of operator license classes from six to three. The Advanced Class, Technician Plus Class, and Novice Class licenses would no longer be issued; however, existing licensees would retain their operating privileges and be allowed to renew their licenses. The Technician Class, General Class and Extra Class are the only classes available now.
A reduction of the number of morse code examination elements from three
to one. Both the 20 words-per-minute (WPM) and 13 WPM Morse code tests were removed, the
only requirement was a 5 WPM morse code test for both the General and Extra Class licenses.
The end of the Morse Code requirement:
On February 23, 2007 the FCC adopted rule changes which would eliminate
the Morse code requirement for all amateur operator licenses. No Morse Code is required for any license.
Like I said it has NEVER been easier to get a Ham Ticket than it is right now. Take and pass the Technician test and you can have your ticket. Want to upgrade your license just take and pass the General test. If you want to have the top Amateur Radio License after you pass the General test just take and pass the Extra test. That's all there is to it!