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Many members of the SCOTA have obtained their ham license and use amateur band radios, rather than CB’s, to communicate on the trail. There are many reasons for this, but amateur radio is typically a more robust system.

Having a ham radio license isn’t just useful for communicating while off-roading, it’s also incredibly advantageous to have in the event of a disaster, should communication infrastructure fail.

Getting your ham radio license has never been easier. Since the FCC eliminated the Morse Code requirement, the test to obtain your technician license is simply comprised of 35 multiple choice questions. You only need to score 75% on the test to, which means you can get up to 9 questions wrong.

VHF/UHF Ham radios can be used in simplex mode (radio to radio) or via repeaters, which greatly expand the coverage area. It is not uncommon to be able communicate at distances over 100 miles through use of a repeater system.

HF radios GREATLY expand the transmission range to thousands of miles, allowing you to communicate with people across the globe, WITHOUT a repeater!

Here are the steps to ensuring that your pass your technician exam on your first attempt:

  1. Download a copy of the current technician question pool. The question pool contains 400 questions. You can obtain a copy of the current pool (with correct answers listed) from the following URL:http://www.qualitymatrix.com/hamclass/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/2014-2018_Tech_Pool_QA_only.pdf
  2. Study the 400 questions by memorizing ONLY the correct answers. Do not worry about comprehending the subject matter, as that will come later when you get hands-on experience. Repetition is they key for success here. I find that I need to review the entire question pool 5-6 times before the content starts to stick in my memory.
  3. Register for a free account, and take free practice exams on the following website: http://www.qrz.com/hamtest/ 
  4. Continue to take practice exams on the QRZ website until you are consistently scoring above 80 percent. Once you are consistently scoring above 80 percent, you have a very strong chance of passing your technician exam.
  5. Prior to taking your exam, you will need to obtain an FRN number from the FCC. This FRN number will be used on the paperwork that is submitted to the FCC after taking your exam. Use this website to register for your FRN number: https://apps.fcc.gov/coresWeb/publicHome.do
  6. Find a local test session by using the search utility located on this website: http://www.arrl.org/find-an-amateur-radio-license-exam-session
  7. Alternatively, you can now sit for your ham radio technician exam at the monthly club meeting. Please contact Sean White at sean.k9rtb@gmail.com if you want to sit for the exam.
  8. Once you pass your test, you should have your FCC-issued call-sign within a week
  9. Get on the air and enjoy your new-found hobby!

By following these steps, you can quickly become licensed.