AMATEUR RADIO FOR BEGINNERS
Now that I got my license, what do I do now?
By Geoff Haines, N1GY
If you are reading this, it is probable that you just passed the test to get your first amateur radio license. Or maybe
you just up-graded from Technician to General Class. This is a great accomplishment and our heartiest congratulations to you
for achieving this milestone. After studying for, and passing the test, most would think the hardest tasks are behind you.
As amateur radio operators for many years, we know that is probably not the case. A large number of licensed operators, unfortunately,
never get on the air. Or if they do, they have a problem that sours their experience with amateur radio, and they leave the
hobby. Well, the West Central Florida Section of the American Radio Relay League wants to change that. This package is a step
in that direction.
times past, when the world wasn’t so full of video games and cell phones and computers, the usual path to a ham radio
license generally included one or more people we called “Elmers”. An “Elmer” was a ham radio operator
who aided and mentored someone who displayed an interest in the hobby. The “Elmer” might show you around his or
her station or “shack” explain each piece of equipment and generally explain the hobby. The “Elmer”
might assist the newcomer in constructing his or her own station, or help with preparation for the tests that enabled the
newcomer to become a ham.
of the changes in society and technology, the ranks of those who are “Elmers” have thinned. The distractions of
video games and other facets of modern life have also lessened the numbers of people who become hams. The task before us now
is to try to connect those who are interested in the world of amateur radio with those who can “Elmer” them to
the enjoyment and downright fun the hobby can certainly provide.
assist in this task, we want to provide you with some basic information. The group that gave you your test is called a VE
Team. They are members of a local amateur radio club. The club is an excellent source of information and assistance. Join
a local club, and participate fully in their activities. Doing new things is always more fun with people you know.
Another group who can and
will help you is The American Radio Relay League.
(www.arrl.org/) The ARRL has been around for almost 100 years. It is the national organization for amateur radio in
the United States, and indeed has members all over the world. It publishes many books and magazines on the subject of ham
radio, including the one you probably studied to pass your test. Their flagship periodical “QST” is one of the
most valuable sources of information for all hams, new or old. Joining the ARRL provides you with many benefits beyond just
the books and magazines. They can assist you with many aspects of the hobby from technical questions to operating overseas
to renewing your license.
ARRL also has branches called Sections. Around this area, ours is called The West Central Florida Section. It has a web site,
www.arrlwcf.org that contains a great deal of information. The section staff members are all volunteers. Look up the site
and browse through it. There are names and contact information for many clubs and or individuals that can assist you in your
pursuit of this many faceted hobby.
such group of volunteers are the Technical Specialists. These are people with particular skills and knowledge of various aspects
of our hobby. They have been appointed by the Section Manager to provide their expertise to any amateur who needs assistance
with solving a problem. Problems such as electromagnetic interference, grounding your station or making your computer work
with your radio. While the Technical Specialist may not be residing in your local area, they can offer help by e-mail and/or
phone to get you going in the right direction to solve the difficulty. Technical Specialists each have their own area of expertise
so if your situation requires the assistance of a different Specialist they will put you in contact with the right one. You
can find a list of Technical Specialists in the pages of the ARRL-WCF web site. The URL can be found in the list of web
sites below. To aid you in a successful beginning
in Amateur Radio, we are enclosing a listing of several web sites that offer information on many aspects of our wonderful
Some Web Sites of Interest
Please note that while every effort was made
to ensure that these URLs were correct at the time of posting, no guarantee should be expected as web site urls do change
from time to time.
The web site of Phil Salas, AD5X, QST Author and Amateur Radio Guru.
Home Page and starting point for almost everything Ham related.
Manatee Amateur Radio Club Inc. site.
Bradenton Amateur Radio Club site.
West Central Florida Section site.
www.arrlwcf.org/repair_database.html Sort of self explanatory.
Yes, that FCC
National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Office of Nat. Weather Service.
Hurricane Watch Net site. Lots of info.
www.athensarc.org/techindex.asp KV5R has a lot of good articles here.
www.n1gy.com The web site of Geoff Haines,
N1GY, QST author and the Technical Coordinator for WCF. (But you already found that one).
Huge site for ham radio and ham radio
Another huge site for the above.
Most accurate time check anywhere.
NETS YOU MIGHT FIND INTERESTING
ON THE NI4CE REPEATER SYSTEM
DAILY: 8:30 PM - THE EAGLE NET:
The VHF/UHF NTS Message Traffic Net in West Central Florida. This net runs seven days per week, fifty-two weeks a year. Check in and tune up your message
SUNDAY: 7:30 PM - WCF INFO
Check into the net and find out what's going on in the Section. Club meetings,
Hamfests, Special Events, Ham Radio News, It's all here.
MONDAY: 7:30 PM - WCF ARES
EC NET: All are welcome, not just EC's.
Lots of info on ARES training and emergency operations.
MONDAY: 9:00 PM - TAMPA BAY
REACT NET: Everyone welcome to the NEW REACT. Info and training for the emcomm operator.
TUESDAY: 9:00 PM - NWS SKYWARN
NET: Check in and learn about weather related operations.
Run by the Hams at the Ruskin Office of the NWS. Lots of good info on the SKYWARN program including training and testing schedules
THURSDAY: 7:30 PM - FL AMSAT
NET: Interested in working the amateur satellites or
the International Space Station? Here's your net!
THURSDAY: 9:00 PM - TECH
Got a question? Just getting started in ham radio? Maybe you're an old hand trying
out a new mode. Our Technical Specialists can help. Maybe you have the answer to someone else's question.
SATURDAY: 9:00 AM - QCWA
There are lots of QCWA members in the WCF Section. They get together here on Saturday mornings. Check in
and get in on the fun.
SATURDAY: 7:30 PM - THE YL
Not for the ladies only. The men are welcome to check in too.
There are also many
local nets on many other repeaters in the area. Check out the West Central Florida Section web site: www.arrlwcf.org
to find a complete listing of all the nets in the section, both VHF/UHF and HF. All nets need participation to be effective.
Check in to all the nets you can. If a particular net catches your fancy, volunteer to be a Net Control Station. You will
learn a lot and gain skills you just can't get any other way.
NI4CE FREQUENCIES AND REPEATER LOCATIONS:
(Manatee County)_------------VHF 145.43 Neg. offset, UHF 442.95 Pos. offset 1037' AGL
Point (Pinellas County)---------VHF 145.29 Neg. offset, UHF 443.45 Pos. offset 175' AGL
(Hillsborough County) ---UHF 442.55 Pos. offset 805' AGL
(Polk County)------------UHF 442.825 Pos. offset 865' AGL
repeaters in the system require a 100 Hz tone (CTCSS) for access. All are linked all the time.
above material is a start in providing the information the new ham needs to get started. As new material becomes available,
we will add it to this page. You may also find some of the other pages on this web site to be of interest.