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Ham Radio History (in brief)
  • Early 1900's - Marconi's radio experiments generate interest in building amateur radio stations.

  • 1905 - the first transmitter receiver kits are sold.

  • 1909 - the Wireless Association of America is formed and claims 3,000 members in 1910.

  • 1914 - the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), an association if U. S. radio amateurs, is formed.

  • 1917 - amateur radio stations are prohibited from use during WWI so as not to interfere with military radio.

  • 1939 - Asheville hams are very active - read about it in this Citizen Times article (starting page and continuation page)

  • Today - there are more than 750,000 U. S. radio amateurs.

Activities of Radio Amateurs Today
  • Advancing their knowledge of radio.

  • Expanding the boundaries of ham radio by being able to use repeaters, satellites and the internet for extending the distances they can communicate.

  • Providing communications during emergency situations when telephone and cell phone service is down.

  • Holding contests (how many contacts can be made in a given time period, making the longest distance contact).

  • Enjoying each other's company.

  • Teaching others how to become a ham.

Becoming an Amateur Radio Operator
  • The entry level exam is called a Technician license. Getting your license involves passing a test by answering 26 of 35 multiple choice questions correctly.  You do not need to know Morse code to get this license.

  • To prepare, you can use a study guide on the internet such as this one.  You can also use online flash cards. Or, you can take a class at A B Tech (taught by a museum member).

  • The exam is given weekly by local volunteers (cost is $10).  Email the museum to find out when and where.

  • When you pass the exam, you are legally allowed to go "on the air" when your newly assigned call sign (station ID) appears in the FCC data base.  This is often done by the examiner on the same day.

What It Will Cost to Get Started
  • Many new hams choose to get started with a simple hand held tranceiver (transmitter and receiver).

  • Entry level units (such as the popular Baofung brand) can be purchased on Amazon for as little as $35.  Useful accessories (e. g., a better antenna, a cable for programming the unit from your computer with the frequencies of local stations, an auto charging cord) can add another $50 or so.

  • Once you begin enjoying your new hobby, you can consider moving up to more powerful equipment and an outdoor antenna.  You can also consider studying for the next higher license ("General"), which brings additional privileges.

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