Is there an online class for beginners?

Started by KeyBoardMine, June 23, 2014, 01:27:37 PM

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I actually was a radio operator in the USAFR back in the eighties. We used former fifties equipment. I worked at the MARS station at Kelly AFB, TX, passing messages and setting up the local HAM radio network.

I was young, 19-20 and really didn't pay much attention to the equipment but did my job  :-\ . Now, I'm an author of a dystopian series and can see where this technology is still needed. I would like to relearn most of what I ignored as a young girl for both fictional and factual applications.

I can say that I worked with a sergeant that was sitting at my desk, before I arrived there, and he was the first point of contact for Mexico City back in 86' for their horrific earthquake. Through him, they were finally able to get some help; this was way before cell phones. So in the event cell phones become obsolete, radio is it and useful.

Problem is, I don't remember anything. I don't have the equipment and see there is a lot of information here that is useful. Is there a class for newbies to get started again?

John Galt

Not really a class but hamexam and a few other sites have the FCC question pool online and will help you prepare for the tests.  Other than that, there's really not an online course that I'm aware of.  I'm a new ham myself so used the sites mentioned above to pass the tests but after that had to rely on various books to pick up different topics.
Hope this helps and welcome to the forum.


June 23, 2014, 02:01:55 PM #2 Last Edit: June 23, 2014, 02:03:48 PM by cockpitbob
First, welcome aboard this board!!!! :D    What this place lacks in size and member population it makes up for in the quality of the people.

I too am not aware of an online class.  Some ham clubs or schools with clubs occasionally give a class.  Joining a club and hanging with the people is by far the best, but there are books, too.  The ARRL publishes license manuals for the 3 levels of ham license (Technician, General and Extra).  At $30ea they aren't cheap.  They go out of date every few years as they change the pool of test questions, and the out of date ones can be had on Amazon or Ebay for half that price.  For general learning, the older books are fine (the fundamentals never change) and you can use the on-line practice tests for preparing for the test.  My son and I used the practice tests on  My brainy little brat got his General license when he was 11 mostly by grinding through the practice tests.


Study for the tests and take them. Once you pass find a club or elmers (experts) that can help you on the way. This place is a great resource also.


Thank you...I'm sure I have my old manuals around here somewhere packed away with my old dog tags etc. It's funny, I remember going over and over the antennae manuals before taking various tests. At the time, it was about as interesting as as an economics publication. I'm pretty sure I was certified at the time. I'll have to dig around, we were always required to take different tests. Funny how life gives perspective over youth.

I'm between books two and three and need to research anyway. I'll follow your advice here and get started.


There are some good links in a thread just below this one, "Brand new to radio":,813.0.html

Reading through that thread may refresh your memory on some things.

Welcome to the forum.


Welcome aboard :)

It took me just four days to read both of your books. Highly recommended. The second is my favorite. I am waiting for the next one ;)

Classes are indeed few and far between, usually organized by clubs. Reading this forum will probably help you a great deal. Emphasis is on preparedness, well, mostly. I think we have a very knowledgeable and eclectic group here, always willing to answer questions. Most of us here approach radio in a minimalistic and efficient manner. That means simple radios that use very little current.

Personally I favor radios that fit in a shirt pocket and have global coverage because I don't want to carry anything heavier, hence Morse-code only... These radios are called "QRP." Some here like digital modes, sending messages and even emails through radio. Then you have the local stuff, handhelds like your Graham character used. You will find everything here...

The Technician exam is quite easy and you can practice free online tests on until you are ready. That said, you get few privileges. I remember buying my first handheld 2m radio and listening to the band. I heard a guy explaining how he fixed his toilet.. When the conversations were technical, the subjects were over my head at the time. So, I found VHF to be IMHO quite boring. The positive side is that I met a few people from the local club.. Better practice for the General exam as well, it isn't much harder. The privileges you gain make things much more interesting.

Morse code is my favorite by far because of it's efficiency. It's like using a laser instead of a flashlight. In a long power-out situation, I believe small Morse code radios would be the last ones working. Not only that, but civilization restarting from scratch would most likely follow the same technological path as before, just much faster, hopefully. There is no simpler radio, period. Here is a perfect example: A handful of passive components and a piece of zinc is all it takes. Some people take DIY to extremes: But I digress.. Not everyone wants to spend much time learning code, and it takes a while. Few people these days build radios from scratch. Most, like myself, do it from kits.

Just browse this forum, you will pick up all the pieces needed to give you a good idea of various radio applications, whether you want to get into Ham radio or use the information in a novel... Ask all the questions you want, by doing so you will benefit other beginners who will read the answers.



You could get somewhat of a jump start on ham radio, by using just a receiver until you get your Technician license. Once you learn where the ham frequencies are, you can listen to the wide variety of things going on in the ham world. You will hear unfamiliar terminology and subjects that seem very foreign. With a little time and some studying, you will become reacquainted with the world of radio. It probably won't take you long at all.

A short wave receiver doesn't have to be expensive. There are receivers priced from very cheap to ridiculous. Also very poor quality to the extreme end of high quality. Somewhere in between you can find some good radios that will do a good job. A plain long wire antenna will work well for listening.


Welcome aboard  :)

Looking forward to reading your books always looking for something in the prepper area.


Thank you everyone. Especially Gil, thank you for reading my books and introducing me to this. I know the books are not for everyone. It's more of a non-prepared approach. I love the genre and writing so it was a given that I'd start this at some point. Had I known they would have been so successful, I would have approached it long before. I just received book two in the mail this morning and I love that new book smell; something you miss with eBooks.

I don't mean to advertise. Anyway, I appreciate every shred of advice here and while I'm researching for book three, I will also be delving back into this. I'm sure I'll have questions. Thanks again.




I highly suggest for practice tests. Opening a free account gives you free access.

I used the ARRL books. The advantage was that they have about the same chapters for Tech. General and Extra. I read the same chapter from the three books every day, starting with the Tech, then General, then Extra. So, it was a gradual learning curve throughout the day from Tech. to Extra on the same subject. Then I would do some practice tests in the evening. This took me many hours per day for two weeks. When I got to the exams session I passed Tech and General easily. I had forgotten a lot of the formulas for Extra but passed nevertheless, as I had read every chapter in depth three times... If you have the time, why not try? At least General... Anyone can pass the General test almost as easily as Technician. It is just a little bit more material. Only for Extra do you encounter a bit of head-scratching math, but mostly more formulas to memorize. Fortunately, being freelance, I could reserve the time to study. Within two weeks, everything was still fresh in my memory when I showed up for the exams. Actually I still remember most of it and have learned much more since then... What helped me a lot is that I wasn't stressed by the exam, as I knew very well I would not fail Tech. and would be happy even if I missed General and Extra... Well, I was hoping for General, but Extra was just a vague possibility in my mind at that point. So, I didn't really care much... That removed a lot of the anxiety and helped me concentrate better. I was also hoping for a shorter call sign, so that motivated me as well. Anyway, I encourage everyone not to just attempt the Technician exam... What do you have to lose? When you pass Technician, ask for the General exam, and if you pass that, try for Extra.



Okay, got it. Since the current test and books expire on the 30th, I needed to be sure I was getting the right one. I think I'm good to go now, thanks.


I have the books and will study. Test is August 19th ;D