So, you fancy a dabble in Amateur radio - congratulations, and welcome to the best hobby in the World! As this is classed as a technical hobby there are a few things you need to do before going on the air. many people, myself included, started in the radio hobby by tuning around the bands using a short wave receiver, these can be purchased second hand very inexpensively, or better still built from plans! Becoming an "SWL" or short wave listener is enough for many people, and some never progress beyond this stage. If you want to start actually transmitting your own signals, you will need an Amateur radio license. This is not as daunting as it sounds, and it has never been easier to obtain the license. Incidentally, once you "pass" the ticket, you will be issued your own unique call sign, that is mine in the banner at the top of the page, and very proud I am of it too.
So, what do we do next?
First of all, contact the RSGB (Radio Society of Great Britain) www.rsgb.org . You will find very helpful people at the end of the phone, or e-mail. The RSGB will point you towards your local radio club - don't be afraid, I have visited many clubs around the Country, and have always been offered a warm welcome. The RSGB can also send you information about how to obtain the license, and have a wide selection of self learning books if you would rather go-it-alone.
Second, visit your local club - most clubs in the UK run courses approved by the RSGB and Ofcom to help you through the various stages of license. The cost of the courses is usually a couple of pounds a night (once a week), and is designed to only cover the electricity bill and a cup of tea! Children and adults are all welcome. You will also meet people who can give you advice, help with technical questions and generally point you in the right direction. most clubs also have a "shack" (radio room) of some sort that members can use as part of club membership to contact the World. There are talks on various aspects of the hobby, contests, field days, portable operations and all manner of specialist skills in most clubs. My club (Hornsea Amateur radio club) offers experts in Television, contesting, VHF, HF, CW, PSK and RTTY to name a few areas!
At this point, please don't buy any kit! There are many many radios out there, some better than others,, and some less suitable for beginners. Advice available from, yes, you have guessed it, your local club!
Next up is the test:
I took mine in the early 80's as a City and Guilds examination, complete with stick wielding adjudicator with eyes like a hawk....Things are a little different now, with many exams taking place under Ofcom rules at your club. The tests include practical challenges such as building a receiver as part of your course work, and some written and verbal question and answers. Again, don't be daunted by this as children under 10, and adults over 90 years old have sat, and passed the qualification!
So, you have joined your club, sat the course, and harassed the postman on a daily basis....and finally.. your shiny new callsign arrives! By this time as you have been around the club station, and lived breathed and eaten Amateur radio for the last few months, you know what to do, and with baited breath eagerly await your first go on the air!!!!
Congratulations and as I stated above, welcome to the best hobby in the World.
I am still involved with it over 25 years after sitting the "ticket"
It is like passing the driving test, now you have the license, you will learn all about the hobby. There is always something to learn, and a new area to experiment in.
I wish you well and continued interest with whichever part of this global hobby you decide to run with (SOTA www.sota.org is by far the best by the way. hi-hi!)
73 - good dx