So while I have my HAM license, I decided to go ahead and get a GMRS license too. My reasoning for getting it was twofold. The first reason was that I often spend time with family and friends that are not HAM radio operators. Since they aren’t HAMs, I can’t exactly hand them one of my handheld radios and then chat with them over the air when we are out someplace camping, traveling, hiking, or doing any other activity. Having the GMRS license will basically allow me to do just that, to stay connected and communicate with my friends and family when we are out somewhere having fun.
The second the FCC recently reduced the cost of the license. They cut the licensing fee from $70 down to $35. This fee reduction makes getting the license much more affordable, especially since it lasts for 10 years – just like a HAM license. With the FCC fee so low, getting it really has now become a non-issue. So ultimately, getting this license is only going to enrich the experiences that I have with friends and family. While some HAMs might consider GMRS a just ‘kiddie’ radio, that really makes no difference to me. It’s really more of a way to supplement my HAM hobby, and who knows, maybe it’ll even act as a gateway to convert a friend into a future HAM. Ha ha ha.
One of my 2022 goals was to get my amateur radio license. It’s been on my “to-do later” list for quite some time. This year, the excuses finally stopped and I put up at the top of my “priority” list. Truth be told, I actually found getting my license to be easier than I was expecting it to be.
The FCC has removed mandatory CW (that’s morse code) requirements from all of the classes of its Ham radio licenses, which makes it even easier to get your license today than ever before. The FCC wants you to earn your license. They just also want you to understand what your license allows you to do and not do. In order to pass you just need to score at least a 74% on a 35 question exam. The exam is all multiple-choice, and they provide you with the entire question pool and answers ahead of time to study. They are not trying to pull a fast one with surprise or trick questions. Simply by studying either the ARRL’s official manual or some other material [likely based on the official manual] you really shouldn’t have any problem preparing for the exam and passing it.
To study for my Technician exam, I took a look at quite a few different resources. But I really only used the three different sources listed below – a YouTube collection, an Audible audiobook, and a website with practice questions/tests.
I found a link to this collection on the ARRL’s website. Dave brakes down all the information required for the Technician License into digestable segments as works his way down thru all of exam content. He has been in this hobby for some time and is quite knowledgeable about the subject matter – and it shows in with his stories he ties to the topics. He follows the ARRL official manual chapter by chapter, so if you have their book, it’ll be easy for you to follow along. Even if you don’t have the book though, it is still easy to follow along with him. The course collection is a series of 37 videos, and while it sounds like a lot, you can power thru this content pretty quickly.
I want to start off by saying that I love audio books! If you are studying for your Technician, I feel like this book should be a must for you. Michael does an awesome job of presenting both all of the exam topics and reviewing all of the questions in the question pool. The one caveat to his book is that his content does not follow linearly thru the exam module or question pool. He groups similar topics together so he’ll cover all “like” material together. I found it really helpful. I waited to listen to this book until after I watched Dave’s YouTube series that I listed about. I found it easier to retain the content in the audio book in my head when it wasn’t the first time I was learning about it, hence why I turned to it second. To be honest, I actaully listened to this book twice. It was really easy to turn on and listen to while I drove to/from work or did errands. The author had a clear voice – almost like he was used to doing radio – and it was enjoyable to listen and learn to. I really look forward to using his book to study when I start working towards my General class license.
This resource was Huge! This is a website that, in my honest opinion, really is the quinensenstial amateur radio study site. It’s a collection of the entire question & answer pool for your exam. It has a study mode, and a quiz mode. You can work thru the entire pool of questions and see all four hundred and something of them. I really liked that it had explainations for each question. It made it really easy to review questions I was having difficulty with. I also was a fan of the mobile app. The app made it super easy and conveninent to study and test and assess myself no matter where I was. The other thing about this using this site, is that it’s basically the same test engine that most the volunteer examiners use when you take your exam, so you’ll already be familiarized with the layout.
I did not use the ARRL’s official manual in my study materials, even though it is a good resource. I simply gave myself about a month to study for it and learn the content. I figured that a month would be more than enough time to study, especially if I was able to commit an hour or two each day.
After putting in the hours of studying, I booked an online exam session. The online sessions are administrated and proctored by at least three volunteer examiners thru the use of Zoom, webcams, and screen sharing so they can make sure that there is no cheating. If you use HamStudy.org to study then you are already ahead of the game as they provide the testing solution that the majority of clubs use to test folks. So you will already be used to the user interface and everything will look and feel very familar to you. Thankfully, my study materials did serve me well, and I was able to pass the Technician exam missing only a single question.
So, to wrap it all up… If you’ve ever thought about getting into Ham Radio, there is no better time than now! If you are interested in the hobby, please feel free to reach out to me and ask me any questions you might have. If you are already a licensed ham radio operator, then hopefully I will get to hear you on the air sometime! 73