How Ham Radio Works

Getting Started with Ham Radio

  • Listen in on the Amateur Radio Frequency Bands (U.S.) via a radio scanner or a short-wave receiver. Be sure any short-wave receiver you buy is capable of receiving single sideband (SSB), used for voice communications on the short-wave bands. On any scanner, you will hear local ham operators using repeaters in the frequency range of 144 to 148 MHz.
  • Read the information in the various links on the next page of this article.
  • Most important: Talk to a ham! We love to talk about experiences in amateur radio and are known for being "Elmers" (teachers) for those new to amateur radio. When you hear a ham's call sign on your receiver or scanner, look up the ham's call sign to find a way to contact that ham!

Who knows, maybe someday your next ham radio contact may be music entertainers such as Ronnie Milsap, Patty Loveless, or Joe Walsh -- they are all FCC-licensed amateur radio operators!

For more information on ham radio and related topics, check out the links below.


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Photographs and assistance provided by the American Radio Relay League, Reed-AB4W, Bob-K4HA, and Gary-KN4AQ.