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I've received several questions about HAM radio so here's some really basic information. 


First, before you can transmit legally, you need to get an FCC amateur radio license.  Fortunately it has never been easier to get a license (morse code was dropped several years ago).  Here are several relatively painless ways to go about it.


I studied on my own (with help from my husband) and it took me about a month before I was ready to take the FCC exam.  But many people opt to take a class - either a weekend crash course or a 6 to 8 week class.  Usually the classes are free but you'll need to buy your own book and pay a $15 fee for the FCC license exam.


Folks who are good at electronics and computers might be able to pass the exam without even studying.  Take the sample on-line tests first and see how well you score. If you pass, simply go to an official exam session and you'll probably have your license in a couple of weeks.


Exam sessions are offered regularly in the Puget Sound area.  Here's a website where you can find an exam session near you:


For licensing manuals there are a couple of recommended books (available on Amazon):


1.)  The ARRL Ham Radio License Manual, 3rd Edition, copyright 2014, $29.95


2.)  Technician Class by Gordon West, 2014 to 2018,  $29.95


I don't know of any classes that are about to begin - several spring classes just finished.  If there's interest, I can let people know when I hear that a class is scheduled.  In our area classes are offered by several emergency management groups as well as hobby focused groups.


A good on-line resources for you:


American Radio Relay League's huge website:


As for emergency communications training in our NE Seattle area, Seattle Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS) is probably the most important group.  They teach amateur radio skills, hold practice drills (often with the neighborhood "Hubs"), and you can even join before getting your license.  Contact Mark Sheppard at (206) 684-5027.  Here's the Seattle ACS website:


Let me know if you have other questions...



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Replies to This Discussion

Theresa, thanks alot for your input at the mtg yesterday.  I've been interested in HAM for a while but thought one had to have space for all this huge equipment.   So glad to find out that's no longer the case.  I'll be pursuing this.

This is EXCELENT info.  Thanks Theresa.

Can't tell you what Ham ( amateur) radio has brought me over the years.  First licensed in 1961.  My highschool tearch at Franklyn High School was of the openion that if he helped his class get FCC liecenses that once on the AIR and operating a radio station of their own, that they would Self-Teach themselves much more than the class itself could ever provide.  And he was oh so Right !

And it is true.  That class led me into Electronics, which led me in to teaching, which led me into Electric Automobiles.

When in the 80's a fluke laps of my license led to a new license number and call...  N7GWG.   Hams learn to say their calls phonetically  And what better for an EV Dealer to say  " This is November  7  Going Without Gas "

Equipment CAN vary  from a room full, to  a shirt pocket full.   Case in point my New HT ( Hand Held Transceiver ), the Kenwood TH-F6 mode.  It can transmit and receive on THREE ham bands ( 2 meters, 220, and 440 ) and receive both AM and FM and Side Band type signals across a WIDE spectrum from the AM radio band, through Aeronautical and Marine bands, and way up to 1.3 gagaHertz. ( Dont bother if this stuff sounds like greek for now..)  These high frequency bands are way above what we would call Short Wave..  and are very limited in point-to-point range.  But Ham clubs have built REPEATERS which pick up your signal and RE-Broadcast it at much higher power.   Now also interconnecting with the INTERNET !  So one day a few weeks ago I heard a fellow on the 440 band.  Called him back, and of course we always ask "What's your QTH )  what is your location.   I thought he would say..  "oh  Down Town, or Bellevue..."   NO he said he was in Barcelona SPAIN !!   I came back   ..."How can that BE"....  Radio to Internet--Internet to Radio...  WOW !!

Steve Lough N7GWG

President of the Seattle EV Association

Two HAM radio licensing classes will be taught this fall on Monday nights in the town of Brier (just north of Lake Forest Park).  The series will begin on September 19th or 26th and run for about 8 weeks.  There will be an entry level (Technician Class) series and an intermediate level (General Class) series taught in two separate rooms.  I'll post the exact start date and registration information when it's available.  Stay tuned...

Two more classes have just been announced -- these at the Seattle Chapter of the American Red Cross -- 1900 25th Avenue South, in Seattle's Rainier Valley.  The classes are free but you must buy your own book and pay $15 for the FCC license exam.


Please contact Kevin Kopp at the Seattle Red Cross to register for the classes: 206.720.5296


First, a three-day Technician level weekend course on September 16, 17, and 18, with the exam session on the 18th. Students must purchase The ARRL Ham Radio License Manual with CD by Ward Silver and read it prior to the class. (Try Amazon and Barnes & Noble.)  Here's a link:


Second, a General level weekly series on Monday nights starting October 24th with the exam session on the fifth night, November 21st. Students must purchase The ARRL General Class License Manual prior to the class.  Here's a link:


Thanks for the Info. looking at setting up a Ham-Net and roll into emergency prep. I've got Serval Net stored on my phone ( for decentralized peer to peer comminication)

Thanks to this site I enrolled in ham classes and now have both my Technician and General class Amateur Radio licenses. I drilled with the Seattle ACS and the hubs on May 17. I am still involved in drilling with the GMRS radios which are very important in the event of an emergency. Yesterday a friend and I got her radios out and discovered they were not set correctly. Now she can communicate all over NE Seattle. 




If you are interested in a ham radio license it is not necessary to take a class. The ARRL study manuals appear dense, but they are well laid out and you are given all the answers. The exams are given on a monthly basis. The ham community is very open and very generous with their time and knowledge. 

You can get a decent ham radio and backup batteries for less than $50. One of the most popular is the Bao Feng which will also net with the GMRS frequencies and the Maple Leaf repeater. 


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