So, I qualified for my amateur radio license in November. I was asked the other night about how to go about acquiring one for yourself. My response was pretty simple:

Studying at , paying $15 to take the test at a club, $35 for the baofeng + $10 for a Nagoya na-701.


But I thought in addition to fleshing out some links, I would give some other things that I’ve learned in the few month I’ve had my license.

Studying for your test at is great. It’s not the eye stabber that most ham test sites are. But you will learn the questions and answers. You’ll need to read outside of that to learn how to actually ham. Thankfully, almost everyone in the community I’ve met is willing to teach you what you need to know and to give advice. Its called elmering. Not everyone will elmer you, but everyone is pretty welcoming and will through a bone to you if they can.


  1. Programming Cable. You definitely want the programming cable. The baofeng is notoriously hard to program. There’s guides online, but this make everything super simple, especially when you pair it with chirp.
  2. SWR Meter. Strictly optional … unless you want to build antennas. I’m not sure how accurate it is, but I get great signal reports on the baofeng after tuning my antenna with it.

Online Resources

  1. Chirp. Its great. It can also be used to backup your radio presets (which I do).
  2. Repeater Book. Repeater book is a great way to learn about the repeaters in your area. Using a repeater is a great way to expand the range of your hand held.


Or, what I wish I could have been told to start
How do I get into a conversation? The correct way is to wait for a pause or break in the conversation, then key and state your call sign.
NATO Phonetics: Please learn them. Please use them. Yes, Kangaroo Dingo Nine Fluffy Chuckie Oppenhiem works, but when you have to revert to phonetics, its probably because the signal isn’t as strong as it could be. As an operator, you’re expecting certain patterns. By using the correct Kilo Delta Nine Foxtrot Charlie Oscar, we’re hearing a pattern we know and thus we can match it better.
Making sure you identify every ten minutes: I purchased this sand timer from Amazon. Flip it the second time, and identify a bit through that second flip.


The antenna is arguably the most important part of your rig. The antenna that comes with the UV5R is crap. That’s why I said to switch for the nagoya. But I also want to throw out the antenna I’m currently using – a 1/4 Wave ground plane. My local ham club is on the 2cm band, so I made and tuned this antenna for the 2cm band. It works great, and under the right conditions I’ve made a 54 mile reach with the 4 watts from my baofeng.


Another thing you can do is reach out for advice through the internet. ##hamradio on freenode is a good place to hang out. Another good amateur radio community online is /r/amateurradio.

That’s all I can think of for now. I’ll post a follow up as I learn more.