Ham radio is trending ... and Preppers know why. During a disaster, normal communications can fail and cellphone towers may get jammed. Your ham radio will keep you in contact with ham operators all over the world, even with astronauts in space.
But before you delve into the world of handhelds, transceivers, amplifiers, and antennas ... you need a license. Technically, you don't need one to listen, and in an emergency who's gonna check your license, but you might as well do it right.
The FCC license is free, with about a $15 fee to take the exam. Your own budget will determine how much you spend on online courses, books & study aids.
Here's how to get ready for the exam:
1) Get a book from the library | We love Technician Class by Gordon West. The ARRL (Amateur Radio Relay League) recommends The Ham Radio License Manual. Both are available on Amazon if you want your own.
2) Pick a study method (included in each of the above books) | There are only 35 questions on the exam; you must get 26 of them right. But there's a pool of 394 questions, so plan on doing some studying.
3) Find An Exam Session on the ARRL website
4) Take the exam | Worst case is you don't pass and you have to take it again.
5) Join a Local Radio Club | Once you have your license, you'll have lots of questions. This is the place to start asking them.
For more information:
One of things that helped us alot was a free iPhone/iPad app called Ham Radio Exam - Tech. It works like interactive flashcards. This one was of several ham radio study apps, so see if there's one you ilke better.
We also lucked out and found a great online course taught by Mitch Stern - HamClass.net - and followed it up with Mitch's all-day study session and exam in New Hampshire. Check online to see if there's anything like this in your area. You might start with your local ham radio club.
Amateur radio operators are some of the friendliest, and most helpful, folks you'll ever meet. If you still have questions, ask if you can attend one of their meetings.
We can't even begin to describe the sense of accomplishment we felt upon seeing our call sign in the FCC database. And in the Prepper World ... it's good to have skills!!