There are three levels of FCC Amateur Radio "Ham" licenses: Technician, General, and Extra Class. At one time, there were five; the two additional are Novice, and Advanced. You can still find hams who have one of those two licenses.
What is it that you would like to do with your ham radio license? There are a lot of avenues:
Technician licensees may use:
1. VHF and UHF. Your Technician license allows operating on VHF frequencies from 50 MHz up through the microwave bands. You can set up and talk with hams aboard the International Space Station. You can communicate with friends locally through the repeaters or direct with your handheld radio, a mobile installation, or a base station. This operating includes working with local hams on community events like furnishing communications with the March of Dimes, or you can join others who prepare for emergencies including the local Brevard County Sheriff’s Emergency Center. You can also run slow-scan television, fast-scan (real TV) television, moon-bounce, meteor scatter, aurora contacts, etc. You can play with hidden transmitter hunting (fox-hunting), or become a weather-spotter as examples.
2. HF. You can talk on 10 meters on SSB, and if the band is open, you can reach out pretty much internationally. You can talk on CW on 10 meters, 15, 40 and 80. Learning morse code is not as difficult as it sounds.
Many new hams are not interested in doing more than that.
Or, you can upgrade to the next level called the General license. Then there are a lot more avenues:
1. Making SSB contacts on HF on more of the 10 meter band, and 12, 15, 17, 20, 40, 60, 80, and 160 meters.
2. Making CW or digital contacts on those bands plus 30 meters. The digital modes include PSK (which is keyboard to keyboard), JT65, JT9, FT-8, FT-4 and a variety of unusual modes.
3. Make contacts on a variety of those modes with stations all over the world. That is “DXing.” You can run 1,500 watts output, or nothing more than 1 watt output and be surprised where you can reach. When you work 100 different countries, you qualify for the DXCC award.
4. You can try different antennas… everything from stealth antennas your neighbors can’t spot, up through large tower installations. Antennas make the difference. You can have efficient antennas on your car so you can operate from the woods or beach. You can stick a series of telescoping fiberglass poles into the sand at the beach, string up an antenna and work the world. The opportunities are plentiful for joining a local club or two, meeting for breakfast or lunch or dinner with hams in the nearby area, or participate in contests… the largest of those is field-day the last full weekend in June.
The top level of license is the Extra Class. Then you have all the priveleges on all the ham bands. On the lower end of the CW bands, there is extra territory. Also, on 15, 20, 40, and 75 meters, there are segments which are only allotted to Extra Class.
There is a Ham Band chart which is on the ARRL.org website: www.ARRL.org You can find which segments are provided for Extra Class (E), Advanced (A), General (G), Technician (T), and Novice (N).
....and to see who is connected to any call letters: www.QRZ.com You plug in anyone's callsign where it says Enter Query and find out about them and where they are. As an example, try W4GAL in the small box in the upper left-hand corner, and then hit the search button. Click on the picture in the upper right to make it larger. Several other calls to check: N1ZZ, W1BQ, WB5ZGA, AF4Z, AI4GK, KM4TIX, N4EN, K9ES, AD4ES, KP4MM, and 9A/W4GAL. All those local hams have added their own information on the QRZ.com website. It's fun to find out more and see pictures about the person you just talked with on a ham QSO (contact).
We suggest that you get the ARRL Technician License Manual. However, for the Technician License, we have a slide that you need to memorize, no matter what. Bands and frequencies need to be memorized, even if you don't have time for anything else. This is not something that is logical and easy to retain. If you spend some time on this chart, you will remember it better. It's a head start. Here is the link for that page.
On Saturday, October 3rd, and Sunday October 4th, 2020 we will have an on-line LIVE Zoom class covering the material and questions for the Amateur Radio Technician license. The Melbourne Hamfest will be the following weekend, October 10th and 11th.
Date - October 3 and 4
Time - 9 AM to Noon and 1 PM to 4 PM, on Saturday and 1 PM to 4 PM on Sunday
Cost - Free
Instructor - W4GAL
Book - Recommended: ARRL Technician License Manual, about $30. I have some. If you call me and tell me you want to be in the class, we can arrange to get a book to you if you want one. The ARRL bookstore was out of these when I checked.
Amateur Radio exams will be given during the hamfest, but not at the hamfest. Further information is available on the PCARS website.
Over the two days of the class, we will cover EACH of the possible questions on the exam and the reasons for the right choice. We will NOT be covering all the aspects of ham radio. That you will pick up as you go along toward your General license and beyond. There are a total of 35 questions on the Technician exam. This exam is do-able when you focus your efforts on the material. My two grandchildren, ages 14 and 17 just passed the Technician exam in Guam a few weeks ago. They are now NH2NH and KH2AK. The first FCC exam I took was on my 13th birthday. My daughter KØJTM passed her first FCC exam when she was 10.
I would appreciate a phone call telling me you are going to be in the class, and I will supply the link to get into the Zoom room with me for both days. We can then arrange for a book if you wish. My phone number is 352-871-4279.... FLA-US1-GARY.
Link to the Melbourne (PCARS) website with information about the club and the coming Hamfest: PCARS