Things about Ham Radio it would be good to know

This radio ham is operating on 2 meters. Why is her hair so funny? Why is her ham shack so cluttered? Why all the cameras?
She is an Astronaut on the International Space Station talking on 2 meters with hams on Earth. Hair goes wild in Zero gravity.

Can I talk with the ISS? Well... Yes. Kind of.
How do you do that? We have a local expert.
Does the ISS have a heavy braided copper strap connecting everything to earth ground? Huh?

Are there ham repeaters in the sky? Yes, they're called satellites.
Hams have been bouncing RF off our first satellite for many years. It's known as "the moon."
Other bouncing modes include meteor scatter and aurora scatter. Fun stuff.

Where can I transmit? This LINK shows where you may transmit as a Technician, General, and Extra.
Always be alert to where the band edges are for your license, and stay back 3 or more kHz.
On HF, the trick is to learn which bands will work at what times of the day.

Do I need an antenna tuner? If you have full sized antennas, cut to the bands you are on, no.
Many rigs have tuners built-in. That will work fine with antennas that aren't too far from tuned.
If you are using a compromised or strange antenna, or one with traps, maybe yes.
Antenna tuners don't tune the antenna. They fool the transmitter into thinking it's a perfect match.

Can I get a Vanity call with my initials, like you? Yes, if one is available. Ask K8RAR or N4JGR.
How about a cool call? KO4VVV, KO4XXX, KO4YYY, KO4ZZZ? Yes. Grab it before it's issued!
My guess is after KO4, the FCC will skip over KP (VI, PR) and go to KQ4 like KQ4AAA.
You can also go back through the Ws, Ks, Ns, AAs, as long as you qualify with license class.
Hint: your call is like your name. Once you get used to it you may not want to change.
Is it free? Yes, BUT that is changing. Don't wait. The FCC will SOON be charging $35.
Here is the
Process to apply for a Vanity call.

Finding out about another ham - location - etc. Put your own call in. Top left.
Then try mine: W4GAL. Then try my Puerto Rico call: KP4MM, or try VK6/W4GAL in Australia.
Active hams use this constantly. I'm always surprised when soneone is not taking advantage of it.
You can see how many times people are looking for information about you: Lookups: ___
Can I edit my own QRZ page? Yes. Is it fun to build your page? Yes. Is it free? Yes. Let's talk.
Yes, it's free. But if you pay for the service like I do, there is no advertising. Ha.

Is it a good time to upgrade to the next license? Yes.
Go to

Do we have a lot of camaraderie within the amateur radio community? Yes. On and off the air.
W7DMM is my longest ham-friend. We met in 8th grade study-hall. We were both 13.
We discovered our mutual interest because we were reading the same ham radio catalog!
I was a Novice, he was ready to take his Novice exam, and now we're both turning 80.
To build camaraderie, attend ham gatherings, and get involved. Help others. That's a hint!

Should I know more Q signals? Yes, the Technician license only tests for three.
QRP or QRO? It's your choice (power level). QRX (hang on a minute, I'll be right back).
Here's a list of common Q Signals on an ARRL page. Actual usage can be slightly different.
How do I learn the proper or accepted way of communicating and identifying? Listen. A lot.

What are QSLs? Paper postcards used for the last 100+ years to confirm a QSO. Examples.
Would you like to get some QSLs for your new call? Cheap QSLs. Or KB3IFH QSLs.
Are there other ways of QSLing? Yes, eQSL and LoTW at ARRL to name two.

Do I have to log my QSOs? No, but you might wish you had, later. At least logging early days.
When first on, I thought that I needed to log everything. Pages of CQs with no one coming back.
I still have all my old logs. Now I use a logging program: There are many others.

Should I make my own antennas? Yes. It's more fun and it's cheaper.
Is a dipole a good antenna? A properly cut dipole is an excellent antenna.
A multi-element beam ( Yagi ) is really a dipole with helpers.
How about a full sized flexible whip to extend the range of my hand-held 2 meter transceiver? Yep!
How about putting a home-brew antenna in the attic and connecting to my hand-held? Sure!

What are the frequency bands and names?
MF Medium Frequency .3 mHz to 3 mHz. Includes the AM Broadcast Band and 160 meters.
HF High Frequency 3 mHz to 30 mHz. 80 60 40 30 20 17 15 12 10 meters.
VHF Very High Frequency 30 mHz to 300 mHz. 6, 2, and 1 meters.
UHF Ultra High Frequency 300 mHz to 3 gHz. 440 mHz (70 cm), 902 mHz (33 cm) + 3 more.
SHF Super High Frequency 3 gHz to 30 gHz. 4 more bands.
EHF Extra High Frequency 30 gHz to 300 gHz. 6 more bands.
Then come the Infrared and Visual Spectrum, Ultraviolet, X-Rays, Gamma Rays, etc.

What's a Grid? Am I in a Grid square? Yes, it's an international system for locating ham stations.
Mine is EL98qb in Melbourne. When I'm operating remote from Croatia, it's JN85gv.
Want to find yours? HERE.

When I was licensed as a 13 year old, I was told to never talk about three subjects on the air:
Politics, Religion, and Sexual Innuendos. I still don't today. Much better left unsaid.
If it happens, I find another QSO. I don't stick around. Or I move the power switch to off.

Should I learn morse code? Yes - from a few letters to competence. You're part of history.
Many of the CW examples on YouTube use visual memory. WRONG. Let's talk about this one.

Should I buy lots of equipment? You can if you want. It's an enjoyable part of ham radio.
Are there ways around that? Yes. Or you can buy used gear. Make sure it works first.
Do ham clubs have stations set up that I could use? Some do: PCARS & VBARC.
If you are at a military installation like Patrick, see if there is a MARS station.

Can I operate a remote station? Yes. And you can remotely control your own station.
You can also operate remotely through to many stations for free.
You can also operate remotely through It's not free.

What is DX? Distant stations.
How far away is that? It depends somewhat on the frequency/band.
On HF, It could be Europe, Central and South America, Africa, Asia, or Australia.
On SHF, it could be a mountain top you can see from the mountain top where you are.

Can I interface my computer with my station? Oh, yes. In so many ways.

Who is the control operator at my station? Raise your right hand...

Are there mentors available to help me? Yes.