Getting started in radio service
International standards required that ham radio services be licensed. This typically means that in every country with ham radio services, applicants must seek government approval before an individual is allowed to transmit using the ham radio.
The reasons for licensing include:
- It allows ham operators to communicate directly even internationally without the use of an intermediary to regulate the communications.
- Licensing also helps in regulating ham radio services from abuse or interference of other radio services such as broadcasting.
- Licensing is also important to help and maintain quality of ham radio services and the operators.
Types of Licenses Extended to Ham Operators
There are usually 3 types of licenses which are extended to ham operators and they form the basis used to determine the type frequency to assign to the ham operators and the operating privileges which the ham operators will enjoy under the license.
The 3 licenses are determined and approved according to the type of exam the operator will sit for and the total score secured by the interested ham candidate. As you go higher in the licenses level, the exam gets harder. Typically, the initial level is a simple exam granting beginners a technician’s license. The exam is at times referred to as an element. You will find it on every license level.
The license is normally valid for ten years after which you are supposed to renew.
Technician’s Class License.
This is the basic license and minimal entry for anybody interested in using ham radio. This license grants one access to use all ham radio band frequencies of 50 MHz or higher.
The privileges for this license includes operating at the maximum legal power limit and also using all available types of communication available on ham radios
Under this license, hams may transmit using voice on part of the 10 metre band or through Morse Code on high frequency (HF) bands below 30 MHz.
To acquire this license you have to sit for a test consisting of 35 multiple-choice questions on the regulations of ham radios and technical radio topics and a pass mark is 26 correct answers or more must be achieved to be granted the license.
(b) General Class License
This license gives ham operators full privileges on almost all amateur frequencies. The general class license exam consists of 35 multiple choice questions on regulations and technical radio topics. The main difference of this test with that done at the technician’s level is that this one is more detailed. Also some new questions are asked.
The pass mark is 36 correct answers.
(e) Amateur Extra Class License
This license grants ham operators all amateur frequencies usage rights and privileges. These extra frequencies include some rare high frequency (HF) bands and the users are therefore considered experts of the ham radio. These extra frequencies are used for contests, contacting rare foreign stations (DXing) etc.
The test for this license consists of 50 multiple choice questions with a pass mark of 37 correct questions. The questions cover additional topics on ham radio regulations which come with advanced ham radio operations and other advanced technical questions.