Welcome to Amateur Radio

Downloadable PDF link

First and foremost join a local club. They may seem like a bunch of old geezers. There is a wealth of knowledge, and training, if only you take the time to listen and ask questions. They won’t bite.

Columbia Amateur Radio Association is our club serving Columbia County. The Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) has a search engine for locating a club in your neighborhood.

Looking for a new, or new to you, radio.

Used radios can be purchased from the usual sources

What should I purchase for my first radio?

    • Whom do you wish to communicate with?

    • Will you be operating predominantly fixed, mobile or portable?

    • If portable,

      • Do you want known quality?

      • Easily programmable in a field environment

      • These manufacturers set our industry standards (Alinco, Icom, Kenwood, Yaesu)

    • Do you wish to operate on some of the new digital modes (dmr, d-star, ysf, wires-x)?

    • If you hike or off-road you may want APRS capabilities. With this mode activated others will know where you are and your current status.

On what frequencies can I operate? What types (am, fm, ssb, cw, digital) of communication takes place on each band.

If you are like me, my first radio was a Handie Talkie (Handheld or HT). I figured I could operate in the car, in the yard or in the house with just one radio. I quickly learned that the small amount of RF produced by the radio AND the small antenna radiating was severely limiting (< 10 miles).

I own a dual band (VHF & UHF) mobile (> 50 watts) radio for my house and car and a gain antenna for operating most repeaters within 25 miles. I still own a couple of HT’s for portable operation.

For communications over-the-horizon (> 50 miles) I own an HF (3 - 30 MHz) radio. With this radio I am able to communicate with almost anyone in the U.S. limited only by current band conditions (another subject for another time).

What local repeaters are accessible to my radio? I utilize Repeater Book for almost all of my searches for both local, on the road, and visiting friends and family. For local (< 10 miles) on an HT I may have access to a few repeaters. When I’m operating from my mobile or in the house my area of operation increases significantly (> 25 miles).

Now after having said all that and you’ve gone out and purchased a HT or Mobile radio. Follow the link on how to program the radio.

Like I stated in the beginning, find a club. Secondly join ARRL. They:

    • Are our liaison with the Federal Communications Commision

    • Sponsor conventions and on-the-air events

    • Provide a monthly magazine with all the latest and greatest radios and gadgets

    • Training materials and webinars

    • I could devote a whole page to the describing the value they add to amateur radio

    • Should I join ARRL? Yes