Licensing & Education

Amateur Radio (also called Ham Radio) is the use of designated radio frequency spectrum for purposes of private recreation, non-commercial exchange of messages, wireless experimentation, self-training, and emergency communication.  The term "amateur" is used to specify persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest, and to differentiate it from commercial broadcasting, public safety (such as police and fire), or professional two-way radio services (such as maritime, aviation, taxis, etc.).

Some sites to get an idea of what Ham Radio is about:

American Radio Relay League
What is Ham Radio?

W5YI: About Amateur Radio

Wikipeda Amateur Radio - Covers history, activities, practices, licensing, in space, and Amateur Radio in pop culture.

LEARA Training Classes

No classes planned at this time.

LEARA Elmers

Throughout the history of Amateur Radio many more experienced members of the ham radio community have mentored newer members in every facet of the hobby.  These mentors are known as "Elmers."  LEARA has a group of Elmers who are ready and waiting to assist beginners and those willing to learn more about Amateur Radio.

If you (or someone you know) is a new licensee or is thinking of becoming an Amateur Radio operator and would like assistance, please send an e-mail message to LEARA's Elmers or contact Marv - W8AZO.  If there is no answer, please leave a message that includes:

  1. Your name.
  2. Call sign.  If not yet a ham, indicate that you are interested in becoming one.
  3. What kind of help you need (e.g.: basic operation, radio/antenna set-up & tuning, CW practice, etc.).
  4. Your home address.  This will be used so we may match you with a nearby "Elmer."
  5. A phone number where the "Elmer" may contact you.
  6. Any other details that might help us choose the proper Elmer for you.

How do I get my Ham Radio license?

You can get your Ham Radio license in three easy steps:

  1. Study the question pools or training manuals.
  2. Take practice tests.
  3. Find an exam session near you.

Question Pools & Training Materials

To obtain an Amateur Radio license or upgrade your current license class, you'll need to be aware of the material that will appear on the exam.  The ARRL VEC Question Pools include all possible questions you might see on the exam.  The Question Pools change every few years, so if you've put down the books for a while, you should get the latest questions.

The latest ARRL VEC Question Pools are available for free and for all Amateur Radio license classes.  There are three classes: Technician (entry level), General, and Extra.  Each license class gives you more privileges and frequencies in which you can operate.  The ARRL Question Pools are simply the questions and answers.  They do not include explanations of the questions and answers as you would find in a training manual.  The ARRL and W5YI offer excellent training manuals for every Amateur Radio license class.

A free alternative to the license manuals are the "No-Nonsense Study Guides."  They are available for the Kindle, Nook, or PDF.

Practice Tests

Once you feel you know the material well enough, you can take some online sample tests.  The HamExam testing system will track your progress and give you an idea of how well you're doing.

Don't take just one practice test because the question selection for the actual exam is random.  Take multiple sample tests to make sure you know the material thoroughly.  When constantly achieving test scores of 80% - 85% or higher indicates a readiness to take the exam.  A 74% or higher is needed to pass the exams meaning the maximum wrong is 9 for the Technician and General, 13 for the Extra.

Another popular site for practice exams is QRZ.

Exam Testing Sessions

Once you feel you know the questions well enough and have passed sample tests, you're ready to take your exam.  Both the ARRL and W5YI websites keep listings of testing sessions.  Check these sites couple times a month as they are frequently updated.

Once you've decided on a date and location, contact the Volunteer Exam Coordinator (VEC) to reserve a seat at that session.  Even if walk-ins are allowed, it's still a good idea to contact the VEC to verify information such as: location, directions, date, start time, testing fee, valid forms of ID, and test you plan on taking so the VEC has enough copies.  You definitely need to contact the VEC ahead of time if you have any special needs or any assistance is required in completing the exam; such as a large print edition.  For the exam session you are allowed to bring pens or pencils (preferred- so you can change answers) and a basic or scientific calculator.  You are not allowed to bring calculators that store programs or text.  The testing fee for the exams is about $15.

Once you've passed your exam and received your license, you're ready to become a LEARA member!  Congratulations!

To help you get started in Ham Radio or started with your new privileges, the ARRL offers a wide selection of products you will find useful.