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Ham Radio For Dummies

Ham Radio For Dummies

H. Ward Silver

ISBN: 978-0-764-55987-7

Apr 2004

384 pages

Select type: Paperback

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It’s time we cleared the air about ham radio. If you think of it as staticky transmissions sent by people in the middle of nowhere, think again. Today’s ham radio goes beyond wireless to extreme wireless, Operators transmit data and pictures, use the Internet, laser, and microwave transmitters, and travel to places high and low to make contact. In an emergency or natural disaster, ham radio can replace downed traditional communication and save lives. Whether you’re just getting turned on to ham radio or already have your license, Ham Radio for Dummies helps you with the terminology, the technology and the talknology. You discover how to:
  • Decipher the jargon and speak the language
  • Buy or upgrade your equipment, including the all-important antennas
  • Build a ham radio shack, complete with the rig, a computer, mobile/base rig, microphones, keys, headphones, antennas, cables and feedlines
  • Study for your license, master Morse code, take the test and get your call sign
  • Understand the basics of ragchews (conversations), nets (organized on-air meetings) and DX-ing (competing in contacts to make contacts)
  • Keeping logs with the vital statistics, including time (in UTC or World Time), frequency, and call sign

Written by Ward Silver, an electrical engineer, Certified Amateur Radio License Examiner, and columnist for QST, a monthly magazine for ham operators, Ham Radio for Dummies gives you the info you need to delve into the science or dive into the conversation. It explains how you can:

  • Tune in to the most common types of signals, including Morse Code (CW), single-sideband (SSB), FM, Radioteletype (RTTY), and data signals
  • Break in, introduce yourself, converse, and say or signal goodbye
  • Communicate while traveling (ham radio goes where mobile phones go dead)
  • Register with an emergency organization such as ARES and RACES
  • Help in emergencies such as earthquakes, wildfires, or severe weather
  • Pursue your special interests, including contacting distant stations, participating in contests, exploring the digital modes, using satellites, transmitting images, and more

Complete with a glossary and ten pages of additional suggested resources, Ham Radio for Dummies encourages you to touch that dial and take that mike.

CUL. (That’s Morse Code for “see you later.”)


Part I: What Is Ham Radio All About?

Chapter 1: Getting Acquainted with Ham Radio.

Chapter 2: Getting a Handle on Ham Radio Technology.

Chapter 3: Finding Other Hams: Your Support Group.

Part II: Wading through the Licensing Process.

Chapter 4: Figuring Out the Licensing System.

Chapter 5: Studying for Your License.

Chapter 6: Taking the Test.

Chapter 7: Obtaining Your License and Call Sign.

Part III: Hamming It Up.

Chapter 8: Making Contact.

Chapter 9: Casual Operating.

Chapter 10: Operating with Intent.

Chapter 11: Specialties.

Part IV: Building and Operating a Station That Works.

Chapter 12: Getting on the Air.

Chapter 13: Organizing Your Shack.

Chapter 14: Housekeeping (Logs and QSLs).

Chapter 15: Hands-On Radio.

Part V: The Part of Tens.

Chapter 16: Ten Secrets for Beginners.

Chapter 17: Ten Secrets of the Masters.

Chapter 18: Ten First Station Tips.

Chapter 19: Ten Easy Ways to Have Fun on the Radio.

Chapter 20: Ten Ways to Give Back to Ham Radio.

Part VI: Appendixes.

Appendix A: Glossary.

Appendix B: The Best References.


Bonus Chapter
From here, you can download and read the bonus chapter that we've made available in Adobe PDF format. If you don't already have it, you'll need Adobe Reader to view this file.
FM Radio Feature Comparison Table
Here is an FM Radio Feature Comparison Table for your use as well in Microsoft Word format.

Web Resources

1000 Miles Per Watt award

10-10 International Club:

50 MHz Propagation Logger

AC6V's Amateur Radio and DX Reference Guide:

Adventure Radio Society:

Amateur Radio Webring:

American QRP Club:


ARRL (American Radio Relay League):

ARRL Contester's Rate Sheet :

ARRL Contest Calendar:

ARRL DX Bulletin:

ARRL's callsign lookup service:

Band plans:

Bernie McClenny W3UR's Daily DX bulletin:

Buckmaster Publishing Hamcall:

Calling frequencies:

Callsign databases:

Carribbean Emergency and Weather Net:

Common Q-signals:

Contester's Rate Sheet:

CQ Magazine:

CQ VHF Quarterly:

CTCSS (Continuous Tone Coded Squelch System) or PL (Private-Line) code frequencies:

CW (Morse code) abbreviations:

CW (Morse code) prosigns (combinations of characters that are sent as single characters without any extra spacing):

Daily DX:

DX Magazine:

DX Summit:

Electrical Contractor's Safety Forum:


FCC Web site's list of organizations that serve as Volunteer Examiner Coordinators (VECs) in the different regions of the U.S.:

FCC's License Search Web page:

FISTS (International Society for Morse Preservation):


G-QRP club:

High Speed Multimedia Radio (HSMM):

Hurricane Watch Net:

International Telecommunications Union Standard Phonetics and non-English DX Phonetics:

International Telecommunications Union:

K3FN Air Mail Postage Service:


Logbook of the World (LOTW):

Maritime Mobile Service Net:

Meteor Scatter:

Metric prefixes:

National Contest Journal:

National Contest Journal:

Online licensing exams:

OPDX Bulletin:

QRP Amateur Radio Club (QRP ARCI)


RF Safety Calculator:

RSGB Propagation Page:

Six Meter International Radio Klub (SMIRK):


SM3CER's Contest Calendar:


Sparks Telegraph Key Review:

TAPR (Tucson Amateur Packet Radio):

The First Class CW Operator's Club (FOC):

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

The national VEC organization Web sites that list test sessions:

The RF Connection:

US Amateur Allocations subbands:

US Frequency Allocation Chart:

US Post Office postage rates:

VK4DX's Contest Calendar:

VUCC (VHF/UHF Century Club):

W1AW operating schedule:

WA7BNM's Contest Calendar:

Western Washington DX Club:

WF5E QSL Service:

Worldradio magazine:

Yahoo! Amateur and Ham Radio Directory:

Yankee Clipper Contest Club:

YLRL (Young Lady Radio League)