"Amateur Radio is what you make of it once you get your license," said Jim Haynie, W5JBP, ARRL Past President. "Getting a ham ticket doesn't make anyone more intelligent, and learning the ropes usually begins after someone already has a license in hand. You learn by doing," he said.
JOIN OUR LOCAL AMATEUR RADIO CLUBS (SCCARC and KPARC) and attend meetings and club events - if you don't, you're missing a lot of the fun. The SCCARC meeting is held on the first Wednesday of the month at 2:00 and the KPARC meeting is held on the first Monday of the month, September through May, at 2:00. SCCARC's radio room is open from 9:30 - 11:00 A.M. Monday through Friday and has become a popular meeting place to exchange information. KPARC's radio room is open from 10:00 A.M. until noon on Saturdays.
RADIO EQUIPMENT is available from many sources both new and used. Our Clubs have a limited number of 2 meter HT's which licensed Club members can borrow to get a feel of the radios before making the commitment to purchase your own equipment. Our Club members will be more than willing to assist you in the equipment selection process.
GET ON THE AIR and talk to our Club members who will be happy to assist you over this first hurdle. Often times new amateur radio operators are concerned they will do something wrong - don't be - we all have gone through this learning process and yes, all of us have goofed at one time or another.
EMERGENCY TRAINING - SCCARC and KPARC are actively involved in preparing for possible emergencies here in the Tampa Bay area. We encourage you to join us in this important community service project.
The ARRL Web site (www.arrl.org) has a wealth of information for new and experienced amateur radio operators. The monthly magazine QST and additional services are available for ARRL members. The cost of membership is not expensive. You can obtain an e-mail address of "your call"@arrl.net, and you'll qualify for group rate insurance for your radio equipment.
1. FIND a repeater using a repeater directory, or go to http://arrlwcf.org/repeaters.html for repeaters within the Tampa area. Avoid "Kerchunking."
2. LISTEN and familiarize yourself with its operating procedures.
3. TRANSMIT "(your call-sign) Monitoring is all that's needed to attract someone's attention. Don't call CQ on repeaters.
4. To JOIN a conversation in progress, transmit your call between transmissions. Don't use "break."
5. BE COURTEOUS, acknowledge all stations wishing to use the repeater. Invite him/her to join in or make a short call to another station that may be monitoring the frequency.
6. PAUSE between transmissions to allow others to join in. Wait for the courtesy "Beep."
7. BREVITY, keep transmissions short. This permits more people to use the repeater.
8. Always IDENTIFY at end of each series of transmissions or every 10 minutes. You do not need to transmit any other station's call sign. Just yours.
9. Use SIMPLEX whenever possible. Adhere to the band plan.
10. SUPPORT your local repeater groups.
Echolink is an Internet aided method of radio communication. The software and use of Echolink is free to radio amateurs. All that is required is for you to download the software from Echolink.org and register your call with the developer.
How to use Echolink. The two basic modes are using a computer with a headset and microphone to contact hams locally or around the world, or by using a VHF or UHF ham radio to call up Echolink through a repeater node in order to contact amateur operators locally or around the world.
Each registered station is issued a node number and that number can be entered on your radio key pad to reach most any station or repeater that is active. Of course your friends can call you in the same way, by using your assigned node number.
There are many other fun uses of Echolink so join in by listening and asking questions
Last, but not least: Be proud of being an Amateur Radio Operator. Be proud of your call sign - remember you are the ONLY one in the world with that name