It was exactly three weeks from the time I decided to get into ham radio and when I was able to take the technician license. It has now been another week since I passed the test and still do not have my license. For those keeping track at home that is a month of not being able to transmit on my radio. I received my first radio, the Baofeng UV-5R, two days (thanks Amazon) after deciding to dive into this hobby. The last few weeks have been filled with excitement but also frustration that I can’t transmit on this radio.
But there is a massive benefit to this “waiting period.” This time has given me the opportunity to do a ton of research and learn more about what it is I will be doing once my license hits the FCC database. It has also allowed me to listen to hours of radio and get to know how conversations function and the general etiquette for my area repeaters. I have learned which repeaters have groups of individuals I want to interact with… and which ones are not a good fit for me.
A month into listening with my radio I am glad that I did not have my license day one and glad that I had time to learn. I would have been making quite a few rookie mistakes had I jumped on the band right away and begun transmitting. Don’t get me wrong, I will be making plenty of mistakes on my first day (more like year) of transmitting, but I think it will be far less now that I have monitored the nets for a month.
What about equipment? During my wait I have tweaked and altered the equipment I am using and have found a decent setup for my home and mobile rig. Being only able to Rx has enabled me to do a ton of testing without frustrating my local hams by constantly doing Tx tests. I will definitely have to test my setup for Tx once I have my license but I have upgraded my antenna and moved it over a dozen times around my home to finally find a spot where I am able to get good reception on most of the local repeaters.
So what is my advice for new amateur radio enthusiasts waiting to take their test or for their license to hit the database? Listen, and listen a lot. Get on the local nets and see what they are all about. Try as many of them as possible. You will notice that the different repeaters attract different personalities and facilitate different types of conversations. That way, by the time you have your license you will be ready to participate and make great connections.
73 – Mike