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What is Amateur Radio

This page is about Amateur Radio as a hobby.
If you want to know more about listening to Amateur Radio signals, follow this link.

About Amateur Radio

Amateur Radio is a hobby that means different things to different people.

As a full Amateur Radio licence holder, you could:

What about two way radio systems that don't need licences?

There are two types of radio systems that you or I could legally use without getting a licence. They are:

PMR446 (Sometimes just called PMR)

PMR446 is limited to small hand-held radios with built in aerials and a maximum power of ½ watt. There are up to 16 channels available. They are ideal for communicating within a small venue or for children to play with.

Citizens Band

Citizens Band (CB) radios are limited to one band, 4 watts and a maximum aerial size. Users are mainly interested in chatting and passing information over a distance of a few miles.

Radio Amateurs have 27 bands, often with hundreds of 'channels' one each band, up to 400 watts on most bands and no limits on aerials (except for the planning authorities). They are free to experiment and to contact others throughout the world - and beyond.

Many of us started as short wave listeners or CB radio enthusiasts.

Licences

You donít need a licence to listen to Amateur Radio but you do need a licence to transmit. There are three types of licence available:

Each licence requires applicants to pass an examination. The foundation and intermediate licences also require applicants to complete a number of practical assessments. You can study for the exams and assessments yourself or attend one of our courses. These courses are free but you may need to supply your own tools (which you will probably need anyway) and a small project at the Intermediate level.

In order to obtain a full licence, you need to take two practical assessments and take three examinations. However, lots of people find that they can do what they want to do with just a foundation (or intermediate) licence. If you do want to progress then you can do it at your own pace. There is no pressure to take the next level. On the other hand, you could progress to a full licence very quickly if you want to.

Is Amateur Radio Dangerous?

It can be, but so is crossing the road. However, it's no more dangerous than you want it to be. If you use ready built equipment at low power levels then it can be very safe. On the other hand, if you want to build your own high power transmitter then you have to know what you are doing. Soldering irons are hot and transmitter voltages are high. But that's what the courses are all about.

Is Amateur Radio Expensive?

Again, it can be, but it needn't be. The licence itself is free although you will need to pay the exam fees which currently (August 2016) are:

There is lots of second hand equipment available at reasonable prices and the club has equipment that you can use without charge on club nights.

Where do I start?

If you have a radio that is capable of listening to Amateur Signals, we have a page of information on frequencies, language and call-signs. The page also tells you what to look for in a radio to start listening.

If you are already hooked and want to get a licence, see the Foundation Course page.

Alternatively, why not come along to the club. We will be delighted to see you, demonstrate Amateur Radio using the club’s equipment (which is available for licenced members to use) and tell you more about our fascinating hobby

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