I finally took the plunge into Amateur Radio and successfully qualified for the Technician Level license on the 12th. Although, I am still waiting for my license to arrive by mail and the call sign to show up on FCC’s website, I am also preparing to qualify for my General Level license, which would give me access to almost all the High Frequency bands for very long distance communications.
The preparation was pretty easy, and between purchasing the study guide and passing the license exam, I spent about 15 days. The Technician level is supposed to be an easy entry path for anyone interested in being a Ham. On the other hand, the General and Amateur Extra levels require much more intensive training in the fundamentals of radio communications, engineering, and regulations. It is definitely to my advantage that I have a degree in electrical engineering with extensive coursework in radio theory and antenna design.
There are exam sessions organized by volunteer examiners several times during a week, and all it takes is a simple email/phone call to register. The exam session I attended was organized at the Police Station/Courthouse in Wake Forest. I got a perfect score on the exam! The VEs coerced me into taking the exam for the General level license on the spot, even though I wasn’t prepared, but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to qualify for that. Needless to say, I am happy that I am now a “ham”, and look forward to graduating to the next level very soon!
Now that I have my license, I intend to complete the requisite courses mandated by the Department of Homeland Security, and successfully enroll in the ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) and the RACES (Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service). Other than volunteering, my other interests at this point are DXing (contacting other fellow hams around the globe), antenna design, and digital communications. There are a multitude of clubs and organizations around the globe, and regular events/conventions are organized on a fairly regular basis (hamfests, Field Day, nets), which makes it very easy for beginners to get their feet wet.
If you are interested in becoming a ham, too, please don’t hesitate in sending me an email for further information/guidance!
UPDATE: I just got my license information from FCC. I will now be known as Saurabh Garg, KI4WAH !