Ham Radio For Dummies Cheat Sheet
If you’re new to ham radio, these articles contain information that new ham radio operators should keep handy while gathering experience. You’ll find these references to be just what you need while learning to navigate the radio bands and make contacts. Bookmarking the websites in your web browser will help you while you’re online, too.
Technician Class Frequency Privileges in Ham Radio
When you’re getting started, remembering where you’re allowed to operate is important. As a Technician licensee, you have free access to all amateur frequencies above 50 MHz, but what about on the shortwave high-frequency (HF) bands? This chart helps you follow the rules. A band-by-band plan showing where to find different types of activity is available from the American Radio Relay League (ARRL).
|Band||Frequencies (In MHz)||Modes You Can Use|
|80 meters||3.525 – 3.600||CW|
|40 meters||7.025 – 7.125||CW|
|15 meters||21.025 – 21.200||CW|
|10 meters||28.000 – 28.300
28.300 – 28.500
|CW, RTTY/data, 200 watts PEP maximum power
CW, phone, 200 watts PEP maximum power
|Above 50 MHz||All amateur privileges|
CW = Morse code; PEP = peak envelope power; RTTY = radioteletype.
General Class Frequency Privileges in Ham Radio
Soon, if you haven’t done so already, you’ll be thinking about upgrading. You have many more frequencies to use on the high-frequency (HF) bands, as shown in the following table. A complete chart of the U.S. frequency and mode privileges for all license classes is available from the American Radio Relay League (ARRL).
|Band||Frequencies (in MHz)||Mode|
|160, 60, 30 meters||All amateur privileges|
|80 meters||3.525–3.600||CW, RTTY, data|
|3.800–4.000||CW, phone, image|
|40 meters||7.025–7.125||CW, RTTY, data|
|7.175–7.300||CW, phone, image|
|20 meters||14.025–14.150||CW, RTTY, data|
|14.225–14.350||CW, phone, image|
|15 meters||21.025–21.200||CW, RTTY, data|
|21.275–21.450||CW, phone, image|
|17, 12, 10 meters||All amateur privileges|
|Above 50 MHz||All amateur privileges|
CW = Morse code; RTTY = radioteletype.
Common Ham Radio Q Signals
Hams use three-letter Q signals on every mode and even in face-to-face conversation. Here are the Q signals most commonly used in day-to-day operation. Each signal can be a question or an answer, as shown in the Meaning column. A complete list of ham radio Q signals, including those used on nets and repeaters, is available from the AC6V website.
|QRL||Is the frequency busy?
The frequency is busy. Please do not interfere.
|QRM||Abbreviation for interference from other signals.|
|QRN||Abbreviation for interference from natural or human-made
|QRO||Shall I increase power?
|QRP||Shall I decrease power?
|QRQ||Shall I send faster?
Send faster (__words per minute [wpm]).
|QRS||Shall I send more slowly?
Send more slowly (__wpm).
|QRT||Shall I stop sending or transmitting?
Stop sending or transmitting.
|QRU||Have you anything more for me?
I have nothing more for you.
|QRV||Are you ready?
I am ready.
|QRZ||Who is calling me?|
|QSB||Abbreviation for signal fading.|
|QSL||Did you receive and understand?
Received and understood.
|QSO||Abbreviation for a contact.|
|QST||General call preceding a message addressed to all
|QSX||I am listening on ___ kHz.|
|QSY||Change to transmission on another frequency (or to ___
|QTH||What is your location?
My location is ____.
Common Ham Radio Repeater Channel Spacings and Offsets
Until you become accustomed to using repeaters on all the different ham radio bands, this chart can help you remember the right offsets and channel spacings to use. Many radios have the standard options preprogrammed, but you need to be aware of what they should be.
|Band||Output Frequencies of Each Group (In MHz)||Offset from Output to Input Frequency|
|6 meters||51.62 – 51.98
52.5 – 52.98
53.5 – 53.98
|– 500 kHz|
|2 meters (a mix of 20 kHz and 15 kHz channel spacing)||145.2 – 145.5
146.61 – 146.97
147.00 – 147.39
|– 600 kHz
– 600 kHz
+ 600 kHz
|222 MHz or 1-1/4 meters||223.85 – 224.98||– 1.6 MHz|
|440 MHz or 70 cm (local options determine whether inputs are
above or below outputs)
|442 – 445 (California repeaters start at 440 MHz)
447 – 450
|+ 5 MHz
– 5 MHz
|1296 MHz or 23 cm||1282 – 1288
1290 – 1294
|– 12 MHz|
Your Ham Radio Go Kit
Would you be ready if a call came from your local public service group to provide some ham radio expertise for a day or so? Items in the following list are the basics of what should be in your radio go kit. Now is a good time to check your supplies and be prepared! Don’t forget to put together a personal go kit, too.
Dual-band (VHF/UHF) handheld radio and mini manual
Full-size flexible whip antenna
- Copy of your Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license and any public service group or government agency IDs
Mag-mount antenna with necessary adapters for connecting to various connectors
Extra battery packs and charger
AA-cell battery pack if available and fresh batteries
AC power supply and cigarette-plug cord with spare fuses
Headset with microphone (preferred) or speaker-mic
Copy of your local emcomm frequencies, phone numbers, and procedures
Pocket knife and/or multipurpose tool
Flashlight or headlamp and spare batteries
Pencil and notebook, clipboard, and permanent marker
Duct tape, electrical tape, and a few small cable ties
Cash for food, gas, and telephone calls (about $20 in small bills and change)
10 Handy Ham Radio Websites
The most common question asked by newcomers to ham radio is “How do I…?” These ten websites are full of information that you can use as you try new things or hone your existing skills. Be sure to bookmark these pages in your home and mobile browsers.
|Website||Organization and Use|
|ARRL||Many useful regulatory, educational, operating, and technical items and links|
|AC6V and DX Zone||General-interest websites with many links on all phases of ham radio|
|QRZ.com||Call sign lookup service and general-interest ham radio portal|
|eHam.net||News, articles, equipment swap-and-shop, product reviews, and mailing lists|
|Radiowave Propagation Center||Real-time information on propagation and solar data|
|Space Weather Prediction Center||Real-time information on space weather and radio communications|
|TAPR||Information on digital data modes and software-defined radio (SDR)|
|AMSAT||Main site for information on amateur satellites|
|WA7BNM Contest Calendar||Contest calendar and log due dates|
|YOTA (Youngsters On the Air)||World-wide group for student and young adult hams, based in Europe|
|DXMAPS.com||Collection of real-time maps showing worldwide activity on any amateur band|
|DX Summit||Worldwide DX spotting network|