HAM Radio Classes Online – Ham Radio Tests Online
Get your Ham Radio Class Exam and Courses Finished Online Today with My Off-Road Radio
If you are an off-road enthusiast or a thrill seeker at all, you need communication. We recently wrote a post on the top off-road 4Runner tools and accessories, and HAM radio was in there. HAM radio is one of the most important 4Runner Accessories you can have at all times. Communication off-road is incredibly important. Whether you are with your crew or heading out solo, you need to have communication.
Today, we get the opportunity to go over HAM radio in detail with expert Tyler who owns My Off-Road Radio. Tyler is here to explain HAM radio in detail so we can all understand just how important it is. Until now, I had no idea HAM radio was as capable and robust as it is. While extremely robust, HAM radio is pretty simple once you get to know a few of the basics. Let’s jump in!
Ham Radio For The Backwoods
Ham Radio has started making waves in the offroading communities. But why? Is it really better than CBs? Is it really better than the family radios you can get at WalMart and Bass Pro Shops? Is it better than smoke signals? Does a bear do its business in the woods?
Ham radios profit from the ability to not only have an immensely clearer signal than CBs, but you can get a much further range than all of the above. So, not only do ham radios work the best for trail communications, but when you are away from cell reception, it is the most cost-effective means of getting help when you need it. Think of ham radio as an insurance investment to not only make sure that you have a good time with your buddies but that you also make it back home.
Ham Radio – Different Licenses for Different Privileges
My Off-Road Radio is an online resource for HAM Radio Classes. If you have any questions at all about HAM radio or communication off the beaten path, check out myoffroadradio.com. Ok, now let’s go over the different levels of HAM radio license.
There are 3 levels of licenses for ham radio operators:
The main difference between all of them is what frequencies you are allowed to operate on. Radio waves are a crazy source of voodoo magic, and certain frequencies can carry your signal quite literally worldwide. Imagine sitting on top of a mountain near you, and talking to someone in China, Spain, Lithuania, Russia, etc. Pretty cool huh?
Now take that same situation, but talking to someone in North Korea. Pretty uncool huh? Depending on what you talk about with that person, could stir up some bad situations between our 2 nations. Thus, in order to use ham radio, you need to know how to use it safely and responsibly. In order to talk locally (within 300 miles of your location), you need to know a few things about how electricity works, and how repeaters work, and what kind of etiquette to observe on the airwaves, so you get your Technician License.
In order to start talking worldwide, you will probably need to start using more power in your radios and operate on the frequencies that travel across the globe. Thus you need to know a little more about international communications, and electrical safety, thus putting you into a General License. An Extra License just earns you a little more bandwidth on the global frequencies to play around on, but you really need to know what you are doing, and that test is a doozy.
Most off-roaders, hikers, backpackers, campers, overlanders, will be able to get the Technician License and never need or want to go further into ham radio. As a Technician License and a 25$ handheld ham radio, you can usually always find someone to talk to within 300 miles of you.
Ham Radio – The Distance Communications
- GMRS: General Mobile Radio Service
- MURS: Multiple Use Radio Service
- CB: Citizens Band
- VHF: Very High Frequency
- UHF: Ultra High Freuquency
- FRS: Family Radio Service
There are several reasons why ham radio just works better. For one, ham radios are limited to “only” 1,500 watts of output power at the antenna. For comparison, CBs are limited to a weak, measly, and piddly 4 watts of power. FRS and MURS radio services are even worse at 2 watts of power.
So, for the 2 main frequency types that technician ham radios function on (VHF and UHF), the more power you have, the further your signal goes. That is not always the case with CB since CB works in the HF frequencies, but only having 4 watts at your disposal certainly doesn’t help its case compared to 1,500 watts.
GMRS radios are capped at 50 watts of power, but they generally will run just as much power in a GMRS handheld as a ham radio handheld. And same with mobile radios, which all typically run the full 50 watts. The main difference comes if you want to boost your signal with an amplifier. Amps are illegal for all of the common radio services except ham radio.
If GMRS and Ham Radios generally operate at about the same amount of power, then why not just get some GMRS radios? For one, it’s more expensive. For the price of a GMRS license ($70), you can get a ham radio license online and 2 handheld ham radios. While GMRS radios work awesome for trail communications and talking vehicle to vehicle, they suffer from not having repeaters outside of high populated areas.
In California alone, there are over 2,600 ham repeaters, that cover almost every square inch of the state. So, just the access to repeaters alone (because, remember, ham radio is your rescue insurance!) makes ham radios superior to every other form of radio communication for backwoods adventures.
Going a step further with your HAM Radio License
To add to the distance game, once you step up into a General Class License, you can really get radio signals out. A general class gets privileges in the HF (high frequency) spectrum. What makes this a big deal, is that radio waves in the HF spectrum behave differently in earths atmosphere. They end up at just the right wavelength to bounce around in our ionosphere. This phenomenon is known as propagation.
Propagation allows radio signals to travel further than line of sight, and actually reach over the horizon and around the curvature of the earth by skipping through the atmosphere. The more skips you can get, the further your signal goes. It is not uncommon to point a directional antenna east, and hear your radio signal come in from behind you from the west, which means your signal literally circumvented the globe.
So, if you have a general license, and the necessary equipment to communicate on the HF bands, you will 100% always be able to get ahold of someone willing to help you get out of your predicament.
WTF Is A Ham Radio Repeater?
That is a great question, I am glad you asked! A repeater is a computer controlled, automated radio that takes an incoming signal, and simultaneously, repeats it back out into the world. What makes these awesome, is that because they are about the size of a single server closet, they can sit up on top of mountains and ridges, and transmit at higher powers than your handheld or even mobile radio.
This gives them a much broader range than you just trying to talk person to person. It is not uncommon to receive signals from repeaters upwards of 300 miles away. The other nice thing about repeaters, is that because of their wide area coverage, and their ease of access, there are usually people monitoring repeaters at most hours of the day. Imagine if you are stuck somewhere, and need help, how many people you could reach within a 100-300 mile radius.
Is a HAM Radio License difficult to get?
In short, no the license is not difficult. A huge part of the Technician License is knowing the rules and etiquette of being on the air, and being able to possibly talk to other countries. You need to know the basics of what ham radios are capable of, so that you know why it is so important to observe proper etiquette on the airwaves. There is a lesser part of the exam that will test you on basic electricity, and electrical safety.
What makes ham radio seem difficult, is that most classes are taught for the hobbyist. A ham radio hobbyist is generally an engineer of some sort, a very analytical individual that loves building things and doing things under their own power. Because of this, most classes that you can take for ham radio are based on teaching electrical theory, antenna theory, propagation theory, sunspot cycles, and other snafooz (situations you don’t expect to happen).
Off-roaders typically don’t need or want, to know about any of those above topics. They just want a form of communication to work when they need it to work.
My Off Road Radio has developed an Online HAM Radio Class specifically for off-roaders and outdoor adventurists. The nice thing about this course is that it doesn’t go into theory, but rather, application. It covers the topics and exact questions you will encounter on the exam to get you through the exam.
It then helps you understand how ham radio applies, benefits, and is used by those that regularly wander away from cell reception. And you can do it all from the comfort of your couch. The included audio for each topic allows you to read at your own pace, read along while listening to the audio, or just play the audio, sit back and soak it all in.