New Ham



If you are a new ham or just wanting to refresh your knowledge, this page is for you! You'll find several resources and articles below, grouped into related sections. If you have a suggestion of something that needs to be added here, email David at w5cwt@arrl.net.


Getting a license or Upgrading

ARRL - Should you join?
  • The ARRL is the American Radio Relay League and serves as the national organization for amateur radio in the United States. As an affiliated club, the RCARC receives a variety support services and resources from the ARRL and its staff. Individual membership is voluntary, although at least 50% of our club's members must be members of the ARRL to maintain our affiliation. Most hams join the ARRL to receive QST, the monthly magazine devoted to amateur radio. But the ARRL also offers many additional benefits. That's why we strongly encourage every ham to have a voice and join the ARRL. 

Your First Radio
  • Many hams start with a low-power, handheld VHF/UHF (dual band) radio. Browse the ham store websites to see the variety. If money is a concern (and even if not!) we suggest starting with a very inexpensive dual-band from Baofeng or something similar. They work well but are a PAIN to program. However, an inexpensive programming cable (such as this one) and a free program called CHiRP (available for Windows, Mac and Linux), programming becomes super simple!
  • Here's a more extensive discussion of choosing your first radio.
  • When in doubt, ask around--EVENRYONE has an opinion!

Your First Antenna
  • Assuming you've moved beyond handheld radios and got (probably) earned your General License, now you own or are about to buy an HF radio. But what about an antenna? Traditionally, most hams start with a dipole. Here's a good article on putting up a dipole.
  • The ARRL's take on the humble dipole.
  • Our own KN5G has a great article on the SkyWave antenna which can be tuned on several bands and gets great results.