At the moment I am a Short Wave Listener – and a novice one at that. But of course the more one listens on Ham Bands, the more tempted one is to join the fun. There is only one problem (well, it’s a problem for me) which is that you need to get a licence before you are allowed to do so. This makes complete sense, because Ham Radio users can only operate on specified frequencies for the purpose of communicating with other amateur users, they are not permitted to broadcast what they like where they like, or chaos on the airwaves would ensue. Also, as they may be using powerful transmitters, they need to know how to do so safely and considerately. So it’s no different than being expected to pass a driving theory and practical test before getting your licence to drive a vehicle on the roads.
For those of you who want to move ahead of where I am and get your Foundation Licence, the best place to start is by obtaining a copy of Foundation Licence Now! by Alan Betts, which details everything you need to know to go about getting your licence (and first Call Sign). You can also find out where a course is being run in your locality, along with other useful information for beginners, from The Radio Society of Great Britain (rsgb.org). Basically, there will be a practical training course/assessment and a short exam (multiple choice questions), and these can usually be undertaken at an Amateur Radio Club.
Well, I’ll admit to being totally intimidated by the exam because things technical are a closed book to me. But my more sensible friends point out that most of the technical basics are general knowledge and elementary science, and the fact that I have gone through life without learning enough to enable me to wire up a plug does me no credit – but there it is. I have never aspired to more than being able to ensure that I put the right cable in the right socket without melting anything.
So I am not here to advise anyone on how to get their Foundation Licence (there are also Intermediate and Full Licences which can be obtained), just to point out that it is required before you move from Short Wave Listening to being a Ham Radio Operator. But I would be very interested to hear from anyone who is setting about obtaining their licence, and wish them every success.