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amateur radio

I have been a licensed amateur (ham) radio operator for number of years, but only recently have been getting more active in the hobby after a break.

This page is my resource for having links and information in a single place. There might be something of use for you too.

General Information

what is ham radio? – Great video intro to amateur radio made by the ARRL

arrl band plan – what license privileges allow for which frequencies on which bands (pdf file)

Learning Resources

ham radio crash course – A YouTube channel where the owner has brought much of the hobby into the modern, social media world. Great product reviews, live streams, and a Discord channel with lots of helpful people – Applications, study helps, practice exams … everything you need to get ready to be licensed

arrl learning center – The ARRL’s main landing page for learning resources

Learning CW

lcwo – learn CW (morse code) online

Morse Camp – practice reading CW in ever increasingly long/difficult words – really great practice tool to train your ear and brain to hear the whole instead of processing letters one by one by one

Morse Mania – Android app. Teaches morse alphabet, Q codes, prosigns, etc. Worth the premium upgrade in my opinion

Band Conditions

The graphics below are loaded each time this page is refreshed – it shows overall which bands are active and how good/bad they are based on solar data.

Hands-on Resources

oh8stn – OH8STN operates a great website with reviews, instructional series, etc. around mobile radio operations. He is probably one of the best YouTube narrators and speaks in a clear, concise, but detailed way.

More coming…..

Product Manual Links by Vendor

FT-817 – A classic QRP (low power) HF/VHF transceiver

Elecraft KX3 – Super portable transceiver that, with accessories, works as a base station or mobile. 160-6m, all modes. Up to 10 watts (more with an optional amplifier)

Xiegu G90 – Chinese made software defined radio with many features including a panadapter

LNR Precision Mountain Topper – CW only mini transceiver. 4 bands. Low noise floor.

Icom IC-7300 – “Portable” 100w SDR transceiver, lots of great features


QRP means “reduce power”, but is commonly used to describe low power operation. Not power in volts or amps – power as in watts. One of the requirements in ham radio is to use just enough power to make your contact. Some just blast 100w or more as a matter of course, but then there are those of us who not only take the FCC requirement to only use enough power as necessary, but take the challenge of seeing how little they can get away with while still making contacts.

Within the amateur radio community, QRP is a popular way to operate, particularly in SOTA/POTA. It is a challenge to get contacts in other countries or on the other side of the globe, but it is possible. There are even those who like to do QRPp, which is ultra low power of 1w or less.

Common QRP calling frequencies for CW:

803.560 MHz
407.030 MHz
7.122 MHz
3010.106 MHz
2014,060 MHz
1718.096 MHz
1521.060 MHz
1224.906 MHz
1028.060 MHz


Summits on The Air – A popular challenge of getting a required number of contacts in mountainous areas. Operators often backpack to the top of peaks, “activating” them by making and recording contacts.

operating modes

Below are the primary operating modes that I either listen or directly engage in in ham radio. Not listed are digital modes, of which there are many.

Operating ModeNotesApprox. Bandwidth
Morse Code (CW)Highly efficient700Hz
Single Side-Band (SSB)Upper and Lower Side-bands, more efficient than AM3kHz
Phone (FM)Used most commonly on VHF/UHF5-15kHz
Phone (AM)Slightly more efficient than FM, but less so than SSB6kHz
NOTE: All bandwidths listed are approximate and depend on multiple influencing factors