Hello OM’s and YL’s,
Congratulations on getting the licence and call sign. It signifies that you are a certified Ham operator now. Now, as you have your own call sign now, the door is open for you to the world of Ham. You can practically do all the stuff you have heard. Surely you have heard a lot from, and now you are actually going to kick start the same. You can be on air giving a CQ call and expecting a call back with your call sign saying “<Call sign> please go ahead.”
We shall have an overview of, “What you can do after getting a Ham license”. Your license is an important document and should be stored safely. You can make photocopies and use them. You will need a radio to be on the air. Your mentors shall surely help you with the same. You can always get good stuff online on company websites, blogs, YouTube video reviews, etc. All radios are good, don’t get yourself confused. It’s more important you buy one radio for yourself and get started. You can decide whether to buy a new one or second-hand according to your requirements and priorities. Once you are an active Ham, in the future, you are going to buy a lot of radios. That is when you will be smarter to choose.
The radio you buy needs a good power supply, feeder line and suitable antenna. Invest well in the power supply and feeder line, as they last long but don’t have upgradations. Thus, you can run multiple radios using the same supply and feeder. Also, they don’t cost much compared to radios.
Ham radio shack is the place from where you operate your radio. It would help if you chose the right place where you can spend time without disturbing your family members. The place should be well ventilated, well lit, dry (as we have electronics all around) and silent. A table could come in handy. On it, you can place your radio set, power supply, logbook, clock, laptop and stick your licence copy, world map, etc. All the wires should be well routed and not cause an accident. All requirements may not be satisfied as every home is different, but still, you can try to get maximum for yourself. Now, as the shack is fixed with radio and power supply, you need to set up an antenna outside.
You can hand brew or buy a readymade antenna for yourself. Antenna placement is crucial. Hence, you should take help of experts to get the stuff right the first time, because if the antenna is not set up properly, then the radio won’t be getting anything for you and disconnect you. Installing and connecting an antenna is a gratifying experience, so don’t miss this fun. While placing an antenna, you must know what radio signals/waves, HF, VHF, UHF, satellite communication, etc. you are interested in and which antenna should you use to catch the waves. Also, consider the available space and height. Always take ‘safety first’ approach while making and installing antennas. Sometimes you may need someone to assist you, so please take help, don’t take unnecessary risks. Once the antenna is up, run the feeder line to your rig, safe and well routed.
Back to the shack, you have a radio, supply and antenna connected. We are good to go. But whom to call? In the world of radio, the importance is in receiving rather than transmitting. Now which frequency to tune so that you can listen. For this, get in touch with your mentor, register in a Ham club, search for a fellow Ham in the vicinity, check for local or national nets and their time and frequency. Also, you may try to get information about local repeaters. Continue to listen for some consecutive weeks, make a log of all the operators you heard, get yourself familiar with their call signs, QTH, handle, what they chat, what is the check-in procedure, etc. All of it will help you when you check-in. Now, once when your homework is done, try to write down what you shall say when you transmit, it will help you till you get hands-on.
The most important stuff is always to be active, try to listen to QSOs regularly and also try to have QSO with others; this shall give genuine feedback of your system and its performance. As said earlier, you can always buy stuff for yourself to improve communication.
Besides, being a licensed radio operator, you can do several other things. You can participate in a contest, homebrew radio and antennas, make satellite communication and help in disaster management communication. Also, you can spread the Ham network to others and help them to get a license. The world of Ham can operate only when many are in the ship. Mobile communication is much more comfortable but can’t override radio communication.
You can register yourself to www.qrz.com where you can update your details and get information about other Hams by using their call sign or QTH. Moreover, you can participate in a ‘Hamfest’ or ‘Ham conventions’. It will help you to upgrade yourself. And, of course, meeting old Hams is a pleasure.
Coming back to the shack, you should equip yourself with a digital multimeter, soldering set, toolbox, feeder line cable, different types of spare connectors, patch cords, etc. If interested, you can upgrade yourself with an antenna analyser, antenna tuner, amplifier, software-defined radio, etc.
Apart from all this, a Ham license is a responsibility. You should follow the dos and don’ts as per the national and international regulations strictly. It should be kept in mind and followed so that we don’t create any mess for ourselves.
To end it, you must regularly check in nets, lookup your antenna position, the health of feeder line wire, practice phonetics and always use international phonetics. Also, Q codes need to fit in mind. These practices shall make it easy for all. Morse is a gem which needs polishing, so keep the dit and dah on your fingertips. You never know you may have a QSO with a proud CW set owner!