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Amateur Radio is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under the Communications Act of 1934. It is also subject to numerous international agreements. All Amateur Radio operators must be licensed. In the U.S., there are three license classes. The higher the class of license, the more frequencies are available. Earning each higher class license requires passing a more difficult examination. Although regulated by the FCC, license exams are given by volunteer groups of Amateur Radio operators. Operating under organizations called Volunteer Examiner Coordinators, volunteers administer and grade tests and report results to the FCC, which then issues the license. U.S. licenses are good for 10 years before renewal, and anyone may hold one except a representative of a foreign government. You can learn more about getting licensed by checking out the ARRL page here.
The WTRA believes in “paying it forward” by occasionally offering Amateur Radio Licensing classes to help you earn your first “ticket” or achieve an upgrade to General or Extra. Even if we are not currently conducting a class, you can still “self-study” to prepare for an exam. Dave Casler – KE0OG has put together a comprehensive set of YouTube videos for self-study. You can find Dave’s material here. A Google search will yield quite a number of site online where you can take practice exams for free.
If you are interested in amateur radio and would like to take a license exam, WTRA-VET can help. We are associated with the Western Tidewater Radio Association and conduct Amateur Radio Examinations under the auspices of the W5YI-VEC. WTRA-VET was formed in July, 2006 to fill a need for volunteer examiners in the western Tidewater region of Southeast Virginia. We offer license exams for all elements in the amateur service, and will soon include new and upgrade license study classes.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our exam team Contact VE, Chris Peters – N4KIT. Additional test sessions can be scheduled by request; contact N4KIT.
The term “Elmer” is ham radio lingo for a teacher or mentor. It was “coined” in a 1971 ARRL® QST “How’s DX” column by Rod Newkirk W9BRD the editor of the column. He called them “the unsung fathers of amateur radio”. In that article, he penned “Too frequently one hears a sad story in this little nutshell: ‘Oh, I almost got a ticket, too, but Elmer, W9XYZ, moved away and I kind of lost interest.'” Newkirk went on to say, “We need those Elmers. All the Elmers, including the ham who took the most time and trouble to give you a push toward your license, are the birds who keep this great game young and fresh.”
The WTRA proudly carries on this tradition of Elmering through everything from informal advice on the club repeater or email reflector to license study classes to “technical sessions” usually held on Saturdays at one of the Fire Stations or at a member’s QTH. Topics we’ve done in the past are antenna basics, packet radio, logging software, sound card modes and even antenna raising parties!