Tuesday, December 27, 2011
So you’re new ham. Maybe you’ve even bought a radio and you are wondering what to do next.
First, you need to find a club and go to a few meetings. Check you class hand outs and maybe some handouts you got when you took your test. There is usually something in there about local clubs. If not then try to contact someone who taught your class or Google search “ham radio (your town name, state)”. This search will usually yield a list of hams in your town. Look them up in the phone book and give one of them a call or email them. Identify yourself as a new ham. Most will be willing to help you. Hams generally have some kind of organization going. It may be as informal as getting together at a local coffee shop to eyeball QSO (ham speak for talking) or a formal club with officers and such. Generally these are the best places to find an elmer, (ham speak for mentor) and get tips on all sorts of thing related to the hobby.
Another good source of information is ham radio sites on the web. I find that most sights have a “links page”. This will often be helpful in answering specific questions. However, it will probably raise more questions. And like most information on the web, it needs filtering. This where an elmer can help.
Second, once you have bought a radio get on the air. Sure it can be intimidating. Mic fright (ham speak being reluctance to make that first contact) is something most all of us had in the beginning. Not knowing what to say is pretty normal in any new situation. My advice is to listen for a while and get used to how it goes. Nets are a pretty good place to get some listening and your first on the air experience. Most nets will ask for newcomers to check in usually after the formal roll call. Some nets, however, do not have formal roll call. If that is the case just wait for a break in the conversation and say, “break (your call sign)” and listen for someone to say, “go ahead the break” or something like that. This is you turn. If this is still too intimidating get with another ham and ask to watch him operate for a while. This will let you ask some questions and “learn the ropes”.
Hope this proves helpful and welcome to the hobby.