For quite a number of years I was interested in ham radio but never seemed to have the time to study what was needed for the Industry Canada exam. Once I retired I decided that it was time to go after that elusive ticket. The requirements had changed somewhat and it was now possible to get a ham certificate without having to learn morse code. Some older hams were not happy with this change stating that "a real ham knows the code". Other hams felt that the change was good as it encouraged more people to participate in the hobby. If you are interested in obtaining your ham certificate, here is a bit of information that may answer a few of the questions that you may have had about getting into the hobby. The first thing that I would recommend is to join an amateur radio club. There are many advantages to joining a club. Many clubs offer very good classes to help you learn everything you need to know in order to pass the Industry Canada exam. Most clubs have very reasonable membership fees. For example, I joined the Mississauga Amateur Radio Club (MARC) with a membership fee of $35. per year. MARC is one of the clubs that not only offer classes for both the basic and advanced certificates, but two of their members are accredited Industry Canada Examiners, so you can write the exam right there at the club. The other great advantage of joining a club is that there are a lot of experienced hams there who are more than willing to offer a wealth of knowledge and help to anyone who needs it. The second thing you should do is to pick yourself up a book such as "Canadian Amateur Radio Basic Qualification Study Guide". This is the book used by most clubs for their classes. If you join a club that offers classes, you may want to check to see which book they use just to be sure. The third thing you should do is to download the Industry Canada exam generator (its free). This is a piece of software that generates questions from the Industry Canada exam question database. All exam questions are multiple answer questions and the exam for a basic certificate consists of 100 questions drawn at random from this database. The examiner actually uses this software to generate your exam so you can test yourself using this software while you are learning to see if, and where, you may have any weak spots. You can download the Exam Generator by clicking on this button. To obtain your Basic Amateur Radio certificate you are required to achieve a passing mark of at least 60%. If you achieve a passing mark of 80% or more, you will receive a Basic + qualification. What is the difference between the Basic qualification and Basic + qualification? The Basic certificate allows you to operate radio equipment on all bands above 30MHz using a maximum of 250 watts DC input. The Basic + qualification allows you to operate on all bands above and below 30MHz. These additional frequencies are referred to as the HF bands (high frequency bands). Some of you may be asking if ham radio is an expensive hobby? One of our club members once jokingly told me, "In this hobby you can go as far as you can afford." While it is true that some hams, who can afford it, have some very elaborate ham stations, the average ham does not. Basically, all that you really need to get started is a tranceiver and an antenna. There are many places, such as the KWARC Swap Shop, which is a website operated by the Kitchener/Waterloo Amateur Radio Club, where you can find very good used tranceivers and antennas at very reasonable prices. You can also find some very good deals at local Hamfests which are like a ham radio flea market. But, in fact, you don't even need a tranceiver or an antenna to get started as a new ham. Once you have passed the exam and received your call sign you can use Echolink. Echolink allows you to talk to other hams all over the world using your computer, and a pair of headphones with a boom microphone or any other type of computer microphone. When I first got my certificate, and I was waiting to get some equipment, I talked to hams in New Zealand, Australia, France, Ireland, Italy and the Netherlands as well as many of the U.S. states just using Echolink. In fact, I still use Echolink periodically to talk to some hams who have become good friends. So if you have an interest in the hobby of ham radio don't hesitate any longer. It is fairly simple to get your Basic or Basic + certificate. I started the class with MARC in mid October and received my certificate and call sign in mid December. Get your call sign and start rag chewing with other hams around the world. Maybe even earn some awards such as the WAS (Worked All States) award or the DXCC award for working 100 countries. Enjoy the hobby and more importantly,….Have fun!
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