Ham Radio Classes, Self Study and Licensing

NETs use amateur radio as an important means of communication during disasters.  Each NET must have at least one licensed amateur radio operator, and that person does not need to be NET-certified, but we encourage all NET members to become licensed.  When not only the Internet and both land-line and cell service and even radio communication between public services like the police and fire departments are unavailable during large disasters, amateur radio is often the most reliable communication method. There are several Portland-area radio repeater systems

(link is external)
 that can operate on emergency power and are owned and maintained by licensed individual hams and amateur radio clubs.  

CASE STUDY:  When Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana in 2004, a statewide commnication system linking emergency responders (police, fire, sheriff departments, cities and counties) was one of its first victims.  Five linked amateur radio repeaters not only survived the storm, but provided the only real means of communication for rescuing people stranded or trapped by rising flood waters.

Getting your basic amateur radio license (Technician Class) is quite easy.  The Morse Code requirement, which used to be the biggest impediment to licensing for beginners, was dropped by the FCC in 2006.  The Technician Class license is the one used by most people for emergency communications.  It provides operating privileges on a dedicated portion of the VHF/UHF frequency spectrum, the same radio frequency spectrum used by police and fire departments.  The license exam is 35 questions which cover some basic knowledge of electronics, and the regulations and operating practices comon to Technician Class operators.  The cost of the exam is $15, and it is administered several times a month in the Portland area.

Portland NET provides a free monthly online FCC Technician Class License review to help get new amateur radio operators licensed.  It is basically a self-study method of getting licensed, but includes some special instruction and "hand holding."  The instruction concentrates on emergency communications as it applies to the NETs. Go here to see how the process works, and to download all the materials you will need.   

Portland NET also certifies licensed amateur radio operators (AROs) who wish to be involved with their local NET, but do not want general NET certification.  Go here to see the requirements for NET ARO Certification(link is external).  

A monthly Radio Programming & Operation/NET ARO Certification workshop is provided to assist new amateurs with their radios and to help candidates for NET ARO Certification work through the certification checklist.  Go here to to register for the class and download files.

Free local amateur radio instruction classes are held several times a year, but other online self-study is also popular.  




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