How to Become an Amateur Radio Operator
To transmit on the Amateur Radio Bands you require a licence permitting you to.
The UK Amateur Radio licence is separated into 3 separate licences (Foundation, Intermediate and Advanced/Full). Each licence builds on your knowledge and experience and therefore your license limitations change accordingly as you progress.
At Pembrokeshire Radio Society we offer training and examination for all 3 licences. The training is tailored for all levels of knowledge and experience in radio communication and electronics.
The foundation licence is the very basics of amateur radio. You will learn how to setup and operate both HF and VHF/UHF transceivers. You will also learn the basic principal of how a transceiver and antenna work plus propagation (how amateur radio operators communicate around the world). You will also learn the required structure of a QSO (contact). This is simply how you call CQ and respond to a CQ.
The Exam consists of 2 parts:
Practical: This is not as scary as it sounds. It is where the examiner will simply ask you to complete some very basic operations on a radio (e.g. tuning to a specific frequency). In this you will also complete a QSO (contact). For many this will be your very first time transmitting on an amateur radio which can be both scary and exciting (if there is no one available on air at the time this may just be a basic call to another club member on a handheld). That is pretty much it.
Exam: The Foundation exam is very straightforward and consists of 26 multiple choice questions which you have 55 minutes to answer. The exam paper is then marked straight away by the examiner and you will know if you have passed before you’ve even left the building. The paper is then sent off to the RSGB for confirmation. You will subsequently receive a letter back confirming this with your details for getting registered with OFCOM and receiving your callsign. (This process usually takes around 6-10 working days so be patient).
For the Foundation licence course exam there is a fee of £27.50.
That’s it. You are then on the air. You will have some limitations in place that are outlined in the band plans provided by OFCOM and RSGB (e.g. power limit of 10W on most bands) but you are on the air. Even with these limitations there are still loads of possibilities and even at 10W you can have great fun and communicate around the world in the right conditions (This is explained in the Foundation training).
The intermediate licence is where things start to getting more technical. You will learn a lot more about the electronics of transceivers in both theory and practical. You will also be learning to solder resulting in a completed project.
The Exam again consists of 2 parts:
Practical: The practical for the Intermediate Exam is much more technical that the Foundation Exam but don’t panic. You will not need to do it all in one go and many things can be completed as a group (with other people also doing the intermediate exam and with experienced operators assisting). Many of the things you will be required do you will probably have already done while setting up your shack at home so it shouldn’t be too difficult.
Exam: The Intermediate exam consists of 45 multiple-choice questions each with four possible responses, which covers the remainder of the syllabus. The examination lasts one hour and 25 minutes. Same as the Foundation Exam the examiner will mark the exam on completion and send the results to RSGB for confirmation.
For the Intermediate licence course exam there is a fee of £32.50 and you must have passed the Foundation Exam first.
As I said at the top, your limitations change as you progress. You will now have access to more bands and your power limitation also increases to 50W.
The advanced licence is where your knowledge and skills will increase substantially. Many privileges and responsibilities come with a Full Licence, including a higher power limit and operating in many other Countries without further formal application.
The Exam consists of only 1 part and that is the exam. The exam consists of 62 multiple choice questions with four possible responses which you have 2 hours to answer. Unlike the Foundation and Intermediate Exam this paper is not mark onsite by the examiner, it is marked by the RSGB when it arrives to them.
For the Advanced Radio Communications exam there is a fee of £37.50. You must have passed the Intermediate exam before taking the Advanced.
Once you have passed the Advanced Exam you are a full licensed amateur radio operator with access to all the allocated bands and power limit of 400W.