Schaumburg Amateur Radio Club offers free classes on ham radio this fall

There are more than 750,000 licensed amateur radio operators in the U.S., and the number is growing every day.

If you are new to ham radio, or just thinking about getting your first license, the Schaumburg Amateur Radio Club can help you get started and expose you to the widest variety of operating modes, giving you a chance to see for yourself what your personal favorites are.

This fall, the club is offering an Entry Level Amateur Radio course to prepare you for the entry-level Amateur Radio Technician Class license which allows you to operate on the UHF/VHF bands and a small portion of HF bands.

In 10, two-hour classes, you'll learn everything you need to successfully pass the Federal Communications Commission license test. This course is offered at no charge, however there is a nominal charge to process the test and the FCC has a nominal charge to apply for a license.

The class will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturdays from Sept. 10 to Nov. 12, at the Hoffman Estates Branch of Schaumburg Township District Library, 1550 Hassell Road. To register, visit or contact the Schaumburg Amateur Radio Club at

The club will be using the American Radio Relay League Ham Radio License Manual Fifth Edition as a study guide. The libraries may have copies available for check out, but students are encouraged to get their own copy from, book stores or online vendors.

In addition to running two repeaters on the 2 m and 70 cm bands, the club schedules activities that get members doing something, as opposed to talking about things.

Members prefer to be on the air, building equipment, participating in public service events, searching for hidden transmitters, working contests or holding licensing classes. Club members can help you to get more active in whatever facet of ham radio you enjoy most, and you do not have to learn Morse code.

The term "ham radio" dates back to when radio and telegraph communication was by Morse code. Since then many techniques have evolved that eliminated the need for Morse code, but some ham radio operators still use it because it's efficient and challenging.

Technologies used today include simple, inexpensive handheld two way radios, digital based systems using microcontrollers, small simple to large complex antennas and even antique radios using vacuum tubes. Some participate in radio contests where operators try to contact other ham radio operators with a variety of rules and restrictions to keep it fun. Others experiment with cutting edge technology or experimental antenna design.

The most rapidly growing segment is referred to as digital mode. Originally, digital modes were mechanical systems used to send telegraph type signals. With the introduction of inexpensive microprocessors, digital modes allow sending and receiving radio signals by bouncing them off the moon or even meteor trails. Some operate at very low power - it's not unusual to see confirmed reports of signals being received at distances over 4,000 miles using 5 watt of power - about the same power as most nightlights.

Some ham radio operators support local events like marathons, bicycle tours or fundraising events. Using handheld transceivers and rapid deploy control stations, they provide extra eyes and ears for fire, police and ambulance services during an event.

Though cellphones and the internet are widespread and easily available, amateur radio operators around the world can provide emergency communications when those services aren't available.

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