21 things to do after you get your ham radio license

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I’ve been getting a lot of free Kindle books after I subscribed to a couple of mailing lists published by Free Kindle Books. One of my recent downloads was 21 Ways to Promote Your Book on Twitter. The book was actually pretty good, and it gave me the idea to write a book titled 21 Things to Do After You Get Your Ham Radio License.

So, I started building a list. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far. If the list items below are clickable, it means that I’ve already written that chapter. Click on them and enter your comments about that particular item there.

  1. Join a club.
  2. Find an Elmer.
  3. Buy your first radio.
  4. Build a kit.
  5. Set up a shack.
  6. Join the ARRL.
  7. Learn the lingo.
  8. Upgrade to General.
  9. Go to a hamfest.
  10. Build an antenna.
  11. Participate in a contest.
  12. Go to Field Day.
  13. Take a SkyWarn class.
  14. Participate in a fox hunt.
  15. Learn Morse Code.
  16. Buy a DMM.
  17. Buy some QSL cards

Each of these would be a small chapter with an explanation why I think this is important and links to some sites and books for more information.

You see that I’m short a couple of items.  That’s where you come in. What would you add to this list? What would you delete?


  1. John Yarbrough KR4RO says:

    Buy or design QSL card. Sign up for eQSL and LOTW.

  2. The next 4 things in the list could be Get on the Air and make

  3. I would add, as an early step, “participate in a net” and, later, “run a net”. Clearly, you could add “get your extra”. And eventually “be an Elmer” and lastly “start a ham radio blog!”

  4. Douglas Datwyler, WR7O says:

    Find the local ARES group and get involved.

    Upgrade to Extra

    Learn about DStar and get and learn how to use d-rats.

  5. Listen & Learn the ‘personalities’ of the different bands.
    Participate in a net.
    Pick an award (WAS, DXCC, etc.) and start working toward it.
    Build another antenna.
    Try operating QRP.
    Contact a satellite or the ISS.
    Try different digital modes.
    Use a vintage radio.
    Start using LOTW.

  6. Visit Dayton (something I’m yet to do…)
    Build another antenna and compare results
    Operate QRP
    Try a digital mode
    Share the fun with a friend

    Nice article, I enjoyed it.
    Jim, W0JBS

  7. If it had been with a license with full HF privileges I would say work a contact on a different continent.

  8. Brian W1DUC says:
    • Join ARPSC, RACES, ARES.
    • Program your radio.
    • Join some mailing lists, both general-interest and specific-interest lists.
    • GO TO the HAMVENTION in Dayton!
  9. Fred W8ZLK says:

    For me, it was:

    • Join ARRL.
    • Join and particpate in a NET (and use Netlogger).
    • Buy a good UTC clock , a world globe.
    • Buy ARRL radio band card and related reference material.
    • Buy a good antenna tuner, antenna switch and and SWR meter.
    • Scan eBay regularly for good, used equipment.
    • Review QST magazine and ARRL newsletter regularly for DX contest and QSO party schedules.
    • Buy a good headset with microphone.
  10. Dan KB6NU says:

    Great comments. Thanks, everyone! Look for the book “real soon now. ” :)

  11. Dave, N8SBe says:

    Buy an antenna analyzer. For any kind of antenna work, that thing gets hauled out more often than any other piece of test equipment I have in my shack.

  12. Nick KD8IPE says:

    Wow, I’ve done 13 of those already, some many times. Thanks Dan. I agree most with the antenna analyzer. So much of Ham Radio is antennas and that piece of equipment would make it much easier. I would also like to add, Tell someone else about how great amateur radio is.

  13. Harold W7DPS says:

    Provide communications for a public service event.

  14. * Become an elmer. (Help someone get started, while you still have your newcomer perspective.)

    * Build your library. (Obtain ARRL Handbook, Antenna Handbook, and other goodies.)

  15. -Get on digital modes
    -Setup a computer logging system
    -Join Log Book of the World and eQSL
    -Install or build a simple antenna
    -Read the instruction manual like a text book.

    Well those are some quick ideas for other chapters. This is such a great project. Thansks for writing it.

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