When you’re just starting out in amateur radio, you want to learn as much as you can about the hobby. One way to do this is to find an Elmer (see chapter 1). In this age of the Internet, another great way to do this is to join ham radio mailing lists and subscribe to ham radio podcasts. These resources give you access to hundreds, if not thousands, of Elmers.
One mailing list that I always suggest to new hams is the HamRadioHelpGroup. The purpose of this group is to help “those who are interested in getting started in Amateur Radio or upgrading their license.” This mailing list has a good mix of beginners and experts, and most questions are answered quickly and correctly. One thing that I really like about this group is that the moderators do a good job of keeping the discussions on track, and will squelch them when they stray off topic or threaten to turn into flame wars.
In addition to the HamRadioHelpGroup, you might also want to join a more targeted mailing list. For example, if you’re interested in learning Morse Code (hint, hint), you might join the SolidCpyCW list. If you just bought a Yaesu FT-60 hand-held transceiver, you might want to join the FT-60 list. Chances are that no matter what your interest, there’s probably a mailing list to discuss that interest.
I’m subscribed to a lot of amateur radio mailing lists and could probably spend most of my day just reading and replying to them. In order to get the most out of them, without them taking away from my on-air time, I only read those threads that I am really interested in, and even then, I quit reading them once they have started to drift off-topic. I also un-subscribe myself from lists that cover topics that I’m no longer interested in.
Blogs, podcasts and videos
In addition to getting on a few mailing lists, you might want to read a few blogs and subscribe to podcasts. These are also great sources of information about amateur radio. I blog about amateur radio at www.kb6nu.com, and lots of hams find it a good source of information. You can find a list of other ham radio blogs that I’d recommend on my home page.
Podcasts are also a good source of information. One podcast that you might want to check out is the Practical Amateur Radio Podcast (www.myamateurradio.com). Since 2008, Jerry, KD0BIK, has been producing PARP, and currently has more than 50 different episodes online. For other podcasts, consult the list on Jerry’s home page.
Finally, there are literally thousands of amateur radio videos on the net. On YouTube alone, there are approximately 32,000 of them. The American Radio Relay League has its own channel, but perhaps the most popular amateur radio video channel is the K7AGE channel. K7AGE has more than 6,200 subscribers and his videos have garnered more than 2.1 million views!
Whatever source or sources of information you select, remember to not let them take up too much of your time. Ham radio is about more than just reading, listening, or watching. It’s about doing!