21 Things to Do: Upgrade to General

21 Things to Do After Getting Your Amateur Radio LicenseAs soon as you pass the Tech test, you should start studying for your General Class license.   While there are certainly many fun and useful things you can do as a Technician, there are several reasons that you will have more fun as a General Class amateur radio operator.

One reason to upgrade right away is that you’re in study mode already. There’s no need to get back in the habit of studying and getting used to taking tests again. While the General Class test is more difficult than the Tech test, there are lots of good resources, both in print and on the Internet, to help you pass. These include my No-Nonsense General Class License Study Guide (http://www.kb6nu.com/tech-manual/).

Another reason upgrade to General Class is that it will make you a better ham. Seriously. Even if you memorize the answers to all of the questions in the question pool, you’re bound to learn something. That knowledge could come in handy when you want to put up a new antenna, buy a new radio, or determine the best band to use for a particular communication.

Perhaps the best reason to upgrade to General is that it gives you more privileges on the HF bands. While talking on the local repeater may be fun, let’s face it, there are only so many folks to talk to. By getting on the HF bands, you’ll be able to talk to thousands of hams all around the world, not just around the corner. That’s why many hams, including me, think that the shortwave (HF) bands are where the magic happens. As a General Class operator, you’ll get access to all the HF bands, including 20m, and you get to operate phone on them as well as CW.

Operating the HF bands literally expands your horizons. You get to meet hams from all over the world, not just around the corner. If you haven’t yet operated on the HF bands, you don’t know what you’re missing. To get a taste of HF operation, ask a ham with an HF station if you can visit him sometime and watch him operate. Chances are he’ll let you make a few contacts of your own. You may also get the opportunity to operate an HF station during Field Day or if your club has its own club station.

Another thing that you can do as a General Class licensee is become a Volunteer Examiner (VE). Becoming a Volunteer Examiner and helping others get involved in amateur radio is a great way of giving back.

A General Class license will let you do more and have more fun with amateur radio. If you haven’t yet taken the Technician test, you should be aware that you can take both the Tech and the General (and even the Extra) Class tests at the same test session. If you prepare for both tests, you could walk out of your first test session with a General Class license and skip the Technician Class altogether.

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