A Parent’s Guide to Ham Radio

 UPDATE 9/24/12: There are now  two versions of this brochure:

  • The first version I wrote for my own use at WA2HOM. It has contact information for people that want to know more about our activities at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum
  • The second version has space for you to put contact information for your club. Download this version if you want to pass it out at your club events.

Last week, I received an e-mail from a middle school teacher here in Ann Arbor. She had heard about SuitSat and wanted someone to come and talk to her class about it and about amateur radio in general. I did this Monday. Unfortunately, by Monday morning the signal from SuitSat was too weak for me to receive with the simple J-pole antenna I have, but I was able to show them pictures from the SuitSat website and play for them some of the recordings that hams made over the weekend.

Overall, I think that the talk was a great success, with several of the kids showing a lot of interest in amateur radio. I also got our club to agree to donate a copy of Now You’re Talking to the school, and I plan on keeping in touch with the teacher and to be available should any of them decide to go for a license.

I’ve also recently been talking to a guy in Monroe, MI, whose son just got his license and who has been trying to organize more activities for kids centering on amateur radio. Last night, we spoke on EchoLink, and he brought up the idea of a “parent’s manual.” That is, an article or brochure designed for parents of kids who might be interested in ham radio. The brochure would help give some guidance to parents whose kids are interested in the hobby, with the hope that it would help them be supportive of their kids.

Here is my first cut at an outline for such a brochure:

A Parent’s Guide to Amateur Radio

What is amateur (ham) radio?

How do you get into ham radio?
– Three different classes of licenses
– Take classes or study the book “Now You’re Talking.”
– Join a local club

How much does it cost?
– time
– money

What can kids do in ham radio?
– list the various activities

What do kids get out of ham radio?
– technical skills
– social skills
– public service


What do you think? I’d love to get your thoughts on this.


  1. Ig Justyna says:

    Hi Dan

    Nice going on the talk. It is unfortunate the SuitSat is not performing as it should. Only the guys with highly directional antennas and preamps are having much success. I have listened repeatedly but can’t say I heard a viable signal.

    Your outline looks great and I would be interested in the answers to some of the questions you have posed. In my veiw, to have parents that understand and support young kids in becoming hams is an invaluable asset.

    Once again, nice work.

    Ig Justyna


  2. Greg McClellan says:

    I have just decided to get my tech license at age 51 after a lifetime of interest. I have no technical aptitude to speak of. How long do you think it would take me to acquire a license after getting the ARRL materials? I am reasonably well educated, so while my aptitude doesn’t lean toward electronics, I can read and retain what I have read, I understand any answer you can provide would only be general. Also, while my first radio would probably by a 2-meter, what else would you recommend that might be of interest from a standpoint of long-range communications that license would allow? Thanks for any information you can provide.

  3. Ronny Risinger says:

    I thank you for being willing to go to the school to give a short talk. I am a Social Studies teacher in an Austin, TX High School. I started an Amateur Radio club, K5LBJ, but I had a background in ham radio. Ham Radio has much to offer, but an inexperienced teacher/principal needs someone to present an “understandable” delivery about the topic. Your outline looks to do just that. Too often, hams just gripe about the decline in active hams, but do nothing about it. I applaud your efforts. Maybe you can work on getting that campus active during next year’s School club roundup. It was this past week (Feb. 13-17), and the kids LOVE it. Too bad it is the only event dedicated to students! Anyway, kudos for your efforts to say active (3 contacts a day is a lot for people with busy schedules, and that includes just about everyone…), and expand the hobby. Keep up the nice blogging, too.
    Ronny, KC5EES

  4. Dan KB6NU says:

    I have just updated “A Parent’s Guide to Ham Radio.” Please feel free to download it from http://www.kb6nu.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/ParentsGuidetoHamRadio.pdf.

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