Got Advice for a New Ham?

In the discussion section of the LinkedIn ARRL Ham Radio Operators Group, a new ham asked, “It’s been about 3 weeks since I got my license and I’m nervous of making a gaffe on air. So tell me, what horrible mistakes should I avoid?”

Of course, everyone and his brother jumped in with advice. Here are some of the best ones:

  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. We were all beginners once, and we learn by trial and error.
  • Hams are a forgiving bunch, especially when you’re first getting started! (Unfortunately, not all the time….Dan)
  • Listen to what others are doing. Copy what’s good and avoid what doesn’t sound good to you. Ask questions.
  • Check out the local ham radio clubs in your area. You can find them on the ARRL website. Find one that is fun and active with young people like yourself. (Are there any that have active young people? :) …Dan )
  • Best practice is to get on the air and talk to folks. Personally, I’ve found the HT crowd to be a bit cliquish so don’t be surprised if you run into that. It isn’t that they are unfriendly, just shy.
  • It would be a MISTAKE if you didn’t work a FM satellite or two with your new license! (grin) Complete, up-to-date info at … – you do NOT need 100W nor multiple Yagi antennas.
  • Here’s a tongue in cheek article on what not to do on the radio. It’s since been quoted and reprinted all over the internet. You might want to read it to see what to avoid.

Anyone else have some advice for our new ham?


  1. Jeff Adams N7RDQ says:

    Dear KB6NU: I need some advice, as I’ve been out of the loop for the past decade, or so. As I’m attempting to get back into ham radio, and interest my 10 year-old son in this wonderful hobby, I am bewildered by the vast array of equipment now available. We are planning a X-country ski into a fire lookout in December, in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon, and think it would be fun to take along some sort of 10 m rig. I think it would be fun for my son to experience some DX contacts. But, I simply don’t know what’s available these days. I would be happy with a dipole and a very small set-up, since we are going to have to carry our equipment for several miles. Any advice would be very much appreciated. Thank you so much. I enjoyed reading through your blog. 73 Jeff N7RDQ

    • Dan KB6NU says:

      Boy, that’s a real toughie, Jeff. No one really makes a 10m-only portable radio anymore. Last sunspot cycle, Radio Shack (yes, Radio Shack!) made a mobile 10m rig, and you might be able to find one of those on the used equipment market, but even they were a bit bulky for a backpack. And, you’d need a fairly substantial battery to power it.

      If you Google “10m QRP rig, you get the following:

      Tenner 10m QRP Rig
      NB610: A Hombrew 10m Transceiver

      The downsides to these rigs, of course is that you have to build them and that they’re CW only.

      Another option is the Yaesu FT-817, but again, it’s kind of bulky and you’ll need to haul a substantial battery for it.

      I might suggest going with one of the many 20m radios available. They’re small, only need a small battery, and the antenna for 20m can still be made relatively small and lightweight.

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