Ham basics #4: OK, I passed. Now what?
First of all, congratulations! You’ve taken the first step to the world of wonder that is ham radio. Now, let’s talk about those first steps after passing your exam.
By now, your volunteer examiners (VEs) have given you your Certificate of Successful Completion of Examination (CSCE). This serves as evidence that you have passed your exam; it is not your license. Sorry, this is not like driver’s licensing where you get your license on the spot. The FCC still has to do its thing; more on that in a second. It does, however, serve as evidence that you’ve passed your Technician exam, so you can take your General exam before you get your callsign, if you wish. (Some people have taken all three exams – Technician, General, and Extra – at one sitting – and passed all three.)
The FCC does need to get your paperwork and issue you your callsign. You need that in order to be legal on the air. Once your name and callsign are listed on the FCC’s Universal Licensing System in about two weeks, you are then authorized to go on the air. You will shortly receive your actual license document, but you need not have that in your possession. Being listed online is enough.
That said, though, should there be any question on your authority to operate, it’s best to have your license readily available when you do have it. I recommend laminating the wallet-sized version of your license and carrying it with you at all times.
To search for your record:
- Go to http://wireless.fcc.gov/uls.
- Click the Licenses button.
- You will then get the search form. In the drop down box, choose to search “By Name“, then type in your last name, or your last name and first name separated by a comma. (Use your legal name as you entered it on your application.)
- If you get a match, you will see your name along with your callsign.
Try it as practice: Go to the license search page above and pull up my information: “Higa, Keith”. (Yes, that’s also another thing to consider. Some of your information will be public.)
There are no brick-and-mortar ham radio stores in Hawaii; you’ll need to send away to the mainland. Start with Ham Radio Outlet or Amateur Electronic Supply. For ideas on what radio to get, check out eHam.net. Ron Hashiro has some advice for setting up your first station.
The best time and place on Oahu to find hams on the air is the Emergency Amateur Radio Club net, 7:30 p.m. on 146.88 MHz (negative offset). The net meets almost every day; check http://www.earchi.org for more information. The net control station will always call for newly licensed stations as part of the script. Check in by giving your callsign (in ITU phonetics, please) and name, and identify yourself as a new ham. Expect a warm welcome. As with most non-emergency nets, the EARC net has a set procedure and after participating a few times you should get the hang of it.
Another good place to find other new hams is at the New Ham/Emergency Communications Net, at 7:00 p.m. on Sundays on the statewide RACES repeater network (147.06 MHz with a PL tone of 103.5 Hz on Oahu).
It’s also a good idea to check out a ham radio club meeting. There are several clubs on Oahu:
For more information on operating in Hawaii, check the website of Ron Hashiro, AH6RH: He has lots of information on his site, and unlike others, his site is specifically written for operating in Hawaii, as we have unique conditions, challenges, and opportunities here. And if you have any questions, feel free to contact any ham; he or she will be more than happy to help. Again, congratulations, and welcome to ham radio. Hope to hear you on the air soon.