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Nowadays, nearly everyone has a cell phone. Most people have a hard time living without one. BUT...what if something happens and you lose the ability to use your cell phone? You can't call...you can't text...no signal at all!

With Amateur Radio, you can communicate from the top of a mountain, your home or behind the wheel of your car. You can take a handheld radio wherever you go just like a cell phone! In times of disaster, when regular communications channels AND CELL PHONES fail (and they will), Amatuer Radio operators, or hams, can swing into action assisting emergency communications efforts and working with public service agencies.

For example, Amateur Radio kept New York City emergency response agencies in touch with each other after their command center antenna was destroyed during the 9/11 tragedy. Amateur Radio also came to the rescue during Hurricanes Katrina, Harvey, Irma, and Maria where all other communications failed, saving many lives. It was an valuable tool used during the Boston Marathon bombing when cell phone circuits were overwhelmed. In nearly every disaster, from wildfires to hurricanes to tornadoes to floods, amateur radio has proved its reliability and dedication to public service.

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Ham Radio is a popular hobby and service in which licensed operators use various types of communications equipment. Although hams get involved for many reasons, they all have in common a basic knowledge of radio technology and operating principles. They also have a desire to assist their friends and neighbors in times of need.

To operate a ham radio, one needs to pass an examination in order to obtain the FCC license to operate on radio frequencies known as the "Amateur Bands." These frequencies are reserved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for use by ham radio operators. Once licensed, you can use telegraphy (morse code), voice, digital and images in communication with other hams. You can even talk to astronauts on board the space station or bounce signals off the moon!

Amateur Radio appeals to a wide variety of people. Some hams like to build and experiment with electronics. Computer hobbyists enjoy using Amateur Radio's digital communications opportunities. Yet others compete in "DX contests," where the object is to see how many hams in distant locations they can contact. Mostly ham radio is used to form friendships over the air or through participation in one of more than 2000 Amateur Radio clubs throughout the country. There are over 600,000 radio amateurs in the United States and over 2,000,000 worldwide.

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Basic study materials for passing the FCC test and getting your initial license usually cost less than $40. And contrary to the popular myth, there is no longer a requirement to learn Morse Code to get your Amateur Radio license. The Emerald Coast Amateur Radio Association periodically holds classes and testing sessions. Other area radio clubs do as well. Once you have your first license, most hams find it best to start with simple equipment and grow over time. You can get your first radio for less than $50...delivered! But once you discover how much fun and exciting this hobby is, you will want to invest more. You are only limited by your wallet!

Check out the links on our website to find out about Amateur Radio in our area and how to get in on the action!

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