I'm in the process of figuring out how to get HAM radio licensed and certified enough that I can do volunteer work for disaster response and possibly search and rescue for wilderness stuff. This blog post is an ongoing collection of my notes.
I have a $25-35 Baofeng ham radio, the next step is figuring out how to listen, and then getting licensed to be able to use it to transmit. ("While anyone can purchase HAM Radio equipment and use the equipment to listen, there is a requirement to have a FCC License to transmit.")
Places to volunteer / organizations to be part of
Seattle ACS is the Emergency Commmunications Reserves, amateur ratio support for the city. Seattle.gov site for ACS
Should communications systems be damaged or overloaded due to a natural or man caused disaster, the City of Seattle calls on teams of amateur radio operators to help support the city with emergency communications. Typically, the mission of these teams includes providing communications at the Emergency Operations Center and establishing links between government facilities, hospitals and field command posts. Additionally, amateur radio provides a connection with teams of citizens organized in their communities to provide a first line of emergency response to neighborhoods.
To join, you need to be a licensed ham radio operator, and complete the ICS 100, 200, and 700 online FEMA classes.
Being a part of Seattle ACS means putting your skills as a licensed ham radio operator to positive, civic use. Members are expected to participate on an ongoing basis in regular on-the-air nets as well as occasional in person meetings and even real-world events and activations. It's a good way to hone your amateur radio operation skills and learn from a friendly and enthusiastic community.
They also help run COMM ACADEMY, a free online emergency communications and amateur radio conference that's happening April 10-11 in 2021.
Seattle ACS also provides support for major public events like parades and races.
ARRL is the national association for amateur radio. They have pages for volunteer opportunities and public service. The public service page covers a lot of resources about radio amateurs providing public service communications support, getting emergency training to help your community in a disaster or severe weather, and other trainings.
Local Nets & Groups in Washington State
The West Seattle Amateur Radio Club has a guide to beginning here.
Studying for a License
I've tried to study from the HAM for Dummies book for a while, it's so dry to read that I've not ever made it. Switching to some online methods – here's some I want to check out:
Provides on-line study and smartphone applications for all levels of ham licenses and provides links to on-line testing session in the “find a Session” section.
The “Technician License Course” is $25 It’s designed for beginners, contains 10 lessons, learning games, videos, study on any device, quiz generator, and a money back guarantee.
Cost $24.95 for exam preparation – not testing.
Classes, Training Classes and Examination Sessions – listing of license training and testing sessions – listing maintained by Lynn Burlingame, N7CFO
Getting a license online
There are online sessions, proctored over webcam, available now. Here's a blog from June 2020 about them.