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ARRL Affiliated Since 1947


What is an Elmer?

An "Elmer" is an established amateur radio operator that mentors a newcomer to the hobby.

Now What?

Now that you have passed your first exam and the FCC has issued you your callsign and license, now what? How do you set up your first station? What radio should you buy? What is a good antenna to use?

There are many ways for a new ham to get information. Many new hams find information in online forums, YouTube videos or in books, but sometimes there's no substitute for one-on-one help. That's where the "Elmer" comes in to play.

There are so many aspects of Ham radio that you can get into. Generally speaking, as a Technician, the frequencies you are allowed to operate on only provide close range communication (VHF/UHF). Did you know that you can communicate longer distances by making contacts via amateur radio satellites orbiting the earth? That's just one example. You can also bounce radio waves off the moon and make contacts that way. You can even use the 6m band (50MHz) to control radio controlled aircraft!

After upgrading your license to General, the HF bands begin to open up a whole new world of options for longer range communications to you. Amateur Radio provides the option to use voice (phone) and traditional morse code (CW), but many hams are experimenting with different digital modes too. Radio teletype (RTTY) has been around for quite a while, but new "modes" are being developed all the time. Some are faster than others like PSK31 which allow you to type in real time. Others are much slower and allow the signal to be copied even when it is well below the noise floor.

No matter what your interest is in the amateur radio hobby, it's always easier when you have someone to help you figure things out. If you have questions, click on the Club Officer's page and get in contact with one of the officers. We'll do our best to help connect you with another ham with some experience in that same aspect of the hobby!

Page updated September 10, 2018