Online Ham Radio Classes for Off Roaders – Now with FCC Practice Tests!
People ask me all the time why they should get a ham radio license. My answer is always the same… As an off roader, why wouldn’t you get one?
Sure, trail communications can be achieved through CB (citizen’s band) or even FRS (family radio service) radios. But neither of them puts out enough power to reliably stay in contact with your group over anything past a mile over rough terrain. CBs put out 4 watts of power. FRS is capped at a measly 2 watts of power. Combined with the difficulty of properly tuning CB antennas, it’s a wonder how anyone can ever truly rely on CBs for ANY kinds of communications.
Now, think about this for a second. As off roaders, often our goal is to get to places that few people ever get to. To wander where very little have been. To explore the great outdoors, often times, disconnected and off the grid. Which is all fine and dandy. But, what is your plan for when SHTF and you need to get back in touch with reality? What’s your evacuation plan? Do you even have one??
How Much Does A Ham Radio Cost Me?
Some people have started getting into the Spot 3 Satellite GPS Messenger ($149) or the Garmin InReach ($449) devices. Both of which can send text messages via GPS Satellites orbiting the earth. Both are quite pricey, and require a monthly subscription service.
“So really, you can have reliable trail communications, and a reliable emergency communications for as little as 35$. Think of that as a $35 insurance policy that you pay once.”
With a ham radio technician license, your range of communications shoots up from a few hundred yards CB signal, to upwards of 300 miles using repeaters. I was once on the top of Bald Mountain near Shaver Lake, CA. My mobile 50 watt ham radio was hitting a repeater just north of Vacaville, CA. That is just over 200 miles line of sight. The guys I was talking to were saying I was coming in as if I was standing right there next to them.
With a ham radio general license, your range of communications shoots up to multiple thousands of miles. Using just 90 watts of power, I have been able to talk to places like China, Brazil, Mexico, Quebec, New York, Massachusetts, Japan, and even Lithuania from our offices in Rancho Cordova, CA. All on a super simple wire dipole antenna hung up in a tree.
And the ability to do all of that costs the license fee of 15$ per license, and the radio costs.
You can get a great off road ham radio for as little as 25$. Or you can get something a little more robust, puts out a little more power, and will come with a few other extras, for $50. Seriously… 50$. Check out the GT-3TP Mark III if you don’t believe me. And, of course, our favorite entry level mobile ham radio at $200, the TYT TH7800. Or you can go all in ($350) and get my favorite off road radio so far, the Icom IC-2730A.
So really, you can have reliable trail communications, and a reliable emergency communications for as little as 35$. Think of that as a $35 insurance policy that you pay once. Read that again and let it sink in for a second.
People spend 100$ per year on Life Flight Medical Evac services, but then don’t spend the extra $35 to call the chopper in the first place.
But The Technician License Ham Radio Test Is Hard, Right?
So, the problem isn’t the money, it has to be the test to get the license. Look, just like driving a vehicle, there are certain things you need to know about vehicle safety to make sure you don’t kill someone, or run over someone’s neighborhood cat. Because ham radios have much fewer restrictions on them than, say, CB, you absolutely can talk to other countries. So there are a few things you need to know about before you start transmitting signals all over the place. In the immortal words of Uncle Ben, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
The sweet spot for trail communications is in the VHF and UHF Radio Spectrums. That means that other people such as Search and Rescue teams, medical dispatches, fire dispatches, highway patrol, and other emergency services also use that same space of the radio spectrum. This is the main reason why there is an entry level technician license for ham radio. So that you know the importance of staying on your allocated frequencies and don’t disrupt some poor anaphylactic person’s ambulance.
With that being said, the technician license really is quite easy to get. 7 and 8 yr olds are successfully passing the technician license on their first try. If they can do it, why can’t you? Now, that doesn’t mean you should go into the exam without preparing or studying, that would be foolish. And besides, that is where we come in!
We have spent the past 2 years thinking and planning out a feasible solution to help get more off roaders into ham radio, in a way where they actually LEARN what they are supposed to be learning.
Some people prefer to learn about ham radio through a mentor. Some people like to learn with hands on experience. Some people like to learn from reading about the information. Our online ham radio class aims to build on all of those concepts. And if that isn’t enough for you, you can always contact us about setting up an In Person Ham Radio Class.
Some people learn best by brute force memorization. If that is you, then you can just skip to The Final Quiz for the class. It is loaded with all 426 questions, and will pull 35 at random for you, just like the actual FCC License Exam is going to do. Take the quiz over and over and over until you are passing with an average score of 90%. Then head to Section 11 – Overview Material to Get You Through The Test, and go get your license!
The format for our course is fairly straight forward. The class is split up into 11 modules. Those modules are then split up into topics. Once you finish a topic, mark it complete by clicking on the check box. At the end of each topic, you will then have a quiz. When you are done with the class, and go to take your license exam with your local VE, you will need to pass the exam with 75% or better. With this in mind, your quizzes in the class, will also require you to pass each with a 75% or better.
If you don’t pass the first time, review the questions, and then retake the quiz. This just helps to ensure that you have a good, solid understanding of the material. It also gives you the confidence to sit down at the License Exam and blow it out of the water.
The awesome thing about if you choose to take this course, is that the questions and answers in our quizzes are pulled directly, verbatim, from the FCC License Exams. The FCC puts together a question pool of 426 questions, every 4 years, for the Technician Exam. The Exam will then pull 35 of those questions to test you with. Our quizzes in this class are pulled directly from the pool of 426 questions. So, if you can pass every quiz here with a 75% or better, you should have absolutely zero problems passing the License Exam when you take it.
Much of our class is designed to teach you to understand the principles of ham radio. We touch on 90% of everything you will need to pass the test. But we also, intentionally, don’t say verbatim in the topics, the exact phrase that you will see on the quizzes. Some of the quiz questions, we intentionally left out of the curriculum, but we did make mention to the concepts that covers that particular quiz question. We purposefully designed the class this way because we have found that by you having to think about the concepts and connections, you are more likely to retain and truly understand the material.
For all of the modules and topics, you can either read them at your own pace, or follow along with the audio by clicking play on the audio file that loads with each topic. So, the auditory learner can learn just as much, and as easy as the visual learner. That also means that you can put on some head phones and go for a jog while learning about your technician license.
Plus, You Can Help Keep Our Public Trails Open To The Public!
We are very adamant about our wheeling. And we strive to work with some pretty awesome organizations that do the same. CORVA and Cal4Wheel are 2 organizations, that, when you take our online class, 15% of the proceeds go right back into our trails.
When you are going through the registration process, choose either CORVA or Cal4Wheel, and that organization will receive $6.00 from your registration.
If you live in California, and use ANY of the OHV trail or parks, you really should help support the cause. CORVA and Cal4Wheel worked their tails off in 2017 to pass 2 massive pieces of legislation. One was getting us 100% guaranteed, permanent funding for the OHV programs in California. And the other was shutting down the legislation that was aiming to close Ocotillo Wells SVRA. Make sure that you choose one of these organizations when you complete your class registration!
Thank you for reading! Feel free to leave any comments or questions below! If you want to keep in touch with us when we add new content, join our newsletter! We do special offers that only show up in the newsletter, so make sure you sign up below!
Join the Off Road Ham Radio Community at the Forums!
Also, if you don’t have your Ham Radio Technician License, head over to our Online Ham Radio Class and study up!
And, of course, don’t forget to check out our MORRFlate 4 Tire Off Road Inflation Deflation Kit!