Getting started with amateur radio: help and info for beginners

Is amateur radio right for me? How do I start the new hobby? Answers and information for people interested in amateur radio.

The most important facts at a glance:

  • Amateur radio is very diverse and technically demanding
  • The easiest way to get started is through an amateur radio association
  • The amateur radio examination is a prerequisite for the amateur radio
  • QSL cards are interesting for nostalgia fans and collectors

The hobby of amateur radio is very diverse, technically demanding and includes, among other things, the basics of electrical engineering, electronics and radio technology.
If you enjoy building electronic radios or antenna systems or would like to talk to radio amateurs around the world, this is the hobby for you. There are about 2.8 million radio amateurs worldwide, who can be recognized by their unique call sign, which they call during the radio conversation. This consists of the prefix, which indicates the country of origin, and the suffix, a combination of characters to distinguish (e.g. DL9XX for Germany, or OE1FY for Austria).

Getting started with amateur radio: How to get started?

The easiest way is through an amateur radio association such as the German Amateur Radio Club, the largest amateur radio association in Germany, or the VFDB. You can find a lot of information on the websites or at the respective local chapters. A list of DARC local chapters can be found under this link.

Good content is also offered by the Youtube channels of Michael Reichardt, DL2YMR and Heinz – Just me

The Amateur Radio Examination: Prerequisite for Amateur Radio

In order to be allowed to carry out worldwide radio communication as a radio amateur, a so-called amateur radio certificate is required. In order to obtain an amateur radio certificate, an amateur radio examination of the Federal Network Agency must be successfully completed.

After obtaining the amateur radio certificate, the assignment of the own, personal call sign takes place. For certain purposes, radio amateurs may be assigned additional call signs upon application.

More info about the amateur radio certificate

Costs: How expensive is amateur radio?

To obtain an amateur radio certificate and for the assignment of the personal, lifelong call sign and issuance of the license certificate, a one-time fee of about 100 € is due.

Furthermore, the Federal Network Agency charges a frequency usage fee of 4-7 € and an EMC fee of approx. 21-25 € / year. When joining an amateur radio association such as the DARC, monthly membership fees are due.

The cost of the required equipment varies greatly and depends on the condition (used / new) and the technical data. However, you should expect at least 300 €.

QSL cards

For nostalgia fans and collectors especially the QSL cards are interesting.
The cards are used to confirm a successful radio connection and can be designed according to your own wishes. You can see some QSL card examples here…

Furthermore, QSL cards are required to apply for an amateur radio diploma. (“Trophies” for an achieved minimum number of successfully established radio connections).

You can find more information about QSL cards here

More tips for beginners

  • For radio amateurs, the terms “amateur radio operator” or “hobby radio operator” should be avoided.
  • Radio amateurs address each other exclusively by first name or radio name, never by Mr., Mrs., or the family name. The same applies to written communication.
  • In letters is greeted with “73
  • Identify yourself frequently
  • Use the Q groups correctly