Amateur Radio Technician class to start Feb. 22 in Carson City |

Amateur Radio Technician class to start Feb. 22 in Carson City

Jeff Cauhape relays radio messages during SIERA’s annual Field Day.
Courtesy |

A nine-week class for those wanting to earn their technician’s license for HAM radio will start Wednesday, Feb. 22, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Brewery Arts Center, 449 W. King St. in Carson City.

The class offered by SIERA will take students through “The ARRL HAM Radio License Manual,” one chapter each session, allowing plenty of time for questions and discussion.

While the class is free, students are required to buy the manual, which is available either from the ARRL or for $27. Those taking the class will be ready to take the licensing exam on the third Saturday in May in Carson City.

SIERA, (Sierra Intermountain Emergency Radio Association), is sponsoring the class as a means of bringing more people into the amateur radio community. Not only does SIERA help with community events; such as, the Death Ride and the Pony Express Re-Ride, they also help with emergency communications during floods, earthquakes, and wildfires.

We all take for granted that, when the power goes off, our cell phones still will work. Sometimes, cell towers are victims of these disasters, too.

Most HAMs are equipped with battery or alternative means of power. Repeaters located on mountains use alternative power sources rather than relying on the grid. SIERA’s NV7CV repeater, located on Leviathan Peak, is powered by a propane generator and solar panels.

One of the biggest aids in disaster relief is getting messages to relatives outside the affected areas. HAMs are trained to relay these messages. HAMs also assist first responders and the 911 Call Center should their communications networks become compromised.

Beyond emergency assistance, HAMs like to talk to other HAMs all around the world. Collecting QSL postcards is a popular hobby of HAMs and shows how many people they’ve contacted. One member of SIERA showed QSL cards from some of the most remote areas on the planet.

SOTA, (Summits on the Air), organizes adventurous HAMs who climb specified mountains to set up and broadcast to other HAMs who are specifically listening for their calls. They try to make as many contacts as possible before the signals die out or the weather forces them back down the mountain.

The annual Field Day, in which SIERA participates, is another contest, pitting individual HAMs and clubs around the country to make as many contacts as possible within 24 hours. Perhaps, you saw SIERA’s Field Day antennae and trailer in the parking lot of the Minden-Tahoe Airport last June.

Most radio enthusiasts enjoy using 2-meter hand-held or mobile radios when recreating in the backcountry. Some don’t realize that, without an FCC license, they are breaking the law. The technician’s license is the first level of licensing that amateur radio operators need and is easy to earn.

Decades ago, licensing required learning Morse code. That is no longer necessary for the Technician’s license. While people can read and test themselves using the manual on their own, working through the material with experienced HAMs in a class makes it really simple and fun.

If you want to join in the fun, contact Jeff Cauhape at