In the past couple days since passing my Technician and General class license exams I have had a couple preppers ask me why I am wasting my time studying to upgrade to the Amateur Extra class license when I only need a Technician class license to utilize my VHF/UHF radios.
It actually surprised me to get this question from preppers because preppers are supposed to be all about emergency radio communication systems and being able to communicate after a SHTF situation happens.
Apparently, they did not read my Communication After SHTF article in my Sensible Prepper Series where I went into detail about how their handheld VHF/UHF radios were going to basically be useless for communications outside of their local area in a major disaster or SHTF situation where the grid goes down and they no longer have repeaters available.
With the higher frequencies available with the VHF/UHF radios the signal are only able to travel a few miles. They are good for local communications, but for anything outside a range of just a few miles, they will not work.
For regional, national, or international radio communications you will have to be able to drop down into the lower MF and HF radio frequencies, which as a Technician class operator you are not licensed to do.
You also do not have the expertise necessary to accomplish MF/HF radio communications even if you purchased an MF/HF radio and tried to use it without a license. Unlike a dual band VHF/UHF radio which a person could possibly figure out how to operate without much help, an MF/HF radio is a completely different beast.
Gaining the expertise necessary to be able to operate an MF/HF radio effectively, as well as gaining legal access to the frequencies to allow for practice to gain the experience necessary is why you study to upgrade your license.
I now have a General class license, which allows me to operate on a large portion of the MF/HF frequencies to gain that experience. By upgrading to an Amateur Extra class license, I gain additional frequencies and thereby have the entire amateur radio bandwidth available to me to communicate on including Medium Frequency (MF), High Frequency (HF), Very High Frequency (VHF), Ultra High Frequency (UHF), Super High Frequency (SHF), and Extra High Frequency (EHF) spectrums.
I will also be able to gain additional knowledge and communications skills that can become invaluable in a disaster or SHTF situation.
The most important reason that I want to study and upgrade my license is so that I can give back to the community by helping other people become new ham radio operators, especially those in the prepping community.
It's Celebration Time!
In upcoming episodes we will take a look at Morse Code, Antennas, Handheld UHF/VHF Radios,, and Mobile UHF/VHF Radios.