Here at Essex Ham, we sometimes receive requests for help from people who are looking to get back into the hobby after a break, in some cases for as long as 30 years. To try to help, we’re putting together this page of notes on what’s changed. All suggestions and questions appreciated to help us build this up into a useful page.
- The new licensing structure, which launched in 2002:
- “Foundation” (callsigns starting with ‘M3’ and ‘M6’) – Maximum 10 watts
- “Intermediate” (callsigns starting with ‘2E0’ and ‘2E1’) – Maximum 50 watts (all bands)
- “Full” (‘G’ callsigns, plus ‘M0’, ‘M1’ and ‘M5’) – Maximum 400 watts
- The new ‘lifetime’ licence, which replaced the old BR68 in 2006
- Morse code is no longer required for access to HF
- Various changes to the bandplans, including access to more of the 70cms and 40m bands
- No more requirement to maintain a logbook
- Use of CTCSS tones for repeater access – 1750Hz toneburst is being phased out, so whistling won’t work on many repeaters!
- New data modes, such as JT65 and PSK31
- New voice modes, such as D-Star and DMR (digital voice)
- Internet technologies, such as Echolink, online logging tools, electronic QSL cards
- New bands – 470kHz and 5MHz available to Full licence-holders only – NoV required.
- New hardware – such as software defined radios (like the £10 Realtek dongle) and cheap £25 2m/70cm handhelds (such as the Baofeng UV-B6)
- The QRA locator system has been phased out – Maidenhead Locators are now the preferred locator.
Anything I’ve missed? Let me know!
The following short video, used to recruit new amateurs, might be of interest as it shows the hobby as it is today, plus what’s involved in getting a licence today:
Renewing your licence
For information on re-activating a lapsed licence, see our guide: Reinstating an amateur radio licence
Amateur Radio in Essex
- Clubs: The county currently has over 15 active clubs – See Amateur Radio Clubs in Essex
- 2 metres: The main 2m activity in Essex centres around the GB3DA repeater – See GB3DA Repeater ; Essex Ham’s Monday Night Net ; 2m nets in Essex
If you’re looking to get back into the hobby, you might also want to think about coming along to one of the Skills Nights, hosted by the Chelmsford Amateur Radio Society. These happen monthly in Danbury, and are informal events for those with an interest in amateur radio to share knowledge, ask questions and try something new. See our page of information on the Amateur Radio Skills Nights for details.
If you’re returning to the hobby, you may also want to consider signing up to our online Foundation training course – If you’re an experienced amateur, some of the entry-level material may be a bit basic for you (after all, Ohms Law doesn’t change much!), but it might be a handy refresher, and can help with some of the recent licence condition changes. See: Foundation Online Courses
This page was written by me, Pete M0PSX. I’ve only been in the hobby since 2010 – everything is still new to me, so I need help from those with more years on the ham radio clock than me to help make this page useful.
Anything you’d like to know, or think I should add? Please add a comment below to help us to build this page into a useful resource.