Returning to Amateur Radio

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.

What’s changed?

  • The new licensing structure, which launched in 2002:
    • “Foundation” (callsigns starting with ‘M3’, ‘M6’ and ‘M7’) – 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


Your questions?

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.

Related Links


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