Why do I have to learn theory to use a radio?

A question received by a Foundation student:

“Why so much theory about how a radio works when all I want to achieve at foundation level is to purchase a hand held radio and talk with other ham users. I have no need to build a radio or make an antenna. Please help me understand the reasoning behind this.”

The student asking this question isn’t alone, and it’s understandable, especially for those with no interest in electronics or radio theory, however there is a reason behind this.

The hobby potentially offers more than simply being allowed to transmit using a shop-bought radio – as there are already options out there for people who just want to operate a radio out-of-the-box (such as CB, PMR 446 and Ofcom Business).

Amateur Radio allows for experimentation, making antennas, field days, space comms, and a heck of a lot more. At higher levels, you have some pretty high power levels and access to some interesting experimental frequencies. Whilst you personally may not be interested in exploring these parts of the hobby, others are, and those studying for a Full licence need to start at the beginning with the basics (which get introduced at Foundation).

Even if you plan to stay at Foundation, you still need to know more than just how to press the Transmit button, including what frequencies are allowed, how to set things up and identify problems, selecting the right type of antenna, how to deal with interference, and some of the basic safety stuff.

For the Foundation exam, the technical content is quite light (you can fail the technical basics and transmitter sections and still pass)

If you find that you’re struggling to understand some of the basics, such as how current works, which antennas do what, or how propagation works, don’t be afraid to ask for help, or try some of the many training courses and tools out there.

Spread the word. Share this post!

Leave Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *