Though many people get huge enjoyment from radio without a transmitting licence if you wish to transmit and converse with others or carry out other on air activities you are required by law to have a licence.
WARNING: Transmitting without a licence on the amateur bands is illegal and though may seem minor is a criminal offence and can incur a hefty fine.
To obtain a licence you will need to pass an exam.
Three types of licence are currently available starting with the Foundation licence which requires little technical knowledge and is easily accessible, the Intermediate licence requiring some rudimentary electronics knowledge of radio and electronics and finally the Full licence requiring a much more in-depth knowledge of the subject.
The Foundation licence allows an operator on to most of the amateur bands with a maximum power of 10 Watts.
With the Intermediate licence you will be able to go from the 10 Watts of the Foundation Licence, up to 50 Watts as an Intermediate Licence holder and gain access to the hi-tech frequencies in the microwave bands.
The Full licence allows the operator on to all available amateur bands. Many privileges and responsibilities come with a Full Licence, including a higher power limit and operating in many other countries without further formal application (CEPT Recommendation T/R 61-01). Full licensees are also allowed to experiment with their own radio designs and as such require a much deeper level of understanding than the Foundation and Intermediate licencees.
There are a number of ways to obtain an amateur radio licence in the United Kingdom.
- Attend a training course at a radio club
- Self study
- Distance Learning.
Attending a Training Course at a Radio Club
Many people find attending a training course run by a local club an exhilarating and enjoyable experience with other students available to discuss newly learned topics with tutors providing help and support where required. Cray Valley RS offers training for all three licence types which are described in more depth starting at the training overview page here.
Training manuals are available for all three exams from the RSGB or other good book shops. Examination centres can also be found via the RSGB site.
Distance learning has become a popular way to obtain a licence in the past couple of years and again further information and providers can be found on the RSGB Website.