Just Passed the Exam, Now What?
The Next Step...
1) Your license is active once your name and call sign appear here on the FCC WebSite - If you took the exam online it should appear within a day or two. If you took an in-person exam, it should appear in about 5-10 business days. You will not receive a license in the mail, you will go to the website and print it. Check the website by doing a search for your last name and zip code.
2) You may request a Vanity Call sign or keep the call assigned to you - Vanity Call signs used to be free, but the FCC now charges a one time $35 processing fee. To obtain a vanity call sign Check the Database to see if the one you want is available. As a Technician, you must have a 2x3 or a 1x3 call, and it must begin with a letter K, W, or N. You will need to select 3 or more call signs you like, so if someone else at the same time requests the same call as you, you will get the next requested call. You can prioritize the calls so you will get the one you like the most. To Request a Vanity call, login to the FCC System Here, and then on the right hand side there is a menu system that reads, "Request a Vanity Call Sign".
3) If you do not yet have a radio, you will need to build yourself a radio station. Your radio station can be a simple Handie Talkie (HT) or you can buy a mobile radio and install it in your home or auto. If you need help figuring out what to buy, check out these Equipment Reccomendations.
4) Use Your VFO dial to tune your radio to a desired frequency and/or Program Your radio. Here is a list of Sacramento 2 Meter Frequencies to program into your radio. You can find people to talk with by randomly scanning frequencies, but you can also tune your radio to a frequency that you know people are talking on. The best way to do this is through Scheduled Nets. If you recal from your Ham Radio studies, Nets are scheduled on-air meetups that provide a time an place for people to gather. Most nets welcome visitor/guest check-ins. If you want to talk or just want to test your radio to see if you have it programmed correctly, wait for Net Control to ask for guest or visitor checkins, and then press your PTT button. Most nets meet on a daily or weekly basis and revolve around a club, topic, or volunteer group, and most welcome people as regular participants regardless of formal membership in the organization. Participating in various nets provides a great opportunity to improve your knowledge and skills.
5) Ham radio is all about talking and helping others, so socializing and developing friendships are a big part of the hobby. I encourage you to join the ARRL, a Club, and ARES. These will help you expand your knowledge, skills, and amateur radio resources. ARES is free to join, and in addition to having regular on-air nets, they offer in-person meetings, trainings, and opportunities to use your radio by volunteering at fun runs, motorcycle races, and even horse races. Be sure to check out the Sunday night CERT Net on the K6MVR repeater, The Sacramento Emergency Noon Net on the W6AK repeater, and your county ARES Net.
6) Check out the QRZ.com website, use it to search for other Hams, create a biographical website for yourself, and share your email address with other hams. -QRZ is THE go-to place to lookup other people you meet on the air. It takes the website a few days to update their system of new ham licenses but once the websites verifies you and your call, you are able to create a free and easy website. I encourage you to create a simple or elaborate page and to opt to share your email address through it. This is just one of the many ways hams connect with once another and build such a great community.
7) Browse this website and Create a CVAID.org Account to stay connected with other like minded Sacramento emergency response volunteers -By creating a CVAID account and following us on Instagram and Twitter you will be supporting the work of the Elmers who have been helping you, and will be making it easier for other prospective Hams and CERT members to discover these great resources.