Radio comms act as a great backup to mobile phone communications when out on the trail. With the proliferation of extremely cheap, handheld dual-band transceivers on the market today, the main obstacle remains to be an operators licence.
The process of obtaining a licence will not only equip you with the relevant piece of paper in order to operate legally, but it will also provide a basic understanding of band plans, protocols, radio propagation and many other aspects of the discipline. All of this will help to make two-way radio a positive contribution towards a safe trip and possibly act as a gateway into a very interesting hobby.
Picture by Vlad from the excellent swling.com article on the lab599 Discovery TX-500 ruggedized portable QRP transceiver.
I was planning to write a more complete article on this subject in the coming weeks, but due to the current lockdown, obtaining a licence in the UK has never been easier. The Radio Society of Great Britain has temporarily scrapped the practical part of the foundation licence and for the first time ever, has made the exam available to do online. They have done this because they recognise that now is a good time to promote the hobby and equip people with radio comms skills.
The Foundation licence is the first level of radio licence available to civilians as part of the Amature Radio program regulated by OFCOM. There are 2 further levels which require more study and exams, but with a Foundation licence, you will have complete access to the amateur 2 meter and 70 centimetre frequencies which most handheld radios utilise. You will be limited to10 watts output power, but most handhelds transmit at around 4 watts, so really, you will have everything you need to start incorporating radio into your travels which could definitely help keep you out of trouble in the wilderness.
The Baofeng UV-5R available for around £20
Furthermore! Essex Ham has just launched a free online training program, so you don't need to join a club any more.
Click here for more details: https://www.essexham.co.uk/train/foundation-online/
Truly. It has never been easier to take, and pass, the Amateur Radio test in the UK. Things may not stay this way so jump in there while you can.
The foundation licence will cost you £27.50 all in. What better time to start the journey into a fascinating and useful hobby? Click the banner below for more details.
Lastly. For those of you in the USA. It looks like this option may be available in the states very soon! https://qrznow.com/usa-conducts-first-all-online-ham-radio-exam/