Once you have gotten your license, you may be wondering what you can do next.
Get on the air
BCARS hosts manages repeaters and hosts nets each week. Feel free to throw out your call sign at any time on our repeater, or when asked for check-ins during a weekly net.
If you don’t have a radio yet, or need help picking one out, you can still get involved.
Join a local club/Find an Elmer.
Your local amateur radio club is one of the best ways to meet other amateur radio operators in your area and learn about amateur radio activities going on in the area. Most clubs will let you participate as a guest, and there is nothing that prohibits you from joining more than one club.
The Bedford County Amateur Radio Society participates in multiple events each year, including:
- Elmering (or mentoring) new hams to help them get on the air and use their equipment. Not only do we provide instruction, but we also make house calls to help setup equipment, including antenna raising parties!
- Monthly meetings – using pooled resources to advance the hobby of amateur radio within Bedford County
- ARRL Field Day – 24 hours of setting up and operating in a remote location, often under emergency power.
- ARES-RACES SET – a simulated emergency is created and operators are dispatched to various “served agencies” in order to pass traffic.
- Fall Foliage – BCARS provides communication support for an event numbering in tens of thousands of participants across the county.
- Club Picnic – Each year in August, BCARS celebrates their members contributions with an anniversary picnic.
Upgrade your license.
There are currently three levels of FCC Amateur Radio Licenses, starting with Technician. The next level up, General, grants access to a much wider range of frequencies known as “HF” that can reach much further (around the world and to the moon). Check our events page to find when a local training or testing session is occurring, or the ARRL Exam Site for even more exams being held. Several times a year, BCARS, will host a HAM CRAM session to help new and existing operators learn what they need to advance to the next level.
Join Western PA ARES
The Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES) consists of licensed amateurs who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment, with their local ARES leadership, for communications duty in the public service when disaster strikes. Western Pennsylvania ARES is responsible for coordinating and training ARES volunteers through the Western half of the state.
BCARS provides members of ARES (and all club members are automatically enrolled in WPA ARES) in Bedford County with ID Badges. Learn how to get yours!
Join the ARRL.
Founded in 1914 by Hiram Percy Maxim, ARRL (American Radio Relay League) is the national association for Amateur Radio in the US. Today, with more than 161,000 members, ARRL is the largest organization of radio amateurs in the world.ARRL’s mission is based on five pillars: Public Service, Advocacy, Education, Technology, and Membership. If you are a member of BCARS, you can renew through the club and a portion will go to support club activities. Fill out the first page of this form and bring it to the next meeting.
Become a SKYWARN Weather Spotter.
While not strictly an amateur radio activity (you don’t need a license to do so), hams have a longstanding relationship with the National Weather Service. The NWS runs a weather spotter network known as SkyWarn. A meteorologist from NWS will hold a free class and provide participants with information about how to spot and identify storms, as well as how to report it to the NWS. Check our events page to find when a local training session is occurring or look one up on the NWS Skywarn site.
Get FEMA ICS Certification.
The FEMA courses have nothing to do with Ham Radio but everything to do with the National Incident Command System, that drives all emergency management activity. If you want to get the courses done, it enhances our ARES-RACES capability in the eyes of our served agencies. The courses are fairly easy. Just go to. ARES – RACES Hams are recommended to take ICS-100, 200, 700 & 800.
You can take all the courses on-line. When you pass, you then download your own certificate right then.