I first got involved in amateur radio (also called ham radio) in 2010, mostly to prove a point that “girls can be amateur radio operators too” — and discovered I was joining a fun community by doing so. Ham radio dates back to the late 1800s as a means of communication. And communicate we have! There are over 743,000 active licenses in the United States.

From the start, I was welcomed to group study sessions for license test prep at HackPittsburgh. Once I had my Tech license (the U.S. entry-level license is known as the Technician Class) and my call sign (I’m KB3UGX), I could start communicating by radio, which made attending group events even more fun.

Field Day, established in 1933, is a great example of sharing ham radio with the community, by setting up temporary stations to demonstrate the science of ham radio, as well as technical skills and emergency preparedness. You can find out more about Field Day, which happens every fourth weekend in June.

Hamvention, the world’s largest amateur radio gathering, is held in May every year. You’ll find everything from license tests, seminars, radio and radio parts vendors, and the largest flea market you’ll ever see.

For any ladies looking for a tribe of their own, the Young Ladies’ Radio League is an organization for women of all ages all over the world who hold amateur radio licenses.

Possibly the most fun ham radio group project I have had the pleasure of working on was the LEAD Balloon Project with HackPittsburgh —read more about one of our adventures. We utilized Ham Radio twofold — to track the balloon on its path, as well as communication between all the chase vehicles.

Join the amateur radio community! A Tech license is easy to study for. You can get involved and find more info on the American Radio Relay League’s website.