skip to Main Content

Getting Started in Ham Radio - New Operators and Elmers

Ham radio is about connecting with others, locally, worldwide, and even “space wide”. Learning how to make these connections not only takes a bit of practice, but the reality is that you will likely always have something to learn as you continue in your journey as a Ham Operator.

If you are a newly licensed ham operator, I would like to not only extend my congratulations, but also share a bit about my personal experience and offer a bit of guidance. I am also a relatively new ham (licensed, May 2021)!
So, how to get started?

There are many reasons why people investigate ham radio, study, and then take a test to get licensed. Our reasons are many, but there is probably one thing that we have in common: becoming licensed does not mean you know what to do.

Our initial enthusiasm does not need to fade away due to the uncertainty of what radio to purchase, what antennae to install, and the confusion of bands, repeaters, and atmospheric conditions. I was very fortunate to have been mentored by a local ham who I encountered by chance while fishing near my home in Central Texas. He encouraged and mentored me and is my Elmer.

An Elmer is an experienced ham radio operator who is willing to share his or her knowledge of ham radio with newcomers. Having an Elmer makes the learning experience more enjoyable. Aside from helping you to get on the air, answering questions, and even being there to answer your first CQ, an Elmer can also introduce you to other ham radio operators who have an abundance of information to guide you through the learning curve.

The Austin Amateur Radio Club (AARC) has been around for over 100 years and has members who have been operating for over 50 years. Imagine what you could learn from them! The AARC hosts breakfasts, meetings, and will soon host social and technical events which will offer more opportunities to learn about any and all things ham radio. Attending AARC events will put you in touch with experienced hams and possibly connecting you with an Elmer!

Calling All Elmers!
As an experienced ham radio operator, have you considered becoming an Elmer? New ham radio operators bring new ideas, activate repeaters, and help keep bands from becoming stale. They also need your help! How about opening the doors to new operators by sharing what you have learned so far? You will not only help our community thrive but will also make a difference in the initial experience of a new ham.

Please reach out if you are having issues getting started, we are here to help and are glad to do so. Reach me directly by email at and I will help you figure it out with a little help from our friends.

I hope to catch you on the air soon!


Ernesto Raices, KI5PZN
President AARC

Back To Top
×Close search