Ham Radio Cheat Sheet

Technician Class Frequency Privileges in Ham Radio

When you’re getting started, remembering where you’re allowed to operate is important. As a Technician licensee, you have free access to all amateur frequencies above 50 MHz, but what about on the shortwave high-frequency (HF) bands? This chart helps you follow the rules. A band-by-band plan showing where to find different types of activity is available from the American Radio Relay League (ARRL).

BandFrequencies (In MHz)Modes You Can Use
80 meters3.525 – 3.600CW
40 meters7.025 – 7.125CW
15 meters21.025 – 21.200CW
10 meters28.000 – 28.30028.300 – 28.500CW, RTTY/data, 200 watts PEP maximum powerCW, phone, 200 watts PEP maximum power
Above 50 MHzAll amateur privileges

CW = Morse code; PEP = peak envelope power; RTTY = radioteletype.

General Class Frequency Privileges in Ham Radio

Soon, if you haven’t done so already, you’ll be thinking about upgrading. You have many more frequencies to use on the high-frequency (HF) bands, as shown in the following table. A complete chart of the U.S. frequency and mode privileges for all license classes is available from the American Radio Relay League (ARRL).

BandFrequencies (in MHz)Mode
160, 60, 30 metersAll amateur privileges
80 meters3.525–3.600CW, RTTY, data
3.800–4.000CW, phone, image
40 meters7.025–7.125CW, RTTY, data
7.175–7.300CW, phone, image
20 meters14.025–14.150CW, RTTY, data
14.225–14.350CW, phone, image
15 meters21.025–21.200CW, RTTY, data
21.275–21.450CW, phone, image
17, 12, 10 metersAll amateur privileges
Above 50 MHzAll amateur privileges

CW = Morse code; RTTY = radioteletype.

Common Ham Radio Q Signals

Hams use three-letter Q signals on every mode and even in face-to-face conversation. Here are the Q signals most commonly used in day-to-day operation. Each signal can be a question or an answer, as shown in the Meaning column. A complete list of ham radio Q signals, including those used on nets and repeaters, is available from the AC6V website.

Q SignalMeaning
QRLIs the frequency busy?
The frequency is busy. Please do not interfere.
QRMAbbreviation for interference from other signals.
QRNAbbreviation for interference from natural or human-made
QROShall I increase power?
Increase power.
QRPShall I decrease power?
Decrease power.
QRQShall I send faster?
Send faster (__words per minute [wpm]).
QRSShall I send more slowly?
Send more slowly (__wpm).
QRTShall I stop sending or transmitting?
Stop sending or transmitting.
QRUHave you anything more for me?
I have nothing more for you.
QRVAre you ready?
I am ready.
QRXStand by.
QRZWho is calling me?
QSBAbbreviation for signal fading.
QSLDid you receive and understand?
Received and understood.
QSOAbbreviation for a contact.
QSTGeneral call preceding a message addressed to all
QSXI am listening on ___ kHz.
QSYChange to transmission on another frequency (or to ___
QTHWhat is your location?
My location is ____.

Common Ham Radio Repeater Channel Spacings and Offsets

Until you become accustomed to using repeaters on all the different ham radio bands, this chart can help you remember the right offsets and channel spacings to use. Many radios have the standard options preprogrammed, but you need to be aware of what they should be.

BandOutput Frequencies of Each Group (In MHz)Offset from Output to Input Frequency
6 meters51.62 – 51.9852.5 – 52.9853.5 – 53.98– 500 kHz
2 meters (a mix of 20 kHz and 15 kHz channel spacing)145.2 – 145.5146.61 – 146.97147.00 – 147.39– 600 kHz– 600 kHz+ 600 kHz
222 MHz or 1-1/4 meters223.85 – 224.98– 1.6 MHz
440 MHz or 70 cm (local options determine whether inputs are
above or below outputs)
442 – 445 (California repeaters start at 440 MHz)447 – 450+ 5 MHz– 5 MHz
1296 MHz or 23 cm1282 – 12881290 – 1294– 12 MHz

Your Ham Radio Go Kit

Would you be ready if a call came from your local public service group to provide some ham radio expertise for a day or so? Items in the following list are the basics of what should be in your radio go kit. Now is a good time to check your supplies and be prepared! Don’t forget to put together a personal go kit, too.

  • Dual-band (VHF/UHF) handheld radio and mini manual
  • Full-size flexible whip antenna
  • Copy of your Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license and any public service group or government agency IDs
  • Mag-mount antenna with necessary adapters for connecting to various connectors
  • Extra battery packs and charger
  • AA-cell battery pack if available and fresh batteries
  • AC power supply and cigarette-plug cord with spare fuses
  • Headset with microphone (preferred) or speaker-mic
  • Copy of your local emcomm frequencies, phone numbers, and procedures
  • Pocket knife and/or multipurpose tool
  • Flashlight or headlamp and spare batteries
  • Pencil and notebook, clipboard, and permanent marker
  • Duct tape, electrical tape, and a few small cable ties
  • Cash for food, gas, and telephone calls (about $20 in small bills and change)

10 Handy Ham Radio Websites

The most common question asked by newcomers to ham radio is “How do I…?” These ten websites are full of information that you can use as you try new things or hone your existing skills. Be sure to bookmark these pages in your home and mobile browsers.

WebsiteOrganization and Use
ARRLMany useful regulatory, educational, operating, and technical items and links
AC6V and DX ZoneGeneral-interest websites with many links on all phases of ham radio
QRZ.comCall sign lookup service and general-interest ham radio portal
eHam.netNews, articles, equipment swap-and-shop, product reviews, and mailing lists
Radiowave Propagation CenterReal-time information on propagation and solar data
Space Weather Prediction CenterReal-time information on space weather and radio communications
TAPRInformation on digital data modes and software-defined radio (SDR)
AMSATMain site for information on amateur satellites
WA7BNM Contest CalendarContest calendar and log due dates
YOTA (Youngsters On the Air)World-wide group for student and young adult hams, based in Europe
DXMAPS.comCollection of real-time maps showing worldwide activity on any amateur band
DX SummitWorldwide DX spotting network