In the UK. We have three types of Licence. Lots of information can be found at www.rsgb.org.uk. The following is some extra information on the licences :-
The First step into Amateur Radio is the Foundation Licence. It is designed to introduce you to some of the possibilities and responsibilities you will get when licenced.
What does the Foundation Licence let me do ?
First of all I need to say. There is a lot of confusion about what you can and cant do. This is often people who don’t have a Foundation licence or have not trained for a long time. The important thing to remember is, Its your licence ! your responsible so its best to read up on what you can and cant do. Rather than always relying on other people.
You will be able to set up your own Amateur Radio Station. At this level you are not allowed to build your own equipment. So it must all be commercial. Thankfully you can by some Commercial kits to build your own equipment. They must be sold as kits suitable for the foundation licence and meet the correct criterea.( currently IR 2028 )
The above statement is a little confusing when you first start out in Radio. So I would like to clarify. Simply you cant build Transmitters ! or anything that Transmits unless it meets the IR 2018 standard. You can create your own leads, you can even build a receiver ! if you want to.
You will be allowed to use 10 Watts of RF power. This figure changes on some Amateur Radio Bands. So its best to check the current Band plan.
You will be allowed to communicate by HF ( High Frequency) Radio,which can enable you to communicate all around the world. Even at 10 Watts ! You will also be able to use Frequencies in the VHF ( Very High Frequency ) UHF ( Ultra High Frequency ) and SHF ( Super High Frequency ) These have a smaller range and are used for more local Contacts. Including through Satelites and Repeaters.
You will be able to use Digital Modes such as RTTY, PSK31, SSTV etc.
What will you need to do to get a Foundation licence ?
You should purchase the Foundation Licence Now! training book. You can get this at the RSGB bookshop, Amazon or ebay.
The is sometimes a misunderstanding around getting a licence and courses. Do you need to do a course ? the answer is NO. Should you do a course ? YES ! There is more to amateur radio than the foundation licence covers. It gives you a good start but spending time with instructors on a course, will help you get to grips with being a successful Radio operator. Most clubs run courses with the practical assessments carried out as you go, then the Exam at the end. If you don’t think you need a course or don’t want to do one. You will have to find an assessor who is happy to just sign you off and put you in for the exam.
To get your licence you will need to do some Practical assessments with an Assessor. The Assessor should take you through them and offer help. Once you have completed them. You will need to take a multiple choice Exam. This consists of 26 Questions. With a pass mark of 18 Correct answers.
Once you have takent the Exam the Assessors will mark it for you and tell you if you have passed or failed.They will then send your result to the RSGB. Once received they will inform OFCOM that you have passed. You can then Claim your new licence. This will give you a radio callsign starting with either M3 or M6
If you have any questions. please e-mail me.
The next step is the Intermediate Licence. It is slightly more complex and requires more study. This is because it offers you more capabilities.
What extra Does the Intermediate Licence offer ?
You will have a maximum power of 50 watts.
You will be able to build your own equipment.
You will be able to apply for a Notice of Variation to run an Internet Gateway.
You will be able to become a registered assessor for the Foundation Licence.
What do you need to do, to get an Intermediate Licence ?
You should purchase the Intermediate Licence, building on the Foundation. Course book.
Again there are Practical Assessments to complete. One of which is an electronics project. These are to demonstrate that you have the required knowledge and skill to build transmitters successfully.
There is Multiploe Choice exam. Consisting of 45 Questions. You need to get 27 to Pass.
Again the Assesors will mark your exam paper and tell you if you have passed or failed.
Advanced / Full Licence.
This is the Final step. It is more complex and has a lot more material to learn.
what does the advance licnce offer ?
You will now be able to use a maximum of 400 watts of power.
You can build your own equipment.
You can build and Run Radio repeaters and digital Mailbox’s ( with an NOV )
You can supervise non licenced individuals to use your radio equipment.
You can become an assessor for the Foundation, Intermediate and Full licences.
You can apply for special event callsigns.
You can start a new Amateur Radio Club.
You have access to Experimental Radio bands ( with an NOV )
You can undertake Experimental Radio Projects using Higher powers ( with an NOV )
What do you need to do ?
You should Purchase the Advanced, The full Licence Manual ! course book.
You will not be required to do any more practical Assessments. You will have to take a multiple choice exam consisting of 62 questions. The pass mark isn’t published in the same way as the others.
The assessors will not mark your exam this time. It will be sent away for marking.
Non licence Specific
Once you get your Call sign. It is yours for life. You do have to validate it every 5 years ! If you don’t. your licence may lapse and you wont be able to use it. This is easily done on the Ofcom website. Link in other information below.
Where to find other information :-
Current UK Band Plans : http://rsgb.org/main/operating/band-plans/uk-band-plan/
Ofcom Licencing : http://licensing.ofcom.org.uk/radiocommunication-licences/amateur-radio/
Finding a local Club : http://rsgb.org/main/clubs-and-education/find-a-club/
If you are in Kent, UK. a very good club is www.motfc.org