Introduction

Before you can operate Amateur Radio Transmitting Equipment you must obtain an Amateur Radio Transmitting Licence. The present system of Amateur Radio Licensing is intended to to provide an inclusive incentive based progression through levels of knowledge obtained practically through the use of Radio.

It is a requirement that you progress through each of the stages in turn, there are no exceptions and no short cuts irrespective of the amount of theoretical or practical knowledge you may have. Let's face it if you have a raft of practical knowledge or theoretical understanding you should be able to rapidly progress from one level to the next and we can tailor courses on this basis.

The following sections describe very briefly the privileges granted at each level of licence and the course content. The full Syllabi for the courses can be accessed via the RSGB website.

Foundation Licence

In simplistic terms this is the "entry level" licence, it is the minimum you require to transmit legally on the Amateur Radio bands. The course represents an introduction to radio operation and radio theory and can be completed by anyone with an interest in radio and a desire to learn. There is no requirement to have any prior understanding or use of radio.

The course content is covered in about 8 sessions each lasting around 45 minutes – 1 hour and introduces you very gently to:

  • content and structure of the licence;
  • rules and regulations governing use of the Amateur Radio spectrum;
  • basic electrical theory: application of Ohms Law (V=IxR and P=IxV) to simple circuits;
  • simple propagation theory – how radio waves travel why some bands are worldwide and others are 10 miles in range; and
  • an introduction to antennas and feeders (the wire from your transceiver to the antenna).

In addition to the theoretical work there are also a number of simple practical exercises designed to introduce to the use of Amateur Radio, the types of contacts you may have and some of the operating practices and procedures to ensure that you are comfortable with operating equipment once you obtain your licence.

Once you have obtained your Foundation Licence you will be able to do the following:

  • Transmit legally on all Amateur Radio Bands from 2200m – 70cm plus the 3cm band;
  • Use type approved transmitting equipment with a maximum output of 10W (some bands have additional restrictions);
  • Use FM, AM, SSB, CW and data modes in any of the above Amateur Radio Bands as set out in the UK Band Plans;
  • Operate via Amateur Radio Satellites;
  • Contact other licensed amateurs through out the world or just around the corner; and
  • Take part in Amateur Radio competitions and contests.

Some limitations are imposed on the operation of the Foundation licence, a few are set out below:

  • Maximum power of 10W out of the transceiver (some bands have additional restrictions);
  • Limited to type approved transmitting equipment, i.e. you may not construct your transmitting equipment although you may construct station accessories, interfaces and receivers;
  • May not operate from a vessel on the seaward side of Low Water although you may contact Full Licence stations and foreign stations who are permitted to operate from vessels;
  • May not operate in countries outside of the UK without an appropriate licence from the local authorities. The Foundation Licence will not automatically qualify you for a foreign licence in any country outside of the UK; and
  • You may not operate a remote station

We have experimented with condensed courses, where the theory sessions are handled over 2 Saturdays, usually on adjacent weekends from 10:00 – 15:00, and the practical sessions over 3-4 weeks on Thursday evening club sessions. This has proven successful, but is only practical for groups of about 6 as we have to charge for the Saturday sessions to cover our room rental costs. We do not consider it practical to run a course over a single weekend and will not be offering this format. In the first place we consider that there is insufficient time for slippage in a mixed ability group and in the second place we can't get rooms over the entire weekend.

Intermediate Licence

Step 2 on the ladder, the Intermediate Licence takes you deeper into the theory of radio and electronics and confers additional bands, power and other privileges compared to the Foundation Licence. In order to sit the Intermediate Exam you must have passed the Foundation Exam.

The Intermediate Course builds on the Foundation and the practical experience you will have gained as a Foundation operator. The course is longer, taking around 26 sessions compared to the 10 sessions required to complete the Foundation and goes deeper into the theories of:

  • Electronics – introduction of additional components, tuned circuits, AC;
  • Propagation – Increased description of the Ionosphere;
  • Antenna – Polar diagrams;
  • Feeder – Losses; and
  • Construction – soldering, circuit construction.

As a result of passing the Intermediate Exam you will gain the following privileges over and above the Foundation Licence:

  • Access to all Amateur Bands from 2200m – 1.2mm;
  • Maximum output power of 50W on all allocated Amateur Bands (some bands have additional restrictions);
  • Ability to construct and convert transmitting equipment; and
  • Ability to operate a RF wireless controlled remote station;

There are still restrictions imposed upon you an Intermediate Licence holder, some of the main ones are:

  • Limit of 50W maximum power from the transceiver (some bands have additional restrictions);
  • May not operate from a vessel on the seaward side of Low Water although you may contact Full Licence stations and foreign stations who are permitted to operate from vessels; and
  • May not operate in countries outside of the UK without an appropriate licence from the local authorities.  The Intermediate Licence will not automatically qualify you for a foreign licence in any country outside of the UK.

Full Licence

The Advanced Exam is the final step on the incentive based licensing system and naturally provides the highest level of privileges and requires the highest level of knowledge. There are no practical exercises involved in the Advanced Exam, the additional knowledge is all related to theory of radio or electronics.

Once you have passed this exam you will have the following additional privileges over and above the Intermediate Licence:

  • Limit of 400W maximum power (some bands have additional restrictions);
  • Ability to operate "Maritime Mobile" from a vessel on the seaward side of Low Water with the permission of the vessels master;
  • Ability to operate an internet linked remote station for personal use; and
  • Reciprocal Licensing Agreements with many other countries allowing operation from foreign countries.

What To Do Next

If you want more details on the individual courses and their availability at SBARC please look at our individual course content pages for the Foundation, Intermediate and Advanced course.  We can normally adapt our course schedule to reflect demands for course types. At present we are planning to run the following courses:

Course Availability
Course Type Instructor(s) Start Date and Details Anticipated Exam Date
Foundation Steve G0UQT
Peter G0DRX
We are currently running a Foundation “short” Course comprising the practicals and some brief coverage of the Foundation syllabus points as might be linked to the practical exercises. This course is full 07/09/2017
Intermediate Steve G0UQT
Peter G0DRX
It is planned to start an intermediate Course around mid September 2017 depending on demend TBC but likely to be early 2018
Advanced Andy G7KNA We are currently running an Advanced Course TBC

External Training Links

The following are a series of useful links to outside training resources: