5 Common Mistakes New Ham Radio Operators Make

Ham radio, also known as amateur radio, is an exciting hobby that offers a wide range of opportunities for communication and learning. As with any new endeavor, there are common mistakes that some new operators tend to make. In this post, we’ll discuss 5 common mistakes new ham radio operators make and provide insights on how to avoid them.

When starting their journey into the world of ham radio, new operators may unknowingly make mistakes that hinder their progress or limit their overall experience. By understanding these common pitfalls and taking proactive measures, new ham radio operators can maximize their enjoyment and growth within the hobby. You can listen to my HamRadio 360 “New Ham” podcast episode Here

1. Thinking a Handi Talkie is enough radio to enjoy the hobby

A Handi Talkie, or HT, is a portable, convenient and low powered handheld radio commonly used by beginners. However, relying solely on an HT may limit the range and capabilities of communication. To fully enjoy the hobby, new operators should consider investing in a more powerful base station or mobile radio complimented with an outdoor antenna. These radios typically offer higher output power and require an external antenna, allowing for longer-range communication and improved signal quality. I have some suggestions Here

2. Not testing up for the next class of licenses

Ham radio licenses are divided into different classes, each granting specific privileges and access to different frequency bands. Some new operators make the mistake of not pursuing higher classes of licenses after obtaining their initial Technician license. By testing up for the next class, operators can expand their operating privileges, access more frequencies, and enjoy a broader range of communication possibilities. The Upgrade is the Secret Sauce to fun in the Amateur Radio Hobby! You Can Do It!

3. Not joining a local club

Joining a local ham radio club provides numerous benefits for new operators. Clubs offer a wealth of knowledge, mentorship, and camaraderie within the ham radio community. By participating in club activities, attending meetings, and engaging with experienced operators, new operators can gain valuable insights, receive guidance, and connect with like-minded individuals who share their passion for ham radio. Not all local clubs are created equally so your mileage may vary. That said, it’s worth one or two visits to really get the overall club vibe.

4. Never participating in the Annual Field Day Exercise

The Annual Field Day Exercise is an event organized by amateur radio operators and clubs worldwide. It offers an excellent opportunity for new operators to test their skills, practice emergency communication procedures, and experience radio operation in simulated field conditions. By participating in Field Day, new operators can gain practical experience, improve their operating skills, and connect with other operators in a fun and engaging environment. Don’t miss this opportunity to Get On The Air (GOTA)! You may even be able to test drive some equipment and operate with different gear on different bands. #worthit

5. Believing everything they see on YouTube

With the abundance of ham radio-related content on platforms like YouTube, new operators may be tempted to believe everything they see or hear. It is essential to approach online resources with a critical mindset and verify information from reliable sources. Seeking guidance from local-experienced operators, consulting reputable ham radio websites, and participating in forums and discussions can help new operators navigate the vast sea of information and avoid misinformation or outdated practices. It’s like anything nowadays, just common sense and remember, it’s Just A Hobby!


By being aware of the common mistakes new ham radio operators make and taking proactive measures to avoid them, newbies can enhance their ham radio experience and maximize their enjoyment of the hobby. Remember to invest in suitable equipment, explore opportunities to advance your license, join local clubs, participate in events like Field Day, and approach online resources with a discerning eye. Embracing these recommendations will get you further down the road in the fun and exciting world of Ham Radio!

73, Y’all
Cale(b) Nelson/K4CDN


1. How far can I communicate with a Handi Talkie?

The range of communication with a Handi Talkie depends on various factors, including the terrain, frequency, antenna, and output power. Typically, HTs have a range of a few miles to maybe several miles, but this can be extended with repeaters or improved antennas. Don’t expect too much, so when it works well, it’s a great surprise!

2. Do I need to upgrade my license?

Upgrading your license allows you to access additional frequencies and enjoy expanded privileges. It’s a personal choice, but many operators find it beneficial to upgrade to gain more operating flexibility and explore a wider range of communication options. My Daughter and I are General Class holders. My Wife and 2 eldest sons are Technicians. In all reality for my daughter, it was just to outdo her big brothers. The General Class, for me, opened up the Entire Spectrum for fun on HF!

3. How can I find a local ham radio club?

You can find local ham radio clubs by searching here: https://www.arrl.org/find-a-club

4. What is the Annual Field Day Exercise?

The Annual Field Day Exercise, held the 4th weekend in June, is an annual event where amateur radio operators set up temporary stations and operate under simulated emergency conditions. It aims to practice emergency communication skills and showcase the capabilities of amateur radio. It’s also a great time to get to know your local ham radio community and try something new! Don’t miss the opportunity! Learn More Here: https://www.arrl.org/field-day

5. How do I determine if information on YouTube is reliable?

When using YouTube as a resource, it’s essential to verify information from multiple sources, cross-check details, and consult reputable ham radio websites or forums. Engaging in discussions with experienced local operators can also help validate the accuracy and relevancy of the information. (my work included!)

6. The unmentioned No-No to remember!

Ham Radio aka Amateur Radio is not CB (Citizens Band). Many Ham Operators have spawned from the CB Radio hobby and/or local Emergency Services, which is a good thing (#metoo) With that said, we never say “10-4” to acknowledge anything over the air, on the Ham Radio Bands. You’ll have to trust me on this one, just don’t say “10-4” on the air…..You can thank me later!

Now is the perfect time to obtain your Ham Radio License! Are you ready to take the next step and enjoy a 20% discount? Visit Ham Radio Prep today and utilize the code HamRadio360 to begin your journey; you’ll receive a 20% discount on all courses! Ham Radio Prep guarantees that you will pass your exam on your first attempt or receive a full refund. 20% discount code: HamRadio360

Cale(b) is an author, speaker, longtime stay at home dad and small business owner. He and his wife of over 25 years, Carla, have 5 beautiful children and 2 Goldendoodles. Caleb is a FM Radio veteran and licensed Amateur Radio Operator (K4CDN). In the days before kids and radio, he spent nearly a decade in the Professional Fire Service as an Engineer and EMT. Caleb’s heart to serve and to teach shines in his work, whether on the page or over the air.