The Amateur Radio Relay League is nearly as old as amateur radio itself. In the early days of radio experimentation operators would often build their own radios and could only communicate over relatively short distances. If an amateur wanted to talk to someone or send a message outside the range of his own antenna he would often ask another amateur to pass this message, or radiogram, for him. Over time there were amateur operators all over the country passing or relaying these messages. The ARRL was a gathering of these individuals for a common purpose.

Today the ARRL is a member organization that sponsors events, provides training, and advocates for radio amateurs. They are an especially powerful lobby for our hobby in congress. Membership in the ARRL includes a monthly magazine called QST and more tools and resources than you could ask for.

ARRL Amateur Radio in the Classroom
This section of the ARRL site ETP Resources, including curriculum materials, kits, and projects, as well as grants and information about what other schools are doing.

ARRL Youth
This section provides more classroom activities, youth events like the ARRL Kids Day, and more.

For more information about the ARRL visit


Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES)

ARES groups are volunteers from a community who act in times of crisis to help manage radio communications for local fire, police, and emergency operations centers as needed. Ham radio operators usually operate portable battery powered equipment and sometimes when the power goes out and the television and cell phones go silent ARES is the only working communications resource.

For more information on how you can get involved with your local ARES group see


Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services (RACES)

RACES is a protocol created by FEMA and the FCC to provide a government response during times of crisis using amateur radio operators. Often when a community has an ARES group that same group handles RACES as well. Sometimes it’s just a matter of changing hats.

See for more information.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

After Hurricane Katrina pretty much everyone knows what FEMA is. Since 2005 and the perception that they pretty much did everything wrong FEMA has worked hard to improve their processes and involve the public in crisis management. The classes they offer on incident and crisis management are phenomenal and highly recommended even if you are not involved in emergency management.Visit for more information.

Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)

CERT is a FEMA program that teaches community member basic crisis management with the idea that the more people they prepare for crisis situations the fewer victims there will be. Most communities have a CERT program, though some are more active than others. CERT also offers a cool training program called Teen CERT. I’ve helped with this program before and it was a lot of fun.

For more information about CERT visit

Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN)

SATERN is dedicated to  assisting The Salvation Army during times of emergency. To provide all possible forms of communication when normal communications are impossible, and through cross training, assist The Salvation Army in any way possible. SATERN is an Amateur Radio operator volunteer based organization.

For more information visit

Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS)

Army MARS is a Department of Defense sponsored program which utilizes Amateur Radio operators to contribute to the mission of the Department of the Army. One of MARS main functions is to pass messages to and from deployed military individuals through a network of ham radio operators.

The Army MARS website is kind of minimal but you can find it at

ARISS lets students worldwide experience the excitement of talking directly with crew members of the International Space Station, inspiring them to pursue interests in careers in science, technology, engineering and math, and engaging them with radio science technology through amateur radio.Visit for information how your school can schedule a conversation with the space station astronauts.

Say it like a Ham!

ARRL We say the name of this organization as A – Double R – L (ay- Double R-El)
ARES is pronounced just like the name of the god of war in Greek mythology (air-rees).

Regulatory Agencies

Amateur radio operation requires a license and is governed by several licenses/agencies worldwide, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the US, European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT),  and the International Amateur Radio Permit (IARP). There are other agencies and some countries are self-governed, but these three are the primary ones American operators may encounter.

FCC – FCC governs amateur radio under part 97 of the radio code. Once you study for and test for an amateur license the FCC will assign you a callsign and maintains your public record. At one time the FCC administered the ham radio license, but these days this responsibility has been handed off to radio clubs and other organizations. The FCC is still responsible for code enforcement and prosecution of those of do not obey the rules set forth by Part 97.


CEPT Covers 82 European Countries. CEPT Operation is similar to the FCC, except that they have to get all of those countries to agree on radio spectrum use as defined by the UN. It give me a headache just thinking about it.

IARP – IARP is an agreement between a handful of North and South American countries for operation. See for more information.See for more information on these agencies, and for more information of operating internationally.

Worth Checking Out

Hamsphere is a ham radio simulator that allows you to experience ham radio before you get the license. It simulates HF radio and allows you to talk to others on their network. They also provide you with your own website where you can share what you are up to in ham radio. 

Zack & Max

Amateur Radio Comic Books

ICOM, a major manufacturer of ham radio equipment published 7 volumes of the Zack & Max series of comic books beginning in 2002. These comic books are out of print, but you can still download the comic books, coloring books, and other materials at