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January MCARC meeting will be held virtually. As of Friday, 1/1, the EOC will be closed to all non-Madison County Employees.  Due to COVID-19 concerns, we are not having face-to-face meetings at this time. Please monitor the repeaters and local nets for updates to this status.






By now most of you are aware of the term ARES, but what is ARES? Actually it is an acronym [A.R.E.S.] which stands for Amateur Radio Emergency Service. The name sounds impressive and the operation is quite impressive.

A brief history

Ham radio might be considered a precursor to the social media of today. This form of communication dates back to the 1890s. It wasn’t until 1912 when the Radio Act was passed, granting federal licensing to ham radio stations. Ham radio stations today are regulated by the United States Federal Communications Commission. In 1935, the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) was established by the American Radio Relay League. Licensed amateur radio operators belong to the ARES, having registered their equipment and qualifications to be ready to assist the public in the event of a disaster. The Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service was established in 1952, serving as a civil defense radio service that activates in emergencies. Following Federal Emergency Management Agency protocols, ham radio operators have authorization to transmit during emergencies after the president invokes these powers.

After World War II, it became evident that the international situation was destined to be tense and the need for some civil-defense measures became apparent. Successive government agencies designated to head up such a program called on amateur representatives to participate.

In the discussions that followed, amateurs were interested in getting two points across: First, that Amateur Radio had a potential for and capability of playing a major role in this program. And second, that our participation should be in our own name, as Amateur Radio Service, even if and after war should break out. These principles were included in the planning by the formulation of regulations creating a new branch of the amateur service, the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service or RACES.

Recognition of the role of Amateur Radio as a public service means responsibility. Every amateur should have access to the current version of the FCC rules and regulations for Amateur Radio [Part 97], which includes the Amateur-Satellite Service and the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service. RACES could be the only part of Amateur Radio allowed to operate if the President invokes the “war powers” granted him by the Communications Act.

Upon proclamation by the President that there exists war or a threat of war, or a state of public peril or disaster or other national emergency, or in order to preserve the neutrality of the United States, The President, if he deems it necessary in the interest of national security or defense, may suspend or amend, for such time as he may see fit, the rules and regulations applicable to any and all stations or devices capable of emitting electromagnetic radiations within the jurisdiction of the United States as prescribed by the Commission, and may cause the closing of any station for radio communications…

We will discuss RACES in more depth in later issues.

“The Amateur Radio Emergency Service [ARES] consists of Amateur Radio licensees who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment for communications duty in the public service when disaster strikes. Every Licensed amateur, regardless of membership in ARRL or any other local or national organization, is eligible to apply for membership in ARES. Training may be required or desired to participate fully in ARES. The Local ARES Emergency Coordinator can provide specifics. Because ARES is an Amateur Radio program, only licensed amateurs are eligible for membership. The possession of emergency- powered equipment is desirable but is not a requirement for membership.”

The above quote comes straight from the ARES Manual. In Madison County, the Communications Division has primary [lead] responsibility for providing for the communications needs of Madison County Emergency Management and local government. This falls within the mission of RACES. Many members of the Communications Division are also members of ARES, but their primary obligation is to the County organization. ARES members not a part of EMA are viewed as a “communications resource” as defined in the County Communications Plan to be utilized as necessary to accomplish the overall mission. As necessary the Emergency Management Staff will request the County ARES EC [Emergency Coordinator] to provide additional communications resources. The EC can as needed request additional qualified resources from other Counties.

What is Radio Service?

A radio service is a categorization of users of the radio spectrum that have a common specific radio communications purpose. Examples include the Broadcasting Services, the Aeronautical Mobile Service, the Land Mobile service, the Maritime mobile service and of course, the Amateur Service. The word “Service” in ARES’ name has a different meaning than the “Service” in RACES. The meaning of “Service” as used in ARES is consistent with the meaning of public service – actions carried out with the aim of providing a public good. RACES is an FCC-regulated radio service. ARES is an organization of individuals who apply specialized telecommunications skills for a public good.

The Amateur Radio Services comprise the Amateur Service, the Amateur-Satellite service and the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service. Most amateur activity is conducted in the Amateur Service. A person doesn’t join the Amateur Service, they get a license and operate in that service in accordance with the applicable rules. When an Amateur communicates via one of the many Amateur satellites, they don’t join the Amateur-Satellite service, they operate in that service according to the applicable rules.

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Quote of the Month

“I have been frankly fascinated with that unpaid group of people with those ham radios, the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) makes available a wireless system that seldom if ever can be totally disrupted by a disaster — ham radio operators are the heart, the soul and the life blood of that system.” — The Hon. Mayor Willie Brown, Mayor of San Francisco (1996-2004)

So, You Want to Become an AMATEUR RADIO OPERATOR?

Click “Continue Reading” for a helpful guide from our friends at the Anderson Repeater Club on how to easily become a licensed ham radio operator!! 

Becoming a licensed ham radio operator is not difficult.  The entry-level license, called the Technician Class, is designed in such a way that everyone, young or old, can understand topics that are included in the required test.


To better understand amateur radio licensing go to:   

At this site you can learn about the various licenses, take “practice exams” (very useful, almost everyone does it), and find an exam session (our Club offers a Volunteer Examiner session each month).

  • It’s useful to get a “book” to help understand the topics that you will be tested on.  We recommend:

Technician Class FCC License Preparation for Element 2 Technician Class Theory

By Gordon West WB6NOA

ISBN:  978-0-945053-90-3

This book is available on-line for about $20-$25.  It has all of the questions in the official “question pool” (423 questions).  Don’t panic…..The test is only 35 of those questions.

  • Another good resource is the American Radio Relay League:

(Provides training books and practice for each license class)

ARRL Ham Radio License Manual 4th Edition  (It is organized differently, and is used by many.)

  • If you prefer more of a class environment:

Technician Ham Class September 2018 Chapter 1 Welcome to Amateur Radio W4EEY

A Youtube class taught by hams.  (Based on ARRL Ham Radio License Manual 4th Edition)


  • An Amateur Radio License that is issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is required to get on the air. 

You must pass the written test at a Volunteer Examiner Test Session.  You must present a picture ID and pay a fee of $15. You will be given a 35 question test that has 4 possible answers for each question.  The test questions are selected from the pool of questions used in the practice exams and in the text book. Most candidates complete the test in 10 to 20 minutes.

Additional Online resources for becoming a Ham Radio Operator:

Dave Casler has a series of videos to support the ARRL training books

Gordon West Training Resources

The Ham Whisperer’s Technician Class License Course

Ham Universe

This site has a lot of information related to the hobby in addition to getting licensed

No-Nonsense Ham Study Guide

A paragraph format license study technique (free pdf, Kindle, Nook or Audio version)

Bullet Amateur Radio Society,

Study material to earn your Technician Class Ham License


On-line test preparation sites:

Ham Test Online

Ham Exam


Ham Universe


Amateur Radio is a hobby that can be enjoyed by all.  Like any other hobby you can spend a lot of money or very little.  You can spend a lot of time or very little. In fact, one benefit of the hobby is that you can “drop out” for a period of time, and assuming you don’t let your license expire (it lasts for 10 years and you just have to renew it at no cost) you can come back later and get involved again.


Our hobby provides many opportunities for social enjoyment, public service, emergency preparation, technical challenges, learning and much more.  There are two active amateur radio clubs in Madison County that meet regularly for friendship, fellowship and learning. We are always anxious to have new hams  join us.


Take the plunge into Amateur Radio as a hobby.  You will find it well worth your effort.


73,  (that means best regards in ham radio talk)


Anderson Repeater Club