Book Review: Getting Started in Amateur Radio
Don Field looks at whether this title is aimed at those who are yet to take the plunge or the newly licensed. Here is what he had to say...
Author: Don Field G3XTT
Those of you who read my Keylines last month (September 2015), will know that my son has recently become licensed. A Foundation course covers just the basics to get you on the air. It leaves many unanswered questions. Some of the questions he has been asking cover matters like the best band(s) to select for working outside the UK, choice of antenna, what logging program to use (a paper logbook is so last-century!), whether QSL cards are necessary, where to find out about stations he has worked, what aspects of the hobby might be of interest to a new licensee and, of course, what resources and user groups are available on the internet to find out more and to engage with other like-minded individuals.
When I saw that my friend and occasional PW contributor Steve Nichols G0KYA had written Getting Started in Amateur Radio, I wondered whether this would be the book to answer some or all of those questions because I feel sure that those and similar questions are being asked across the country by others newly licensed. Or perhaps, I wondered, was the book aimed at those who had yet to even take the plunge.
In practice, this 90-page book attempts to do both. It explains what amateur radio is and the steps to gaining a licence. It then goes on to advise on choosing a rig and setting up an antenna. The propagation characteristics of the various bands are explained, along with a primer on general operating, DXing, contesting and awards chasing. There is also a chapter on Morse (CW) and the increasingly popular data modes. Some of the material does duplicate what is in the RSGB licence manuals but, for the most part, it complements those publications.
All the above is useful and goes a long way to answering the more basic questions. For my part, and my son concurs, it would have been nice to see the final chapter, entitled What Else is There? rather more comprehensive in setting out the wide variety of avenues to explore within the hobby. I don’t see many newcomers dabbling with moonbounce (which is covered briefly) but perhaps a mention of conventions, Hamfests and other social aspects of the hobby such as online support groups as well as activities such as direction finding, popular across a wide age range, rather than use space for two separate sections on electronic logkeeping (and two screenshots of the same logging program). I would also have liked to have seen a bibliography pointing to further reading, whether by way of books or the internet and, indeed, an index. Something, perhaps, for the next edition.
However, for the price and as a handy primer, this book goes a long way to filling a gap in the literature and would come in handy if you can’t wait for a topic to be covered in Colin Redwood’s What Next column!
Review taken from Practical Wireless October 2015