While not every ham is technically inclined or particularly handy, amateur radio operators tend to be do-it-yourself (DIY) kind of people who often build, install, and fix their gear and other things. In many ways hams are some of the original “Makers” and experimenters who have actually helped further the art and science of radio and communications technology.
To encourage and further this historic reputation, consider developing in yourself some of the practical skills that ham radio operators are stereotyped to possess. While the list rightly could be more extensive, we will suggest four basic ones here:
- Electronic soldering
- Using a multimeter
- Stripping and terminating different kinds of wire and cable
- Drilling and cutting material (fabrication)
We can’t go into details on these here*, so the reader will need to learn about these skills on their own. Besides researching them on the web, how can you develop these skills and techniques? As always, consult your Elmer for some guidance on any or all of these topics. On your own you can also read up on different subjects in books, magazines and on the internet. The ARRL Handbook has plenty of info on these subjects and is a highly recommended reference. QST magazine is also a good resource.
*But look for an extensive primer on multimeters in the near future.
Building an electronic kit is a wonderful experience that will teach you a lot about components and soldering. Local clubs may also host training/practice sessions in some of these areas. A VHF antenna build is another great way to gain experience with stripping, terminating and soldering and may also involve a multimeter.
Feel free to chime in with your own suggestions for practical skills in the comments below.