How to get “plugged in” to the amateur radio community

How to get “plugged in” to the amateur radio community

By Dan Romanchik, KB6NU

This morning, I found this email in my inbox:

Thank you for your website and great content. I passed the Tech and General tests on Saturday, and I will be taking the Extra exam in November. Your “No Nonsense” guides were very helpful.

I do have a question, though. How do I stay current on what’s happening in the ham world?For example the CQ WW SSB contest was this weekend. How do newbies know this kind of thing? How do we find local or regional hamfests and other events?

This is a great question. Like any special interest, it can seem daunting to get plugged in (pun intended) to the community. Here are a few of my suggestions:

Join the ARRL ( The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) is really the place to start for information related to amateur radio.QST, the ARRL’s monthly magazine, includes news about upcoming contests and ARRL-sanctioned hamfests. It also reviews new amateur radio products and provides a wealth of technical information.

In addition to QST, the ARRL publishes many email newsletters that members can subscribe to. For example, Contest Update is a biweekly newsletter that not only lists upcoming contests, but also includes tips on operating contests. The ARES E-Letter is a monthly public service and emergency communications newsletters. There are also email newsletters for ham radio instructors, those interested in DX, legislative matters, and satellite operation.

Join your local club. While the ARRL will help you keep abreast of amateur radio news and events nationally and internationally, if you want to know what going on in amateur radio in your area, you should join your local club. To find clubs near you, go to

Visit the WA7BNM Contest Calendar ( This contest calendar has become my go-to resource for any and all contest information. This site provides detailed information about amateur radio contests throughout the world, including their scheduled dates/times, rules summaries, log submission information and links to the official rules as published by the contest sponsors. Its features include an 8-Day calendar, a 12-Month calendar, and separate calendars for state QSO parties, CW contests, and QRP contests. You can also get a weekly e-mail of contests taking place in an 8-day period (Monday through Monday), as well as a list of contests scheduled for the next week and a list of log submission information for recent contests. 

Ham radio blogs. Blogs are also a good way to keep up with what’s going on in amateur radio. I like to think that I do a good job of covering what’s going on in amateur radio, but, of course, I can’t do it all. That being the case, you might also want read other blogs. Other amateur radio blogs that you might want to check out include:

  • The K0NR Radio Site (
  • QRP–When you care to send the very least (
  • Everything Ham Radio (

There are a bunch of other good ones out there. Find the ones you like and subscribe to them, so that you get a notification when new items are posted.

Mailing lists. Mailing lists are kind of old school, but if you have a special interest, chances are that there is a mailing list for it. For example, I own an Elecraft KX-3, so I subscribe to the Elecraft KX User Group mailing list ( Many amateur radio mailing lists are migrating to the To find a list, just click on the “Find or Create a Group” link at the top of the page. I just did a search for “amateur radio” and found 910 different amateur radio mailing lists.

Podcasts and videocasts. Podcasts are also another great way to stay up with amateur radio. I’m partial to theICQPodcast ( because I am on the panel once a month. The podcast not only includes a discussion of what’s new in amateur radio, but also a feature, which digs a little deeper into a particular topic. Other great podcasts are Ham Radio Workbench (, and Linux in the Ham Shack ( Internet video shows that are worth checking out are Ham Radio 2.0 (, Ham Radio Now (, and Ham Nation (

This is by no means an exhaustive list. If you have an amateur radio information resource that you find particular helpful, please let me know.


Dan Romanchik, KB6NU, is the author of the KB6NU amateur radio blog (KB6NU.Com), the “No Nonsense” amateur radio license study guides (KB6NU.Com/study-guides/), and often appears on the ICQPodcast ( When he’s not trying to keep up with ham radio, he likes to build stuff and  operate CW on the HF bands.