About the Harvard Wireless Club








Thank-you for your interest in the Harvard Wireless Club,

call sign W1AF, the amateur radio (“ham radio") club at

Harvard University. Whether you are a student, staff member,

alum or affiliate interested in learning more about ham radio

or becoming a club member, we're interested in meeting you.

In the 21st century, amateur radio remains intellectually

challenging, personally fulfilling, and filled with opportu-

nities for public service, both during your years at Harvard

and afterward.


What is Amateur Radio?

Simply put, amateur radio is two-way, non-commercial

communication between amateur radio operators licensed

by their country's communications ministry (in the United

States, the Federal Communications Commission) using

certain frequency bands set aside for this purpose. Com-

munication takes place by voice, in morse code, and digital

modes. WIAF has logged radio contacts with amateur operators

in over 200 countries. Amateur operators have a tradition of

public service. They can communicate in situations where

existing telecommunications infrastructure is damaged or

inadequate and where there is no working electric power grid.

They are also skilled in group ("net") operations and so often

provide official communications at public events such as the

Head of the Charles Regatta and the Boston Marathon.


Do I Have to Be a U.S. Citizen?

No. You may be a fully qualified ham radio operator in

the U.S. no matter what your country of citizenship is.

But unless you are a U.S. citizen, your U.S. license may

not help you to get operating privileges abroad.


How Do I Get a License?

To get your first ham radio license, you have to pass an

FCC-approved test covering simple electronics and basic

ham radio practice. These tests are offered by fellow

hams trained as examiners. The first, Technician-level li-

cense allows you to talk over frequencies that allow local

"line-of-site" communication, or with the use of repeaters

(shared systems that rebroadcast your signals), communi-

cation over a metropolitan scale.

In order to have broader privileges on the frequencies

(high frequency or HF bands) that allow global commu-

nications when conditions are right, you also have to pass

a slightly more difficult radio theory and ham radio prac-

tice test to get your General License. Another class of

license, the Extra class, allows you slightly more privi-

leges but requires an additional, longer test from a much

larger known pool of questions. Most ham radio operators

are also proficient at Morse code, but this requirement has

been dropped from the USA licensing requirements.

The Harvard Wireless Club will be offering exams during the

year. Also, the MIT Radio society offers monthly exam sessions,

and there are other options as well. The Harvard Wireless Club

can set you up with study guides and help prepare you to pass

the amateur service exams.


Visiting WIAF

Harvard affiliates, students and their parents are wel-

come to tour the radio station. Please email

wlaf@harvard.edu to schedule an appointment. Ex-

tra advance notice may be required during break periods.