Getting Licensed

Amateur (Ham) Radio requires a licence from the government. You will need to pass a test, and then apply for a callsign before getting on the air. At CUWS we can help with any of the three licence grades in the UK: Foundation, Intermediate and Advanced. The licence you receive is now free, and valid for life.

Foundation Licence Training with CUWS
The Foundation Licence came into being on 1 January 2002. For the first time it allowed anybody to get a basic Amateur Radio licence with no formal external examinations, no theory to learn and without needing to devote much time to studying. All that is involved is a simple multiple-choice exam and a few practical exercises. If you pass this, you receive the paperwork to apply for a new Foundation licence straightaway.

The licence allows for use of up to ten watts in selected portions of most of the Amateur Radio bands, with allocations from LF (137kHz) right up into UHF (440MHz). Ten watts might not seem like much compared to the 400W full licence limit but it is perfectly possible to make contacts into Europe and often beyond with such low power, especially if you take advantage of CUWS’ big aerials!

The first CUWS training session took place at Caius College during the weekend of 16-17 March 2002, and all nine candidates (who ranged from a 12 year-old school student to a visiting Dr. from the Caribbean) passed. The second and third courses were held in June and August when a further twelve candidates passed. Since then, we have had many more passes and are able to arrange an examination at short notice (roughly 3 weeks). Please email Martin G3ZAY if you would like information on our next examination session.

There is an element of practical assessment in the course which helps to keep it interesting and you will even get a chance to try out a bit of slow Morse Code (with a crib-sheet, though, so no learning required!). All of the physics is generally lower than GCSE level so this licence really is possible for Arts students to do as well as Engineering students!

The Intermediate Licence
We offer the facilities to complete the associated practical elements (requires a little bit of soldering and a small project) and we are registered as an exam centre for people to take the exam. Exams are available on an ad-hoc basis similar to the Foundation licence. This licence allows more frequencies to be used with a power of up to 50W as well as the use of satellites. This allows communication over much further distances than the foundation and there is more provision for you to use equipment that you have built yourself.

The Advanced Licence
We are also a registered exam centre for the top level of UK licence. This licence allows operation on all the Amateur bands at power levels of up to 400W. This will quite easily achieve worldwide communications. There are no practical elements associated with this exam. Unlike the other two levels of licence exam, this exam can only be sat on certain dates of the year. See the RSGB website for forthcoming opportunities.

Morse Training
Since the middle of 2003, the requirement to learn Morse code (CW) has been removed. The only Morse-related exercise now involved in any Amateur Radio exam in the UK is a very slow Morse exercise in the foundation licence practical. This is so simple that it does not require any preparation whatsoever. However, should you wish to learn Morse, we are able to lend you materials to help you do so.