Special Topics in Communication - Introduction to Amateur Radio

Course Description

This course aims to introduce students to the fundamentals of amateur radio. It is designed to prepare students to pass the amateur radio licensing exam, with an emphasis on hands-on demonstrations on what can be done with a radio license. Though the class material focuses on the entry-level Technician exam, students have the opportunity to obtain the more advanced General and Extra class licenses which come with more privileges. Topics covered include: Radio signal fundamentals, basic electronics, radio wave propagation, antennas, radio equipment, norms of amateur radio communication, and operating regulations. This course welcomes anyone interested in becoming a licensed amateur radio user, regardless of major or prior background.


Tom Zajdel (AI6CU)
Hamerschlag Hall A210




  • The references used for this class are the ARRL Ham Radio License Manual (T) and General Class Licnese Manual (G). Lectures will primarily provide context for self-study.
  • ECE majors should be able to tackle the Extra class license using knowledge from 18-100 and 18-220 (and a little bit of 18-320). An ``Extra Addendum’’ will be included in the course notes to suggest material to review for those interested in pursuing the Extra license.
  • Lecture Notes will be provided when applicable

Grading Criteria

  • This course is 6 units graded P/N. Passing a licensing exam will earn a P.
  • If you are already licensed at the Technician or General levels, but would like to upgrade your license to General or Extra class, you may enroll.
  • If you already have an extra level license, you are welcome to attend/audit the course, but cannot take it for credit.

Spring 2022 Schedule (Tentative, subject to change/shuffling depending on weather)

Mondays are seminars covering one aspect of amateur radio. They run from 7:00pm to 8:20pm. Most Wednesdays are demo days that consist of hands-on demonstrations. They run from 7:00pm to 7:50pm. Some Wednesdays are project days that will run from 7:00pm to 8:20pm to allow more time to complete the hands-on build projects.

Week Day Date Topic Reference
1 M 14-Mar Seminar: Radio and Signal Fundamentals T1, T2
  W 16-Mar Demo: WebSDR and FLDigi G6
2 M 21-Mar Seminar: Electricity, Components, and Circuits T3, G4
  W 23-Mar Project: Mini-Radio Build Soldering
3 M 28-Mar Seminar: Amateur Radio Equipment T5, G5
  W 30-Mar Demo: RTL-SDR  
4 M 4-Apr Seminar: Antennas and Propagation T4, G7
  W 6-Apr Project: Yagi-Uda Build  
5 M 11-Apr Seminar: Propagation and Communication with Other Hams T6, G8
  W 13-Apr Demo: Discord Net (remote) or Transmitter Hunt  
6 M 18-Apr Seminar: Licensing and Operating Regulations T7, T8, G2
  W 20-Apr Demo: Field Day or Transmitter Hunt  
7 M 25-Apr Licensing Exam  
  W 27-Apr