Site information

You should bookmark this page. It is the ‘how-to’ page of the site. It has information for newcomers, but also for all other aspects of using the site.

At some point we also encourage you to read our Terms of Service & Privacy Policy page. As you will discover, we are extremely aware of people’s disdain for pushy, intrusive, soliciting, costly websites. We believe in our right to privacy (in spite of the FCC publishing all license information) and in our right to control how often we receive emails. On this point, and we will repeat this often, you control your notifications. If you want to receive emails hourly, you can. If you want to never ever receive one, you can do that too.

Lastly, as way of introduction, if you ever need to reach us for technical issues, as in for instance not being able to log in or register on the site, do not hesitate to do so via our support helpdesk (yes you have to be a member to use it). And yes, hopefully, we will also meet either in person at your club or at one of the many hamfests we attend as exhibitors (Including Hamvention and Hamcation) or, better yet, on air.

Why join Ham Community?

If you are a beginner
  1. Access to expertise: The presence of experienced hams, known as “elmers,” offers a unique opportunity for new enthusiasts to learn directly from experts. This mentorship can greatly accelerate your learning curve.
  2. Community support: Being part of a community helps in sharing experiences, overcoming challenges, and staying motivated. For newcomers, this sense of belonging can be invaluable.
  3. Knowledge hub: Ham Community serves as a central repository of knowledge, including tips and best practices, tailored for beginners.
If you are experienced
  1. To keep learning: Experienced operators know full well how much there is to learn in the hobby. The best way to keep that knowledge hunger satisfied is to feed it. Ham Community’s strong commitment to knowledge should help.
  2. Staying engaged: Engaging with a diverse community can provide fresh perspectives and challenges, keeping your interest in the hobby alive.
  3. Advocacy and growth: By participating, you can play a crucial role in advocating for amateur radio and ensuring its growth and sustainability.
if you are an elmer
  1. Mentorship opportunities: Truly accomplished elmers derive satisfaction from sharing their knowledge and skills, helping to nurture the next generation of hams.
  2. Inspiration: Younger, or less experienced hams, look up to elmers. As part of The Elmers’ Circle you will inspire a new generation of operators.
  3. Learning from each other: Yes, even elmers can – and want to – keep learning. Within The Elmers’ Circle lies knowledge to be shared among the wisest.
If you are a club
  1. Enhanced Learning Environment: Ham Community supplements your club’s activities with a broader range of experiences and knowledge from a diverse, global community.
  2. Networking and Collaboration: Members gain access to a wider network, opening up opportunities for collaboration on projects and events.
  3. Club Visibility: Active participation in such a community can increase the visibility and reputation of your club within the amateur radio world.

First steps – for everyone

  1. Look around
    • Before you consider registering, look around. Is Ham Community right for you? We are free – there are no fees, zero, associated with a Ham Community membership, so there is no risk to joining. Also, as we have said, and will repeat, there is no advertising and no spamming. All we ask is that before you join you realize the type of Community we aspire to be, one free of prejudice, obnoxiousness, or one-upmanship. Ham Community was, and is, for operators who want to be constructively involved with others.
  2. Register
    • Liked what you saw? Understand and accept who we are? Great, it’s time to join. We’ve made it easier than ever, just go here.
  3. Join your first one or two groups
    • Soon after becoming a member, we suggest that you join a couple of groups. Don’t go overboard, you’ll have plenty of time to join as many as you would like later. And once you’ve joined… post, engage, help others; neither be shy, nor a stranger.
  4. Reply to a discussion topic
    • Get your feet wet quickly… Check out a discussion in one of the discussion forums here, and post a reply. It’s the best way to become an integral part of the Community.
  5. Now post your own topic
    • You’ve browsed, joined a couple of groups, posted a reply or three… now it’s time to start posting. Remember, as you’ll read below, there is a difference, a big one, between our discussion forums and our Ask the Elmers section.
  6. Go to Ask the Elmers
    • Once there, read first; good hams listen before breaking in, remember? Have a question? Ask it! Have some ideas or solutions to questions that are there? Go ahead, answer. Just don’t be surprised, or offended, if someone proposes a different solution; that’s what makes for great advances, new and diverse ideas.
  7. Last but not least, invite someone
    • Most forums and websites want quantity. They want thousands, hundreds of thousands… of members. We don’t. We want operators who are passionate about the hobby, who want to learn, teach, question, build, and otherwise become better at what they do. Do you know someone who thinks like us? Invite them.

Using the ‘Discussions’ – both posting and replying

We do not have a thousand rules, but the ones we do have, we enforce. For those of you with a military background, you get it. Initiative is good, but so too is working within a framework. So here are our guidelines and our rules.

Discussion forum guidelines

  • The forums are there to show and tell people what you have, know or plan to do.
  • They are there to ask for advice on the simpler aspects of the hobby. This is not where you post a question like: “How does the introduction of a capacitance hat impact the radiation pattern and impedance bandwidth of a physically short monopole antenna, and what are the theoretical and practical limitations in optimizing its design for a specific low-frequency application?” Nope, not the right place (see Ask the Elmers below).
  • If you get into a back and forth discussion with someone, where you might be helping them figure out how to best guy their mast, don’t disappear mid conversation. There is nothing more frustrating than back and forths followed by “where the heck did he go?” If you have to step away, let them know: “Sorry, won’t be able to answer, have to run, I’ll check back in tomorrow AM, sorry… 73.” That’s how it’s done.

Discussion forum rules

Nobody likes rules; we don’t, that’s for sure. But without them, there is chaos and if there is one thing amateur radio operators like is order. We have band edges, we are not allowed to encrypt our transmissions, and you don’t tune up on a used frequency – we have rules. These are ours.

  • No bullying, mocking, insulting, threatening, or discriminating – none, ever.
  • No politics, religion, guns, abortion… not interested! We too are on one side, or the other, but this is just not the place; it distracts from amateur radio and that’s why we join Ham Community – the word ‘ham’ comes before and qualifies the word ‘community’.
  • Do not give advice on a matter that could be dangerous – electricity, towers, grounding, etc. – unless you know what you are talking about. You could hurt someone.

Do any of these, and risk a temporary or permanent ban at the administrators’ discretion.

Using ‘Ask the Elmers’ – asking, replying, and commenting

Try to read this carefully, though even if you do, you’ll make a mistake – guess what, we make the mistake also!

Ask the Elmers is not where you come to ask for help using the website. Neither is it the place where you ask which menu to use to set your CTCSS tone. It’s not the place where you ask for advice on whether to buy an ICOM ABC or a Yaesu XYZ.

Ask the Elmers is where you ask the tough questions (remember that capacitance hat question up above?). It’s where you come to ask about an RFI you simply cannot eliminate or real-world experience with a seemingly perfect setup with an SWR of 20:1.

Please note that everyone can answer, not just Elmers. All that we ask is that you consider whether or not you are qualified to answer. If you feel that you are, then answer. And don’t worry, if you gave a wrong answer, someone may correct you, but they WILL NOT judge you. Same rules apply here as they do in the discussion forums. This is a no judgement zone.

Importantly, Elmers are identified on their profile so, even though they can also make mistakes, there is a higher likelihood that you can trust their response.

Using ‘Groups’ – joining, engaging, and more

The same thing we said about the discussion landing page applies to this groups landing page, it can only be accessed after you register and it has likely evolved since this screenshot.

In our previous version of Ham Community we struggled with the concept of groups. For some, they saw it as a type of “I want my space, nobody else comes to it, leave me alone!” Others were hoping to make them into groups of interest whereby they could post, discuss, but also connect with like-interested people. You knew that if you were a part of the Yaesu group you would find someone who had an understanding of menus. Finally, there were those who were looking for a place where their real-world club could come together and discuss, while being in an environment that allowed them to share and participate in exchanges with others, beyond their own geographic club.

In the new Groups section, we hope to have perfected this. We now have three types of groups. Not that all groups are ‘created’ by site administrators but you are the ones who get to suggest their creation. If you have an idea for any of the types, just suggest it. We don’t say yes to every single idea, but we do seriously consider all of them.

The group types are:

  1. Public groups – anyone can join. No need to apply or be admitted. Just join. This includes groups such as the ICOM group, or the Emergency Communications group, or even the high-power groups for all those QRO operators who need a home.
  2. Private groups – you can join if you are invited or if you apply. The group moderator will decide whether you are a good fit for the group. This might be the case for a real-world club who wants to share their content but they only want their paying members to actually post in that group.
  3. Hidden groups – is pretty simple actually. You will not know about them because they are hidden and are by invitation only. Our Elmers have The Elmers’ Circle; it’s their group and you will not see its content or even see that it exists. Special events use hidden groups for their leadership teams. Highly specialized, real-world emergency response groups use them as well.

Once you’ve joined a group you will discover its many tools. You can post and discuss, of course, but you can also have group photo albums, videos, schedule (free) group events, ask for RSVPs for those events, you can even have your own logo or symbol. There’s much more… Join a group and make it your challenge to make it better!

Using ‘Events’ – both posting and attending

Our events section is currently under intense development. Most members will see some events but will not yet be able to create them. If you need to create an event, open a ticket on the Member support desk. As soon as we are ready to allow members to create their events directly, we will let you know.

Profile, account, and more

This is a screenshot of our lower left navigation block. If yours does not look identical it is because it changes occasionally plus, not everyone has the identical elements.

Profiles can be useful – and fun. We can find out what state or region you are in via FCC, what we cannot do on the FCC database is see what you like to do, what you’ve done, and what you hope to accomplish going forward.

To access your personal profile, click on the ‘Profile’ button towards the bottom of the left navigation bar. You will notice that there are other buttons there also including your Ranks and Awards, your Account information, Notification settings and more. We encourage you to check each one out.

Your profile

You will, of course, find your details (name, callsign, etc) but you will also see (and can edit) your ham information (if you are an Elmer, you will also see your Elmer info). Your profile also includes

  • a timeline of your activities,
  • links to questions you have asked or answered,
  • your connections as in who you follow and who follows you,
  • groups you belong to,
  • your uploaded photos and albums,
  • the forums you have posted in,
  • your documents,
  • your videos,
  • email invites you have sent out to friends,
  • events,
  • your points,
  • your achievements and ranks,
  • you can even take your own notes.
  • In short, your profile has lots and lots of very useful information.

Tip: Any time you are overwhelmed by the community’s growing volume of information, we recommend that you visit your profile! There you will find links to all your relevant activity. That’s what we do and we built the thing!

Your account

Your account (lower left side-bar navigation) is where you will find you personal information, notably your account email and the ability to change your password.

Very important… this is where you will find your notification settings. Change them as much as you would like. You have control over how often Ham Community sends you notification or reminder emails. You also control your privacy settings. Check them! We have put them there because we believe in privacy but it is up to you to determine what you want private and what you want public. And believe it or not, and we love this, you can download all your own data. That’s right, if you would like to download all your details, activities, etc. Finally, if you feel you would like to leave, we make it easy. No muss or fuss, you can delete your own account. We hope you won’t, but you can.

Member support

Throughout the site, at the very bottom of the left-side, you will see an orange message bubble. That is a quick access form to send us a support request. Use our member support desk for problems, ideas, or other website-related issues. DO NOT use the support desk to ask for amateur radio support (you would not believe how often that happens!). Use it to suggest a new group, or an event-related query, or perhaps because you’ve found a bug in our platform.

We try to answer quasi-immediately; if we don’t, believe us when we say that we try hard to do it within a maximum of 24 hours.

And finally, some history

If you have read this far, you are clearly interested in Ham Community, for that we thank you.

What follows is a somewhat lengthy explanation of who we are and how we got here. And though wordy, many have told us that they appreciate our transparency, which has now become one of our proudest hallmarks; we tell it as it is, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Getting here

We launched Ham Community in 2018 and quickly grew to several thousand members. The goal was to provide a site where ‘Elmers’ could collaborate, to help the amateur radio community by making themselves available. The premise was – and still is — that the only place we currently find reliable, one-on-one expert advice is in our clubs; this is great and must continue. But what if there was a place that brought together experts from all over the world whereby you might have access to a propagation expert from Boston but also an antenna guying expert from Prague, or even a tube historian from Sydney.

The problem with Ham Community V1 was ‘bloatware’. The site fell into the ‘squirrel’ syndrome, chasing after every next shiny thing. The result was one site that was trying to do too much.

Let’s start fresh: Ham Community V2.0 – One site + a few more

This site – Ham Community – is the umbrella site of a growing series of sites. Here you will find, as clearly stated previously, a place to discuss and exchange knowledge.

What about the other sites? Some are already online, others are in progress, more are at the planning stage. Among those that are already online:

Coming soon will be a few more sites that are already in the works. Expect them very shortly.

And yes, there are even more… Stay tuned.

Distinctive advantage, or what is it that makes us worth your time?

Two dear friends and members of Ham Community, warned us early on: they questioned Ham Community’s added value:

What is your distinctive advantage? What do you do that is different, better, and useful compared to the others? What problem are you solving?

Dick and Al, great friends, both asked the same question.

Here is our answer.

Our distinctive advantage is our mission to achieve the following:

  • ACCESS TO EXPERTISE — On Ham Community, you can engage in discussion or ask questions knowing that some of the people who answer, and are so identified, are considered expert amateur radio operators by their peers – we call them Elmers.
  • CIVILITY — Some people are angry and want to vent that anger. It is their right, just don’t do it here. We want a ‘full quieting’ zone where we talk about amateur radio and do so with respect. For those who need to vent with hostility, you won’t like it here (though we do have a ‘rant’ forum for those who want to rant tactfully)
  • COLLABORATION — The tools on this website (and especially on some of the others in the Ham Community constellation) are designed to foster collaboration. Most other amateur radio social networks are content to have you post and answer. As you will see in coming months and years, Ham Community is going to change the way amateur radio operators ‘collaborate’.

About ‘us’

Right to left: Jim K3MRI, Maria, and Alan W4DOI.

Are there any humans behind Ham Community?

Yup, there are some very dedicated, albeit over-worked founders and volunteers. And, though this site is definitely not about ‘us’ the founders of Ham Community, but most definitely about ‘us’ the members, we will still introduce you to the dreamers who decided early on that doing this was worth the ‘everything that has been thrown at us’ since we began.

Help out?

By the way, if you feel like going beyond membership or being an elmer, know this, we welcome collaboration. Do you know your way around a website? Are you good at organizing events? Are you good at promoting or mustering volunteers? All these and more we seek. If you’d like to discuss helping out, then reach out here.

We hope that you will join us as we build this knowledge hub of amateur radio.

Jim | K3MRI