Ham Radio Cheat Sheet

Ham Radio Station

During the initial stages of a disaster, HAM Radio operators are often the only line of communication in or out of the affected area. This is one of the reason that we recommend everyone look into getting a ham radio license; when the shit hits the fan, this is going to be your lifeline to the outside world!

A amateur radio operator’s ability to communicate when the grid goes down puts him far ahead of the rest of the world during a long-term disaster. During a survival situation, communication and the ability to quickly gather information are both going to be critical factors in determining the outcome of your situation.

Here is our Ham Radio Cheat Sheet

Ham Radio Cheat Sheet: Bands, Q Codes, and Morse Code

The infographic above covers what bands each license class has access to, common Q Codes, the Phonetic Alphabet, and Morse code.

Click here for Printable Version

Feel free to share this graphic on your site, all we ask is that you link back to offgridsurvival.com as the source.

For more information on Ham Radio and Emergency Communication, check out these articles:

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      • Just get a solar panel to operate the charger! Or, get one of those new solar USB chargers. Many handheld radios now use USB to recharge. Talking about radios, The Baofeng radios are cheap and battery last for a very long time, excellent for emergencies.

      • You can have mine. It’s a FAD that barely worked at all. I agree that you should get (and replace) whatever radio or cell phone you like and the same goes for a means to keep it going. I’m still happy with a 150 Watt true sine inverter in my car. But it’s just for my cellphone, tablet or tire pump on the road. I’d need at least 1/2 a KWH of battery and 160W solar or something with out a car or house to use.

  1. As a ham radio operator, I like your cheat sheet! And I’d encourage others to go ahead and learn to operate an amateur radio now, before the SHTF. You wouldn’t wait until a disaster to learn to use a weapon. Why wait until one happens to learn to use a radio?


    • im looking at getting a ham radio , are there any other items besides a antenna that I’ll need to buy, im not sure can you give some me advice

      • You will need a power supply. Radios use a battery or DC. The power supply will convert AC to DC. But handheld radios have a built in battery.

      • WP4QIN

        You will need SWR (RF loss meter) and or antenna analyzer, proper cable & connectors and or matching rig fit for the frequency’s you are privileged to operate with and gain the experience to avoid pitfalls & costly mistakes .
        practice with cheap CB radios then go to the ham turf better prepared … remember the rules don’t break the law do not operate off bands …

  2. This is great! I have been looking into buying a HAM Radio, atleast now I know what to look for… Thanks! :D #centralgeorgiaprepper

    • Get your Amateur License Before you buy that first radio. You might find you want and need something very different.


    • Remember that you need at least an Amateur Technician license to operate in the ham bands. There are several apps that can help you study for the exam. I am preparing to upgrade to General after 20 years as a tech.

  3. I took a course this weekend and will be leaving in an hour or so to go take my Technician test. Ham radios are an awesome tool. Go get your license and a radio!

    • Congrats Brian and good luck on your test! Keep studying and upgrade as fast as you can. It’s easiest while you still have your “HAM head” on. A lot of the General is stuff that’s also on the Tech.
      73, Mike, N0VF

  4. I messed with cb’s alot when i was younger but was always curious about ham radio. Could you all recommend any info ( web sites, literature, equipment etc.) To help someone get staeted? Thanks in advance!

    • Ham Test Online is a good study aid. It is not free but is reasonable. I used it for my General and am now working on Extra.


      • I used Hamtest online for my extra and only missed 1 question on the test. It is excellent at helping you pass the test quickly and efficiently. Just be aware that you’ll still have a lot to learn once you do (not that that is a bad thing, learning is a lot of the fun of ham radio).

    • Go to Qrz.com You can have an account there without a license and they have free study and practice tests. And yes I recuGordon West as well!

  5. I’ve been licensed for a few years now, am a certified instructor and Volunteer Examiner. If anyone has any questions concerning the how, what, etc. about HAM radio, email me at N0VF@inbox.com. Put something in the subject that I will recognize and I’ll try and answer any questions that I can.

  6. When is the 100Watt amp for the Elecraft KX3 coming out?

    Also, for one who does NOT want to be connected (have to rely on) to the internet and NOT have to rely on computer software, etc, what is a good Morse Decoder out there…i.e., one that its freestanding on it’s own ..plug into your radio and NO computer?

  7. I am a ham operator. and have been since the 80’s.
    The Cheat sheets we all use them even if you are active daily there is a lot to remember if you use many different transmitting modes..
    But they are easy to get. Even the radio manufactures will provide you with them.. When you buy a rig or just check there sites..
    Or where you buy your radio will enclose one if you ask.
    And the one shown on this page is a great basic one.

    Where cw (morse code) and phone (or voice) are operated is fairly easy to remember.
    And even where license classes can operate is not to bad for me to remember…

    But when you start to get into the digital modes. And even atv.
    Yes they even Have amateur television in (digital transmission signals)
    in some towns. Ans slow scan on the H.F. Bands..
    It can get a little dicy and it is a gentleman agreement whom use the frequencies.. But you can get fined buy the fcc. for operating out of band..

    You can get currant chart from the fcc with a little research
    on there site.. those are really up to date charts..

    But you can also just get on any manufacture site and search ham bands frequency allocations. They have em for free down load to.. Do not pay for one they are all over the web with a little research..

    And the Q list is just the common one shown are the most common used.
    There are close to 50 to 100 of them I have. They can also be found on line or in ARRL.. Amateur Radio Hand Book.. and they are still updated every year.
    And available on Cd’s

    Every ham should have a Amateur Radio Hand Book form the arrl Old or new You can learn almost everything you as an amateur form even the old book..
    BUT you can also Practice you test on a web FOR FREE site called eham.com.

    Good study book are available from the ARRL* or any amateur radio store..
    I think you do have to register but I do not think you have to be a licensed ham to register on eham, It is a great site to research on equipment questions ect hey have great forums….And it is FREE… ((The tests are actual test questions that are given to the VE’s* from the fcc to choose from to make up a test.
    It is a great way to see if you are ready for the tests.))
    If you hit 80% to 90% the tests you will probably pass any test given in the U.S.
    GOOD LUCK it is a great hobby..
    And a very valuable toll to have in your survival kit..
    73 All

    *VE is a Volunteer Examiner register with the fcc to give you test.
    * American Amateur Relay League
    *eham.com just one of a 1000 ham site but think one of the better ones and good forums. And some one will always answer a question you have..

    (I have no affiliation or have any monitory connection to these sites.
    Or are my preference to any on line studding or whom you buy material from
    it is up to you. Weather you study from books, or on line or with an other ham (an elmer).. (( I highly recommend you get together with a local ham for
    help you along some are will especially the older folks.. And they know a lot..
    There are also ham clubs getting involved with one. It will help you to advance quickly..An get involved in the local happenings..

    But the practice test for FREE on eham.com will really give you a big advantage to pass..

    73 Again

  8. how does one become a prepper and how does one get the knid of stuff that i would need to save my wife and 2 kidsfrom any harm i can sit back i watch the trouble come

    • you can go to many sites for information as general or as techinchal as you want. i would start with the more general ones and get started that way. here we go: survival offgrid, offgridsurvival, survival gear, backdoor survival, are just a few. check them out alot of good info to be had. i scan them all the time, you can go from there almost any direction you want or are capable of doing. start prepping comes from any/all places you shop….groceries, hardware, defense, backup electricticy, clothes you may need to get you and family through several seasons including winter. start with having your wife buy basics you all use all the time and put aside store elsewhere. water is a biggie. if you do not have any way to protect your family you and wife need to go shop for acouple of firearms and ammo. stock up on ammo after you have your firearms. find someone you know that is knowledagle in fireamrs and start you in right direction and classes on use of them. with children at home, make darn sure you keep ALL GUNS locked up at all times. i wish you luck and best in your starting prepping.

  9. Lots of good information on that cheat sheet. However, the Morse Code section omits punctuation marks like comma, period, fraction bar, question mark (needed for the query form of Q-codes), etc. These need to be added. KC8OUX.

  10. I teach two local ham training courses:Intro to Emergency Communication & Fundamentals of Emergency Communication. Please note: Q-codes are not used during emergency communication; we use plain English for absolute clarity. Just a point to keep in mind.

  11. The rules for the 60m band have changed recently… you might want to check into that and amend your cheat sheet accordingly – just a heads up. Otherwise, useful cheat sheet.

  12. I’m trying not to show my ignorance,but where is the testing held? Is it the FCC where you’d take the test? How can find out where the tahe much does it cost for licensing?

  13. Wow this is such an amazing tip, comparing to the sincgars I used in the military, hamradios make sincgars look like a kids toy

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