Harvard Wireless Club



-- Since 1909 --
A student-run organization at Harvard College

The W1AF antenna rises behind the roofscape of Harvard Square.
NEW!  Club Wiki:  w1af.pbwiki.com

Meetings: Irregular Mondays, 5:15pm, at the shack at 6 Linden St.  

Welcome! Welcome to the Harvard Wireless Club, callsign W1AF, the amateur radio ("ham radio") club of Harvard University. Whether you are a club member, prospective student, a recent radio contact, alum, or a Harvard affiliate interested in learning more about ham radio or becoming a club member, we're glad that you are visiting our web page. In the 21st century, amateur radio remains intellectually challenging, personally fulfilling, and filled with opportunities to serve, both in your years at Harvard and beyond.

Visiting W1AF
HWC Meetings

Club History
Photo Album

Verifying Contacts (QSL)
Radio Flea Market--Cosponsored by HWC
More Links

Old Website

What is Amateur Radio?
May I Use Ham Radio When I am Abroad?
Do I Have to Be a U.S. Citizen to Get a U.S. Ham License?
How Do I Get Started?
How Do I Get a License?

Visiting W1AFDetail, WW-II recruiting poster, Natl. Archives, radio repairing

Harvard affiliates and prospective students and their parents are most welcome to tour the station. Please email to schedule an appointment. Extra advance notice may be required during break periods, or to accommodate non-Harvard visitors.

HWC Meetings

When the university is in session, meetings are usually held on alternate Tuesdays at 5:15pm, and meetings are always announced on the HWC email list. Harvard affiliates and prospective students interested in joining or "just looking" are always welcome. See header above or Email to find out which Tuesday (or to be added to the email list) and so we can make sure to have enough pizza on hand.

What is Amateur Radio?

Simply put, amateur radio is two-way, non-commercial communication between amateur radio operators licensed by a country's communications ministry (in our case, the Federal Communications Commission) to use certain frequency bands. Communication takes place by voice, in morse code, or using other modes. W1AF 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 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.

May I Use Ham Radio When I am Abroad?

It's particularly easy to do so in many countries in Europe and the Americas. The answer is usually yes for other countries, but it may require some more legwork.

Do I Have to Be a U.S. Citizen to Get a U.S. Ham License?

No. You may be a fully qualified ham radio operator in the U.S. no matter your country of origin. 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 Started?

One good way to get started is to take a tour of W1AF and chat with a club member about the possibilities. Email for more information.

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. You have to get 26 multiple choice questions right out of 35, with questions randomly selected from a known question pool. This Technician-level license 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), communication over a metropolitan scale.

In order to have broader privileges on the frequencies (high frequency or HF bands) that allow global communications when conditions are right, you also have to pass a slightly more difficult radio theory and ham radio practice test to get your General License. This has the same format as the one for the technician exam: 26 multiple choice questions correct out of 35, all questions coming from a known pool. Another class of license, the Extra class, allows you slightly more privileges 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.

Many people from Harvard take their exams at the monthly exam session offered by the MIT Radio Society, but there are other options as well. The best way to begin preparing is to talk to a member of the Harvard Wireless Club. He or she can set you up with study guides and help you with any questions that you may have. Email and we'll be in touch.

Questions and Comments

If you have questions about the Harvard Wireless Club or amateur radio, email w1af@harvard.edu .

If you have comments about this website, email webmaster Bob Keyes, rkeyes +at+ fas +dot+ harvard +dot+ edu.

Harvard name and/or VERITAS shield are trademarks of the President and Fellows of Harvard College and are used by permission of Harvard University.



Ham University at W1AF

W1AF volunteers will be giving a seven session Technician licensing course on Tuesday evenings at 8PM starting January 5, 2010, culminating in the license exams on Wednesday, February 18. If you are interested in getting licensed, please join us! email us to register.

HWC Featured in Crimson

New Antenna at W1AF

New antenna raising.

On Friday, March 9, 2007, XX Towers put up the club's new M^2 log periodic 10m-30m band antenna. (More pictures).

W1AF Team Third in August 2006 North American QSO Party--CW

Clayton Nall, NF1R, Doctoral Student in Government

On August 5th and 6th, 2006, Clayton Nall (NF1R, doctoral student in government) and MIT graduate student Andrew Mui (K2TJ) placed W1AF third in the multi-operator, two-transmitter division of the August 2006 North American QSO Party--CW, a 12-hour amateur radio contest.

In the NAQP, operators attempt to have QSO's (radio contacts) with as many North American stations in as many different states, provinces, or countries as possible on as many different radio frequency bands as possible (details: contest rules). CW is amateur radio slang for Morse code.

Thanks to David Robbins for allowing W1AF to operate at his contest superstation K1TTT in Peru, MA.

Scouts Schooled in Radio Resources

Matt Gline ’06, KG2OT (bottom) and scouts celebrate their radio certificates.

Matt Gline ’06, KG2OT, led about 30 Boy Scouts through a short course in radio theory and operation on April 8th, 2006, as part of the annual Merit Badge University held at Harvard by the Boston Minuteman Council of scouts. Clayton Nall, NF1R, doctoral student in government, and Tim McBride ’79, N1QZY, helped the scouts operate the W1AF radio as they talked with hams from across the country.