Santa Barbara Ham Radio Info

Thinking about getting into amateur radio?

Modern amateur (ham) radio may not be what you think it is. Santa Barbara has ham radio operators in all age groups, and with varying interests and various levels of expertise.

A popular reason for getting into ham radio is emergency communications. When all else fails, ham radio works! Emergency communications is a number one priority in Santa Barbara and there are numerous assets available to hams to ensure we always have reliable communications, no matter what.

Our infrastructure consists of several linked repeaters located on mountain tops around the area and we have reliable coverage from Santa Maria to Camarillo and along the coast to Malibu. We have full coverage of the Santa Barbara Channel and have an emergency auto patch for sailors.

Our regular activities include all types of 2-way radio communications, long range wireless networks, computer networks, ship and aircraft monitoring, and cutting edge worldwide digital communications.

Whether you are interested in the more technical aspects of radio communications, volunteering, or you just want to be prepared for the next emergency, Santa Barbara has a wealth of resources available to you. Below is a list of our most frequently asked questions that we hope will help you get started.

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Do I need a license to operate amateur radios?
Yes! Actually one of the best features of amateur radio is that everyone on the air is licensed by the FCC. This ensures that everyone is qualified, knows the rules, and has learned how to behave on the air.

There are three license categories in amateur radio, Technician, General, and Amateur Extra. With each category, more knowledge is required and more privileges are given.

The entry level license is the Technician license. You can upgrade your license any time you like, or not at all. It allows a huge number of privileges on its own.
Do I have to take a test?
Yes, but the Technician level test is easy. It consists of 35 questions and you are allowed to miss 9 of them and still pass. And, there is no morse code requirement.
How can I prepare for the license exam?
There are numerous ways to study for the exam. The Santa Barbara Amateur Radio Club has a page dedicated to exam study resources.
Are there any local classes available?
Unfortunately no. Not at the current time. Private study is actually pretty easy and the online classes and apps are low cost or free, and more than adequate to learn what you need to know to pass the exam.
Are there any online exams available?
Yes, online exams are available! Please visit the website linked below for more information.

Okay, I got my license. Now what?
You will want to get a radio of course. There is a huge variety of handheld radios out there for any budget. We recommend you visit Ham Radio Outlet and look around.

Then you will need to program frequencies into the radio so you can use it. You can find a list of Santa Barbara Amateur Radio Club repeaters here:

We can also program many radios for you. We're available every Saturday morning from 9am, to noon at the Red Cross building on the corner of State Street an Alamar. Our area is adjacent to the parking lot in the back off Alamar.

Finding other repeaters in Santa Barbara County: Note that 145-146 MHz and 223-224 MHz K6TZ repeaters are operated by SBARC and normally active weekday mornings 8-8:30 AM and weekday evenings 7:30-9:00 PM.
Do I have to join a club?
No, you don't. It is a tradition in amateur radio that repeaters are open to all hams whether they are members of a local club or not. All hams are free to use the Santa Barbara Amateur Radio Club network of repeaters and participate in any on-the-air events.
How do I join the Santa Barbara Amateur Radio Club?
It is easy to join us. Dues are only $35 a year. We have many club events during the year, and there is always someone available to help new hams.

We also have monthly meetings that you can join using Zoom and we broadcast our meetings live on YouTube. You can always find the links for upcoming meetings on our website at Meetings are held on the third Friday of each month at 7pm and everyone is invited, including non-members.

For more information on joining SBARC, please click here.
How can I contact someone if I have questions?
The best way to contact us is to use the contact form at

Please keep in mind that we do not have a full time staff. We're all volunteers and attend to club business in our free time, so it may take 24 hours or so to get a response.

Copyright - Santa Barbara Wireless Foundation
Santa Barbara Amateur Radio Club, Inc.

A 501(c)(3) Non-profit Public Benefit Corporation