National Shortwave Listeners Club Logo

National Short Wave Listeners Club

Would you like an Irish Amateur Radio Licence?

The National Short Wave Listeners Club (NSWLC) is affiliated with the IRTS. We offer free, live online courses to help you pass the HAREC licensing exam required by the Irish regulations set out by ComReg. Our last six-month course has ended in the spring, and the next one is planned for the late autumn.

 

Thursday HAREC classes are led by volunteers who are experienced radio operators. Members also meet on Sundays to socialise and chat about anything related to amateur radio. You are welcome to join us at any time, especially if you plan to self-study. You can have all your questions answered every Sunday, or by using our email group, which we also use to organise our activities.

 

Follow the three steps below to get on the air!

3

Study

IRTS Logo

Irish Radio Transmitters Society

The IRTS has been the national society for radio amateurs and experimenters in Ireland since 1932. It is a member of the IARU, the International Amateur Radio Union, who coordinate our affairs with the ITU, the International Telecommunications Union. Thanks to them, we have access to the valuable radio spectrum.

 

Although IRTS does not offer training, you should become an IRTS Short Wave Listener Member as soon as possible to get your SWL number. By joining our national society you will also support the IRTS and the IARU who will help you enjoy this hobby for many years to come.
 

Members of the IRTS can join the NSWLC for free!

 

Find out about the benefits of IRTS membership and join.

NSWL Club Logo

Next course: late autumn 2024 

To study with us you must become a member of our Club. First, read and accept:

 

NSWLC Constitution
IRTS Child Protection Policy

IRTS Anti-Bullying Policy

 

Or email NSWLC+subscribe@groups.io to subscribe. You will receive further instruction, Zoom etc, by email. Please also complete this form:

 

Membership Application Form

 

Membership starts in January and ends in December. It is free for the current IRTS members—use the same email address as with IRTS—otherwise it costs €30.

IARU Logo

Licensing exam and study materials

You need to read the Study Guide to prepare for the exam. Download the free PDF, or buy it as a book:
 

IRTS HAREC Amateur Radio Station Licence Study Guide, 4th Edition

 

The IRTS has further resources:

 

HAREC Exam Syllabus

Sample Exam Paper

Amateur Radio Licensing

and Exam Discussion Forum

 

Thanks to the IARU and the internationally harmonised exam your Irish Amateur Station CEPT licence will enable you to operate worldwide. While learning, start listening using a free online receiver if you do not have a radio:

 

rx.kiwisdr.com

websdr.org

 

While Morse Code is not needed for a CEPT Class 2 licence (see FAQ below) if you would like to get Class 1 you need to pass the Morse test. Take that test before the HAREC exam to avoid having to change your call signs later.

 

lcwo.net

morsecode.world

CWOps Academy

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are you doing this?

 

Learning live, online, in an enthusiastic group, getting regular weekly support from experienced tutors, who are active radio operators, has proven to be a good way to prepare for the licensing exam.

 

Who are the people who run the NSWLC?

 

The National Short Wave Listeners Club is run by its Officers who also include its Tutors, in accordance with its Constitution. At present, the Officers of the Club are: Rafal Lukawiecki EI6LA (Chairman & Tutor), Dave Moore EI4BZ (Secretary & Tutor), Gerry Sweeney EI7IFB (Treasurer & Membership Records). The remaining Officers, who are also NSWLC Tutors are: Diarmuid O'Briain EI4LF, Eamonn Gannon EI7LC, Jerry Cahill EI6BT, Keith Crittenden EI5KJ, Mike Lee EI4HF, Paraic Nolan EI9IRB, Pat MacGrath EI2JQB, and Simon Kenny EI7ALB.

 

How much is the HAREC course and the membership of the NSWLC?

 

The course is free for all NSWLC members. We are unpaid volunteers, the Club aims to be non-profit, and we get no income from it. Membership of the NSWLC is free to the current IRTS members—please join the IRTS as an SWL member if you are new. If you cannot join the IRTS, the membership of NSWLC costs €30 for each calendar year, making a total of €60 for the duration of the course. Membership starts in January and ends in December and it does not renew automatically. Later, you will have to pay for the HAREC exam and for the licence to the respective bodies. We strongly recommend that you join the IRTS not only to avoid paying our fees, but, above all, to support our national radio society, and to avail of the many services that the IRTS offer, like the QSL bureau.

 

How big is the Club?

 

On average, we have just over 100 members. All of our members tend to be active in the Club. Since we require an annual membership renewal every December, our membership fluctuates between 50–160 members over a year.

 

How many people have you helped?

 

As of May 2024 we have seen over 360 attendees in our classes and meetings. Just under 200 took their HAREC exams in 2021–2024 and 140 have passed and obtained their licences. We usually see 30–50 attendees at each of our annual courses.

 

Are you diverse, inclusive, and welcoming of minorities and people with disabilities?

 

Yes! We welcome everyone. We have members with various impairments and disabilities, physical and otherwise. We warmly welcome all no matter their sex, age, ethnicity and national origin, abilities and disabilities, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, financial means, education, or political persuasion. As long as you are able to learn by participating in our weekly live online video Zoom meetings, and if you are able to efficiently use email, you should be able to reach your goals by studying with us. Our volunteers go out of their way to help everyone. However, their time and resources are limited, and there may be situations that they may be unable to cater for. Despite those limits, we have successfully helped a dozen people with different kinds of impairments, including people who are blind, and those who find it difficult to learn. Diversity, equality and inclusion are important to us. If you feel that being in a minority has limited your ability to enjoy amateur radio you will find support in our Club.

 

Can I watch course videos on-demand?

 

Sorry, no. This is an interactive class without recordings. You need to attend it live and we do not permit recording it. Our tutors and moderators can show and explain much more to you without having to consider the needs and implications of being recorded. We do not allow any type of recording except for static screenshots. Of course, there are many videos about amateur radio on the Internet.

 

What is required to attend the classes?

 

You will need to sign up for a free Zoom account. You will need to have a device with a microphone and a camera to join our meetings—we prefer to see each other, including our students, while we teach. You must be also able to receive, read, and follow the instructions that we email to our students several times a week. It is a condition of the membership of the NSWLC that we can effectively communicate with you by email. Like more than thousand of amateur radio organisations, we have our email reflector and forum hosted on the groups.io platform, which you will be also required to join.

 

What if I am unable to join online Zoom meetings or I find email difficult and confusing?

 

We are very sorry but you are unlikely to benefit from our training programme. You may want to find a physical club and seek in-person tuition from those already licensed in Ireland. Alternatively, consider self-study using our Study Guide.

 

Can I self-study instead of attending a course?

 

Of course you can! The IRTS HAREC Study Guide has been designed for both self-study and as a textbook to accompany a taught course. If you decided to self-study consider joining our club so that you can attend the Sunday Socials to ask questions if you need help or an additional explanation of some topic. Many of the authors of the Study Guide are NSWLC members and tutors.

 

Can I join a course that is already in progress?

 

Yes, you are welcome to join the course at any time. You will need to catch up using the comprehensive, 400-page IRTS HAREC Study Guide. The later you join the more self-study will be needed. However, we are on hand to answer any questions during the classes. All of your questions can be also answered during our Sunday Socials, or by using our email group.

 

What is your teaching plan?

 

We follow the teaching plan shown in Table 1-A in the IRTS HAREC Study Guide. It lists the topics that are covered in each weekly session so that you can plan and read ahead. For best results and effective learning we strongly recommend that you study the guide both in advance and immediately after each weekly session when attending our classes.

 

Can I attend another course and take the Irish HAREC exam?

 

Yes. Just make sure that the course you are attending, or the study materials that you are using follow the Irish HAREC syllabus, which has been modernised in 2022, and which may differ from the older ones still offered internationally. You also must learn the Irish radio regulations, including Irish power limits and band plans, to pass the Irish HAREC exam. The IRTS HAREC Study Guide covers both the internationally agreed CEPT T/R 61-02 HAREC syllabus and it also includes the Irish regulations, which differ from other countries.

 

What are the class hours?

 

Our classes, as well as the Sunday Socials, run from 2000 to 2200 Irish time, every Thursday. If there is a special need for an extra session, such as the optional maths tutorials, or the student-led study groups, they take place on Tuesdays. Students are encouraged to attend our optional Sunday Socials during which they can discuss in-depth questions related to the course and to amateur radio in general. All meetings start half an hour earlier, at 1930, to let you join and set-up in time. If you have any difficulties joining, refer to our Zoom FAQ or please use the group email to contact us. If you get no reply please call or message us using the number we shared with you when you registered.

 

How long do the courses take?

 

Our courses take about 6 months and consist of 24 two-hour sessions. We offer them only once a year. We try to schedule them so that they end in time for an upcoming Irish HAREC exam: they usually start in the late Autumn and end the next Spring. The dates of the current and the next courses are announced at the top of this page and on the IRTS email reflector.


Is Amateur Radio popular?

 

It has never been more popular in Ireland than now! There are over 2000 current licensees in the country right now. Amateur Radio has been growing worldwide in the last few years, especially during the pandemic.

 

Do I have to learn Morse Code?

 

No. Morse has not been a requirement to get a licence since 2003. However, Morse proficiency will enable you to get the Irish CEPT Class 1 licence with its shorter call sign without the trailing letter "B", and additional CEPT T/R 61-01 worldwide rights. There are no other differences from Class 2 licences. More importantly, radiotelegraphy (CW) can help you make long-distance contacts without needing much power and even under difficult conditions. It has been having a resurgence recently, and it is now more popular than voice (SSB) but not as popular as the FT8 digital mode of communication. See links at the top of the page for sites and tools that can help you learn Morse code. Above all, have fun with it!

 

Who becomes a radio amateur?

 

Although traditionally it has been a somewhat male-oriented hobby, the recently licensed amateur radio operators, or hams, have been helping to diversify our community. There are youngsters, middle lifers, and pensioners amongst us. Young teachers, older grannies, ambulance crews, teenage Morse enthusiasts, plumbers, airline pilots, electricians, IT engineers, surgeons, students, stage crews, civil servants, audiologists, psychotherapists, fishermen, musicians, hotel managers, dentists... This hobby has universal appeal. Is it for you? If you like the idea, then yes!

 

Can I join if I don't intend to get a transmitter's licence?

 

We welcome all Short Wave Listeners (SWLs) to become NSWLC members and to attend our Sunday socials. Please also join the IRTS to get your SWL call sign.

 

I am a fully licensed amateur, can I join?

 

Our Club's main focus is on those studying for the HAREC exam and the short wave listeners. Once you get your licence we expect you to join another club to continue the social aspect of the hobby. However, we also welcome recently licensed amateurs who would like some help while making their first steps on the air. If you are an experienced, licensed operator and you are good at teaching, and if you are able to commit significant amount of time to teaching, or if you can help in other ways to run the classes or the Club, please also get in touch with us. As outlined in our Constitution, we do not admit licensed amateurs to the Membership in any other cases.

 

Is amateur radio expensive?

 

Not at all, unless you want to spend much. You can get started online without any equipment by using web SDRs (see top of the page), or you can buy used or new, or you can spend a fortune if you want the glitzy stuff. Unlike in other hobbies, you can inexpensively make your own equipment. Indeed, the licence explicitly permits you to experiment with things you build, which is why you need to pass the exam to make sure you know what you are doing, while staying safe, and not interfering with other radio spectrum users. Making your own, for example an antenna, is a great way to learn and to enjoy the hobby.

 

When did it all start?

 

The National Shortwave Listeners Club was formed in March 2021. The IRTS has been operating since 1932, however amateur radio has started in Ireland even earlier. Read more about the experiments of Colonel Meade Dennis EI2B in Baltinglass, Co Wicklow, in 1898, who has to be the one of the first, if not even the very first, radio amateur in the world. Ireland has a special place in the history of radio, being also the site of the original transatlantic Marconi stations.

 

I have attended the NSWLC live course but I cannot get into the Sunday meetings.

 

Sunday club meetings use a separate invitation. You have received a registration link in the welcome email when you have joined our group email service. Use the group email to contact us if you would like it again. To maintain security, you will need to use a free Zoom account to register for our meetings. You need to log-in to that Zoom account each time you want to attend a meeting.

 

I cannot get into Zoom!

If you are member, please visit our Zoom troubleshooting FAQ (membership required).

 

I would like to know more about club rules and regulations.

 

Please read the NSWLC Constitution. Familiarise yourself with the IRTS Child Protection and the IRTS Anti-Bullying policies. To join, please send an email to NSWLC+subscribe@groups.io or submit your email address at the top of this page. You also must complete the NSWLC Membership Application Form and return it by email to membership@swl.ie.

 

How can I contact the Club?

 

Everyone can email us at info@swl.ie. Members, please use our group email service to contact all the Club members.

 

Are there any more pages to browse here?

 

Other than the files linked on this page, there are no other pages on this site. We update it when a new course has been announced. Please have a look at the many useful resources on the IRTS site including a weekly news bulletin and a regular newsletter. Of course, there are more resources on the Internet, including our collaboration site on groups.io which you can access once you become a member.