Covered Topics

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Saturday, June 7, 2014

General Class Amateur (ham) Radio License

As some folks may know, a few years ago I had allowed my amateur radio (ham) license to lapse. As a result, I needed to take the exam to requalify for a license.

Today, I successfully took and passed the General CLass amateur license exam. I got 33 out of a possible 35 questions right. The volunteer examiner (V.E.) offered me the opportunity to sit for the "Extra" class license test. I took it, expecting to fail since I did NOT study that material. Indeed I did fail the "Extra" test - but only by 3 or 4 questions. But what I came away with besides a General Class license is that with some minimal preparation, I can probably pass the Extra one within a few weeks.

In a recent post, I listed some resources where one could take practice tests, find reading material, etc. to prepare for FCC exams.

Another observation I made is that the General exam I took today has been really watered down since when I took it years ago. Today, there were few, if any, electrical calculations. Back when I originally took the Technician exam - which was actually the WRITTEN portion of the General license test, there were a number of calculations dealing with reactance, resonant frequency of a parallel or series circuit using a capacitor and inductor of given values, ohm's law/power, etc. Today I think I encountered one calculation dealing with the turns ratio v.s. the voltage ratio of a transformer. The test I took years ago also had more questions relating to electronics trouble-shooting, reading schematics, etc.

Given all this, and the fact that there is no lnger any morse code requirement for ANY amateur license class, the FCC has removed some major hurtles that kept many from getting ham licenses. Many folks will argue that this had hurt amateur radio by "lowering the bar" on the quality and skills sets of applicants. Others contend it has helped amateur radio in that people who otherwise would not have made it before can now get licenses - thus helping keep the amateur radio service alive and healthy.

The good news in all this is it should be relatively easy for someone to get an amateur license if he/she wants one. And that could really save the day during any kind of civil emergency.

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