Posts Tagged ‘exams’

US exams at Wyong

About midway through January, I heard via a Sunday morning WIA broadcast that a group of ARRL Volunteer Examiners was offering to hold exam sessions at the Wyong Field Day at the end of February.

I passed my original amateur license exam here in Australia almost 40 years ago. My AOCP (Amateur Operator’s Certificate of Proficiency) says I passed a test on 21st November 1978. (That was probably the date of my second or third attempt to pass the morse at 10 wpm test.)

For the exam, I also had to answer questions about radio regulations and to demonstrate “a knowledge of wireless telegraphy and wireless telephony and electrical principles”, I had to write a number of essays about things like neutralizing a valve (tube) power amplifier or how a superheterodyne receiver works. A lot has changed since then. New technology like software defined radio and the internet.

After I heard that local hams were conducting US license exams here, my first resolution of the year was to pass the US exams for all three levels.

I was surprised that I was able to do this. All the FCC required was an online registration of an FRN (an FCC Registration Number) using a US address which was easy enough to obtain without having to pay a monthly fee. Also for the US, there is no license fee and licenses have a term of ten years.

With just on six weeks to prepare I planned to work sequentially through the three levels, spending more time on the hardest level, Extra. With no time to spare I ordered Kindle versions of the license manuals for all three levels. I also downloaded copies of the freely available complete question pools for each level. The exams are objective tests based on random selections from every part of all of the ten main exam topics – 35 questions for Technician and General, and 50 for Extra.

The license manuals essentially re-arrange the hundreds of disparate questions into a more or less flowing narrative about how to be a modern ham radio operator.

As I worked my way through the manuals I would mark up the questions and answers in my copies of the question pools and make notes if necessary to explain the answer.

The information in the manuals was very well presented and manageable and digestible. I loved the way liberal amounts of ham radio wisdom about operating practice was added to the mix. It was really like having your own personal Elmer guiding you through the intricacies of aspects of the hobby that previously were unclear or were new to me.

Best of all for me the study process demystified a lot of the mathematics of electronics and set me on a path to better understand what after all is the basis of the ‘magic’ of radio. I love the fact that the Scottish mathematician Maxwell concluded radio waves must exist, just from the maths, many years before they were actually discovered or produced by Hertz and others.

The ARRL web pages supporting the license manuals has links to a range of other resources including a page of references that pointed me to a really brilliant site which sets out to systematically (and enjoyably) explain the advanced maths to those whose school maths didn’t quite reach those dizzy heights, like me. It’s highly recommended if you want to delve deeper.

I’m happy to say I passed all three exams. I received an email from the FC about two weeks after the tests. There was no real need to do it, but it was a personal challenge – a little like voluntarily doing a driving test again, times three. It also turned out to be a convenient way to calibrate and update my ham radio knowledge.

The session was well organised and afterward, one of the VEs demonstrated how he uses his US call by connecting via remoteham.com on his iPad to a contest-grade station high in the hills in New York state. Amazing and fast! At rates around a US$ a minute, this must be a good way to turn a remote location into a source of revenue to be earned from the hordes of hams living in cities with a high level of local electrical noise.

Show Notes #092

Introduction:

Announcements:

  • Texoma Hamarama will held October 26-27, 2012 at the Ardmore Convention Center in Ardmore, Oklahoma. Pre-registration ends October 20th.
  • The Augusta Hamfest will be Saturday, October 13, 2012 in Augusta, GA.
  • Scott, N8VSI, was the LHS ambassador at the Ohio LinuxFest, September 28-30, 2012. We look forward to hearing a report from Scott in the near future.

Topics:

  • Richard recounts his experience replacing a computer power supply. Moral? Don’t be afraid to try repairing a computer yourself. Swapping parts is easier than you might think. For power supplies, pay attention to the wattage required. (Ed. Note: When in doubt, it’s best to replace the bad supply with one that has the same or greater wattage rating.)
  • Departing from our usual topics, Russ and Richard discuss a couple applications for producing slide shows and panoramic photographs:
    • Imagination is a lightweight and simple DVD slide show maker for Linux and FreeBSD that’s very easy to use, offers a wide variety of transitions, supports background music, and much more. Available in the Debian and Fedora repositories, and probably many others.
    • Hugin is a program that allows you to assemble a mosaic of photographs into a complete, immersive panorama, stitch together any series of overlapping pictures, and much more. It’s cross-platform and easy to use.
  • Why Ham Radio? Richard talks about why you might wish to obtain an Amateur Radio License and how you can combine it with Linux, including:
    • Getting your ham license for our non ham listeners.
    • There are many modes of communication, including voice, Morse code, and many digital modes.
    • The ease of getting your license.
    • Why you should get your license.
    • How to get your license.
    • The Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) is a good source of information
    • Free practice tests are available at qrz.com
    • A list of certified Volunteer Examiner Coordinators is available at www.ncvec.org.
    • Test sessions can be found through the ARRL and many local radio clubs.
  • Russ describes Universal Plug ‘n’ Play devices (UPnP). Many new devices offer the ability to play media from UPnP servers. It makes sharing your media very convenient and easy, but can also be a security risk.

Feedback:

  • Pete, VE2XPL, sends a long email in response to episode 88, and covers such things as the Toonie, Alexandre Graham Bell, Brad Sucks, the wAVEgUIDES PodCast, SouthCARS, email addresses for LHS, and the MintCast.
  • Ted, WA0EIR, asked if there is a problem with the LHS mailing list as his attempts to post a message there “bounced”. Yes, the mailing lists have been broken, but they’re fixed now.
  • Larry Bushey of the Going Linux podcast says thanks for the great show, and admits they stole the LHS “badger” sound effect for use on their show. Episode 185 contains an example of their use of the Badger.
  • LHS was mentioned in a comment to a post at hak5.org.

Contact Info:

Music:

  • “You Are You” by Fall Walk Run from the album Throwing It All Away, courtesy of Jamendo.
  • “Flash Back” by MattMigma from the album Phoenix, courtesy of Jamendo.

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