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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok, a lot of folks are asking about ham radio licenses (amateur radio) and thought I'd write up something and other hams and users can chime in. Here are the steps if you want to get a FCC license for the technician level, which is your first place you have to start. Note, this is the quick way to receive your license if you are "ok" at memorizing questions.

Will you learn something going this route? Yes and no. By reading some of the questions, you'll learn that you don't touch a HF antenna while its transmitting or it will cause radio frequency burn (I learned the hard way, and have a blister to show :?. Also, there are some math questions on the exam, which I will try to answer to the best of my ability or other hams might lend a hand to help out. The best part about learning is actually doing the task, which after you get your license, the questions will quickly come to thought when you were studying them. I went the route of getting a 2001 book from the library, which it was way off on things that one had to learn, but the basic principles/core/foundation was there. I read this for about a week and realized I was outdated with the book. I watched some youtube videos about it and searched around the web until I started learning. My neighbor was the president of the local ham club and I went to his house and asked the specific questions that I couldn't find anywhere else.

Could I have received my license in 12 hours of pure study time? Yes I could have if I solely studied the questions directly like this. Your rate of learning could be faster or slower, which is both fine, so please don't throw off on this thread, I'm only here to help and not for a pissing contest. So as you see, your mode of learning or getting the license is all what you put into it, which is what you'll get out of it.

  1. Find a site that talks about ham radio exam questions. Study the questions and answers. Memorize them by keywords in the sentences. For example, if you go to HamExam.org: Free Amateur Radio Practice Tests with Flash Cards you will see down at the bottom "Question Pools". Element 2: Technician. This is the one you have to start out with if you never received a license before. You can look at the question pool link or do the flash cards. Either way, learn how the question is stated and how its worded in the sentences and answer. The are practically identical on the actual exam. DO NOT remember that question 1 was answer D, or question 2 was answer C, the questions are mixed around on the exam, but are worded basically the same way. Once you are good enough that you think you know the answer to a question, put your hand over the answers and answer outloud, then revel the answer to see if you got it right. Do note that currently these questions at the time of this writting expire June 30, 2014 from reading from that particular website.
  2. When you feel that your good to take the test, find a place that has listed an exam in your area. Your best resource will be the ARRL (American Radio Relay League) website located at American Radio Relay League | ARRL - The national association for AMATEUR RADIO Or you can skip ahead to their "find exam" locator at Find an Amateur Radio License Exam in Your Area this link will tell you where a local exam is coming in your area. There are other ways to find out by contacting your local ham club in your county, but this link is pretty much dead on.
  3. Make sure you pre register by contacting the person listed at the facility in your area closest to you. Usually its the local Red Cross or a Ham club in your city. I just sent an email to the one I was taking and he said he had me down to take the test. I showed up, introduced myself, paid $15 by check to the ARRL, took the exam, passed and about 2 weeks later my call sign was on the FCC database. Do note, for those concerned about OPSEC, the address that you put down on your exam, is the one that will show up on the public database searchable for anyone. The main reason is because if you are causing harmful interference in your area (for example interfering with air traffic or such), they will know how to reach you. Now, I'm not recommending this, but there are tons of HAMS that put a PO box down as an address, which to me is kinda scary if someone is at home interfering with air traffic or such and local city has to get ahold of you right away while the post office is closed for the night. To me, your info/address is pretty much everywhere anyways and is usually listed in phone books (unless unlisted). Please everyone, lets don't go on a lenghtly discussion about this portion. Your goal is to get certified legally or you wouldn't be reading this thread right?
  4. Make sure you have directions to the exam, the instructions that the exam giver has provided (example: bring checkbook, cash, calculator etc). Show up, be respectful to the ones providing the exam (they are not there to win a bronze star, but for giving back to the local community more hams to the area).

Tips:

1. From what I've read, you are allowed to have a calculator at the exam. I didn't use one, but I did use some scrap paper that was given to me and I did one calculation on it for antenna length. When you are done with the exam, you are to turn the scrap paper back in. Also, I read that they will check your calculator for any stored questions etc. Again, I didn't bring a calculator, but I'm sure this rule applies.

2. Print off the questions, review them for a few days, have someone ask you them and see if you can answer them.

3. Set a goal to take a specific exam on a specific date so that you for sure will take it.

4. Try different exams on different websites. Some might change a word around in the sentence which gets you thinking if you really know the question.

5. Get a book to supplement the questions you have issues with. The Gordon West books are the "bible" of the ham world.

6. Do note, you DO NOT have to learn morse code anymore on the exams.

7. Your license will last 10 years, at that time you send in $15 more dollars (at the time of this writing) to renew it another 10 years (no more exams to take unless you want to move up in class).

Other hams or users please correct me on anything I might have missed or wrote wrong, the info provided is to help people get their ham license legally.
 

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Can I ask a stupid question- why do people need a licence? Does the government own the airwaves or what?
What bizness is it of the govt if people want to talk to each other on radios?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Not stupid at all, very qood question and I had to look it up.

From: The Public Airwaves Myth - 2008-05-17 00:00:00 | Broadcasting & Cable
"it is clear that Congress never intended for the public to control the airwaves. Here, for example, is Sen. Clarence Dill, one of the co-authors of the Radio Act of 1927, on the subject of ownership of the airwaves: "The government does not own the frequencies, as we call them, or the use of the frequencies. It only possesses the right to regulate the apparatus. We might declare that we own all the channels, but we do not."

Look at it this way, you have some "CBer" out there buying a high rig system and antenna, leaves it hooked up and their 10 year old gets on there and interferes with air traffic or police frequencies, so as the old saying goes, one person had to mess it up for everyone.

Also to note, you can control model airplanes (radio controlled airplanes), along with personal satellites with frequencies, thus showing you the power of ham radio's capabilities.

Another note is that if you don't know what your doing, you can cause physical harm to yourself and others around you. For instance, here is one question about RF.

How does current flowing through the body cause a health hazard?

  • A. By heating tissue
  • B. It disrupts the electrical functions of cells
  • C. It causes involuntary muscle contractions
  • D. All of these choices are correct
 

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More questions-
1- Is CB and Ham the same thing?
2- If somebody fails the exam, what is there to stop him going out and buying a ham rig anyway and operating it without a licence?
 

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More questions-
1- Is CB and Ham the same thing?
2- If somebody fails the exam, what is there to stop him going out and buying a ham rig anyway and operating it without a licence?
No, ham radio and cb anen't the same. CB radio has 40 channels somewhere around 27.7 mhz. Ham radio uses many frequencies starting just above the AM band of 550khz to 1.6 mhz. Ham radio frenquencies are 1.8 mhz to 2.0 mhz also 3.5 to 4.0 ....7.0 to 7.3 and many more all the way up to 1300 mhz. CB is AM or SSB. Ham radio can be ssb AM CW (morse code) digital. We even have slow scan tv that can send pictures and many modes I haven't mentioned. I have never tried it but there are satellites that can be used. A normal CB is supposed to be limited to 4 watts. Hams can use much more power, up 1500 watts the last I knew but I don't have a rig that powerful. 100 watts for me.

For your second question. Hams will not talk to a non ham and will get out their direction finding antenna's and locate you. Only takes 2 directional antenna's and they can pinpoint your lacation. I haven't scratched the surface as far as modes and frequencies I can use. It is a fun hobby, well worth the study and time involved and when shtf we will still be able to communicate around the world.
 

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Survival and Hayden, thank you very much for the posts and links! Great information! I'm going to have to do some studying now and learn a whole new subject matter.:-D My dad was a radio operator on an Army hospital ship in the Pacific during WWII and tried to get me to learn morse code when I was a kid. I really wasn't all that interested back then, and didn't know you didn't have to know it to get a HAM license today. Since I'm retired and now the weather is getting colder, I've got a bit more time to spend learning new things. This appears to be a subject well worth devoting some time to. Thanks for all the info.
 

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I've been a VE (Volunteer Examiner) for many years and signing my name on the paperwork for a new ham is one of my favorite parts of being a ham.
One of the on-line practice test sites that I see credited with a passing score is Practice Amateur Radio Exams by QRZ.COM - you need to register so it can keep track of your scores for you, but it's free and easy to use. Generally, if someone can get their averages up to around 85% or greater, they're ready to find a real test session.

You can also download the actualy pool of questions used in the real tests. The actual test for a Technician class license (element 2) will consist of 35 questions from this pool and while the answer choices may be in a different order, the wording should be the same.

http://www.ncvec.org/downloads/Revised Element 2.Pdf
 
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At one point my twin was the youngest person in the US to have a ham license (2+ decades ago) but have been wanting to get one to talk to family on the other side of the world - might have to figure out atmospheric bounce so I can use a handheld unit.

Thanks for posting.
 

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Oh my family member is the only person currently broadcasting from Bahrain.. If you don't get him during the day wait a week and try again as his schedule rotates from day/night hours on a week to week basis and he spends a lot of time on there as there is nothing else to do lol.
 

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Another stupid question- At the moment I talk to people all around the world by e-mail (including pictures), or in assorted net forums, so I don't see any need to get Ham equipment, or am I missing something?
 

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There was a lot of problems in the early days of "HAM" radio were amateurs were overriding maritime transmissions and is actually the origin (believed) of the term HAM as maritime operators called these people HAMS. Might be some of why have to be licensed. Or an excuse to force being licensed.

Lucky Jim HAM continues to be the most basic form of radio transmission. It uses the entire radio wave not just part of it (I believe)/. Its basic, crude, effective and accepted by most nations on Earth as valuable as the best way to maintain coms during a SHTF ar TEOTWAWKI. If the grid goes down HAM will saty up as long as you can keep your batteries going.

Disclaimer: I am a HAM noob
 

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..Hams will not talk to a non ham and will get out their direction finding antenna's and locate you..
Next stupid question- how would they know if somebody's an unlicensed non-ham?

..... If the grid goes down HAM will saty up as long as you can keep your batteries going...
Oh right, so Ham's main use will be in a post-apocalypse world to keep in touch with people if they (and you) are still alive..:)
 

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Next stupid question- how would they know if somebody's an unlicensed non-ham?

Oh right, so Ham's main use will be in a post-apocalypse world to keep in touch with people if they (and you) are still alive..:)
They'll know if you're licensed or not because you need to use your call sign. One could make up a call sign, but would be discovered quickly.
The commercial infrastructure or "grid" doesn't require the end of days to go down... All it takes is some bad weather to take out commercial power, telephones, cell service, Internet, etc. Ham radio has proven to be invaluable during disasters like Katrina and the recent east coast USA pummeling.
 
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At one point my twin was the youngest person in the US to have a ham license (2+ decades ago) but have been wanting to get one to talk to family on the other side of the world - might have to figure out atmospheric bounce so I can use a handheld unit.

Thanks for posting.
There's a lot of interest in ham radio among youngsters these days.
A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of signing the Technician class csce for a 6 year old boy and the extra class csce for his 9 year old sister. This year i think the youngest testee at one of my sessions was 8. Always happy to see young kids becoming hams :)
 

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There's a lot of interest in ham radio among youngsters these days.
A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of signing the Technician class csce for a 6 year old boy and the extra class csce for his 9 year old sister. This year i think the youngest testee at one of my sessions was 8. Always happy to see young kids becoming hams :)
I too am a VE, that was the purpose of getting my extra. I wanted to give back to the community. Maybe I should be embarrassed though, it took me 2 tries to get it. AND I was MUCH older than 9. :shock:
 

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I sure as hell could not have done it in that short a time.
Had to know cw back in 1957.
I hitched a ride (50 miles)to boston at the customs house for the exam. Was a hot summer day. I was 15.
Passed, also took the commercial exam while i was there and got a 2nd phone license too.
There was a lot of circuitry questions, all on vacuum tubes. Grounded grids, class ab 1 amplifiers, regen and superhetrodine circuits.
I was lucky that day, mostly tech question, few on regs.
 

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I credit my mom and dad with getting me interested in radio. When I was about 7 years old they bought me a crystal radio set for Christmas. I had to wind the coil of wire around what appeared to be an empty toilet paper tube then sand the shellac off that and hook it all up to a piece of rock. I was amazed that I could hear all the local radio stations with no batteries or any other power source. Just this wad of wires that I put together and some headphones. I still think it's cool and build a crystal radio from time to time just to keep my skills up. They also bought me an Erector set that Christmas and that served me well also as I became a set up guy for folder gluer machines. Did that for 28 years.
 

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Okay I'm learning and think I'm getting the overall picture, correct me if I'm wrong-
1- HAM range is sensational and covers the whole planet, but is strictly regulated and licensed.
2- CB has a much shorter range (25 miles?) but the advantage is that there are no licenses or permits needed

Incidentally what about small hand-held 'walky-talkies', are they classed as CB's? what's their range?
Is the one Rambo's using classed as a walky-talky or what?

 
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