Skip to comments.Passed my EXTRA CLASS Ham Radio exam tonight (vanity)
Posted on 04/09/2009 12:44:48 AM PDT by Clinging Bitterly
I have been a licenced Ham operator since 1978. I have had a Technician Class license since 1982 - this was back in the days when you had to go to an FCC office to take the tests, which at the time for me was about 200 miles from home.
Since US Ham Rado went No Code in 2007, I have been qualified to upgrade to General Class by simply going to a test session and filling out some paperwork. The reason for the "free" upgrade is the exam elements I passed back in '82 are the same as for the General Class today.
So, tonight there was a test session in town and I went in to get my grandfathered upgrade. While there the examiners suggested successful applicants (which I would be by default) could move on and test for successive upgrades without extra cost or penalty beyond time spent so I said what the heck. I had within the past month browsed the question pool (a public record by law) and already figured there's no way I could pass this right now, but nothing ventured nothing gained they say.
And the test was hard. It had a few gimmes, a surprizing number of questions covering advanced theory that related to things I'd specialized in and even pioneered in years past, a lot of stuff I sort of knew but not in depth, and the remainder, about equal to the margin between acing and passing, that I knew little about at all. But going through it I became more encouraged as I went along, and in the end I passed with exactly the minimum required number of correct answers, and as one of the examiners said, it doesn't matter whether you aced it or barely passed, it isn't posted on the wallpaper and you don't have to sign with your score in the EXTRA CLASS sub bands.
And I am so jazzed, and for more on WHY I am so jazzed, read the comment body. The link above goes to nothing specific but there you can discover how to join the fraternity yourself. I am glad to have returned, and anxious to see what's new.
But I do pat myself on the back under the circumstances, because I gained creds from working on things that weren't covered in ANY Ham Radio exam before small groups around the world, some with whom I worked, brought them into the mainstream. I could see it in the test, looking at a question and saying to myself "I know this, and not only that I was one of the first ever to know this, I helped invent it."
Until tonight I had no idea the importance of some of the small roles I played, mostly related to what Hams call the "digital modes". This isn't even my trade. Big machines that move mountains (or at least make holes in the ground) is my trade.
Tonight, if you're using wireless internet or a cell phone, thank a HAM. If you're doing it in english, thank a SOLDIER.
And God bless the human spirit.
Steveo, Ham Radio Ping-o?
That is really cool Clinging Bitterly.
Good job and great post.
When the pulse bombings start, you guys will be the MVPs of society. Good job.
Ping - Thought you’d be interested in this
GOOD JOB, and well done! Congratulations!
good for you!
See my about page .... all the way to the bottom.
My question to you is this, we are now in the digital age, what are the requirements for your test? Do they relate to a digital age? I ask because I presume you are communicating by voice and not by key. Is it still a requirement to have mastered Morse code? If so, or if it ever was, why?
In other words is the test related to the actual needs to operate the equipment as it exists today? Why have a test at all? Is the test designed to be deliberately difficult as a means of apportioning out a limited number of band spots? if so, is that the way the government should do it? Should it be by lottery? Should it be auctioned? Should be granted only according to a public service? Should be withheld from conservatives?
What impact does the Internet have on ham radio? Has it rendered ham radio to some degree obsolete?
I dabbled in that many years ago, I found it interesting but usually didn’t have the money for all the equipment, so I let it go. Learned and forgot Morse code twice. Maybe someday...
Congratulations from W4EX, formerly K4ZKZ in 1958.
Congratulations! You should be very proud of yourself.
Congratulations on making Extra.
Don’t post your callsign!
Main concern from a civil defense standpoint is always gonna be basic infrastructure - water, dams, bridges, powerlines, telephones - failing from natural or man made causes, and there has been an interesting line the last few days about Russian and Chinese surveillance of major US power grid control systems (Occam's razor tells me they are trying to “borrow” the technology for their own use, ‘cause they could sure use it and I'm fairly sure it's export controlled & they can't just buy it - and they have nothing to gain from sabotaging it), but I digress.
A major reason for my renewed interest IS the combination of circumstances under which we live, and I just want to have more of my own totally independent resources of any kind that can aid survival, mine & close family, and in general. Radio communication is a tool that can serve in a wide variety of ways. It's inexpensive to set up a station that's transportable yet will deliver predictable results. Being practiced and knowledgeable, and maintianing a good number of close personal contacts over time is part of the package, so being licensed (not so much to keep the government from coming after you ‘cause it's a medium that's virtually impossible to police really, but the simple fact is the vast majority of guys & gals on the bands won't give you the time of day if you're not legit) and operating regularly is important.
I have been away from it a long time so I practically need to start over. There are a few guys I know that we would give one-another the shirt off our backs or more, but time passes and without steady contact they slip away, some die or leave for parts unknown and for me I have seen enough that I know it's time to get back into the old haunts and also explore some new ones. Use it or lose it is a a major informal slogan of the fraternity and it applies to one and all, so for the good of one and all I am back.
At the test session tonight I was encouraged, because there was a large number of folks in attendance, probably half coming for their first license, and almost nobody walked out the door without what they came for. I was more fortunate being the only one who actually got more than I came for but even the couple folks who failed must have learned more what to expect, and it's not a cause for shame because nobody outside the room need ever know.
The fading popularity of Ham Radio over the last 20 years or so has been a concern for all. Unlike the firearms community Hams don't have several major lobby groups going after them but there are one or two and at some low point simple economics would give them a win by default. We do have ARRL (our counterpart to the NRA), and unlike BATF, our regulating body (FCC) is on our side and has repeatedly gone above and beyond to keep the service alive, but the economic argument remains a threat.
The examiners tonight noted the steady increase in new licensees over the past few months. Don't know if there are parallels to be drawn but either way it's encouraging.
Congratulations CB on your outstanding accomplishment!
I'll start by saying "Congratulations Clinging Bitterly!
I am a licensed amateur radio operator myself.
There used to be five classes of amateur radio operators Novice, Technician, General, Advanced and Extra Class. All required written exams, increasing in technical difficulty up the ladder. To achieve the Novice status, you used to have to send and receive Morse Code at 5 Words Per Minute. To achieve General Class or Advanced licenses, you had to send and receive Morse Code at 13 Words Per Minute (WPM). To achieve Extra Class, you had to send and receive Morse Code at 20 WPM.
The code requirements were reduced about 10 years ago to only 5 WPM for General and Extra classes, with Advanced being grandfathered and dropped as a class of license.
I achieved Advanced Class status before it was grandfathered.
Then, recently, the Morse Code requirement was dropped completely.
There are now only three classes of licenses: Technician, General and Extra Class.
On the subject of "pulse bombs," I'd like to elaborate a little. It's interesting, Newt Gingrich discussed the very real possibility of an EMP attack yesterday on Sean Hannity's radio show.
"Ham" radio operators may or may not be able to communicate following an EMP attack depending upon the preparations of operators to protect transceiver equipment from its own demise.
Modern ham radio equipment is subject to the same destruction of components as are the other solid state, computerized devices that permeate our lives.
For equipment to survive such an attack, it would have to be protected by some form of "Faraday Cage" (Google "Faraday Cage" for more info) which could be as simple as a metal garbage can with a wire attached to the can on one end and connected to a ground rod not far from the can, on the other.
Inside the garbage can, the equipment would have to be, for example, inside a plastic bucket or other insulated enclosure that was electrically isolated from the metal enclosure.
The practical impact of this requirement is an EMP attack would probably occur with little or no warning and unprotected ham radio gear would be fried in less than one second before precautions could be taken. For this reason, back-up equipment would have to be kept protected at all times to have hope of being usable.
In addition, the electrical grid would be disabled by an EMP pulse so a battery would be necessary to operate transceivers. Batteries are also subject to permanent damage to a sudden blast of over-voltage from an EMP. A spare car or marine 12 V battery would have to be stored in an F-Cage as well. It would have to be checked regularly and recharged for emergency preparedness.
I really don't know how many ham operators will remain carefully prepared.
There is no doubt prepared amateurs could communicate great distances to areas outside their home locations but there could be few to talk to within their own areas. Without modern communications, radio and TV, people would be completely isolated from their ability to know what caused this disruption and when, IF EVER, things would improve.
The practical effect of a widespread EMP attack would be nothing short of catastrophic and life threatening to those who had no provision or back-up plan.
Those ham radio operators who are prepared would be the rare option to have ANY contact with the world outside of the devastated area. Telephones would not work, modern vehicles would not run, and you would not receive transmissions from radio or TV. There would probably not be any way police officers in patrol cars could communicate but it wouldn't matter because their vehicles would not run.
Wherever you happened to be in an EMP attack, you would probably have to walk home or ride a bicycle if you had one.
Further, the damage to our entire way of life would be disrupted so dramatically we would be instantly thrust back 200 years in time to virtually total self-reliance for the basics of food, water and self-defense. You would be instantly cut off from any communication from friends or loved ones beyond "shouting" distance.
EMP's don't harm people or animals directly but the practical effect is to put people in a life or death struggle in the blink of an eye.
Excellent Job FRiend!
With the chicom bugs placed in our power infrastructure yesterday, I think any ‘backup’ communication systems are a good idea.
I think as long as there are airwaves to surf there will be HAMS
I would give you my call sign and set up a contact but that might give away information better left unknown here.
Welcome to the world of Extra class ham radio!
Do you still have the FT101E setup too?
After that thread, which is the bug that bit & got me back into it, I brought my HF stuff back in out of storage. For a birthday present to myself I bought a new MFJ 941E antenna tuner and their ready made G5RV antenna plus a couple fresh feedlines. Soon enough we had good late season hard spitting snow day so I hurried out & got the antenna rigged up before it quit (because that's antenna weather) and the little old FT-747GX is outfitted with the latest mods and all working great.
I have an FT-200 (Tempo One) also. The Tempo branded version was somewhat popular in the US in it's day, but lots more folks opted for something like a Kenwood TS520 that outdid just about anything in the price range in almost every way. I guess I like my stuff simple the FT-200 is pretty basic (like your Collins but Moocho Cheeper and probably not anywhere near the receiver). I put it on the air and it still works great & has full rated power out. Doesn't really fit in though for what I want either as a main or backup rig because at this point I want to keep all emergency power capable. So my intention for it is to give it a cosmetic workover and sell it, and use the proceeds to help pay for a more modern and somewhat more full featured HF rig. It'll be a workable HF rig for some beginner, as it was for me, and it's sure to go cheap, though I would not be surprised to get back every penny I paid for it 27 years ago.
In a natural or man-made disaster (to use obama-talk for terror attack) if there is any power failure, hams rule. Many have mobile units in their vehicles and battery powered hand-helds that can be recharged by the vehicle battery. Cell phones? The towers will be dead. Internet? Mostly dead unless you have a satellite phone hooked to your computer.
But I will say FCC has “improved” the public accessible database and it no longer displays our birthdates and SSNs for all to see. Wondered for a long time why they didn't see just how wrong that was.
Now it appears to display all that's required by law as public record and nothing more, which is probably about all Hams need to know about one another and still quite a lot more than folks without that particular interest need.
Gee I can't remember, how did we hams learn about one-another before the internet?</sarc>
(once years gone by I did post my call on this forum, and by necessity a couple times articles & op-eds containing My Real Name, but there's way more concern these days and I'm not likely to do it again)
Congrats!!! de V26DX
Congratulations on passing the Extra, I got mine in 1985. (Later passed GROL)
I first sat before an FCC examiner on Commerce Street in Downtown Dallas in 1976.
I knew there was another reason I liked you.
I'm a orphan: advanced with the 20 wpm code and just never went back to take the extra written..
In these times its good to be able to reach out without wires.
for those interested in becoming hams (to see how easy getting on 2 meters would be ), here's a site for taking a free practice exam ( and more information on hams)
here's a link
to find out how sorry the current sunspot cycle is performing:
for a good beginners guide:
and the arrl site:
and finally, information to assist in protecting your equipment in the worst case scenario:
sx-17 (yes, functional)
Very good job. I had a novice lic in 1973 while in high school but did not follow through. 27 years later i got back in and am now an Extra also as of 3 years ago. Once again good job.
Now if those darn sunspots would just come out and play.
HI HI HI .... .. .... .. .... .. .... ..
A hearty congratulations from a fellow Extra Class “Ham”. I remember that — studied VERY hard on both theory and 20+ wpm morse code to get that license. Have a wonderful day!
Congrats on your Extra, CB!
I am also a licensed ham - I got my General Class back in 1996, and it has been a hoot operating on the bands. I don’t have my Extra yet, mainly because that test is rather heavy in theory where I don’t do too well, but one of these days I’ll take the jump and go for it.
Again, congratulations on your Extra Class license!
Nope! There is no longer any requirement to demonstrate a proficiency in sending and receiving code.
It was once a requirement simply because it was the major method for communication over the air waves. And, as an old ham friend of mine, K4KCW, used to say, “It keeps the riff-raff out!”
Congrat’s from an Advanced class. Hope your enjoy the new privileges. have thought of upgrading to Extra, but like having the Advanced. 73’s
Passed Extra in 98, the nature of CW caught my interest and have stayed with that mostly. Like the fact that there's still lots of CW activity, and contests. Did alot of Fists operations, SKCC for manual keys.
Congratulations! I’ve held an Advanced ticket since 1993 (got my no-code “Tech Minus” in 1992) and really should go ahead and test for Extra one of these days. I wanted to do it before the code restrictions were lowered from 20 wpm to 5, but I barely scraped by getting the 13 wpm for General!
When I first got my license I worked with a local club (LARC, Lynchburg, VA) and did a lot of event and public-service work with them. I loved it. I remember one long-distance charity bike tour circa 1994, we got there at zero-dark-thirty in the morning only to be told by the organizer that “oh, we have cellphones, we don’t need you.” (Remember, this was 1994...the cellphones were the big brick type.) We hung around anyway. Two hours later when the cellphone batteries began to die, we were in position and smoothly took over and saved the day.
I haven’t been active in years, sadly, my only rig right now is a tiny little Yaesu FT-817 with a portable antenna that can barely push a signal across the street, much less across the country. Money’s too tight to get back into it. Some days I kick myself for donating my old FT-101E to a club in South Carolina rather than move the boat anchor when I moved a few years ago.
Congratulations on your upgrade. I’m about to take the General exam in a couple of weeks. Have passed it twice already but putzed around and didn’t take the code portion so now I have to do it again. 73s
Ham from back when you actually had code requirements. Morse code! Still one one the funnest way to communicate....OK OK one of the funnest RADIO ways to communicate....
Drake "twins" (really)
HW-16 (love it!
Vast array of HB gear
As for the FT817 I think they are a nice rig for what they are but the "only" 5W is a serious limitation that makes it not too useful for tactical purposes or even everyday (unless a dedicated QRPer). Still as a foundation for experimentation with antennas, deployment scenarios and so forth it would be an excellent rig and I'd love to have one for just those purposes. So if you want to get rid of it let me know (freepmail or whatever) and if it's something I can pencil out - cause I'm in tough times too having had no income the last seven months not to mention 40% of my net worth vaporizing overnight - you'd likely come out with enough scratch for something more suitable for everyday use.
So please let me know if you have any thoughts of selling it.
My thoughts on the code elimination is it's about freakin' time. I hope that doesn't offend anybody.
It was always the bugaboo to me (probably mostly on principle) because even back in ‘78 I thought of it as antiquated & didn't have a lot of interest in learning it just for sake of tradition.
It was easy enough for me to learn it enough to pass my Novice, and I did actually operate on the air some. Even picked up an electronic keyer and it was sort of fun (though the fun part of it for me was learning all of it's features, adjusting speeds, weights, programming memories, playing back sequences of stored strings and so forth) but still the other end, copying it in my head and writing it down, was never enjoyable to me.
In ‘82 I think I bombed pretty bad on the 13 WPM code test but the cute girl who ran the test session complimented me on acing the written (while refusing to go out with me to celebrate). I was ready for that outcome, certain I would pass the written and probably not the code, so I came home happy. And the Technician Class was key to my interests at the time, FM and repeaters.
Over the years I was very involved in our local club's activity developing our group's own site on the mountain from the bare rocks facing many challenges throughout the project. We built the cinder block building, the steel burglar proof door, fortified roof, varmint proofing, and in perfect antenna weather (a near blizzard) erected our 100’ Rohn 45G tower. This site had no commercial power and the cost to get it there was prohibitive, so we installed a propane tank and thermal generator and the site operated full time on “emergency power”. And that's how it was for several years until the power company itself wanted to install a microwave relay there, then getting power to the site changed from prohibitive to almost nothing virtually overnight.
With more power available we could fully utilize the building and tower space and we started drawing paying tenants, the first ones being the local fire and EMS outfits, then & still two separate entities. The cops put some off network tactical/backup stuff in, a couple local paging companies started out there and so forth, and we expanded our own presence with a 220 box, a multiport packet node, and eventually a 440 repeater. So we had a successful mini business on our hands that helped (though not completely) fund the group's many activities down the hill.
I also was involved in packet, building some stuff on my own and testing some prototype stuff on my VIC-20 computer and it's many successors. Packet and other digital modes, ruined some computers, fried some rigs, let the smoke out of I don't know how many various gizmos, ran one of the state's major packet BBSs, and was involved in some statewide and regional coordinating bodies. Throughout all that time I had little to no interest in HF (nor the time for it) and came to hardly ever pick up a mike on VHF/UHF.
And in early 2000 a project had me so frustrated, the time some things were taking with little to no progress and one day I just pulled the plugs and boxed up the whole shack and that was that. But I owned my own time again and that was a pleasure, so I hardly ever looked back.
My renewed interest is in emergency power, portable/mobile HF operation, and I intend to experiment with some rapid deployable antenna designs, power schemes and so forth. There will through necessity be some VHF/UHF operation but I haven't that gear out of the mothballs yet. Perhaps someday necessity will even bring me to CW. In fact I do sometimes find myself stopping in the CW subbands while spinning through just long enough to see who that is blasting through on a dead band, so there is hope.
Drake twins are great, that’s another I would have loved to had in days gone by.
I hear ARRL is going to launch online study courses (and there is something about it on their website) and I think that's going to appeal to a lot of folks if it's less expensive than their hard media.
The test was a bit surprising. I went in totally unprepared and didn't even have a calculator. Two questions out of 50 I might have used one on and still I think I got them correct. But I have a good sense of scale and am good at graphically visualizing mathematical concepts, had a good teacher in first year tech school that introduced those ideas and they have served me well. It's great for roughing things out and that's all you need for most multiple choice decisions.
There was very little on Amateur regulations but I suppose that's a reflection of the less limited privileges of the class. Just a couple Extra specific questions relating to VE duties and satellite stations and one freebie asking to choose an HF band that doesn't allow SSB or Image (30M duh).
Where I know I was weak was in some of the trivial nomenclature that related to actual RF circuits AND administrative things because in my graphic mind names mean nothing until they have been practiced IRL and discussed among peers. I don't know the Cabrillo format from polar coordinates, and couldn't tell Amsat mode M/U (or whatever) from the man in the moon, but I can tell you just about anything that's likely to be on the test about ASCII, BAUDOT, SSTV, or Packet. I have a lot to learn about propagation on HF, but could tell you all you need to know about it on VHF/UHF, then start falling off again at microwave.
But it all goes back to things I have actually done and learned by doing, or as I said up top even pioneering. And it was clear my real life experience carried the day.
Which is precisely why uneducated greybearded rednecks such as myself and countless others are valuable to society. It is informal authority that is seriously underrated and we need perhaps to assert ourselves more.
I'll give 10 a quick spin through once in a while just to see if anything’s going on ‘cause ya never know. Used 10 a lot on packet in years past and it was always lots of fun, like anarchy without the smashed windows.
Amateur radio will never be obsolete, due to the fact that one can communicate across the country or the world on 25 watts of power, with good conditions, and be totally portable, off the grid.
With the Fed gov wanting to regulate or do away with the Internet, ham radio will always be a nice alternative.
Easy for me to say I guess. I had to pay the 15 bones anyway so it was no risk, and I am a naturally risk averse person.
But if you're not too Scotch just do it.
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