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!
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