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Thread: Thoughts on licensing (by a novice)

              
   
   
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  1. #1
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    Default Thoughts on licensing (by a novice)

    I will be taking my Technician class license exam on Saturday. I have taken a number of practice tests and have done very well. I know answers to multi-choice questions, however, I don't really understand all the material. I had thoughts of doing some study and trying the general class on Saturday. What I have realized is that I could very well learn answers to multi-choice questions and have no idea whatsoever what any of it means in a practical sense. So have decided to go ahead and get the Technician Class ticket and then build from there with further study, interaction with those in the know and on-going hands-on experience.

    My initial interest is for mobile radio capabilities for my off-roading experiences and so I may find that the technician ticket works well for me. But then, who knows where all of this may go as I get further into it.

    Right now all this RF stuff is deep and very mysterious.

  2. #2
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    Amen to that. I think you are on the right track. My advice: take as many different versions of the practice exams as possible. Eventually you will experience all 426 questions. Keep in mind that many of the questions are virtually the same, just worded differently, so you don't really have to know 426 different subjects.

    If you feel comfortable with where you're at in your Technician studies, donate some time into taking the General Class practice exams. I know a few people, who with no previous electrical experience, have done just that and ended up passing the General exam as well. May as well, it doesn't cost any extra to try for General.

    Technician Class privileges give you the band width to reach most anywhere you want within 25 miles of civilization and that might be enough for most folks. Plus you can get out further if you can drive to the top of a hill. That with a 50W mobile unit and a decent antenna, not usually with a handheld. But, if you plan to venture into more rural areas it is likely that you will be out of range of any repeaters and other ham radio operators on simplex so your alternative is HF.

    And if you enjoy the hobby you can have a lot of fun with any and/or all of the license classes. There are so many digital modes available nowadays that some of the techie types are perfectly satisfied with Technician Class status because they have no need for anything else. Your 2m/440 radio and an internet connection allows you talk through repeaters around the world.
    Jerry
    Reading and Riding Northwest Backroads
    K7PNW

  3. #3
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    This is all good insight, Jerry. I just didn't think it was right to merely memorize answers to questions to pass the test and have no idea what any of it meant. The test does not reflect practical knowledge. There are no hands-on demonstrations or interviews with face-to-face conversations, no internships. Just a multiple choice question test.

    When Morse Code was required it was a big hurdle to jump. I have wanted to be licensed since I was a teen in High school, but I could never get up to 5 words a minute (as I recall was the minimum speed to send and receive at the time).

    The local club only tests every other month so I will have lots of time to study and get a feel for what direction I want to go.

    From an off-road perspective, I have a CB (very limited) and the local 4X4 club uses 800MHz radios (I'm sure we have been using them illegally) and they have a lot more range. Will having a technician license make me legal to use the 800MHz? 800 MHz should be UHF. Right?
    Last edited by IdahoXJ; 01-14-2015 at 06:10.

  4. #4
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    A ham license will not give you access to the 800mhz system.

    My advice if you want to learn what you are testing on is to get the Technician book. The ARRL also has some decent free learning stuff and practice exams on their website.

    Also consider getting a cheap Baofeng radio and programming in the closest repeaters just to listen in and figure out how hams talk.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by IdahoXJ View Post
    This is all good insight, Jerry. I just didn't think it was right to merely memorize answers to questions to pass the test and have no idea what any of it meant. The test does not reflect practical knowledge. There are no hands-on demonstrations or interviews with face-to-face conversations, no internships. Just a multiple choice question test.
    Remembering the answers to the questions may not seem "right" in our minds because compared to school tests it would be considered cheating. In this case it is perfectly acceptable. But, the point you raise about not knowing what any of it means is a good one. Most importantly, by simply remembering the answers to questions you will come away knowing most of what you will need, not necessarily all of what you want to know, but most of what you need. Practical knowledge will come as a result of listening to on-air conversations (especially on HF) and talking with other hams. It sounds to me like you may be interested in making ham radio a hobby and if you do you might see if you can join or sit-in on a meeting of your local ham club, go to coffee with them after the meeting, ask questions, etc, etc. You will be surprised how fast you will learn the in's and out's of practical knowledge. You may also be surprised that you know more about the basics than some of the old-timers. Many of the old-timers would have trouble passing the Technician Exam without studying.

    Quote Originally Posted by IdahoXJ View Post
    When Morse Code was required it was a big hurdle to jump. I have wanted to be licensed since I was a teen in High school, but I could never get up to 5 words a minute (as I recall was the minimum speed to send and receive at the time).
    You know, it's funny, but some of the new guys who previously didn't want to mess with the Morse Code are now practicing the code and love it. Not me, although I wouldn't rule it out, but you would be surprised at how many of the recently licensed General Class hams are getting into it. Actually the Morse Code is a great way to communicate for several reasons so more power to them!

    Quote Originally Posted by IdahoXJ View Post
    The local club only tests every other month so I will have lots of time to study and get a feel for what direction I want to go.
    There are other testing facilities if you feel you are ready to take the exam, but you would have to drive to another location. I think you are right-on in your plans to use that extra time to investigate what you want out of the process. One of your hardest decisions will be in choosing your first radio. Check them all out, new and used. Do some window shopping. My advice is to check out the two links below and to go with a mobile radio as opposed to a handheld.
    http://www.eham.net/reviews/
    http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/index2.html

    Quote Originally Posted by IdahoXJ View Post
    From an off-road perspective, I have a CB (very limited) and the local 4X4 club uses 800MHz radios (I'm sure we have been using them illegally) and they have a lot more range. Will having a technician license make me legal to use the 800MHz? 800 MHz should be UHF. Right?
    My advice is to keep your CB! Even if everyone in your group has ham radio, keep your CB as a second or even a third mode of communication. You cannot talk to log truck drivers on ham radio, only CB. Isn't it a good feeling to know where that log truck is at any given time? And how about asking hunters for road information? They usually have a CB, but less apt to have ham radio. And ranchers, other 4x4 clubs, back country law enforcement, etc. Of course your CB antenna needs to be installed properly, not one of those installations where the top of a 3' antenna doesn't even stick above the roll cage!

    The 800 MHz radios you refer to are probably FRS and GMRS handhelds, that are actually in the 400 MHz range. FRS needs no license. The law says GMRS does require a license, something like $80 for whatever time period! There is no connection between FRS/GMRS and ham radio and licenses do not extend from one to the other. If anyone has a ham radio that has been modified or a cheaply built Chinese handheld that operates on those frequencies, to do so is illegal.

    For more information check out the Federal Communication Commission Part 95-Personal Radio Services that covers CB, FRS, GMRS and Radio Controlled Devices. http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-200...ol5-part95.pdf Also check out FCC Part 97-Amateur Radio Service. http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-200...ol5-part97.pdf
    Last edited by Jerry; 08-19-2015 at 11:03. Reason: Grammar
    Jerry
    Reading and Riding Northwest Backroads
    K7PNW

  6. #6
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    I just took the next step towards getting licensed and activated an account on HamTestOnline. This was after working through the "free" trial and it fit my learning style. Now I have to be diligent and study on a regular basis.
    Steve

    K9PNW | Exploring the Pacific Northwest in my 1992 Toyota FJ80 Land Cruiser

    Pacific Northwest Backroad Adventures - Pacific Northwest Outdoor Adventure Forums

    Steve G. Bisig Photography
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve View Post
    I just took the next step towards getting licensed and activated an account on HamTestOnline. This was after working through the "free" trial and it fit my learning style. Now I have to be diligent and study on a regular basis.
    Steve, I studied with the HamTestOnline too. I tried some of the free ones and they were pretty good, but, like you, the HamTestOnline fit me better than the rest. There are some good lessons on You Tube also. One of my favorites is David Casler, good material and well presented. While I have learned the answers to the test questions, I have also learned some of the deeper meanings and practical information behind the answers ... both by going through the HamTestOnline and the YouTube presentations. I spend about an hour a day on radio studies and I am amazed at my progress. Best regards, Tracy
    Explore and live under the big sky.

  8. #8
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    Fantastic! And you guys chose the Cadillac of all on-line test venues. Our friend and fellow forum member, "Hutchman", used HamTestOnline for his General Class studies and he passed both his Technician and General Class exams at the same time. He used that program again when he studied for his Extra Class license and passed it with a very high percentage. Good deal, Steve and IdahoXJ!
    Last edited by Jerry; 08-19-2015 at 11:09.
    Jerry
    Reading and Riding Northwest Backroads
    K7PNW

  9. #9
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    Took and passed the tech test today. Now what??? lol The handheld Boefeng is tempting, but I have read such mixed reviews I'm not so sure.
    Explore and live under the big sky.

  10. #10
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    I wouldn't shy away from a Baofeng. There are a lot of people having success with them and for the price it's a decent start. If you buy from Baofeng Tech (via Amazon) they honor the warranty and from what I have heard will pretty much replace it if their is an issue.

    I have the BF F8hp which is the more expensive radio but have heard good things about the uv5 variants as well.

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