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Amateur Radio Info & Exams - Learning Materials

There are a range of books, websites, and even audio resources to help you obtain your licence.

Note that each question pool in the US system is renewed after four years, so is vital to ensure whatever materials you use, they are up to date for the date you will be sitting your exam(s).

Note that it is possible to just do the Technician test; or to do two, or all three exams in one session, and so gain the General or Extra immediately.

Online Learning

I have written a number of pages, which cover all Technician questions, listed below.

HamTestOnline is an very effective online training and examination drill site. You can create an account for free, which provides access to a small amount of training, and to the practice exams. Subscribing gives access to course material at one or more levels. See hamtestonline.com

There are a number of competing sites, along with "apps" for 'phones and tablets.

Books and Audio CDs

The ARRL Bookshop sells printed and Kindle books for obtaining your Technician licence, and upgrading to General and then to Extra; along with training software. Licensing material.

The ARRL Handbook is an extensive manual on electronics and radio communications, updated each year. While not specifically designed to help you pass the exams, it is an important reference. It can be found on the Technical Books page. 2022 Edition

Gordon West produces a range of Books, Software, and Audio CDs. Again, one or more publication is required for each level. While the CD sets can be used alone, they would ideally be used with the associated book, and there are bundles. Official W5YI site or via QRZ site (lower cost shipping to Australia). The audio from the CDs is now available for free download, perhaps partly because they relate to previous exams, but they are never-the-less useful.


YouTube has a range of training videos, some of which step through the ARRL books. A search such as "technician licence study" will find these.

One example is this introduction from Red Wagon Technology.

Note that you should try to find videos relating to the pool in force at the date of your exam.

Reference Material

Question Pools

The official question pools are published by the National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators.

The pools are on the sidebar at: ncvec.org

Part 97 Rules

The regulations are part of the US "Code of Federal Regulations". Title 47 covers the FCC, and Part 97 Amateur Radio. These rules are "administrative law", which can be amended by the FCC without legislation from Congress.

The official PDF version is on the Government Publishing Office site here. They are also on the NCVEC, ARRL, and W5YI sites, and can be purchased in printed form.

Practical aspects, such as frequencies to use are summerised in ARRL Band Plan charts.

Note that you do not need to learn the entire regulations by rote to pass the exam, as only the questions on them published by the NCVEC can appear in an exam.

Morse Code

While entirely optional, Morse Code, sometimes called "CW" for the fact that it is often sent using interrupted continuous wave, simply turning on and off a simple fixed frequency, fixed level radio frequency signal, still has several uses in Amateur Radio. Most repeaters use Morse code to satisfy the legal requirement of sending their callsign periodically, and can indicate mains power failure, battery depletion, or other information that way. It is also the most efficient non-computer mode of operation, so remains popular with "DXers", and the like.

The official standard is available for free download from this page on the ITU website.

If you are wondering why the document is so recent, the code was amended to include the "commercial at" symbol, @, to allow email addresses to be transmitted, nothing if not modern!

Many say it is better to use "dits" and "dahs", more reminiscent of the sound of Morse. An example is on MorseCode.World, along with a text to morse converter which plays audio.


Phonetics, usually the official Spelling Alphabet used by organisations such as the ITU, NATO, ICAO and IMO, are a series of words used to represent letters, and also includes standardised pronunciation of numerals. This alphabet is used to ensure clarity when exchanging callsigns, personal names, street names, licence plates, and similar information, including under poor or noisy signal conditions. Along with the items below, they also help to allow basic contacts or "QSOs" to be made between Amateurs who speak little of each-other's languages.

The Wikipedia article.


To speed Morse communications a set of standard statements and questions were published, some for aviation and shipping; and some more generally, and these are often used in Amateur radio. Many have come into formal or informal use in voice communications, and even in writing. The Wikipedia article: From top of page, or Amateur Radio use.

Other Pro-words

Some additional procedural words and abbreviations are:

Notes, going through the Technician Exam

Starting as a few pages on Power and Ohm's Law, etc these pages now cover all 411 questions (latest version). They jump around the exam, as to make sense of the Regulations, you need to know some theory.

The pages below, relate exams taken from 1 July 2022 until 30 June 2026.

  1. Ohm's Law & Power,
  2. Component Symbols & Schematic Diagrams,
  3. Components,
  4. Electrical Units & Metric Multipliers,
  5. Frequency, Wavelength and Bands,
  6. Modes,
  7. Electrical, Tower, and RF Safety,
  8. Regulations 1,
  9. Regulations 2,
  10. Regulations 3,
  11. Space & Satellite Operations,
  12. Operating 1,
  13. Operating 2,
  14. Antennas,
  15. Operating 3,
  16. Public Service - Emergency Communications Support,
  17. Propagation - How signals travel,
  18. Transceivers - Tuning, Bandwidth, Microphones,
  19. Operating 4 - RDF, Contests, Gridsquares.

Notes, going through the General Exam

These go through the 452 questions in the General pool. I go through in question order, as I expect you have either read the above sections, or already hold a licence.

They relate exams taken from 1 July 2019 until 30 June 2023.

  1. Regulations 1 - Intro to HF,
  2. Regulations 2 - Power, Data, and Volunteer Examiners,
  3. Regulations 3 - Station Control,
  4. Operations 1 - Phone operations, Courtesy, and Emergency Comms,
  5. Operations 2 - CW (Morse), Q-codes, and HF Operations,
  6. Operations 3 - Digital Modes,
  7. Propagation 1 - Sunspot Cycles and Max & Min Usable Frequencies,
  8. Propagation 2 - Ionospheric layers, Critical angle, and NVIS,
  9. Practices 1 - Station Set-up and Test Equipment,
  10. Practices 2 - Interference, DSP, Processors, and S-meters,
  11. Practices 3 - HF Mobile and Field Operations,
  12. Electrical Principles 1 - Impedance and Calculations,
  13. Electrical Principles 2 - Rs, Cs, & Ls in series & parallel; Transformers,
  14. Components 1 - Batteries, Diodes, Transistors,
  15. Components 2 - ICs and Connectors,
  16. Circuits 1 - Power supplies and schematic symbols,
  17. Circuits 2 - Digital circuits; amps, oscillators, receivers & transmitters,
  18. Modes 1 - Modulators & Mixers,
  19. Modes 2 - More on Digital,
  20. Feedlines and SWR,
  21. HF Antennas,
  22. Special purpose antennas,
  23. Safety - RF & Electrical Safety.

Notes going through the Extra Exam

These go through the 622 questions in the Extra pool. I go through in question order, as I expect you have either read the above sections, or already hold a licence.

They relate exams taken from 1 July 2020 until 30 June 2024.

  1. Regulations 1 - HF Bandwidth, Restricted Station Locations, RACES,
  2. Regulations 2 - Control Operators, IARP & CEPT, Amateur satellites,
  3. Regulations 3 - Volunteer Examiners & Miscellaneous Rules,
  4. Operations 1 - Satellites, Amateur Televisions,
  5. Operations 2 - Contesting, QSLing, VHF+ Digital, & EME,
  6. Operations 3 - HF Digital,
  7. Propagation 1 - EME, Meteors, Microwaves, TEP, Grey-line,
  8. Propagation 2 - Radio horizon, propagation prediction & space weather,
  9. Practices 1 - Test equipment & techniques,
  10. Practices 2 - Receiver Performance,
  11. Practices 3 - Noise suppression,
  12. Electrical Principles 1 - Resonance, Impedance, and Phase Angles,
  13. Electrical Principles 2 - Reactance, phase, & power factor,
  14. Components 1 - Semiconductor materials & devices; Diodes,
  15. Components 2 - Logic ICs, PLDs, Inductors, & Piezoelectric devices,
  16. Components 3 - Analogue ICs & Opto-electronics,
  17. Circuits 1 - Digital circuits & Amplifiers,
  18. Circuits 2 - Filters & Power Supplies,
  19. Circuits 3 - Modulation & DSP,
  20. Circuits 4 - Op-amps, Filters & Oscillators,
  21. Signals and Emissions 1 - Waveforms & Modulation,
  22. Signals and Emissions 1 - Digital,
  23. Antennas 1 - Parameters and Patterns,
  24. Antennas 2 - Wire Antennas & Directional Arrays,
  25. Antennas 3 - Transmission Lines,
  26. Antennas 4 - Smith Charts & Specialist Antennas,
  27. Safety - Earthing, RF hazards & Hazardous materials.


Once you have read the required material, you are ready for your exams. Details are here: Exams

Antenna Projects

Build yourself a Delta Antenna for 6m, 10m, or other bands.

DIY vehicle-mounted Vertical Antenna for VHF and UHF.

Written by Julian Sortland, VK2YJS & AG6LE, September 2022.

Tip Jar: a Jefferson (US$2), A$3 or ¥275. Thanks!