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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, or to do two, or all three exams, and so gain the General or Extra immediately.

Online Learning

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.

A few short pages I wrote, linked to below, has grown to cover all questions.

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. ARRL Handbook 2018.

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).

Video

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. The one below goes through the sections of the Technician question pool, explaining why each correct answer is the correct answer. The Ham Whisperer

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.

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

Morse Code

While entirely optional, Morse Code, sometime 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. One example.

Phonetics

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. Police procedural TV shows often use them to spell out number plates, etc. This alphabet is used to ensure clarity when exchanging callsigns, personal names, street names, 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 English pronunciation should be used.

The Wikipedia article.

Q-codes

To speed Morse communications a set of standard statements and questions were published, some for aviation and shipping; and some more generally, these 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:

Lessons, going through the Technician Exam

These started as a few pages on Power and Ohm's Law, Electrical units and multipliers (μ, k, M, etc); and Circuit Diagrams. It has however ended up covering all 425 questions. These pages jump around the exam, as to make sense of the Regulations, you need to know some theory. It isn't too scary.

Note that these relate to Technician papers taken from mid 2014 until midnight on 30 June 1018.

  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.

These below, relate exams taken from midnight on 1 July 2018, at the moment they have markings and comments on the changes.

  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.

Exams

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


Written by Julian Sortland, VK2YJS & AG6LE, February 2018.

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