With the aviation frequencies we use for air-to-air communication (123.3MHz and 123.5MHz) becoming more crowded, a growing number of sailplane and hang glider pilots are turning to Amateur (or HAM) Radio for more spectrum.
Today I attended what can only be described as a one day crash course constructed for the sole purpose of passing the FCC's test for an Amateur Radio License.
The class, which cost $25, was sponsored by the College of San Mateo Electronics Technology Department and the South County Amateur Radio Emergency Services.
The test consists of 35 randomly selected questions from a bank of a few hundred. Like all tests issues by federal government agencies, the questions and answers are known and published in advance. They're even available on-line.
The cramming (err, I mean "study") process is fairly straightforward. The "rules" are as follows:
- the test questions are printed on 60 pages
- study a set of 10 pages worth of questions for 45 minutes
- read the question and the correct answer only
- do not think or try to reason out the right answer, just read
- take a 15 minute break after each session
- after 6 sessions (and a mid-day lunch) take the test
Using that method, I took the 35 question multiple choice test and scored correctly 33 of 35 questions (94%). You can miss as many as 9 and still pass (70% is the minimum passing score).
The system works. You don't learn a lot doing it, though I did pick up more than a few facts along the way. But for my purposes, this gets me a license. And now I can legally operate my new Vertex VXA-700 Transceiver.
Oh, I suspect that all of the 30-40 people at today's class passed.
I'll likely attend a "HAM Orientation" class at some point, which covers the basics of radio protocol, terminology, and so on.
Posted by jzawodn at January 29, 2005 08:43 PM