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Old 28-01-2013, 13:43   #61
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Re: Ham License

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Originally Posted by familycruisers View Post
Finding the formula for meters to frequency in one of the questions was handy to start answering all the others, what was that again?? lol
The one I never forget is 468 / freq / 2 gives you the length (in feet) of each of your dipole's legs for your antenna or a 1/4 wave vertical.
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Old 28-01-2013, 14:23   #62
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Re: Ham License

Full disclosure up-front, I've known Tom for years, and consider him a good friend....
But I'm afraid here I must disagree with him, at least somewhat....
Sorry Tom...





Although I too wish there was more about "actual use of radio" included in the testing, I do not wish this to be at the sacrifice of other parts of the exams....meaning I wish all the tests were longer, more specific and more difficult.....
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeremiason View Post
I think the FCC license
testing is antiquated and should be revised, testing more on actual use of the radio, than technical repair or workings. Unfortunately, the Old Guard of Ham Radio believe that this is the way they had to do it, so why shouldn't everyone.
At least in my case, this is not because "I had to do it that way, why shouldn't everyone"!!!
I may be part of the "old guard", but I am an open-minded and level-headed ham....(and not that "old", either...
But, rather for many, many reasons.....
Not the least of which is because it is the responsibility of each and every ham operator to ensure that their signal is as clean and pure as possible and that it doesn't cause interference to others....as well as their responsibility for so many things....

How can they do this, if they have no technical knowledge???
In MY OPINION, the answer is, they cannot.....
Therefore, in my opinion, testing for this technical knowledge is important!!!
In addition, I wish all the tests were harder!!






Here we have a philosophical difference, as well as a "technical expertise" difference....
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeremiason View Post
This is one of the reasons there a less and less young HAMs out there. Removing the morse code requirement was a start, but now they need to realize a large percentage of people don't want to work on their own radios, but do want to participate in the HAM world and all it has to offer.
a) I do NOT believe that "ham radio" is a "hobby" that many more could enjoy if it was "easier"....
This is hogwash!!
"Ham Radio" is the "Amateur Radio Service", which has specific legal and moral purposes for existence, both here in the US and in >190 countries worldwide....
Quote:
§97.1 Basis and purpose.
The rules and regulations in this part are designed to provide an amateur radio service having a fundamental purpose as expressed in the following principles:
(a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications.
(b) Continuation and extension of the amateur’s proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art.
(c) Encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through rules which provide for advancing skills in both the communication and technical phases of the art.
(d) Expansion of the existing res- ervoir within the amateur radio service of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts.
(e) Continuation and extension of the amateur’s unique ability to enhance international goodwill.
See my post above for further details.....



b) And, yes an argument can be made that if you do not attract new hams / infuse the amateur radio service with younger people, then the existing population of hams will slowly diminish....(as the old ones die, you need new ones to replace 'em with...)
But, the problem with the arguments that you need to "dumb-down" the tests further, or that you need to just test people on "how to have fun on the radio", etc. is that is factually flawed....
The FACTS are that there are more ham radio operators in the US (and worldwide) now than ever...
So, if some believe that the tests concentrate too much on electronics and radio theory, and not enough on actual radio operations, that might be a valid opinion....BUT....
But, this has NOT negatively effected the growth of ham radio, not at all!!!



c) Those coming into ham radio from laypersons positions often state:
"All I want to do is talk on the radio...." or "All I want is a simple way to communicate..."
And, I am always polite (but firm) in informing them that there ARE radio services / communications that will serve their needs/desires very well, and that "ham radio" requires more than a "I want"....
Some who I mention this to take offense....and while I mean no offense, I stand behind my words/opinions 100%....

Bottom line:
We are all adults, and we should all understand that you don't always get what you want...we are not 10 year old brats, who demand to get what they want, but we must accept that there are some things that require sacrifice, etc....
Sorry to sound so strident, but I just get frustrated defending the Amateur Radio Service all the time....
The facts are that the Amateur Radio Service IS what it IS.....if you desire to change that you'll need to get the cooperation of both the US FCC and the UN / ITU.....
And there are other radio services / communications services that might suit some better, but PLEASE respect the Amateur Radio Service, and all those that make the effort / "sacrifice" (sic) to proudly be a part of it!!!
(and again, if it doesn't suit you, there are other services that will....please do not denigrate the services that do not suit you, nor those who have made different decisions!!!!_



Whew!!!

Now that I got that off my chest, Fair Winds!!!

John, KA4WJA
s/v Annie Laurie, WDB6927
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Old 28-01-2013, 14:44   #63
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What John said!

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Old 28-01-2013, 14:45   #64
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Re: Ham License

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Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
The FACTS are that if a ham operator desires to transmit any signal at all, they MUST know the basics of radio communications...it IS a "requirement"!!!
So it's impossible to get a ham license, buy a radio, and transmit a signal without understanding what capacitors and inductors do, huh?

Wow. I guess I should be pretty impressed with myself, then, because I have done the impossible! I must have powers far beyond those of mortal men.

Come on. Get real. Are you honestly trying to tell me that you have NEVER transmitted on the ham bands, from any radio, without first testing all of its internal circuits to insure that your signal met appropriate standards? Frankly, if you answer "yes" I'm just going to assume that you're lying.

All hams, at one time or another, have bought or borrowed a radio, and transmitted on it without testing anything--they just assumed that the radio was functioning properly. Yes, you have to understand how to twiddle the dials, but that does NOT mean that you have to know all about resistors, capacitors, inductors, transistors, and other components. Not even close!

You need an understanding of the functions of the dials on your radio and how they affect your signal. That's all. With that rudimentary level of understanding--and no real knowledge of the electronics going on inside--you are perfectly legal to use your radio. And if you say that's not true, then what you're saying is that 99.9% of the hams out there are guilty of operating illegally!
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Old 28-01-2013, 14:47   #65
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Re: Ham License

Well, I guess my case is somewhere between. I don't want to play with radios (or talk on them) for its own sake. So in the respect, I may not be an ideal future ham.

I am specifically interested in the application of amateur radio at sea, where it is uniquely useful and, it seems to, uniquely interesting as a result of the absence of other means of communication. I will enjoy experimenting with different modes and meeting interesting people doing it (if I'm granted a license, of course). I am installing my own gear, will maintain it myself, and expect I'll be working out the kinks myself. I don't expect it to be a simple means of communication. I'd just activate the sat phone if that's what I wanted.

I thank all of our for the very kind words and for the encouragement! Maybe we'll meet in the ether some day!
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Old 28-01-2013, 14:53   #66
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Re: Ham License

denverd0n,

Might you be the type that diddles and tunes via observing the watt meter? Max needle movement means max signal, right? I have heard so many distorted signals taking up 5 times the frequency space because of this way of doing things, forgetting the AGC feature you just disabled for that max meter movement was, as an appliance operator, your only saving grace for a clean signal.
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Old 28-01-2013, 15:23   #67
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Re: Ham License

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+1 on HamTestOnline. Very well done learning system. I used it, in conjunction with ARRL books.
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Old 28-01-2013, 15:35   #68
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Re: Ham License

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
I'm in the process of installing an Icom M802 and have been reading everything I can get my hands on about HF radio. I'm really looking forward to learning new skills in this entirely new area.

I have never really been interested in ham radio - collecting QSOs has never seemed like a good way to spend my time, despite the appeal of playing with technological tools. But the more I read, the more fascinated I have become with digital communication over HF radio.
It isn't hard. More importantly, aside from the very easy rules and regulations section there is nothing--NOTHING--tested for an amateur radio license that you won't benefit from knowing while cruising. This information will make you that much more self sufficient.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
For marine SSB you have Sailmail, a special (brilliantly conceived) ultralow bandwidth mail system that lets you send and receive plain text messages. Yiu connect to their servers through a Pactor modem. You pay $240 a year and you are severely limited on connection time (not data sent and received) to their server. You also have the totally ingenious saildocs which let's you getvweather exports, grib files, and even web pages sent to you by robots.

If you have a ham license you can use winlink with no limitations on connect time, but you are not allowed to have any kind of business correspondence.
Mostly. I think Sailmail is $250US / year. You get something like 90 minutes / week on a rolling basis.

Winlink time limits are established on a station by station basis. Some shore stations give you 30 minutes / week, other 90 minutes, others more. Most will bump you up if you send an e-mail before you run out of time if you are on a passage (but not anchored in paradise *grin*).

The Winlink stations are volunteers and the radios came out of their own pockets. It is a good idea to send a thank you not a couple of times a year (I send notes to the stations I use regularly at Christmas and July 4th -- the dates help me remember).

Quote:
Originally Posted by familycruisers View Post
I'm finding that even though I'm passing the tests, I will still have no clue wth I'm doing.
Quote:
Originally Posted by tropicalescape View Post
I can pass the test also but, I dont understand alot of what I am passing!
See above. You really do want to know this stuff before you push off the dock.

One last thing, particularly for Dockhead. License reciprocity with other countries is important. See International Regulatory . For Dockhead in particular you should probably shoot for an Extra. Once you've got a General the Extra isn't hard.
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Old 28-01-2013, 15:42   #69
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Re: Ham License

John! Well said, but few people will appreciate or understand what you have written. I am going to leave this thread alone because few on here understand the big picture; ignorance is bliss. For my part, I published a Solutions Manual for a "Circuits Analysis" college textbook; it was used by Electrical Engineering Sophomore year undergrad students. Mauritz
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Old 28-01-2013, 15:46   #70
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Re: Ham License

denverdon,
Forgive me for not being clear / specific enough...
Sorry about that...

1) Certainly you do not need to test every capacitor/inductor/resistor/etc. inside your radio before transmitting....
I never wished to imply that....
I'm sorry if I wasn't clear on that....

And, yes of course, I have transmitted without doing so....everyone does...
However since it is the responsibility of the operator to know how to transmit a proper, clean signal (and not cause interference to others), the operator MUST know how to do this!!!
Yes, this IS a legal (and moral) requirement!!!

No, this doesn't mean that you must know how to design the radio, build the radio, etc. but you must know how to make the radio work correctly, and this DOES mean that you must know something about this....

Denverdon, perhaps we will not agree on "how much" knowledge is actually "required"....and perhaps we will not agree on any "moral requirement".... and I will graciously accept that we may not agree on these two points, and that we are all entitled to our opinions...
But the rest is pretty simple fact....



2) Also, I never meant to imply that it was "physically impossible" to attain a ham license without actually gaining the knowledge needed to answer the questions on the exams....
Again, I'm sorry I was more specific....

Certainly you (and many others) have proved that you CAN pass the tests without gaining the knowledge that the exams are designed to test for...
Whether learning by rout, or just reading the whole question pool, etc....yes, it IS done....I have even heard some VE's say that "everyone passes" their tests, even if they give someone a half-dozen trys in one sitting, "everyone passes" the tests....
(in MY opinion it is done way too often, which is why I never liked the idea of publishing the question pools...anyone remember the "controversy" surrounding the "Dick Bash Books"???......but that's a whole 'nother discussion...




3) Now, whether attaining a license without gaining the knowledge the exams are designed to test for is something to be proud of (and brag about publicly), or not is also something that we probably do not agree about....while you seem proud of it, I think most would be embarrassed...

But, here I do not see any facts to debate about, rather just my hope that others do not take your "pride in ignorance" to be the "new norm"....




4) I think we cleared up the most of the confusion above (my fault for not being clearer....)
It is this last part is where the contention is....
Quote:
Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post
All hams, at one time or another, have bought or borrowed a radio, and transmitted on it without testing anything--they just assumed that the radio was functioning properly. Yes, you have to understand how to twiddle the dials, but that does NOT mean that you have to know all about resistors, capacitors, inductors, transistors, and other components. Not even close!

You need an understanding of the functions of the dials on your radio and how they affect your signal. That's all. With that rudimentary level of understanding--and no real knowledge of the electronics going on inside--you are perfectly legal to use your radio. If that's not the case, then about 99.9% of the hams out there are guilty of operating illegally!
There are many false assumptions and mis-statements that you have made here....not sure I have the time to debate all of them in detail....but here are a few in brief...
a) No ham operator should ever put a transmitter on the air without first verifying that it doesn't transmit spurious signals / out-of-band....(this is what dummy loads are for!!!)
Some have test equipment to monitor this (on-the-air and/or on the test bench), but others do not have such equipment and they must verify this by their knowledge of the radio's oscillators, amplifiers, filters, etc....
(denverdon, I'm not sure what hams you know who do not do this, but I don't know any...)
This part has nothing to do with "twiddling the dials", but about knowing how the radio works....and yes this DOES require a certain amount of electronics knowledge...

b) And, as for "twiddling the dials", there is also a certain amount of knowledge REQUIRED here, to understand both what each knob or dial does, how/why to adjust it properly, and more importantly how/why one adjustment effects another dial's effectiveness, etc...


c) It is an unfortunate fact that there ARE hams that operate without knowing much (or anything at all) about either of the above.....
But, denverdon, I personally think it is wrong to encourage this sort of ignorance!!!!
Yes, this part here is MY OPINION, and again I accept that opinions differ and I do not wish to offend anyone...
But to be blunt about this....why would anyone encourage ignorance in anything...let alone something that may cause harm or frustration to other human beings!!!!



To sum up...
denverdon, as I wrote above, I accept that opinions differ and that we may not agree with each other....
And, we are both just as entitled to write our opinions here....

But, if I could ask a simple favor...
Please try not to encourage ignorance among those desiring to proudly join the Amateur Radio Service.....
In addition to offending me (and millions of other ham radio operators), it just seems "wrong" to me....

Just my thoughts here, take 'em or leave 'em.....
But, I will not argue the points further....


Again, sorry about the confusion earlier....I should've been more clear...
Fair winds...

John, KA4WJA
s/v Annie Laurie, WDB6927
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Old 28-01-2013, 15:50   #71
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Re: Ham License

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Originally Posted by Auspicious View Post
The Winlink stations are volunteers and the radios came out of their own pockets. It is a good idea to send a thank you not a couple of times a year
Just came across this about winlink being the only way the Bounty could call for help in hurricane Sandy..

Quote:
Faunt told the ARRL that the Bounty crew tried various methods, including a satellite phone, to call for help, “but we got nothing when tried calling out on HF. We tried calling the Maritime Mobile Net, but nothing was out there. We had Winlink on the ship that we used for e-mail and accessing the Internet to post to blogs and to Facebook, and we finally found an e-mail address for the Coast Guard. As a last-ditch effort, we used Winlink to e-mail the Coast Guard for help. Within an hour, we heard a C-130 plane, and later, a helicopter overhead.”
Not sure if it's been mentioned about the important role ham radio and Winlink plays in disaster relief and comms, when the rest of comms infrastructure has been wiped out, Haiti for instance.
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Old 28-01-2013, 16:00   #72
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Re: Ham License

I first got licensed in the Marshall Islands while in high school. I got up to the Advanced class with 13wpm code then got my Extra when I joined the military as a Morse code operator and passed my 20wpm test.

I'm thinkful for what ham radio has done for me in my life. When I was younger, I was quite a timid person and kept to myself so much people thought I was mute. Gettign into radios got me to talk more with others all over the world. After high school, I joined the military working with radios and have advanced in some technical aspects of it. Now active for 15 years in the military and almost 18yrs as a ham radio operator. I've done DX'ing, contacting people all over the world with SSB, CW, and various digital modes, I tried playing with satellites and enjoy building transceiver kits and would love to learn more.

I've heard of people getting into ham radio at a young age and it develops into more than just a hobby as it has for me. There are electronic engineers, to musicians, to astronauts and more. There's always something for everyone who likes to work with different gadgets.

Fun Times!

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Old 28-01-2013, 16:01   #73
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Re: Ham License

Dockhead,
I think you'd make a fine ham!!!
Please don't allow my ramblings / rants to discourage you!!!

Take our advice here...especially Dave's....
(and buy the ARRL Handbook...)

I had forgotten about reciprocal licensing issues....Yes, you really do need the Extra in order to have worldwide access to ham radio, especially when in territorial waters of other countries....

Fair winds...

John
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Old 28-01-2013, 16:57   #74
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
Dockhead,
I think you'd make a fine ham!!!
Please don't allow my ramblings / rants to discourage you!!!

Take our advice here...especially Dave's....
(and buy the ARRL Handbook...)

I had forgotten about reciprocal licensing issues....Yes, you really do need the Extra in order to have worldwide access to ham radio, especially when in territorial waters of other countries....

Fair winds...

John
John I wondered if my ramblings would draw you out :-)

Thanks for your comments!

Lori and I should be in Florida in late April, I hope you will let me buy you a cold one or two
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Old 28-01-2013, 17:54   #75
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Re: Ham License

I believe that radio hardware is a solved problem. I think most innovation is going to come from software and how we organize people to use amateur radio.

So tinkering around with electronic circuits to make a crystal radio in a coffee can is... in 2013... really more of a toaster project (book) than a contribution to the community (and state of the art) than it was sixty or seventy years ago. Do it for your own entertainment, or art, but I think an aesthetic based on that kind of hardware hackery is a dated and narrow idea of how to be a HAM.

I also disagree with the elitist view of HAM radio, that it should be limited to people who choose to push themselves to learn everything about the hobby. I feel that anything is dead without a healthy ecosystem. An ecosystem needs creators and users at all levels, from advanced to amateur. Even without economic or political considerations, you cannot make new technology in a vacuum, you need people to use it and make sure it works. You need enough people to make there a reason to have a social structure around it, a community of active users. People who simply use WinLink, or any of the other HAM radio technologies or social organizations, are improving them with their use. If some of those people go on to improve on HAM technology or social structures, that's great, but I don't think doing that is necessary for them to be a valuable member of the ecosystem. I feel that any responsible users of the HAM radio spectrum are contributing to it.
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