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Becoming a Ham - RF Cafe Forums

RF Cafe Forums closed its virtual doors in 2010 mainly due to other social media platforms dominating public commenting venues. RF Cafe Forums began sometime around August of 2003 and was quite well-attended for many years. By 2010, Facebook and Twitter were overwhelmingly dominating online personal interaction, and RF Cafe Forums activity dropped off precipitously. Regardless, there are still lots of great posts in the archive that ware worth looking at. Below are the old forum threads, including responses to the original posts.

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 Post subject: Becoming a Ham
Posted: Wed Jun 02, 2010 12:16 pm 

Joined: Wed Apr 12, 2006 8:21 am

Posts: 6

Hello Hams

I am considering getting my license and will probably buy one of the study guides from the ARRL. Two questions:

1) Do I have to join the ARRL to be a Ham?

2) Can I get a recent taker of the Technician test to let me know what to expect in terms of difficulty.

I'm an engineer with a BSEE degree, so I'm guessing it won't be too difficult.

Thanks for any input.

 Post subject: Re: Becoming a Ham
Posted: Wed Jun 02, 2010 3:09 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Dec 26, 2006 5:39 pm

Posts: 58

You do not have to join any organization to get a ham license.

The F.C.C. changes the question pools ever few years. There will be a new set of questions starting July 1 of this year.

Being an EE, all you are going to have to learn are frequencies allowed (for the class license you are testing), some procedures, and a few regulations, some abbreviations.

Since RF, electricity, and physics do not change, then the only questions an EE might need to learn are regarding FCC rules. Since there have been no significant changes in many years, you would not need to be concerned that you have the 'latest study guide'.

There are some on-line practice tests. The ARRL publishes some great study guides (reader is assumed to know nothing about electricity). The 'study guides' and the online practice tests will give you a VERY accurate idea of what the questions will be.

Thirty years ago if you flunked, you had to wait five weeks to try again. Today there is no strict limit. If you flunk, you can look up the answers and try again immediately (until its time for the test givers to go home).

Kirt Blattenberger
 Post subject: Re: Becoming a Ham
Posted: Fri Jun 04, 2010 11:38 am 
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Sun Aug 03, 2003 2:02 pm

Posts: 712

Location: Erie, PA

Greetings Microstrip:

Funny you should ask...

I just took the Technician test a couple weeks ago. Your electrical engineering theory background will be good for about 5 or 6 of the 35 questions. The rest are related to FCC regulations and Ham procedures and systems. The good news is that the complete question pool is available for studying, which puts bounds on exactly which parts of the plethora of information presented in the study manual needs to be memorized.

I managed a 100% with no problem at all, although I spent a lot of time studying the manual that ARRL sells. For example, there are dozens of "Q" signals that Hams use, but only maybe three of them appeared in the entire question pool, so you only need to memorize those three for the test.

One thing I noticed was that of all the questions that had an option for "D. All the above," only one of them did not have D as the correct answer.

Interestingly, the ARRL reports that most people think the Ohms law questions are the most difficult, but I (and likely you) did them in my head during the test. Even the wavelength/frequency questions are easily calculated w/o paper and pencil.

As Alan pointed out, the question pool changes on July 1, 2010, so make sure you get the study guide that has the new questions. I bought mine online from the ARRL site, and the next day they announced the new version with new questions. I had no idea that the questions were about to change in a couple months, so I had to make sure I got the test out of the way prior to then. It worked out for the best, because it forced me to get 'er done.

Good luck to you.


- Kirt Blattenberger :smt024

RF Cafe Progenitor & Webmaster

 Post subject: Re: Becoming a Ham
Posted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 12:49 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Dec 26, 2006 5:39 pm

Posts: 58

Welcome to "Amateur" Radio, Kirt ! :smt038

Your callsign is ?

You are one of the few hams in electronic engineering that I know that was an EE then a ham. Most of 'us' that I have ever met became an EE because we were a ham. That's when we found out how interesting electronics is.

 Post subject: Re: Becoming a Ham
Posted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 1:49 pm 

Joined: Tue Jan 23, 2007 11:54 am

Posts: 1

Go to the ARRL websiter and take a look at the question pool(s). All the questions (with answers) are there. For better or worse, one can simply memorize them with a little effort. Go to http://www.arrl.org, click the "Licensing..." tab at the top, then at the left, click "Licensing Preparation and Exams", then in the center click "Question Pools" or directly: http://www.arrl.org/question-pools

Also, go to http://www.eham.net and try their practice exams - the site generates a "typical" exam (randomly) from the current question pool. Click "Ham exams" in their left menu or directly:


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