How to learn ham theory

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BlackBear
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How to learn ham theory

Post by BlackBear » Sun Dec 30, 2007 12:01 am

OK, I've been interested in ham for several years, and really interested for a week or two. I know that the best way (for prolonged retention and better understanding and thus operation) to pass the test is by understanding the theory. However, the next test date in my area is 19 JAN, and there isn't another within a 30 mile drive for months. I'm an impatient person. To that end, I've been studying studying guide, and using the practice exams at QRZ.com. I have confidence in my ability to pass at least the Tech test, if not the General (I'm a quick learner, and have incredible recall. No modesty, though)

Much aside from passing the tests, I want to learn the thoery - how stuff works, and why. How to do things, and how not to. To this end, I was hoping some of the more experienced members could point me in the direction of resources - books and websites, primarily - that would be of value to me , and anyone else getting started.

Thank you for your time
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Post by rpc » Sun Dec 30, 2007 1:02 am

First of all, good luck with the test!

As you are figuring out, it is indeed possible to pass the Technician test merely by doing a little bit of cramming. In fact, I don't think it costs more to take the General test, so after you pass the Technician test, don't hesitate to take the General test, even if you haven't studied for it in particular--you might get lucky, and even if you don't pass, it will make it easier the second time. Nobody knows that I failed the General test back in 1975. Oops! I guess I let that slip!

But you're wise to shoot for a better understanding of everything. I haven't seen this exact book, but from the description, it appears to be the replacement for "Now You're Talking", which I know was a very good book for exactly what you're looking for. It looks like they ditched the hokey sounding title, and hopefully the content is still good. It's called "Getting Started with Ham Radio", and you'll find a description at:

http://www.arrl.org/catalog/?category=H ... nners#9728

You can buy it online at that site, or if you're going to a store that sells ham radio junque, they probably have it for sale as well.

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Post by Apollo-11 » Sun Dec 30, 2007 6:48 am

The ARRL Handbook seems like a very steep hill to climb at first. It's about 500 pages thick and can get extremely technical. Probably not a beginner's tome but it is there if you want it. They publish a new one every year, so if you hit the used book store you should be able to get one from a few years ago for very cheap. They publish a number of books... if you have a store called Ham Radio Outlet in your city, find it and go there... they have a pretty good selection.

There are zillions of sources out there... why can't I think of any right this second... oh yeah, there is a yahoo group... this might be a good place to get your feet wet.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HamRadioHelpGroup/

I'll probably think of more later. Obviously, the best place to learn is to get an old ham radio guy in your pocket. You don't even have to own a radio; if you get together with a room full of guys when you are doing your testing, you will probably walk out with some spare gear.

Since they did away with the Morse code requirement, (I tried for years and just couldn't get past my mental block) I will probably step up to the plate and get my general ticket soon. This year, if I can make the time.

The other poster's suggestion about "Now You're Talking", or whatever it is called now, is a good one but it is *very* basic.

I have a little related background through my work; if you have any specific questions I might be able to help, or at least point you in the right direction.

(Oh, and don't forget wikipedia.)

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Post by crypto » Sun Dec 30, 2007 1:39 pm

+1 on the AARL handbook.

Look Who's Talking has a little theory in it but not very much. It's more focused on getting you interested in the hobby and cramming for the test.
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Post by jamoni » Sun Dec 30, 2007 1:42 pm

I'd recommend joining a local club. All the reading is great, but having someone to interpret it is huge.
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Post by Doctor Jest » Sun Dec 30, 2007 3:49 pm

+1 to what jamoni said. You need to find what hams call an "Elmer."
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Post by BlackBear » Sun Dec 30, 2007 5:04 pm

Yeah, since I posted I found a local club I intend to join assuming I pass.

And yes, I also received an email from the test administrator, who said that the fee is for the testing, not the test. So I'm going to shoot for the General too, if I pass the Tech. Why not - same fee.

Thanks for your advice, I'll check out those books.
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Post by Apollo-11 » Sun Dec 30, 2007 9:22 pm

BlackBear wrote:Yeah, since I posted I found a local club I intend to join assuming I pass.

And yes, I also received an email from the test administrator, who said that the fee is for the testing, not the test. So I'm going to shoot for the General too, if I pass the Tech. Why not - same fee.

Thanks for your advice, I'll check out those books.
That's interesting. Around here, you pay the $14 per test. If you want to take all three the same day, you pay $42 not $14. I think.

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Post by crypto » Mon Dec 31, 2007 12:25 am

$14 per test is the way I was told too. I didnt take the General segment because I only brought $20.
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Post by Doctor Jest » Mon Dec 31, 2007 11:23 am

That is strange. Here, it's $14, regardless of the number of tests taken.
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Post by michelle » Mon Dec 31, 2007 12:00 pm

It's the same here. I took the General, and when they determined I passed that they gave me the Tech (which I failed since I hadn't ever looked at the material) for free.
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Post by rpc » Mon Dec 31, 2007 12:04 pm

It ought to be one fee for the entire session, no matter how many tests are taken:

http://www.arrl.org/arrlvec/fee.html

There are a number of other organizations in addition to ARRL who are Volunteer Examiner Coordinators. So it's possible that they interpret things differently. And it's also possible that an individual examiner didn't get the memo. But it ought to be one fee, no matter how many tests you take.

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Post by Apollo-11 » Tue Jan 01, 2008 9:16 pm

rpc wrote:It ought to be one fee for the entire session, no matter how many tests are taken:

http://www.arrl.org/arrlvec/fee.html

There are a number of other organizations in addition to ARRL who are Volunteer Examiner Coordinators. So it's possible that they interpret things differently. And it's also possible that an individual examiner didn't get the memo. But it ought to be one fee, no matter how many tests you take.
Well that's pretty black and white. Thanks for the link. I will print this out and take it in with me, next time.

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Post by Apollo-11 » Tue Jan 01, 2008 9:35 pm

Okay, found some really good stuff. Go to this URL. On the right side of the page, under Licensing and Testing, click on Search for Classes.

Then enter your zip code. It turns out that an LDS church near me offers free classes! You sign up for 4 classes, then you can take the test when you are finished. This is an awesome resource. I am gonna sign up for the class in Feb.

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Post by crypto » Tue Jan 01, 2008 10:29 pm

Wow, the old men administering my test were real dicks then.
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Post by rpc » Wed Jan 02, 2008 12:15 am

crypto wrote:Wow, the old men administering my test were real dicks then.
Well, that's always a possibility. :D

But another possibility is that it was another organization was involved. The page I linked you to is the rules for Volunteer Examination sessions conducted by ARRL volunteer examiners. There are a number of other "umbrella" organizations that certify the examiners, and possibly they have different rules.

Of course, your theory is a distinct possibility. Most hams are pretty decent people, but as with any activity, there are always a few of the type you described.

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Post by Apollo-11 » Thu Jan 03, 2008 12:41 am

rpc wrote:
crypto wrote:Wow, the old men administering my test were real dicks then.
Well, that's always a possibility. :D

But another possibility is that it was another organization was involved. The page I linked you to is the rules for Volunteer Examination sessions conducted by ARRL volunteer examiners. There are a number of other "umbrella" organizations that certify the examiners, and possibly they have different rules.

Of course, your theory is a distinct possibility. Most hams are pretty decent people, but as with any activity, there are always a few of the type you described.
May have been an honest mistake. The guys giving my test were thru a local ham radio club, and lots of members showed up just to shoot the breeze and meet the new guys. Very decent folks.

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Post by BlackBear » Sat Jan 19, 2008 11:31 am

rpc wrote:It ought to be one fee for the entire session, no matter how many tests are taken:
Yup, and it was. I went today, and passed the Tech and the General. Woohoo! Another money-hogging, time-consuming hobby, here I come!!!

(Needless to say, my fiancee is constantly shaking her head)
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Post by jamoni » Sat Jan 19, 2008 12:04 pm

BlackBear wrote:
rpc wrote:It ought to be one fee for the entire session, no matter how many tests are taken:
Yup, and it was. I went today, and passed the Tech and the General. Woohoo! Another money-hogging, time-consuming hobby, here I come!!!

(Needless to say, my fiancee is constantly shaking her head)
Congratulations! Now you can tell everyone about your health problems!
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Post by BlackBear » Thu Jan 24, 2008 11:02 pm

Hrmmm....Um, well, thanks for the congratulations. I think I missed an inside joke somewhere, though....
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Post by rpc » Fri Jan 25, 2008 6:21 pm

BlackBear wrote:Hrmmm....Um, well, thanks for the congratulations. I think I missed an inside joke somewhere, though....
Congratulations!

The inside joke is that most hams are about 80 years old, and they spend most of their time on the air discussing their various health problems.

I was going to say that this is a gross exageration. But then, while driving to work, I was listening to the guys who gather on one of the simplex channels. One of them was explaining how he was having trouble "doing his business" in the morning, until the doctor prescribed a new pill which helped out with his plumbing issues. He also indicated that he's also noted improvements in what comes out "the other side".

The doctor gave him a 21-day free sample, but it's working well, so he's going to go ahead and get the Rx filled.

Anyone within a couple of hundred square miles, who happened to have their radio tuned to 146.55 MHz, now knows these intimate details.

Ham radio is a lot of fun, but at some point, it's best just to admit that you've run out of things to talk about, and say 73.

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Post by BlackBear » Sun Jan 27, 2008 5:03 am

OK, well, that's what I thought. I didn't want to risk offending anyone (I'm a laid-back type of guy) but yeah, it would seem the hobby could use some young blood. When I went to take the test all the VEs were at least 45....the youngest was probably about that, most had to be at least 55. Of the 8 people testing, I was the youngest by far at 24. The next was probably 28-30, then about 38-40, and the other 5 were all at least 50.

Needless to say, I definitely felt like I skewed the age demographic in that room.
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