Several weeks back I wrote an introduction to my first amateur radio transceiver, a handheld Baofeng BF-F8HP. While researching these radios I kept reading blog posts and reviews indicating that performance is marginal on most stock “rubber duck” aerial antennas.
I decided my first amateur radio experiment should be to try my hand at adding a counterpoise wire to the radio chassis to see if I can quantify any performance gains over the stock antenna. Rationale for this decision was simplicity—I already had all the tools and supplies needed down in my basement from other projects.
It was five minutes to noon and cold rain fell hard against a troop of girl scouts as they ran with poster-board projects from the door of the Hopewell Branch public library to their parents’ idling cars.
I’ll wait five more minutes, I thought as I sat dry in my own car watching through the rear-view mirror. The exam doesn’t begin until twelve-fifteen. Maybe I’ll catch a break in the rain.
I spent two months preparing for my Technician exam and set my eyes to attend the closest license session, a twenty-minute drive from my home that was sponsored by the Delaware Valley Radio Association (DVRA). By the time exam day arrived I had taken several online practice tests and passed most with a comfortable margin, missing only two or three questions on each attempt. I’ve got this, I thought.
Five days from now I will visit my local library and sit for the Level 1 Technician Ham Radio License exam. I feel confident I will pass the exam largely from the help I received by three study resources below.
Depending on your age and prior knowledge of Ham radio operation, you may believe that knowledge of Morse code is required as part of the examination process. This is no longer true as of 2003. Knowledge of Morse code is no longer a requirement to achieve a Ham radio license!
The ARRL Ham Radio License Manual
I began my adventure studying for the Level 1 Technician Ham Radio license exam by reading through The ARRL Ham Radio License Manual only once. I admit I felt intimidated when I reached chapter two, but I pushed ahead regardless of thoroughly understanding some of the context and lessons. I purchased the Amazon Kindle electronic version for $19.95 as opposed to the $29.95 soft cover. I experienced some formatting issues with the two-column practice questions and answers, but it isn’t a large enough roadblock to purchase the softcover book if you’re already comfortable with e-readers.
The Ham Whisperer on YouTube
After reading The ARRL Ham Radio License Manual I discovered The Ham Whisperer on YouTube, specifically Andy’s Technician License (Updated and good through June 2018!) playlist. The format of the video series is excellent as Andy walks through the question pool, culminating each lesson with a brief quiz of the actual exam questions. I really like that each lesson is structured in approximately ten minute sessions. More can be found on Andy’s website here: hamwhisperer.com.
Simultaneously while working my way through The Ham Whisperer playlist I would take a random practice exam from HAMSTUDY: Technician Class (2014-2018). I took two practice exams per day over the period of two and a half weeks. My first six exams I failed miserably but slowly started to watch my scores climb into the 80% up to an average now of 96%. The point here is repetition as actual exam questions and answers are presented. The exams are structured well and include the correct answer and a brief explanation upon conclusion of each exam.
I discussed a few days ago How a box fan sparked my interest in amateur radio. If like me you’re just getting started with the hobby then you’ve already discovered the passionate discussions online about when to buy a radio and the qualities that make for a good first tranceiver.
Not sure what I mean? Have you ever been in the company of one guy (or gal) who drives a 5.0-liter Ford Mustang and a second guy (or gal) who drives a 5.7-liter Chevy Camaro? Yes, it’s a lot like that.
Two years ago I experienced an interesting phenomena. An inexpensive (dare I say, plastic) box fan randomly behaved like a low-volume, flat-sounding AM radio whenever positioned next to a window in my home.
At the time I had already owned my fair share of electronic devices. I was familiar with the FCC part 15 label included with electronics that stated something like: this device must accept interference from, but not interfere with, other electronic sources.