Amateur Radio

Amateur Radio

Contents
Overview
Getting A License
U.S. Ham Radio Licenses
Studying for a License
Exam Day
During And After The Exam
Modifying Your License Via The FCC ULS
Amateur Radio Links
To return to the previous page, press the BACK BUTTON on your browser. This page can also be gotten to via the TinyURL link of http://tinyurl.com/cqjxe5. This page was last updated on May 15, 2017.

After being a Technician Class licensee since 1991...in 2007, I upgraded from Technician to General to Extra Class in a total of 27 days with:

QRZ callsign lookup:  
Callsign lookups provided by qrz.com

Note: I was originally issued the N5VLZ callsign on Aug. 7, 1991, as a Technician Class licensee. On July 29, 2007, I passed my General Class license exam, and on Aug. 11, 2007, I passed my Amateur Extra Class license exam...details on all U.S. amateur radio licenses are located here.

As of June 5, 2009, I held the Vanity Callsign of AE5WX...but then CHANGED to the Vanity Callsign of WX1DER on Dec. 27, 2012. The reasons I chose the vanity callsign of WX1DER are:

A) It stands for ''Weather Wonder'', the name of a series of weather features when I attended college at the University Of Arkansas At Little Rock, and majored in Radio/TV/Film. Little did I know that my radio would end up being amateur radio.

B) It is the domain of my main homepage (The Thunderbolt -- A Weather Wonder).

C) It is the domain of my computer bulletin board system (The Thunderbolt BBS). Note that if the BBS doesn't respond, it may be down for power/internet issues, thunderstorms, maintenence, or other issues.

D) It is the domain of my Facebook Weather Group (The Thunderbolt -- A Weather Wonder).

Due to health and other issues, I've GREATLY REDUCED my involvement in amateur radio...but briefly, I am:

1) A Life Member of the American Radio Relay League.

2) A Life Member of Courage Kenny Handi-Hams.

3) Member of the Portage County Amateur Radio Service (PCARS) Club.

4) Member of the North Carolina Radio Group (NCRG).

5) Member of the Philadelphia Digital Radio Association (PDRA).

6) Webmaster for the Hammin' In The Park, and the Cabot Nightflyers Net.

7) An Amateur Extra Class Volunteer Examiner with ARRL/VEC. I am the VE Team Liason for the UALR Ham Radio Club.

8) Net Control for the Arklatex D-Star Net on Reflector 48, Mode B, Tuesday nights at 7:30pm Central Time. The net meets weekly.

9) One of the Net Controls for the Skywarn Hurricane Preparedness Net. The net meets the first Saturday of the month from December through May, and every Saturday during hurricane season from June through November, at 7pm Central Time (except 6pm Central Time in December).

10) One of the Net Controls for the New Mexico D-Star Net on Reflector 55, Mode A, Thursday nights at 8pm Central Time.

11) One of the Net Controls for the Southeast US D-Star Weather Net. The met meets every Sunday at 8pm Central Time on D-Star Reflector 2, Port A. I usually monitor D-Rats Checkins on the Southeast US D-Star Weather Net Ratflector, at SEWX.RATFLECTOR.COM.

At times, I'll check into selected other Echolink and D-Star Nets through the week...and also maintain a presence on the N0KFQ packet BBS in Branson, Missouri, via the Outpost Packet Program. Note that various last minute issues at times may preclude my running, or checking into the above nets.

However, with antenna prohibitions at my apartment, I am forced to operate via the VoIP modes of Echolink (single user setup)...D-Star (via DV Dongle)...Packet Via Telnet (to the N0KFQ BBS in Branson, via the OutPost Packet program...and remote base HF operation via RemoteHams...and all of this is OUTSIDE of Arkansas. Since burning up my rig in 2013, while trying to do a net, I RARELY am on the air in Arkansas anymore. However, once the N5DSD D-Star Repeater comes online in Little Rock, I may be back on the air in the state. This is because ''one can not hide on D-Star''. Whenever one transmits, whether through a D-Star Radio, a DVAP Dongle, or a DV Dongle, ones callsign is transmitted and logged.

Eyeball QSO's'' are done at central Arkansas area license exam sessions, selected hamfests (which are few and far between, due to financial and health issues), or by other special arrangement ONLY.

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Overview


Amateur Radio (often called ''ham radio'') is a hobby and an important public service authorized by the United States Federal Communications Commission, in Part 97 of the FCC Rules and Regulations. Its purpose, quoted from SubPart A, Sec 97.1, is as follows:

''...to provide [a] service...as expressed in the following principles:

(a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of amateur service to the public as a voluntary, non-commercial 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 Radio service through rules which provide for advancing skills in both the communication and technical phases of the art.

(d) Expansion of the existing reservoir 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''.

Licensed Amateur Radio operators are people of any age, sex, profession, or nationality...who are fascinated with communications via two-way radio. Generally a skilled group, they are required to pass examinations to receive the authorization to operate an Amateur Radio station.

Federal law also dicates that, with very limited exceptions, (see Section 97.113 of the Part 97 Rules for details), amateur radio operators are PROHIBITED from receiving any compensation...monetary or otherwise...for whatever work they do with amateur radio. Basically, hams provide these things ''out of the goodness of their hearts''.

The typical Amateur has a variety of interests, and the hobby provides for a multitude of individual preferences. Amateurs engage in things such as:

1) General chit-chat (ragchewing).

2) Involvement with on-the-air nets.

3) Emergency Operations (including participation in Civil Preparedness).

4) Sending, relaying, receiving and delivering free radiograms for the public.

5) Providing communications support for civic functions such as local parades, marathons, etc.

6) Making friends with amateur radio operators in foreign countries.

7) Investigating the mysteries of radio signal propagation.

8) Building, modifying and designing radio equipment, antennas and accessories.

9) Winning awards for operating proficiency in many areas.

10) Helping others prepare for (and even administering) Amateur Radio license examinations.

And many more exciting, and valuable facets of the hobby. For a list of 65 great things about amateur radio (courtesy of CQ Magazine), click here.

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Getting A License


There are no limits on who can become a ham. Ages range from under 8 to over 80. In fact, I heard of a young lady in Tennessee who passed her Technician exam at age 5...her General exam at age 6...and her Amateur Extra exam at age 7!! And, an elderly gentleman in Ohio passed his Technician exam at 91...so, you're never too young or too old to join the hobby.

Ham radio operators...current and former...have come from all walks of life, including:

1) Political figures...such as former Arkansas Congressional Representative Mike Ross (WD5DVR), Oregon Congressional Representative Greg Walden (W7EQI), the late Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater (K7UGA, SK), and the late King Hussein of Jordan (JY1, SK). As a side note, SK stands for ''Silent Key''...used for a ham radio operator who has passed away.

2) Musicians...such as Joe Walsh of The Eagles (WB6ACU), country western star Ronnie Milsap (WB4KCG), and Grammy Winning Gospel Singer/Songwriter, Larnelle "Stu" Harris, (WD4LZC).

3) Sports figures...such as Joe Rudi (NK7U), retired Major League Baseball Player.

4) Nobel Prize Winning Scientists...such as Joe Taylor (K1JT).

Some are rich....some are poor...but most are in between...and you'll find all of these at hamfests.

Ham radio is also wide open to handicapped and disabled individuals...blind, deaf, paralyzed, etc....and, many of these are also members of Courage Kenny HandiHams.

There's some way just about anyone can use ham radio to open their door to the world. As long as you're NOT a representative of a foreign government...and you either live in the United States, or have a U.S. mailing address, you're eligible to take the exams necessary to become an amateur radio operator.

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U.S. Ham Radio Licenses


Becoming an amateur radio operator can be very easy. With just a little study, just about anyone can qualify for an Amateur Radio license. What you have to study depends on which level of license you want to go for. There are three classes of amateur radio licenses in the United States and its territories...and there is no longer any Morse Code exam requirement for any class of U.S. Amateur Radio license. While there are still Novice and Advanced Class amateur radio licensees, no new licensees for these are being issued...but these licensees may continue to renew them at the appropriate time. Those previously known as Technician Plus licensees (those who had passed a 5 wpm Morse Code test), have had their licenses renewed as Technician, as the privileges for both of these are now identical.

NOTE: On July 21, 2014...Part 97 of the FCC Rules (which covers ham radio), CHANGED to allow ham radio operators who had previously held a General, Advanced, or Amateur Extra Class license, which expired more than 2 years ago, and was never renewed, to get back into amateur radio by just passing the Technician Class License Exam at a VE Test Session.

With proof of the lapsed license, once passing the Technician License Exam, they will be granted a CSCE (Certificate Of Successful Completion Of Examination) for the class of ham radio license that lapsed (except former Advanced Class Licensees will be DOWNGRADED to General)...and they will be granted a NEW CALLSIGN about 1-2 weeks after passing the Technician exam.

However, their old callsign may have been re-assigned in the interim through the Vanity Callsign System.

Basically, if the ham radio license is CURRENT, or it is EXPIRED less than 2 years, credit for the license class noted below is given. However, if the license is EXPIRED more than 2 years (it has LAPSED)...NO MATTER WHAT THE LICENSE CLASS... the amateur radio operator FORFEITS the callsign as well as the operating privileges (in effect, it's as if they had never taken an amateur radio license exam).

As of July 21, 2014, after passing Element 2 (The Technician Class License Exam), they will be restored to their prior operating class...UNLESS they were an Advanced Class Licensee...in which case, they will be DOWNGRADED to a General Class Licensee, losing 250 kilohertz of spectrum. They can get that lost spectrum back, plus 250 kilohertz more of spectrum (full amateur radio privileges) by passing the Amateur Extra Class License Exam, Element 4.


License Class:  Issued:  Exam Element:  Comments:

Novice            No         None       Holders of these may renew at the appropriate time. Privileges are VERY LIMITED,
                                        both where one can transmit, and power output. No new Novice licenses are issued.
Technician Yes 2 Also includes Technician Class Hams who previously passed a 5 wpm Morse Code Test. Depending on band, Technicians may transmit up to 1500 watts of power, although per good amateur practice, one should transmit ''with the minimum power necessary to carry out communications''.
General Yes 2 and 3 If a Technician Class Ham on March 20, 1987 or before, Element 3 credit is given as well. This is because at that time, the written exam for the Technician and General Class licenses were identical. The only difference was the Morse Code Test (5 wpm for Technician, 13 wpm for General. The Extra Class license had a 20 wpm Morse Code test (see note below)).
Advanced No 2 and 3 DOWNGRADE to General with the new rules. Holders of these may renew at the appropriate time. No new Advanced licenses are issued.
Amateur Extra Yes 2, 3, and 4 Full amateur radio privileges.

NOTE: Element 1, which was the Morse Code Exam Requirement, was DISCONTINUED in 2007. You can still learn, and use Morse Code, but you don't have to prove that you know it.

Also, no matter what the license class, you still have to stay 3 kilohertz away from the edge of the band to avoid going ''out of band''. For a color chart overview (in PDF format) of available amateur radio privileges by license class, click here. You will need the Adobe Acrobat Reader to view and/or print the file.


The Technician Class License

This is now the entry license into Amateur Radio. It gives you all Amateur Radio privileges above 50 Megahertz, including the popular ''2 meter'' band. World-wide contacts, via satellite, are now possible on these bands. Technician Class or higher licensees can also use the Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) modes, such as Echolink (a List Of Echolink Nets can be found here), CQ100, and HamSphere. They can also use D-Star via the DV Dongle.

To get the Technician license, you have to pass an examination covering rules, regulations, propagation, RF safety, and basic electronic theory. As of Feb. 23, 2007, Technician class licensees...whether or not they've passed a Morse Code exam...also have these HF privileges (Mhz is the abbreviation for Megahertz):

80 meters: CW (Morse Code) only: 3.525 Mhz to 3.600 Mhz

40 meters: CW (Morse Code) only: 7.025 Mhz to 7.125 Mhz

15 meters: CW (Morse Code) only: 21.025 Mhz to 21.200 Mhz

10 meters: CW (Morse Code), RTTY, and data only: 28.000 Mhz to 28.300 Mhz

10 meters: SSB (single sideband) Phone Only: 28.300 Mhz to 28.500 Mhz

These HF privileges are identical for Novice Class licensees. Note that NO OTHER HF PRIVILEGES EXIST for Novice or Technician Class amateur radio licensees.


The General Class License

This license lets you operate voice and CW (Morse Code) on all amateur bands, within the privileges of the license. This also includes all privileges above 50 Megahertz, as the Technician Class license has...plus 86.7% of the amateur radio spectrum below 30 Megahertz. The theory test deals more with operating on the high frequency bands. All amateur radio privileges, except the 500 kilohertz of frequencies of amateur radio spectrum on the 80, 40, 20, and 15 meter bands, reserved for Amateur Extra Class licensees, are available. This is the license that is held by the majority of ham radio operators who operate HF.

The Amateur Extra Class License

The highest grade of amateur radio license lets you operate with all amateur radio privileges, including on frequencies closed to other ham radio operators. You need to know more theory...a combination of the Amateur Extra, and the former Advanced exams.

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Studying For A License


Normally, you can NOT walk into an amateur radio license exam session from off the street, without some preparation. You'll be tested on such things as the FCC Rules and Regulations (Part 97) as they relate to amateur radio. These include bands, frequencies, privileges, and modes for that particular amateur radio license...propagation...RF safety...and basic electronic theory, including Ohm's Law ...among other items. Each of these is in more detail and difficulty as you progress up the amateur radio license ladder.

Like it or not, studying is not fun...but, you MUST devote some study time to prepare for the exam. I personally recommend a time of 2 hours per day, for 2 weeks, no matter which method (noted below) that you use. You can increase or decrease that time, depending on your schedule, abilities, and how soon you want to take the exam(s).

Fortunately, there are several options for you to study for your ham radio license. You can study with a local ham radio club study group, or do it on your own. The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) website has links to classes here. If you do find an entry, it's wise to check with the contact person to verify details, and check for any last minute changes.

The Question Pools for each class of amateur radio license CHANGE EVERY FOUR YEARS, with the current pools expiring at 11:59pm local time on June 30 of a particular year...the new pool taking effect the next day (July 1) at 12:00am local time for the particular element.

The current schedule is as follows:

a) Technician: Changed in 2014...changes in 2018, 2022, etc.

b) General: Changed in 2015...changes in 2019, 2023, etc.

c) Amateur Extra: Changed in 2016...changes in 2020, 2021, etc.

At this time...NO QUESTION POOL CHANGE IS SCHEDULED for 2017, 2021, 2024, etc. However, that could CHANGE...as could the release dates of future Question Pools.

In short, you need to be sure that you are studying the most current set of questions for the desired amateur radio license. Otherwise, you could be in for a RUDE AWAKENING on Exam Day. Note that you will need the Adobe Acrobat Reader to view and/or print the .PDF files noted on the sites below...10 options for study material:

1) The Question Pools alone. These are available at either the ARRL website, or at the NCVEC website. You will need the appropriate utilities to read the PDF or Microsoft Word files.

2) The NC4FB website. It offers an extensive array of ham radio learning and study materials. You can find study plans, flash cards, PowerPoint presentations, specialized explanations of concepts, such as ''Ohmís Law for Technician License Exams'', and even commercial exam preparation materials. Everything is free, and available to anyone. A great feature is the practice exam section. This site also offers Canadian amateur radio license preparation and commercial study for the GROL (General Radio Operators License) plus ship radar endorsement.

3) The AA9PW website. A special item of note is the proven accessibility to blind users. There is an option for ''no figures'' in the exam, and many blind users do indeed report that this site works well for them. Additional features include on line Morse code training, and a Morse code app available from the iTunes store (even though Morse Code is no longer required for an amateur radio license). The site also includes practice exams for commercial licenses.

4) The QRZ website. Besides practice exams, it also includes a ''Practice Tests 2.0 Large Print Edition'', that features scalable fonts for those users who can see the screen, but who require large print. The font size can be scaled to the user's needs.

5) The Ham Exam website. It offers up to date exams on line, and includes a ''flash card'' learning option. What is unique here is that you create an account (it's free), and as you use the site, it learns which questions are giving you trouble and will emphasize those in subsequent practice exams.

6) The Radio Exam website. It offers exams for all three levels, but interestingly enough, it allows for testing on each section of the pool separately, as well as selecting questions from the complete pool.

7) The American Radio Relay League has license preparation materials for the Technician, General, and the Amateur Extra exams. Cost varies per item.

8) The W5YI group has the study guides done by Gordon West, WB6NOA...with similar materials to what the ARRL has available. Again, cost varies per item.

9) If you are disabled, and need assistance with learning the materials, you can contact Courage Kenny Handi-Hams. They help people with disabilities obtain, then study the material to obtain or upgrade their ham radio license. Once again, cost varies per item. More resources for the disabled are located here.

If you have a disability, the Volunteer Examiner (VE) Team may be able to make certain accomodations for you to take the license exam, such as giving a test without schematics, graphics, or diagrams...for an individual who is blind, or severely visually impaired...or reading the questions and available answers to the examinee...who, in turn, tells the VE what answer to mark on the test.

Note that MEDICAL DOCUMENTATION OF YOUR DISABILITY MAY BE REQUIRED IF YOUR DISABILITY IS NOT OBVIOUS...and it's best to notify the VE Team as far in advance of the test session as possible, so that proper arrangements can be made. If you wait until the test session itself to notify the VE Team of your disability, they may NOT be able to make the accomodations for you to take the exam...and you will either have to take the exam without special assistance, or wait until another scheduled license exam session. If the VE Team is limited on exam materials without any schematics, graphics, or diagrams (these are usually reserved for those who are blind/extremely visually impaired), you may only be able to have one try at that particular license class exam at a test session...and will have to attend another session to ''try it again'', should you fail the exam.

10) HamTestOnline. This option only requires a computer and internet connection (either dial-up, DSL, broadband/cable, etc.). It is all web browser based, with nothing to download. Unlike the options where you have to buy books, etc. for each license class, you get a two (2) year subscription at different prices, depending on which class of license(s) you want to study for (see the price list for details). It can be cheaper than all the other license class books combined from all the sources noted above!! You can take as long as you need to study...in the privacy of your home, to take as many practice tests desired. Once your study time, plus your practice test scores are both above 80%, you're ready for the real thing at a VE Test Session. However, if after adequate study time and practice tests, you still fail on exam day, just send HamTestOnline PROOF of the failure...and they will CANCEL your subscription, and REFUND your money. Around 1% of all who have signed up with them have requested a refund. Personally, it was the best money I ever spent in amateur radio. I went from Technician to General in only 14 days...and to Amateur Extra just 13 days later!!

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Exam Day


Years ago, you had to travel long distances to an FCC Field Office to take the exam, and the exams were offered only maybe 3 times a year. With those exams in front of an FCC Examiner, the Morse Code Exam was done FIRST. If you failed it, you were dismissed from the session. Plus, the exams back then were NOT multiple choice, as they are today. They were fill in the blank, you had to draw things like schematic diagrams, oscillators, etc., and there was no such thing as Question Pools.

Today, though...taking the exam is much easier by comparison. In many areas, there is at least one exam opportunity at least once a month, and as noted above, there is no longer a Morse Code Exam. In many cases, you can take the exam in the city where you live, or nearby. You can search for exams by state by clicking here. Once there, select the desired criteria (choose one category only), click Search, then call or email the contact person listed for more information.

The exams are adminstered by a minimum of three (3) Volunteer Examiners (VE's)...who have taken the exams themselves...so, they understand your nervousness. But, there is no disgrace if you don't pass the test the first time...if you're willing to pay another fee (noted below), the VE Team may allow you to re-take the license exam element, with a DIFFERENT set of questions. Depending on the number of examinees, the testing could take a few hours to complete...but, your exam will be graded IMMEDIATELY (or as soon as possible) by the VE Team, after you finish it.

Before going to the test site, it's a good idea to check with the contact person, if you need directions, or for special instructions. Some sessions will allow walk-ins only, others will allow pre-registration only, and some will permit both. Also, some sessions may allow walk-ins up to a certain time...but after that point, no further walk-ins will be accepted, due to session time constraints. This time limit is usually 30 minutes after the session starts, but it can vary from session to session. At hamfests, there may be more time to show up as a walk-in, and take exam...but that VARIES with the size of the hamfest.

Plus, registering with the ''VE Team Leader and/or Contact Person'' is a good idea...in case the session has to be cancelled at the last minute...such as in the case of winter storms, tornadoes, flooding, etc., and you can be notified before you make the trip. It's also best to check with the VE Team Contact Person to be sure that the test session will still take place...such as if a last minute cancellation (weather, flooding, etc.) has occurred.

For a list of what you need to bring to the session, click here. Note that for the Exam Session Fee, while some VEC's do NOT charge a fee...that is more the exception than the rule. For those that charge a fee, you can pay ONLY with cash (exact change is preferred), or a check or money order payable to the appropriate VEC. Do NOT bring credit or debit cards for payment, as the VE Teams do NOT have the resources to process these transactions.

NOTE: On exam day, please use the restroom BEFORE starting the exam...as ''nature tends to call at the most inopportune time''. Once you start the exam, you may NOT leave the exam area for ANY reason...unless your test booklet, answer sheet, scratch paper, and other forms, are turned in FIRST!! Then, if you want to re-take the test, you will have pay another test fee, and take the exam with a different set of questions. Otherwise, you may end up ''being escorted'' to the restroom, to be sure that you do not have access to other materials.


WARNING!! Cheating...in ANY form...at the exam session...will NOT be tolerated!!


This includes bringing a calculator without the formulas cleared, using ''crib notes'', an electronic device (computer, cellphone, iPhone, iPod, PDA, etc.) or other ''study aids'' during the exam. All of these MUST be TURNED OFF and PUT AWAY during the test. Watches that have an alarm or hourly chime, MUST have the sound disabled.

If you bring scratch paper to the test session, IT MUST BE COMPLETELY BLANK...however, if you need scratch paper at the test session, please ask the VE Team (they should also have extra pens and pencils on hand, if needed). It is recommended that you fill out the top part of the NCVEC Form 605 in pen (blue or black ink); the VE Team will fill out the bottom part of the form. Also, it's recommended that you fill out the Answer Sheet in pencil (in case you have to change your answers). PLEASE PRINT CLEARLY ON BOTH FORMS. On the Answer Sheet, make sure you either ''make an X through the letter (A, B, C, or D), or that you ''bubble it in''...this makes it easier for the VE Team to grade.

Please do NOT circle the answers...and please DO NOT WRITE IN THE EXAM BOOKLETS!!

Also, the exam booklets are different colors for each license class, and with ARRL/VEC test sessions, there are several sets of exam booklets for each element...each with a different set of questions. If the ARRL/VEC VE Team is using the ExamMaker software, that adds even more potential exam question sets to the mix (at minimum, 36 exams for each license class...with or without graphics...so, you could have 72 different exams for each license class)...plus, other VEC's may have similar ways to ensure a wide range of exams. So, trying to ''copy answers'' off of someone elses test sheet will do you no good.

In fact, if it is determined that an examinee is cheating, their exam will be TERMINATED, marked as FAILED, and the examinee will be ordered to leave the premises IMMEDIATELY!!

Please DON'T put yourself...or the VE Team...into this embarrassing and humiliating situation. The occurrence of cheating could also affect your ability to take future amateur radio license exams!!

And, this includes the nefarious act of trying to bribe the VE's to certify your exam fraudulently!! Doing such by them, results in REVOCATION of their VE Credentials, and LOSS of their amateur radio licenses FOR LIFE!! Personally, I worked too hard to become an amateur radio operator...never mind a Volunteer Examiner...and I am NOT going to do something this stupid. NO ONE GETS A FREE PASS at the exam sessions that I run. If I passed my license exam legally, then I see no reason for others to not do likewise.

In addition, every examinee at that session, where fraud occurred, will have their test session results REVOKED, along with any appropriate licenses that may have been earned. These examinees will then have to go before another VE Team, or before the FCC, and get ONLY ONE TRY on the exam. Failing here, means they too, have likely forfeited their chance to ever be an amateur radio operator!! In short, you can be sure that the VE Team Liaison, or even another VE will report cheating, bribery attempts, etc. to the appropriate VEC, who will likely refer such to the FCC, who may note that you have a ''character issue''. In that case, even if you pass the exam, the FCC can IGNORE the C.S.C.E., and it basically boils down to the fact that you wasted your time and money taking the exam!!

In short, if it takes you a dozen or more tries to pass an amateur radio license exam...even if just barely...you have as much right to be on the air as the person who made a perfect score the first time. So, you might as well ''take the test legally''. Basically, when you come to the exam session, you either are ready to take the exam, or you are not.

One fellow ham radio operator aptly noted ''The guy or girl who graduates dead last in Medical School...with a D Minus...is STILL a doctor. However, I wouldn't want them doing a prostate check or a pelvic exam (hi hi).

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During And After The Exam


All the paperwork needed, as well as pens, pencils, and scratch paper (if needed), will be provided at the session. Again, do NOT write in, or on the Exam Booklet. In most cases, you will put your answers on an Answer Sheet, bubbling in the letter, or making a X through the desired answer.

There is NO RUSH to complete the exam. Answer the questions you know first, skip the ones that you're unsure of second, and save the hardest ones for last. Do NOT leave an answer BLANK, or mark more than one answer...as these are AUTOMATICALLY WRONG...and it could mean the difference between PASSING and FAILING the exam.

When done, turn in your test booklet, answer sheet, scratch paper, and other paperwork to the VE Team...they will grade your exam IMMEDIATELY after you've finished it (or as soon as possible)...and tell you whether you passed or failed. Please be seated after turning in your test materials.

You can miss as many as nine (9) questions on the 35 question Technician exam...nine (9) questions on the 35 question General exam...and thirteen (13) questions on the 50 question Amateur Extra exam...and still PASS...you do NOT have to make a perfect score. Basically, once you have your callsign, and the license for the applicable license of the exams you passed...as far as anyone else is concerned, you made a perfect score on the exam...whether that's the case or not. As the saying goes, ''a win by one is as good as a win by ten''.

Once you have turned in your exam booklet, answer sheet, and scratch paper for grading, you may NOT have them back.

Please remain QUIET until everyone else has finished testing. If noise (talking) becomes disruptive to you during the exam, please ask the VE Team to have those responsible to ''tone it down to a low roar'', as it were. It's also a good idea to bring ear plugs to the exam session, to filter out excess noise.

As noted above, there is NO DISGRACE if you fail an exam the first time. If you're willing to pay another fee (noted above), the VE Team may allow you re-take the same exam element with a DIFFERENT set of questions.

If you pass (congratulations!), you'll be offered to take the next exam in line, at your option, at no additional charge. However, you will still have credit for the exam you passed (as long it was done without cheating)...even if you fail the next element in line. By the same token, if you wish to stop with the one exam that you passed, that is your choice. If you're not already licensed, it takes about 10 days after the exam until the FCC grants your license...although if the particular Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) has gotten a large amount of test session results to process...then it might take a little longer...possibly 2 weeks. Then, you can go to one of four sites:

1) The QRZ New Hams Website, and look for your last name (archived listings are also available).

2) The FCC ULS Website....click on Search Licenses, and follow the prompts.

3) The HamData website. They have a list of the latest sequential callsign issuances from the FCC as well.

4) The ARRL Website...look for the Callsign/Name Search window.

Note that data is usually in the FCC ULS website 24 hours before it shows up on either the QRZ New Hams Website, or the ARRL Callsign Search Website. So, it's beneficial for you to register with the FCC ULS website (as noted above), before you go for the license exam, and obtain your FRN...as new licensees can get their callsign as fast as five (5) days after a test session. However, the ''quick turnaround'' is usually the exception to the rule...so, please be patient if it takes longer. The VE Team has ten (10) days after the test session to get the test data to the appropriate VEC...who will then process the data, and send it to the FCC ULS.

Once your callsign is there, you can begin operating, according to the privileges of the license class you have earned. Be SURE that the VE Team gives you a Certificate Of Successful Completion Of Examination (CSCE) BEFORE you leave the test session, as it is the ONLY PROOF of your taking, and passing an amateur radio license exam. The CSCE is valid for 365 days after initial issuance, if you decide to upgrade before your new license arrives. If you pass an exam on July 1 of a non-leap year, the CSCE EXPIRES on June 30 of the following year. But, if the exam was on July 1 of a leap year, the CSCE EXPIRES on June 29 of the following year.

If you're already licensed...with a valid FCC issued callsign...you can begin using your new privileges IMMEDIATELY, according to the temporary suffix format on the back of the CSCE, that you will receive from the VE Team before you leave the test session. Once your upgrade appears in the FCC ULS, you no longer have to use the temporary suffix format.

NOTE: As of Feb. 17, 2015, the FCC NO LONGER MAILS PAPER COPIES of ones ham radio license. However, you can get a copy of the license on the FCC ULS website, by logging on with your Federal Registration Number and password. You can get either an official copy (with the FCC watermark, or a Reference Copy. If you provided an email address on the NCVEC Form 605 at the license exam session, you'll be emailed details on how to obtain a copy of your license. The amateur radio license is good for ten (10) years. Be sure to sign it before laminating it, as the license is NOT VALID WITHOUT YOUR SIGNATURE.

Be sure to keep your mailing address CURRENT...as your license could be SUSPENDED or REVOKED, if mail sent to you by the FCC is returned as UNDELIVERABLE. If you operate on a license that has been SUSPENDED or REVOKED, you will likely receive a Notice Of Violation from the FCC. For details on modifying your amateur radio license via the FCC ULS, click here.

Once you get your callsign, you may keep it, or request a new sequential or vanity callsign...free of charge. However, if you wish to apply for a Vanity Callsign, certain requirements apply (there is no longer a fee for a vanity callsign)...details are located here.

While there is no longer a fee for a Vanity Callsigns, those who have purchased one or more of these Vanity Callsigns in the past, are NOT eligible for a refund. There is still a 21 day WAITING PERIOD before the new callsign is granted. And, once the new callsign takes effect, your previous callsign is NO LONGER VALID. So, if you decide to get a Vanity Callsign, be sure it's the one you want to keep.

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Modifying Your License Via The FCC ULS


Amateur radio licenses can only be renewed within ninety (90) days of expiration...no sooner. But, if you need to modify your license, due to a move, a change in name or mailing address, etc., you can do that at any time during the 10 year license term, by following these steps:

1) Go to http://wireless.fcc.gov/uls/index.htm?job=home.

2) Choose Login to login with your FRN (Federal Registration Number) (it's a 10 digit number on your amateur radio license), and Password. Make sure you use the FRN, and NOT the File Number. Note: TINs (Tax Payer Identification Numbers) may no longer be used for logging into ULS, effective December 14, 2003. If you don't have an FRN, have forgotten your password, or aren't sure if your licenses have an FRN associated with them, links are provided to Contact Technical Support, obtain an FRN, etc. If you have to RESET your FRN password, if you do not have a Personal Security Question (PSQ), go to https://esupport.fcc.gov/psq.htm. Then complete the information in the form provided, check the Certify box, and click Submit. This submits a request to Add A Security Question to an FRN that lacks one. Once you have that, go to https://apps.fcc.gov/coresWeb/enterFrnForPwdReset.do, and you can RESET your password. Note: For additional help with this process, click on the Common Questions that appear on most pages of ULS License Manager, or click the Help link at the top right of each page. Other ways to contact the FCC are further down this page.

3) Choose Update from the Work on This License menu on the right hand side of your License At A Glance screen. If your license is within ninety (90) days of expiration...or if the license is EXPIRED, but within the 2 Year Grace Period...you can Renew your license. Note that you may NOT transmit while your license is EXPIRED.

However, if your license is Expired More Than 2 Years, YOU ARE NO LONGER LICENSED...and at minimum, have to take the Technician Class license exam, to get back into a ham radio, with a NEW CALLSIGN.

Check the data to be sure that it is correct, as you continue with the steps below.

4) Answer the questions on the Applicant Questions page. Then click Continue.

5) On the licensee page, update your licensee address, and any other relevant information, by typing your information into the text boxes provided. When ready, click Continue.

6) On the Summary page, review the information you have entered. If you wish to make additional changes, click the Edit button next to the section of your application you wish to Edit. You will be able to return to that page of the application. Make the desired change(s), and select the Return to Summary button.

7) When ready to submit your update to the Commission, choose the Continue to Certify button.

8) After reading the certification, enter your first and last names, and title if appropriate, in the boxes at the bottom of the page. You MUST sign the application. When finished, choose the Submit Application button. Note that providing false information is grounds for suspension or revocation of your license...plus you could risk monetary forfeiture (fines), confiscation of your equipment, jail time, and you may not ever again be allowed to hold an amateur radio license.

9) From the ULS Confirmation screen, it's recommended that you print a copy of your application and/or the Confirmation screen itself from your web browser. Note: The address and contact information you have entered in CORES registration will not be automatically associated with your licenses. To change the address or other contact information on your license, you must update your information in the ULS, as noted above, or submit Form 605 manually.

You may alternatively submit a paper FCC Form 605 (edition date July 2005 or later) to:

FCC
1270 Fairfield Road
Gettysburg, PA 17325-7245

OR, you may deliver the form in person to:

FCC
1280 Fairfield Road
Gettysburg, PA 17325

You can request forms by calling (800) 418-FORM (3676), download the form, or call the FCC's Fax Information system at (202) 418-0177. You can also contact the FCC by:

Phone: 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322)
TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322)
Fax: 1-866-418-0232
E-Mail: fccinfo@fcc.gov

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Ham Radio Links


Here are various ham radio links, updated May 15, 2017. If you have any others, please contact me via this link. Note that to avoid ''club partiality'', clubs are NOT listed here. To find an amateur radio club in your area, click here, enter the desired search criteria, and click on SEARCH. Also, for the PDF files noted, you will need the Adobe Acrobat Reader to view and/or print the files.

  • The Pride Of Being A Ham
  • The Amateurs Code
  • A Neat Way To Learn Morse Code
  • A Ham's Night Before Christmas
  • Learn CW Online
  • Hamfest Overview
  • Twas The Night Before Hamfest
  • Selected Echolink Nets (not every net listed may be operational)
  • D-Star Nets (not every net listed may be operational)
  • 65 Great Things About Ham Radio (courtesy of CQ Magazine)
  • Hammin' In The Park
  • Field Day
  • Cabot Nightflyers Net, Cabot, Arkansas
  • Philadelphia Digital Amateur Radio Association
  • Portage County Amateur Radio Service (PCARS)
  • North Carolina Radio Group
  • The Triple Play (PDF Format)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth NTS Traffic Net
  • NTS Traffic Preparation Audio Presentation (info from DFW Traffic Net)
  • Amateur Radio Repeater Database
  • DX Maps
  • Tropospheric Ducting Forecast
  • List of currently online D-Star Users
  • D-Star Homepage (Download DV Tools and D-Rats)
  • Echolink Homepage
  • Echolink Add-Ons
  • CQ100 Homepage
  • HamSphere Homepage
  • A Practical Guide to Morse Code
  • Neat Way To Learn The Alphabet With Morse Code And Sign Language
  • Ham Test Online -- Study And Exams
  • NC4FB website -- Study And Exams
  • AA9PW website -- Study And Exams
  • QRZ website -- Study And Exams
  • Ham Exam website -- Study And Exams
  • Radio Exam website -- Study And Exams
  • National Council Of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators
  • Current License Exam Question Pools
  • Ham Radio License Certificates
  • Resources For The Disabled
  • Handi-Hams Homepage
  • FCC Universal Licensing System
  • QRZ Ham Radio Callsign Lookup
  • QRZ New Hams Search
  • Generate A Color Reference Copy Of Your License
  • HamData U.S. and Canadian Ham Radio License Database Information
  • N4MC's Vanity Callsign Page
  • Ham Shack.Com Amateur Radio Links
  • Tropospheric Ducting Forecast
  • VHF Propagation Map
  • Ham Radio Propagation Website
  • 101 Science.Com Amateur Radio Links
  • AC6V's Amateur Radio and DX Reference Guide
  • American Radio Relay League
  • W5YI Homepage
  • Ham Radio Operator Shack Webcams
  • QSLWorks -- Quality QSL Cards
  • EQSL Homepage
  • Amateur Radio Newsline
  • ARRL Audio News
  • Radio Amateurs Information Network
  • Tucson Amateur Packet Radio (TAPR)
  • Brief Overview Of Packet Radio
  • Sound Card Packet Radio
  • Introduction to Ham Radio Packet
  • OutPost Packet Program
  • AA5AU's RTTY Homepage
  • APRS Homepage
  • PSK31 Homepage
  • HamVention(tm), Xenia, Ohio
  • Hamcation (tm), Orlando, Florida
  • Huntsville Hamfest, Huntsville, Alabama
  • Shreveport Hamfest, Shreveport, Louisiana
  • The Ham Contact
  • Kangaroo Tabor Ham Radio Software
  • Mid-South Amateur Radio Supply
  • Ham Radio Outlet Ham Radio Gear
  • Blue Star Antennas
  • D And L Antenna Supply
  • The Sign Man Of Baton Rouge Ham Radio Badges
  • CallSignWear Ham Radio Apparel
  • MFJ Enterprises Ham Radio Supplies
  • TigerTronics Ham Radio Supplies (home of the SignaLink)
  • DX Engineering Ham Radio Supplies
  • Main Trading Company
  • Fisher Communications, DeWitt, Arkansas

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