HAM / Ameteur Radio Anyone?

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Jan 12, 2006
St. Louis, MO
So I still have this great Yaesu 8900 quad band radio but its not installed, I have no antenna, and I have no operator's license. BUT, I have high hopes to take a tech test and get the thing operational in the near future.

Soooo..... I went looking around and found that Washington University has a club and several repeaters (2m 10m 70cm and maybe others).

But I also found the St. Louis and Suburban Radio Club here http://www.slsrc.org/ and it looks like they have monthly meetings on the 2nd Friday at 7:30pm and the next one is Friday, May 9th at the MO Baptist Medical Center at hwy 270 & hwy 40

I'm thinking about going in hopes of learning more about equipment and installation issues. If anyone else is interested, drop me a pm or email.

FWIW, I plan to still run my CB radio as most of the offroad community still relies on CB for trail communications, I just thought HAM is the direction to go for future communications needs (clarity and range). Plus, it sounds like I could get a call (radio signal) back to my house in Clayton from even obscure places like Flat Nasty where there is no cell phone coverage (using repeaters). For that matter, it sounds like I could bounce a signal back to STL from Moab or anywhere else I happen to travel with the cruiser. Of course, this means I'll be wasting/spending even more money on additional equipment in the future. :bang:
Well, I know there wasn't much interest in this (OK - no one else at all was interested), but I went ahead and took the Tech exam today and passed. For those who might one day become interested, my total out-of-pocket cost for all testing and the exam fee was $14 and if I factor in all the free food they provided during the review session yesterday and today, I'm pretty sure I came out ahead.

FWIW, I didn't read one question or otherwise study prior to this past Friday night when I did a few online practice exams recommended in the Electronic Toys forum here on mud. I went to the review sessions and then took the test - it was pretty easy as evidenced by my passing on the first try.

In fact, I also took the General Class exam with zero prep and also passed that (I'm one hell of a test taker!). I'll keep you posted and probably start to hound some of you about making the move to Ham (first I guess I'll need to get Toyminator to get any radio at all - even a CB :).
(first I guess I'll need to get Toyminator to get any radio at all - even a CB :).

I got 2 CB's. their just not installed. Actually my truck has been in the middle of a build project for like 3 years and I use that as an excust to not have one. It is definitely going to happen now due to some other problems with my truck that need to be addresses. I hope to have it all completed, including paint, and yes a CB but Sept.

There is a guy that I used to work with several years ago that is big into amateur radio stuff. He said the test was easy. He also said that any licensed operator can administer the test to someone else. I don't know if thats true but maybe I'll hit him up for a license.
I know you told me you had two CBs, I just figured I'd give you a hard time while I had the opportunity :) and I certainly understand being too busy to get things done. I've got all the stuff for my fuse sub-panel project and I haven't started it (and won't anytime in the near future). Likewise, the Ham will probably not be installed for quite a while (still need an antenna or antennas anyway). And I've got a steering wheel just staring me in the face with no time to swap out my old wheel.

As for the testing, it was fairly easy if you either have a background/experience in radio and electronics OR you are good at test-taking (memorization). The tech exam is only 35 multiple choice questions out of a pool of 200 possible questions and the FCC publishes the pool of questions AND the correct answers. So really, you just need to memorize the correct answer - which is largely what I did. Most of the tech stuff makes sense anyway so it is easy to learn. The electricity stuff is pretty basic algebra so you just need the formulas, and the allowable frequency ranges and power you just need to memorize/learn.

On the General test, there are also 35 multiple choice questions from a published pool of 200 (with correct answers also). There is some duplicate coverage regarding the basics of electricity, antennas, and general procedures and regulations so that makes things easier. The remainder of the questions I thought were a lot more complex than on the tech stuff - basically more advanced and technical aspects of radio. There was a large number of questions regarding the Band Plan (which frequencies different operators are allowed to use, for what purpose, and at what power) that I thought were just tough to memorize b/c there were so many. As luck would have it, the questions on my exam were ones that I knew.

In the end, you are allowed to miss 9 of the 35 questions and still pass (pretty lienient actually) - I missed 7 so I figured I 'studied' slightly too much as I was aiming to miss 9.

We were given the list of 200 questions and answers for the general test on Sunday morning when we arrived for the tech exam review (for future reference). I decided to read through them while listening to the tech material review and that is the only prep I had for the exam. Basically, I'm a good test-taker (if I had a choice, I'd prefer to be good at something else).

As for who can administer the test, that was also a question on the exam (though I don't recall which one). There must be three VEs (verified examiners ?) present (we had to wait for the third to arrive). To become a VE, you must hold a general class license (one level above the entry tech license) and you must request and obtain authorization from your local VE entity. I don't know any more than that, and only b/c it was on the exam prep and exam. So, unfortunately, you can't just have another licensed operator administer the exam for you. Still, pretty easy and I highly recommend it (but I'm biased b/c I'd like to start using the ham frequencies for our trips).

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