Beginner’s Corner February 2018

Save those Study Books

   If you have just gotten your technician class amateur radio license, congratulations!  If you have just passed either the general or extra exam, congratulations!

   We sincerely hope that you will be able to get on the air quickly with that newly minted license.

   I had the good fortune of helping a YL (young lady or as female amateur radio operators are called) to program the radio she had just recently purchased.  I recommended a certain HT (handy talkie or handheld radio) to her.  She bought one, went through the book and charged the battery.  She and her mother came to my house and I programmed the radio for her, explaining what I was doing each step of the way.  Unfortunately, she did not have her call sign yet.  She had such enthusiasm that I wished that I could have a conversation with her over the radio.  She lives out of town, that event will have to take place when she returns to the area.

   At the recent “Ham Jam” that took place in this area, the words, “An amateur radio license is a license to learn.” Are still virtually ringing in my ears.  I think of this enthusiastic YL and the enjoyment she will receive as she progresses in the hobby.  I believe she did purchase a technician study manual in pursuit of her license.  I hope she did.  I believe it is not enough just to pass the test and forget about what one has had to learn in order to do pass the test.

   Every day I enter a contest with a major supplier of amateur radio equipment.  Each day they ask a new question to allow me to have a bonus entry for the prizes they offer.  These questions come from one of the amateur radio license questions that are found in the study manuals.  If you watch the program “Ham Nation” that comes on every Wednesday on and is uploaded to YouTube, one of the hosts gives out a prize each week to a person who answers a question he has asked the previous week.  Again, most of the questions come from amateur radio study manuals.

   When you pass your technician license or upgrade to a higher-class license, don’t discard your manuals!  Why?  They are good reference books.  Yes, the questions change every four years, but rarely do the majority of questions change.  Electronic principles don’t change.  Questions and answers in your manual on these subjects will likely never become obsolete.  Questions about radio propagation and antennas will never change unless new things are discovered.  In short most of the questions in your manual will likely never be obsolete.  Laws and regulations may change; amateur radio bands may be added or deleted, but most of the information in these books will always be valid.  If you were to read a license manual from the 1950s, you will likely only find electronics questions based on tubes and not transistors or integrated circuits.  Tube theory may not be the hottest thing in amateur radio today, but then followers of the “Ham Nation” program and readers of QST can’t miss the excitement of Bob Heil’s (K9EID) “Pine Board Project”. He and apparently hundreds of hams around the world are building low power tube radios and having a lot of fun getting them on the air.  Even those 1950s study manuals would have principles that would be helpful today in building one of these Pine Board radios.

   The point is, your study manuals contain valuable information that you might need to refer to at some time.  They are always worth reading and reading.  You might find the answer to a question you have had in the back of your head since you were first licensed.  “A ham radio license is a license to learn.”

73 de KJ4CMY