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Author Topic: How Many Exams Per License Class did the FCC have When FCC Administered the Exam  (Read 5501 times)
W3HF
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« Reply #15 on: June 24, 2017, 04:47:43 PM »

I would like to see a written test that was administered by the FCC. I'd like to compare it to a present day exam.



I doubt you can find an original, but you can still find copies of the Bash Books.
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N9KX
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« Reply #16 on: June 24, 2017, 08:33:21 PM »

Dear K2ACB,

Thanks for writing on some of your old ham radio experiences -- i found them very good to read, especially your encounters with the FCC as a teen.  i became a Novice in Fall of 1976 at age 14 and then a General and an Advanced in Spring of 1977 at the FCC Office in Chicago.  Even though my uncle who was an Advanced went with me to the FCC office, it was quite intimidating for me as a young teen -- it almost felt like i was in a courtroom and on trial Cheesy.  I was thrilled when i passed my Advanced!  Our high school had a ham radio club and station and when i learned about it i was already a General. 

I had to take the Advanced twice -- the 1st time i took it i had only planned to attempt to pass the General, but when I passed the examiner gave me the Advanced exam and encouraged me to try to pass it. I failed but only by a few questions. A month later i came back (i think that was the minimum time between exam tries back then) and passed the exam and was estactic; and the examiner encouraged me to try the 20wpm code test for the Extra.  I had not expected to be trying that and was very nervous knowing i had to get 1 minute perfect copy.  i tried *too* hard and could not relax and kept feeling like i was sinking and fell further and further behind as i tried to copy the CW and think about how i was failing at the same time.  i failed.

a few years ago i took the Extra exam at a VEC office and passed.  The funny thing is that i could now pass the 20wpm CW exam fairly easily but it is of course no longer required.  Another funny thing is that in 1976 and 77 i saw learning code as a necessary evil to get phone privileges, but if i had to choose today between having one mode or the other i would probably choose CW  Smiley
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K2ACB
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« Reply #17 on: June 25, 2017, 10:23:47 AM »

I am glad that W9KX enjoyed some of my old reminisces about amateur radio .

I am worried about the future of amateur radio.It seems that very few new amateur radio operators are young people under the age of 21 and especially high school and college youth. Many of the new radio amateurs I have contacted on the air have been older individuals,a lot of them retirees. These people have more time and disposable income than younger people Whereas amateur radio is not that expensive a hobby, it can become expensive depending on how elaborate a station a ham wants. This is especially the case with hf operators.

When I got started in amateur radio there were a lot of High School amateur radio clubs and stations along with College and University amateur radio stations and clubs. These clubs and stations were incentives for young people to become amateur radio licensees and also get on the air experience.It is very sad that when I take a train to go to Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan from Westchester County in New York ,in the Bronx the train passes in the distance a Catholic High School. On the roof of the building of that school is an old amateur radio hf beam where it is clearly visible that some of the elements of that antenna have fallen off. I have passed this antenna for years and it has always been in that condition. I imagine that years ago this high school had an active amateur radio station and club. I presume that the club and station have not been in use for many years and nobody wants to go on the roof of the building and take down that old antenna.

I remember when three local colleges in New York Ciy, NYU, Columbia and the City College of New York had active amateur radio clubs and stations. To the best of my knowledge they do not have active amateur radio clubs and stations today. It used to be when you passed on the street the Columbia University School of Engineering you would see amateur radio antennas on the roof. These antennas were taken down several years ago.

That is not to say that there still are not some active College and University amateur radio stations, Several years ago I was up at Cornell University and I saw on the roof of one of the buildings of the University a large HF beam. Recently i was in Philadelphia and on the roof of a building of Drexel University there was also a large HF beam. However these maybe the exceptions and not the rule. I especially think this is the case with high school amateur radio stations.

That is why I am alarmed when my younger son who is studying computer engineering in college told me that in this day and age there is no need for radio amateurs. In my day there were so many young people who through the hobby ended up going into science and technology professions and jobs.I was the exception and not the rule. Today so many young people want to go into computers and tech related jobs and professions. But there are no incentives for them to obtain amateur radio licenses. There are very few high school and college amateur radio clubs that offer young people a first hand opportunity to explore the digital age through amateur radio.It is also very easy to get on the internet and communicate with people all over the world without an amateur radio license. This was not the case even 25 years ago.

I realize Amateur Radio is only a hobby. W3HF is correct in his comments there are many aspects of the hobby in terms of what you want to do with your license. But I believe as do many of the older generation, that there has been a loosening of standards for the hobby over the years. I was given a pink slip many years ago because I never made a notation in my log that" I had made no contacts". Today there is no requirement that you have to keep a log book. In the old days you were required to pass a CW test to obtain an amateur radio license. I would have at least kept the CW test requirement for 5 wpm for the Amateur Extra Exam. Today there is no longer a CW requirement to pass any test to become an amateur radio operator.In the old days if you failed an amateur radio exam you had to wait 30 days before you could take the test again. I have heard stories where people failed the test before VECs and took the test again and again on the same day until they passed, Whether these stories are true,I do not know.

K2OWK in his comments said that those who got their conditional class license could be called at any time to take the exam again at an FCC field office. I never knew any Conditional licensees. He probably was correct that the FCC called back very few Conditional licensees to take the exam again. In the old days many radio amateurs that got General class operator privileges through the Conditional license ,if people knew they had a Conditional license,were looked upon differently than those that got their license through a test taken at an FCC field office. They felt the Conditional Class licensee did not pass the test under the same standards and scrutiny as someone who passed the test at an FCC field office.

Some say that the FCC really began to lower their standards when the CB craze started in the early 70's. Hams lamented when the 11 meter band was taken away from them. I do not know when that happened. i think it was in the late 1950's,but I am not certain. Originally a CB'er was supposed to register their equipment with the FCC. They were frequency controlled and limited to 5 watts. But so many people bought CB radios and violated the rules and regulations in terms of power and registration requirements that the FCC was overwhelmed.Some where even using ham transceivers illegally on the 11 meter band.The FCC was so overwhelmed by the number of CBers  It left them alone except for those who were blatantly disobeying the rules and regulations. The number of CBer,s who were ever caught and prosecuted by the FCC were very few. The FCC could easily have curtailed the abuse by CWers by having rules and regulations imposing very heavy fines and possibly jail sentences for those who were found out not to have registered their CB equipment or were running excess power. They could have used all the revenue they got from enforcing the regulations to help pay the costs of the FCC enforcement staff.

In the old days, from what I hear today, the FCC field enforcement people did a much better job than they do today. That is partially due to Congress and the budget that goes to the FCC especially for enforcement. Amateur radio is only a very small bureau within the FCC. The FCC leaves it mostly to radio amateurs to enforce their own rules and regulations unless someone blatantly disobeys the rules and regulations. The problem is amateur radio operators do not have the power of enforcement as does the FCC.

In the mid 1980's I lived for three years in the UK where i had a reciprocal license. I lived in Oxford and London. I operated both VHF -UHF as well as HF. When I was in London ,there was in North London a 2 meter repeater. This repeater had been taken over by pirates. For 24 hours a day these pirates using the most foul language and brazen monickers  (outrageous  nicknames) ,commandeered this repeater . There was no room for radio amateur activity on this repeater.

I wondered why the British radio amateur licensing authorities (they went by the initials OFCOM) did not shut this repeater down.I thought if this was in the USA the repeater would have been shut down soon after the foul language began and the FCC with the help of radio amateurs would try and find the culprits and prosecute them. When i was in the UK i belonged to several local radio clubs. One day at one of the local radio clubs I belonged to in London,it was announced,the radio club was going to have a speaker from OFCOM,the British Amateur radio licensing authority.I went to hear this person.  After his speech I went up and asked him why they did not close down this repeater.

He answered me that for all of London,a city of nearly 8 million people at that time .OFCOM only had two radio detection vans. They had more important things to do than to track down the pirates who had commandeered the repeater. At that time they were spending a lot of time tracking down diathermic machines that were causing spurious emissions to essential services including airport electronic devices. He also said that if they closed down that repeater the pirates would leave that repeater and just attack other amateur radio repeaters . At least most of them were contained using that repeater, I never accepted that excuse and I did not think something like that would be tolerated in the USA. I heard it took several years but eventually that 2  meter repeater was closed down by the British authorities.

One thing that I hear that is still in effect in the UK,which also existed when I resided there, was if you paid a fee at that time a fee of about $50,I think it is much more today, and you wanted a representative from OFCOM the British equivalent of the FCC to come to your house or examine your station for not abusing the rules  the OFCOM representatives would pay a house call. Thus if a neighbor complained that you were causing RFI to their electronic equipment,or you were getting QRN (noise) from a neighbor or from faulty equipment from the local power company ,you could have an OFCOM official check it out if you paid the fee. They could certify your station was in compliance with the rules or that a neighbors faulty electronic equipment or a local local power company was generating the local QRM and make the neighbor or power company fix the problem. I wish we could do that with the FCC.Today the FCC does not want to be bothered with anything unless they have to interfere. At least in Britain if you pay their FCC equivalent will come and try to resolve the problem.

Since amateur radio licenses in the USA are now for a 10 year period ,amateur radio statistics are not very accurate. We have no way of knowing now how many amateur radio operators have died during that period,are inactive or just got a license and never did anything with it. I think it is inaccurate that every year the ARRL keeps toutuing that amateur radio licensing is growing in the USA. i think these statistics are inacurate. A number of years ago Japan had over a million radio amateurs. Many of them just got this entry level license and never used it. It took the Japanese a few years but they eventually took tens of thousands of these so called radio amateurs off the licensing rolls because they never renewed their amateur radio license,  There should be a rule that the next of kin or those who handle the deceased radio amateur's estate should notify the FCC that the radio amateur is deceased as soon as possible after death.

Finally I do remember the Dick Bash Books. I know they really helped a lot of radio amateurs to pass the radio amateur tests.It was within three years that the Bash books came out that the FCC gave up administering the amateur Radio exams at FCC field office and starting the VEC program. When the FCC started the VEC program they also started to give all the answers to the radio amateur exams.I know that one of the reasons the FCC got out of giving radio amateur exams was because of budgetary constraints and the amateur radio service played only a very small part in the FCC operations. But did they decide to give the answers in advance to the radio amateur tests because of the Bash books? I do not know the answer to this question.

If anyone wants to comment on my additional comments ,please do so.

73
Alan-K2ACB
« Last Edit: June 25, 2017, 10:42:12 AM by K2ACB » Logged
WA2ISE
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Posts: 1051




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« Reply #18 on: June 26, 2017, 06:13:33 AM »

In the mid 1980's I lived for three years in the UK where i had a reciprocal license. I lived in Oxford and London. I operated both VHF -UHF as well as HF. When I was in London ,there was in North London a 2 meter repeater. This repeater had been taken over by pirates. For 24 hours a day these pirates using the most foul language and brazen monickers  (outrageous  nicknames) ,commandeered this repeater . There was no room for radio amateur activity on this repeater.

I wondered why the British radio amateur licensing authorities (they went by the initials OFCOM) did not shut this repeater down.I thought if this was in the USA the repeater would have been shut down soon after the foul language began and the FCC with the help of radio amateurs would try and find the culprits and prosecute them. When i was in the UK i belonged to several local radio clubs. One day at one of the local radio clubs I belonged to in London,it was announced,the radio club was going to have a speaker from OFCOM,the British Amateur radio licensing authority.I went to hear this person.  After his speech I went up and asked him why they did not close down this repeater.

He answered me that for all of London,a city of nearly 8 million people at that time .OFCOM only had two radio detection vans. They had more important things to do than to track down the pirates who had commandeered the repeater. At that time they were spending a lot of time tracking down diathermic machines that were causing spurious emissions to essential services including airport electronic devices. He also said that if they closed down that repeater the pirates would leave that repeater and just attack other amateur radio repeaters . At least most of them were contained using that repeater, I never accepted that excuse and I did not think something like that would be tolerated in the USA. I heard it took several years but eventually that 2  meter repeater was closed down by the British authorities.

Same thing happened in Los Angeles to a repeater at 147.435   Think it may still be operating with the bad language and all.  If I were the trustee, I'd take the machine off the air, and convert it to some digital service like the old packet radio. 
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N3DF
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« Reply #19 on: September 09, 2017, 07:33:22 AM »

There is a great article on E/ham in the Articles Section by W7VO on The Storied History of the Licensing Structure.


The actual title is "The Storied History of the Ham Radio Call Sign."
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Neil N3DF
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