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Author Topic: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?  (Read 55220 times)
N2LWE
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Posts: 104




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« on: October 26, 2010, 05:12:55 PM »

I've seen all the threads over time by those that are for and those against the code. Most that are against are obviously the old timers that were required to pass the code and have the mentality that if I did it so should you. Or, if you received your license without code you're not a real ham as if that would be the manly thing to do. Now that code is not a requirement I've read many posts where some ask why bother? It's not a requirement anymore. Why do code at all? Now my opinion, not that it matters. I received my Novice back in 1991 and passed the 5 word per minute code. I upgraded a year later to General and passed the 13 word per minute code and remained a General for the next 18 years until I upgraded to Extra just last week. While I held my General and the code became history, I never once felt "new Generals" were something less than me because they didn't pass a 13 word per minute code test like I did. The FCC changed the rules and thats's the way it is like it or not. While I was growing up we didn't have a microwave oven, does that mean I shouldn't have one now? Am I not a true ham now that I obtained Extra Class without the code even though I passed the other code tests in the past? Some of those that feel the codeless hams are nothing but CBer's, here's another thought. Alot of us that became hams and had to pass codes "were" CBer's first and wanted more and that's what sparked our first interest to become hams. That being said, I realize we will get those that come on the ham bands and act like morons, that will happen with or without code. But think about this, I passed two code tests as I stated earlier 5 and 13 words per minute and during a good portion of my ham experience I found several obnoxious hams. I can't tell you how many times I would hear hams on repeaters finish talking and I would try to get in there and none of them would acknowledge me, but a minute later one of their friends would get in there and they would start a QSO again leaving me out. Is that being a good ham? And this was when code was a requirement. Now with no code I have met many hams new and old, code and codeless, on a repeater I frequent and they're all great people. No one feels better than anyone else. Code or codeless should make no difference in how hams should be treated. Then there is the issue of why do it if it's not a requirement anymore. You don't have to, but if someone likes doing it why frown on them. Maybe they like doing it. Obviously they do, or they wouldn't have learned it. Personally, I never had a big interest in CW and forgot what I had learned back when I took the code tests but that's changing and I'm starting to learn again because I would like to try CW on the air and expand my knowledge in this great hobby. I've grown a real interest in CW even though I never did before. I've changed my mind and want to learn EVEN THOUGH I DON'T HAVE TO. It's no different than some people like a Ford while others like a Chevy. So don't knock it just cause you have no interest in it. The complainers should just stop complaining, who knows, you just may make a new friend. Even if they didn't pass a code test. 73, Joe N2LWE.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2010, 05:23:04 PM by Joe Novak » Logged
N2EY
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« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2010, 07:13:58 PM »

OK, I'll bite.

DEVIL'S ADVOCATE MODE = ON

For the record, I have never encountered a real-live radio amateur whose reason for supporting a testing requirement was "I did it so you have to do it too". Nor anything even close to that. Not one, in over 43 years.

What I *have* encountered are hams who said words to the effect of "if a dummy like me could do it, you can do it too". Meant as an encouragement.

For a lot of us old-timers, the real issue is about trying to maintain reasonable standards in a world that often seems bent on destroying them, a little at a time.

Consider how the *written* testing has changed over the years.

There was a time, well within the experience of many of today's hams, when the written tests above Novice required you to draw block and schematic diagrams, answer essay questions, do show-your-work calculations, and answer some multiple choice too. The exam Q&A were not published, either. Most hams had taken their tests in FCC-run exam sessions, too. There were no CSCEs, and if you failed a test you had to wait at least 30 days to try again.

The result was that most hams "overlearned" quite a bit, in order to be sure of passing.

But over the years the requirements changed. The questions became all-multiple-choice. The Q&A were published, and the FCC stopped giving the tests. The size and number of the written tests went down. The wait-to-retest requirement went away. Now we've gotten to the point that some are saying that even the current Extra, which has been earned by bright children in the early elementary-school grades, is too hard and should be eliminated.

Yet at the same time, we are using more-advanced technology and have more modes and bands. If anything, today's ham licenses should require more knowledge, not less.

How much is enough? At what point do we draw the line and say "NO MORE!"?

Here's how bad it can get:

This year on Field Day I went with a multiclub group. We had a multi-transmitter setup, with some rigs ready to go long before the start time and others....somewhat delayed.

One of the setups that was delayed involved a ham who had a modern solidstate HF transceiver with power supply, an SGC remote tuner meant for long wires, and a G5RV. The G5RV had been put up and the coax run to the radio table and, the power supply, rig and tuner connected to each other.

But the ham who was "captain" of that station was stymied. The SGC tuner output was a binding post for connection to a random-wire antenna, plus a ground post, and the coax to the G5RV ended in a PL-259.

The ham was at a complete loss as to how to hook the antenna to the station. I noticed this and the following conversation ensued:

Me: "What are you trying to do?"

Other Ham: "Connect this antenna to the radio. But there's no way to do it because the tuner is meant for wire antennas, not coax"

Me: "Look at the coax connector. How many conductors does it have?"

OH: "I don't know. I need a tuner that has a coax connector on it"

Me: "Why don't you make an adapter?"

OH: "How?"

At this point I took a short piece of coax that had a PL-259 on one end and stripped/unbraided/twisted the other end into an adapter that could be connected to the random-wire tuner. The other ham was absolutely stunned, and thought this was either magic or Ph.D EE stuff, rather than something I knew to do as a Novice 40+ years ago.

What really stuck with me was the part about not knowing how many conductors there were in coax, let alone what they did.

The other ham was a General, licensed for several years. Not stupid, just a product of the modern system.

Sure, none of us was born knowing radio, or Morse Code, or much of anything, really. Nobody should be called names or disrespected just because of what the requirements were when they were licensed - new or old.

But it seems that someone licensed to do what hams do should at least know SOMETHING about radio.

I ask again: At what point do we draw the line and say "NO MORE!"?

---

Here's another way to look at it:

The standard distance of the marathon is 26 miles 385 yards. Been that for almost 100 years. Anyone in decent physical shape can complete one if they're willing to do the training for it. I've done two of them - broke 4 hours, too.

Suppose you trained (like I did) to run a 26.22 mile marathon. And suppose you completed a couple of them, earning the right to describe yourself as a marathon runner.

Now suppose some people complained that the marathon distance was too long, and kept out too many. So they get the marathon distance changed to 20 miles, and call themselves marathon runners too.

Then some other folks say 20 miles is too far, and takes too much training. So they get the marathon distance changed to 10 miles, and call themselves marathon runners too.

Still other folks say 10 miles is too far, and takes too much training. So they get the marathon distance changed to 5 miles, and call themselves marathon runners too.

And then some folks say that *any* distance longer than a mile should be considered a marathon - and they get that idea accepted.

How would that make you feel? Do you think it would be a good thing?

73 de Jim, N2EY


« Last Edit: October 26, 2010, 07:34:10 PM by James Miccolis » Logged
AD6KA
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« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2010, 07:56:09 PM »

TLDR
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N2LWE
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« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2010, 06:13:35 AM »

N2EY, I can see your frustration that this other ham needed help. Yes, you are correct the past testing process required much more technical knowledge. But not everyone picks up as easily as others. Does that mean you should have all opportunities to become a ham taken away from you? This hobby isn't for you then? Isn't part of the hobby learning? Shouldn't you feel good that you helped or taught someone rather than be annoyed because he or she needed your help? You clearly exhibit these same thoughts that I've seen from the hams that turn a cold cheek to the codeless hams. You also mention "For the record, I have never encountered a real-live radio amateur whose reason for supporting a testing requirement was "I did it so you have to do it too". Nor anything even close to that. Not one, in over 43 years. That's interesting because I've been a ham less than half that time as you (19) years and I've heard it more than once. In fact approximately two weeks ago I heard someone on a repeater state "when real hams took the test back when I did and there was code"...... I couldn't believe it myself , but I heard it. I was tempted to get in there and say something but figured why bother. So 43 years you haven't heard it? Or is it that it was said and you didn't hear it because you had the same thoughts? So let me ask you this. I originally became licensed in 1991 with my Novice Class and passed the 5 word per minute code. A year later I passed my General Class and 13 word per minute code. Now due to the lapse in time I received my Extra Class but without the 20 word per minute code. Are you a better ham than me? Because even though I have some code passing in my history you took your test over 20 years before I did. Are you a better ham? I'll never question a ham that has an extensive knowledge of electronics. I admire it. But if there is something another ham doesn't understand no matter how trivial, I would feel honored that I was able to help them. I wouldn't feel annoyed. You may not verbally say it, but you appear to be right on board with other 40+ year hams, I've been a ham for  43 years and the test was harder then so it should be harder for you too. So, am I a real ham? I didn't pass the 20 word per minute code and I didn't take my test 43 years ago. I was seven years old at the time. Sorry.



« Last Edit: October 27, 2010, 06:19:03 AM by Joe Novak » Logged
NI0C
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« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2010, 08:33:52 AM »

N2LWE:

Congratulations on achieving your extra class license.  Unfortunately, there are some folks who feel insecure and have a need to try to raise themselves up by belittling others.  Ignore them.

"Real hams" get on the air and enjoy their radios.  I hope you will find enjoyment with yours.  Most of the folks spouting ignorant crap on the repeaters couldn't make an HF QSO if their life depended on it. 

73,
Chuck  NI0C
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N2LWE
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« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2010, 10:09:25 AM »

So true, thank you.
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W7ETA
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« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2010, 11:19:37 AM »

"Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?"

I dunno?

Code/No Code CW-Do you need it?

I dunno?

Code/No Code CW-Do I need it?

Nope.  But it's a lot a FUN

73
Bob
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K6LHA
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« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2010, 05:40:27 PM »

"Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?"

I dunno?

Code/No Code CW-Do you need it?

I dunno?

Code/No Code CW-Do I need it?

Nope.  But it's a lot a FUN

73
Bob
The FCC doesn't make decisions based on what ONE old licensee feels is "fun" but rather what it means to the FCC as to whether or not an applicant is worthy to being granted a particular license.  See all the reasons given in Memorandum Report and Order 06-178 released in December 2006.

On the other hand, lots of old, greying Extras NEED to boast of their code skill to please their own egos.  Kind of like a government subsidy for their emotional well-being (or maybe its a "health plan" in disguise?).  Not to worry, the League (which is also old and greying) will protect you and help boast and boost morse code skill.

73, Len K6LHA
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WX7G
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« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2010, 05:46:17 PM »

    jibber jabber
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N2EY
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« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2010, 05:51:53 PM »

N2EY, I can see your frustration that this other ham needed help. Yes, you are correct the past testing process required much more technical knowledge. But not everyone picks up as easily as others. Does that mean you should have all opportunities to become a ham taken away from you? This hobby isn't for you then? Isn't part of the hobby learning? Shouldn't you feel good that you helped or taught someone rather than be annoyed because he or she needed your help?


I think you misinterpreted what I wrote. I wasn't frustrated, or annoyed by the situation; I was surprised and a little sad. And I helped get the station on the air, and took the opportunity to help the other ham learn something.

As I wrote before about the other ham: "Not stupid, just a product of the modern system."

In other words, I blame the *system*, not the ham.

Yes, some people learn faster than others. And learning is part of ham radio. But don't you think there should be at least some learning of radio basics before the license is granted? Shouldn't *all* hams know at least some basic technical stuff like how many conductors there are in common coax cable?

You clearly exhibit these same thoughts that I've seen from the hams that turn a cold cheek to the codeless hams.

 
How? Most of my post was about changes in the *technical knowledge* requirement, not code at all.

Is it wrong to want some sort of standards in ham radio? I mean, is the situation I described really all that complicated to understand?

You also mention "For the record, I have never encountered a real-live radio amateur whose reason for supporting a testing requirement was "I did it so you have to do it too". Nor anything even close to that. Not one, in over 43 years. That's interesting because I've been a ham less than half that time as you (19) years and I've heard it more than once.

So you've encountered it once every 9 or 10 years and I haven't encountered it at all. Our statements do not contradict each other.

In fact approximately two weeks ago I heard someone on a repeater state "when real hams took the test back when I did and there was code"...... I couldn't believe it myself , but I heard it. I was tempted to get in there and say something but figured why bother.


What that person said is very different from "I did it so you have to do it too". *Very* different. Not the same thing at all.

You might have asked the person when s/he took the test and whether s/he could pass it today. Or pass today's tests.

So 43 years you haven't heard it? Or is it that it was said and you didn't hear it because you had the same thoughts?


43 years and I've never encountered a ham who said "I did it so you have to do it too" as his/her reason to keep a license requirement. And that's a fact.

I have encountered folks who claimed that to be the reason *others* opposed a change in license requirements. Different thing entirely.

So let me ask you this. I originally became licensed in 1991 with my Novice Class and passed the 5 word per minute code. A year later I passed my General Class and 13 word per minute code. Now due to the lapse in time I received my Extra Class but without the 20 word per minute code. Are you a better ham than me? Because even though I have some code passing in my history you took your test over 20 years before I did. Are you a better ham?


I don't know. I don't have nearly enough information to make a judgement.

More important, I think anyone who says they are a better ham than someone else, or who says they are a "real" ham and someone else isn't, has just proved the exact opposite.

I'll never question a ham that has an extensive knowledge of electronics. I admire it.

I think a person who has an extensive knowledge of electronics isn't bothered by questions.

How knowledgeable would I have to be to pass muster?

But if there is something another ham doesn't understand no matter how trivial, I would feel honored that I was able to help them. I wouldn't feel annoyed.

I didn't feel "annoyed" to help that other ham. Not a bit.

That wasn't the point of the story at all. And I did help. I showed how to solve the problem.

What else should I have done?

You may not verbally say it, but you appear to be right on board with other 40+ year hams, I've been a ham for  43 years and the test was harder then so it should be harder for you too.

It seems to me that you're transferring your feelings about other folks onto me, just because I have some experience.

Why not look at what I actually wrote, and what I actually did?

Do you resent the fact that I was licensed so young and have some experience in ham radio? That's the impression I get.

It's not about how "hard" the tests are, but what a person has to know to pass them. My whole point is that it does no one any good to set the standards too low. The result is hams frustrated by their lack of knowledge.

So, am I a real ham? I didn't pass the 20 word per minute code and I didn't take my test 43 years ago. I was seven years old at the time. Sorry.

IMHO, what makes a person a "real ham" is what they do with the license after it has been earned. Getting the license is just the first step - an important step, but not the only one.

OTOH, it's important to understand how things have changed and that maybe - just maybe - not all those changes were for the better.

Do you think it's asking too much to expect a General class licensee, with several years' experience to know how coax cable works? Or how to hook up an antenna tuner?

Where do we set the line?

btw, some time back a 7 year old earned the Extra license. That broke the previous record set by an 8 year old in the 1990s.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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NI0C
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« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2010, 07:07:38 PM »

N2EY:
Jim,
N2LWE's posting here demonstrates the harm done by remarks made by thoughtless and insecure people who have a need to puff themselves up by putting others down.  Joe just passed his extra class license and heard some blowhards on a repeater talking about "real hams."  I have a feeling Joe is more of a "real ham" than these clowns. 

Let me tell you about a couple of friends of mine-- "real Hams". 

I've known Rich since I was in high school.  Rich never went to college and worked in sales until retirement.  He's a superb CW operator and Dx'er.  He has an Advanced Class license, but has managed to achieve the CW DXCC Honor Roll.  He has enough technical knowledge to assemble and maintain his station.  He has "elmered" many a young person in the hobby.

I've known Tom for only about ten years.  Like Rich, he worked in sales, and had no formal technical education.  Until a few years ago, he had a General Class license.  I encouraged him to go for the Extra Class, so as to acquire the full privileges.  He struggled with the theory, but he finally did it, and is very happy.  Tom comes over to my house about every six months to help me with my seasonal antenna changeover.  Without his help, I wouldn't be on the air. 

I have a degree in EE-- I teach circuit theory for a living.  Passing the Extra Class tests was easy for me.  But I have the utmost respect for these friends who have taught me things, as well as the countless hams out there of all license classes who enjoy operating their radios, and do so with pride and courtesy. 

73,
Chuck  NI0C
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N2LWE
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« Reply #11 on: October 27, 2010, 07:32:47 PM »

N2EY, You blame the system not the ham? It was the ham you were helping. You pointed out in quotes he was the "captain". I stated in 19 years I've heard the complaints more than once, I should have said several times since you calculated once every 9 or 10 years. What amazes me is with the knowledge you possess you have never ever come across this by others on the air or in posts, anywhere. You stated "It seems to me that you're transferring your feelings about other folks onto me, just because I have some experience. Why not look at what I actually wrote, and what I actually did?" I did do that. Just look at the analogy you used with the marathon runner. You compared runners that compete against eachother, that strive to break anothers record and lowering the standards of the distance they have to run. Wow! How does that compare to amateur radio? They absolutely would have an argument in a marathon because beating a time to break a record but having to do it in a shorter distance of running is unfair. But in amateur radio because hams had to have code or what some might feel difficult testing in theory and the requirements aren't as difficult today doesn't make it unfair. When I sat down next to another ham and we both took the ham test, we weren't competing against eachother. Or to be clear, although you took your test several years ago and the test was more difficult and required code, the person taking the test today is not competing against you. This is why it appears you have re-enforced the thought...I did it so you should to.

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N2EY
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« Reply #12 on: October 27, 2010, 07:38:07 PM »

N2EY:
Jim,
N2LWE's posting here demonstrates the harm done by remarks made by thoughtless and insecure people who have a need to puff themselves up by putting others down.  Joe just passed his extra class license and heard some blowhards on a repeater talking about "real hams."  I have a feeling Joe is more of a "real ham" than these clowns. 

Let me tell you about a couple of friends of mine-- "real Hams". 

I've known Rich since I was in high school.  Rich never went to college and worked in sales until retirement.  He's a superb CW operator and Dx'er.  He has an Advanced Class license, but has managed to achieve the CW DXCC Honor Roll.  He has enough technical knowledge to assemble and maintain his station.  He has "elmered" many a young person in the hobby.

I've known Tom for only about ten years.  Like Rich, he worked in sales, and had no formal technical education.  Until a few years ago, he had a General Class license.  I encouraged him to go for the Extra Class, so as to acquire the full privileges.  He struggled with the theory, but he finally did it, and is very happy.  Tom comes over to my house about every six months to help me with my seasonal antenna changeover.  Without his help, I wouldn't be on the air. 

I have a degree in EE-- I teach circuit theory for a living.  Passing the Extra Class tests was easy for me.  But I have the utmost respect for these friends who have taught me things, as well as the countless hams out there of all license classes who enjoy operating their radios, and do so with pride and courtesy. 

Chuck,

All good points and I agree with every one.

But at the same time I think it's important to deal with folks as individuals, and look at what they actually say and do, regardless of how long they've been hams, what their backgrounds are, etc.

This goes regardless of years licensed, class of ticket, etc. It's all about attitude, or as we say in these parts, "addy-tood".

For example, there are a number of hams who come to our annual Field Day operation and never make a contact:

- Two of them feed us all, beginning to end. Nobody goes hungry or thirsty on Field Day!

- One arranges the logging system, with all the computers networked. He not only does this but has taught others to do it, written a simple manual, and provided laptops and such.

- One brings out his super slingshot and launches lines into the trees for our wire antennas.

- One brings his motor home with genset, a couple of rigs, and various other goodies. Clean reliable power the whole FD period, plus rigs for a couple of positions.

- One gets the various permits, invites the local officials and gets us mentions in the media. Also helps with the GOTA station.

They range from newcomers to old timers, Techs to Extras, 1x2 calls to 2x3s, etc.

Are they "real hams"? IMHO, yes -  every single one!

73 de Jim, N2EY
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N2EY
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« Reply #13 on: October 27, 2010, 08:09:04 PM »

N2EY, You blame the system not the ham?

Yes. If the system could produce a General class licensee who didn't know how many conductors there are in ordinary coax, there's something wrong with the system!

Don't you agree?

It was the ham you were helping.

Yes. Was that wrong? Should I have not done that? 

You pointed out in quotes he was the "captain".

Yes. Is that a problem?

What amazes me is with the knowledge you possess you have never ever come across this by others on the air or in posts, anywhere.

Yet it's the truth. I didn't say it doesn't happen, only that I've not encountered it from real live hams. 

Of course I don't spend much time on repeaters or the 'phone bands. Others' mileage may vary.

You stated "It seems to me that you're transferring your feelings about other folks onto me, just because I have some experience. Why not look at what I actually wrote, and what I actually did?"

That's how it seems to me. I think I'm being blamed for what others have said.

Just look at the analogy you used with the marathon runner. You compared runners that compete against eachother, that strive to break anothers record and lowering the standards of the distance they have to run. Wow! How does that compare to amateur radio? They absolutely would have an argument in a marathon because beating a time to break a record but having to do it in a shorter distance of running is unfair.

Most people who run marathons are not competing against others, nor are they out to break others' records.

Most people who run marathons are competing against themselves, and striving to set some kind of personal record - even if it's just finishing.

But what makes them all marathon runners is the standard distance. Either a person has gone the distance or they haven't. It's a standard.

The analogy is about the lowering of standards. The marathon could be redefined as 20 miles, or 10 miles, or 5 miles, or whatever. But it wouldn't be the same thing. That's the point.

But in amateur radio because hams had to have code or what some might feel difficult testing in theory and the requirements aren't as difficult today doesn't make it unfair.

It's not about fair. It's about standards. It's not about how difficult the tests are but about what you have to know to pass them. What you have to *really* know.

That's the issue.


 When I sat down next to another ham and we both took the ham test, we weren't competing against eachother. Or to be clear, although you took your test several years ago and the test was more difficult and required code, the person taking the test today is not competing against you. This is why it appears you have re-enforced the thought...I did it so you should to.

When I was running the marathon I wasn't competing against anyone else. I was competing against myself; accepting the challenge and meeting it. The same is true for almost all marathon runners; only a very few have the ability to win or set records.

That's what the analogy is about.

Let's get right down to the point.

Forget about how the tests used to be, the code testing (which disappeared almost 4 years ago) and all that. Ancient history.

Suppose tomorrow the FCC announced a plan to give full amateur privileges to all US hams. No additional testing, no need to upgrade, everybody with a license today would get all US amateur privileges. Any US ham could apply for any available vanity call, too.

When you renewed your license, the new one would simply say "Amateur Radio License".

New hams would have to pass a very basic 20 question exam, mostly on safety. They'd be given a copy of Part 97 and have to promise to read it.

And then they'd get a full-privileges license, same as everybody else.

How would *you* feel about such a plan? Would you support it or oppose it?

73 de Jim, N2EY




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N2LWE
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« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2010, 05:04:55 AM »

N2EY, you said "I think I'm being blamed for what others have said." No one is blaming you. But after my original post it was you that stated "Ok I'll bite" as if you were going to set the record straight. And I disagree with the marathon issue. They do compete. Many want to have the best timing crossing the finish line. I'm not looking for a fight with you. I guess there is one thing I'm sure we both can agree on.... We can agree it's ok to disagree. That being said, have a good day.
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