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Posts: 2566

« Reply #30 on: December 27, 2011, 09:35:50 AM »

We are a land of rules and laws.
Those that do not want to abide by those, need to get another hobby.
The new breed of Ham operators are, for the most part just plain lazy
and do not want to work for for education.

That is an unfair generalization. While there may be a certain percentage of any group or age group that campaigns to "make things easier" there are probably a greater number of folks who would study hard to pass an examination to any degree of difficulty. One such person would be John Travolta, good actor, has no need to "prove" his abilities to anyone. As a hobby he went out and earned a private pilots license and upgraded to a commercial license to fly the big passenger jets. He does not do that because he wants to switch careers to being a commercial aviator. He has a passion.

I have a BSEE with a good part of an MSEE, specifically in RF engineering under my belt. The sciences were a passion since I was eleven years old and it worked out nicely to have a career that collided with my passion and also with one of my recreations (amateur radio). Yet I get "gigged" by people who scoff and try to belittle me for not taking the "hard tests" of the 70's or somehow try to insinuate that I "had it easy" because I am an EE. I learned CW, not because it is my favorite mode of operation but just to shove it back in the faces of those who say "well, you are a no-coder ham". I am quite adept at running clean copy at 15 WPM.

I follow these little links to things like the Canadian and UK tests to take them as practice exams. No, I do not need to know under what division of government is responsible for licensing in the UK so while I will look up those answers I work through the theory and troubleshooting exercises for the fun of it.

Back to the original question regarding the buying and selling of licenses. I am also a VE but would rather be an instructor on the theory of RF engineering (one of the things I am paid to do). Professionally some of my students would rather be somewhere else and occupy the classroom time playing around on their mobile phone or doing their email on their laptop during training. I spot those people really quickly and do not devote as much effort in them... They just want what amounts to a certificate of attendance. Some others really get into it and are constantly asking questions, so the teaching experience for me is much more fun as we can wander off into some really cool phenomena of RF theory, propagation analysis and advanced troubleshooting. "Those" people would make great ham radio operators and if I was not bound up in the classroom outline and that a customer is paying $200/hr for me to be there to teach, we could go on late into the evening on theory and even cross the boundaries of them taking on a hobby of amateur radio.

I have participated in a few test sessions with several different teams (some where I do not get the credit for working a VE session because they have 4-5 other VE's there as well and if you have ever worked on a team you know there is limited space to fill out how many names/ callsigns participated in the test session. One of the teams I did a few test sessions for wanted to run a test with only two VE's present. I made it clear that unless we had a third we could not run a test session. At the end of that test session (they scrabbled up a third VE really quickly) I was kindly and gently dis-invited from working with their team (basically, don't call us, we'll call you). I think that if there was only one VE present he would have run the test session and pencil whipped in the names of some of the other local VE's who were not there.

I picked up weird vibes from that team and some of the students. As if they expected this to be an open book test with chances to go back and review their wrong answers. The VE team leader would shush them and toss a knowing glance in my direction and I could sense the frustration among the test takers and VE's that it was not business as usual as long as I was around.

I watch for an uptick in what I am getting VE credits for. If I see my count deviating upwards with unexplained test sessions that I supposedly "sat in for" I would report that team quicker than you can say banannarama.

Ms. Tisha Hayes, AA4HA
Lookout Mountain, Alabama
Free space loss (dB) = 32.4 + 20 × log10d + 20 × log10 f

Posts: 99

« Reply #31 on: December 29, 2011, 10:47:30 PM »

It was my initial question and comments that started this thread . I have been following the discussion.

Amateur radio as has been pointed out is only a hobby. It is not a profession or business. Yet I can think of no other hobby which requires a test formally administered by the government in the USA (now adminstered by VEC's ) and still administered by  Government's in most countries around the world. It is also a hobby that transcends borders and is still regulated by national governments. What other hobbies are like this?

When a US radio amateur operates outside the borders of the USA he or she is governed by the rules and regulations of the country they operate in. Whereas there are some formal rules that are governed internationally by the IARU such as what frequencies may be allocated according to region and what call signs may be used for each country and geographic entity,testing and licensing requirements are left up to each country. They may differ considerably. As far as I know there are no international standards for amateur radio tests especially in Africa,Latin America  Asia and many Island States. 

Furthermore every country has there own set of rules as what a radio amateurs may speak about over the air. In the USA we are blessed with a Constitution that for the most part allows US radio amateurs the right to discuss anything they wish over the air including such subjects as politics , religion and to some extent sex  and some other subjects which may tend to be controversial. Radio amateurs in many other countries are forbidden to talk about controversial matters over the air that we in the USA can discuss.

I for one will not intentionally talk or discuss anything controversial over the air even if it may be legal in the USA.
One never knows who is listening and I do not want intentionally or even unintentionally to create controversy over the air or to antagonize someone who may be listening outside the borders of the USA who maybe offended from what I am talking about. I know there are others who disagree with me and say we as American radio amateurs with our freedom of speech as guaranteed in the US Constitution have the right to speak about whatever we want even if it may offend others and is illegal outside of the USA.

I bring this up because I think in recent years the US government through the FCC, which is the regulatory agency that oversees amateur radio, has whether it be because of budgetary and /or other reasons  become less stringent in enforcing rules and regulations of the amateur radio service and this includes the over sight of amateur radio licensing.

In general at least in the USA those that skirt the rules and regulations are probably few and far between. Since the VEC system was instituted almost 30 years ago there has been as far as I know very few complaints as to how amateur radio exams have been administerd, The same applies to how it has been regulated. 

But I think when the FCC administered the exams there was less an incentive to bend the rules as there maybe today. I took all my amateur radio exams except for my novice test, and this was from the General Class through the Extra Class exam,at the FCC offices in New York City  Maybe I am mistaken on this assumption. I have no data to prove this one way or the other. In other words  it was much more difficult  to cheat when the FCC administered the exams than today. Iit was also  unheard of that an FCC official administering amateur radio exams could be bribed or look the other way for someone to pass the test. That would have been a Federal crime that could have gotten that official and the person doing the bribing or cheating  a jail sentence. Is it today  a federal crime to bribe a VEC official  and if so what are the penalties? It is a Federal crime to bribe a US government employee.

We must also remember that besides being a hobby amateur radio at least for some people is also a business and for some manufacturers and amateur radio dealers  it is a multi million dollar business. It would not pay these  dealers  and manufacturers to go into the radio amateur market unless they could make a profit in the business The dealers and  manufacturers of amateur  radios and  amateur radio accessories  also benefit by he more radio amateurs around who are licensed. The more licensees that are available around the world it follows that the more equipment should be sold.The more equipment that is sold the greater the profits for dealers and the manufacturers of this equipment and the greater incentive it is for them to come out with new equipment.
Why is it that at least on paper the country with the most radio amateurs in the world  is Japan? Japan is also the country of origin of most of the major amateur radio manufacturers. Why is it also that one of the fastest growing countries for new radio amateurs, especially of those that are only limited to the equivalent of a novice or tech license in the USA is China.A few years ago there were no Chinese radio amateurs and today there are more than 10000 most of them with a license similar to a US Tech license. To  meet this demand the Chinese are now manufacturing vhf and uhf transceivers and even a small amount of hf transceivers that are being sold on the world amateur radio markets and under pricing amateur radio equipment manufactured in Japan and the USA. Some radio amateurs think that some of the Chinese amateur radio equipment especially there HT's is just as good as similar Japanese and the American equipment. That is debateable.

Again an argument can be made that making it easier for radio amateurs to be licensed helps dealers and companies that manufacture amateur radio equipment sell more of their products. It is no secret that many of the  dealers and manufacturers of amateur radio equipment including accessories favored doing away with the CW requirement for obtaining an amateur radio license. That opened the way for more radio amateurs in the USA to obtain General Class Amateur Radio  licenses.In other countries like the UK or Australia a Freedom Class license was begun . These licenses which were much easier to obtain than the higher grade licenses allowed more radio amatuers HF priveleges in these countries. I heard that among  the groups that most lobbied for theseeasier class licenses in the UK and Australia where local amateur radio dealers and of course the manufacturers of amateur radio equipment and accessory products. 

Again there is no data that I have seen that correlates or substantiates the position that dealers and companies that manufacture amateur radio equipment and accessories either directly or indirectly want to make it easier for radio amateurs around the world to obtain amateur radio licenses.however  the more radio amateur licenses there are in the USA and around the world  the more new equipment they will sell. another very good example of this is in Russia. It used to be before the breakup of the USSR that most Russian radio operators could only operate through club stations and had homebrew or poor equipment as compared to radio amateurs in the West. Today I  have spoken  to quite a few  Russian radio amateurs on HF  and many of them have the best equipment made in Japan and the USA. It also seems there are a lot more Russian radio amateurs today than there were under the bad old days when the Soviets were in power. Maybe they made the tests easier? At least today  they have done away with the ideology to get a license. .

 Again there maybe something to this hypothesis that it is in the best interst of radio amateur dealers and manufacturers of amateur radio equipment to see that there are more radio amateurs around the world . This means from there perspective it should be easier to get an amateur radio license than it was in the past and they will lobby for this.


Posts: 531

« Reply #32 on: December 30, 2011, 01:52:43 PM »

The UK Foundation license is actually very similar to the US Technician license in content, with the major difference being that we use power limits to differentiate the different classes (10W,50W,400W) for the most part with some privileges reserved for Advanced licensees (Maritime Mobile, High power telecommand links, Getting the 60M variation, some extreme microwave bands, a few things like that).

Foundation is also restricted to commercial transmit equipment, while intermediate and advanced can both build their own (And the intermediate requires you to build some kind of simple kit or circuit to pass the practical (A VFO or DC receiver seems to be common)).

IME most countries tests seem to be broadly similar in content with minor differences in level and privileges at each level, not enough to be any kind of problem in reality.
Any of these tests can only be at most a beginning, the real learning comes afterwards.

The other very obvious government administered hobby test is the Private Pilots License, for substantially the same reason (Ability to cause problems for others).

Regards, Dan.

Posts: 4708

« Reply #33 on: December 30, 2011, 03:56:38 PM »

Amateur radio as has been pointed out is only a hobby. It is not a profession or business.

Sorry, that's a false trichotomy. A thing that is not a profession or business isn't "only a hobby" by default. There are many other possibilities.

Consider volunteer firefighters - they are not "professionals" because they don't get paid. And they are not in the business of firefighting. But being a volunteer firefighter isn't "only a hobby"!

Or consider volunteers of all sorts - adults who lead Scout troops, people who help out at their place of worship, community volunteers, and much more. Or all kinds of amateur sports, performing arts, fine arts, crafts, etc. "Only a hobby"? I think not!

Yes, ham radio is "a hobby" to many hams. But that doesn't mean the Amateur Radio Service itself is "only a hobby" and nothing more.

Yet I can think of no other hobby which requires a test formally administered by the government in the USA (now adminstered by VEC's ) and still administered by  Government's in most countries around the world. It is also a hobby that transcends borders and is still regulated by national governments. What other hobbies are like this?

Lots of them.

If someone wants to fly an airplane, ride a motorcycle, or drive a truck as "a hobby", they need a license to do so. (In my state, driving a truck or RV above a certain size, or pulling a trailer above a certain weight, requires a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) even if the person does it "as a hobby"

More to come!

73 de jim, N2EY
« Last Edit: December 30, 2011, 06:58:26 PM by N2EY » Logged

Posts: 116

« Reply #34 on: June 01, 2013, 06:02:00 PM »

  Catch the Offenders (VE and the Candidate) Fine and give them both prison time and bar all from getting or keeping a ticket.

Posts: 757

« Reply #35 on: June 21, 2013, 06:04:10 AM »

I personally witnessed a local VE, change two answers on a General license test so a guy would pass.  I tend to think if the money was right, he would just out-right sell you a license. 

WC4V Steve
Really?  Did you report it to the VEC or the FCC?  If not, you're as guilty as they are for condoning this by inaction.

And what of the other two VE's that were present?  Did they also condone this behavior?  If they didn't see it, then what were they doing?

Sorry.  Not buying the story.

Posts: 70

« Reply #36 on: June 23, 2013, 05:45:03 PM »

VECs have been selling licenses and handing them out to their good buddies for years and years.  Nothing new there.

At one point I was a Tech+.  Life happened and my license expired.  After deciding to get another ticket I sat for the Tech exam again and passed easily.  A few month later I got a call about this test.  They were asking if I knew the VECs at the event and wondered why my score was good and the like.  This caused me to question the nature of the call.  Apparently someone at this test was helping his 'buddies' get a license with little regard for their actual test scores.  I never found out the eventual outcome.

For my personal end, I explained the tech plus thing, told the person that I have GROL and have been employed in an electronics related field for long time.  I also volunteered to take another exam.   In the end it was determined that my test was legit. 

How many people at that exam were on the "good ole' boy" list?  I'll never know, but I do know, for sure, that something suspicious happened that day, enough that someone took the time to investigate.

Posts: 436

« Reply #37 on: June 24, 2013, 08:26:07 PM »

A few month later I got a call about this test.  They were asking ...

Who are "they"?


Posts: 473

« Reply #38 on: July 02, 2013, 10:48:16 AM »


...BC NR4C

Posts: 42

« Reply #39 on: July 10, 2013, 01:17:57 PM »

I'd like to think that cheating doesn't happen, so far I had to get mine the old fashion way by studying.  But I can imagine there must be some "Good old boy" mentality with some of the ham clubs with the VE's administering the tests to friends and fellow club members. So far the 2 tests I've taken seemed to be on the up and up to me. 

Posts: 729

« Reply #40 on: July 13, 2013, 11:19:07 AM »

I wonder if the former King of Jordan, now deceased, "JY1" took a test. 

Posts: 0

« Reply #41 on: July 23, 2013, 10:49:09 PM »

In Thailand, the route to obtaining a ham licence is to take a written technical exam in Thai language.  Clearly, that would be impossible for almost all non-Thais who live in the country, (I do actually read/write Thai).

So the alternative route for some lucky non-Thai hams is to get a reciprocal licence.  But that only applies to the few countries that Thailand has an agreement with.  If you British or a US citizen, then you're in luck!  If you're from a minor European country or (heaven forbid), some developing country, then you're out of luck Sad


Posts: 105

« Reply #42 on: July 27, 2013, 12:25:03 AM »

I personally witnessed a local VE, change two answers on a General license test so a guy would pass.  I tend to think if the money was right, he would just out-right sell you a license. 


Word was years ago a group was selling Extra class licenses in Houston for $300 so they would grade the test as passed...given some of the hams suspected, I would not doubt it (and wouldn't doubt it happens today..I've been in ham, 2way and broadcast radio for 40 years..some of these new ones could not have passed an Extra exam on first try)

Posts: 149

« Reply #43 on: March 28, 2017, 10:01:33 AM »

   I took all of my Commercial exams and Amateur exams at the FCC office in Boston, MA,
and so I have never witnessed a VE (3 member) exam session. But, I've always had my
suspicions that some of these VE (3 member) teams are not 100% legit. A case in point
to confirm my suspicions is that I recently became aware of a newly formed local VE
(3 member) exam team that is comprised entirely of recently licensed Extras. By listening
to these folks operation style and lingo on a local repeater, I can tell that they were just
illegal CB'ers a couple of years ago. note: That particular newly formed local VE team
seems to be hatching newly licensed Techs and General as if they were rabbits multiplying.

         73, and hang in there


Posts: 42

« Reply #44 on: April 02, 2017, 09:57:33 AM »

Im sure the buying of licenses, especially in other countries still occurs.
This may not even be illegal.
The actual requirements are vague and few. They appear to mostly be recommendations?

notice the use of "recommends" and "should"   

c) that RR No. 25.6 provides that “Administrations shall verify the operational and technical
qualifications of any person wishing to operate an amateur station”;
d) that certain minimum operator operational and technical qualifications are necessary for
proper operation of an amateur or amateur-satellite station,

1 that administrations take such measures as they judge necessary to verify the operational and
technical qualifications of any person wishing to operate an amateur station;

2 that any person seeking a licence to operate an amateur station should demonstrate theoretical
knowledge of:
– Radio regulations
– international
– domestic
– Methods of radiocommunication
– radiotelephony
– radiotelegraphy1
– data and image

1 The ability to send and receive texts in Morse code signals is not a minimum qualification.
See RR No. 25.5.
2 Rec. ITU-R M.1544-1
– Radio system theory
– transmitters
– receivers
– antennas and propagation
– measurements
– Radio emission safety
– Operating procedures
– Electromagnetic compatibility
– Avoidance and resolution of radio frequency interference.!!PDF-E.pdf

There also maybe other countries with reciprocity with the USA where it is still possible for an individual or family to buy there amateur radio license without having to take an exam. Then they can come to the USA and enjoy full priveleges here using a reciprocal license.

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