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Author Topic: Zero to Extra Class in 3 Weeks. Confession of a Dick Bash Ham  (Read 13167 times)
WA4D
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« on: March 17, 2013, 10:31:37 AM »

I am a Dick Bash Ham!

I was first ticketed in 1965 (WN5KPI). Age 15. Then I discovered girls at 16 and dropped ham radio like a bad habit. (And my Novice ticket lapsed.)  Years later in the Army I called my Mom from Vietnam on a MARS station (Collins S-Line) and my interest was piqued for a couple of months till I went home  and back to school.  Again the girls on campus were way more fun than Ham radio.    Still I was interested in communications technology. I took an FCC 1st Class Radiotelephone Class and sat before the FCC and got my 1st Phone!  (1974) It resides on my office wall to this day. [Analog Certified!]  I went to work part time as a student in television and learned Video and audio from "real" engineers.  -----And of course read the obligatory Howard W. Sams Broadcast Engineering Book that makes your eyes bleed it was so boring.

Flash Forward: 1981….. As a Television News Cameraman in Wash DC, my sound man was a Ham (KK4XB) and we dropped into a Washington area  Ham Store in Rockville, Md.  I bought a Kenwood  R-600 recvr.    After a few weeks, I got the bug and decided to get my ticket.  KK4XB and I were cruising by the ham store again and I went in to buy the study guides.  

At that time there were controversial publications put out by a Ham named, "Dick Bash".  These paperback books were exact questions and answers from the FCC license class. A general Book. An Advanced Book. An Extra class book. Each book had 250 questions and multiple choice answers that were VERBATIM wording from the test.  (I didn't believe this to be true when I bought them, but I was assured, if you know the book, you can't fail.)  Those that used the "Dick Bash" STUDY guides were roundly castigated as "pretenders" and using unethical materials to pass the test. Indeed you were not a "real" ham if you used the Bash guides.

So, I bought all 3 books. Studied Morse for 6 weeks and got to 22wpm and then literally memorized the study guide. I took the General in Baltimore, Md on a Monday morning. (Took me about 20 min to blaze through the test and turn in to the unsmiling FCC examiner behind the Desk.) I took the Advanced 1 week later. And the Extra class on Monday of the third week.  Zero to Extra Class in 21 days.  I was issued the call sign N4FYC and had it about 2 weeks, then my current call arrived in the mail. WA4D.

And so it goes.....

mike
http://www.hamqth.com/wa4d
« Last Edit: March 17, 2013, 10:34:08 AM by WA4D » Logged
K9AIM
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« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2013, 02:20:27 PM »

This post would have been a good fit in the "Licensing" forum.  

Like yourself, I would have found it hard to believe in 1981 if I had found study materials consisting of the actual questions and answers to FCC amateur radio exams.  I remember how much work studying for the General and Advanced were for me in 1977, and how much easier it was recently studying for and then passing the Extra given that I could become familiar with the actual questions I would face at the exam.  In fact it was the difficulty and pride of attainment that caused me to keep my license current throughout three decades of relative inactivity on the air.  Part of that pride may also have been though the shock of attaining the same license level as my uncle who had held a Class A license in the earlier days of amateur radio.

It still feels wrong to me that the questions are published, but then again I also think the code requirements should go back to the way they were in 1977  Tongue  I won't hold my breath though  Grin
« Last Edit: March 17, 2013, 02:24:12 PM by K9AIM » Logged
WA4D
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« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2013, 02:48:45 PM »


the difficulty and pride of attainment


That about says it all Bob.  And that is a mantle I cannot lay claim to. (At least with respect to my Ham Ticket. I came in the back door.)  I do recall pausing for about 10 seconds to consider it after sailing through the General exam--- but the easy path won out.  I will not  tell you that memorizing 250 questions and answers each week was difficult in a faux attempt to assuage my guilt. Because #1 it would be a lie. And #2 I have no guilt!  Laughs.

Cheers,
mike
wa4d
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AC4RD
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« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2013, 03:19:46 PM »

Bash".  These paperback books were exact questions and answers from the FCC license class. A general Book. An Advanced Book. An Extra class book. Each book had 250 questions and multiple choice answers that were VERBATIM wording from the test.  (I didn't believe this to be true when I bought them, but I was assured, if you know the book, you can't fail.)  Those that used the "Dick Bash" STUDY guides were roundly castigated as "pretenders" and using unethical materials to pass the test. Indeed you were not a "real" ham if you used the Bash guides.

JMHO:  If the FCC had felt that way, back then, they wouldn't have allowed the publication of the exact question pools.  And lots of hams like to criticize other hams for not doing something or doing something or doing something with the wrong tool or whatever.

If you passed the test, you're a ham, you're a member of the club, you deserve the courtesy and respect of other hams--no matter what tests you took or what license you got or what modes or bands you use.

(And some days I just can't resist the trolls.)   Wink

BTW, I wanted to get a ticket in the late 60s/early 70s, but that non-renewable Novice license scared me.  I was sure I'd get the ticket, never get to 13wpm, and have to retest.  Then in 1991 I took the Tech-Plus tests, started working some DX on 15m CW, and a year later I passed 20wpm without ever having to "study" code at all.  Smiley
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K1YPP
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« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2013, 08:41:01 PM »

I suspect that the reality is, those that were really interested, such as yourself, WA4D, went on to become involved hams and never looked back. Others, that did take that route, that weren't really interested, faded away. Just because someone passed the test, doesn't mean they've accomplished much, it is what they do afterwards that is much more important.

I do vividly recall the Bash days. I suspect he made a number of equipment manufacturers happy, but I don't think there was any long term, healthy impact. I also don't think it did much harm, WA4D, being a good example. Wow, learning 22 WPM in that short period of time is an accomplishment.

At one event, I think it was the Boxboro Hamfest, in Massachusetts, I recall Dick Bash had a table in the exhibition hall and he was selling books, cash only and he had customers six-deep. He was doing cash only because it was fast, he was by himself, and he just didn't have time for credit cards or checks. It was amazing to watch! He would take the cash, and make change if necessary and then just throw the money in a pile on the floor behind him. It was a huge pile! I guess he seized the moment, I haven't heard much about him since.

As an author, I can appreciate his success. I think at Dayton, I picked up over 100 new readers in one day, and I was thrilled. I suspect Bash moved thousands of copies on that one day.

Dennis, K1YPP, author of Three Hundred Zeroes: Lessons of the Heart on the Appalachian Trail. An adventure story about one hams quest, carrying a QRP rig the length of the Appalachian Trail.
http://tinyurl.com/248ymjg
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WA4D
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« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2013, 09:06:27 PM »

Very insightful Dennis. I had not considered the points you offer.  Yes, despite my "back door" entry, I was motivated at the time. ( Of late, I have been all over D-Star ( http://www.wa4d.net ) and with sense of purpose. it's an exciting platform to learn.

. I learned morse at age 14/15. And I was probably at 8 wpm when I returned 16 years later. So it wasn't that much of a feat.  Still I was obsessed and practiced about 90 min. a day. 45 min a.m.   45 min pm.  I still  CW SWL each night for a few minutes ---- all because I learned it as a kid.

Thanks for note..... I have added 300 Zeroes to my Amazon WIsh List. (I read about 25 -30 books a year and currently in one and 2 on deck!)

Regards,
Mike  http://www.wa4d.net
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K9AIM
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« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2013, 02:37:40 AM »


the difficulty and pride of attainment


That about says it all Bob.  And that is a mantle I cannot lay claim to. (At least with respect to my Ham Ticket. I came in the back door.)  I do recall pausing for about 10 seconds to consider it after sailing through the General exam--- but the easy path won out.  I will not  tell you that memorizing 250 questions and answers each week was difficult in a faux attempt to assuage my guilt. Because #1 it would be a lie. And #2 I have no guilt!  Laughs.

Cheers,
mike
wa4d

I am glad you do not feel guilty, it sounds more like you feel a bit cheated of the sense of accomplishment you would have felt had the answers never been published. I kind of feel that way about the Extra.  When I passed the Advanced in 1977, the FCC guy at the Chicago office encouraged me to take the Extra.  I was 14 years old and although my code was close to 20wpm then from having been an active Novice -- I was too nervous over the fact that I knew I needed one minute of PERFECT copy. The perfect part added quite a bit of an intimidation factor for me since I had not planned on even taking the Extra *and* had never failed a test LOL. I bombed. Today I could pass the 20wpm easily,  but of course that is no longer necessary.  73, Rob K9AIM
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AC4RD
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« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2013, 04:13:00 AM »

When I passed the Advanced in 1977, the FCC guy at the Chicago office encouraged me to take the Extra.  I was 14 years old and although my code was close to 20wpm then from having been an active Novice -- I was too nervous over the fact that I knew I needed one minute of PERFECT copy. The perfect part added quite a bit of an intimidation factor for me since I had not planned on even taking the Extra

 :-)  Rob, in 1992 when I was taking the 13wpm test, for my General, a very nice man (Terry, AB4VJ) encouraged me to take the 20wpm test, which came before 13wpm in the VE session.  I didn't want to, but AB4VJ talked me into it "as a warmup for your REAL test."    I passed it--and my first reaction was, "Darn, now I've got to learn all that stuff in the Advanced license manual."   Wink
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W1JKA
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« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2013, 05:07:50 AM »

  This topic got me thinking,it would be interesting to know what study method and original class of license were held by a couple of radio amateurs Nick Telsa and Guiggy Marconi who were quite successful in the hobby after finally getting on the air,tuning up and having their first qso.
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G3RZP
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« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2013, 05:20:45 AM »

It looks to me that WA4D had the technical knowledge necessary anyway, so it was a familiarisation exercise with the exam rather than a 'learn by rote and still know nowt', as they say.
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N2EY
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« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2013, 07:27:11 AM »

If you passed the test, you're a ham, you're a member of the club, you deserve the courtesy and respect of other hams--no matter what tests you took or what license you got or what modes or bands you use.

I disagree!

I say:

If you passed the test honestly, according to the rules in force at the time, you're a ham, you're a member of the club, you deserve the courtesy and respect of other hams--no matter what tests you took or what license you got or what modes or bands you use.

There's a BIG difference there.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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AC4RD
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« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2013, 09:01:14 AM »


If you passed the test honestly, according to the rules in force at the time, you're a ham,

I intended "according to the rules in force at the time" as part of "if you passed the test"; that was not clear, I guess, from my message.  I'm not always at my best early in the morning.   "Honestly"--I hadn't even considered that, but you're certainly right.  Is cheating that big an issue?
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K9AIM
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« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2013, 10:35:04 AM »

  This topic got me thinking,it would be interesting to know what study method and original class of license were held by a couple of radio amateurs Nick Telsa and Guiggy Marconi who were quite successful in the hobby after finally getting on the air,tuning up and having their first qso.

Marconi had it made -- there were no frequency, mode, or band limitations -- let alone license requirements back then  Grin

i have always wondered what frequency Marconi used -- was it 160 meters?  antenna type? ... and did Tesla or anyone working with him ever get severely shocked?  ... using Google is soooo much work that i thought i would ask here  Tongue

People who have such a natural motivation to learn and explore the world would not be as big a concern  -- they would probably find asking the questions far more worthwhile than publishing the answers  Wink
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N2EY
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« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2013, 10:47:21 AM »

I intended "according to the rules in force at the time" as part of "if you passed the test"; that was not clear, I guess, from my message.  I'm not always at my best early in the morning. 

OK - no problem, then!

 "Honestly"--I hadn't even considered that, but you're certainly right.  Is cheating that big an issue?

It can be. For example, would it be OK to allow a prospective ham to bring some flashcards with formulas and other info on them into an exam session? I think not!

Point is, back when Bash was selling his books, having the exact Q&A was considered cheating by FCC and most hams. The rules changed in 1983 and put him out of business - but until then, it was cheating.

And note this: Back in those days the question pools were a lot smaller than today.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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AC4RD
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« Reply #14 on: March 18, 2013, 02:40:38 PM »

i have always wondered what frequency Marconi used -- was it 160 meters?  antenna type? ... and did Tesla or anyone working with him ever get severely shocked?  ... using Google is soooo much work that i thought i would ask here  Tongue

There's actually a book about Marconi's early wireless work, _Thunderstruck_, that was a moderate best-seller a few years ago.  Marconi and his corporation is only half of the story told in the book, but it's why I bought it when I saw it at an airport bookstall.  :-)  I thought it was very interesting, well worth the time.  Try your local library, it was a fairly big seller when it came out and there's a good chance they'll have it!

BTW, Jim N2EY--this only occurred to me later in the day, after I had a couple of cups of coffee:  How could you pass a licensing exam OTHER than the exam that was in force at the time?  Wink  Unless the VEC accidentally used an old version, which would presumably invalidate the results, or unless they went forward in time and came back with the future question pool  ...  Wink

One last off-topic digression:  I got VEC credentials and did a few tests with some of the locals, many years ago, back not long after I got my extra.  I was REALLY impressed by the diligence and the care and work that the testing guys put in.  Seeing it from a VEC volunteer position gave me a whole new impression of how much VEC volunteers do and how seriously they take it.

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