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Author Topic: Get over it! Old Ham vs new Ham  (Read 9730 times)
KG6AF
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« Reply #30 on: November 09, 2009, 09:04:53 AM »

The ARRL has a program called VE Exam Maker that prints exams.  If you're grading with templates, any standard ARRL template can be specified as the answer pattern.  One of the nice features of the program is a so-called Braille mode, which will produce a test with no graphics-based questions.

Overall, it's quite a nice piece of programming.
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N2EY
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« Reply #31 on: November 09, 2009, 04:05:19 PM »

The following is presented for historical accuracy only. The following covers only FCC-issued amateur radio licenses.

Medical Waivers

Medical waivers for the 13 and 20 wpm code tests existed from 1990 until 2000. They were granted by FCC upon presentation of a letter from a physician stating that the person would have more difficulty than usual in learning the code well enough to pass 13 or 20 wpm, due to a medical condition of some kind.

The letter did not have to specify the type of medical condition, nor did the condition have to be permanent or be of a kind that would completely prevent the person from learning the code to the required speed.

All that was required is that the condition make it more difficult for that person to learn code. How much more difficult was not specified. There was a document provided by FCC for physicians explaining what the letter should contain, and what the test was about.

Any physician (M.D. or D.O.) could sign such a letter. The FCC alone would decide whether or not to grant the waiver.

The FCC would not waiver the 5 wpm test because it was required for HF licenses by treaty.

The usual procedure was that the person seeking a waiver would show up at a VE session, pass the written exams, and present the letter. I don't know if the person was required to try the 13/20 wpm code test(s) or not.

If the person passed the writtens, all the paperwork would be sent to FCC and the license would be issued if FCC accepted the letter. AFAIK they almost always did, in fact I don't know of any case where FCC denied a medical waiver request.

The whole medical-waiver issue became a moot point in April 2000 when FCC eliminated the 13 and 20 wpm code tests from US amateur radio licensing.

Test Accomodations

Test Accomodations consist of changes made to the method or form of the code test to accomodate particular needs of examinees. Accomodations go back many decades. FCC examiners and VEs were granted wide latitude in allowing accomodations.

Examples of typical accomodations would be:
- Use of a typewriter, computer keyboard, Braille writer or verbalization rather than handwriting for copy
- Use of a flashing light or vibrating speaker rather than audio
- Use of specific tone or tones to match the hearing of the examinee
- Substitution of a sending test for the receiving test

And much more; it was up to the examiners and examinee to decide.

Accomodations became a moot point in 2007 when the 5 wpm code test was eliminated.

A person with no visible or obvious problems could ask for, and get, both a waiver and accomodations, if the rules were followed.

All ancient history now. But it's important, IMHO, to remember the history accurately.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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KB1SF
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« Reply #32 on: November 10, 2009, 05:55:31 AM »

Ray  (N5LRZ) wrote:  "I dropped the ARRL a question on this very topic specificly (sic) siteing (sic) the inability of a blind person to see the schematics. They replied that they were working on a test version that did not include schematics. Weither (sic) they completed and have this test ready and on line ready to use I will have to drop them another line of feedback to find out???"

-----------------

There's no need to do that, Ray.  The printed versions have already been distributed.  And their computer-based examination software also allows examiners to generate paper exams devoid of schematics.

In fact, I administered one of those pre-printed ARRL Extra Class examinations specifically purged of schematic-based questions to a blind person just a few months ago at one of our ARRL VEC-sponsored test sessions.

And while you make a case that a blind person could simply memorize the answers to those schematic-based questions, the need for such an "accommodation" simply highlights the glaring systemic discrimination that's now become horrifically entrenched in our licensing system.

Let's suppose, for example, that even though I still have my vision, I also have a particular problem with reading and interpreting schematics.  Is it fair that I should be given an Extra Class examination booklet containing schematics while someone else who can't see is given a test version that is devoid of same?

What if my missing one or two of those questions referencing a schematic diagram made the difference between me getting my license or not?

All of which simply brings me back to my original point: What overriding regulatory NEED is served by a person (with or without their vision) being forced to correctly answer such "nice to know", achievement-based test questions on an Extra Class examination in our Service?

How does knowing what's contained in a schematic diagram for a piece of electronic equipment make one UNIQUELY QUALIFIED (beyond the examination they've ALREADY successfully passed for their General Class license) to operate their (predominantly store-bought) equipment in the last few KHz of our HF Bands, or to apply for a so-called "exclusive" call sign?

The short answer is that it makes absolutely NO difference at all.  

Which is why I firmly believe our Extra Class license fills absolutely NO regulatory need under the ITU rules.  That, in turn, makes it (and, indeed, the licensing system that supports such needless nonsense) systemically discriminatory under US law.

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF
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NI3S
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Posts: 67




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« Reply #33 on: November 10, 2009, 07:12:17 PM »

Well I guess I am in the middle of this whole old vs.  new thing.

I first gained an interest in Ham radio after they dropped the code and created the no-code tech ticket.  I studied rules for a couple weeks, and earned a license.  Not long after, the HF bug was nibbling and a + was added to my note.  

A new family later, and ham fell by the wayside.  Expiration dates came and went.  A couple years ago a co-worker and ham urged me to again join the ranks.  A few weeks later, again a tech.  Lots of time passed, interests changed and no reason to upgrade.  

Meantime, the code went away.  Figuring an easy grab at HF, last month I passed General, today, less than a month later, Extra.  

So at one point I learned code, for me.  Honestly, more than likely I would never have earned a license if code was the only option. I had my GROL w/radar not long after my no-code tech.  

Want to ensure good technical folks use the internet and cell phones, keep lots of code requirements.  If you want new blood, fresh ideas, and the long term existence of amateur radio, get them in and convince them the merits of using code.
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W5ESE
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« Reply #34 on: November 11, 2009, 08:50:17 AM »

> Test Accomodations consist of changes made to the
> method or form of the code test to accomodate
> particular needs of examinees. Accomodations go back
> many decades. FCC examiners and VEs were granted wide
> latitude in allowing accomodations.

Yes; I was an ARRL VE about 20 years ago, and remember
administering an Amateur Extra class exam to a completely
sightless ham (including the 20 wpm code element).

He used a typewriter to copy, as I recall, and verbally
described schematics or block diagrams. He passed easily,
and I was very impressed.

I have no sympathy for the whiners we often have these
days.

73
Scott
W5ESE
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OLDFART13
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« Reply #35 on: November 11, 2009, 10:27:11 AM »

The Original Author Wrote:

"The point I am trying to make is I have worked just as hard for my ticket as anybody before me.
W4MLO ex KE4RAZ"

Milo, you sat around on your ass and waited for the code to be dropped before you upgraded.  Now I don't have anything against that, but don't come around and blab that you worked just as hard for your ticket as anybody before you.  You most definitely DID NOT!  Every General or above who was licensed a month before you actually worked harder then you did.  All the old Novices and Tech Plus hams worked harder then you did.  

By all means be proud of your license.  I have nothing against that.  But you were a no-code tech for over 11 years waiting on your ass for the code exam to be eliminated and then you come on here bragging that you worked as hard as anyone before you.  I don't think so.

73, Steve
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N2EY
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Posts: 3880




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« Reply #36 on: November 11, 2009, 05:31:54 PM »

KB1SF writes: "the need for such an "accommodation" simply highlights the glaring systemic discrimination that's now become horrifically entrenched in our licensing system."

What "glaring systemic discrimination"?
 
KB1SF: "Let's suppose, for example, that even though I still have my vision, I also have a particular problem with reading and interpreting schematics. Is it fair that I should be given an Extra Class examination booklet containing schematics while someone else who can't see is given a test version that is devoid of same?"

You could ask for the no-schematics version. I think most VEs would let you use it if you had a real visual disability.

KB1SF: "What if my missing one or two of those questions referencing a schematic diagram made the difference between me getting my license or not?"

Then you're NOT QUALIFIED. Go home, study some more, try again.

KB1SF: "All of which simply brings me back to my original point: What overriding regulatory NEED is served by a person (with or without their vision) being forced to correctly answer such "nice to know", achievement-based test questions on an Extra Class examination in our Service?"

Knowing something about radio is part of the Basis and Purpose of Amateur Radio. Schematics are a big part of radio, so it makes sense that they should have a place in the testing - particularly the full-privileges license class.

Here's what it's really all about:

Every right or privilege carries with it a corresponding responsibility.

For example, the rights of free speech and the press carry with them the responsibility to speak and print the truth. The right to vote carries with it the responsibility to be educated about the issues and candidates. The privilege of a driver's license carries with it the responsibility of driving safely.

And the privilege of using the amateur bands carries with it the responsibility to know something about radio. That includes stuff like basic schematics, Ohm's Law, etc.

It's really that simple.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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N2EY
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« Reply #37 on: November 11, 2009, 05:32:05 PM »

KB1SF writes: "the need for such an "accommodation" simply highlights the glaring systemic discrimination that's now become horrifically entrenched in our licensing system."

What "glaring systemic discrimination"?
 
KB1SF: "Let's suppose, for example, that even though I still have my vision, I also have a particular problem with reading and interpreting schematics. Is it fair that I should be given an Extra Class examination booklet containing schematics while someone else who can't see is given a test version that is devoid of same?"

You could ask for the no-schematics version. I think most VEs would let you use it if you had a real visual disability.

KB1SF: "What if my missing one or two of those questions referencing a schematic diagram made the difference between me getting my license or not?"

Then you're NOT QUALIFIED. Go home, study some more, try again.

KB1SF: "All of which simply brings me back to my original point: What overriding regulatory NEED is served by a person (with or without their vision) being forced to correctly answer such "nice to know", achievement-based test questions on an Extra Class examination in our Service?"

Knowing something about radio is part of the Basis and Purpose of Amateur Radio. Schematics are a big part of radio, so it makes sense that they should have a place in the testing - particularly the full-privileges license class.

Here's what it's really all about:

Every right or privilege carries with it a corresponding responsibility.

For example, the rights of free speech and the press carry with them the responsibility to speak and print the truth. The right to vote carries with it the responsibility to be educated about the issues and candidates. The privilege of a driver's license carries with it the responsibility of driving safely.

And the privilege of using the amateur bands carries with it the responsibility to know something about radio. That includes stuff like basic schematics, Ohm's Law, etc.

It's really that simple.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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KB1SF
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« Reply #38 on: November 12, 2009, 04:02:37 AM »

Jim (N2EY) wrote:  "Then you're NOT QUALIFIED. Go home, study some more, try again."
------------------

You're "not qualified"…. for WHAT, Jim?

I've asked this same question over and over again (of you and a whole bunch of other people) in these forums and I have yet to get a straight answer…. or, for that matter....even AN answer.

So, I'll ask the question again:  How does knowing what's contained in a schematic diagram for a piece of electronic equipment make one UNIQUELY QUALIFIED (beyond the examination one has  ALREADY successfully passed for their General Class license) to operate their (predominantly store-bought) equipment in the last few KHz of our HF Bands, or to apply for a so-called "exclusive" call sign?

What overriding regulatory NEED does that so-called "Extra Class" license serve?

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF
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N2EY
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« Reply #39 on: November 12, 2009, 04:30:15 PM »

I previously wrote: "Then you're NOT QUALIFIED. Go home, study some more, try again."
------------------

KB1SF asks: "You're "not qualified"…. for WHAT, Jim?"

Not qualified for a full-privileges amateur license, Keith.
 
KB1SF: "How does knowing what's contained in a schematic diagram for a piece of electronic equipment make one UNIQUELY QUALIFIED (beyond the examination one has ALREADY successfully passed for their General Class license) to operate their (predominantly store-bought) equipment in the last few KHz of our HF Bands, or to apply for a so-called "exclusive" call sign?"

Simple: It's part of what a ham with full privileges should know.

KB1SF: "What overriding regulatory NEED does that so-called "Extra Class" license serve?"

It promotes and supports the Basis and Purpose of Amateur radio, as spelled out in Part 97.

Here's how it works:

The FCC has decided that in order for someone to have full amateur privileges, they should know certain things. Or at least some of those things. That's why we have licenses and exams for them.

Now we could have just one license class, and a test that included everything FCC considered important for a full-privileges ham to know. But that would require a would-be ham to learn a lot of stuff just to get started.

So the required knowledge is broken down into a series of tests, to make Amateur Radio more accessible to beginners. A person can start with any license class by passing the required tests. Learning more is rewarded by more privileges.

That's really how it works.

Remember that an amateur license isn't just a license to use store-bought, manufactured, channelized, no-tuneup radios on a few bands and modes. We hams have far more privileges than that! Part of those privileges is that we can design, build, repair, modify and convert radio equipment for amateur use without certification, type-acceptance, or inspection of any kind. What other radio service allows that of its licensees?

But every right or privilege carries with it a corresponding responsibility.

For example, the rights of free speech and the press carry with them the responsibility to speak and print the truth. The right to vote carries with it the responsibility to be educated about the issues and candidates. The privilege of a driver's license carries with it the responsibility of driving safely.

And the privilege of using the amateur bands carries with it the responsibility to know something about radio. That includes stuff like basic schematics, Ohm's Law, etc.

And the US amateur exams really only cover the basics. The Extra has been earned by bright children in elementary school!

Do you *really* think a license that can be earned by people whose ages haven't reached double digits is "systematically discriminatory" against anyone?


73 de Jim, N2EY
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KB1SF
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« Reply #40 on: November 13, 2009, 04:33:29 AM »

Jim (N2EY) wrote:  "Remember that an amateur license isn't just a license to use store-bought, manufactured, channelized, no-tuneup radios on a few bands and modes. We hams have far more privileges than that! Part of those privileges is that we can design, build, repair, modify and convert radio equipment for amateur use without certification, type-acceptance, or inspection of any kind. What other radio service allows that of its licensees?

But every right or privilege carries with it a corresponding responsibility.

For example, the rights of free speech and the press carry with them the responsibility to speak and print the truth. The right to vote carries with it the responsibility to be educated about the issues and candidates. The privilege of a driver's license carries with it the responsibility of driving safely.

And the privilege of using the amateur bands carries with it the responsibility to know something about radio. That includes stuff like basic schematics, Ohm's Law, etc.

And the US amateur exams really only cover the basics. The Extra has been earned by bright children in elementary school!

Do you *really* think a license that can be earned by people whose ages haven't reached double digits is "systematically discriminatory" against anyone?


73 de Jim, N2EY"

-------------------------

Once again, Jim, you've done another wonderful kabuki dance around the issue.  

But, you STILL haven't addressed my basic question.  

So, I'll ask it again:  How does knowing what's contained in a schematic diagram for a piece of electronic equipment make one UNIQUELY QUALIFIED (beyond the examination one has ALREADY successfully passed for their General Class license) to operate their equipment in the last few KHz of our HF Bands, or to apply for a so-called "exclusive" call sign?

I've always found it fascinating in their news release that reported their decision to completely eliminate Morse testing in our Service, the FCC noted that, "This change eliminates an unnecessary regulatory burden that may discourage current amateur radio operators from advancing their skills and participating more fully in the benefits of Amateur Radio."

But it seems the FCC conveniently FORGOT to mention the blatant "unnecessary regulatory burden" our Extra Class license requirements pose to anyone (including people whose ages, as you say, haven't reached double digits) seeking full access to the "benefits of Amateur Radio".

It's not the "easiness" or "hardness" of the tests that are at issue here, Jim.  Rather, it's the RELEVANCE of the content and comprehensiveness of what's on our license exams as compared to the operational privileges they grant.

Nobody seems to be arguing the fact that General Class licensees have ALREADY demonstrated to our FCC that they can safely and courteously operate in on our HF bands because they have ALREADY been given HF operating privileges.

That is, beyond knowing where a new set of band edges might be (or reading and following a set of directions on how to apply for a so-called "Extra Class" call sign) the operational knowledge and skill requirements for an Extra Class license are virtually IDENTICAL to the operational knowledge and skill requirements for a General Class license.

All of which now begs the obvious question that you and others seem to not want to address, let alone to answer:  "Does it REALLY require the mastery of the knowledge contained in a 600-page license manual along with the successful completion of yet ANOTHER written examination to verify one's fitness to operate in the last few KHz of our HF bands and/or to apply for a so-called "exclusive" call sign… particularly when the 50 questions on that exam bear little or no relationship to the additional privileges granted?

Indeed, if the ONLY established REGULATORY outcome possession of an Extra Class license in our Service grants is "exclusive" (that is, "ego-stroking") access to yet another portion of frequency spectrum that lower class licensees have ALREADY demonstrated their fitness to operate in, then it seems to me an excellent legal case could now be made that the requirement to even HAVE such an "Extra Class" license in the mix has absolutely NO regulatory basis under Article 25 (and the recommendations associated, thereto) of the ITU rules.

Indeed, how can forcing handicapped people (or anyone else for that matter!) to successfully complete yet ANOTHER examination in order for them to be allowed to exercise so-called "exclusive" privileges that are OPERATIONALLY IDENTICAL to those granted to a lower class licensee be anything BUT an "unnecessary regulatory burden"?  

And if that Extra Class license IS nothing but an "unnecessary regulatory burden" compared to what the international rules suggest, then all of those "accommodation" and "special examination" procedures we've been discussing here and elsewhere for helping blind people read and interpret schematic diagrams on an Extra Class exam become quite moot, don't they?  

The bottom line here, Jim, is that, under a federally-funded, US Government-administered program like Amateur Radio, stroking egos and making people feel "exclusive" can no longer be the SOLE regulatory outcome for arbitrarily withholding operational privileges in our Service from one otherwise qualified group of people over another.  

Indeed, that approach to regulating and licensing individuals in US Federal agencies was ruled illegal by a whole plethora of equal access legislation DECADES ago.  Today, there has to be some operationally based REASON for such discrimination.  

And simply stroking someone's ego doesn't cut it.

Now, obviously, the FCC got away with such regulatory foolishness in the 1950s and 1960s when they tried to turn Amateur Radio into a federally supported. "degree-granting" technical "university" by awarding higher and higher classes of licenses, each with its own ego-stroking set of mode and frequency-based operating privileges.  

But the fact remains that the FCC is a US federal REGULATORY agency.  It is NOT (and never has been) an institution of higher learning.  And the FCC has never had any underlying legal basis for setting themselves up as one.  They have even less today.  

That's because the ONLY legal basis the FCC has under the International Radio Regulations (and US equal access law) is to determine one's fitness to safely OPERATE on our Amateur Radio bands.  Period.

My hunch is that the lawyers down at the FCC in Washington, are now finding it ever more difficult to maintain their 1950s-era, "No Budding RF Engineer Left Behind", achievement-based (as opposed to operationally-based) licensing system for our Service in the face of today's ever-more pervasive equal access legal requirements.

Indeed, I (as well as numerous others) have already WELL established that the Extra Class license meets the criteria for being systemically discriminatory under today's federal equal-access laws.  

So, as I see it, you and your like-thinking buddies can continue your wonderful kabuki dances around the issue.  But, as far as I'm concerned, the ONLY remaining question going forward becomes what (if anything) our politicians and regulatory bureaucrats plan to DO about the blatantly obvious systemic discrimination that STILL pervades the licensing system for our Service.

'Nuff said.

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF
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W7KB
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« Reply #41 on: November 13, 2009, 06:15:17 PM »

W4MLO;You are absolutely right.You worked as hard as others to get your ticket.It is as good and valid as any other license.You just did not work as hard on the CW exam portion of this license.The important thing now is to get out there and use this license to the full extent of class privileges and most of all have fun using it and learning the varied aspects of Amateur Radio.73.W7KB.
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OLDFART13
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« Reply #42 on: November 14, 2009, 09:14:08 PM »

W7KB es Milo,

I guarantee that the General exam that I took was A LOT harder then what he took.  But, I agree that we should have fun with our license and continue to learn.  I'm not putting anyone down, I'm simply stating that some of us did indeed work harder and his statements are incorrect.  His age didn't have anything to do with it either.  A lot younger folks upgraded to General and Extra while he had his Tech ticket.

73, Steve
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N2EY
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« Reply #43 on: November 15, 2009, 09:21:40 AM »

W7KB writes: "You worked as hard as others to get your ticket."

How does anyone know how "hard" someone worked to earn their license?

Some people learn new things quickly and easily, and others have to put forth a lot of time and effort to learn the same things.

Some people come to Amateur Radio with a solid background in math, science, technology, etc., and for them passing the exams is a matter of filling in the bits that are specific to amateur radio. (There are probably some whose backgrounds permit them to pass the exams with no study at all). Others come to Amateur Radio with very little background in technology, and have to learn a lot just to get started.

Some people enjoy learning new things, particularly about radio. For them reading the Handbook, license manuals and other radio-related stuff is fun, not work. Others resist learning new things, and it's a real struggle for them.

So how can we compare how "hard" one person had to work to earn their license, compared to another?

And what does it matter?

W7KB: "It is as good and valid as any other license."

Agreed!

W7KB: "You just did not work as hard on the CW exam portion of this license."

Not sure what the point is there.

W7KB: "The important thing now is to get out there and use this license to the full extent of class privileges and most of all have fun using it and learning the varied aspects of Amateur Radio."

EXACTLY!

73 de Jim, N2EY
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KC7MF
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« Reply #44 on: November 18, 2009, 09:19:23 PM »

Well done KB1SF! A very thoughtfull post. I have had my eyes opened a bit.

Clearly the spectrum belongs to the people. For its emergency response capabilities it is a bargain for them. But as you correctly point out; the maintaining of separate spectrum for people who have passed a test that is largely irrevevant to the practice of amateur radio is frankly silly.

The FCC was correct when they concluded that code was no longer worth the effort and I would maintain that neither is learning advanced electronics theory.

I can fix my old Swans but the 706markIIG? No chance. That is what technicians do not operators. Much of the theory in the Extra class exam is frankly useless knowledge. It is difficult simply to make it difficult to access the additional bandwidth. The owners of the spectrum gain nothing from the sweat that generals put into getting the extra class license.

Come on folks. One needs to know virtually nothing about electronics to be a successfull ham. We post the answers to the questions so they can be memorized. If a deep knowledge of electronics is considered necessary by the owners of the spectrum then the test should be essay and not multiple choice.

Of course such an exam (and the reestablishment of code as well) would spell the death of ham radio.

For the record I would like to point out that there are plenty of proud 30 wpm code guys who can't solder a wire, operate a computer or tell me which end of a wave guide the stuff comes out of.....
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