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Author Topic: Why Have An Extra Class?  (Read 161226 times)
N2EY
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Posts: 3894




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« Reply #150 on: September 18, 2010, 02:37:13 PM »

It had more to due with placing a personal radio service intended for short range communications on a frequency (27 MHz) that is often open to world-wide communications, especially doing it near the peak of a sun spot cycle. What were they thinking  Shocked

UHF CB (on the frequencies now used for FRS/GMRS) predated 11 meter CB by over a decade. There were many designs for UHF CB sets, but they all suffered from the same problem: The good sets were expensive and complex, while the inexpensive and simple sets weren't very good - particularly when meant for use by untrained people. Even the professional manufacturers couldn't lick that problem.

11 meter CB was created by FCC for three reasons:

1) Manufacturers could produce sets with decent performance for a lot less money than on UHF
2) The frequencies could be reallocated without violating the treaty
3) The FCC thought that by requiring licenses and writing rules, the service would be well-behaved. They could not imagine that people would soon simply ignore their rules and regs and do whatever they felt like on the cb channels.

FCC could not imagine, in 1958, that they would lose control of cb within a decade or so. But that's exactly what happened.

In a way, FCC did ham radio a huge favor by creating 11 meter cb and losing control of it. We hams got to see what could happen if our entry standards were lowered enough. We were thus able to avoid repeating the mistake.

Of course some folks think cb is just fine, and want amateur radio to become just like it. Others want us to forget or ignore what happened to cb - so we can repeat it in amateur radio.

I say "No thanks!"

btw, in the mid-1970s, the EIA proposed a new "Class E" cb service on 220 MHz - which would be created by taking the band away from hams. Again, that could be done without violating the treaty. Both hams and cb folks opposed it, and the idea was eventually dropped. Instead, FCC added 13 more 27 MHz channels.

EIA wanted the change for two reasons. First, technology had reached the point where they could make synthesized 220 FM sets for reasonable prices, with many more channels than were possible on 11. Second, the move to 220 would make almost all existing 11 meter stuff useless, and cb folks would have to buy all new sets for 220. (Power supplies and coax would probably be the only things reused). Lots of $$ to be made!

Of course hams opposed it because they didn't want to lose yet another band to anarchy. CB folks opposed it because of both the dollar cost of new gear and the fact that "working skip", running high power and other attractions of 11 meters would be a lot more difficult on 220.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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AB2T
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Posts: 246




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« Reply #151 on: September 18, 2010, 02:48:26 PM »

I suppose that the FCC never learned that type-accepted personal radio services inevitably degrade into anarchy.

What is true is that personal-radio services such as 27 MHz cb become anarchic unless there is effective enforcement and a personal investment on the part of the users.

I should have been more specific.  It's true that not all type-accepted services are anarchic.  The personal type-accepted services sometimes assume anarchic characteristics.  I was referring to GMRS and the fact that plenty (perhaps the majority) of the users in this service do not pay the licensing fee.  GMRS does not resemble 11m CB.  Still, I could see the FCC giving up on GMRS like it did with CB and just let people have a run of the place with modded ham or commercial rigs at all levels of power.

Yet we hams have slid towards a de facto type acceptance.

Maybe you have. I haven't. Lots of hams I know haven't, either. And they're not all, or even mostly, old-timers, though many are. (See my shack picture in QRZ.com)

Another generalization I shouldn't've made.  Yet we hams "Some hams ..."  There is a notable segment of hams that are not interested in repair or homebrew, but that is a long-standing phenomenon as you note.   

It's important to remember that when you see someone railing against a requirement, what they're often really saying is that *they* don't want to meet that requirement.

I don't see it that way necessarily.  As can be seen in license statistics, it is possible that many Advanced operators were spurred to upgrade to Extra after the 20 wpm was dropped in 2000.  An operator that earned an Advanced under the ancien regime but waited for restructuring to earn the Extra should not be belittled for not upgrading when the 20 wpm was in effect.  Who's to judge?  Who cares?  All Extras are full licensees.  That's what matters. 

Arguments that attempt to disguise envy for the accomplishments of others are troubling.  Waiting for restructuring to earn a ticket or upgrade is commendable so far as earning any license is commendable.  Hams that malign pre-restructuring Extras and 1x2/2x1 call holders simply because of their longer licensure or desire to hold a certain type of call reflect inadequacies that transcend amateur radio itself. 

73, Jordan
« Last Edit: September 18, 2010, 02:55:20 PM by Jordan » Logged
KH6DC
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Posts: 642




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« Reply #152 on: September 18, 2010, 04:00:24 PM »

I did it from No-Code Tech to Extra.  Took each exam plus 5 wpm, 13wpm then 20wpm morse code exams and passed.  It was great back then and the incentive was more operating frequencies, more room to play, etc.  I wish they bring back morse code, at least to the 13wpm level for General.  What is it now (I haven't kept track) Tech, General and Extra?
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73 and Aloha,
de Delwyn, KH6DC
KB7QND
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Posts: 43




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« Reply #153 on: September 19, 2010, 08:26:39 PM »

Lots of good comments from everyone.  I thought the 5 class structure was ok as-was.  I was first licensed in 1991 while in high school and my elmer made me start with the Novice ticket. From there I upgraded to Tech, then General.

I have a friend who just got his license a year ago.  He likes (and me as well) HF more than 2m/70cm.  He says 10m SSB is dead and worthless.  I remember when it was thriving.  Times have changed.  People that come into the hobby now are lured in by an easy license class just to work 2m/70cm.  Or they are interested in only emergency communications.  I've met very few if any Techs that purchase an HF radio as their first radio.  Hence, 10m SSB in the Novice/Tech subband is basically inactive....I actually hear more Generals there than Novice/Tech.

I guess I kinda understand why the new entry class; to drive up license numbers to protect spectrum.  I also know that if we went back to a Novice and Tech structure, most people wouldn't bother to get licensed as they are looking for that "cell phone alternative."  My friend originally wanted something "better than CB"; but fell in love with HF once I introduced it to him.  We don't introduce HF to newcomers and don't, for the lack of a better word, "push" it during Tech license classes.

So I'm not really sure how to solve the entry license class and the 2m/70cm vs. HF debate for beginners.  Maybe just leave it as it currently is.

What I do believe is that restructuring or reexamination of test questions at the upper levels should be looked at.

What do I notice from the General and Extra exams?  That there is heavy emphasis on electronic circuits, components, and equations.  What is missing?  Detailed, indepth info on operating in the digital environment;  how to read and understand all of the propagation bulletins K-index, solor flux number; basically general operating knowledge instead of design and repair.  

After all, with our $2000 to $10,000 radios, who in reality is actually working on them???  I'm not risking it.  Some parts are now too small for me to even see or handle.

I'm studying for my Extra and here's what I notice:

1.  There's too much material for someone to learn as a hobby in one exam.  I know that there are some 7 yr old Extras, but who was teaching them?  My brain works a little slower as I get older.  It should really be split back to Advanced then Extra to make the material more manageable....like it was before with the Advanced class.  Too many technical terms and way, way too many equations to memorize (have you counted all the equations to memorize; it'll blow the mind of nonmathmeticians).  How many people memorized them all and how many people look them up when they need them?  I'm sure this is easy material for someone whose occupation is related, but for an amateur hobbiest, its a lot of material.  

2.  There's way too much material on circuits and components.  Again, as I said above, who's working on their own high end radio?  Amateur radio is supposed to be demonstrating forward looking technology....most of the technology is too complicated for your average hobbiest to fix.  What's not in the Extra exam in deep detail?  Well, digital modes....WinLink and so forth.  Just based on the exam material, when I get my Extra license, I wouldn't be able to tell you anything about WinLink or digital modes......no mention of sound card technology, how to format messages etc. because the Extra exam isn't about that.  I had to buy the ARRL HF Digital Handbook to answer my questions because the Extra exam didn't cover it.  

3.  The tests are missing just basic good operating practice.  More emphasis should be on the rules.  There's nothing in the exam about calculating your RF exposure as required by the FCC to "protect" your neighbors.  I was working a special event station and I couldn't count the vast number of 2X2, 2X1 calls etc. that were giving their callsign 3, 4, 5, and even 6 times straight as if the contact was "owed" to them and the basic rude operating all around.  I didn't hear that from the 2X3 calls.  There needs to be more emphasis on sharing and courtesy regardless of license class.  

My friend remarked that Extra seemed like an "exlusive member's only club" for experienced radio technicians who occupation was this...hence its easy for them to pass the exam  The Extra should be a little more balanced between circuits and new operating modes and station building.  Remember, its a hobby.  For some people the hobby is rag-chewing, for some its building and repairing equipment, for some its contesting, for some its operating a special event station, for some its emergency communications.  The test should balance all of that.  After all, how many Extras have built their own radio and amplifier?  I know when I listen, I hear them reciting the same brand names that Generals are using.  Usually something like "I'm running an Icom 756 Pro III with an Ameritron 811 with a beam at 75 feet."  

Why do you need to know so much for a few KHz extra radio spectrum?  After all, extra spectrum isn't really any different than the spectrum you have now.  Its not like it has different physical properties.  If you can operate on 7.200 SSB then you can operate equally well on 7.150 SSB right?

Maybe a three class system would work better.  A Novice for the 2m/70cm group or emcomm; a General for full radio spectrum; and then an Extra who would be the only ones authorized to use their own homebuilt transmitters and authorized for transmitter repair and alignment.  But that's not perfect either as people in the other license classes would lose out on homebrew and kit building.

This debate reminds me of a similar one from my years as a highway patrol/state police radio dispatcher.  The old timers were set on a 5/8 work week with three standard shifts.  As a younger generation started filling more spots, a drive went on to change that.  Us younger crowd wanted  a better balance between work and home....after all you are talking about a 24/7 occupation, working weekends, and working every holiday.  We devised a schedule that had a combination of 5/8, 4/10, and 3/12 shifts to allow some flexibility for different people's lives.  All we got from the old timers was a stone wall...with the attitude of "this is the way it was when we started, we had to earn our way to our current shift, you should suffer the same misery also."  The other argument was "we worked all those rotten hours and made sacrifices to get where we are now...it would be an insult to us (perceived reduction in "status") for the center to change now."  Our argument was, at some point things must change and no matter what point in the future we make the change, there will always be someone who has a perceived reduction in benefits or status.  But the times they are a-changin.  The stone wallers eventually retired and we out numbered the remaining during a vote.  We have our new schedule and everyone loves it; moral and productivity has improved.

And the debate continues on...........

« Last Edit: September 20, 2010, 12:12:36 PM by Paul » Logged
N2EY
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Posts: 3894




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« Reply #154 on: September 20, 2010, 03:32:39 AM »

We don't introduce HF to newcomers and don't, for the lack of a better word, "push" it during Tech license classes.

So I'm not really sure how to solve the entry license class and the 2m/70cm vs. HF debate for beginners.  Maybe just leave it as it currently is.

What's needed is an entry license that is more balanced between HF and VHF/UHF. Techs get very little HF privileges but *all* VHF/UHF. That's an historic left-over from other times, not what we need today.

Because the Tech privileges are so VHF/UHF-centric, most of the test questions are about those bands. So the emphasis is on them in the manuals, classes, etc.

I think it would be a lot better if the entry-level license included parts of 75 and 40 'phone, maybe 30 meters, and a few digital modes. Drop the power level and move the RF exposure level questions to the other license classes.

How many people memorized them all and how many people look them up when they need them?

I learned them all - and a lot more. Years ago.

 Remember, its a hobby.

What does "it's a hobby" really mean?

The word "hobby" doesn't appear anywhere in Part 97.

 After all, how many Extras have built their own radio and amplifier?

I have - several of them. Designed and built from the ground up. Also assembled kits (Elecraft K2 is a very good rig), fixed old sets, converted surplus, and more. And not just as an Extra; been doing it since before I was a Novice.

I don't run an amplifier, but I know I could build one if I wanted to. Much simpler project than a transceiver.

 I know when I listen, I hear them reciting the same brand names that Generals are using.  Usually something like "I'm running an Icom 756 Pro III with an Ameritron 811 with a beam at 75 feet."

On 'phone, maybe. Try listening on CW.


Why do you need to know so much for a few KHz extra radio spectrum?  After all, extra spectrum isn't really any different than the spectrum you have now.  Its not like it has different physical properties.  If you can operate on 7.200 SSB then you can operate equally well on 7.150 SSB right?

If that's the case, why not allow Techs on all the HF bands? They can already operate on four of them. Is 20 that different from 15?


Maybe a three class system would work better.  A Novice for the 2m/70cm group or emcomm; a General for full radio spectrum; and then an Extra who would be the only ones authorized to use their own homebuilt transmitters and authorized for transmitter repair and alignment.

And kill off the interest in homebrewing and experimenting in all but Extras. No thanks.

73 de Jim, N2EY

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K6LHA
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Posts: 349




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« Reply #155 on: September 20, 2010, 10:27:35 AM »


Quote from: K6LHA on September 17, 2010, 09:13:40 PM
"Nothing in Part 97, Title 47 C.F.R., says I MUST agree with the ITU, using only parts of the ITU in referencing certain definitions.  Under the LAW of the United States of America, I am required only to obey the regulations given in Part 97, Title 47 C.F.R."

Quote
Which is it?   You two should get together and get your story straight.

There is NO "straightening" to be done.  Who issued your amateur radio license?  The ITU?  The ARRL?  An Act of Congress?  No, it was the FCC acting under Title 47, Code of Federal Regulations.  Radio amateurs licensed by the FCC and operating in the territorial jurisdiction of the United States of America must abide and uphold the LAW of radio regulation represented by Title 47 C.F.R.

To reiterate, nothing says I MUST, under law, AGREE with the ITU.  I can have my own opinion on them, but I am NOT obligated to obey anything in the NON-law that they do not, and cannot enforce.  The ITU is a UN body and administration members are bound only by "gentlemen's agreements" to honor such memberships.

Quote from: K6LHA on September 17, 2010, 09:13:40 PM

'Also, as I've just written, I CANNOT "upgrade" to any "higher" license class.  Are all "supposed" to start only at the "bottom" and "work upwards?"  That isn't in USA amateur radio regulations.'

Quote
You did upgrade, from tech to general to extra. I guess you missed, or ignored, the (except Extra) part.

Sorry, but you do not understand the regulations or are deliberately playing a bad case of word-weasel that became road-kill quickly.  You may check out my entire amateur radio licensing history on-line at the FCC under their ULS.  It is all public.  I do not control any part of such records.

First of all, common sense should have told you that to "upgrade" to some class, one had to ALREADY have a granted license class to "upgrade" FROM.  I've never had an amateur radio license in any country before 7 March 2007.

Secondly, I took all three test elements on the same afternoon of 25 February 2007 ACCORDING TO REGULATIONS as found in Part 97, Title 47 C.F.R.  Did I somehow "upgrade" because I HAD to take them in order, Technician, General, then Extra?  No.  At the end of the test session I had passed all the test elements but I did not yet posess any amateur radio license.  I had to WAIT while the VEC team forwarded my test materials to their ARRL for "approval," then WAIT while the FCC "approved" what the ARRL VEC did.  At NO time during that WAITING period did I have any legal permission to operate on USA amateur radio bands legally.  There was NO possibility of "upgrading" to any class during that waiting period.

Why are you so antagonistic?  Is it because I was one of the rare ones to make "Extra out of the Box?"  Do you resent that?  I don't see why you should.  It was only 120 questions total.  Do you feel that wasn't "enough" in my case?  Don't you think that three years of BEGINNING experience in HF radio was a sufficient grounding for high-power HF transmitters, done 54 years before that test session?  Plus all that time from 1956 to 2007 working IN radio-electronics?  I have legally transmitted and otherwise emitted RF energy on 7 different radio services of the USA.  Amateur radio now makes it the 8th radio service.

No, nothing apparently satisfies you.  You appear to argue only for arguments' sake.  Such is just an immature delaying tactic done in hopes that myself and others will somehow CEASE trying to change the amateur radio regulations...such does not work to your advantage.

I'm looking towards the future, something brighter and more fulfilling than retaining the same old, same old standards and practices of the last half-century in USA amateur radio...a future for OTHER citizens of the USA to enjoy for themselves, freed from the insistence of some graying elder amateurs who wish to be adored or perhaps "respected" for doing the same old thing over and over again.

K6LHA
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N5MOA
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« Reply #156 on: September 20, 2010, 02:59:52 PM »



There is NO "straightening" to be done. 

K6LHA

You and Keith have been in such agreement with each other, so when he said



Obviously, how other countries administer their amateur services apparently doesn't matter to our resident authoritarians because, according to folks like Tom and Jimmie, the true spirit and intent of the ITU Radio Regulations don't amount to diddly squat in the United States.  Clearly Part 97 is the only "Gospel" they genuflect to.  And for people like you and I to dare question any of what's contained in Part 97 (or how it directly contravenes the ITU rules) is nothing short of blasphemy.

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


followed by your comment


Nothing in Part 97, Title 47 C.F.R., says I MUST agree with the ITU, using only parts of the ITU in referencing certain definitions.  Under the LAW of the United States of America, I am required only to obey the regulations given in Part 97, Title 47 C.F.R.

K6LHA


I thought it was odd that two people in such agreement on this licensing discussion could have such differing views on whether the ITU "rules", as Keith calls them, mean diddly in regards to Part 97. That's what I meant by getting it straight.

I happen to agree with you on that.
 


Why are you so antagonistic?

K6LHA

I'm not being antagonistic, Len. I question things I don't agree with, and I don't agree with most of your opinions. I try to be as civil as possible. You state your opinions, I'll state mine. Usually, they will oppose. If you choose to take my opinions as antagonistic, that's your issue. Or do your take every opinion other than your own as antagonistic?



  Is it because I was one of the rare ones to make "Extra out of the Box?"  Do you resent that?  I don't see why you should.  It was only 120 questions total.  Do you feel that wasn't "enough" in my case?  Don't you think that three years of BEGINNING experience in HF radio was a sufficient grounding for high-power HF transmitters, done 54 years before that test session?  Plus all that time from 1956 to 2007 working IN radio-electronics?  I have legally transmitted and otherwise emitted RF energy on 7 different radio services of the USA.  Amateur radio now makes it the 8th radio service.

K6LHA

I don't think it's really that rare, Len, but good for you. I don't  care if you made "extra out of the box" or not. You passed the tests available when you took them. How or when you passed the tests isn't part of the discussion, other than you keep bringing it up.



No, nothing apparently satisfies you.  You appear to argue only for arguments' sake.  Such is just an immature delaying tactic done in hopes that myself and others will somehow CEASE trying to change the amateur radio regulations...such does not work to your advantage.

K6LHA

Nope, it's because I don't agree with the opinion of whomever I'm having a discussion with. Hardly an "immature delaying tactic", but think what you will. You, and others, want to change the U.S. amateur radio regulations. I think what we have works just fine.


Have a nice day.

Tom
N5MOA
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KB1SF
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« Reply #157 on: September 21, 2010, 10:41:17 AM »

I thought it was odd that two people in such agreement on this licensing discussion could have such differing views on whether the ITU "rules", as Keith calls them, mean diddly in regards to Part 97. That's what I meant by getting it straight.

I happen to agree with you on that.

If the ITU rules don't mean "diddly" to the FCC, perhaps you gents would now care to speculate as to why the FCC waited until Article 25 of the ITU rules was changed in 2003 so as to make Morse testing optional in our Service before tour FCC finally ditched such tests entirely?

Based on their actions to steadily reduce the comprehensiveness of these Morse tests over the years, clearly the FCC has long since believed that the Morse test has not served a useful regulatory purpose in our Service in decades.  And even though, by the time they finally ended all forms of Morse testing in 2007 (and those requirements were down to a farcical 5 WPM) why do you think they still felt a regulatory need to keep such a farcical test in the mix?  

Why didn't they just ditch all forms of Morse testing altogether LONG before the ITU made it optional?

Also if the ITU regulations don't mean "diddly" to the FCC, when why do they (along with the ARRL) spend upwards of millions of dollars preparing for and then sending "delegates" (i.e. "lobbyists") to ITU-sponsored World Radio Conferences where those regulations are written and where delegates meet to determine, among other things how our frequencies will be divvied up among various nations?   Who was it that established our amateur radio bands?  Who was it that granted hams worldwide access to 30, 18 and 12 Meters back in 1979?  Likewise, who was it that kicked the international broadcasters off of 40 Meters not too long ago?  Does anyone remember the "Little LEOs" who were poised to grab our 2m and 70cm frequencies away from us worldwide?  Who was it that finally said "no" to such nonsense?  (Hint: It WASN'T the FCC!)

What’s more, when our FCC DID finally drop the Morse testing requirement, why did they also feel the need to explain their actions in their Report and Order that finally ended it all by citing the "international requirement" that had kept Morse testing firmly in place in the USA all these many years?

And, just so there’s absolutely NO misunderstanding regarding “what the FCC really said”, here's a DIRECT quote from the FCC’s Report and Order that dropped Morse testing for all of you to ponder:

“We nevertheless believe that the public interest is not served by requiring facility in Morse code when the trend in amateur communications is to use voice and digital technologies for exchanging messages," the FCC said. "Rather, we believe that because the INTERNATIONAL REQUIREMENT (emphasis mine) for telegraphy proficiency has been eliminated, we should treat Morse code telegraphy no differently from other Amateur Service communications techniques."

Note the FCC specifically called the need for Morse exam in our Service up to that point an "international requirement". They didn’t' call it an "international option", an "international guideline" or even an "international suggestion".  

Rather, the FCC specifically referred to such testing as an international "requirement".

It seems to me that by referring to such activity as an "international requirement", and making it a point to spend lots of money preparing for (and then sending large delegations to) periodic regulatory conferences conducted by the ITU, it is painfully obvious that our FCC clearly recognizes that the ITU Radio Regulations DO very much "have the force of law" in our Service in the United States of America.  

To me, this also means that both the spirit and the intent of what the ITU writes in those regulations must be treated as "requirements" that also need to be reflected in the FCC's own rules for our (and other) radio services.  

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF
« Last Edit: September 22, 2010, 11:15:03 AM by Keith Baker » Logged
NN2X
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« Reply #158 on: September 23, 2010, 03:53:57 AM »

Yes, indeed, many years ago, I remember I myself, was asking why the code? or why I had to study so hard to pass the Extra exam...Well, back then, (When USA) was very strong in engineering, math and others disciplines they did not lower the bar…they raised it. I am happy I did not have a choice, so I had to study hard..

Back then, we just did not lower the standards to passive any ideology, manufacturing pressures, or a quota. You either made the "Bar" or just don't get in the hobby..

Now we are all happy, we lowered the standards, not only in ham radio but across the board, the result…Well in ham radio we are “Operators” and for the USA work force we either higher foreigners to fill our needs of science, and math or out source..Great stuff../

It is all good, Although I have a BSEE, and MBA, I remember my first interview, and I told the GE (HR person) I had a Extra Lic, and back then it was at least equivalent to 2 Year Degree, It was totally accepted in the technology industry...I truly gave me a huge advantage of obtaining the job..The Technical Manager at GE asked questioned, have you ever built a radio or antenna? Of course yes, and many! Then he asked me real hard questions, there is no doubt all about knowing the material in ham radio, (Not memorizing a pool of questions), gave me this job..If today I had the same interview with today’s standards I would not have been able to answer those questions, and the result he would had hired Kumar, Mustafa or some other foreigner in which raises the bar in their country..

For me, what does having such high standards during my youth? It really means, that  I can compete internationally, so there a job, and send my child to the best schools, give my wife the best..All do the fact meeting a standard back then that was the highest, and not lowered to meet some type of agenda...

So continue to lower standards.. and watch the results…Not only in the Ham radio community, but our standard of living…

Side note..

I lived in 66 countries the last 32 years, and my job is to analyze the GDP, and disposal income for various countries for business..

I study and analyze our disposable income, and moreover how it is created, which  is based on our competitive skills to support exports,   

NN2X, Tom Wright
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N2EY
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« Reply #159 on: September 23, 2010, 04:21:37 AM »

To NN2X:

Great stuff, Tom. A lot of us have similar stories, though we're not as well-traveled.

For example, on my college applications I mentioned that I had an Extra license and an all-homebrew station. I don't know for sure that it helped me get into EE school, but it sure didn't hurt.

But it should be remembered that there are other factors causing the decline of manufacturing and related industry in the USA.

1) US industry has long expected quick results and big profits from little investment, particularly in R&D. For example, while other countries were building state-of-the-art steel furnaces, USA steelmakers did not invest in them. While other countries were perfecting the manufacture of quality small cars, the USA was making them as an afterthought.

2) The USA pays for much of the rest of the developed world's defense. They spend their tax dollars on education, infrastructure, universal health care and other domestic stuff, while the USA spends more on our military than the next 13 countries combined. Also, US industry goes after defense contracts and ignores "consumer" stuff because defense is usually high-profit and immune to foreign competition.

3) For more than 30 years the USA has pushed policies of "free trade" - even though other countries don't. (Try importing a US-made car into Japan!). We've accepted enormous trade deficits rather than change policies.

4) The USA has avoided things like a coherent energy policy for decades, making us vulnerable. And we don't have to be.

5) US culture plays down the role of technology, and those who are knowledgeable in it. The mass media are particularly bad in this.

73 de Jim, N2EY   
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N3DF
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« Reply #160 on: September 23, 2010, 08:34:38 AM »

Jim,

Quit jeopardizing my cushy job in DoD.

Neil N3DF
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Neil N3DF
K6LHA
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Posts: 349




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« Reply #161 on: September 23, 2010, 12:07:07 PM »

Yes, indeed, many years ago, I remember I myself, was asking why the code? or why I had to study so hard to pass the Extra exam...Well, back then, (When USA) was very strong in engineering, math and others disciplines they did not lower the bar…they raised it. I am happy I did not have a choice, so I had to study hard..
Pray tell, when was "back then?"  "Back then" for me was 1952 as a professional in HF communications.

This topic is NOT about the "economic fate of the world as dependent on the Amateur Extra class license."  It started off as a question on WHY HAVE IT AT ALL when there is NOW essentially no real operational distinction of the Extra to, say, General class...except some small slices within the already small-sliced HF bands of USA AMATEUR RADIO.  Please keep in mind that this IS amateur radio, a NON-professional avocation which is not allowed monetary gain for communications services (hence the title of Amateur Radio Service).

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Back then, we just did not lower the standards to passive any ideology, manufacturing pressures, or a quota. You either made the "Bar" or just don't get in the hobby..
Time NOW is NOT "back then."  Outside of worship at the Church of St. Hiram, I have no idea of what you mean by "passive any ideology."  Having been gainfully employed in the aerospace electronics industry since 1956, I have not heard of any "manufacturing pressures or a quota" in USA amateur radio.

I sincerely suggest that you take this "editorial" to the Miscellaneous Topics Forum and vent there on economics, outsourcing, ideology, quotas, or "highering" of foreigners.

73, Len K6LHA
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« Reply #162 on: September 23, 2010, 12:57:45 PM »

Yes, indeed, many years ago, I remember I myself, was asking why the code? or why I had to study so hard to pass the Extra exam...Well, back then, (When USA) was very strong in engineering, math and others disciplines they did not lower the bar…they raised it. I am happy I did not have a choice, so I had to study hard..

Back then, we just did not lower the standards to passive any ideology, manufacturing pressures, or a quota. You either made the "Bar" or just don't get in the hobby.

Correction…persons couldn't get into the PROFESSIONAL Amateur Radio Service back then because the standards for entry established by their fellow PROFESSIONALS at the ARRL and FCC went well beyond those required for AMATEURS.

Up until the ARRL (and their willing stooges in the FCC) rammed their stupid "incentive licensing" nonsense down people's throats, ham radio in the United States had been growing by leaps and bounds.  Clearly, this posed a dire threat to the sanctity of their ego-stroking, "Good Old Boy's Radio Club",

So, in the 1950s, they needlessly "dumbed UP" the standards for entrance and advancement in our Service.  

As a result of this chicanery, a whole lot of people actually LOST operating privileges they had already been granted. And that rapid growth in our Service in the United States all but stopped. What's more, a whole bunch of US radio manufacturers (with names like World Radio Labs, Hallicrafters, Hammarlund, Swan and Johnson-Viking just to name a few) eventually went "belly up", all so a bunch of self-proclaimed "Extra Class professionals" in the ARRL, FCC and elsewhere could continue to get their "exclusive" ego-stroking jollies.  

Clearly, if today's federal equal access laws had been in place back then, these clowns would have NEVER been able to legally get away with such systemically discriminatory, "incentive licensing" chicanery.

By contrast, along about this same time, radio regulators in Japan were making it far easier for ordinary people to become licensed in our Service in their country. Maybe that's why Japan now has the largest number of radio hams in the world, not to mention why most of us have since been using primarily Japanese-manufactured radio equipment in our radio shacks for the better part of the last half-century.

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Now we are all happy, we lowered the standards, not only in ham radio but across the board, the result…Well in ham radio we are “Operators” and for the USA work force we either higher foreigners to fill our needs of science, and math or out source..Great stuff../

It is all good, Although I have a BSEE, and MBA, I remember my first interview, and I told the GE (HR person) I had a Extra Lic, and back then it was at least equivalent to 2 Year Degree, It was totally accepted in the technology industry...I truly gave me a huge advantage of obtaining the job..The Technical Manager at GE asked questioned, have you ever built a radio or antenna? Of course yes, and many! Then he asked me real hard questions, there is no doubt all about knowing the material in ham radio, (Not memorizing a pool of questions), gave me this job..If today I had the same interview with today’s standards I would not have been able to answer those questions, and the result he would had hired Kumar, Mustafa or some other foreigner in which raises the bar in their country.

Once again, gentlemen (and has Len has so eloquently noted) the International Telecommunications Union (the ITU) long ago established the basis and purpose of our Service to be nothing more than "A radiocommunication service for the purpose of self-training, intercommunication and technical investigations carried out by amateurs, that is, by duly authorized persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest."

Would you gents now please show us all where, in that very succinct, ITU definition of our Service, that amateur radio has been established to help you (or someone else) get a job or to further your professions?  

What part of "without pecuniary interest" in that definition of our Service don't you people understand?

Indeed, my own father was an electrical engineer hired by GE who worked in their design branches in Lynn, Mass and Somersworth, NH for many years.  And, like you, he also held a BSEE.  But he wasn't a ham, and, somehow he still managed to get hired by GE…right out of the University of New Hampshire.  And I'll also bet that you (like him) wouldn't have been hired back then solely on the strength of your ham radio accomplishments, either.  

What's more, people like Len (and hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of others in the United States) seem to have had extremely rewarding professional careers in radio communications and electronics technology without ever having held an amateur radio license.

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For me, what does having such high standards during my youth? It really means, that  I can compete internationally, so there [sic] a job, and send my child to the best schools, give my wife the best..All do the fact meeting a standard back then that was the highest, and not lowered to meet some type of agenda...

All of which is yet MORE self-inflating, "I'm better than you because I have an Extra Class Amateur Radio license" snobbery.

The obviously inconvenient truth of the matter, Tom, is that the ARRL (and their willing stooges in the FCC at the time) needlessly established PROFESSIONAL standards for our Service "back then" primarily to keep the "non-radio-engineer", "techie-types" OUT of a radio service that was actually intended by the ITU to be specifically designed for such "non-engineers".  

Quote
So continue to lower standards.. and watch the results…Not only in the Ham radio community, but our standard of living…

Tom, I challenge you to show me ONE technology-based organization or institution whose entry and advancement standards haven't completely and fundamentally changed over the last 50 years as the technology they deal with has changed.  I also challenge you to name a single technological advancement that has had its birth within the crucible of amateur radio since the 1940s.  I'm not talking about adaptations of someone else's inventions.  I'm talking about stuff that was actually INVENTED here!

Even your company (GE) has now long since gotten out of the high-tech invention business. They, too, have largely become importers of someone else's technology.  Indeed, their primary source of wealth these days comes from GE Capital, who loans huge chunks of MONEY to large corporations and then makes billions off the interest.  

And while GE may still make washing machines and dryers in the USA, my hunch is that almost everything else they sell (from compact fluorescent light bulbs to so-called "smart" watt-hour meters) is now being developed and/or manufactured in China.  Indeed, there's one of those so-called "smart" units now installed on the side of my home.

The truth is that the world around our Service has fundamentally and completely changed.  Yet you people keep talking about amateur radio as if we were still on the cutting edge of societal and technological evolution.  The truth is that, thanks largely to the work of our "incentive licensing forever" zealots who have been quite successfully keeping our Service stuck in the technological and sociological "dark ages" for the last half-century, our Service in the United States of America has now become the poster child for the perpetuation of "ancient", primarily analog communication technologies along with horrifically regressive approaches to federal licensing.

The sad result has been that the best and brightest "amateur radio eligible", US youth today have been "voting with their feet" and are now investing their budding technological talents elsewhere. Clearly, as evidenced by the rapidly advancing average age of hams in the United States, our country's technologically brightest youngsters have consistently demonstrated they want absolutely nothing to do with what they perceive is a bunch of ever-aging "old geezers" who still firmly believe that demanding federally-examined proficiency in such arcane psycho-motor skills as the Morse code is still both meaningful and relevant.  

What's more, these bright young people are even less impressed with a radio service whose regulators (the FCC) and major membership organization (the ARRL) both still firmly believe that pushing 1950s-era, (primarily analog) communications technologies down people's throats via largely baseless (not to mention needlessly duplicative) systemically discriminatory written examinations still serves a valid regulatory purpose in a so-called "amateur" radio service in the 21st Century.  

The bottom line here, is not only are our advanced licenses (particularly that for the Extra Class) in the United States STILL needlessly based on professional (vice amateur) "standards", they are also still largely based on (now ancient) 1940s and 50s-era communications technologies to boot.

Unfortunately, the other sad truth is that the best and brightest of today's youth are now BYPASSING our Service and, instead, are going directly to work for those high-tech corporations who are "pushing the state of the art" with the very latest forms of (primarily digital) communications technologies.  These are many of the same communications technologies that have consistently remained unwelcome in our Service in the USA because they (gasp!) might in some small way cause interference to someone's ego-stroked, artificially walled-off, so-called "exclusive" AM, SSB and/or CW "fiefdoms".

Indeed, because our so-called "mainstream" amateur radio communications technology of today is so firmly mired in the far distant past, I suspect letting a potential employer know that you are a ham these days might actually be regarded by those doing the hiring at these high-tech companies as an excellent reason NOT to hire you!

Keith
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« Last Edit: September 23, 2010, 04:33:38 PM by Keith Baker » Logged
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« Reply #163 on: September 23, 2010, 03:06:34 PM »

By contrast, along about this same time, radio regulators in Japan were making it far easier for ordinary people to become licensed in our Service. Maybe that's why they now have the largest number of radio hams in the world, not to mention why most of us have since been using primarily Japanese-manufactured radio equipment in our radio shacks for the better part of the last half-century.

Japan still has four license classes.  Two classes (the 1st and 2nd classes) still require a 25 wpm test ("European text"; I suppose a Wabun test is no longer required).  The majority of Japanese hams do not hold a 1st or 2nd class ticket.  Today, most Japanese hams are on VHF/UHF only.   Perhaps this is due to population density more than license structure or equipment cost.

An English summary of the Japanese licensing structure (JARL): http://www.jarl.or.jp/English/2_Outline/A-2-1.htm

Reciprocal Privileges (JARL) (effective 1985, probably stale after US, Canadian, Australian restructuring): http://www.jarl.or.jp/English/3_Application/Annex.htm

It's logically inconsistent to say that the Japanese manufacturers have enjoyed success in the US market since the 1960's simply because of a prior simplification of the Japanese licensing structure.  The demise of most American ham radio manufacturers in that era had little to do with code testing. The establishment of the 20 wpm Extra code test in the late 1960's simply met a similar challenge already established in Japan.  The Japanese have permitted codeless licensees the ability to operate QRP on HF within limited frequencies.  Even so, most of the Japanese rigs for export have been distinctly QRO.  Ironically, the QRP brands of note (Ten-Tec, Drake, now Elecraft, etc.) have been American!  Of course, there's the possibility that the Japanese produce different rigs for export and domestic use (indeed they do and have done so for quite some time.)  I think there are some less superficial factors at play here.

A number of possibilities for the decline of the "American Greats" include:

1) Rising cost of American parts and labor.

2) A favorable economic climate for Japanese manufacturers.

3) Reduction or elimination of tariffs on certain imported goods.

4) Japanese manufacturers could deliver products at the same or better quality for a consistently lower price (Toyota, anyone?)

5) Incentive Licensing.  This last possibility requires some contortions.

5a) It's not possible that all the disillusioned Generals that bailed after 1968/9 Incentive Licensing held up the American ham radio industry alone.  Nor is it possible to state that all the remaining operators preferred Japanese rigs to American rigs.  Even a conflation of these two possibilities cannot be proven. 

5b) Instead, one would have to first prove that American and Japanese rig sales declined for at least five years after the beginning of Incentive Licensing to establish that the new licensing scheme negatively impacted not only the number of hams but also their collective purchasing power.

5c) Only then could one argue the following point: "The decline in the number of American amateur radio operators after Incentive Licensing negatively impacted both the American and Japanese ham radio manufacturers."

5d)  And then, perhaps (but tentatively, and with a great deal more research): "The decline in the number of American amateur radio operators after Incentive Licensing negatively impacted American ham radio manufacturers to the point of bankruptcy or closure of some of these manufacturers."

The argument from Incentive Licensing is quite remote and difficult to prove.  Suffice to say, if I were to present a case for the decline of the American ham radio industry, I would start from a general economic standpoint (tariffs, monetary policy, exchange rates, and marketing), not Incentive Licensing.

If anything, the robust Japanese ham radio culture has thrived under standards even more strict than the American licensing system at the height of complexity.  The Japanese experience annuls any argument that restructuring is necessary for ham radio growth.  Indeed, the number of American hams increased steadily after Incentive Licensing.  We'll see a short term boost after the restructurings.  However, the loosening of testing standards will not be a panacea by any metric.

73, Jordan
« Last Edit: September 23, 2010, 03:08:56 PM by Jordan » Logged
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« Reply #164 on: September 23, 2010, 07:46:06 PM »

It's logically inconsistent to say that the Japanese manufacturers have enjoyed success in the US market since the 1960's simply because of a prior simplification of the Japanese licensing structure. 

Here's what really happened:

The US consumer electronics industry - not just ham gear, but entire product lines - was lost to Japan and other Pacific Rim countries because they could make better stuff for less.

Try to buy a currently-made TV set that's Made In USA. Just try.

Yes, their labor cost was less. But that's not the whole story.

Their factories were newer, because they'd all been built after 1945. Their tax policies were different (Japan has very supportive tax structures for export goods). The USA's open-door trade policies towards imports helped in a big way.

There was also a full-scale abandonment of the consumer market by US electronics manufacturers because they could make more money focusing on "defense" and "aerospace" contracts than on highly competitive, low-markup consumer stuff. The Cold War and space race were in full swing back then; why scrape to make a few bucks on ham gear when there were huge cost-plus contracts being handed out? And the imports could not even bid on the contracts!
 
Worst of all, US companies would not invest in development, new technology, new plants, and Quality (look up a fellow named Deming) the way the Japanese did.

Early Japanese ham rigs could be pretty bad; ask anybody who had an early FT-101. But the Japanese learned from their mistakes, fixed them and introduced new models at a fast pace. exactly when American companies were not investing in the future. They followed the Quality methods and took over the market.

Meanwhile American rigmakers wouldn't change with the market. They wouldn't make the rigs hams wanted. Some didn't survive the loss of their founders. And because the Japanese made better stuff for less.

But they didn't all go out of business, nor in just a few years.

Let's take a look at how the American rigmakers fared:
 
Hallicrafters: Made its name in receivers. Made a few models of SSB transceivers in the 1960s (SR-150, SR-160, SR-400, to name a few) but they lost out to the competition (mostly Heathkit).

Hammarlund: Made its name in receivers too. Made only one or two models of SSB transceivers. Lost out to the competition (mostly Heathkit).

National: Made its name in receivers but did some interesting SSB transceivers. Trouble was, they cost too much and had some unusual quirks. For example, the NCL-2000 amp used expensive ceramic-metal tetrodes in a grounded-cathode circuit, when everybody else was using glass triodes in grounded-grid. An SB-220 cost a bit more than half the price of an NCL-2000 - guess which sold more.

Or ask anybody who bought an HRO-500 and tried to use it in a DX contest in a multi-multi setup...

Johnson: Made its name in AM/CW transmitters. Never marketed an SSB transceiver nor a ham receiver nor a matched-pair tx/rx set. They were still trying to sell slightly-updated versions of the 1950s era Ranger and Valiant in the late 1960s. That just didn't work. Then they went after CB and the land mobile market, and cleaned up.

Heathkit: Was bought by Zenith, who wasn't interested in ham gear. Then changes in technology reduced the savings of kit-building to almost nil.
 
Heathkit sold a LOT of ham gear all through the 1960 and 1970s. They made a complete line: SB-100/101/102, SB-300/301/303, SB-400/401, SB110, SB-200/201, SB-220/221, HW-100/101, HW-16, and many more. Solid state rigs like the SB-104 as well. I still have my HW-2036, built in 1977.
 
Heathkit was a major factor in the demise of other companies because they made a more-complete product line for less money. The HW-100/101 were two of the most successful ham rigs ever made - and they hit the market in 1968/69, just as incentive licensing took effect.

btw, Heath was selling ham gear well into the 1980s. long after incentive licensing went into effect in the late 1960s.

Eico: Never a major ham gear manufacturer. Made a few models of MOPA rigs, a decent VFO, and some accessories like a GDO, a keyer, and an AM modulator. Best known for the infamous 753 SSB transceiver, better known as the "Seven Drifty Three" because it would NEVER stop wandering! Anybody who had one eventually swore "Never Again"!

Collins was bought out by Rockwell. In the deal, they were required to still make ham rigs for a while, so they came out with the KWM-380. It cost a small fortune at the time, and not many sold. Rockwell bought Collins for the government contracts, not the ham radio stuff, and the amateur stuff was dropped as soon as possible.
 
All of them could not compete with the Kenwood/Icom/Yaesu triad, who sold rigs that had more features for less money.

Yet in 1968 a small company from Tennessee appeared in the amateur market, selling simple CW-only QRP sets. If incentive licensing was such a bad thing, Ten Tec should have failed, right? Yet TT not only survived but branched out and made many different kinds of amateur rigs. And still does today.

If incentive licensing was so bad, how did Ten-Tec survive and grow so fast?

Look at what happened to the American car companies in the same time frame - and for the same reasons. Chrysler nearly went bankrupt; only Federal loan guarantees and drastic action by Lee Iacocca saved the company.

I repeat: Incentive licensing did not kill off the American rigmakers. They partially did it to themselves, by not making the rigs hams wanted. Japanese competition did the rest.
 
For example, look at all the HF SSB transceivers made by those companies. None of them was really good on CW. Sure, they all could do the mode - sort of. But very few had RIT, a multipole sharp IF filter, or AGC off. None had all three, even as options.
 
But a Kenwood TS-520S had all those features, and lots more. Guess what rig the CW ops bought?

5b) Instead, one would have to first prove that American and Japanese rig sales declined for at least five years after the beginning of Incentive Licensing to establish that the new licensing scheme negatively impacted not only the number of hams but also their collective purchasing power.

5c) Only then could one argue the following point: "The decline in the number of American amateur radio operators after Incentive Licensing negatively impacted both the American and Japanese ham radio manufacturers."

5d)  And then, perhaps (but tentatively, and with a great deal more research): "The decline in the number of American amateur radio operators after Incentive Licensing negatively impacted American ham radio manufacturers to the point of bankruptcy or closure of some of these manufacturers."

You're heading down the wrong path. Here's why:

The number of American amateur radio operators did NOT decline after the changes known as incentive licensing went into effect! Just the opposite happened

When I got my license in 1967, there were about 250,000 US hams. Today there are over 694,000. That's almost a tripling of the US amateur population.

Meanwhile the US population as a whole has grown from 200 million in 1967 to 311 million today - a bit more than 1.5 times. Which means the number of US hams has grown at about twice the rate of the population as a whole.

That's the long-term view. Here's some more detail in how the number of US hams has changed compared to the US population:

Year__Population__# Hams_Hams as % of US Population
1913   97,225,000     2,000  0.002%
1916 101,961,000     6,000  0.006%
1921 108,538,000   10,809  0.010%
1930 123,202,624   19,000  0.015%
1940 132,164,569   56,000  0.042%
1950 151,325,798   87,000  0.057%
1960 179,323,175 230,000  0.128%
1970 203,211,926 263,918  0.130%
1980 226,545,805 393.353  0.174%
1990 248,709,873 502,677  0.202%
2000 281,421,906 682,240  0.242%
2010 311,000,000 694,000  0.223%

The growth has been faster in some periods than others, of course, but if incentive licensing was so awful and made so many hams quit, why did the numbers grow so much in the decades after it was introduced?

The rules changes known as incentive licensing went into effect in November 1968 and 1969.

From 1960 to 1970, the number of US hams grew by about 34,000, and the percentage increased .002%. From 1970 to 1980, when the alleged negative effects of incentive licensing should have been the greatest, the the number of US hams grew by about 130,000, and the percentage increased .044%.

Decline? What decline? The premise is false; there's no reason to disprove the conclusion.

One more fun fact:

Some folks make a big deal about the 20 wpm Extra code requirement of those days. But the reality was somewhat different.

When the incentive licensing changes went into full effect in 1969, the Extra-only bandspace consisted of the following:

- the bottom 25 kHz of the CW/data parts of 80, 40, 20 and 15 meters.

- the bottom 25 kHz of the 'phone parts of 75 and 15 meters.

And that was all. Advanceds had everything except those parts. On 40 and 20 phone, as well as 160, 10 and VHF/UHF, Advanceds had the same 'phone bandspace as Extras.

Which means that a General class 'phone operator could get back almost all of the lost 'phone bandspace by getting an Advanced, which required only a written exam - no additional code testing at all.

But the Advanced conveyed no additional CW/data bandspace on HF. The General Class CW op had to go all the way to Extra to get back the lost space on 4 bands. And for that General, the Extra required 2 written exams plust the 20 wpm code.

IOW, the CW op had to pass more tests - written and code - to get back lost bandspace.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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