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Author Topic: Inactive Ham - License study advice?  (Read 7332 times)
K5UNX
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« on: August 01, 2011, 08:09:12 AM »

All,

I got my Tech No-code license in 1995. I was kind of active on 2m locally for about 1 year. I then moved and went inactive. So here I am wanting to become more active. I have found 3 clubs that I am going to visit and figure out which would be the best fit for my interests. Might join all 3.

Being inactive, I obviously have forgotten a lot. My new interest is getting into HF at some point when I can scrape up the funding for radio/antenna/gear.  I am going to get a new dual band HT first, then work on the HF funding.

I also have an interest in Emergency Communications. To do that I know I need to get at least my General ticket.

I am thinking about re-studying for my Tech license to recover some knowledge that I had. Then work on studying for the General test. I know this will take some time. 

I see study materials from ARRL and another set from Gordon West. Is one set better than the other?

wayne
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AA4HA
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« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2011, 08:46:41 AM »

Wayne,

As you are trying to "bone up" on what you already took a test for and earned a license it does not hurt you to go through several different sources of material. No-one set of teaching materials is going to "click" in your head. Usually it takes a few different views on a new subject before I "get it" and can come up with my own results, irrespective of whatever question pools may be.

I would definitely suggest getting back on the air and listening at first to reacquaint yourself with operating practices. Get a copy of the license manual and pick up a few old copies of QST or CQ to get caught up (in a mellow way) with the underlying "tech".

Resist the urge to "memorize" to pass the general test and try to learn the theory. For a general class license it is not that difficult and you really only need to "grok" a half-dozen different topics to be proficient enough to take and pass the test.

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Ms. Tisha Hayes, AA4HA
Lookout Mountain, Alabama
K2YO
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Posts: 436




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« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2011, 09:19:38 AM »

Wayne,
Don't worry about the inactive period, we all get busy with life some times. Get back on the air and find a local club.

I recommend you get the Gordon West General book and test software. Start studying there. Don't bother looking back, move forward. Remember that you license is just permission to go out and learn more!

Bernie
K2YO
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K5UNX
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« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2011, 10:37:11 AM »

How hard would it be to go for the Extra exam at the same time? Since there is no code requirement, maybe I could study both sections.

I am planning on tackling code when I get HF privileges . . .

wayne

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K2YO
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« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2011, 11:59:06 AM »

I would get the books and software for both. But study then seperately.

Get Gordon's book and load the software on your computer. Start reading the book and take the test twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. Once you have finished reading the book, take notice of what questions you missed on the test. Go back and re-read that section in the book. Keep doing this unitl you score 90% or better. Then go take the test.

Following this study method every day and I haven't seen anyone who took over 6 weeks to be ready to test.

Bernie
K2YO
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KF7OWG
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« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2011, 09:30:05 PM »

I studied both ARRL's book and Gordon's. Gordon's light hearted approach worked better for me for both my tech and my general. My approach was to study each section until I could answer most of the questions correctly before moving on to the next section. After I had completed the book I went on AA9PW.com and started taking practice tests. I probably took at least a hundred practice tests! It took me about 8 minutes to complete the general exam and I missed 1. I'm not bragging. I studied my butt off. I shouldn't have missed 1.

Forget about going back and re-studying the tech stuff. Grab the general book and go for it. Just my humble opinion.

Good luck!

Mark K7OWG
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KQ6Q
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« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2011, 12:51:51 PM »

Rather than just study for the test, get an ARRL Handbook for Radio Communications, and browse through it - that was the way we studied back in the last century. I still find the Handbook interesting reading, for the explanations and background on how things work, rather than just for the 'correct answers'. The ARRL Operating Manual is good reading too - you might find some activities and contests to broaden your ham radio experience.
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AE5JU
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Posts: 229




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« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2011, 03:28:33 PM »

Pardon the copy/paste, but...

Go to this site:

http://www.w5ddl.org/

And on the left side you will see links to Classroom Presentations (in PowerPoint) for Tech and General, as well as links to practice exams for Tech, General, and Extra class.   If you don't have PowerPoint, there is a link for a free PowerPoint Viewer.

In each of those two links you will find both the separate chapters, as well as a zip file containing all of the chapters.

Here is another site with classes:

http://www.rarchams.org/class/technician/chartsppt09/index.htm

There are also courses of study that may be subscribed to at:

http://www.hamtestonline.com


(NOTE- When you print out these guides, yes, print them... take a Magic Marker and black out all the wrong answers.  This way you study only the correct answers and everything else looks unfamiliar.  Seriously, print, black out, study.  Just take my word for it and do it.)

Study Guides - right click on these links and Save As:

Tech:  http://www.kb6nu.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/2010_Tech_Study_Guide.pdf


General:   http://www.ncvec.org/page.php?id=358      2011 General Test Pool links


Extra: http://abacus.nmsu.edu/~shoran/PDF/Extra%20Class%20Amateur%20Radio%20Course.pdf

and

http://kb6nu.com/extra-class-easypass-how-everybody-can-be-an-extra/


Podcasts:

http://hamradioclass.com/

http://hamradioclass.com/shownotes/

Practice Tests:

http://www.eham.net/exams/

http://www.qrz.com/ham/

http://www.radioexam.org/

http://aa9pw.com/radio/

http://www.w8mhb.com/exam/

http://www.hamtestonline.com

http://hamexam.org/


Testing Locations

http://www.w5yi-vec.org/exam_locations_ama.php

(Search by State)

http://www.arrl.org/arrlvec/examsearch.phtml

(Search by State, Country, or Zip Code)


Here's what to do... study the study guides a few evenings. Then begin doing the W5DDL classroom presentations. You can do one or two a night.

Also begin taking the practice tests. With all of those sites, each time you take the test it will have a different random draw of questions from the question pool... just like the real test you will take. I would also suggest you take the practice test on a different site each time. This will help you get used to the appearance of the test being different, just as it will be when you take the actual test. Take two or three (or more if you have time) of the practice tests each night after going through a chapter from W5DDL.

By the time you are finished with the W5DDL classes you will be ready for the Tech test, and you will pass.

BUT WAIT!!! There's more!!!

When you are confident that you will pass the Tech, and are passing by 90% or more, begin study for the General. If you are smart enough to pass the Tech, you are smart enough for the General, too.

With the General comes greatly expanded band privileges. Keep up with studying the Tech guides and the practice tests, but add the General.

You can do this!

73
Paul - AE5JU
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KI4GTD
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Posts: 17




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« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2011, 09:07:44 PM »

Like you, I've been inactive for a number of years and only operated for about 6 months before life got in the way. After about 7 years I've finally reached a point where I can dust of my license and my venerable HTX-202 radio. I decided to give myself a bit of a kick-start and take the General test last week. I passed it after studying and the VEs even had me take the Extra. I can honestly say that I was nowhere near ready for the Extra just based on a general lack of knowledge of antennas and operational questions. If you've operated and understand antennas (and electronics) pretty well, you might go ahead and get that ticket, too. In my case, I decided to be very happy with my General license and to operate almost exclusively CW until I get the experience (or at least a much better understanding) of antennas and radio operations in general. I think next year I'll take the exam for my Extra ticket but I simply don't want to rush. I've found a pretty great local club (same group that gave the General exam) and they appear to be a truly helpful lot. I'm taking it slow since General already has a pretty good selection of bands and modes, so by the time I'm ready for the Extra exam, I think my skills will be more in line with those modes. Just my 2 cents...

73 de Brian KI4GTD
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K5UNX
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Posts: 268


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« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2011, 08:37:30 AM »

I have decided to just get the materials and concentrate on the General and not worry about Extra for now. My electronics knowledge is very rusty. Did not know a to begin with. I would like to actually learn and not just pass the test.
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WA2ONH
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Posts: 255




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« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2011, 07:00:17 AM »

Here's two additional LINKS for Extra Study guide material:

http://www.arrl.org/files/file/Instructor%20resources/ExtraClassSylalbus2009jan-AD7FO.pdf

http://w5jck.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=15&Itemid=28

Good Luck!
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73 de WA2ONH dit dit    ...Charlie
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"No time is ever wasted that is spent LEARNING something!"
W9KDX
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Posts: 770




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« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2011, 06:49:20 AM »

I found the General questions to be much more difficult than the Tech.  I also found that the books actually made it much more difficult to deal with the questions due to the fact that there was so much that was just pure memorization where an understanding just wouldn't help.

I went through the test bank over and over and started to take notes on the items I did not yet get and I found this way was the most help as then I could study what I was missing.  After a while I could see patterns in some of the responses and even could see how ridiculous some of the wrong answers were.  Make sure you take the practice tests.  I found that there were over 100 questions that I wasn't sure of yet, but I would still get near 90% on repeated random tests.  Hopefully, my test in 3 days will be as good.
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Sam
W9KDX
K5UNX
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Posts: 268


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« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2011, 12:04:57 PM »

I bought the Gordan West book that comes with the test software. I am going to read through the book, then start going through the practice test questions.

I am also considering getting the ARRL Handbook. I know it's full of stuff. I have one from about 1991. It might be a good reference.
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W5LZ
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Posts: 477




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« Reply #13 on: August 17, 2011, 05:45:24 AM »

Things change periodically, so the only suggestion about the study materials is to make sure they are up to date.  From there, lot's of studying always pays off.
Therre's no code requirements any more so that's not something to worry about.  I think CW is fun, and can certainly understand someone wanting to know it.  That's up to you though.
If your license is still within the 'grace period' be sure to take it with you when you go for the test!  Just like when you took your original license exam, nothing says you have to stop at one class or another as long as you passed the prior test.  Want the Extra?  Great, go for it!  And even if you haven't studied for it, take the 'next' class exam anyway.  It will at least give you a 'taste' of what it's about, and who knows, you might surprise yourself and pass it.
These exams are not as difficult as they used to be, so don't 'psyche' yourself into thinking you can't do it.
Good luck.
 - Paul
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