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Author Topic: How About A New Entry-Level License Class?  (Read 16876 times)
N2EY
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Posts: 3860




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« Reply #30 on: February 27, 2012, 03:25:45 PM »

Whatever is done, I hope the testing structure doesn't allow testing like a Saturday morning walk-in for a 6 to 8 hour 'cram' session and walk out Saturday evening with a new Extra license, like is possible now. I've seen it done more than once and think it is a really bad thing. Folks that do that, even though they are usually sharp and smart, walk away with basically NO knowledge of what ham radio REALLY is and what it is all about and what can be done with it. Many of those drop out after the first renewal period which is a real shame as it takes 15 minutes to fill out and submit the renewal.

I agree! But the point of this whole idea is the entry level license only. Make it better, not easier. Leave the rest alone.

License tests are not, and never have been, comprehensive exams which test that a prospective ham has all the knowledge needed to set up a station. Rather they are basic tests of rules, regs and theory, intended to keep a ham from causing others serious trouble. Look at the old study guides - they're all about making sure you knew the rules, band edges, how to put out a clean, inside-the-band signal, etc. 

With all the changes that have occurred over the years, the worse I think is the loss of the requirement to actually have 'time in grade' as a licensee before testing for Extra. Not because I went that way but I think it is a very valuable experience and helps ham radio overall in the long run as it makes everyone a better operator IMHO. It had been dropped long before I tested for Extra. I did my time as a Novice though.

The time-in-grade requirement for Extra went away over 35 years ago - mid-1970s. There was never any such requirement for Novice, Technician, Conditional or General. Before 1953, the old Advanced/Class A required a year experience, but that was it.

In fact, if you look at the past ~60 years, there was only about a 6 or 7 year period during which getting a full-privileges license required experience. From Feb 1953 to Nov 1968, the General and Conditional gave full privileges, and neither had any experience requirement. From about 1975 till now, no license class has had any experience requirement either.

A license class that provides a sampling of frequencies to whet the appetite is a good idea. Something to think about for a while before rushing into defining it however.

Which is the purpose of the discussion. A sampler should have a variety of modes and bands, but not everything.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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W5DQ
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« Reply #31 on: February 27, 2012, 04:19:33 PM »

License tests are not, and never have been, comprehensive exams which test that a prospective ham has all the knowledge needed to set up a station. Rather they are basic tests of rules, regs and theory, intended to keep a ham from causing others serious trouble. Look at the old study guides - they're all about making sure you knew the rules, band edges, how to put out a clean, inside-the-band signal, etc. 

I'm not sure about that. I recall having to answer some pretty technical questions regarding circuits and theory on tests from years ago. I just don't think anyone retains much of anything about H-R out of using a pre-test cram session as the total basis for their testable knowledge. I took a semester of calculus in college and learned most of it the weekend before finals and squeaked by but don't ask me to solve any equations now as about all I could do was recall what an integral sign looks like Smiley

The point of my comments was I think it is better to have a testing structure like before when the information was in the license manuals and prospective licensee's had to actual read and comprehend the material before taking the test rather than brain pumping of info just before testing or rote memorization. Sure you could memorize the material if you possessed photographic memory but I personally believe the caliber of knowledge coming out of the testing back years ago was superior to that of today.

Far too often post on these forums elude to the fact that the newly licensed amateur knows absolutely nothing about buildng or operating a ham station, not even the most minute facets of info. Answers to many of the questions posed here about how to do stuff could be found if the asker simply took the time read the owners manual of their equipment. Sure they many know the rules inside and out but that is only a small part of what amateur radio is all about.

Gene W5DQ
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Gene W5DQ
Ridgecrest, CA - DM15dp
www.radioroom.org
N2EY
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« Reply #32 on: February 28, 2012, 03:25:07 PM »

License tests are not, and never have been, comprehensive exams which test that a prospective ham has all the knowledge needed to set up a station. Rather they are basic tests of rules, regs and theory, intended to keep a ham from causing others serious trouble. Look at the old study guides - they're all about making sure you knew the rules, band edges, how to put out a clean, inside-the-band signal, etc. 

I'm not sure about that. I recall having to answer some pretty technical questions regarding circuits and theory on tests from years ago.

I do too. Or at least it seemed that way.

But consider this:

I have several old ARRL License Manuals, ranging from 1948 to 1971. Their study guides are all in "essay" format.

What I notice in reading them is that they focus on certain specific subjects, but ignore lots of others. For example, there are lots of questions on rectifiers and power-supply filters, but almost nothing on receivers. Considerable space is devoted to the circuitry of transmitter stages (oscillator circuits, amplifier neutralization, low- and high-pass filter circuits) but very little on antennas or transmission lines. There's considerable focus on frequency-meter and transmitting-crystal accuracy, yet the practicalities of control systems for a typical transmitter are pretty much ignored.

And the manuals point out that licensees are expected to know the regulations - not by rote, but by meaning, such as where the band edges are, what modes and powers are allowed, etc.

From reading those old LMs I get the very clear impression that the questions were selected to address "trouble areas" in ham radio. For example, the questions about band edges and frequency-meter accuracy are there so that no ham could claim ignorance of what it takes to keep one's signal inside the band. Power-supply stuff was all about having pure DC for the transmitter. Filter and transmitter circuits were all about putting out a signal with low spurious emissions, TVI prevention, etc.

But in other areas, where ignorance would not affect others, hams were on their own. Not knowing much about antennas or receivers would simply make it hard for a ham to have QSOs - it wouldn't cause interference to others.

I just don't think anyone retains much of anything about H-R out of using a pre-test cram session as the total basis for their testable knowledge. I took a semester of calculus in college and learned most of it the weekend before finals and squeaked by but don't ask me to solve any equations now as about all I could do was recall what an integral sign looks like Smiley

Agreed!

The point of my comments was I think it is better to have a testing structure like before when the information was in the license manuals and prospective licensee's had to actual read and comprehend the material before taking the test rather than brain pumping of info just before testing or rote memorization. Sure you could memorize the material if you possessed photographic memory but I personally believe the caliber of knowledge coming out of the testing back years ago was superior to that of today.

Maybe - there were plenty of hams I knew back-when who simply memorized and word-associated their way to a license, and had enormous holes in their practical knowledge about even simple things. For example, there were plenty who didn't know enough practical radio to figure out how to go from transmit to receive using a single switch!

In any event, the testing methods will not change any time soon. The FCC is convinced that the VEC/QPC systems work adequately, and they simply don't have the resources to do it any other way.

Far too often post on these forums elude to the fact that the newly licensed amateur knows absolutely nothing about buildng or operating a ham station, not even the most minute facets of info. Answers to many of the questions posed here about how to do stuff could be found if the asker simply took the time read the owners manual of their equipment. Sure they many know the rules inside and out but that is only a small part of what amateur radio is all about.

Exactly! But there's also the "affluence/sophistication factor":

In the bad old days, even simple ham gear was expensive. Even a modest station cost a small fortune if it consisted solely of new, factory-built equipment that was easy to use. For example, the "ultimate dream station" when I was a Novice was a Drake 2C/2CQ/2NT combo, which cost over $400 in the 1960s. That's over $2400 in today's money, for a CW-only beginner's station, and it didn't include crystals, a key, etc.

So most of us had to make do with used, kit, surplus, and/or homebrew equipment. Practical skills and scavenging were a must. A typical ham worked their way up a little at a time.

That's all changed today. For well under $1000, a ham can have a pretty nice brand-new transceiver and power supply covering many bands and modes, with features undreamed-of in the 1960s. Not a bad thing, but the difference in environment is substantial.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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KA2LIM
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« Reply #33 on: March 05, 2012, 05:41:20 AM »

Had it, it was called Novice class. Gave a taste of HF to the new guy. If you liked it, test again and move up in class for more, if not - good bye. But that was not good enough, it had to be made easier to get people into the hobby.
Be careful what you ask for as you will get it then not like it and then want to reinvent the wheel. 
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N5RWJ
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Posts: 461




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« Reply #34 on: March 05, 2012, 03:31:52 PM »

Had it, it was called Novice class. Gave a taste of HF to the new guy. If you liked it, test again and move up in class for more, if not - good bye. But that was not good enough, it had to be made easier to get people into the hobby.
Be careful what you ask for as you will get it then not like it and then want to reinvent the wheel.  
Who Are you talking about, and to who? The topic is about being back the Novice License as a Basic  21 Century license, and that will cause changes to the Tech license? The OP is asking your opinion on this new Basic license ,and how it should effect the Tech license,if phone and data modes should be added to it (Tech) and how the Basic license should support this?
« Last Edit: March 07, 2012, 02:30:04 PM by N5RWJ » Logged
N2EY
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« Reply #35 on: March 06, 2012, 02:54:24 PM »

Had it, it was called Novice class. Gave a taste of HF to the new guy. If you liked it, test again and move up in class for more, if not - good bye. But that was not good enough, it had to be made easier to get people into the hobby.

Not exactly.

What happened was that about 1990 FCC decided that we just had to have a nocodetest amateur license in the USA. They had been trying to get one for 15 years at that point, and finally decided we would get one whether we liked it or not. So the Technician lost its code test.

Which accelerated a trend that had been growing since the 1970s: Bypass the Novice and go straight for Tech, because Tech had 2 meters and 440, and Novice had neither.

It was simpler to study for two related written tests than to study for one written test and learn the code. So Technician became the entry route for most new hams.

Ancient history now. The question is: Can't we have a better entry-level license than Technician? One with a more-representative sampling of amateur radio, in terms of bands and modes?

Be careful what you ask for as you will get it then not like it and then want to reinvent the wheel. 

The point is to figure out what will work better today, in the 21st century.

When the old Novice was invented 61 years ago, it was a radical move that at least some hams opposed. Yet it turned out to be an amazing success, bringing in lots of new hams, most of whom went on to higher-class licenses. Many consider thosedays to have been a "Golden Age" in US amateur radio.

Why can't we do that again?

73 de jim, N2EY
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N5RWJ
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« Reply #36 on: April 21, 2012, 11:39:16 AM »

I agree, what's next?
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KB7AIL
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« Reply #37 on: April 28, 2012, 08:44:41 AM »

Just gotta stick this in again:

What would be the problem encouraging beginners to start with the General ticket?  The theory is harder than the Tech but not that much harder. A person really has to know a little something about radio and running a station to get a General ticket but it has so much more than the Tech.

No need to change laws, tests or methods. And, if a person doesn't see the value of the General over the Tech, teach them what they need to be a Tech. Maybe VHF+ is enough for some people.
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N2EY
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« Reply #38 on: April 28, 2012, 10:57:24 AM »

What would be the problem encouraging beginners to start with the General ticket?  The theory is harder than the Tech but not that much harder.

The first problem is that, for the person who is new to radio, it can be "that much harder".

Remember that we're talking about the raw newcomer, not the experienced ham.

A person really has to know a little something about radio and running a station to get a General ticket but it has so much more than the Tech.

Sorry, the first part ("A person really has to know a little something about radio and running a station to get a General ticket") just isn't true. Look at some of the questions about the most basic radio stuff here on eham and other sites - from Generals and Extras!

Doesn't mean those folks are stupid or lazy, just means that the license tests don't necessarily cover the basics of actually getting on the air.

No need to change laws, tests or methods. And, if a person doesn't see the value of the General over the Tech, teach them what they need to be a Tech. Maybe VHF+ is enough for some people.

The problem I see is that, the way the system is set up now, a new ham has to learn a lot of specialized stuff for the Tech, yet a lot of basic stuff is left out.And newcomers are pushed into VHF/UHF for no good reason.

What we really need is a 21st century equivalent of the old Novice - but updated to today's ham radio. The Novice got many, many new hams started with just a very basic test, and privileges that matched it.

That's what we need today.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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N3DF
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« Reply #39 on: May 01, 2012, 10:00:18 AM »

By the time I upgraded from Novice (after about eight months) to General in the mid-1960s, I had:

Built a Heathkit DX60/HR10/Twoer/SWR Bridge/Wattmeter station.
Constructed an HF vertical, a 2M vertical and several HF dipoles.
Made over 500 HF CW QSOs.  Worked 48 states and about 35 countries.
Made daily contact on our town's 2M AM Novice net.
Thoroughly read every ham magazine I could get my hands on.
Read chapters of the Handbook and other ARRL publications.
Nearly memorized the ARRL License Manual
Participated in several contests, including the NR, Field Day, etc.

I felt that the day I passed the General before an FCC examiner in New York, while a junior in High School, was one of the great days of my life.  Don't think that many get that feeling anymore.

Neil/N3DF/Miami
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Neil N3DF
WN2C
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« Reply #40 on: May 01, 2012, 11:31:31 AM »

We already have a license for the 21st century and that is the Tech license.  It covers all the privileges that the novice has and all privileges above 30 MHz.  The only thing that is missing from those privileges is phone and digital (other than cw) operation below 10 mtrs.  That is the only thing that is missing. So maybe the argument should be that they need those (phone, Digital) privileges there. I don't see a need for a new license class, just some added privileges.  Say 25 to 50 KHz on 75 and/or 40, 15 mtrs for phone and digital. But then again do we really want to have new comers to the hobby hear the ranting and goings on on 75 mtrs phone? Or even 20 for that matter?  Huh
I for one do believe that not allowing some phone operation below 10 mtrs is what keeps losing people from this hobby. Give a taste and they will come back for more.

73 de Rick wn2c
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N2EY
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« Reply #41 on: May 01, 2012, 12:02:38 PM »

We already have a license for the 21st century and that is the Tech license.  It covers all the privileges that the novice has and all privileges above 30 MHz. 

Which isn't the best thing for a newcomer IMHO.

The Tech test covers all sorts of VHF/UHF stuff that most beginners won't use, because it has to. (How many new Techs will start off on UHF running the legal limit, even though their license allows it? Yet the Tech test has to cover all that stuff.)

The only thing that is missing from those privileges is phone and digital (other than cw) operation below 10 mtrs.  That is the only thing that is missing. So maybe the argument should be that they need those (phone, Digital) privileges there. I don't see a need for a new license class, just some added privileges. 

The problem is that simply giving more privileges will encounter lots of resistance from existing hams - and it will make the test more complicated.

The Technician became the entry-level-license by historical accident, not design. It doesn't do as good a job as the old Novice did, IMHO.

Say 25 to 50 KHz on 75 and/or 40, 15 mtrs for phone and digital. But then again do we really want to have new comers to the hobby hear the ranting and goings on on 75 mtrs phone? Or even 20 for that matter?  Huh

Include the WARC bands instead. Maybe leave out 75 and 40 phone?

Point is, have a better balance between HF and VHF/UHF privileges in the entry-level license. Why push all the beginners to 10 meters and VHF/UHF?

I for one do believe that not allowing some phone operation below 10 mtrs is what keeps losing people from this hobby. Give a taste and they will come back for more.

Not just 'phone but digital too. Think about it: a Tech can run 1500 watts on any mode above 50 MHz, but to run 5 watts of PSK31 on 80 requires at least a General. Why?

What the old Novice did, back in its time, was to offer a sampling of ham radio for the price of a very basic test. That's what we need today. The sampling will be different, of course, but it's the concept that matters.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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WN2C
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« Reply #42 on: May 02, 2012, 01:30:53 AM »

N2EY Jim, nice station!! Is that is a chrono clock on the far right? Can you find parts for it? My Dad had one back in NJ and it may still be in my Mom's house.  Wouldnt mind getting it working.

What I am getting at is the FCC and the ARRL should be looking at how can we have better operators or what makes better operators and then make some changes in privileges.  I remember back in the 70's I believe that they were talking about a communicator class and an experimenters class.  These had privileges from 2 meters and up and 440 and up respectively.  Good thing that didn't happen.  Expanded privileges on the lower bands is the way to go.  And you are right, all the 'old timers will scream just like they screamed when they brought in incentive licensing, no code and every other change they didn't agree with. Some are still complaining about the loss of code as a requirement.  I would like to have some one prove to me on here that I am a no code extra, cause they can't.  I say so what, let em scream.  If it will swell the ranks then good.  We'll just have to weed out the bad apples later.
Have you put in to the FCC a proposal for these or any changes for a new class license or new privileges?

73 de wn2c Rick
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WB4YAL
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« Reply #43 on: May 02, 2012, 09:57:16 AM »

As an older ham operating for many years I would not take exception for bringing back the novice ticket.  I remember when I found an "Elmer", studied, passed my test, got my Novice license and got on the air.  All of these elements combined to make me appreciate my "first" ham license.  I agree that the Tech ticket is a poor excuse for a first license. Good luck to all the hams who, like myself, want to see changes to the current licensing system.
But maybe things will change if we dialogue and make our feelings known to the ARRL and the FCC.

73.  John WB4YAL
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KR4BD
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« Reply #44 on: May 08, 2012, 06:33:55 PM »

I know, I'm an OLD FART who has held EVERY Class of License -- Novice through Extra.  I enjoyed the progression, the learning.  The next thing some will ask for is a FREE LICENSE in EVERY BOX OF CRACKERJACKS! 

I believe the current Tech License gives beginners a wide range of options and privileges and the test ain't difficult

If you want to stay on VHF/UHF, what more could you ask for???  If you want to stray into HF, you get a taste of that, too.  Why muck things up? 

Just my 2cents worth to add to this discussion.
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