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Author Topic: Old code requirement question  (Read 24086 times)
AB1TS
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« on: August 12, 2013, 06:17:24 PM »

I was wondering what % of correct copy was needed to pass the different test when the FCC still required code.
I know that to get your extra ticket you used to have to copy 20wpm, but with how much accuracy?
« Last Edit: August 12, 2013, 06:37:44 PM by AB1TS » Logged
AA4PB
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« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2013, 06:38:49 PM »

As I recall, the requirement was for one minute of solid copy (no errors). Typically the FCC examiner would send several minutes of code and you had to have one minute of no error copy somewhere in what was sent.

It was odd in that someone who actually copied more characters correctly could flunk while someone who copied less characters correctly passed because his correct characters happened to be all together while the other poor fellow had his fewer errors sprinkled thought the text.

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N0IU
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« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2013, 07:00:41 PM »

I don't know how the FCC examiners did it, but in the VE system, you could submit 1 minute of solid copy (5wpm = 25 characters, 13wpm = 65 characters, 20wpm = 100 characters) keeping in mind that numbers, punctuation and prosigns counted for 2 characters. And you did not have to turn in your copy sheet immediately after the test stopped. We would give the examinees a couple of minutes to review their copy and fill in any blanks. But if you did not get 1 minute of solid copy, you could still take a 10 question multiple guess test where you had to get 7 out of 10 correct in order to pass.

I still remember sitting for the CW portion of my General. I got 65 characters in a row. I did not get 66 characters!
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K2OWK
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« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2013, 09:49:36 PM »

AA4PB is correct. The criteria for passing the code test was one minute of correct characters, no errors. Novice/Technician license required 5 wpm. The technician license required the same written test as the general. The general required 13 WPM, Advanced 18? Extra 21 WPM. The test for advanced and extra had more advanced theory. At the time I got my license 1954. The novice was good for one year and not renewable. General had all ham operating privileges. Advanced and extra were for prestige only, and did not come with any additional operating privileges. I am not sure when operating privileges changed, but I do know that frequencies were removed from the general class. One last thing 11 meters was a ham band at that time. Not all this may be right. It has been a long time for this old man to remember everything. Selenium rectifier what's that? Smells funny when it burns up.

73s

K2OWK
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N0IU
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« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2013, 03:03:01 AM »

You are almost all correct except that there was no code test for Advanced.
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AA4PB
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« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2013, 04:24:52 AM »

When I took the general code test in front of an FCC examiner you had to put the pencil down as soon as the code stopped. You were not permitted to go back and make corrections based on the context. It also had to be hand written and readable to the examiner.
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W3HF
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« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2013, 06:59:49 AM »

You are almost all correct except that there was no code test for Advanced.

I would say it differently. The code requirement for Advanced was 13 wpm, same as for General.

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W5ESE
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« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2013, 09:32:42 AM »

There was also a code sending test up until about 1977.
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N2EY
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« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2013, 11:23:26 AM »

When I took the code tests in 1968 and 1970, at the Philly FCC office, the standard test was 5 minutes of plain-language text (with numbers and punctuation). You had to copy at least 1 solid minute of correct, legible code to pass the receiving part.

This meant at least 25 sequential characters for 5 wpm, 65 for 13 wpm and 100 for 20 wpm. You were not allowed to go back and fix anything afterward - when the code stopped, you put the pencil DOWN! Nor would the examiner ask you what it said if he couldn't read something; the examiner had to be able to read it first time for it to count. This meant you had to be able to copy it legibly so anyone could read it, not just you.

The text was not a typical ham QSO.

If you passed receiving, you were given a straight key and a laminated card and told to send "until the examiner was satisfied". The text on the laminated card was plain text, too, with numbers and punctuation. And a period was didahdidahdidah, not the amateur dahdidididah. A keyer or bug could be used if you provided it and had the necessary hookup jumpers. I understand that a typewriter could be used for copy (again, if you provided it) but I don't know anyone who did it that way.

There were accomodations for hams who were blind or had other physical limitations. They had to be prearranged and OK'd by the FCC examiner ahead of time.

If you passed both receiving and sending, you could try the written test(s). There was no partial credit, CSCEs or do-overs; if you failed anything you had to wait 30 days to try again.

What all this (and more) did was to cause most of us to be way overprepared for the tests so that we'd pass on the first go.

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N3DF
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« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2013, 12:46:01 PM »

In computing the one minute of solid copy, the FCC examiners counted numerals and punctuation marks as two letters each.
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Neil N3DF
AA4PB
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« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2013, 01:44:17 PM »

What all this (and more) did was to cause most of us to be way overprepared for the tests so that we'd pass on the first go.

The fact (in my case) that I had to get up at 5AM, drive 40 miles in heavy traffic, pay for a parking garage, and walk several blocks to the FCC office also encouraged not having to make a second trip.  Grin At test time the doors were locked and no one else got in so being one minute late meant doing it all over again in two weeks.
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K2OWK
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« Reply #11 on: August 13, 2013, 09:14:13 PM »

Hello again, There is one more ham radio license I forgot to mention. It was called "Conditional Class General". It was administered by a licensed ham General or above for people that lived a long distance from an FCC licensing facility. Being old I do not remember what the specified distance was. I believe the tester was authorized by the FCC and I would guess was the equivalent of a VE today. The actual license was indicated as Conditional License and had all the privileges of a General Class ham.

73s

K2OWK
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AA4PB
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« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2013, 04:36:00 AM »

As I recall, the Conditional was only good as long as whatever prevented you from getting to an FCC office remained. If, for example, you later moved closer then you were required to appear before an FCC examiner and retake the test for General. There were also some smaller offices that gave the exam once every 6 months.
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N3DF
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« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2013, 07:51:02 AM »

For a number of years, Novice, Technician and Conditional licenses were "mail order" (given by a volunteer ham, who could be a friend or even a relative).  Extras were very few in number and the Advanced class was closed to new applicants.  This left the General class as the only license class commonly administered by the FCC. 
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Neil N3DF
N2EY
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« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2013, 11:28:45 AM »

Hello again, There is one more ham radio license I forgot to mention. It was called "Conditional Class General".

No. It was called "Conditional". Before the 1951 restructuring, it was called "Class C".

It was administered by a licensed ham General or above for people that lived a long distance from an FCC licensing facility. Being old I do not remember what the specified distance was.

The "Conditional distance" was 125 miles until about 1954, 75 miles from 1954 to 1964 (approximately) and 175 miles thereafter.

The distance was "air-line" (meaning straight-line distance on a map, not road or rail distance). The point of reference was the nearest FCC quarterly exam point (place that gave exams at least 4 times a year).

I believe the tester was authorized by the FCC and I would guess was the equivalent of a VE today.

There was no special qualification required except to be a licensed amateur of General or higher.

The "by mail" procedure changed over the years, and there were times when the code tests could be given by a commercial radiotelegraph licensee as well as a ham.

The actual license was indicated as Conditional License and had all the privileges of a General Class ham.

Correct. And until 1954, if a Conditional moved to within the specified distance from an FCC exam point, s/he had 90 days to retest or lose the license. In 1954 that requirement went away.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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