HAM Radio exam

Here’s one, how many of you have you’re ham license (Canada or US) and how many think you have enough knowledge to pass?

Here is a link to the Canadian exam, it’s 600 possible questions but you only get 100 of them on the actual exam.


I would like to get my basic or maybe the advanced licence since I am also a member of Canwarn which is similar to skywarn, I bought one textbook and was talking to another news camera guy the other day who is a ham with an advanced licence and I soon realized how bad my math skills have become after 12 years in news so I have my work cut out for me.

Why do I have this feeling that 9 out of 10 people at a regional could pass this exam without studying? Try out the test on the exam generator software and see how you do.

Fyi, I tried to take the test two years ago and all was going well for the first minute until the administrator took by blackberry away and replaced it with a pencil, paper and a very basic calculator.

First off, congratulations on wanting to become a ham. WB9UVJ here, Extra Class.
US hams can also check the CQ magazine http://www.cq-amateur-radio.com/ and QST magazine http://www.arrl.org/ websites for info and links to sample tests.

This weekend driving home from up north I was listening on the scanner to one of the Ham/Canwarn frequencies and this now semi-retired electrical engineering professor was talking to someone who had the basic licence and wanted to get the advanced and as he was going through all the formulas and everything I soon realized that the best way to pass this exam is to take electrical engineering first, there’s a lot you have to know.

If you don’t learn Morse, it’s not really a ham license.

It’s not that hard. I have not taken the Canadian license test but it surely must be close to the US test. A little review and you will see that you already know or have heard of the majority of it. Grade school students pass it all the time. As you are studying, if you don’t understand something ask. There are a lot of hams on this forum and myself and Don Rotolo I am sure will help you as well as about 100 other hams here.

How much CW activity exists today on HF ?


It is the mode of choice for QRP and sometimes the only way to communicate in this low sunspot cycle that seems to be lagging forever. Certainly not as much as when you could only use CW as a novice or tech.

One of the cool events you can hold is a “Ham Cram” session. This is where they go over the basics of the test in the morning and then give the test in the afternoon. The Trenton Computer Fest did that for years. They had a good graduation success rate. While “teaching to the test” may get the ire up from others, it is a good way to get new Hams on the air.

Good luck and 73’s from K3FXS.

yes…I have heard that 9 year old’s can pass this test as people in their 80’s so I guess I just have to take the course and study, I want to do it though not just for the ham radio aspect of it but to brush up on skills in electronics and math that I have totally let slip over the 12-15 year’s I’ve worked in news, with all those Motorola P25 encrypted and MotoTRBO systems coming online here in Ontario (end of scanning/news gathering), as well as the other troubles in the broadcasting business I have to seriously start thinking and planning for plan B, I’d love to stay with something that involves radio, electronics and technology but it’s hard to get in anywhere these days.

If a plan B has to happen I want my next career to be something that I actually really enjoy doing and then it doesn’t seem like work.

Phooey! It sure is, dangnabbit.

Tons, it is actually more popular than when you needed to pass a code test for your license. Just listen in the morse section of any band, 24/7. If there is propagation, you’ll hear a crowded band.

Mark, if you read over the questions three or 4 times over 2-3 weeks, you’ll probably pass. 9 year old or 88 year old, they have to study too. The basic electronics would be easy for an engineer, but the rules and procedures would not, so that degree won’t help.

I used to run ham cram sessions, 2 hours of intense facilitated cram at the Trenton Computer Festival, and we had about a 60% pass rate (normal study results on over 90%). It works, but it is far from ideal.

Don’t fret, forget about the math -just read all the questions, undertsnad what they are asking (this takes some effort, but not much), repeat 2 times, and go take the test - you’ll pass.

If you need to pass morse code at 5 WPM, I can show you how, it’s almost trivial.

Mark, if you read over the questions three or 4 times over 2-3 weeks, you’ll probably pass. 9 year old or 88 year old, they have to study too. The basic electronics would be easy for an engineer, but the rules and procedures would not, so that degree won’t help.

Thanks, I guess I am too impatient in wanting to learn this and pass in one day then, the rules and regs would be the easier part for me as I seem to remember that stuff but listing to this retired professor on the radio on the scanner last weekend although he was coaching someone for the advance licence just listening to all those formulas and PI calculations made me A: turn off all my other radios and listen intently and B: wish I was 18 years old again and in electronics engineering class :slight_smile:

Like you say 2-3 weeks, that’s realistically what I’ll need and keep in mind I’m working in news and severe weather all day so I don’t have as much reading time as I’d like.

I want to do it though for sure.


We’ll get you through this. Then you will have to learn how to buy new toys.

Buying new toys especially of the electronic variety is something I am very familiar with hence the financial mess that I am currently in :slight_smile:

Time is relative. Bring a study book with you, if you’re on your way to a shot and not driving, read instead. After setup, waiting for control to give you the go, read. Or, put the ENG mast into some power lines, and while waiting for the fire department and ambulances, read. :stuck_out_tongue:

That I can’t help you with.

Actually, I have the one study book and that’s what I’ve been doing and it really helps keep me awake when it’s slow as well, some evenings not much happening on the scanners and we just sit there waiting for an active incident and it’s easy to fall asleep but reading this book has really kept me awake, I learn better in a classroom/lecture setting though and with five radios going all the time and having to listen it’s not the best scenario but not too bad.

Some of those ham radios are complicated to program! I remember looking at one a few years ago and it makes programming other radios feel so easy, with the scanners I use software from Butlel.nl and once you know the systems it’s not hard at all.

Back when I worked one summer as a summer student at a Motorola dealer even that stuff wasn’t as involved as the ham radio.

The trick there was programming everything so it would be as simple and direct as possible for the end user, whereas the little ham radio I looked at seemed to require a degree in rocket science to program, then again that’s part of the hobby, makes it all interesting.

Now if they only made a radio that read MotoTRBO…I’d be a very happy camper right now.

I guess D-star is becoming popular with Ham radio now as well.

Do any of your local ham clubs have licensing classes? That’s how I got re-involved in radio communications about a year and a half ago, after being away from it for a couple decades.

I attended a weekend Technician-class licensing class at a local amateur radio club (the class was free). Since I had a couple weeks to study before the licensing exam, and I only needed to do a tiny bit of additional studying for the Technician-class license, I did some extra studying for the General-class and the Extra-class licenses, and when exam day came, I took the tests for all 3 levels and got my Extra-class license.

The online license test sites were very helpful (at least in the US), and there are some online licensing guides, though there is a brand new set of questions for the Technician-class license in the US, so make sure you study the right questions.

There is a lot more to amateur radio than just Morse code and voice communication. There are dozens of digital modes, both data modes and voice modes, and all you need to use many of them, in addition to your radio, is a computer with a sound card.

The digital modes are fun to explore even if you only have a short-wave receiver. All you have to do is connect the radio’s audio output into your sound card’s input, then use any of dozens of programs (many free) to decode the digital modes.

Another very interesting area of Amateur Radio is Software Defined Radio (Google it for info), where much of the radio’s functionality is provided by your computer (www.flex-radio.com is one good example, though there are others, and kits are available too).

And there are many other aspects of amateur radio that I haven’t mentioned (and probably many aspects I haven’t even learned about yet).

We now have 15 members of Team 190 with their amateur licenses. Two weeks ago, 9 of us took an hour to study questions from the test pool, after a day or two taking practice exams online and all passed the exam. Our radios arrived yesterday. Many of us are involved in, or looking into joining the WPI Wireless club on campus. Additionally, a few more students are looking at taking the licensing exam in a few weeks. It has been great fun :slight_smile: (10 radios arrived on campus today. There are now 11 of the same radio floating around in the lab tuned in to the WPI repeater…)


Cool. Which radios did you all get? And, why did you all get the same radios?