Radio – Wanna Be a General, Part 7

Hello, Frank here.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are going to finish preparing for the general exam today. I’m going to have lower back surgery here in a few days, and I am going to be out of service for a while. This is the same reason the radio posts have been sporadic and far between. I have an old back injury that I decided to reactivate in full force. So, if I spell the word excruciating correctly, it’s the word I use to describe my stabbing pains, which will soon be over. Hopefully. So much for my whining routine.

Okay. I’m on page 47 of Romanchik, and this manual ends on page 66, and that’s where we will be at the end of this post. As I’ve stated more than once, if you have your Technician, then you know how to get in touch with the ARRL. You know how to find a mentor, or Elmer. And you know a little bit about safety. 

Speaking of safety, know the safety rules, follow them. If you want to cut corners on an antenna, wonderful. If you want to open your radio up and start whacking diodes and resistors, wonderful. But, never compromise on safety. Yesterday I was doing a little soldering. My tip was a little shaky, and without thinking, I reached down with an unprotected index finger, and stupidly, stabilized the tip of my soldering iron. After I got finished with my diatribe of expletives, I promptly stuck my burnt finger in my mouth. Next, I pulled out my trusty commercial handheld radio, called my wife on GMRS 20, and asked her to bring me the burn cream. Those were not the exact words, but for family publication, it will do. And if you think you’ll never do something stupid……

Okay, let’s go. Operating procedures. If you’re using Romanchik, then you know that all of the bold print words are the answers, and he surrounds it with the question. It gives you the number and letters where the question comes from. Example: G2A05. It talks about sideband, upper and lower, which is the outside part of the carrier. This is stuff you should already know. Now, I’m not an old salt at this stuff, but I do not remember everything I’ve learned in the past. By the way, this is not on the test, but if you use 11 meter, or CB, channels 30 through 40, folks use the lower sideband, even though the ham bands 10 and 12, are upper side band. Also do a google search, CB Free Band. With your HF radio you can listen to all of these frequencies. And if you have a modified HF radio, you can also broadcast on these frequencies. As you know, that is illegal.

You need to know what “CQ, CQ, CQ” means. And you also need to know what CQ DX means. Read pages 48 and  49. These are things you will need to know for the test. But most of them are just common courtesy. Page 50 starts CW, which is morse code. Whether you ever do CW, or you ever plan on doing CW or not, these questions are still going to be on the test. And they will be on the test, therefore, you will need to know the information about CW. Pages 51 and 52 are some very general rules. Remember, if you see a question about ‘all these choices are correct’, that is not the answer every time, but more than not, it is. Know what QRP means, and always use QRP.

I’m on page 53. Most of these terms are not going to be familiar to you. Most of you will never use these. But if you choose to, know what they are. RTTY, for example, means radioteletype. It has been around a long, long time. But, as usual, this information will be on your test, and if you never plan on using this information that is fine. Learn it long enough to pass the test. I know there are guys in ham radio that hate this type of teaching technique. Some of them believe that you should study and know everything, even if you’re never going to use it again in your life. There are those types everywhere. We’re not talking about studying for a medical exam here. So. If you’re in a crowd of old guys, talking about how you did, and you talk about the techniques learned here, it might be one of those good days to be quiet and listen.

Okay, I’m on page 55. Electrical and RF safety. You know that microwave oven you have in your kitchen? Microwave is just a band of RF. If you don’t know what you’re doing, DON’T DO IT. And you will not see this in any safety manual anywhere. But, if you are going to do something that you know you are not supposed to do, then do it at low power. Those brain tissues that you fry are not going to come back. We all do things that are stupid, trust me, I know. And we all do things we’re not supposed to do. But if you’re going to to it anyway, do it at low power. That does not mean it’s okay to go out and stand in a puddle of water, and work on an electrical outlet. That is categorized as ultra stupid. Okay. Read about safety and RF safety. Again, if you see, “all of these choices are correct”, in more cases than not, that is the answer, but not every time. 

This is a good time to know how to ground your equipment. And if by chance you are one of these guys, that took a sharp hit to your head when you were a child and find some pleasure in climbing towers, follow the safety rules. I can never understand how anybody would want to climb a tower. To get me up a tower past, oh, six feet, there’s going to have to be a raging water buffalo at the base of that tower. 

Okay, on page 57 it talks about AWG12. This is probably the size of wire that carries most of your electrical outlet current. So, now you know about what size #12 is. Okay, remember, the bigger the number, the smaller the cable size. #22 is a whole lot smaller than #12, and #6 is a whole lot bigger than #12. Ground your equipment. When you’re working on a piece of equipment, turn off the power. And, even if the power is disconnected and unplugged, you can still fry your piece of equipment if you touch the wrong capacitor. Know what you’re doing. And you say, “If I don’t know what I’m doing, how am I going to learn?” Find a mentor through your local ARRL. Find one you get along with. If you’re going to be the type of person that follows the rules 100% of the time, then find somebody that has that same belief. If you’re the type that’s going to experiment a little bit, then find someone that has that same type of belief. I would guesstimate the numbers are about 50/50, so just ask around. Don’t be afraid to ask. Tell the mentor what you want to do, and if he says you can’t do that, then ask him to direct you to someone who will teach you what you want to know. It’s no big deal.

Page 59. Rules. There’s a lot of stuff here that doesn’t seem to be particularly important, but it is on the test. Get out one of those ICOM band charts, a pencil and start playing with the edges of the bands, and this stuff will come to you pretty quick. There is a lot of it on the test, so therefore, you will need to know it to pass. 

And you might say, “Well, I can’t transmit on the 60 meter band.” So, what do you do? It’s legal to transmit there, but your radio won’t do it. You open up your radio. Is that legal? Yes. Will it then be legal to transmit on 60 meters? Yes. Will your radio then transmit on the CB frequencies? Yes. Is it legal? No. So, is it legal to open up your radio? Yes. Okay. To open up your radio means, to allow it to transmit on frequencies that it was not initially designed to transmit on. Can you go inside your radio and smash a diode and now transmit on 60 meters? Yes, you can. Is it legal? Yes, it is. One more time. After you open up your radio, you will also be able to transmit on many frequencies that are illegal. Remember, you can listen to any frequency in the HF spectrum legally. Also remember, your HF radio is a first class shortwave receiver. Okee-dokee?

If you notice on the bottom of page 60 it says, “None of the amateur bands are shared with the citizens radio service.” That’s in this country. CB radio in other countries has different frequencies, but that’s not on the test. But again, do a google and check out CB Free Band.

Proceeding right along to page 61, a few more rules and regulations. Talking about antennas. An antenna is probably the most important piece of equipment you will own. It does no good to have a $10,000 radio and a poor antenna. Now, I did not say cheap antenna. An inexpensive long wire antenna, or dipole, will do an excellent job if it is erected properly. Don’t forget that either. You’ll not impress your friends with a high dollar radio if you cannot produce an intelligible signal. Read the last paragraph on page 61, this is our government at it’s best. One other free piece of advice. If you see FCC in the answer, the majority of the time, that is the correct answer, but not all of the time.

Alrighty. Page 63. More stuff you will see on the test, and it’s going to be there. Go ahead and learn it. And the last part deals with volunteer examiner coordinators. There is a little bit more information about ITU. That will be the answer on at least one of the questions. 

Boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen. That’s it. Call your local ARRL, find out when they do testing. This is ham fest season, and many of them offer testing. If you have been taking the practice tests and you’re scoring 85 or above, then it’s time to go take the test. If you don’t think you’re going to pass the first time, then take a handful of $15.00 bills. A little humor there.

I talked on the radio to a gentleman in northern Ohio last night at 28.302. That’s the first time I’ve talked on the radio in about a month. The last guy I talked to was in Argentina. He was also on the 10 meter band. As stated before, I don’t contest, I have nothing to prove about how much my equipment costs. I listen to shortwave every chance I can, which is not very often. I am not intimidated by a man that has a $10,000 radio. I am happy for him, if that’s what he truly wants. I’m also happy for the man that likes to contest. I’ve told you before, ham radio has lots of opportunities. Connected to my HF radio, is a dipole antenna and an A99 antenna, which is considered to be a CB antenna. I use it for 10, 11, 12 and 15 meters. It works great. I also have a couple of antenna switches that I use the A99 and the dipole on my legal CB radio. I like CB, but my antennas work for both. If you want to take an HF radio and open it up, that is not illegal. It just depends on where you use it. If you don’t do something stupid, no one will notice you. 

Please go back and read some of the other posts. The information is put in a simple manner, and I hope you enjoy it. Here in a week or two or three, depending on how my back surgery goes, I’m going to put out a post about survival radio. If you believe there are hard times coming, then you might want to be able to talk to your buddy down the road, who might have an old CB radio in his truck. If he hunts, he probably has a couple of GMRS handheld radios, and you can talk to him, too. If you have an HF radio, you can listen to, and talk to folks, all around the planet. With a commercial VHF/UHF radio, you can talk on the ham frequencies, GMRS and MURS. Some of the above mentioned frequencies are not legal. But in a collapse situation, I’m not sure that will be an issue. Just don’t get stupid. Wish me well on my surgery. I wish you well on your test.

We’ll talk more later. 73, Frank

2 thoughts on “Radio – Wanna Be a General, Part 7

  1. Thank you for your thoughts. I'll be going under the knife relatively soon. Keep studying, keep trying, take the free practice tests. One day throw everybody in the car and go take the test. If you're making 85% on a regular basis, then it's time to go take it. Best of luck.Frank

  2. Thank you so much Frank. This has been great info., my hubby and I and hopefully some of our kiddos will take the test this year.We will be praying for you and Fern too!Blessings!

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