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Old 05-13-2008, 08:33 PM   #1
N7OQ
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Default Just don't feel the pride

I got a email from a guy I work with and he told me he just got his extra ticket. Now I'm happy for him but on the same token it makes me feel like my ticket is not much of a accomplishment anymore. This guy has only make a few HF contacts sense getting his General a few months ago he could not fix a radio, could not help someone get setup and is a newbe all the way. But it is so easy to get a Extra ticket now (all you need is a good memory) that anyone can get one. I know the code was old and outdated and lot of people wanted it gone. But with the code you had to work at it to get a ticket and you might have to take the test a few times to upgrade but when you got the new upgrade you felt good and you felt like you accomplished something.

I feel things started to go down hill when the FCC stopped giving the tests and VE's started to give the tests. There is to much room for cheating and I know a few that got tickets when they could not even copy 2 wpm and one even became a VE himself. Maybe I should not feel this way but I just can't help it, I worked hard to get my tickets the code was not easy but fun after I mastered it.

I have a solution, why don't we get the FCC to stop giving out the question pools, make the test harder and change the test questions all the time so the tester needs to know how to do the formulas not memorize the answer plus make the FCC give the tests again. OK I'll stop ranting now.
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Old 05-14-2008, 07:48 AM   #2
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Well... I got my extra in the days of 5 WPM code (though I can do a bit better than that) and have found code to be useful.. I will point out that where as you had to learn code.

I had to learn rocket science (Yes, there are rocket science questions on the test now days)

There are, today, basically two schools of licensing.. The ARRL based schools (Which I hope includes most ham radio clubs) and the Gordon West manual.. I have both

When I went to get my license the first manual I got was a Gordon West. This manual simply gives you the questions and the answers.. Good review book, but I found it useless.

The ARRL manual gives you the theory first, THEN asks the questions and then gives you the answers... I found it very useful, and a couple of concepts I had issues with Tom Miller (K8PNW) who was teaching the class... Well...

The E-mail I sent to the ARRL read something like this

When I used the Gordon West book I very quickly hit the wall.
When I used the ARRL book the wall was quickly flattened

And Tom, my "Tutor" ground up the remains of that wall mixed in a bit of gypsum and poured it back out as nice smooth pavement.

Oh yes, I can fix a radio, I have built radios from kits, designed modules, make my own antennas, and such.. I've spent considerable time up on the roof with a tool kit.

Though today I use a radio that came out of a box (Kenwood TS-2000, TM-733, Yesau F-51R) when things go strange (As the FT-51R did a couple of weeks ago) I can, and did, track down the problem and fix it (Turned out to be a bad power connection)

So, not everyone uses the "Memorize the answers" course. Some folks use the good one
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Old 05-14-2008, 10:00 AM   #3
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I was a VE for a club in another area for some time.
I did the CW portion of the exam for them.
I thought it was funny when 3 people passed the exam right after I left the area who could not pass it but were helpful members of the club.
Do VEs cheat to help club members? I think so.
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Old 05-14-2008, 10:17 AM   #4
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Try not to judge all new hams from one, or even a few examples. I am glad it is easier to take the tests because if there are not enough hams they will take frequencies away. Plus, this way my wife can get her general.

And if you think the Extra test was easy I am impressed. Even with my radar background I found it hard to remember all the formulas and struggled with the test. (I don't have a good memory for remembering all the 700 or whatever answers they give out!)
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Old 05-14-2008, 12:55 PM   #5
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I have been thinking of upgrading from Technician+ to General. I missed the grandfather by 9 months. I had to learn code, and am glad I did. I have an electronics background, but in todays world, replace the whole rig seems to be the norm. I would rather everyone have to learn code and theory, but realize that we need new hams.
As for the VE testing, when I took mine they didn't help us out at all. I did hear from some other that had failed they were going to use a different test site where they coach you. I passed my first time, but had to study to do it. I think the pool questions should not be released. I am hoping that we don't end up like CB radios did, where they did away with licensing.
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Old 05-14-2008, 02:59 PM   #6
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I am a VE and neither myself or anyone I have worked with have cheated or would tolerate cheating in one of our test sessions.
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Old 05-14-2008, 03:36 PM   #7
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As a VE myself, I'm with Radio. All volunteers in our club are vocal about retaining the honor of the VE program. You can find a few bad apples in any program, but my hope is that they are few and far between.

73,

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Old 05-14-2008, 05:59 PM   #8
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I too, did not like it when code was eliminated. I got my extra ticket when you had to learn the 20wpm element to pass. I also believe today, unless you have an 'older' radio with standard circuit boards (no double/triple density types) you CANNOT do much repair as such. You generally have to order the 'module' or 'send' your radio back to the factory.

I too act as a VE and we have NEVER tolerated cheating of any kind during our exams.

cheers
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Old 05-14-2008, 11:31 PM   #9
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I'm in no way saying that all VE's allow cheating not even the majority of them it is just a few and like everything in life it is the few who ruin it for all. The VE's here at our local club keep everything above board, they do a great job and their classes teach then material not the test. We have a local Ham who I really look up to him, he works so hard to recruit, and teach new Hams and he is such a good mentor, his radio discipline is outstanding and rubs off on to other hams.

But I know a a lot of hams who just memorized the questions and answers and if you took the same question like one where you need to use a formula like ohms law and changed the values they could not pick out the right answer. But just because you have a good memory and pass the test that doesn't make you a bad operator we have a lot of great operators who got a ticket that way. It's the system in place now in place that I think cheapens then whole thing, in the past a extra class operator was one who had been around the block and had a lot of skills. This friend of mine who just made extra could not help anyone sense he is still learning it himself so it just makes me feel bad that I'm teaching him, helping him with basic Hams operating procedures and he holds the same ticket I do.

I often think that we might as well go to one class of license and call it a day.
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Old 05-15-2008, 08:08 AM   #10
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I have not taken the Extra class license aas I am still trying to learn the material and not memorize the answers. My brain is not set to memorize answers but some people are. Yes, it does degrade the whole amateur experience by letting people advance with out learning.

I am a licensed engineer and I worked hard to get the P.E. license. After 5 years of college I ahd to take an 8 hour exam to get the EIT (engineer in training), work for 5 years in an engineering enviroment and then anothe 8 hour exam to get the princilpes exam out of the way. The exam is set up so that there is no memorizing of answers and you do ahve to solve problems.

As a mechanical engineer, it is a slow learning curve to learn the electronics for the Extra class.

Ken
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Old 05-15-2008, 10:28 AM   #11
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No Comment....
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