Here's more information
on the RARS Amateur Radio License Classes:


tower Interested in Amateur Radio?

Great!  Ham radio is a wonderful communications hobby and service.  It's been around pretty much as long as there's been radio, around the turn of the (last) century.  Today, it's state-of-the-art.  And it's a terrific compliment to the communications you've started taking for granted on the internet.

To get started, you might want some more basic information on Amateur Radio itself.  For that, let me point you to a page from our national organization, the American Radio Relay League : http://www.arrl.org/hamradio.html .  Don't get lost in browsing and forget to come back!

To operate an Amateur Radio station, you need an FCC license.  To get that license, you need to learn some rules and regs, some operating procedure, some safety information and some elementary electronics.  Then, to show you've learned that stuff, you must pass an exam, administered locally several times a year.  That's what our class is all about. 

There are three levels of ham licenses: Technician, General, and Amateur Extra.  As you go up the license ladder, you take progressively more difficult tests, and you earn greater privileges.  You can get a simplified overview of the ham license structure here .

The first night of our class is an introduction, and there's no cost or obligation. If you like what you see, sign up for the course.  The class is inexpensive, taught by unpaid volunteers, all for the love of our hobby.  This is not a money-making commercial enterprise.

The RARS Class

The RARS Class is designed to help you pass the FCC exam for the Technician Class license.  This is the "No-Code" license, and no Morse Code is required.  We do offer an optional code class for those interested gaining the extra privileges that come with passing the 5 word-per-minute code test.   The next code class will probably be in the fall, 2002.  If you're interested in that, contact Neal Fisher N4HAF .

Meeting Nights:
The next introductory class will be on a Monday night, late next February, 2003.  An exact date has not been set.  The remaining classes will be held two nights a week, Monday and Thursday, conculding with a VE exam in early April.  Hours are from 7:30 until 9:30 p.m.

The Cost:
The cost for the RARS class, including the textbook, is  $25 ($10 class fee, $15 for the textbook).  The only other cost is the exam fee, around $10, when you take your test.

The Book:
The class is based on the textbook Now You're Talking - 4th Edition , published by the ARRL.  We can supply the book, or you can pick it up at most Radio Shack stores (or order it from the ARRL's web site ).  It costs about $20.  If you get your own book, we deduct our book cost from your class fee ($15).  If you get your own, make sure you get the new one - the 4th Edition!

The Class:
The classes include some lecture, demonstration, an occasional video and discussion.  We also add a bit of real-world experience to help you get ready to go on the air yourself.  At each class, we review a chapter to two from the text.  Unfortunately, there is homework !  You must study the text chapters for the upcoming class before that class.

Class Photo Important note: the class lecture and demos only supplement the text.  We answer your questions, and amplify some of the more difficult concepts.  We don't teach everything you need to know in class - there's not enough time.  You can get your ham license with the book alone, and many people do.  You can't pass the test with the class alone, but the class will make it easier!  (Click here for more pictures from a recent class.)

Location:
The class is held at the Nortel Technical Education Center, which is along NC 54, about a two miles west of the State Fairgrounds (right next to I-40).  Directions are on the registration form (see below).

Exams:
Exams for the Tech license (and all other ham licenses) are usually given by the RARS Volunteer Examiners on the last day of class.  There are many other exam opportunities throughout the year, in Raleigh and surrounding communities.  Here's a web page for exam info: www.3rdtech.com/nick/hamfaq.htm .  The exam fee is $10 (one fee charged includes all exams you take in one sitting).  The exam fee is not included in the class fee.

Class Size Limited - Download the Registration Form:
Class size is limited to 30 students, on a first-registered basis.  This is an informal requirement, and we'll work with everyone if we see the class filling up.  Our largest recent class was 28, so don't panic!  When we have a firm date, we'll post a registration form on this web page.
 
 

How Hard Is It?

You don't have to be an electrical engineer to get a ham license. Many hams have no technical knowledge beyond what they learned to get their licenses.

The exam questions cover four areas:

    • FCC Rules and Regulations
    • Operating Practices
    • Basic Electronics and Radio Theory
    • Safety
The Questions (and Answers) Are Public!
The exams are drawn from a pool of multiple-choice questions.  The questions, and answers, are public,.  They're included in Now You're Talking, or you can download them from this ARRL web site , among others. 
    Warning: don't try to memorize the question and answers by number ("question 1 is 'A,', question 2 is 'C,'" etc.).  There are over 300 questions in the pool, the questions won't be numbered the same on the exam, and the answers may be presented in a different order.
Can you just memorize the actual questions and answers and pass the test?  Sure.  In fact, many questions require just that - memorizing rules, frequency limits and such.  Other questions require solving some basic math problems using simple algebraic equations that we'll teach.

We think you're better off actually learning the basics, not just memorizing them.  We won't pretend there's no work involved, but it's less than a high school semester's worth.  And most of what you learn will be useful to you as you enjoy the hobby in the future.

Test Yourself Online:  There are several web sites out there that package the question pool into sample exams.  One of our favorites is http://www.aa9pw.com/radio/exam.html .  We recommend that you begin taking on-line sample tests starting the first night of class.  You probably won't "pass" the first night, but with each class you'll see your score jump up, and by the end of the class you'll pass the test with confidence.

Morse Code Option

The Technician license is code-free, and with full privileges on all the VHF, UHF and above ham bands, that may be as far as you want to go in ham radio for now.

But, Morse Code is a strong tradition in Ham Radio, and you'll need to learn it to progress to higher class licenses .  Add code to the Tech license and you'll gain voice privileges on the worldwide Ten Meter band, as well as code privileges on several other worldwide bands.  The recent restructuring lowered the code requirements for all ham licenes to one 5 word-per-minute exam, so you'll also be a step closer to the General Class license.

RARS will offers a separate Morse Code class occasionally during the year, separate from the license classes.  Keep an eye on this web page for updates.