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Thread: Is licensing outdated?

  1. #1

    Default Is licensing outdated?

    It seems to me that the current licensing procedure is extremely outdated. The questions on the exam seem to presume someone is going to build their own set up. That have been true many years ago but Imam sure the overwhelming majority purchase their equipment. I know there is no longer a Morse code requirement and how long did it take to get rid of that archaic requirement.

    I believe that we should make it easier for people to get into Ham radio and not make it difficult. When we take the written exam for a drivers license the question are about knowing the rules of the road, not on compression ratios and the formulas for mass or power. Letís upgrade the testing to be about the rules and laws governing Ham Radio.

  2. #2


    Absolutely ...... NOT!

    To a large degree the Government are unable to police and control many of the frequencies they are responsible for, and so many problems are caused by simple ignorance of physics. Amateur radio is now too cheap to put off those who are kind of transient hams - just slightly interested. Licensing and the old Morse requirement are sensible, and at the very least, a list of names is available - looks at PMR446 - total chaos and anyone can spoil it for others because there its no framework, no camaraderie or organisations. Nowadays everyone wants everything instantly. These people spoil the hobby - because they know no history, operating practices and have no knowledge.

    A level of technical knowledge is required to help prevent interference. There has to be gatekeeping for some hobbies - you can fly lightweight model aircraft, but if you want to fly big ones, things get more strict - there are consequences and you need to prevent trouble if you can. Every hobby has benefits, and if you want what ham radio offers, then be prepared to put some effort in. CW was never any thing, but I took 6 months to learn it and then I got too use the HF bands - now there are more clueless people on the air who spoil it for others not on purpose, but through ignorance. You only have too read the beginners posts on any radio forum to see how people are accidentally gormless. The one where people say they have bought a radio and can't access a repeater even with 50W and they only live locally - and then we find they don't understand CTCSS, antennas, repeater technical requirements and often there are suspicions they don't even have a licence!

    The exam questions do not assume they are going to build. When that was the norm, the exam questions were MUCH more technical - asking about what value inductors you needed to make a circuit resonant on X frequency. Now people don't even know Ohms Law and can pass. If people really think today's test is too hard, then they should take up a different hobby. The licence gives a lot of freedom, and with freedom comes responsibility. To be responsible you need a level of knowledge. Ham radio is not about opening boxes and using the stuff without thought. The other day somebody was moaning on-line because their new digital radio was supplied empty! For God's sake - how dumb do we have to go!

  3. #3


    I believe that the issue with amateur radio today is that there are TOO many glorified CB operators out there.
    Folks who know nothing but buy the radio, turn it on, and make a mess of the air waves...
    I think that the licensing needs to toughen up.
    Memorizing answers to our exam does not mean knowledge, and turning folks loose on the airwaves without that knowledge is making a mess out of amateur radio.
    I also believe that there needs to be a time in rate requirement before advancing in license grade.
    I have no idea how many folks here in the states who hold extra class licenses get on the air and on forums like this one and ask questions like what length does their 20 meter dipole need to be. I would not mind if they made it a requirement that another ham of a higher class license has to observe your operating skills and sign off on your application to take an exam before you take a test to advance. Having the money to buy a radio does not really make you a ham, it does produce a lot of lids on the air today.

  4. #4


    After almost five decades of varying interest, I got my ticket about three years ago. I learned the code when I was a kid (several times, lol) well enough to copy at maybe ten WPM, and transmit at about half that.
    The removal of the code requirement, combined with dropping radio prices, finally got me my Tech license.

    My stumbling blocks were the regulations and operating SOP questions. The technical information was pretty easy, it was all ninth grade science stuff I took in about 1973. I was amazed at how easy that part of the test was. And equally amazed at how some of the other guys passed their test, and then sat back down again for their General and Extra tickets.
    Here's what I would do if I could change the licensing procedure.
    1) I'd eliminate the list of questions. That way, if you knew the material, you could derive the answers, but no more just memorizing the questions.
    2) As suggested above, I'd establish a duration that an operator would have to spend in one class before he upgraded. I, too, hear guys with 2◊1 call signs who obviously don't have a grasp of radio theory.
    3) I would further restrict Tech operation on certain bands, open up some HF bands a little (like ten meters is).
    4) I would consider eliminating use of Echolink and IRLP to General and higher classifications. A little undecided about this, but I think people should actually use a radio for a while before they default to a computer.
    5) I would not reinstate the Code requirement. I think it's a useful thing to know, but to my knowledge, hams are the only ones still using it, and it has pretty much no utility outside the hobby.

    I'm glad that entry into radio is pretty easy, I think it will bring more people in. But I'm appalled that advancing isn't more difficult than it is.

    Anyway, I'd love to hear what others think.

    Sent from my SM-G360T1 using Tapatalk

  5. #5

    Default CW subsection

    As a new ham, I am learning cw, as it can be operated with inexpensive kits and you can reach quite far with it.
    I am very slow and thus my ability to make contacts is limited.
    I tried to answer a skilled (probably old) ham using fldigi.
    He answered but "tuned on the go" so that I may not be able to decode the signal.
    So...make your own conclusion.
    Mine is that there is a lot of pride in some old hams and we have a saying here in Slovakia: Pride breathes hell. And I don't have the mode in mind.
    Now imagine the requirements of an older ham signing anything, like the other gentlemen above suggested.

  6. #6


    Once you pass the exam, the importance of the gate keeping process becomes obvious, as the posters above seem to say - CW was never a waste of time ion you don't use it - and despite having never used a key in over 30 years, I can still do it, and it comes in very handy sometimes. Likewise - the exam required you to learn things, and still does. It's obviously different now, and different in every country - but the system works to help everyone in the WORLD communicate effectively, and that is why access to the ham bands is controlled - everywhere. There are some very well known and important people worldwide who are licensed, and they have to take the same test as everyone else. I believe that the gatekeeping requirement is something established by all the countries signed up to amateur radio.

  7. #7
    Sudden's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Rothwell, Northamptonshire, England


    5) I would not reinstate the Code requirement. I think it's a useful thing to know, but to my knowledge, hams are the only ones still using it, and it has pretty much no utility outside the hobby.

    It helped the world to win in the film Independance Day and it still efective using low power for long distance contacts.
    I'm leaving now to go find myself....if I arrive before I get back, please ask me to wait!

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Sep 2015


    Short of the weak signal modes CW is still the most efficient means for amateurs to make contacts. To ignore it means missing the best dx. Even if you cant copy you can use programs that can.

    Testing in the US is easy. You get the answers and can always cram to pass. If you cant handle that then CB may be what your best option.

    Amateur radio does not need more appliance operators. Learning is as much of the hobby as operating.
    Last edited by W8MLS; Sat 13th Jan 2018 at 23:50.

  9. #9


    I totally agree that the licensing needs to be changed. As a self policing group, we have made it entirely too easy to admit new folks into the licensed hobby, but lack the real fangs to enforce the FCC rules. In my opinion, the Tech test is about right, but General and Extra should get a lot harder. Coming from a radio and electronics background, I found the advance through General and Extra almost too easy, though I realize it probably isn't for most. There should be way more emphasis on operating and radio operation than electronic fundamentals. I also agree that there should be a "time in class" requirement before advancing. As a VE, I have witnessed folks with zero radio experience go to Extra in one sitting, just because they were good at taking tests. I also have experienced folks taking the Tech test just to get a leg up in their job, and have no intention of ever operating or owning a radio. I understand the reasoning behind making the tests easier, to get more folks interested in the hobby, making our numbers grow and using those numbers to lobby for protection of our allowed frequencies, but doing so while cheapening the hobby is a sad way to get there.

  10. #10


    It may well be outdated, but the forces still teach it to some units - not always for radio, don't forget. Signalling with light, or other covert comms. Not everything old is useless!

  11. #11
    K7KBN's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Bremerton WA USA


    Quote Originally Posted by Jkohan View Post
    H. I know there is no longer a Morse code requirement and how long did it take to get rid of that archaic requirement.
    It's because we can't have archaic and eat it, too.
    Pat K7KBN
    Semper ubi sub ubi.

  12. #12


    There are obsolete questions. While some still design radios and tuners, many do not.

    I have never used info on NOT, AND, and NOR, etc. gates. Yet those are on the tests.

    I'm fairly sure the US military, particularly the Navy, is still using flashing light CW day or night, red lens covers at night. And signal flags for that matter to.

    There are no questions about new formats, like digital FT8, or using an arduino or raspberry pi for a radio.

    I don't care for vacuum tubes/valves, and that was what I dealt with for 6 years in the US Navy.
    73, Jim/N4AAB got my Extra class license on Aug 10, 2017. Vanity call in Oct, 2014.
    My Ham radio site has no popups, no music, no banners.
    'Through the thorns to the stars' from Ghost-in-the-Shell anime.

  13. #13

    Join Date
    Sep 2015


    I have never used info on NOT, AND, and NOR, etc. gates. Yet those are on the tests.
    NOT, AND, OR, NOR are logic state indicators for binary devices. They used to be discrete circuitry but today they are on SMD chips.

    The current tests are really easy just because it does not directly affect your operating does not mean it should not be on there. Experimentation is another key factor for Amateur radio. Once you get past just operating and start experimenting with antennas, Arduino , etc the info on the tests don't seem that irrelevant.

  14. #14

    Default Is Licensing Outdated?

    Absolutely Not.

    I do like the idea of having some mandatory classes for different levels, and I think some could potential Ham Operators could benefit from some Amateur Radio history as well.

    As far as some people thinking that some of the exam material may be outdated, it is still important to learn. You will have to deal with station grounding, RF exposure, installing antennas safely, etc.

    It can be a fun hobby, let's not cheapen it.

  15. #15

    Default UK licence

    I am in UK & passed the exams nearly 30yrs ago. I have a full A class licence which l studied hard to obtain.

    I have been out of the hobby for several yrs due to work commitments. Now retired, l have bought some new radio gear.

    Things have changed in several ways. Dual band radios can be bought for a few £ or $ from China.
    So l am not surprised that we have idiots playing music on the repeaters.

    As for the power limitations in the stages of the licences. We have people with novice licences buying radios that can transmit 100w. How many of them will stick to the maximum transmit power for the licence that they hold?

    Internet & cell phone technology has reduced the interest in radios to an extent. 30yrs ago you couldn't communicate with someone thousands of miles away with a device in your pocket.

    I agree with the requirement for people to study hard to gain a licence. Much disruption can be caused by a novice transmitting a few hundred unfiltered watts.

  16. #16

    Join Date
    May 2020
    South Killingholme

    Default Late reply from a novice

    I totally agree with most of the comments above. Like any hobby, you can throw yourself in at the deep end or dip your toe in. If I understand right, we are talking about the miss use of Ham radio. Having knowledge of the subject of radio and how to use it, will benefit both user and listener. I don't mean a radio wizz with all the tech to built a super great radio.

    Back to the user and the way the radio is used, please read your licence conditions and what you are aloud to use, including wavelengths and power. Be nice to other users, and use your call-signs, the way you should. New up and coming radio users, look up to experienced Ham operators to show the way.

    Is Ham going backwards to CB days or forward to show the way?. Lets make it the later, as I would like to know more, after I have taken My Foundation Exam.

    David P

  17. #17


    What started out as a pissing contest quickly turned into non sense.

    One man said he could copy code but couldn't send it . not even half as fast as he could hear it, bull shit!

    I know my A B C's and 1 2 3's, and one or two pieces of punctuation, but if I have to write down what you say and then think of what I am going to reply, and you are 20+ wpm, I can't possibly think fast enough to reply as a normal conversation. But I do know my A B C's, 1 2 3's... You can't send words until you learn words, at least the 50 most used words in amateur radio.

    Being a Gatekeeper - is an accurate analogy.

    Here in the USA, we are governed like it or not by The ARRL. The FCC enforces the rules - when forced to do so, but the ARRL suggests what the rules are to be. The dumbing down of everything and the opening of the gate, leaving in the bad with the good was a terrible idea. Starting in the 90's we left all the cb'rs in, but did not know what to do with them once it happened. How many LIDS you will find on 80 and 160 meters at night with an Advanced Class License? LOTS!

    I suggested to the EPA Section Manager that he turn in his amateur radio license, and I would turn in my amateur radio license and we would retest - along with the code requirement, in front of a FCC Examiner.
    He was horrified = because he couldn't pass the written portion of the exam, let alone the code.

    We place people into positions of authority that has no business being put in those positions, but we give those positions to them because no one else wants to do it! Think of what I just said.... Neither the EPA or WPA Section managers has ever been contested in an election.

    My opinion is that we need to make the exam harder, with non published questions, and we need to make more questions on the exam, so a good guesser won't pass it, and we need to place more emphasis on the rules, and less emphasis on the more stupid things like bandwidth requirements - since no one owns a band scope anymore and no one follows the rules.

    A part of the examination needs to be a $1000 retainer, which would be used in case the applicant did physical damage to your property. Now I got your attention, what physical damage am I talking about?
    Well, I think we ought to make a part of the exam, a part where you have to assemble a working station on the premises of the exam point. HF Transceiver, SWR Meter, Amplifier, a dipole HF antenna that they have to build and cut to resonance, coax - with no PL connectors, patch cords, power supply, VOM meter, dummy load, Signallink, computer, speaker, microphone... what ever else you need to build a working HF station.

    Then once you pass the written portion of the exam, they bring you into a room where you have to assemble and operate an actual working HF station. Points would be assessed according to how much you know and subtracted by how much you do wrong. Everything right down to tuning up the amplifier and calling CQ.

    An actual ELMER must be assigned to each and every operator before they can operate, and they must keep a paper log book and they must make X amount of contacts once they are licensed before they get a permanent license.

    The actual Elmer part is the hardest part of the exam, because I don't know a whole lot of people that I would consider to be qualified to be an actual Elmer. I'm tired of young people that are disrespectful that makes comments about us old farts. If it wasn't for us old farts, there wouldn't be a hobby for you to enjoy.
    Newcomers to the hobby doesn't realize that this stuff didn't just fall out of the sky, it was all invented by someone just like you and me. There is commercialism in amateur radio, but you can't just walk into a Radio Shack or a Lowes or a Walmart and buy this stuff off the shelf. Our population of licensed amateurs in the world is a very small percentage and it is getting smaller by the day as old hams dies and the younger generation doesn't want to apply themselves..

    I worked Adamantly to get the Wouxun radios outlawed in the USA and I have worked equally hard to get the Baofengs outlawed also. These radios degrades our hobby, reduces it to its lowest element, talking on a repeater with a radio that is not part type compliant in the USA. When you reduce our hobby to buying a $30 handheld radio that doesn't do anything except let the person talk, doesn't teach anything, serves no legitimate purpose, then what good is it?

    At least with an HF radio and a dipole antenna and a SWR meter and a hunk of coax and a power supply - you are making an investment. When you make an investment in something you tend to take care of it a lot better than if someone gives you something, then you tend not to appreciate it as much. This is the problem with the negative comments I hear from the new hams that asks why are you making me learn all this electronic stuff when I am never going to use it for anything.

    I hear them say - I want to drive the car, but I don't want to learn how the engine works or what the transmission does.

    But at least with an automobile, where I live, you have a once a year state inspection program where the automobile is inspected by a certified mechanic and all necessary repairs to make that automobile compliant are forced to be made at the time of inspection. This removes all the faulty equipment from the road and forces everyone to comply to these basic rules.. Must have tread on the tires, must have a working exhaust, must have a windshield free of obstructions - no cracks, must have working windshield wipers, must have working brake lights, must have working turn signals, must have brakes, must not have any cracks or holes in the frames, body, etc. Must have working seat belts, must have a seat with no rips or tears, must have a working odometer and speedometer, must have mirrors, all suspension and steering must work with no slop.

    What I am talking about here with the walkie talkies is the slop, the splatter, the operating out of band, the dumping of these radios on our shore, the unlicensed use of these radios on our frequencies.

    The faulty equipment and the defects are equally important.. How many times have you heard someone on an amplifier that splatters over into the bandwidth you occupy.. One minute you are calling cq and having a quiet conversation and the next minute when someone intrudes into your space and it sounds like charlie browns mother blah wha wha wha wha wah.. Those people shouldn't even be licensed in my book..

    How many times have you heard people with a G5RV talking to someone with an amplifier and the person with the G5RV couldn't hear you because you wern't loud enough? Only because he didn't have an antenna that was good enough to hear you. Then it becomes a telephone conversation where only the loudest are acknowledged..

    You are supposed to use the minimum amount of power, not having your amplifier hardwired the light switch in the radio shack. This is the purpose of the signal report. In a contest, if you use erroneous signal reports where everyone is 5/9, then it shouldn't even count for points! An accurate signal report is the only way to adjust transmit power.

    If we could get all the people to follow these basic precepts we wouldn't have the problems we have today on amateur radio.. We wouldn't have people fighting over one frequency, we wouldn't have jamming, we wouldn't have interference.
    Then all we would have to do is just play radio.

  18. #18

    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    With my wife


    Your experience appears jaded and not entirely accurate.

    Enough vinegar?

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