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Thread: Is licensing outdated?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    Default Is licensing outdated?

    It seems to me that the current licensing procedure is extremely outdated.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

    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    With my wife, CN86jc


    Your experience appears jaded and not entirely accurate.

    Enough vinegar?

  18. #18


    Well, I think the tests are still necessary. And no, I didn't find them a walkover. Some subjects yes, others were tough for me.
    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.

  19. #19
    gnuuser's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    NW Pa,USA


    I dont have my license yet. because testing sites keep canceling due to covid scare and doing it online is nearly impossible due to needing proctors.
    most people are avoiding others yet.
    licensing is not outdated as it requires you to learn the rules of the road and the consequences of failure to do so.
    even though learning code is not required I am taking the time to learn it and intend to use it.
    I dont want the testing to be easier but i would like it to be easier to be able to take the test!

    when I do get my tech and general I want to get qualified as a volunteer examiner.
    Im so old dirt was my apprentice

  20. #20


    To do away with licensing would do away with amateur radio, just as it did with CB. No one would want to listen to all of the garbage.
    I'm an Extra but to be fair I'm also a broadcast engineer, so the testing was not too hard for me. I certainly agree that the tests should be modernized, but not made easier just so the un-motivated have a better shot at passing.

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