Advice to those upgrading: Don't Take The Easy Way Out

Discussion in 'Becoming a Ham - Q&A' started by K5GC, Jan 28, 2014.

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  1. K7MEM

    K7MEM Ham Member QRZ Page


    Personally, I am not offended. And I tested for my Extra in 1999, before they made all of the changes, and had to walk up hill both ways, in the snow. :) But memorizing the answers or memorizing the questions amounts to about the same thing. When I tested, I obtained a current copy of all the questions and answers and read it through. At the time there was the Advanced and Extra that I had to pass. If I couldn't pick out the answer easily, I looked it up. But I had an engineering background and had been a ham for a long time by then, so it wasn't that difficult. Then I used the QRZ sample tests to see if I was really ready. Apparently I was because I passed both tests. Preparing for the test didn't take long, but getting ready for the Morse Code test did. I worked on that part for six months before I was confident enough to take the test.

    I don't know about whether the VE are suppose to tell you how many you missed. You will have to wait for a VE to answer that. When I took my tests (Tech, General, Advanced, and Extra) they only told me "pass" or "fail". Even with the Morse Code tests they only said "You Passed!!". But in the end, that was all that mattered to me. I only went to two VE sessions. I walked into the first one as a Novice and walked out a General. The next one I went in a General and walked out a Extra.

    That's the way it works for everyone. The bulk of your learning happens after you get the license. That's when you are putting the things you learned to use.

    Good luck with your hamming.
  2. KD4MOJ

    KD4MOJ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    That is BS... the VE's here always let you know what the score was.

  3. K5RCD

    K5RCD XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    ARRL VEs are instructed to give the number of questions missed, but not to reveal which specific questions they were.
    I don't know if the other VECs have the same criteria.

  4. WB0YD

    WB0YD Ham Member QRZ Page

    I was interested in Ham for many years just didn't pursue the interest. One day I decided I was going to do it. I sat for my exam and also passed my tech, general and extra in 1 day. Since then, albeit 1 week, I sit in the driveway with my wife and my rig and I have listened to the local net on the 2m and heard a lot of ragchew. It's mostly a local club that doesn't actually advertise for members and they treat it more as a social thing, chewing everyday about this and that. But, I have made a couple contacts and they have made it very clear that if at any time I need or want help there are 30 - 40 people just waiting to help with what ever question and issues I have or will have. No serious rig as of yet but I will.
    I wanted the full ticket so I could experiment with the full spectrum and see what I like or what interests me and go from there deeper down the rabbit hole. On the air and in person the ham community is very warm and welcoming. Although....
    I have done a lot of reading on this and a couple other boards and find there is a small percentage that are of the "hero, guru, bow down before me types with 30 years experience", that will flame you out for the slightest percieved of not knowing the craft as well as they think you should. To me I personally do not care what anyone thinks about only taking 1 test at a time or all three at once. None of my business. Everyone has their reasons for getting into ham, I have mine which are not the same as yours maybe.
    Personally I can't wait to get home and spend time teaching and sharing the hobby with my wife and kids. I also can't wait until I get my shack set up and do some real listening on much bigger stuff and is on!
  5. N0VGL

    N0VGL Ham Member QRZ Page

    I think the point is that the way things are structured now with the no code testing, the extra class designation doesn't mean what it once did. Speaking as a no-code tech (1993) I used to think of an extra as an extremely experienced and knowlegable individual in the hobby. My dad was a good example (AB0DS sk). Now that may or not may be true. I've come across several extras that know a lot less than I do. I guess the paradigm shifted and we have to get used to it. I guess my suggestion for on line study would be get a mulit-mode multi-band rig with the best antenna you can home brew (or buy) and get on the air so you can gain the knowlege you need to fill in the gaps in your education.
  6. K5GHS

    K5GHS Ham Member QRZ Page

    I will admit that the method I used for getting my General was via the "Ham Cram" thing they have.

    But, hear me out on this.

    I'm a 22 year ham. I admit I don't know a lot about the General part of things, but that is why since I got the upgrade, I spent a good few weeks tuning around and listening before I made my first contact last Thursday on a local HF net, and then a few over the weekend.

    But I will be honest about it. I did it because it was a quick way to do it and I had put it off for 22 years. I actually had passed the written the "old fashioned way" right before the code drop happened, but my CSCE had expired a few weeks before it went through, or I could have sent it in and been one ~10 years ago. I had taken the test because my wife was going for her Technician at the same time and I didn't want her to be the only one taking the test (It was at a private residence and me, her, and one other person were testing only).

    But a few things I should mention about the ham cram method is that they actually suggest if you're going to do it, that you do Tech and General in one fell swoop-like within a few weeks of each other. If you are like me and my friend who upgraded at the same time, we were actually at a disadvantage. The entire idea of the cram method is to NOT know the answers because you know, you are to just go through, read the questions, remember the answer as the original poster described, and then after 6 hours of going through the entire pool in sections, you take the test. You look at the questions, somehow mentally you only see the right answer, and you get it. I seriously thought I was going to fail until the moment I finished the test and realized that I had gone through it like that. But being a ham for 22 years prior, I was at a disadvantage with that method, and in fact the instructor explained that if I failed, I would likely need to try another method to learn. He told me to purge what I knew out of my mind and follow the method, and it worked.

    But like I said, I did do some HF this weekend-but I do what I do with a lot of things. I listen to learn. I made a few contacts with the Kansas and Hawaii QSO party contests. But what I did was I listened for a good half hour before I even tried. I listened to how both halves handled the exchange. I wrote down the exchange info so that in the "excitement" of actually making contact I wouldn't lose it. And then when I did, I logged it, made sure it was right, and then went back to spinning the dial. I took my time with it, just like I will with everything with my new abilities.

    I should say also the instructor of the class stressed that the method is used to obtain the license, but that there was a lot to be learned before you picked up your first radio or HT. He also stressed the following of my method-listen. Get an Elmer who has been around a while. Don't just jump into it.

    I should also note that the people who put on the "crams" don't do one for Extra. General and Tech only. They do testing for Extra, but they don't teach it by that method.

    But honestly its also how I got my Tech when I was 18. Got the it. Re-read it. Read it so much I dog eared it (this was back in 1992). Drove 2 hours, took the test, passed, and read it and other books some more, because back then it took about 3 months to get the license in the mail.

    I guess the moral of my story is that even though I did kind of take the "easy way" out to get my General, I'm not going to leap onto the bands and just assume its like a repeater or anything. I'm doing a lot more listening and I'm talking to local hams who have been there, done that, and got the T-Shirt.

    I do plan on getting Extra also next spring most likely. Once the rainy season hits here, I will probably be spinning the dial at home and studying.

    But one thing I should stress as well is that I did talk to a lot of the people there who tested that day. I let them know my callsign and email, and just like I did with the Ham Radio operator who lived behind me when I got my Tech, I told them if they had any questions to reach out to me.

    So all joking, kidding, "know code" "no code" "crammed to get their license" stuff aside, I just hope that one of the main reasons I really like this hobby continues to hold true...that usually when you ask for help or you screw up, someone helps you out. I know I did when I started, I know I probably will a few times now, but at least in my experience when I needed help I got it.

    I just hope that, all opinions aside on here, that when it comes down to it, you might not like the method people use to achieve what they have achieved, but that you will point them in the right direction when they might go astray.

    That is what is going to get those who use whatever method to get into the hobby to stay into it. I know that at times I've been looked down by some "groups" of hams because of the license I had or the way I got it. I don't associate with those people since they don't want to associate with me. But I seriously have encountered a lot more people who have been willing to help me and they didn't care about my license class. That is what will keep the hobby going strong.

    I suppose I could have hit the books and got General the "hard way" (again!) but how would I prove it, honestly? The people that put on the Ham Cram also do testing only. But in theory, I still went there to get my upgrade. Nobody would know the difference, honestly. Its what is available around here nowadays.

    Just don't lump us all into this group of "getting our license cheaply". I think it will benefit the ham community as a whole if you are willing to show them the right way than looking down on them.

    Just my two cents though, spend it how you wish. I know how I'm going to be though. As helpful as possible, and I'm not going to leap into things without learning to listen, and listening to learn.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2014


    you cranky old farts only did what you needed to do to get your ticket back in the day.

    same as those of us getting in to the hobby now are doing.

    you didn't look at the test requirements 30 years ago and say oh I think i will go get my doctorate in RF engineering before i take the test so i fully understand everything.

    Get over yourselves.
  8. KG5RZ

    KG5RZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    And you uppity newbies wonder why no one wants to talk to you on the air with attitudes like that.
  9. K3SWS

    K3SWS Ham Member QRZ Page

    I understand your post. But I am the newest newbie. Not uppity at all. I memmorised the pool to get my ticket. Now I can find an elmer on air. Local elmers are hard to find.

    And maybe I'm taking some bait. I didn't notice the poster didn't have a call sign. Sorry
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2014
  10. KG5RZ

    KG5RZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Please don't get me wrong, not all the newly licensed operators show up on the repeater and cop an attitude when given some advice on the way of the world any more than all of those giving the advice are cranky of farts that need to get over themselves. The ones that do cop an attitude regardless of the way the advice was given soon find themselves being ignored by everyone. The cranky old farts often end up in the same boat. You will soon find who they are. Once you do just ignore them like the rest of us do and don't let them drag you down to their level.
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