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Easy and quick way to go Extra

Discussion in 'Becoming an Amateur Radio Operator/Upgrading Privi' started by K1LA, Nov 16, 2011.

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  1. N4ERZ

    N4ERZ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    My local club is a no-go for me. They require 2 consecutive Friday meetings that start at 630. They are 30 minutes away and I get home on a good day right at 6. Throw in a wife, a 2 year old and another kid due in early January and I just cannot make it happen :-( I could most likely arrange to get to two meetings, but I fail to see the point when I will miss every other meeting etc.....
  2. AB2T

    AB2T Ham Member QRZ Page

    The way I memorized the schematics for the recent exams was by photocopying a page, cutting out a photocopied diagram, and gluing it to an index card with a glue stick. Then I would write on the index card anything I thought was helpful to remind me what I was looking at. As a kid I just copied the schematic from the licensing book onto a page and studied it that way.

    A family friend, who's an elementary school teacher, said that some kids learned best by writing/drawing something over and over again. Who knows? Everyone has a different learning style. Experiment and see what's yours.

    73, Jordan
  3. W3DO

    W3DO Ham Member QRZ Page

    I too am a Amateur Extra and a VE and It took me 8 weeks, of studying 8 - 10 hours a day to go from Nothing to Amateur Extra.

    Lets figure it out.
    1 week of reading the book for the Technician's class license and 3 days of studying - about 8 hours a day = about 50 hours invested into my Technician Class License.

    Then drove 50 miles each way to take the test and passed on the first try.

    The very next day, started reading the General Class book - not Gordon West but ARRL and started looking at the questions once I read the book.
    I spent two weeks - about 80 hours, not just memorizing the answers, but doing research to find out why that question was on the test and what was the proper answer and how to come to the conclusion of the right answer for the question on the test.

    This time I traveled 120 miles one way to take the Exam and passed it on my first try.

    While I was there, I decided just for the heck of it, to also take the Amateur Extra test. My score was 58 / 55 / 50....

    This means that I already understood half of what was on the test.
    So I went home and studied for two more weeks / about 80 - 90 hours and drove 50 miles one way and took the Amateur Extra license test again.
    This time my scores were 66 / 64 / 58

    Reason being that I didn't take my glasses with me to the exam and I could not see the questions or answers on the test.
    I don't normally wear glasses, but most of my reading is done via computer and I can make the text as large as I need it to read it.

    Newspapers - forget it. The print is just too small and I need glasses to read it unless I am outside in direct sunlight.

    So I went home, there were no more test sessions for 6 weeks.
    I spent the next 6 weeks honing my skills as a licensed ham radio operator, while studying 10 hours a day for my next exam.

    When I drove the 120 miles the 2nd time, it was a relief to pass the exam - only 3 wrong out of 50.

    At that point - I was confident enough that I felt that I would make a good VE and so I applied and was accepted.

    Because of how hard I worked, I feel that it would be unfair for someone to pass a exam - such as a ham in a day class, because technically all you are doing is regurgitating the answers - you do not technically know anything, you just passed the exam.
    That in my mind does not automatically make you a ham radio operator.

    At the same time, if a person - with no prior knowledge of electronics or communications were to pass the General Exam - with only one day of memorization under their belt - I would feel just as cheated as I would the ham who acquired their license via the ham in a day exam.

    The Amateur Extra portion of the bands are reserved for people who have shown their proficiency in amateur radio communications, both in knowledge and skill and have learned how to be a good ham, not someone with a good memory for the answers.

    We have enough interference down on the general portion of the band, people tuning up right over a QSO, people jamming other people, people acting like CB'rs. We don't need those people on the Amateur extra portions of the bands also.

    They make the test hard for a reason, the reason being that they do not want to just let everyone in and take over those portions of the bands.
    Me myself, I enjoy talking to more knowledgeable people - especially old hams - the ones that have had their license since the 1940's and 50's that can sit there and hold a intelligent conversation for hours.

    Those are the people who has already done it, that being contesting and other foolishness and are just on the air to talk and to have a good time.
    They don't need amplifiers to make them louder and they don't need commercial grade equipment to make their audio sound like studio audio, they just use which ever radio suits them that particular day.

    If the radio is broke and you give them a poor signal report, they take it off the air and they repair it or they send it out to be repaired and they either hook up another radio or they do not use it until it is repaired.

    God help the poor soul that gives a poor radio report to a newer ham with his $14,000.00 contest grade rig and 1500 watt - near legal limit amplifier with his Heil Microphone and his multi element beam antenna.

    Forget about the flash cards, learn the answers and what the answers are for, not just the answers and your career as a ham will be more enjoyable then the person who just memorized a bunch of stuff and got his / her license and now does not know how to operate.

    Those are the people who usually ends up contesting, because they do not know how to talk to people and they are afraid that if they actually talked to a real ham that they would be found out and then their reputation would be tarnished and they wouldn't be able to hold their head high in the ham radio community when people found out that they don't know anything.

    Be a HAM, not a CB'r
  4. AB2T

    AB2T Ham Member QRZ Page

    I can't tell for sure, but I'll bet that many of the well-known lids on 75m are Extras. You're right -- they don't stray into the Extra sub-band. They could if they wanted to, however. I'd like to think that having an Extra makes you a better ham or a more courteous operator. I'd like to think of myself as courteous, but I've still got that poor fist 16 years after earning the Extra ticket :-( Beware of this thirtysomething and his iambic paddles!

    I think that a new ham of any means should start small, perhaps with a hybrid or older rig, a simple tuner-and-dipole setup, and a simple microphone or key. However, if a new ham wants to cash out the home equity to buy a mega-station out of the box, then that's the ham's decision. It's probably not wise to invest one's ego in his or her equipment, but that is the case for many. I do agree with you that equipment does not compensate for a lack of knowledge.

    I don't know much about contesting, but I suspect that there are knowledgeable contesters and ignorant contesters. There is a certain art to ragchewing that requires refinement and practice. Many hams are both contesters and ragchewers. The two avocations are mutually exclusive.

    73, Jordan
  5. AC0FP

    AC0FP Ham Member QRZ Page

    The problem is if you upgrade to extra then your expected to know something about radio! Unfortunately I know several local operators with an extra that have a marginal knowledge of ohms law and don't have a clue about AC theory.
  6. KA5S

    KA5S Ham Member QRZ Page

    I know this sounds crazy but... any specific cognitive problem can yield to taking an approach that makes the brain work differently. Try reading the hard-to-learn parts (not the whole book!) UPSIDE DOWN?

  7. KB4MB

    KB4MB Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am a little perplexed about this thread, in that, why the rush to get your Extra? I did it exclusively for 40m phone, AT FIRST, but now realize the real reason I did it was to LEARN! It took me about 3-4 months, studying the ARRL manual about an hour a day during lunch. I learned the material, and learned along the way. I take being an Extra seriously, and am proud of me passing the test. I also enjoyed the process, and actually kind of miss that there isn't another hurdle left for me (except be a good CW op, but I am hacking away at that, SLOWLY).

    However, unless you operate CW or are really itching for DX on 40m (and maybe to a lesser extent on 20m) phone, why rush to pass? Take your time and enjoy learning. It isn't a roadblock the test, it is an invitation to become a better ham.

    I am amazed though at some of the Extras out there who just memorize all of the questions and passed. One at our radio club didn't understand basic theory (how a feedline works, how a dipole works, how you can BUILD things), and wouldn't take our word for it that he did not need to buy a $1000 on an amp to get DX. He still can't get DX, but he is getting high-fives from his 75m group he talks to. *shrugs*. He is also the same person who asked if we could hold a class on how split works. A CLASS, not just an explanation.

    That, of course, is his perogative, but it probably took him longer to memorize the questions without reading them than actually just learning the material.

    Back on point, what I did as I was studying, after reading and digesting a section, I would take the questions in that section and mark it when I got it wrong, and a check when I got it right. After two checks over a period of time, I ignored that question because I obviously knew the answer, and that made me focus on learning what I DIDN'T know and getting better at that. My test guide is unusable in the question section due to all of the markings :)
  8. K5RCD

    K5RCD XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Outstanding post.

    I had much the same experience, but it took me five and a half months of studying, at least an hour each and every day. I did ace the test though, which is a miracle, as my memory is completely shot due to years of foolish youthful indiscretion. It was all I could do to memorize the formulas and frequency privileges, so memorizing the answers was not even a remote possibility.

    I sure learned a lot studying for the Extra, and it gives me the necessary foundation and incentive to keep exploring, and to learn more every day.
  9. AC8KR

    AC8KR Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm currently studying for the Extra exam the same way I did for my Technician and General exams: I'm reading the ARRL License Manuals and using the Amateur Radio Exam Prep iPhone apps for practice. I'm actually in no particular hurry but I decided to study for the General as well when I was preparing for Technician since I figured I might as well while I was in test-taking mode (I took and passed both the same day), and for the same reason I'm now spending a few more weeks studying for the Extra. Besides, it's kind of fun.

    My background is in physics so I'm probably a bit opposite to some people in that the theory comes fairly easily (even if I haven't seem some of these things in quite some time) but I'm poor at memorizing disconnected facts. I definitely do recommend learning the concepts and not just memorizing. It'll stick with you much longer and it will serve as a good basis for learning more. Of course some of it is necessarily memorization with questions like which HF bands have frequencies authorized for space station use, but the less memorization the better, IMO. I do find the iPhone apps very helpful to get a lot of practice and help build confidence.
  10. KD0CAC

    KD0CAC Ham Member QRZ Page

    AB3NK ,
    I think were on the same page here , I passed the tech about 4 yrs. ago past 1st time , after about 1-2 yrs. took the gen. pasted .
    Last yr. took the extra , missed by 1 , they suggested I take again right then , missed by 1 again .
    But my issue with all of this , is having people think they have a right to any of the license steps .
    I get frustrated with myself and others , asking the simplest questions and having any license .
    I enjoy helping others to learn anything , I think it helps my learning , helping others with what little I know .
    But the license should stand for something , you know the material , if not no license .
    I am motivated a little at this time to study for extra because of the change in the question pool , but that should be very minor .
    By all means the extra should mean you know the material how to build & repair !!!
    Not just answer question and forget it .
    Admittedly I have issues with forgetting already :)
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