Is electronics knowledge still relevant in amateur radio?

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by W4RAV, Feb 3, 2018.

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  1. W4RAV

    W4RAV Ham Member QRZ Page

    How many of you are regularly using the electronics material found in the tests? And I mean those that weren't already doing the same in your job or other hobby before you aced the Extra.

    Me, after the tests, I couldn't even tell you Ohm's Law without looking it up. I've never needed it, and can google it in a few seconds if I ever did.

    You'd need more test/repair gear than the rest of your station is worth to work on today's micro-sized board components.

    I see at least half a dozen "vacuum tube" questions on the Extra. Who the heck but the nostalgic are still using tubes? Those who prefer the "warmth" of AM phone?

    Yet I can think of at least twice as many questions more relevant to gear and operating that I'd wager would be more apropos to today's recent licensee.

    I figure there are better things to test for than whether or not you know what an L/C circuit is. Say, better familiarity with the 100s of modes available at our fingertips, software, SDRs, etc. Something from THIS century.

    Having reviewed the Extra Class test recently, 90% of it has nothing directly to do with what I use in this hobby.

    Last edited: Feb 3, 2018
    KC9VFO likes this.
  2. NN4RH

    NN4RH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    There are three questions in the current Extra question pool that mention vacuum tubes.

    Vacuum tubes are still important because vacuum tube power amplifiers are still sold and many hams both new and old buy them, and there are still used transmitters & transceivers that many new hams buy from places like eBay that use vacuum tubes.
    KI5WW, W1TRY, AE7BT and 5 others like this.
  3. NN4RH

    NN4RH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I would agree that there "should" be more questions related to more modern technology ... but the question pools are already huge and to add new questions they need to eliminate others. So the first question is, what existing questions should be eliminated? You've implied that questions about vacuum tubes could go away. That's arguable. It's also arguable whether questions about "hundreds" of soundcard data modes belongs at the Extra level, or at General or Technician.

    There is a process for changing the question pools. The question pools are maintained by the NCVEC question pool committee. Periodically, they announce that they are going to review and update a question pool, and solicit input. So next time around, by all means submit your proposed changes.

    They are currently in the final stages of updating the Technician pool, to go into effect later this year. Given that the ARRL is soon to submit a petition for rule making to the FCC, to "enhance" the Technician license, which likely will include new data mode priviledges on HF, now might be a good time for you to provide input about that to the NCVEC.

    (There are already two questions on the proposed 2018 Tech question pool dealing with sound cards)

    Next year they will be doing the General question pool, and the year after that the Extra. So you've got plenty of time to prepare your proposals.
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2018
    KB2SMS, K4AGO, W4RAV and 1 other person like this.
  4. K1OIK

    K1OIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    You are right the questions ought to center on what W4RAV uses in what he thinks is merely a hobby.
    KI5WW, K1FBI, NY7Q and 3 others like this.
  5. WD3N

    WD3N Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hello Frank.
    Passing the extra exam is not the destination ,only just a sign post on the path of learning.
    Graduating from High school is not the end ...College...
    Never stop learning. AKA..don't be a quitter.
    AC0OB, K0IDT, N7ZAL and 3 others like this.
  6. N2EY

    N2EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page


    If there's anything wrong with the current US license exams - ALL of them - it's that they're not comprehensive enough.
    KF2M, KB3FEI, NY7Q and 5 others like this.
  7. K3XR

    K3XR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Broad based knowledge in electronics is a plus for any person in ham radio and participants knowledge varies widely you have those with a Phd in an electronics or a closely related field and are employed in that arena and those whose electronics knowledge is mostly self taught and on a daily basis other than their hobby have little or no contact with electronics. In my case have never had a formal education in electronics and have never worked in a related field there is no question that spending most of my life in the hobby has greatly increased that knowledge but in no way would I consider myself to be an expert in any technical area. Let's not loose track of the word AMATEUR radio.
  8. KW4GT

    KW4GT Ham Member QRZ Page

    IMO the test questions cover about the right range of material. There's just so much that can be done in this hobby that it's impossible to match a test question pool to exactly what YOU intend to pursue. As far as the electronics questions, consider the fact that, for instance, some people may enjoy building their own QRP transmitter as I did. True, I just used an existing schematic but once it was built I found that I had to adjust the bias on the final transistor to clean up the output. I didn't have a degree in electrical engineering at the time (I do now) - it was ham radio that convinced me that I was in the wrong field and should go back to school for what I enjoyed and had the aptitude for.

    You sound like what we used to call an "appliance operator" - a ham who just wants to purchase everything and get on the air. That's perfectly fine, I have no problems with folks who only want to pursue that aspect of the hobby. But knowledge about the fundamentals of electricity etc. is never a bad thing.
  9. K1OIK

    K1OIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Let's not "loose" track of the word amateur radio
    W1TRY and N4FZ like this.
  10. N4MU

    N4MU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Aw come on...maybe the guy spent some time in the Chicago area. You know..."Da Bearrss"
    AC0OB, K1OIK and N4FZ like this.

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