A New General’s Experience at ARRL HQ

James, K1JMD/AE, posted this early Friday morning to the HamRadioHelpGroup mailing list. I thought it interesting enough to post here:

It is going on 02:45 EST and I just got back to my hotel room after leaving the ARRL HQ midnight test sessions, and a visit to W1AW. I am not sure how many people were in the pre-midnight session, but attendees of the post-midnight session numbered only around 10, of which I was the only one sitting both the General and Extra exams. From what I heard, everyone that attended past, including a young lady who I was very pleased for after she told me it was her third try. For my part I passed the General 100% and had 2 wrong on the Extra!

I stopped into the W1AW building before leaving, it is really nifty, this small brick building on the front lawn of the HQ property is packed with gear, and includes three glass enclosed operating studios. All three studios where occupied by folks who had just earned their ticket/upgrade and were making their contacts from W1AW with some coaching from the League Staff (great bunch of folks). I could have hung around and done so as well, but I was tired and to tell you the truth a little nervous. Do to the weather I had decided to come down here and stay the night and I don’t have to rush anywhere tomorrow, so maybe I will stop by there again before leaving town. Besides I want to get some photos.

Well that’s it, I am pleased as punch, and it was well worth the trip here to test for the added benefit of seeing the station. I am posting this from my laptop using my cell phone as a Bluetooth modem so I hope it makes it through to the list. I will check in the morning, but for right now..sleep.

He followed it up yesterday with this post:

As you guys know if you caught my earlier post I was down to ARRL HQ for upgrade testing Friday 00:01 EST the sessions was part of the Leagues ‘Welcome Weekend’ and ‘W1AW Open House’. Well today my wife Susan and I had to check on a property about 50-minutes north of Hartford, so we decided, or more to the point she conceded to visiting W1AW where the weekend open house was still going on.

Just as we pulled up in the parking lot and stepped out of my truck I noticed pulling up next to us Penny Harts (N1NAG). Penny was the lead VE at my testing session, and she strikes you immediately as a warm and gracious lady. I introduced Susan to Penny and explained how I had been prompting her to study for a Tech license. Penny smiled and took my wife by the arm and told her the story of how she (Penny) for years would tell folks she was not interested in acquiring any type of license, despite folks prompting during here years of service at the League HQ, until one day she relented and went for her Tech. After that she said she was hooked and quickly went on to General and then Extra. She gently urged my wife to give it a shot, saying that she might be surprised how much she would enjoy it. By the way, what was Penny doing there on her day off you might ask? She had come in to run another VE session, this time in the small attic space of the W1AW building. You can read more about Penny here.

We followed Penny into the W1AW building where once again my wife was greeted and made to feel welcome by everyone. She would have been far too nervous to give it a go herself with a control operator, but she did join Harold Kramer (WJ1B) and I in one of the studios. With some Elmering from Harold, he and I took turns operating as W1AW logging contacts with stations in CO, CA and TX on 17-Meters. My wife sat next to use beaming a smile from ear to ear, she said later that at first it was hard for her to decipher the SSB speech but after awhile she caught on. You can read more about Harold our Elmer for the day here.

I was proud of Susan, a naturally very shy woman, for being such a good sport; and I was very proud of my fellow Hams for making her feel so welcome. It was a wonderful day!

Oh and on a purely selfish note, as we were walking back out to the truck to head home she surprised me by out of the blue saying “you know that radio you had been looking at (Icom 746Pro), you should go ahead and buy that”.

Thanks, James!


  1. I’m happy to read about Jim’s good experience. But as an ARRL certified VE, we were always instructed NOT to inform candidates as to how many questions they got wrong on an exam. Hmmmmmm ………
    73 de Larry W2LJ

  2. Dan KB6NU says:

    Well, methinks you got the wrong info on that, Larry. Here’s an excerpt from the ARRL VEC Manual:

    “After the candidate’s exam paper has been graded, always inform the candidate of the exam results (pass or fail) and inform the candidate of his or her grade…”

    Perhaps your instruction came from someone who was strictly interpreting section 97.509. 97.509 (j) says:

    “When the examinee does not score a passing grade on an examination element, the administering VEs must return the application document to the examinee and inform the examinee of the grade.”

    There’s no instruction about what the VE should do if a person passes the test, other than to issue the appropriate CSCE. It doesn’t say that the VE cannot tell the person his or her score.

    73, Dan KB6NU

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