A New Year, A New General Class

The 2006 version of my General Class license course started this week. It’s a much smaller class this year. Instead of the 28 that signed up last year, I have only four in the class. It’s too bad that I don’t have more, but with the smaller class I can help each student individually.

It also lets me hold the class in my basement, rather than a classroom somewhere. This makes it a lot easier. I don’t have to schlepp equipment to the classroom, and I can think up ways to demonstrate points on the fly.

For example, two years ago when I was teaching a class of five in my basement, I was explaining the concept of impedance. I drew the diagram of how resistance and reactance combine vectorially and did a sample calculation. Then, it hit me that I could use my antenna analyzer to measure the reactance of a coil, the resistance of a resistor, and then the impedance of the resistor/coil circuit.

First, I made the resistance and reactance measurements and calculated the reactance. Then, I actually measured the reactance. Voila! It turned out very close to the calculated value. I couldn’t have done that in a classroom because I wouldn’t have had the components, and at any rate, the students way in the back probably couldn’t see the demo, anyway.

I say that there are four guys in the class, but one of them has already passed the written test. In fact, he’s already passed the Extra Class written test. Why is he taking the class then? Well, he passed the test by memorizing the answers. So, he thought he’d take the class in order to really learn the material. Wow, does that put the pressure on me or what?

Here’s the outline I’m using for the class:

WEEK 1

  • Introduction
    • Why get a General Class ticket?
    • CW
      • Still a requirement, although will probably go away in 2006
      • CW programs
        • G4FON CW Trainer (www.g4fon.co.uk)
        • K7QO (http://puffin.tamucc.edu/k7qo/ or get a CD from Fists – www.fists.org)
    • Text: The ARRL General Class License Manual, ISBN 0-87259-920-5
  • Electrical Principles – Chapter 5
    • DC Circuits
      • Voltage (5-1)
      • Current (5-2)
      • Resistance (5-2)
      • Ohm’s Law (5-3)
      • Kirchoff’s Laws (5-4)
      • Resistors in Series and Parallel (5-7)
    • Power (5-8)
      • Decibels (5-10)

WEEK 2

  • AC Circuits
    • Alternating Current (5-13)
    • Reactance (5-17)
      • Capacitive Reactance
      • Inductive Reactance
      • Impedance (5-19)
    • Transformers (5-20)
  • Circuit Components – Chapter 6
    • Resistors (6-1)
    • Capacitors (6-3)
    • Inductors (6-7)
    • Transformers (6-9)
    • Diodes (6-10)
    • Transistors (6-13)

WEEK 3

  • Signals and Emissions – Chapter 8
    • Signal Quality (8-1)
    • Amplitude Modulation (8-2)
    • Single Sideband (8-5)
    • Frequency Modulation (8-9)
    • Phase Modulation (8-11)
    • Digital Modes (8-15)
  • Practical Circuits – Chapter 7
    • Power Supplies (7-1)
    • Filters (7-9)
    • SSB Transmitters (7-11)
    • SSB Receivers (7-12)

WEEK 4

  • Antennas and Feedlines – Chapter 9
    • Polarization (9-1)
    • Random Wire Antenna (9-2)
    • Vertical Antenna (9-2)
    • Half-Wavelength Dipole Antenna (9-5)
    • Directional Antennas (9-6)
    • Loop Antennas (9-12)
    • Feedlines (9-16)
    • Standing Wave Ratio (SWR) (9-19)
    • Impedance Matching (9-20)
  • Propagation – Chapter 3
    • Ionospheric Propagation (3-1)
    • Critical Frequency (3-4)
    • Maximum Usable Frequency (3-7)
    • Solar Activity (3-8)
    • Scatter Modes (3-13)

WEEK 5

  • Operating Procedure – Chapter 2
    • Telephony (2-1)
    • Operating Courtesy (2-2)
    • Emergency Communications (2-4)
    • Directional Antennas (2-9)
    • Station Records (2-10)
    • Digital Communications (2-13)
  • FCC Rules (Chapter 1)
    • Operating Privileges (1-1)
    • Transmitter Power Standards (1-6)
    • Good Amateur Practice (1-11)
    • Prohibited Transmissions (1-11)
    • RF Power Amplifiers (1-15)
    • Administering Amateur Exams (1-16)
    • Station Identification (1-19)

WEEK 6

  • Amateur Practice – Chapter 4
    • Test Equipment (4-1)
    • Testing Transmitter Performance (4-6)
    • SSB Power Measurement (4-9)
    • Station Accessories (4-12)
    • RFI (4-16)
    • Safety (4-20)
    • Mobile Operation (4-25)
  • RF Safety – Chapter 10
    • Safety Principles (10-2)
    • Safe Exposure Levels (10-5)
    • RF Exposure Rules (10-7)
    • Field Strength Measurements (10-17)

WEEK 7

  • Setting Up Your Station – Chapter 11
    • HF Equipment Features
    • Buying Used Equipment
    • Station Location
    • Practical Antennas
  • Exam Review

My idea is that it’s probably more interesting for people to jump right into the electronics, than to bore them with rules and regulations. I also think that they’ll be more successful as amateurs, and have more fun with amateur radio, if they have a good grasp of the electronics.

We’re off to a good start, I think, and the students seem motivated. I’m determined that all three will get their General Class licenses by the time this is all over.

Comments

  1. I like your outline. You are correct in that starting with rules and regs can turn students off in short order. Probably the instructor too!

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