Tech instructor manual available for free download

This from the June 19 issue of  The ARRL Letter. I haven’t downloaded it yet, but there’s bound to have some useful info. You do have to be a registered instructor to download the manual.

The sixth edition of the ARRL Technician Instructor Manual — an electronic publication — now is available for free download by ARRL registered instructors. This latest edition of The ARRL Instructor’s Manual offers a course syllabus that addresses all of the topics covered by the FCC question pool that becomes effective on July 1 for the Technician license exam. The syllabus follows the topic presentation sequence in the ARRL student study guide, The ARRL Ham Radio License Manual (3rd ed).

The Instructor Manual is available in four sections for online download, and it includes PowerPoint modules to enhance classroom presentation. The Teacher’s Guide to Amateur Radio Instruction by Pete Kemp, KZ1Z, is incorporated within the Instructor Manual as well. Users may download each section, each lesson, or each PowerPoint module as needed.

Updated and edited by Ward Silver, N0AX, the new Instructor Manual has been condensed into 18 lesson modules and includes additional suggestions for demonstrations and instructional activities. Silver is the author of all three ARRL license manuals and the Q&A study guides.

The ARRL Ham Radio License Manual for students is organized to explain some basic concepts of radio science and electronics at an introductory level, providing sufficient background for students to gain a fundamental understanding of radio technology. It moves from foundation concepts to specific details that build upon those foundations.

The student and instructor materials are intended for an in-depth class series running about 20 hours in all. Topics may be selected for classroom discussion and lessons abbreviated and adapted to meet time constraints.

Resources for License Instruction also are available on the ARRL website.

2014 version of Tech study guide now ready!

I’m really excited to announce that the 2014 version of the No-Nonsense, Technician Class License Study Guide is now ready for publication! I want to thank everyone who reviewed it, including:

  • Dave, W8RIT
  • Walt, K6WRU
  • Charles, KE5AHE
  • Jerry, W4JPB
  • David, AF7BZ
  • Ron, KK4DBR
  • Frank, WA8WHP

The PDF version is available for free. For $7.99, you can purchase either a:

Operating Notes: MI QP, a coward on 2m, Nerd Nite

Nerd Nite Ann Arbor. A week ago yesterday, I spoke to a bunch of nerds at Nerd Nite Ann Arbor. I shared the limelight with two other nerds, a bonsai (which I learned is pronounced “bone-sigh”) nerd and the organizer of the Ann Arbor Mini-Maker Faire, a gathering of local nerds. The cool thing about Nerd Night is that it’s held in a bar, and it’s a lot of fun. My talk was well-received, gauging by the number of questions.

MI QSO Party. The Michigan QSO Party was held on Saturday, April 19. This year, I made 176 CW QSOs, and racked up 75 multipliers, for a total score of 26,400 points. Not a bad showing.

 2m coward. Wednesday, as I was walking downtown to a business meeting, I was talking to a friend on the local repeater about taking a video of my Tech classes. This guy had been in one of my Tech classes, and at one point, had suggested video recording them.  Since I’m going to be teaching another class a week from tomorrow, I asked if he could come down and do it, or failing that, if he had any video equipment that I could borrow.

As it turns out, he could neither record the class, nor did he have any equipment I could borrow, but our chat got me to thinking that it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to do it now anyway. The Tech question pool will be changing at the end of June, and some of what I’d cover would be obsolete in a hurry.

The talk then turned to who I might get to do the recording in September at the next class. I know one guy who does the video for all the local tech groups in town, and was thinking that perhaps I could get him to do it. I’d probably have to pay him something to do it, however. My friend then suggested that I could burn some DVDs and sell them to defray the cost of the recording and maybe even make a few bucks.

When we signed, a guy got on and said in a rather nasty tone of voice that amateur radio can’t be used for personal gain. He didn’t identify himself, and I didn’t recognize his voice. I came back and said that the rule is that you can’t be paid to operate an amateur radio station, and that my friend and I weren’t making any money by just talking about it.

Not only that, I noted that it’s against the rules to not identify your station and challenged him to do so. Of course, the coward didn’t ID. I’m still miffed by this incident.

A great idea to engage new hams

Every once in a while, you hear an idea, slap yourself on the forehead, and think, “Why didn’t I think of that?” This morning, I came across one of those ideas. Dave, W8RIT, is a friend of mine here in SE Michigan. He volunteered to review the new edition of my Tech study guide, and when he replied, he snuck this in:

On another note, I have an idea for getting new hams involved in the hobby. I think clubs should regularly hold simple VHF contests that make new hams the “stars of the show.” For example, those who have been licensed under 1-3 months (or even more recent) are worth X amount of points, and those 3 months to a year are worth a somewhat lesser amount of points, and those 6 mos. to a year are worth just a little bit less. Make it a simplex VHF contest, maybe run periodically, with the intent of making new hams feel welcome and maybe learn more about how far their signal may travel, (maybe improving it also). Keep the rules simple, simplex only, name and callsign, maybe a serial number. Just specify the date and time to run the ‘test’.

I like this idea a lot, but it needs some fleshing out. Have any of you run or participated in a contest like this? If so, how did it turn out? What rules did you use? Do any of you have other kinds of activities to engage new members and encourage them to get on the air more?

Amateur radio in the news: Boston Marathon, ham radio revival

 

Hams at the net control station for the 2013 Boston Marathon.

Marathon hams took on vital role after Marathon bombingsManchester native Harrison Williams, now a junior at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, was at his ham radio command post in Brookline on April 15 of last year, coordinating the “Bus Net” system for the Boston Marathon, when two explosions rocked the finish line on Boylston Street.

The revival of ham radio. In the days of Facebook and Twitter, a form of communication that has been around for more than 100 years is seeing a revival. That’s no surprise to the more than 1.5 million amateur radio operators, better known as “hams.” After all, they talk to people around the world, and even those in outer space.

How will emergency crews communicate if the ‘system’ goes down? Here is one answer. It started out as a normal day, a few ambulance runs, a kitchen fire, a routine check of an alarm going off somewhere that was caused by an employee who forgot the code for the security system, and so forth. Then about 2 p.m, came a small shake; everybody felt it, and started looking around at each other and asking “ Did you feel that?”

Wanna review my new study guide?

techclasscov_2014I have completed the PDF, Kindle (.mobi), and Nook (ePub) versions of the new edition of the Tech study guide. If you’d be interested in having an advance look at it, e-mail me, and I’ll send you a copy.

I have an ulterior motive, of course. I’d like to get your comments and see if you can find any typos before I release it to the general public. I’m only going to send it to about a dozen people, so that I can keep track of the copies that I do send out.

Next one-day Tech class, Saturday, May 3, 2014

My next One-Day Tech Class will be held on Saturday, May 3, 2014 from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, 221 E. Ann St., Ann Arbor, MI. Immediately after the class, the Technician Class license exam will be administered.

Pre-registration is required, and there is a $10 fee to take the class, but the fee will be waived for anyone under the age of 18. We often fill the class and have to put people on the waiting list. So, if you would like to take this class, send a check or money order to reserve your spot to:

Dan Romanchik, KB6NU
1325 Orkney Drive
Ann Arbor, MI 48103.

You can also pay by sending money via PayPal to cwgeek@kb6nu.com.

Prospective students should download the study guide IMMEDIATELY. Read through it a couple of times and take some online practice tests (URLs for practice test websites can be found in the study guide) before coming to class. Studying beforehand greatly increase the chances that you’ll pass the test.

If you have any questions, please e-mail me or phone 734-930-6564.

From my Twitter feed: amateur radio course, SwiftKey, BeagleBone

Radio_2_Radio's avatarRadio Guy @Radio_2_Radio
Amateur Radio: Ken Green's Amateur Radio Course – Clovelly Donkeys ow.ly/2FczP1

f6fvy's avatarLaurent Haas – F6FVY @f6fvy
Typing revolution : SwiftKey for physical keyboards bit.ly/1fkNPq6 #contesting #ohWait

DIYEngineering's avatarDIY Engineering @DIYEngineering
Boost Your BeagleBone Black with Breakout Board – Making a PCB is easier than you might expect. Read more on MAKE ow.ly/2FireZ

Dumbing it down fails

Computerworld just published an article, “12 predictions for the future of programming.” Future of programming prediction No. 10: Dumbing it down will fail is the one that caught my eye. It reads:

For the past 50 years, programmers have tried to make it easy for people to learn programming, and for 50 years they’ve succeeded — but only at teaching the most basic tasks. Ninety-five percent of the world may be able to figure out if-then-else structures, but that’s not the same thing as being a programmer.

I think that the same thing is true of amateur radio. We’ve dumbed down the Tech exam to allow more people to enter the hobby. I think that’s OK. We need a way to get people interested in amateur radio, and there is a place for operators who only want to do the very simple things like get an HT and talk through repeaters. “Real ham radio,” though, is about learning how circuits work and how to build your own antennas and, increasingly, how to program digital signal processing algorithms. That’s hard stuff, but there’s no way around that. We need to encourage people to acquire this knowledge and skills.

For me, this means is that while I’m OK with the Tech license being relatively easy to get, perhaps the General and Extra Class tickets should be harder to get. Maybe we should expect more from Generals and Extras. We should expect them to really know stuff.

I’m not saying that we should be hovering over them, ready to pounce on them the minute they say something stupid. It is still just a hobby, after all, and we can’t expect amateur radio licensees to be electronics engineers. We can, however, create an environment that values learning and encourages people to ask good questions so that they can get better at being radio amateurs.

I know that this is only a partly-baked idea, but I think we need to move in this direction. Not only that, it’s up to us old-timers (old farts?) to set the tone and lead the way. What do you think?

2014 Tech study guide index

I’ve now update all of the sections for the 2014 version of the No-Nonsense Technician Class License Study Guide. Here’s an index to all of the sections: