ARLX012 NCVEC to Release New Technician Question Pool to Public in January 2010

Special Bulletin 12 ARLX012
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT November 19, 2009
To all radio amateurs

ARLX012 NCVEC to Release New Technician Question Pool to Public in
January 2010

The Question Pool Committee (QPC) of the National Conference of
Volunteer Examiner Coordinators (NCVEC) is due to release the new
Technician class (Element 2) question pool to the 14 VECs on
December 1, 2009; it will be released to the public in January 2010.
Each question pool for the three Amateur Radio license classes —
Technician, General and Amateur Extra — is reviewed on a four-year
rotation. This new Technician class pool will become effective on
July 1, 2010.

According ARRL Assistant VEC Manager Perry Green, WY1O, the QPC
reviews the three question pools every four years to ensure that the
questions are kept current with the latest amateur practice and
technology, as well as addresses information relevant to that
particular license class. “In the case of the Technician pool, the
question set should provide for the new Technician licensee to be
able to establish his station and operate it legally, courteously
and safely. The Technician question pool and exam are intended to be
the beginning of the journey into the Amateur Radio Service. It
prepares the person for the enjoyment of operating, and that of
preparing to learn electronics, the cornerstone of the education
needed to obtain the further enjoyment that can come with the higher
license classes.”

Green is a member of the NCVEC’s Question Pool Committee. Other
members of the QPC include Chairman Roland Anders, K3RA (Laurel
VEC), Larry Pollock, NB5X (W5YI VEC), Jim Wiley, KL7CC (Anchorage
VEC) and Tom Fuszard, KF9PU (Milwaukee VEC).

Green said that earlier this year, the QPC solicited input from
Amateur Radio operators concerning the new question pool, accepting
input for new question topics and new questions, as well as
suggestions for changes or deletions: “The QPC must rely on members
of the Amateur Radio community to suggest questions and answers in a
responsible manner to preserve a high level of legitimacy for our
radio service, so the NCVEC QPC seeks input from the amateur
community concerning a revision.”

The new question pool will become effective for all examinations
administered on or after July 1, 2010, and it will remain valid
until June 30, 2014. The current Technician question pool that
became effective July 1, 2006 will expire June 30, 2010. The new
Technician pool contains approximately 400 questions, from which 35
are selected for an Element 2 examination. This question pool will
contain graphics and diagrams, something new for this element.

The current General class question pool was effective July 1, 2007
and is valid through June 30, 2011. The current Amateur Extra class
pool was effective July 1, 2008 and is valid until June 30, 2012.

A New Calculator?

On the HamRadioHelpGroup mailing list, a fellow preparing for the Extra exam wrote:

I’ve been studying for the Extra class exam and I realized that I need a new calculator. I haven’t owned a scientific calculator in years. There are so many to choose from these days. Which brands/models do you recommend? I used to own Texas Instruments and Casio. Which scientific/graphing calculators are the most versatile? Thanks in advance.

Most of the responses noted that pretty much any cheapo calculator will do. One guy suggested that he might find something suitable at the local dollar store. This is true—about a year ago, one of our club members showed up with a bag full of scientific calculators he found at a dollar store and passed them around. I use it now down in my shack.

Mark, K5LXP, had the best answer, though. He wrote, “Take one of these into your next test session and you’ll have the respect of the VE’s before you even begin.”

I love this! Not only is this a great picture of a slide rule, it actually works. By clicking on the scale or the cursor you can move them, and use this just like you would a regular slide rule.

Try it. You might like it.

An Extra Class “No-Nonsense” Study Guide

Last summer, we had some discussion about doing an Extra Class study guide, similar to my No-Nonsense Tech and General Class study guides. I kinda dropped the ball on that, being really busy with other things. I’m sorry about that.

In the meantime, I’ve been doing some thinking about how to approach this, and I’m going to try to do this as a wiki (think Wikipedia). A wiki will allow this to be a real community effort, with many different contributors. I’ve set up a new website for this effort – HamRadioUniversity.Com. I’ve gotten the ball rolling by doing section E1A, and Richards, K8JHR, has volunteered to do sections E1B and E1C.

The style is to reword the questions as statements, group related questions, and add just enough text to give the question some context. That is the style I used in both the Tech and General Class study guides, and it seems to work real well. K8JHR suggested adding a
reference to the actual question. I’ve done that in section E1A. I’ve also created a page with the actual questions and linked to it.

If you’d like to help out and have some time to do so, let me know, and I’ll create a login for you. Many wikis (like Wikipedia) allow anyone to create and edit pages, but I’m going to restrict that access on this website. Anyone will be able to read the study guide, but those who can write and edit will be limited.

If you have any other questions, e-mail or phone me. Ideally, I’d like to get about a dozen authors for this project.

One-Day General Class?

After the class yesterday, Scott, W1BIC, mentioned that now what we need is a one-day General class. I’ve always been more skeptical about doing a cram session for the General Class exam, but after batting the idea around a little, I think that there might be a way to do this. The idea wouldn’t be to teach the answers to all the questions in the question pool, but rather to focus on areas that the students were having trouble with. In effect, it would “get them over the hump” in a couple of areas.

With that in mind, we came up with a few ideas:

  • Focus on the differences between the topics covered by the Tech and General Class exams and cover only those topics. If it’s something that a Tech should know, then we just blow over it.
  • Have prospective students take three online tests and submit their results. After you take a practice test at, they show you all the questions with your answer and the correct answer. Prospective students would have to print out and submit these before the class. With this information, we could tailor the class so that it focuses on the problem areas.
  • We wouldn’t take into the class anyone scoring, say, 50% or less on the exams.
  • Also, because the class would be “customized” depending on the students’ test results, the class would have to be pretty small, maybe four or five tops.

This is still a partially-baked idea, and I’d love to hear some others. Just as our current one-day Tech class is a spur to those that need a little prodding when it comes to getting their first licenses, this one-day General class might be the thing that gets some Techs over the hump.

One-Day Tech Class Passes Nine of Twelve

Yesterday, Bruce, KD8APB, and I taught yet another One-Day Tech Class. This time, nine of the twelve students passed.

One of the students that failed was a ten- or eleven-year-old boy who failed by only one or two questions. He says that he plans to take the test again at a regularly-scheduled test session tomorrow.

The other two admitted that they didn’t study at all before coming to the class, despite my exhortations to do so. While I hate to see them fail, I guess there’s nothing really that I could have done about that.

Overall, here’s our record to date:

Date Total Passed
7/28/07 11 7
5/10/08 11 10
9/13/08 13 12
12/6/08 10 9
2/27/09 10 9
4/25/09 9 8
6/13/09 12 9

All together, 64 of 76 passed the test, yielding an 84.2% pass rate. If the boy passes tomorrow, we’ll be 65/76 or 85.5%.

Yet More Links

Here are more websites that I’ve come across that could be of interest to amateur radio operators:

  • MIT Open Courseware. Want to get an MIT education without moving to Cambridge or paying high tuition? Take courses online! Of course you won’t get an MIT degree, but I bet you learn a lot. One place you might start is 6.071 Introduction to Electronics.
  • W5LET’s Bare-Essentials Transmitter. 1968 was a simpler time. That’s the year this one-tube transmitter project was published in Electronics Illustrated. It’s articles like these that got me interested in ham radio. Find a 50C5 and build this rig.
  • W5GI’s Mystery Antenna. I found this antenna while looking for a design for an 80m antenna that would fit on my lot. I haven’t built this antenna yet, but it’s on my list of things to do.
  • Amateur Radio Special Events. I like working special events stations, both operating them and contacting them. Here’s a website devoted entirely to special event stations. For example, it lists the following taking place in November:
    • XE2BC – Nov 10 – XE2BC , founded in 1946, will celebrate the founding date on November 10th 2006
    • K6PV – Nov 12 -15 – mini IOTA DXpedition to Santa Catalina Island (NA-066) California
    • ARMAD – Nov 13 – Amateur Radio Golden Corral Military Appreciation Day
    • W6OI – Nov 25- 26 – 10 -10 International Club Station Special Event
  • Ridge Equipment Company. This company sells both new and used test equipment, including dummy loads and attenuators. The prices for the used gear looks pretty good.