There are two areas of electronics which really teach you what you need to know about pure analogue electronics. They are Audio and Radio Frequency design. To do both you need a good grounding in all the basics and a good feel for how they tie together. I’ve been an electronic design engineer for a long time but study never ends. There’s always more to learn. With that in mind I’m taking my UK amateur radio course as a reason to delve into more detail in both these areas.
You don’t need any background in electronics to do the courses. The foundation license is for complete beginners with no electronics or radio experience. The intermediate and full license introduce progressively more advanced technical concepts. Self study books are available and many radio clubs run courses.
This is a blog of the route I’ve taken from M6 foundation through intermediate 2*0 to the M0 full radio license.
- [13 February 2018] Things have been on hold for a while. I bought a nice handy from eBay an FT-60E. I chose this one even though there are cheaper newer handys available because of it’s ease of use and manual squelch. I say ease of use but I think it’s fair to say that all handhelds are a bit complicated due to their compact keypad size and multi function keys. After setting it up for local repeaters I’m receiving one of them on 2 metres though due to location and small antenna I don’t get much else. It’s very quiet around here. I’m also suffering due to my shack location ie the geek room, being next to the nippers room and he goes to bed early, in-fact so do I. So there’s not a lot of scope for chatting at night unless I want to rag-chew on the sofa next to my wife which isn’t ideal. I think I would like to work HT more than VHF/UHF. I almost bought a HT transceiver and ATU on eBay. An FT 707 and an FC 707 which went for £245 in the end. But I stopped myself at the last minute until I figure out where I can operate it, unless we move house it will be just a weekend thing. Also I’d really like to build my own gear. Time is needed though! I’ve studied the intermediate book and am about 1/3 of the way through the full license manual. I need to go and do the practical work for the intermediate course before the exam. I’ve lost focus since stopping going to the radio club. I need to get back there.
- [29 September 2017] Received my official foundation license certificate and license number from Ofcom! Registered on Ofcoms webby and now have an M6 call sign for my station. It took a while to find a suitable call sign. The ones I initially chose were taken. Thankfully someone has a list of the available call signs from 2016 which helped me track down the call sign I wanted. Discussed plans for the intermediate license study at the radio club and decided on self study with practical assessment at the club.
- [26 September 2017] Looking through the Intermediate and Full license papers i think that without study i can achieve about 80% in the intermediate and about 50% in the full license. Now need to read through the training manuals a few times and see how it improves.
- [23 September 2017] Foundation license exam. Awaiting results, but expecting a pass:)
- [21 September 2017] Noticed that you can take all 3 exams at the RSGB yearly convention over 2 days, 13-15 October 2017. You just need to have done your practicals beforehand. Decided not to do it this way since its short notice and I’m trying to get many other things organised at the moment. Though it would have been a nice thing to do if i had known about it earlier in the year.
- [14 July 2017] Started foundation course. A few hours on Friday evening each week using the foundation booklet as a reference, some Essex ham videos as course material and discussion and tests as we go along. Practical radio operation comes later in the course. Am finding the iPhone app called “Amateur tests” is very useful for mock exam papers along with various online resources listed on the RSGB website.
- [23 June 2017] Chatted with the people at my nearest Radio club about their foundation license course. Nice friendly bunch. I’m now signed up for the course!
- Read through the RSGB foundation exam syllabus (exam specification). It wasn’t the easiest read to be honest – very dry. I was left wondering where some of the reference information came from. Maybe I’m missing something. Bought the training books from the RSGB bookshop for all 3 exams as well as the exam secrets book. I had the odd feeling that the syllabus was written such that you had to buy the training manuals to pass the exam. They’re reasonably cheap though and it’s the end result that matters. Getting me through the exams and understanding the reasons behind the syllabus. I suspect that the cost of radio equipment will far outweigh the measly cost of these training manuals 😀. [Update] After reading the “Foundation license Now!” manual I’d suggest going straight to that. Read the syllabus near you exam if you wish. Though it shouldn’t be entirely necessary if you read the training manual thoroughly.