Tag Archives: Radio Amateurs Examination

Single exam for Full UK licence?

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In the 2019 Report of the RSGB Examinations Standards Committee there is the following extract:

“4.3 Single exam for Full licence

The Examinations Group have prepared a draft syllabus, based on Syllabus 2019, for an exam that will provide direct entry to a Full licence, like the old RAE. This has now become possible due to the availability of online exams, which facilitates the construction of different types of exam from the questions in the bank. The ESC has agreed that the syllabus will be put out for consultation in the UK amateur radio community. This consultation will take place later in 2019. An important question, which is yet to be resolved in EG and ESC, concerns what form any practical examination might take, and we will look to the wider community for guidance on this.”

I was listening to a net the other day during which someone suggested that this approach might be “elitist”; in other words someone who gained a full licence in one go might be considered “superior” to those who had taken the current Foundation, Intermediate and Advanced exams to get a UK amateur radio licence.

I think it would suit some to take one exam and do not think anyone being successful by this method would be seen as elite. When I took the old RAE in 1975, I gained a Class B licence, which was for 144 MHz and up. I had not passed the Morse test and so my licence was restricted, but I was never treated as inferior by Class A amateurs. I did take the Morse test in 1981 to work more DX on VHF, but that was the only reason; not because of an inferiority complex.

In order to pass the RAE, I took a year’s weekly evening class at Southend College, commuting to Southend weekly on the train straight from my job in the City. The course was taught by Charlie, G8GUO. I wish I knew what happened to him, so if anyone knows, please put me in the picture. Did he give up radio, get a new callsign, even emigrate. I wonder? I was very grateful to him for getting me through the exam, of which I have a copy, and which I might have difficulty passing now! 😊

I do not think it matters how a new amateur gets a licence. I welcome the Foundation exam as a way of coaxing in new amateurs. We need the new blood and it is great how the clubs are organising courses which did not happen under the old system. However, if someone puts in the work to pass a RAE style exam in one go, who are we to criticise?

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How did I get into amateur radio? Part 3

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Belcom Liner 2

What a sheltered life we led, back when I had just left school and gone out to work. All that discovering girls was a terrible distraction, plus actually having to go to work every day. Well, five days a week and hardly any holidays. I had no time for radio.

However, after nearly five years I started to think about amateur radio, still with top band in mind, and started back on broadcast DX listening. I bought a communications receiver, a Codar CR70A. People eulogise about that radio, but mine was not very good, and I have read about other amateurs / SWLs who were unlucky with their receiver.

I decided to get my RAE and be a thoroughly legal station on the radio. In 1974 I enrolled at Southend College for evening classes leading to the Radio Amateurs Examination, to be taken in May 1975. It was taken by G8GUO, Charlie. He was very good and I learned a lot from him. I have no idea what happened to him as he has disappeared, or changed his call sign, or something.

After a year of taking the train straight from work in London all the way to Southend Victoria, I took the RAE and passed. I have a copy of the May 1975 exam and am amazed how difficult it looks now. There was no multiple choice. We had to answer eight questions; two compulsory questions on licence conditions and six out of eight technical questions, the answers to be written with diagrams. The exam was three hours on the evening of Thursday 15th May 1975. And I passed!

I had thought I would take the Morse test, so waited for a while before applying for a licence. I did not make much progress in that direction, so in January 1976 I got the call sign G8LFJ. This was a Class B licence, two metres and up. I then got an FM rig for two metres with I think eight crystal channels, an IC21A. I put up a ten-element beam and after a while it dawned on me that I had the wrong polarisation for FM. I wanted to work more than eight channels too, so I bought a Belcom Liner 2 SSB VXO rig. This was in June 1977.

The first station I worked on 144 MHz SSB was SM7FJE. I thought this was fantastic. Of course, there was a tropo opening, I did have ten elements for my 10 watts out and (most significant) Bo, SM7FJE near Malmo had an EME array of multiple yagis. Just over an hour later I worked OZ5QF, and that is how I got the VHF DX bug.