The requirements for becoming a Radio Amateur operator are very well documented by organisations such as the WIA, so much so that the whole syllabus is easily downloaded here. However I didn’t see much in the way of peoples own experiences so I figured I should contribute my own story for those who are looking to get into the hobby or upgrade from Foundation to Standard.
I was introduced to the world of Amateur radio by my good buddy Geoff (VK2MIA), who encouraged me to head up to the MWRS one Wednesday and see what it was all about. Seeing the club’s shack and antennas had me quickly attracted to the idea of tinkering around on the airwaves and I promptly was introduced to the clubs trainers Mark (VK2MP and Chris (VK2YY).
Mark and Chris run a Foundation training day that goes through the material and requirements needed for a entry level Amateur Licence (Foundation). I would suggest this is the best place for most people to start, simply get a copy of the WIA “Foundation Licence Manual”, read it through (its very straight forward) attend the course (which is revision of the book, plus a chance to ask questions) and sit the exam. I hate exams, and normally get a little nervous but the exams are very well written and easy to understand.
So doing this was a bit of fun and got me on the air. I purchased a UHF/VHF radio, or three and would generally spend my time on the club repeaters or yakking on various radios at events like the lighthouse weekend.
Whilst the foundation licence is a great starting point and a really good idea, it does limit your activities and saw me not able to use digital modes. Things like APRS, P25 and D-Star were strictly out of bounds as was the usage of more than 10watt of power. So after much much much procrastination I decided to get my standard licence. Under advice from a few club members I collected a few text books and enrolled in the Radio and Electronics School course. The course was really well put together and took me through all the details I needed to know for the standard exam. As I worked through all my study material the magic of radio started to become demystified (well kinda, its still black magic in some ways) and I really enjoyed my new understanding of how radios and receivers work.
I don’t know about you but I find if I don’t set a date for an exam I will never get around to it, so once again I reached out to Mark and Chris to ask for a date for exams. First up I did the regulations exam, which is defiantly not as terrifying as I first thought it would be. With the regulations out of the way I once again reached out to Mark and Chris and found a date to sit my Theory exam. They had a date scheduled and I committed knowing it would motivate me to be ready for my exam. I then spent about three weeks going through all my study materials each night and for a few hours on the weekend. Using things like sample exam papers and asking people all kinds of questions the tricky subjects because quite easy to comprehend and understand!
If you are a foundation and are looking to do your standard exam, just do it! I have to say once I put the time and effort into the study and prep all these concepts that I thought of as being too hard are actually quite straight forward. Things like calculating db losses, anything ohms law and basic circuit diagrams are now very straightforward for me now.
Big thanks to all those that offered advice and encouragement. I also extend a big thanks to Mark and Chris for giving up your time on weekends and after hours to do training and exams. I can already hear a few of the club members encouraging me to try for my advanced… one day 🙂