Ham Radio – Studying for the General Class Exam

When my renewal notice came in the mail, I was surprised to learn that I’ve had my ham radio license for just over ten years.

I received my Technician class license in college shortly after my classmate Tony introduced me to the world of amateur radio.  I started out playing with TNC‘s and packet radio.   Later, with Tony’s help, I built various microwave radios so I could participate in the very active San Diego Microwave Group.  Some of my projects included a 10GHz transverter and a simple 24GHz wideband radio that used a surplus gunnplexer as an RF source, the same kind as found in police radar guns and many automatic door openers.  (Please excuse my ancient webpages, they were cool ten years ago, ok?)

Here I am with my 10GHz transverter in the summer of 2000 during the ARRL 10GHz and Up Contest.

10GHz Transverter
Sun, sand, and microwaves in Santa Barbara.

I also used to be somewhat active on 2m/440 and still have the Kenwood TH-79A radio my Dad bought me after I got my license.  I still use it today, but not for voice communications.  It has a new life now as part of my APRS Tracker project.

After seeing how many hams there were at NOTACON earlier this year, I finally decided it was time to upgrade my license to General class.  This will give me more operating privileges on the HF bands, the traditional low frequency / long distance communication bands that are most commonly associated with amateur radio.  My goal is to set up an HF station at home and maybe start playing with a Software Defined Radio system such as GNU Radio with custom homebrew hardware.

Before my trip to HAR I picked up a copy of the ARRL General Class License Manual and printed out a list of VE sessions in the Bay Area over the next couple of months.  Now that I’m back, it’s time to start studying!

6 thoughts on “Ham Radio – Studying for the General Class Exam”

  1. Good luck Jeff, I think you’ll find the exam is very easy.

    You’ll really enjoy digital modes on the HF bands I think. PSK-31 is an amazing mode, and you can get a lot out of very little power & low-profile antennas.

    The world of SDR radios is very fun as well, and is a great companion to all the neat digital modes out there today.


  2. You’ll be fine – back in the 70s, the technician exam *was* the general exam, and the two haven’t diverged much over the years. Band edges and, what, a couple of propagation questions are the big differences. You’ll have no difficulty. 73 — AG4ZH

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Erik! I remember when I took my Tech exam I studied for about a week and got 100% on the test. The band edges are the hardest part for me, that and who has voice vs. CW when what where and how… The EE stuff is no problem. 🙂

  3. Awesome! I too am studying for my general. I’m not quite ready for the test in Bakersfield tonight though. Good luck with your test! 73 from KI6STK.

    1. Thanks Nathanael! I was hoping to take the test this Sunday, but I still have a lot of band edges and operating privileges to memorize. 🙁 Good luck with your studying as well!

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