St. Petersburg Amateur Radio Club

Posts filed under Licensing and Upgrading

One Day General Class Upgrade Workshop Forming

Tom NY4I is forming a multi-club one-day General Workshop.

THIS IS NOT A CRAM SESSION. You must do pre-work from the book. Our goal is to work with the material you have learned by self-study, clarify some topics and teach you how to be a general. We want people to know what to do with their general class license when they get it.

We will start 6 weeks before the scheduled workshop day. Each student is REQUIRED to purchase a Gordon West General Class Study manual. The students have to commit to doing the work ahead of time with help from our instructor team to understand anything along the way. When they got to the session, we did a high-level review of the questions but more importantly, we sat them down at the radio (using the well equipped SPARC HF station) so they knew how to use their radio. Having the beam outside to show the difference between the director and reflector, having a working HF station so we can show digital modes, etc makes for a much more hands on session.

We plan a session to be held on a Saturday starting at 8:30 AM at the SPARC clubhouse in Pinellas Park. We have coffee available. The students bring a sack lunch. They spend the day reviewing any areas they have questions and also get experience hands-on with the equipment. An example is something simple but it illustrates the intent. Last time I brought my box full of coax connectors and adapters. They read about N connectors in a question, but passing them around and seeing them up close makes them better hams. Due to the need for a fully-operational HF station, plus for the amount of room we have, the location has to be the SPARC location in Pinellas Park. That is quite centrally located to everyone.

A the end of the day, a VE team comes in and gives tests to all the students. No one that was an instructor in the workshop is permitted to participate in that test session. That is just to avoid any appearance of impropriety.

The expectation is that the student could really pass the test after their pre-study work. This gives them a specific date to get it done. The students have to do the work up-front. If they think they cannot crack the book and just attend a one-day class, they will most definitely fail. That is on them. If they participate, and respond to our interim sessions (a few conference calls emailing questions) and come to the session wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, they will pass. We had 6 out of 6 pass the last time we did this session.

We will set a date only after we gauge the interest. I have to limit this to 20 people. The first 20 people that respond are on the list. We can then decide on a weekend.

The optimal student is self-motivated, willing to make studying for a General class license a priority and electronically available (email, etc). Please respond to Tom Please let me know if you are interested in upgrading to General with this workshop format. Note this info is being shared with other clubs in Pinellas County so if you are seriously interested in upgrading to General, reply today!

Study Guide Needed

If you have a current version of either an ARRL or Gordon West Technician Study Guide that you would

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like to donate to a deserving student, please contact Kyle, N4NSS at or 727-331-2924. A used book in good condition is all that’s needed. If you have upgraded and no longer need your copy, please contact Kyle.


Extra Propagation

The SPARC daily net’s Q&A session run by Ed, NZ1Q is moving on to Propagation questions from

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the Amateur Extra question pool. Ed and his team have just finished running through questions covering the digital modes available to radio amateurs. A question is presented every evening with answer/discussion following at the end of the net.  Those studying for an exam find the material helpful and those licensed long ago learn new material. As an added bonus, occasionally a ham radio trivia question sneaks in, offering some diversity to this learning opportunity. Join the group at 6:30PM on the SPARC 2M (147.06) repeater.

SPARC Ham Radio Bucket List

The challenge for 2016 is for each SPARC member to expand their activity in our hobby. To this end, the SPARC Bucket List below provides some potential growth areas. There are no prizes, just the personal satisfaction of learning a new skill or reaching a new goal.

  • Give a presentation at a club meeting
  • Upgrade your license
  • Help setup/takedown at field day siteSt Pete Amateur Radio Club Banner
  • Enter your first Radiosport contest
  • Win a contest award
  • Elmer a newbie
  • Write a SPARC GAP article
  • Write a SPARC Web site article
  • Confirm a new DXCC country
  • Learn Morse Code
  • Teach a radio class
  • Join ARES/ACS
  • Become a VE
  • Work a new mode
  • Bring in a new SPARC member
  • Explain/Demonstrate ham radio to a non-ham.
  • Help setup/takedown at SPARCFEST
  • Build an electronic kit.
  • Attend a hamfest
  • Be a SPARC net control.
  • Send an ARRL Radiogram.

General Upgrade Class

On Saturday, March 14th, the long mentioned General One Day Workshop was held at the SPARC clubhouse. This workshop has been in the works for a few months. The following 4 students attended the class:

  • Ray Farmer, KM4GHB
  • Sean Favata, KM4SFF
  • Alfie Shary, KK4MYO
  • Terry Simms, KK4TNA

The 4 students started studying back in January as this was not a cram session. Starting at 8:30 Saturday morning, the students, led by Tom Schaefer, NY4I and his fellow instructors, Kyle N4NSS, and Bob, N2ESP, were well-prepared with all having previously passed online practice exams. The goal of this session was to cover the material to offer a real-world view of it. Rather than just reading about elements on a Yagi antenna, the students were able to review the actual antenna at the club station. While having lunch, the students were able to get a hands-on look at different RF connectors (N, UHF and SMA). Again, the book covers this but giving the students the ability to touch the parts helps cement the concept. Plus it gets them ready for using that they learned on the air.

Kyle, N4NSS demonstrated PSK31 with an eye towards the bandwidth of the signals comparing them to SSB signals. Bob, N2ESP found a DX station and let the students listen to the DX station working split. Similarly, Tom were able to show the students forward and reflected power at the station with a live transmitter rather than simply reading about it. The format of this class clearly worked as their instructor is proud to report that when the SPARC VE team came in at 6:00PM, all 4 students PASSED and are now the new holders of a General class license!

This was a fun class to do as it lets the club help future generations of hams get on HF and enjoy more of what this wonderful hobby has to offer. The goal was to make sure the students feel comfortable using their new privileges. How about you? What’s holding you back from upgrading?

Given enough interest, the club is certainly willing to start a session for the Extra class test. If anyone is interested, please contact Tom Schaefer, NY4I to be placed on a list for a potential weekend workshop. No promises, but if there is enough interest, a similar session could be arranged for the Extra exam.

Thanks to all the members that helped with this class. Special thanks goes to Larry, AL4B for merciless promoting the class on the SPARC net and the SPARC VE Team: Donn, N4KII; Richard, N4BUA; Dave, KR4U; Dee, N4GD and Ron KP2N.

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