[AMRadio] AMRadio Digest, Vol 75, Issue 18

D. Chester k4kyv at charter.net
Tue May 25 11:20:58 EDT 2010

>From Rob K5UJ:

> I also have decided it was a mistake to eliminate the CW
> requirement for the license, not because it is necessary for
> communication (it is not) but because it is necessary to communicate
> with the most basic simple homebrew rig, a CW transmitter.
> Now, even if we teach homebrewing in the form of electronics lessons
> and construction skills, the builder of the most basic rig, a crystal
> controlled cw transmitter, will not have learned cw already from
> getting his license.  He will have his completed project and not be
> able to do anything other than key a dead cw carrier and un-key it.
> Of course he can learn the code at that point, but wouldn't it be more
> fun and easier if he already had that skill ready to go?     Many have
> said, and I also in the past, that no one wants to learn CW now with
> all the high-tech gadgets in our lives these days.  They miss the
> point--it is not all about CW only, but CW in combination with
> learning about radio, building a basic rig as a learning experience
> and then using CW to communicate with it before moving on to more
> advanced circuits and transmitters.
> Dropping CW from the license test has been one more step in turning
> ham radio into glorified CB.

Another  step in that direction occurred years ago with "Novice 
Enhancement", when the FCC granted Novices and Technicians access to 10m 
phone, but restricted it to SSB.  A Novice (now Technicians) cannot legally 
build up a simple, low power AM transmitter and use it to get on the air on 
phone for the first time. He can't even re-crystal an old crystal-controlled 
CB rig, or reset the synthesiser in a more modern one. It is highly unlikely 
that a new Novice or Tech would undertake the project of building a homebrew 
SSB transmitter.  Instead, he must buy a plastic radio, setting him 
immediately on the path of appliance operation.

I recall my very first attempt at phone, a "cathode modulator" that used a 
6Y6 tube and carbon mic, that plugged into the key jack of my single 807 CW 
transmitter.  I didn't really know much about modulation and how to properly 
tune and load the thing, so my modulation was probably no more than about 
20%, but I was able to get on the air and make my voice heard.  I must have 
had a half dozen contacts with that rig before I built up a simple plate 
modulator with a pair of 1625s.

> I think we need to focus on learning electronics as an attraction to
> ham radio and bring back a Novice type HF privilege CW license because
> we lost the introduction to ham radio that involved building and
> getting on HF right away.  Now we have new people starting out with 2
> meter FM handy talkiies and it is not the same.

In Canada and UK they now have an entry level class called a "Foundation" 
licence. Licensees in that class are not even allowed to build or modify any 
kind of a transmitter.  They must start off using plastic appliances from 
the outset. There has been a lot of clamour in recent years, since the 
elimination of the old Novice class,  to re-establish some kind of entry 
level licence other than the Technician in the US.  I am afraid that if such 
a ticket were ever created, it  also contain a similar  restriction against 

Things improved slightly with the phone band expansion and elimination of 
the old Novice sub-bands. Technicians can now operate CW (restricted to the 
former Novice power level, IIRC) in the General class CW bands. So 
conceivably, a new Tech could start out on HF with a homebrew CW rig even 
though the code test was not part of his exam.  This may encourage a few 
Techs or prospective Techs to learn CW, since that is one way they can 
operate in the lower HF bands before taking the General class exam. But last 
time I  looked over the Technician question pool, there weren't a lot of 
questions about that type of operation.  The exam was oriented  more towards 
VHF/UHF and repeaters.

Don k4kyv


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