Tag Archives: FCC Licenses

The Move Is On!

The move is most definitely on, things happened quickly and we put down a deposit on a rental house while we were up in KF two weeks ago!

We have been packing since early April so most of our stuff, aside from consumables and the essentials, are packed. I will be making a number of runs up to the new house in Klamath Falls, Oregon (CN92de) beginning July 1st.

We decided to buy/build a trailer rather than rent a truck. The cost will work out about the same but in the end, we will have an asset, not just a receipt.

This weekend, June 24-25 is trailer build time, so another Field Day goes by unobserved… Sad about not getting the new FT-817 on the air for FD, but the move takes precedence. The good news for radio is that I have a place to set up a 136′ multi-band horizontal end-fed with the mast just a few feet away from the shack’s new location.

Also in radio news…

When I designed my QSL cards, we were already looking at relocation sites in Oregon so I designed a card for California and a card for Oregon with the intention that I would only have a couple of minor changes to make once we found a place. With any luck, in a couple of years when we find our permanent landing zone it will be in the same Grid Square. If not, it’s an easy fix.

 

 

 

 

Since I design my QSL cards myself, I use VistaPrint for the printing. I get a high-quality stock and finish, it’s economical, and I maintain complete control over the printing.

Another early prep purchase was my VE/Callsign tag. Moving to a new Division, I figured I would be a good idea to get a badge with the new division on it.

I get all of my badges done by The SignMan in Baton Rouge, LA. I have nothing but great things to say about Rick. He does an excellent job and the customer service is top shelf all the way. I am not affiliated with the shop or Rick in any way, and I buy my stuff at the regular price, I just love the quality, speed, and work ethic. You will too I’m sure.

I am hoping to get the FT-817 rigged up for mobile use in the next few days so I will be able to work mobile on 70cm, 2m, 6m, and 10m over the many long drives to OR and back. I will post frequencies on the contact page and in a sidebar element.

Along with adding a Remote Pilot certificate to my FAA credentials, I added a General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) license grant to my FCC credentials. The new license is WQZJ382. At present, I only have a single handheld GMRS radio (Garmin Rhino 120) but I have plans to add a Midland mobile to the vehicle and one at home once we get set up in Oregon. Most likely a couple of handhelds as well. I am also entertaining the possibility of a repeater.

Well, that seems to be it for now. Until next time…

73,
~Jon KK6GXG

In the works

Mid May, two months since the last post. What have I been up to?

Of course, I have been doing the regular VE sessions, but other than that… Packing. Lots of packing. We have been planning on relocating for several years now but time has finally arrived that we are moving forward pun intended.

We don’t want to move in the winter and we don’t want to wait another year so… we are gearing up for a move sometime soon. One of the best ways to get ready is to start filtering through all of the stuff that has accumulated over the last 21 years we have been here.

As we shed truck-loads of stuff we just don’t need to Savers and Goodwill, we have been packing up the things we can do without for a few months. Having a bunch of other stuff on the brain, the ham shack, or most of it anyway, was one of the first things to get boxed. So for now, no electronics lab. Nearly all of my test equipment is boxed up. We are up to 40 boxes, filtering and packing more every day.

Lest you think I’m ignoring radio, I have been gearing up to be more active in ARES, RACES, NTS, Skywarn, and CERT by taking a lot of FEMA/DHS classes that are prereqs for various organizations. I am also scheduled to take a BLS class in two weeks which includes CPR, AES and more. I want to add a variety of EmComm instruction to my growing list of classes offered in the near future so I am ticking down the long list of prereqs and associated training.

In a somewhat side related area, I also recently acquired my Remote Pilot certificate with Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems rating. Basically, a commercial UAV pilots license in addition to my commercial airplane pilot certificate. This will allow me to do aerial photography and inspections for pay with a UAV/UAS. And what might I be taking pictures of and inspecting, radio towers???? Possibly.

Anywho, I wanted to post an update so you didn’t think I had abandon radio or the site. I just don’t have a lot to post about other than classes and ratings. I will be doing a mobile install of my FT-817 with a quad-band antenna sometime soon so I will plan on posting about that soon. I may also be posting some short subject videos in the near future as well.

Til next time, 73
~Jon KK6GXG

Online License Classes

Something I have been working on for some time now is an online Amateur Radio License Class program. The biggest issues I have been hammering away at are the platforms for designing an effective learning experience along with what I believe to be the inherent drudgeries of traditional online learning.

As a student, I have taken a number of online classes at the college level and found myself not getting much from the class. The lack of instructor involvement and the spontaneity of live Q&A and lectures makes the whole process less conducive to learning anything new or enjoyment of the process. At least this has been my experience.

I certainly don’t want to put my own students through this kind of class, and as of yet, I hadn’t been able to get a group of platforms to work together seamlessly enough to make the whole thing look like a professional endeavor.  Believe it or not, I don’t enjoy teaching when I feel like the whole process looks slip-shod.

As an Instructor, I have had some experience with online course development and publishing. I ran into many of the same frustrations I had as a student while working on the other side of the fence and it frustrated the heck out of me.

The Environment

I think a good online learning environment incorporates a number of approaches.

First. A solid self-paced, resource rich, modular, study and quiz environment. This is the framework everything else is built around. If the bones are in good working order you can bulk up the flesh as needed.

Second. Community and communication. Students need to be able to interact. Most college online classes force community with journal style public entries or simple questions that require minimal engagement to complete the module.

Forcing community is tough, particularly when everyone is completely time-shifted. In live classes the first few hours, up to much of the first day, everyone is fairly lone-wolfing it. By the end of the first day, people are interacting. By the time we get to exams, there is some genuine comradery. It is great to see this develop.

Communication takes many forms. In forum type activities it takes a long time to develop any active communication. Instant messaging type systems encourage a more active participation but are difficult to maintain when people are active at different times.

Simple easy to use communications platforms are needed to develop an active community environment.

Third. Live, interactive events throughout the course. Lecture, Q&A, any active engagement is good. A combination of both Lecture and Q&A with a bit of time for general conversation or sharing is a great way to encourage both regular communication and sharing.

This has generally been the hitch on the whole thing. Live interaction requires several things, a visual component and an audio component as well as ease of use, and free or incredibly low-cost.

Platforms

The Framework. I like the Moodle platform as a foundation. It offers a lot of options and incorporates planned lessons, resources, and quizzing, along with a really flexible back office system that has been proven over time. It’s a free platform, and it is used by colleges and universities all over the world.

Presentations & Communication. There are a lot of options for sharing presentations, mostly for collaboration, and there are webinar type programs as well. I recently became aware of FreeConferenceCall.com; I like this one because it allows me to do a broad screen share or select specific windows. It also includes video conferencing, VoIP conferencing, and dial-in conferencing, and text messaging, all in one package with all of the features being concurrent.

FCC, not to be confused with the government agency, seems like a good option for the communications element. There are of course other VoIP and messaging options that would work quite easily alongside FCC as just the slide/whiteboard presentation. For VoIP, solid choices include Skype or Google Hangouts. Both also have a text messaging component as well.

There are other options including live casting with YouTube. Third party software with YouTube can easily meet the presentation needs, but the learning curve for me while building the program in Moodle would be steep.

Conclusion. I am by no means set in stone with any of the options. I am leaning towards Moodle + FreeConfrenceCall, with maybe an outside text messaging option.

Any way you slice it, I have a lot of work to do.

Until next time, 73,
~Jon KK6GXG

ETA (6/25/2017): The Ham-U.com domain is now dead. I let it go because I just don’t know when I will be able to get to setting up the online program. When it does go live, it will be part of the KK6GXG domain.

Another successful class

Just a short post today. This weekend I held another Technician license class, and it went great!

Another small and diverse class, best of all everyone passed with flying colors. I really do have a lot of fun doing these; by Sunday evening I am wired, completely exhausted, and absolutely fried mentally, I love every minute of it.

Two more classes in April, one Technician and one General, and that ends my currently posted calendar. I may be adding more classes after a visit from out of state family. We shall see.

In other radio news, I have been busy building dipole antennas. I am up to a 6 meter, 10 meter, and a 20 meter. I will definitely be adding a 40 meter to that soon. I have been looking for steel materials suppliers for 1/4 λ verticals. I want to build individual 70cm, 2m, 6m, and 10m. I think I may have found one. If so I will be working on a vertical array in the near future.

After I get all of the bands covered with basics, I want to start working on directional beams, at least for the main bands. I will wait for a while on these. Down the road, I also want to build some of the more exotic antenna varieties, including multi-bands, and arrays.

Antennas are usually relatively quick builds, which is great. Radio builds tend to take a bit longer. I have a couple of radio projects in limbo at the moment. Once I get some cabling projects finished for digital modes, I will also be getting back to the radio projects.

The build that seems to be taking forever is the Beach 40 project. This one needs to get back on the priority list. I should be able to get back to it this fall.

In VE news… This weekend will be my 54th VE session with the Silicon Valley VE group, something else I truly enjoy doing.

That’s it for now.

73,
~Jon KK6GXG 

Where do we go from hear

ARRL Registered Instructor

Good Technician class this last weekend. Small, but a lot of fun. The best part of all was the 100% pass rate for the exam.

Okay, now the confession, it was a two student class. Still, I am happy about the two newly minted hams.

Last weekend was a VE weekend, so I was examining not teaching. As is the norm, when we are not grading exams, we jack-jaw. Mostly about radio operations, sometimes the conversation leans technical. In recent months we have been haveing

In recent months the chatter has been about the ham population. Two specific areas have topped the conversations. The first is centered on the retention of Volunteer Examiners and engaging the VE community.  The second topic of conversation has to do with a special anniversary coming up in a few days.

February 23, 2007,  was the date the FCC dropped the CW (Morse code) requirements from all amateur radio licenses. Back in February 1991, the FCC dropped the code requirement for the Technician class license but it was the 2007 removal of code that made it upgrading a no-code Tech possible.

There was a boost to the number of new hams in the early 90s, but the number of new hams, and upgrades, since 2007 has been record breaking.  So this is all great news for hams right?

Well, maybe. The truth is, there is no telling what’s going to happen. Part of what makes this an interesting subject is that we don’t know why all these new hams have been drawn to amateur radio.

There are a number of possibilities, some centered around the huge and ever-growing population of DIYers and Makers, many of whom show interest in RF, at least on some level. There are the growing number of drone enthusiasts; some need a ham license to control the aircraft itself, others are looking for telemetry, and/or looking at RF video feeds.

What does someone’s reason for becoming a ham have to do with anything? It has to do with retention. Ham licenses are valid for ten years. That’s a long time. Someone who is deeply invested in the hobby is more likely to renew their license. Someone who is involved at a more casual level is less invested and may not feel the need to renew.

Here we are. It’s now ten years later and the first upgrades without a CW requirement are beginning to expire. The big question is will they renew.

My hope, of course, is that the attrition rate will not grow at the same pace as the influx of new hams over the last ten years. Only time will tell.

New Classes Posted

Welcome to 2017!

ARRL-VEC Volunteer Examiner

Not to put too fine a point on it, 2016 had a few issues. Too many beloved performers became silent keys, and more than a few other things that will affect us all went a bit sideways. I’m not even going to get started on politics.

To start the year off on a positive note I worked a VE session in the morning January 7th and spent the rest of the day putting together a new class schedule for Technician and General classes licenses and getting started with the promotion work, posting classes and prepping presentations.

Registered W5YI Instructor

I have six classes coming up, 4 Tech and 2 General January through April. All of them are 2-day weekend classes. This time around I am using the W5YI books by  Gordon West instead of the ARRL books. My main motivation to switch books is Gordo’s reorganizing of the FCC questions into a more logical order.

While the change will save time in class, I now have to tweak a lot of slides. There’ll be no time savings on the prep side this go, but I am optimistic that the reorg will make things a lot smoother in class.

ARRL Registered Instructor

If you, or someone you know, is interested in getting their ham radio license or upgrading from Tech to General and they are local to San Jose, please pass along a link to my site. Classes are listed here.

All of the classes have been posted to both the W5YI and ARRL class listings. As I write this, they are the only classes listed in the south Bay Area. The closest classes on ARRL’s list are San Francisco and Sacramento. There are no classes listed for the area on W5YI. They won’t show up until Monday or Tuesday (2/9-10) because all class postings need to be approved by a human.

I am hoping to greatly expand my teaching and hosting exam sessions later this year. All things in their time.

73,
~Jon KK6GXG

July? Has it really been that long?

Wow, yes it has in fact been that long.

20151104_161606From a building stand point… nothing new has been going on. I am still working on the Beach 40 and the Bitx 20. The Beach 40 still needs the audio section rebuilt and the Bitx20 needs some troubleshooting . I don’t have the facilities to put up a 20 or 40 meter antenna and since both radios are QRP(p), a good antenna is vital to making any contacts.

20151121_072647From an operators perspective… ya, nothing going on there ether. I need to pull down my Frankenstein/Hill Billy mast because we are having our building painted soon. I have plans for a simpler replacement that should work out fine. I’ll post about that if and or when that happens.

From an experimenters view point…  I have been kind of busy lately. Many of the newer radio projects I have been looking at use micro-controllers and embedded Linux systems. All of which I am totally fine with. There are so many other applications besides radio that I can employ these technologies. The only impediment is getting some play time in with these technologies and getting familiar with there capabilities, use, and programming.

arduinoEarlier this year I picked up some Arduino hardware. I haven’t had much time to work with it yet as the Day Job has been keeping me hopping as well as a lot of stuff in the personal life, nothing bad, just a lot of changes and preparations.

Many projects are done with the Arduino and various shields. Some require a little more direction in the form of an embedded system with a true OS. Enter Raspberry Pi and Raspbian.

rpi3bLast week I added a RPi 3B to the hardware pile and began working with it. Along with the Pi I picked up a copy of Exploring Raspberry Pi: Interfacing to the real world with embedded Linux From Wiley written by Derek Molloy.

Linux doesn’t worry me at all. Many moons ago I was a Solaris 7/8 admin as well as a RedHat 7 admin. The problem is that well over a decade has gone by since I actively worked on those systems. I have been in a Windows only environment for so long my Unix brain has turned to mush. So now I’m re-learning the Unix command line and re-acquainting myself with the Linux directory structure along with some all new unique elements of embedded systems and the Raspbian OS in particular.

With all of the projects piling up and now adding a lot of general computer stuff to the pile, Arduino Sketches, Python, C/C++, and picking up where I left off with Perl, it almost feels like I should go back to school and get credit for all of this work. I could pick up a CS degree with everything on my “tech to learn” plate right now. Add in all of the projects and an engineering degree (EE or ME) isn’t far behind. Thoughts for another time.

Radio specific plans are to read and build along with Crystal Sets to Sideband by Frank W. Harris W0IYE, and then get back to Experimental Methods in RF Design and do the same. I don’t expect to do a lot of operating other than 2 meter until we have the facilities to put up a real antenna, and there is no solid timeline for that.

Life outside radio has taken all of my time lately and I am just now slowly getting back to things. Most of it is general electronics/computer experimentation and adding to the knowledge pool right now.

So in conclusion, no I haven’t been busy, I’ve been too busy.

:-/

hamverseryP.S. Today’s post is brought to you by Hamversary. On this day in 2013 I received my license grant about a week after I walked into the Saratoga Fire Station a non-ham. Since then I have worked my way up to Extra Class, begun teaching license preparation classes to prospective hams, and I have been a Volunteer Examiner for 42 exam sessions, most of them at the Saratoga Fire Station.

I have learned so much in so many ways in this short period of time. Thank you Amateur Radio.

73,
~Jon KK6GXG 

Ham Class: One Down, Another On Deck

Ham Class logoThe July 8th class went of rather well. I am happy to report that we introduced 5 new hams to the community!

The class went very well and I had a few requests to add a General class to the future class schedule. I’m still working on prepping for that General class, but I do have another Technician class lined up to begin July 27th and running every Wednesday evening until August 31st.

No guarantees, but I am going to try to get the General class on the books before the end of August.

I have been working on the Get Your License pages today. They are finally up and functioning. There is information on how to get a license and what to expect on the exam along with links to other resources.

License Exams
License Classes
Technician Class

Until next time, 73,
~Jon KK6GXG

Tech License Test Prep Class

KK6GXG-MakingWavesJust a short update on getting a Technician ham license for interested locals (Silicon Valley area).

I am teaching a Technician Class license test prep class July 8th, 9th, and 10th (all three days for the one class, see the Class Notice below)

~Jon KK6GXG

Class Notice

We have reached the minimum number of participants for the 7/8 – 7/10 Amateur Radio Technician exam prep class to take place. Below is an overview of what you can expect. I know this is a long email, but please take the time to read it thoroughly .

Class Sessions

This class meets over three days and will review all of the information needed to pass your FCC Amateur Radio Technician Class license exam.

  • Friday 7/8 we meet from 8 pm to 10 pm for an introduction and presentation.
  • Saturday 7/9 we meet from 9 am to 5 pm for the main portion of the class. There will be a 1 hour lunch break.
  • Sunday 7/10 we meet from 9 am to 3 pm for a wrap-up and test review before the 1 hour lunch break. After lunch we will finish the review followed by the exam.

Materials

I use the ARRL Ham Radio License Manual as the student manual and study guide. Each student is responsible for obtaining this manual BEFORE the class begins. Students are expected to read the manual before the class begins. Make notes on your questions as you read through the manual so we can go over them during the class. This is just a cursory reading, don’t dwell on anything too much. (The manual is NOT included in the class fee)

Links for online purchase of the manual
ARRL – http://www.arrl.org/shop/ARRL-Ham-Radio-License-Manual-3rd-Edition/
Amazon – https://amzn.com/1625950136

Stores that sometimes have copies in stock
HSC Electronic Supply (Sunnyvale) http://www.halted.com/
Ham Radio Outlet (Sunnyvale) http://www.hamradio.com/locations.cfm?storeid=2

Exams

An ARRL Volunteer Examiner team will provide testing on-site after the class.

The VEC testing fee is NOT included with the class, so you will need to bring $15 cash for your exam, please bring exact change.

The VE team does NOT accept credit/debit cards.

The Small Print

Each class requires a minimum of 5 students enrolled for it to take place. The minimum number of students must be preregistered at least 5 days before the start date for a class or the class will be canceled.

If the number of registrations drops below the minimum due to student cancellations BEFORE Tuesday 7/5, the week of class, it may be canceled.

In the event of a class cancellation all student enrollments will be refunded.

Student cancellations AFTER Tuesday 7/5 will NOT be refunded. Student cancellations Tuesday 7/5, or BEFORE will be refunded.

Enrollment

To complete your enrollment email me and I will bring you up to speed (jon at kk6gxg dot com) The class fee is $35.

The FCC

Along with registering for the class, I recommend creating your account with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on the Commission Registration System site (CORES) https://apps.fcc.gov/coresWeb/publicHome.do Once you have set up your account you will be given your FCC Registration Number (FRN). This process is free.

Your FRN is used on the Amateur Radio license application (Form 605) and having it before you take your license exam speeds up the process. You will also need your FRN to log into the Universal Licensing System (ULS) http://wireless.fcc.gov/uls/index.htm?job=home and find out what your new call sign is after passing your exam. 🙂

Back from Maker Faire Bay Area 2016

MF16_BA_180x150Just got home from Maker Faire SF Bay Area. Pulled a double shift at the Ham Exam booth. 8am to 6pm and I only managed about 20 minutes away from the booth and about 15 minutes off my feet. This is not a complaint, I’m just saying…

I had a great time. We had 14 candidates throughout the day, so we did get a lot of STS time (Shoot-the-stuff) but we managed to stay busy most of the time.

Lots of chatting about VE stuff in the morning along with a generous helping of radio stuff mixed in. Mostly radio stuff in the afternoon. I even had a visit from a friend scoping out the faire.

ARRL

That’s all for the moment, but I do have a project coming up this week, a TNC to connect a radio to a computer for use with digital modes. More to come…

73,
~Jon KK6GXG