Category Archives: Commercial Radio

Commercial Element 3

Well it took almost a month to get to it, but today I took and passed the Element 3 exam. I may now exercise the privileges of a General Radiotelephone Operators License, well at least for 90 days or until the FCC processes my application and issues me a call sign.

Not much else to report right now, but I wanted to post this right away. After my commercial call sign is issued I will start moving forward with Element 8 study for my RADAR endorsement.

Until next time,
~Jon KK6GXG/commercial license pending

ETA Commercial license no longer pending 😉 PG00049804

Commercial Radio Exams

fcc-seal_rgb_emboss-largeIn the continuing saga of studying for my commercial radio license exams I spent much of the long weekend reviewing, quizzing, and taking practice tests.

I am quite confident that I can take the Element 1 (E1) exam at any time. Passing the E1 exam by itself qualifies you for the MROP or Marine Radio Operator Permit (MP).

With all of the practice tests I am averaging in the high 90s for at least the last 10 consecutive tests. E1 is a short test of only 24 questions from a pool of 144 covering rules and regulations, communications procedures, equipment operations, and marine radio frequencies.

While the name of the license and topics favor maritime activities it is also an aviation radio license. For pilots who regularly fly oceanic routs, or off shore and coastal operations, knowing marine communications and being licensed to operate on those frequencies is important.

Along with E1, E3 is also required for the GROL or General Radiotelephone Operators License (PG). I am studying E3 now, 100 questions from a pool of 600. This is the license the FCC requires for anyone working on marine or aviation radios. The FAA and Coast Guard have additional requirements for their respective services, but this is the starting point. There are also separate requirements for the radiotelegraph (T1) license (E6 100/600), the GMDSS Global Maritime Distress & Safety System (DO, RG, DM) licenses, and the RADAR endorsement (E8 50/300).

717549main_ED11-0184-16-cropped2Once I have completed my GROL license I plan on adding the RADAR endorsement by taking the E8 exam which is specifically for RADAR operations and maintenance. Radar is used in many application on aircraft such as collision avoidance, weather avoidance, and ground proximity systems so this is a useful endorsement for an A&P mechanic with an interest in working on aviation radio systems and avionics.

As a ham I am also interested in working for my Radiotelegraph Operators license. I signed up for a class on CW (Continuous Wave or Morse Code) for January/February 2016. If I do reasonably well with learning the code I will need to get my copy speed up to 16 code groups and 20 words per minute to pass the two FCC Telegraphy Code tests and study for the E6 written, another 100 question exam from a pool of 612 questions. No real need for getting this license, but it would be a nice feather in my cap.

The remaining commercial licenses center on the GMDSS requirements for operators and maintainers in the maritime services. Since I don’t see myself being shipboard any time soon I’m not too concerned with this license.

It’s been a while since the FCC dropped the requirements for land base and mobile stations or service technicians in those services to be licensed. With the prodigious growth of wireless technologies it would be nearly impossible for them to manage all of the licensing needs of industry. There would have to be an system not unlike a national Department of Motor Vehicles but for wireless devices, operators and techs. A massive system in place to manage the licensing and testing of everyone who works on or with wireless equipment.

Just sitting here at my desk typing this post I  have 7 wireless devices within 10 feet of me, my laptop, my wife’s lap top with a dongle for another device, my phone, a printer, a tablet, and a router connecting them all. Our society is crammed full of wireless devices all around us. Just think about all of the devices you run across in a day that use wireless technologies. Even the gas pumps use wireless technology to connect to the controller in the stations office, just look for the little antenna on top of the pump pedestal.

Our world is a wireless world. Just some food for thought. For me, it’s back to study time.


Not As Planned

Well, it’s the 30th of June and there are a few things that didn’t go as planned.

First and foremost, the Beach 40 is still not ready for prime time. The AF amp is still lagging on power-down and I still haven’t checked the PA. Needless to say, the 40 did not make it on Field Day.

Which leads me to the second no-go for the month, Field Day. Not only didn’t the radio make it on-air for FD, nether did I, on any band or mode.

The day job has been keeping me hopping this month and all my free time has been going to studying for my commercial radio license.  I have been running through Elements 1, 3, & 8 heavily for the last couple weeks. The header for this post is my desk piled up with 30 practice tests, 10 for each element.

My general rule for taking FAA/FCC exams is that when I can take 10 practice tests in a row at 85% or better I’m ready to go for the rel thing. As for Element 1, I am up to 10 in a row at 98% average across the last 10.

Now I am working Element 3 at full speed ahead. The plan is to take the Elements 1 & 3 exams some time over the next 2 weeks. While I’m not pushing it, I want to wrap Element 8 by the end of the month.  3 is the “big one” out of the three with 100 questions from a pool of 600 so it will take the most time to study for.

That’s all for now. Time to get back to the studying.


Solder-less Progress

Some good stuff got done this week even though I didn’t melt much solder.

I had an amateur radio testing session on Saturday. It was a busy day with lots of new hams passing there Technician, some going on to pass the General exam, and even an Extra! We also had several upgrades to General and Extra.

For me the session was also a good learning experience as a VE because I had the opportunity to get some training in another job with the group.

We basically have three jobs split among the VEs present at any given session; two administrative jobs, and a panel of test examiners.  I have been participating as an examiner for the last several months. Today I received some training for the administrative side of things.

I have been putting off the testing on the Beach 40 until I get the last few details finished on the audio and RF amps as well as the LP filter. This week I am playing beginning of the month catch-up with the day job so time is short.

Also tied to everything else is the change over from Windows to Linux. I have deleted the Win partition on the laptop and am now running full on Linux. I am loosing two programs I liked but just couldn’t get them to work with Linux native or emulated and I don’t want to run virtual machines. I still have all of the data, and I do have a Windows 7 laptop in the shop I basically only use for the web browser.

The programs I am loosing are Quicken and Business Plan Pro. BPP will just go away. I exported all of the business plans I have put together over the last decade to .doc files which I can access through OpenOffice. I can use the previous plans to build new ones as needed in document formats.

Quicken is the one giving me headaches. Supposedly you can export the data to a file for import to Skrooge. No joy. After several exports and several hours I made the contagious/stupid decision to just go back and reenter all the data for this year.  It sounds a lot worse than it is. I will just do one month at a time and by the end of this month I should be all caught up. Not to mention very familiar with the new software.

I have found replacements or versions that will run on Linux or in emulation for all of my radio software an in fact found some new stuff that looks mighty interesting. Big plus here.

Along with the radio specific software, I found gEDA Schematic Editor. WOOT! It took a little getting used to the interface and component placement, but I like the results a lot. I have been redrawing the schematics I originally did on for the Beach 40 and think they look much better. I will be posting them soon to the build page. A good thing too because there are some errors on those schematics. Ooops!

One last update before I go, I was working on test prep for my commercial radio license a while ago but got sidetracked by all of the build projects and the day job. One of my goals for second/third quarter is to take my commercial radio exams, at least two of the three anyway, and get my commercial license. So I will be committing some of my limited time to that endevor over the next few weeks. The build will continue, I still hope to have the Beach 40 up by Field Day, but I need to budget more time to the Day Job/Future Day Job.

Anyway, I have 0.5TB of files syncing with Google Drive and a pile of accounting stuff that needs to find a new home in Skrooge so that’s it for today.

Until next time, 73,