Thursday, August 14, 2008

Passed the General Class Exam

Lagging behind KG6CIH a bit this time, but last night I passed the FCC Element 3 exam for the General class amateur radio license.  Basically this means I am now allowed to spend an order of magnitude more money on radio equipment than before.

I'm interested in DX (long distance communications) mostly because from Hawai'i there are not really other options.  But first I need an HF radio.  I live in a condo and the building association as well as Waikiki have restrictions on what you can put on your lanai and what can be sticking out from the building.  Antennas will be challenging, but I think I can come up with something.

Hawai'i doesn't have a lot of short distance HF like the mainland, but we do gain extra frequencies because of our location.  In the FCC Part 97 rules, 97.307(f)(11) states, "Phone and image emissions may be transmitted only by stations located in ITU Regions 1 and 3, and by stations located within ITU Region 2 that are west of 130° West longitude or south of 20° North latitude."

What does that mean?  Well, that restriction applies to frequencies listed in 97.307(f), which is here.  For people in Hawai'i, it means we gain phone and image privileges on 7.075 MHz to 7.100 MHz in the 40 meter band.  Take that, mainland!  Oh, and Hawai'i is about 158° West longitude.

I am most likely going to get a portable HF radio, but not necessarily a mobile.  I'd like to be able to take it to the top of Diamond Head or another mountain nearby and try things from there.  Or travel with it.  I'm leaning towards the Yaesu FT-817ND at the moment, but if anyone has suggestions, I'm all ears.

Extra class (the highest amateur radio license class in the US) will have to wait a while.  It's a significantly more difficult test than General.  General was simple after I studied a while, but it is definitely more difficult than Technician.  Technician is mostly rules, operating procedures, and knowing frequencies and bandwidths.

Will I get Extra before KG6CIH?  Maybe?  (/me wonders if he's getting the book now)

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