Ham Radio Testing Explained: Part Two

This is Part 2 of a 5 part series.  All of the posts in this series can be found by clicking  HERE.

Earlier this month, we posted: Amateur Radio: Entry Level Perks.  That post details the exact frequencies allocated by the FCC. This is something that you NEED to know as a ham operator and you will need to know those frequencies for the exam. You might want to print that information as a guide.

One topic that article didn’t cover was the term “meter”. You’ll hear that word constantly being used by hams. “2 meter, 6 meter, 10 meter” etc are terms used to identify specific “bands”. Bands are ranges of frequencies.

The radio term “meter” is actually the metric unit of measurement. It is used by hams as a rough estimate of a frequency’s “wavelength”. Radio signals travel at the speed of light which is close to 300,000 meters per second. Radio frequencies are measured in “hertz” or cycles per second. One MegaHertz is 1000 Hertz.  The band’s “meter”  is determined by dividing the speed of a radio signal by it’s frequency.

This is the formula used to determine “meter”. We’ll use “2 meter” as an example. The 2 Meter band covers 144 to 148 MHz so we’ll use the center frequency of 146 MHz.

146 MHz = 146,000 Hertz (Hz) …… 300,000 divided by 146,000 is approximately 2 or 2 Meter.

Another example is the 70cm band which is 420 to 450 MHz  with a center frequency of 435 MHz or 435,000 Hz………..300,000 divided by 435,000 equals approximately .7 Meter or 70 centimeter.

When working with MHz, it’s easier to just drop the  zeros and divide 300 by the frequency.  (300 divided by 146 equals 2 meter)

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This next portion covers your responsibilities as a Ham Radio station operator. There will be a total of 4 questions on the actual test from this section.

As we covered earlier, the Amateur Radio Service is not intended to broadcast music or news to the general public.   Disguising your communications by coding or cyphering your transmission is also not allowed unless it’s associated with the Radio Controlled Vehicle hobby or space station communications.  A ham operator may never transmit a false or deceptive signal. Obscene language is also discouraged.  The Amateur Radio Service is not intended to be used in any commercial way. Businesses have a seperate “band” and service designated for commercial use. You can occasionally use your ham radio to offer  equipment for sale to other hams but this is considered a private sale.

According to FCC Regs Part 97: When using your ham radio you must identify yourself,  by your call-sign, every ten minutes and at the end of your conversation. You may hear repeaters identifying their call-sign with morse code or recorded announcements. Some repeaters also announce the time and temperature. This self-identification is required by the FCC and to transmit without announcing your call-sign is called “Unidentified communication or signals”. You must use the English language to identify yourself even if you are talking to another ham in another language.

There are three types of ham stations: Locally Controlled, Remotely  Controlled and Automatically Controlled. Handheld and Mobile radios are considered Locally Controlled stations. Remotely Controlled stations have operators that are not physically present at the station but can control and make changes remotely. Repeaters are considered to be Automatically Controlled Stations. If you are the Control Operator you have absolute responsibility to make sure the station is operated per FCC rules.

Here are a few questions from the exam that can be answered from the information above:

Which frequency is within the 6 meter band?

  • A) 49.00 MHz.
  • B) 52.525 MHz.
  • C) 28.50 MHz.
  • D) 222.15 MHz.

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When is the transmission of codes or ciphers allowed to hide the meaning of a message transmitted by an amateur station?

  • A) Only during contests.
  • B) Only when operating mobile.
  • C) Only when transmitting control commands to space stations or radio control craft.
  • D) Only when frequencies above 1280 MHz are used.

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Which part of the FCC rules contains the rules and regulations governing the Amateur Radio Service?

  • A) Part 73.
  • B) Part 95.
  • C) Part 90.
  • D) Part 97.

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When is an amateur station required to transmit its assigned call sign?

  • A) At the beginning of each contact, and every 10 minutes thereafter.
  • B) At least once during each transmission.
  • C) At least every 15 minutes during and at the end of a contact.
  • D) At least every 10 minutes during and at the end of a contact.
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