In Canada, most countries and planets, you need to be certified if you want to transmit on amateur radio frequencies. I started studying in June using an older version of the RAC (Radio Amateurs of Canada) study guide I’d obtained years ago.
Most of the basics hadn’t really changed, so I was able to use the combination of the book and the Industry Canada Amateur Radio Exam Generator to learn and monitor my progress. There’s also a great test software (free) called exHAMiner, which uses the same question banks as the Industry Canada tool, but offers additional information to understand which answers are correct and why.
I have little interest (so far) in learning morse code, so my goal was to get “Basic with Honours” certification. There are 2 levels of Basic: “Basic” which is VHF/UHF only, and “Basic with Honours” which adds the HF frequencies, where apparently the cool people hang out. To get Honours one must pass the exam with a grade higher than 80%, so I had a pretty clear goal and the tools to accomplish it.
So off I set to read/study/learn. Among other things, the topics cover items like radio waves, propagation, transmitter and receivers, antennas, some basic electronics, and regulations. I took the practice tests often, and when I reached the point that I was able to consistently score around 90% on the random test, I figured I was ready to take the exam.
Once I was ready, I contacted an examiner, we met in a library, and I wrote the exam. I hadn’t written a test in a long time, so there were a few jitters, mostly because I didn’t want to waste anyone else’s time. My worries were unfounded, and with a 94% grade I was officially allowed to request certification. The examiner sent the results off to Ottawa with my call sign choices, and within 3 days, I was listed in the Canadian call sign database. Woo!!
I still haven’t received my paper certificate, but no one ever said government paperwork was quick 🙂 I’m glad they processed the call sign quickly though, and I am now authorized to use the amateur frequencies.
Now I needed boxes with blinking lights to get on the air 🙂
Update – of course, a few hours after posting this, my certificate arrives in the mail… hehe..