Is the foundation amateur radio license too hard ?

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Re: Is the foundation amateur radio license too hard ?

Post by paulears »

The Foundation exam is NOT too hard. Apart from the international requirements, OFCOM can only permit access to radio to people unlikely to cause them problems. So while the world requires a gate-keeping process, a cash strapped organisation unable to police the airwaves effectively like the idea of exams. On top of this we have existing radio users to consider. The exam I took was extremely hard for me because I knew very little about electronics, and the examiner in the 70s was heavy on circuits, reducing interference to other users, and enough skills to be able to promote and advance the subject. Hams were also the designers and promoters of all kinds of electronic development. Even the folk who just wanted to chat needed to get to a minimum standard, and I personally think the study I did promoted all sorts of things in my career. Even the resonance formulas we had to learn. In the exam you'd be given frequency, capacitance and inductance and expected to work out what frequency it would resonate at, and be able to determine if the circuit was a pass filter, or a notch or a bit of both. You needed to understand how radios actually worked - so IFs for receivers and multipliers for transmitters. I got quite good at fixing things and don't regret the really difficult stuff I had to learn. I wanted the HF bands, so had to learn and suffer Morse code too. Now, we're complaining the current licence is too hard? Really? Every hobby has entrance restrictions - cost, tests, equipment etc etc. Our hobby allows us to do things, non hams cannot do. Governments do not want too many, so we have restrictions on entry, and the exam is now simply a filter. Learn a few rules, a bit of basic science and you are away.

In a way, it's entry to a bit of an exclusive club - there's a membership fee, and when you are outside, it's unreasonable and when you're inside, it's perfectly justifiable.
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Re: Is the foundation amateur radio license too hard ?

Post by Chris_M1BIK »

Focusing on the actual topic subject -

No, and I never sat or even looked at a foundation exam sample let alone got roped into that artificial 'revised' pigeon step sub divided license regime.

Whilst the real RAE, the one all A&B's sat by default and what all licensee candidates will end up sitting to get their real ham license (since there are no A/B grades just a full ticket), that literally couldn't be made any simpler to pass without just discarding it by handing out licenses and callsigns.

When I took mine, it was well into the multiple choice era, but was still sufficiently put together that it tested more than your ability to recall facts if you hoped to succeed.

I've not seen the later version, but if history is a guide, they've probably reduced it to a fact recall test, a pop quiz for want of a better description.

But in the years leading up to my long overdue exam sitting, I had been studying and collecting info at a scale and level you needed for a full written exam, such as the 70's G8's and earlier had to do.

And having dodged both the CW bullet and unnecessary sub exams, I'd say based on the full RAE, novice and foundation 'tests' are actually making it easier - add up the time scale for the combo of the pre-RAE tests and the sitting time for the RAE, and you've at least doubled your odds by the time you get to do the full exam as you've already trodden a lot of common ground.

So in a very distinct way, the tangible upside would be you get to bitesize sit the RAE in stages, so progression only requires a resit of what you messed up.

At least you get a (in non COVID times) a lot of scope to go sit your tests. Back in the day, you got maybe a handful of exam centres you could do the RAE at, and unless you were really lucky, the travelling and exam time cost you a full day off work.

So no, it's never going to be too hard - and if it becomes a case of "I'll never get there" hard, maybe you simply lack the qualities a tech grade radio op licensee should have.

After all, bar a few minor restrictions and the biggest allocation of frequencies and bandwidth outside of MOD usage, you get the right to build, test, develop and legit modify/adapt/repurposed otherwise restricted ownership and use gear and using them on ham allocation frequencies.

If that's not a reward enough for enduring a test or three, then you'd be probably expecting a cornflake packet license like CB'ers had. And if it ever devolves that far, I'll turn in my license and callsign and not be part of the ignorant anarchy - saw too much of that with CB.
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Re: Is the foundation amateur radio license too hard ?

Post by Mikel »

The 'new' 3 part licensing regime is much harder than the old C&G RAE. I have completed old RAE papers and they were a breeze in comparison.

Remember there were no practical elements to the old RAE for a start, unlike the first 2 parts of the latest regime (pre Covid obviously)

You only have to look at the content of both the syllabuses. If you divided the old RAE up into 3 parts how easy would the first part be?

Well I can tell you that most people would be able to pass it while still swimming around in their old man's ball bag, it's just that some (not all) of the old farts, who sat the old RAE, brag about it and think they are superior to the rest of humanity and make you literally want to spew.

The new foundation syllabus is the most difficult one so far (ask any trainer), but I do not think it is too difficult and anyone who thinks that perhaps is looking at the wrong hobby, but it is not beyond the capability of most people, just have faith in yourself and you WILL get through it.

Don't fall for the, 'Foundation licenses are given away free in a Cornflake box' routine that they roll out all the time, they remind me of the obnoxious old drunk in the pub. You know the sort, always bragging about what they did when they were your age and how young people today have got it too easy, just like a Harry Enfield character ie not to be taken seriously!

It is a technical hobby and once you have passed all three parts, you can rest in the satisfaction that you have achieved something to be proud of and you will have achieved a lot more than the old wrinklies who passed the toddler exam called the RAE (with a crayon probably).

Don't let the bigoted old farts who hold a full license and who sat the old RAE bully you. They are best just IGNORED, THEY ARE NOT SUPERIOR TO YOU, they just like too tell you they are, every chance they get.

Remember most of them are getting on a bit and soon they will die, just like the dinosaurs did because they could not handle change and I for one will not mourn their passing.
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Re: Is the foundation amateur radio license too hard ?

Post by paulears »

Thanks for that - the spirit of Amateur radio seems to have passed in some parts off the country it seems. Being an old fart, but an old fart who understand the UK exam system for a number of very different subjects, you have missed the point entirely. I do agree that those that look down on others because of the exam they took need to have a rethink - because the hobby has changed. Numbers were falling badly and the exam format was different. The changes brought new people in and that is always good. What isn't good is the attitude many contemporary amateurs have and the size of the chip on their shoulders. I'm also too old to do anything but smile when people suggest I may die soon. However - I really do NOT think the basic exam has very much to do with anything technical at all - it's more an operating exam, and frankly, listening to British hams on the world wide digital channels, some haven't actually got the hang of using callsigns properly, leaving the people they speak to confused as to what comes next. One the other day kept saying QSI, and I'm not sure if he meant to say QSL, as in did you get that, or QSY, as in go somewhere else, because he used it so many time in different senses? As for the hardness - it's a fact that lots of hams don't need a really in-depth understanding of the science side and the maths side. I accept that if you want to cut a quarter wave, it's probably easier to just use a calculator found by Google rather than do the maths, or even do it by experimentation and a pair of cutters and a meter.

I just don't see the need to be offensive and use all the great words you've collected to describe us older hams? Wrinklies, bigoted old farts, dinosaurs? Really? Most of us handle change very well, even when we read this stuff and sigh at the total lack of understanding and fact checking. The content of exams since the 60s has been quantified by the education sector. It's available on the Government web site, and lays out the level of all exams by applying criteria descriptors. All exams since O'Levels and CSEs have standardisation in terms of level, equating to this notion of hardness. The RAE in the 70s was at the standard of today's HND, foundation degree - Level 4 (possibly crossing into 5, but only just as there's no requirement to do anything with any analysis). The Foundation Radio Exam is pitched at Level 2(GCSE, BTEC First), and the hardest one sits at Level 3 (A Levels, BTEC National)

What put the old exam at Level 4 was essentially the requirement to be able to do the maths, and remember the various source stuff, like Ohms Law, resonance formulii etc. The other components were broadly the same as today - meaning you had to read and digest the licence requirements and then remember them in the test.

Passing never made anyone practically superior, but it did signify that you had done something tough that many found a doddle but far more really had to work hard for. In my area the local college offered it as an evening class for a year - just to get the content in.

Everybody who takes a test or an exam feels superior when they pass. That's normal. It applies to driving lessons in particular. Does a lorry driver who passes a 7.5t test feel he is superior to a cared driver? Yes. However the driver of that 40t artic looks at the 7.5t drivers in a very similar way. Is somebody with a Doctorate superior to my PGCE - well, yes they are. Many are totally clueless on other subjects of course - having gone in a very narrow direction, but they ARE better!
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Re: Is the foundation amateur radio license too hard ?

Post by Mikel »

I just tell the truth, If you don't like it so be it.

Here is a link to the City and Guilds RAE paper from 1998 and there are 80 (not particularly difficult) questions, now with all three papers (foundation, Intermediate and advanced) to get to the full license, there are over 130 questions in total.
I rest my case.

http://www.g4dmp.co.uk/reports/rae1998m.pdf
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Re: Is the foundation amateur radio license too hard ?

Post by Tim Tom »

This is entertaining, carry on! 😂

I was watching a video a while ago from somone with a full licence who said it best about older users. If hear a new user and they're getting their q codes mixed up etc, help them!

The users who complain about newer users etc and be little them etc are the same people who complain that the hobby is dying and new people aren't joining.
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Re: Is the foundation amateur radio license too hard ?

Post by Mikel »

Tim Tom wrote: 24 Oct 2020, 19:16 This is entertaining, carry on! 😂

I was watching a video a while ago from somone with a full licence who said it best about older users. If hear a new user and they're getting their q codes mixed up etc, help them!

The users who complain about newer users etc and be little them etc are the same people who complain that the hobby is dying and new people aren't joining.
Don't get me wrong, a lot of the guys who sat the old RAE are great and will help you if they can. If it wasn't for a few fully licensed old guys I met 10 years ago I would not have got my license and I will never forget them and the lengths they went to to encourage me.

But there is a core of obnoxious old gits who just want to look down their noses at everyone and in their eyes you will never be as good as them.

The hilarious thing is many of them cannot even string a sentence together or know how to use punctuation properly half the time, but still have this holier than thou attitude and it wouldn’t be so bad if the RAE was some kind of quantum physics degree level course.

Fact is it was an easier route to get licensed than the present exam structure, but they refuse to admit it.

The level of hypocrisy they demonstrate is breathtaking, and they wonder why so many are pirating PMR446. Well the main reason is that a lot of people are fed up with these Poundshop Preachers, telling people what is right and wrong.

It must be wonderful to be so fecking perfect!

if they seriously want to be the band Police why don't they get a job with OFCOM instead of coming on here telling people what they should and shouldn't do.
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Re: Is the foundation amateur radio license too hard ?

Post by MorseMan »

The foundation license is relatively easy with a small amount of study.
You need to really dedicate your time if the hunger for a full licence is there.

Becoming a full license holder is much easier for anyone studying electronics as the understanding of this subject forms a good grounding.

Don't be put off taking a foundation course, Although you can advance towards full if you want, You can still work the world with 10w of power.

I wouldn't say the old RAE was easier, Yes there were fewer questions in total & no construction was necessary.
But the exam only happened twice a year & you had to find a course near enough to study & take the exam, If you failed you waited 6 months.

Equipment was horrendously expensive so I converted ex pmr radios ground crystals, wound torroids & designed pcb.

I wouldn't compare soldering a simple board with putting together an Elecraft k2

People are comparing apples with grapes.
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Re: Is the foundation amateur radio license too hard ?

Post by Ant »

This is brilliant, reading this has made me giggle, especially some of the comments on the facbook page I linked to on page 1.
Shack? Shack is a poorly built building in a third world country, which is on the brink of collapse. I'm not calling mine a shack...

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Re: Is the foundation amateur radio license too hard ?

Post by Mikel »

The Cult of RAE

All because they passed an exam (the Cult of RAE) that no longer exists and because of that, some of them claim it was special, and so gave them magical powers, that are now impossible to gain by mere mortals.

Like an ancient manuscript, handed down through the eons of time, with the knowledge only passed amongst the chosen ones.

Destined to save Humanity when the time comes, like a celestial angel levitating on a halo of blinding white light, who’s origin could only be in heaven.

Constantly talking in code so that everyone who listens, thinks they are discussing tomato plants and haemorrhoids on 80m every Sunday morning.

When in fact, they are discussing the mystic arts and the divinity of souls in the astral plane, that will determine the fate of the universe, and overwhelm the portents of doom, emerging from the bowels of hell.

Unfortunately for them, the internet was invented, so there are now copies of this mythical RAE manuscript doing the rounds and also unfortunately for them, the general consensus of opinion, is that it is about the same academic level as a 1980’s CSE in Metalwork.

Sadly for the rest of us, many of these followers of “the Cult of RAE”, think they are colonial missionaries, conveying the good word into even the deepest and darkest Council Estates.

Hell bent on educating the natives into the ways of “the Cult of RAE” and generally sticking their nose in where it’s not wanted.

With their delusions of grandeur they think they are the Band Police, Moral Police and the Magistrate all rolled into one.

At every opportunity, they will tell you, that what you are doing and thinking is wrong and illegal that you should be disgusted with yourselves, if you do not do, exactly what they say you should.

They constantly claim that a terrible fate awaits you if you don’t become like them:
“Don’t do that, it’s not legal, you will be arrested and sentenced to 5 years hard labour in a nudist colony, located in the north pole, with barbed wire wrapped around your genitals if you are not careful Sonny Jim”

Some of the “33 Degree RAE Brotherhood” claim that OFCOM stands for:

O – Other-world
F – Force
C – Coming
O – Old
M - Man

Go on, admit it, you have all come across these characters haven’t you?

Sometimes on the air and sometimes online and don’t they just want to make you scream?
Constantly pontificating, with their pretentious, self righteous and patronising, pompous diatribe?

Looking down their noses at anyone who is not a member of “the Cult of RAE”

Jesus, give it a rest you guys from “the Cult of RAE”, find a Thai Bride, slip some magic mushrooms in your partners paella or something, anything, but just get a life, please for all that is Holy, GET A LIFE and leave us all alone!
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Re: Is the foundation amateur radio license too hard ?

Post by Tim Tom »

Ant wrote: 25 Oct 2020, 11:29 This is brilliant, reading this has made me giggle, especially some of the comments on the facbook page I linked to on page 1.
Just had a look on that link, the bloke running that page is an actual weapon!

"The hobby is on its arse" he says as if trying to belittle new users and shaming them off the air waves will help.
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Re: Is the foundation amateur radio license too hard ?

Post by Ant »

Mikel wrote: 25 Oct 2020, 15:43 The Cult of RAE

All because they passed an exam (the Cult of RAE) that no longer exists and because of that, some of them claim it was special, and so gave them magical powers, that are now impossible to gain by mere mortals.

Like an ancient manuscript, handed down through the eons of time, with the knowledge only passed amongst the chosen ones.

Destined to save Humanity when the time comes, like a celestial angel levitating on a halo of blinding white light, who’s origin could only be in heaven.

Constantly talking in code so that everyone who listens, thinks they are discussing tomato plants and haemorrhoids on 80m every Sunday morning.

When in fact, they are discussing the mystic arts and the divinity of souls in the astral plane, that will determine the fate of the universe, and overwhelm the portents of doom, emerging from the bowels of hell.
:lol:
Shack? Shack is a poorly built building in a third world country, which is on the brink of collapse. I'm not calling mine a shack...

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Re: Is the foundation amateur radio license too hard ?

Post by Ant »

Tim Tom wrote: 25 Oct 2020, 19:14
Ant wrote: 25 Oct 2020, 11:29 This is brilliant, reading this has made me giggle, especially some of the comments on the facbook page I linked to on page 1.
Just had a look on that link, the bloke running that page is an actual weapon!

"The hobby is on its arse" he says as if trying to belittle new users and shaming them off the air waves will help.
The bloke who runs that page comes across as some bitter poisonous troubled soul, who probably has had his licence taken off him and lives in the back bedroom of his mums council flat.
Shack? Shack is a poorly built building in a third world country, which is on the brink of collapse. I'm not calling mine a shack...

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Re: Is the foundation amateur radio license too hard ?

Post by Mikel »

Ant wrote: 26 Oct 2020, 09:15
Tim Tom wrote: 25 Oct 2020, 19:14
Ant wrote: 25 Oct 2020, 11:29 This is brilliant, reading this has made me giggle, especially some of the comments on the facbook page I linked to on page 1.
Just had a look on that link, the bloke running that page is an actual weapon!

"The hobby is on its arse" he says as if trying to belittle new users and shaming them off the air waves will help.
The bloke who runs that page comes across as some bitter poisonous troubled soul, who probably has had his licence taken off him and lives in the back bedroom of his mums council flat.
Many of the fully licensed hams who give Foundation license holders a hard time are just old men, jealous of youth because they no longer have it and bitter, because for many reasons their 'qualification' no longer has the significance that it once had.

Foundation License holders should not take it personally though, as the stages of psychological and physiological development provide insights into why some people are content in old age and others are bitter and angry.

Some people struggle to face the realities that follow their transition into ‘elderhood’. We have all experienced 'The Guy Who is Irritated by Everything Syndrome' and for example shouts out of the window, 'you cant ride your skateboard there it's against the law', or 'Stop making so much noise in the street or i'll speak to your parents'.

There are too many reasons why this occurs to go into here, but one main factor is that as men age, they experience a slow and continuous decrease in testosterone production.

This is a completely normal phenomenon – yet for some men, the decrease is particularly steep and low testosterone can have “neural/psycho effects,” and one of those is “low mood and irritability.”

In other words, it is a contributing factor in something called 'Irritable Male Syndrome', a genuine medical condition, a good example in the real world is Donald Trump and in the fictional world Victor Meldrew!

Women suffer hormonal drops as they age as well, but this usually manifests itself in a different way to men, or to put it simply: Women fret, men yell.

As I stated, this is a completely normal phenomenon – yet for some men, the decrease is very steep and it can be like a bomb going off and everything and everybody annoys and irritates them including Foundation License holders!

According to Psychologists, between the ages of 50 and 65, (or even younger, sometimes!) every man needs to “let go of their their lost youth.” but some men are unable too, especially if they lose something they feel is even more vital – which is why Viagra is such a big seller!

This is a big topic and I have only revealed the tip of the iceberg, but the next time some older guy starts ranting at you 'Cornflake packet license' holders, ha, ha, try and show a bit of empathy as they are most likely going through a difficult time in their lives both physically and mentally.

I am 60 years old myself, but the difference is I understand what is happening to my psychological and physiological self and so I fight against 'Irritable Male Syndrome' and refuse to be a 'grumpy old man' (I don't always succeed) and I try my best to celebrate youth and assist and encourage them in as many ways as I can, rather than put them down at every opportunity.
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Re: Is the foundation amateur radio license too hard ?

Post by MorseMan »

Ant wrote: 25 Oct 2020, 11:29 This is brilliant, reading this has made me giggle, especially some of the comments on the facbook page I linked to on page 1.
Unfortunately a few people take opinions to an extreme.
The opinion on this Facebook page is unfortunately one of those people.

Lack of understanding is a fact of life.
Passing an exam does not necessarily mean you understand the subject.

I learnt the periodic table parrot fashion but it didn't make me a nuclear scientists, Knowing how to make a baby does not make you a good perent.

The radio hobby was being slowly killed off by advances in technology so something had to be done to keep figures up & manufacturer in business.

You can only blame poor operation on lack of knowledge or inexperienced newbies,

I am not running anyone down & will always try to help & advise.
Some just don't want to listen.

I personally am ashamed of how people who should know better treat others on air.

They should educate & guide not chastise & belittle
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