To Become an Amateur Radio Operator

Nine years after receiving a FRN (FCC Registration Number), I finally sat down for official examination to quality for a Ham Radio Technician Class license. The Featured Image shows one of the study materials used to prepare; alongside is the transceiver that will start my broadcasting journey. But nothing happens until the Federal Communications Commission issues a call sign, which with my name must appear in the agency’s online licensee database.

Before SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 mandates, I would have spent a day in a class, followed by the 35-question test. Scoring 74 percent answers correct is the minimum to pass. Locally, classes are as often as monthly—none during the pandemic lockdowns—and move about San Diego County.

But the FCC allows remote testing, which is an adaptation for which I will thank Coronavirus and responses to it—like masking, social distancing, or stay-at-home dictates. I studied on my own in preparation for today’s exam, offered for a mere $10, and the organizers generously let me sign up this morning for the late-afternoon test.

I want to thank all the amateur radio volunteers who made possible this opportunity, which took place over Zoom. These people surrender their valuable time to advance the radio art and to expand the Ham community.

I chuckled at the precaution process, such as using my laptop webcam to do a 360-degree survey of my office (hey, you can’t have someone unseen whispering answers). By way of screen sharing, my 16.2-inch MacBook Pro was examined, too, for things like open browser tabs (where some cheater could, say, Google answers). After satisfying several sharp-eyed Hams about my testing integrity, I logged into an online exam, which they could observe me answering through screen sharing.

I passed and signed some paperwork. Training is next step and studying for the next level of license, General. Just because I haven’t taken a class doesn’t mean I shouldn’t or won’t. Hands-on experience is everything.

Update, May 10, 2022: The FCC issued my call sign.

Photo vitals, aperture manually set: f/4, ISO 1000, 1/15 sec, 28mm; 9:09 p.m. PDT; Leica Q2.