The FCC offers three different types of amateur radio licenses, technician, general, and amateur extra. The technician license is the entry-level license and limits the activities of the license holder. The General license is only a bit more work than the technician test. It expands each of the topics just a little bit. However, this license allows you to do darn near everything in amateur radio. You should really work toward the general license right after you get your Technician license. It is well worth the effort. The amateur extra is for those that want to work the rare DX stations.
The Amateur Extra license is a significantly tougher exam and it gains you very little. However, if you are interested in collecting foreign countries (DX), or being a volunteer examiner, this ticket is for you. Learning the theory and background information for all of the information in the amateur extra exam would probably be a one-semester college class. So, if you don’t have a daily background in radio, cramming for the test is usually the best way to make this happen.
Testing For the License
Online Practice Tests
Use these sites to gauge your knowledge and learn the question pool. When you start getting 82% or higher on these tests, you should be ready to take your license test. Online practices are available at any of these sites:
- https://hamstudy.org (will track your progress)
- http://hamexam.org/ (will track your progress)
Online Video Presentations
We suggest these two online video series to gain the information for the exam. Both of these are good presentations, so just pick the one that you can best relate to.
David Casler KE5OG
Dave has a group of videos that walk you through the entire amateur extra process. The very first video embedded in the page is ‘unavailable’, but the rest are ready to roll. NOTE: All of these videos are available on a single thumb drive. See here for details.
- Chapter 1, Introduction and Overview #1
- Section 2.1, General Operating. #2
- Section 2.2, Amateur Satellites, consists of two videos.
- Section 3.1, Operating Standards #5
- Section 3.2, Station Restrictions #6
- Section 3.3, Station Control #7
- Section 3.4, Amateur-Satellite Service #8
- Section 3.5, Volunteer Examiner Program #9
- Section 3.6, Miscellaneous Rules #10
- Section 4.1, Radio Mathematics #11
- Section 4.2, Electric and Magnetic Fields #12
- Section 4.3, Principles of Circuits, consists of two videos:
- Section 5.1, Semiconductor Devices #15
- Section 5.2, Display Devices #16
- Section 5.3, Digital Logic, #17
- Section 6.1, Amplifiers, #18
- Section 6.2, Signal Processing #19
- Section 6.3, Digital Signal Processing and Software-Defined Radio #20
- Section 6.4, Filters and Impedance Matching #21
- Section 6.5, Power Supplies #22
- Section 7.1, Test Equipment #23
- Section 7.2, Receiver Performance #24
- Section 7.3, Interference and Noise #25
- Section 8.1, Modulation Systems #26
- Section 8.2, Digital Protocols and Modes #27
- Section 8.3, Amateur Television #28
- Section 9.1, Basics of Antennas #29
- Section 9.2, Practical Antennas #30
- Section 9.3, Antenna Systems #31
- Section 9.4, Transmission Lines #32
- Section 9.5, Antenna Design #33
- Section 10.1, Electromagnetic Waves #34
- Section 10.2, Solar Effects #35
- Section 10.3, HF Propagation #36
- Section 10.4, VHF/UHF/Microwave Propagation #37
- Section 11.1, Hazardous Materials #38
- Section 11.2, RF Exposure #39
- Section 11.3, Grounding and Bonding #40
- Final Logistics to Take Your Examination: this video explains exam prep. #41
Amateur Logic TV
George Thomas W5JDX and Tommy Martin N5ZNO have a great set of videos that walk through all of the questions on the amateur extra exam. Episode 1 starts with the Technician class, General starts on episode 30, and number 61 is the start of the amateur extra questions.
- Episode 61: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FE7SmcjoawA – Extra Exam Questions Begins
- Episode 62: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcjlvH7MWco – Operating Standards: frequency privileges; automatic message forwarding; stations aboard ships or aircraft; power restriction on 630 and 2200 meter bands
- Episode 63: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VnNfe9A8aY – E1B Station restrictions and special operations: restrictions on station location; general operating restrictions; spurious emissions; antenna structure restrictions; RACES operations.
- Episode 64: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eScH1QMbWfE – In this episode of Ham College we get the up to date information on the state of Amateur radio exam remote testing. It’s come much further that we thought. Richard Bateman, KD7BBC from HamStudy.org and ExamTools.org is on the forefront of implementing the tools necessary to proctor exams over the Internet.
- Episode 65: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzEyFwLAWOM – Rules pertaining to automatic and remote control; band-specific regulations; operating in, and communicating with foreign countries; spurious emission standards; HF modulation index limit; bandwidth definition.
- Episode 66: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rU8KSBWYTuk – E1D – Amateur space and Earth stations; telemetry and telecommand rules; identification of balloon transmissions; one-way communications.
- Episode 67: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQo2UtJXH2c – E1E Volunteer examiner program: definitions, qualifications, preparation and administration of exams, accreditation, question pools, documentation requirements.
- Episode 68: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Bf5HkXb1ig – Miscellaneous rules: external RF power amplifiers, prohibited communications, spread spectrum, auxiliary stations, Canadian amateurs operating in the U.S., special temporary authority, control operator of an auxiliary station
- Episode 69: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bw29Gt6XTlY – Amateur radio in space: amateur satellites, orbital mechanics, frequencies and modes, satellite hardware, satellite operations
- Episode 70: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFTKFSYmG0g – Extra Class Exam Questions – Part 8.
- Episode 71: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6phYw_0YMPY – E2C Operating methods: contest and DX operating, remote operation techniques, Cabrillo format, QSLing, RF network connected systems.
- Episode 72: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0R_-r_lz_AM – E2D Operating methods: VHF and UHF digital modes and procedures, APRS, EME procedures, meteor scatter procedures.
- Episode 73: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9lXnwHT3G4 – E2E Operating methods: operating HF digital modes.
- Episode 74: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bIswdtFGIuM – E3A Electromagnetic waves: Earth-Moon-Earth communications, meteor scatter, microwave tropospheric and scatter propagation, aurora propagation, ionospheric propagation changes over the day, circular polarization.
- Episode 75: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNkk27nwL14 – E3B Transequatorial propagation, long-path, grayline, ordinary and extraordinary waves, chordal hop, and sporadic E mechanisms.
- Episode 76: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8BcryIJ5fQI – E3C Radio horizon, ground wave, propagation prediction techniques and modeling, effects of space weather parameters on propagation.
- Episode 77: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0Mrkuq0L0c – E4A Test equipment: analog and digital instruments, spectrum analyzers, antenna analyzers, oscilloscopes, RF measurements, computer-aided measurements.
- Episode 78: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhlB2GsSuDI – E4B Measurement technique and limitations: instrument accuracy and performance limitations, probes, techniques to minimize errors, measurement of Q, instrument calibration, S parameters, vector network analyzers.
- Episode 79: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0IUeaGkorA – E4C Receiver performance characteristics: phase noise, noise floor, image rejection, MDS, signal-to-noise ratio, noise figure, reciprocal mixing, selectivity, effects of SDR receiver non-linearity, use of attenuators at low frequencies.
- Episode 80: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9UztPJNu40 – E4D Receiver performance characteristics: blocking dynamic range, intermodulation and cross-modulation interference, third-order intercept, desensitization, preselectors.