Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Foundation License limitations and restrictions

I have received a number of emails from concerned VK HAMs about the contents of my posts and my 'use' of homebrew transmitters.

It is well known in VK land that Foundation calls are restricted to using only commercial built transmitters with a maximum of 10 watts PEP. However, no other useful or relevant details of the Foundation license seems to be well known.

So let me make two things clear, firstly, I have explored the LCD on all the issues of transmitting and beacons as this is a topic that interests me greatly. Secondly I have not built any homebrew transmission equipment. Only two homebrew receivers and used my Kenwood HF rig and oscilloscope to check that they are not putting out noise on the bands, fundamental or harmonics.

The LCD is particularly vague about the issues around the use of beacons by Foundation license holder. Except that it precludes the use of "computer controller beacons". This does leave plenty of scope for experimentation in analog generation methods. To be honest, in this day and age I believe those most likely to advance this aspect of the hobby are those that grew up in a digital world and have been programming since they were knee high to a grasshopper. However the folks writing the LCD were no doubt born early last century and these new fangled computers will take some time to catch on... I'm not being rude, just a bit disappointed.

That said, I have the basis for a microprocessor-keyer sitting on the shelf, waiting. Waiting for when I upgrade my license.

Which brings me to upgrading from a Foundation license to a Standard or Advanced license. There is a hand book for studying for a Foundation from the WIA, but not the Standard or Advanced. Why is that?

Perhaps this is the reason that there are so many F-Calls out there now? And so many HAMs complaining about there being so many F-Calls. Apparently one more letter is too hard to deal with.

I've tried ordering materials, as advertised on the internet, but unresponsive is the nice way to summarise. Its too hard to get the materials to study to upgrade, unless you are lucky to be part of a club with materials. If you're not part of one of those few clubs, I've noticed they don't share. Why is that? There doesn't seem to be much collaboration in that space. Or I'm just not in a position to see it, because I'm only an F-Call. Its a bit of a catch-22 if you ask me. I;m sure they work hard to produce the material in the first place, but you will get more recognition and more amateurs if that material is shared around the clubs. Free or at cost or more, it doesn't matter. Get those materials out there!

I've been flamed on mail lists for asking about topics that only Advanced calls are allowed to use. So my response was how am I supposed to get my Advanced license if I don't know about these topics, their response is, you don't until you are a Advanced call. There is definitely a weird head space around learning for your upgrade. You are supposed to learn it all yourself and asking for help is cheating.

That said I want to upgrade to Advanced and to tinker with QRSS and build my own kit.
Its just a shame that there is so much attitude around being a F-Call with aspirations.
There are some local HAMs that are very helpful. They have been inspiring, but their time is quite limited. Which is why I try to make the most of my time at club meetings. There are other clubs north and south that would be beneficial, but getting to and from the meetings is a serious hassle. Perhaps I just need to get a car or motorbike of my own as public transport isn't an option, thanks to Adelaide's central hub transport model.

I know that AR wants articles on what F-Call are up to and think, but I doubt they want to hear about the plight of what F-Calls can't do. "Become a WIA member!" and "Upgrade! Upgrade!" I hear folks say...

Anyhow, I've dropped a lot of other interests and other clubs' activities so I can focus on work and amateur radio. Hopeful over the Christmas break I can finish my upgrade study and sit the exams...

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