Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Productive Test Sessions

This past weekend, I helped bring a few people into the amateur radio hobby. On Saturday, I was one of the three administering Volunteer Examiners at a test session sponsored by the Central Ohio Amateur Radio Emergency Service (COARES) group and the Ohio State University Amateur Radio Club. We had about seven or eight people show up. If I remember correctly, three people were already licensed, but the others had no amateur radio license. Everyone from that session came away with either a new license or an upgrade to their existing license. One person went from no license to a General class license. That was a pretty good session. It lasted about two-and-a-half hours.

On Sunday, I had volunteered to be a VE for an early evening session. I had also volunteered to help out with a HamCram session that led up to the exam. I had never heard the term HamCram before, but as the name suggests, it is a cram session for the test. There were two of us reading the Technician class question pool and reading the correct answer along with a brief explanation on each. Both of us were VEs, and about a half hour before the exam, our third VE arrived. There were five people attending the HamCram. One person sat in only for a refresher, as he already had his Technician class license. He stepped out during the exam, but another person took his chair during the exam to upgrade to General. So we had five people on Sunday who all came away with a new license or an upgrade. That exam was sponsored by the Columbus Institute for Contemporary Journalism (CICJ) and held at their headquarters. Two of the new amateur radio operators are associated with that group. Both exams this weekend were under the ARRL-VEC umbrella.

If you earn your General or Amateur Extra class license, I encourage you to become a Volunteer Examiner. I find it rewarding to help others obtain their licenses. These two sessions mark the seven and eighth for me. Becoming a VE is pretty straightforward. You download a VE Manual from the ARRL's website, study it as long as you need to, then take an open-book exam, and send the answers back to the ARRL along with a photocopy of your license (and maybe something else I'm forgetting). It takes them three weeks or so to review your materials and issue you your credentials. Then you just need to make yourself know to a VE team. Of course, the ARRL is not the only Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) out there. You can be accredited with more than one VEC and some have reciprocal accedidation.