ARRL Examination Study (Part I)

The ARRL (American Radio Relay League) is an organization for amateur radio enthusiasts. In order to communicate using HAM radio, at least a technician license must be obtained. The following post is meant as a useful information guide for those wishing to obtain a license.

The ARRL provides a complete manual as a study reference for HAMs. The book is divided into nine chapters: Basic info about ARRL, Radio and Signals, Circuit components, propagation and antennas, Amateur radio equipment, HAM communication, License regulation, operating regulation and safety. The questions come directly from each chapter (35 total, 26 to pass).

For Radio and Signal fundamentals, it is important to know basic properties of waves including wavelength, speed of propagation, the relation between wavelength and frequency, identifying frequency bands, the frequency ranges of various bands used by HAMs and so forth. The fundamental equation for propagation of waves is c = fλ. Because radio waves are being transmitted by antennas through air, the speed of propagation is 300 million meters/sec. This is a constant value and therefore if frequency is increased, the wavelength decreases proportionally. This speed value is roughly equivalent to the speed of light in a vacuum. The property of radio waves used to identify different frequency bands is wavelength. HAMs tend to use the frequencies occupied by bands MF through UHF. It is important to know the frequency ranges of these bands.

In this section, it is important to know prefixes for the SI unit system, so conversions between various values can be made. The following table should be committed to memory.

The next section deals with modulation, which is a necessary function to transmit the correct signal to receiver. It is important not to set a transmit frequency to be at the edge of any band to allow for transmitter frequency drift, allow for calibration error, and so that modulation sidebands do not extend beyond the band edge. It is important to know about FM deviation (which is dependent on amplitude of the modulating signal) and that if the deviation is increased, the signal occupies more bandwidth. Setting a microphone gain too high could cause the FM signal to interfere with nearby stations. It is important to know the types of AM modulation (Double Sideband, Single Sideband, etc) and which modulation technique is best for various frequency bands. “Continuous wave” (Morse code-esque) modulation occupies the lowest bandwidth, followed by SSB modulation. The various advantages to certain modulation techniques should be understood. For example, SSB is preferential to FM because it occupies less bandwidth and has longer range. The bandwidth for each modulation technique is shown below.

The final section of Chapter two deals with radio equipment basics. A repeater should be understood to be a station that retransmits a signal onto another channel. The following is an image of a transceiver, which transmits and receives RF signals using a TR switch to switch between each function. A repeater uses a duplexer in place of this switch to transmit and receive simultaneously.