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Did Douglas Ever Pass His Ham Test?

By The Ithaka - Published November 28, 1999 - Viewed 1034 times

Did Douglas Ever Pass His Ham Test?

Norm K. of Moline, Illinois, wrote “C’mon man, you said you were going to take your Ham test in June and we haven’t heard a peep about it. Didya pass or did you blow it?  Also can you tell more about the programs you used to learn Morse Code?”

From Douglas:  Nice talk, Norm. Of course I passed it — granted not by much. I’m now an officially sanctioned hamster with a general class license, and we’re really enjoying having Winlink as our onboard e-mail system.  It’s reliable, essentially spam-less, and free. Best of all, Winlink also offers zillions of weather products, also free, and this totally changes how we bring down faxes now.

As for Morse Code study guides, I used CodeQuick, (phone 760-773-9426; e-mail www.cq2k.com), a commercially available product, to learn my basic Code. It’s a quirky and wonderful method that a number of my friends have found useful, too. It’s on CDs, and runs on your computer. There’s also a manual and picture cards that represent each letter symbolically. Instead of memorizing dots and dashes, you memorize sounds. “D,” for instance is a dash followed by two dots. But with CodeQuick you learn it by picturing the dog and his dump, and saying in your mind “DOG did it.”  “J” is one dot and three dashes; the picture is of a man in the jaws of a shark, and you learn the letter by repeating: “in JAWS JAWS JAWS.”  “H,” which is four dots in a row, is pictured as a heart inside the outline of the state of Texas, can be remembered as “Deep in the Heart.” This is a wonderful way to let the Code sneak up on you. The author of this program claims anyone can achieve five words per minute by studying for an hour a day for 11 days. Well, I sure couldn’t. But I loved the system even if I proved to be in the slow group.

My only problem with CodeQuick  which has bunches of practice tests, is that you can’t make up your own tests of words and phrases that are personally problematic. So once I had the basic letters and punctuation, I put CodeQuick away and switched to Morse Academy, a free program made available from the Kauai Amateur Radio Club. (You can download it and the instruction manual on the internet at  www.speroni.com.)

Morse Academy has dozens of practice tests AND it allows you to make up your own, as well. That feature was particularly helpful. The Federal Communications Commission makes up all the actual tests, and while there are many versions, they’re uniform in style, format and complexity. The key is being prepared for the test and knowing how it looks and feels. All tests, regardless of the subject matter, measure, first and foremost, how well you can take the test, and only secondarily how well you know some body of material. So these test aids are a crucial tool in passing.

Both CodeQuick and Morse Academy are DOS based and a little clunky, but they work fine. Now, like The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, I’m changing my name to kb1kqf.  La Comodora is not amused, but she’s much relived that I have quit obsessing about Morse Code, which I did all through Maine, took off the earphones I always wore when practicing and rejoined the human race on board.

You can also get study materials from www.qrz.org, www.arrl.org and www.gordonwestradioschool.com.

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