Triangle East Amateur Radio Association 


Resources for Prospective and New Hams

Here's where you'll find useful links, articles, downloads, and other resources to help you prepare for your amateur exams, as well as make the most of your licenses once you get it!  (These links open in a new tab or window.)  Feel free to browse, or click on one of the links below to get to exactly what you want. There's also much more on our "Links of Interest to All Hams" page.  Be sure to check it out as well!

Exam Preparation and Practice
Finding A Volunteer Testing Site Near You
Callsign Databases
Becoming A VE
Learning Morse Code

Exam Preparation & Practice

NC4FB - Fred Benson has assembled a number of study aids for all three amateur radio license classes, and all are freely available for download.  Check them out!


K3DIO - We recently discovered an excellent set of PowerPoint presentations developed by K3DIO that also cover all three license classes.  These are actually designed for use in a licensing class, but they are equally useful for self study.  In addition, there is a very nicely done and concise study guide available.  All have been placed in the public domain by the authors!

Just a few words of caution.  The PPTs use macros, and the author says they will probably work only with PowerPoint 2003 and later.  Because VB macros are used, they probably cannot be used with OpenOffice or LibreOffice as prepared, but they could be modified. However, you should have no problem using these with the free PowerPoint Viewer available HERE. The link below will take you directly to a directory from which you can download the materials.  Be sure to read the "Description of files.doc" before downloading.

Other Study Guides - has another excellent study guide in PDF format.  Resources are also being developed for the General and Extra exams, and they are looking for volunteers to help.

AA9PW Practice Exams – this site generates practice exams using the current question pools and with the same number of questions as required for each subelement.  No matter how many tests you take, each one will be different.    When you can pass these, you will be certain to be able to pass the real thing. Exam Practice - We have some reservations about the QRZ practice pages because we understand that they quiz on the more commonly seen questions and not the entire pool.  Also, if you do not allow cookies from the site, we understand that you will get repeats of questions you have already seen. 

Update:  Some of our candidates have reported that some of our concerns have been addressed by site changes, so it may be OK to use the practice tests, but you will need to sign up for a free registration.  However, we still do recommend the AA9PW site as being the better site for practice tests although we have no vested interest in either site.

Another Practice Exam Site - This was recommended by a TEARA membe, just in case the above sites do not meet your needs:

Free Practice Exam Software
- This site has a really neat exam practice package if you don't want to practice online, and you can't beat the price!

Finding A Volunteer Testing Site Near You

If "y'all ain't frum around here," you can locate an ARRL VE Session by searching here:

You can also search for a W5YI session here:

BuckMaster Publishing New License Notification - If pass your Technician exam, you can register with Buckmaster Publishing HERE, and as soon as the FCC issues your license, they will send you an email notification.  The service is free.

Callsign Databases

Callsign Databases - Once you pass your Technician exam, you don't have to wait for a paper license.  As soon as your new callsign shows up in the database, you can begin operating immediately.  Search any of these sites for your new call. 

The Official FCC Database -
Calls will show up here first, but this site is not particularly easy to use.

ARRL Database -
This site usually has the information the next day after the FCC but is easy to use.

QRZ Database -
This site is also a day or so behind the FCC, but is also easy to search.

Central Carolina Skywarn - Start using your license for public service by becoming a severe weather spotter.  Opportunities for service in central North Carolina can be found here.  And if you attend one of our VE sessions, you just might recognize the melodious voice of CC Skywarn, NC4VA!

Wake County, NC ARES -  ARES - the Amateur Radio Emergency Service - provides backup communications when other systems fail or become overloaded, through volunteer Amateur Radio operators.  Nationwide and Statewide, ARES is sponsored by the ARRL, although ARRL membership is not required for ARES participation.  You can get information on all North Carolina ARES organizations by starting here.

Amateur Radio Information – for information on just about everything else to do with ham radio, this site is the place!  You could spend hours here!

Smithchart ARS (aka SCARS) - home of the Smithchart Amateur Radio Society, an ARRL Special Service Club!

There are lots of other great resources on the Links of Interest to All Hams page in addition to what you see here!

Becoming A VE

Once you have obtained your General or Extra Class license, you can become an ARRL accredited Volunteer Examiner.  Check out the following link to find out how!

Learning Morse Code

OK, as of February 23, 2007 you don't need to learn Morse code to get any amateur license, but please read on...

For some reason, learning Morse code scares the living daylights out of most prospective hams!  However, once you move to move up to the really exciting world of high frequency (HF) communications, you'll find a world of fun using Morse Code.  In addition to the enhanced DX (long distance communications) possibilities, there's the world of QRP (low power) operating.  And it is still possible to build your own radios to send and receive Morse Code without breaking the bank, whether from scratch (homebrew) or from one of many available kits.  So when you get tired of the 75 meter nets and want to move on to a new challenge, give code a try.

Here's one way to get started! Go to G4FON's great website to download the free G4FON Code Trainer.  This is an excellent code trainer that is ordinarily used to teach Morse code using the Koch method.  However, you won't be using it as a Koch trainer just yet.  Instead, you should set it up to learn Morse code just enough to get you started.  Just follow these simple steps:

After you have downloaded the trainer, install it on your computer and set it up as follows:

          For "Pitch," select  750 Hz

          For "Actual Character Speed," select 15 WPM (words per minute)

          For "Effective Code Speed," select 5 WPM

          Set "Noise Level" to off

(NOTE:  You might want to try to set the effective code speed at 7-10 WPM instead of 5.   That will give you a head start in learning to copy off the air.)

Now comes the fun part.  Follow the directions provided for learning the code by clicking on the "About" button and learn that code!  As a rule of thumb, once you have thorougly  memorized the sounds of the characters (not the dots and dashes), you are probably at a good 5 WPM, particularly if you set you effective code speed a bit higher than 5 WPM.

As you begin to learn, DO NOT try to memorize "dots and dashes."  It just adds an unnecessary step that will only slow you down.  Here's why...

Suppose you hear the sound, "dah-di-dah-dit."  That's what the letter "C" sounds like.  If you have learned the letter C as "dash-dot-dash-dot," when you hear the sound "dah-di-dah-dit", you will first try to translate that sound to  dots and dashes, and then translate the dots and dashes to "C."  I know.. that's how I started out, and it only makes it harder to increase your code speed.

However, if you learn to associate the sound  "dah-di-dah-dit" and don't even bother with dots and dashes, you will learn to recognize the letter C much more quickly.  Learn the sound of each character, not the sequence of dots and dashes, and you will learn faster and better.

When you have learned the characters, try your hand at copying the ARRL's slow speed code practice transmissions off the air, or download them if you don't have an HF rig.  Go HERE for more information.

Once you can copy at 5 WPM, it's time to take the plunge.  Plug your code key in, get on the code portion of the bands and start sending CQ.  Don't worry if everyine you hear is sending faster than you are.  Most will QRS (slow down) if you ask them to.  As a matter of fact, you will delight the old timers out there once you tell them you learned to code after you got your general or extra.  You'll be the darling of the bands!

And once you've made your first few contacts, you can further challenge your brain by using this software as a true Koch trainer, as it was designed to be, and get that code speed on up to hang with the big dogs!

VE Team Exam Schedule and Information
Testing Resources
  Team Members
The World Famous White Swan Debrief Sessions

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