Draft of new exam syllabus now available.

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Draft of new exam syllabus now available.

Postby m0lsx » Sat Jun 17, 2017 4:32 pm

I have just seen this on Southgate ARC's news site.

A syllabus consultation is being held for the new Foundation, Intermediate and Advanced RSGB amateur radio exams

The RSGB says:

A complete review of the syllabus for all three levels of the amateur radio examinations has been completed.

The draft of the new syllabus is now available for consultation together with a survey to capture any comments you may wish to make.

Please visit http://rsgb.org/syllabus_review to access the syllabus draft document and how to make your comments.

The section of syllabus relating to the Amateur Satellite Service can be seen on page 60 of the consultation document.
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Re: Draft of new exam syllabus now available.

Postby lars » Sun Jun 18, 2017 10:33 am

At least for foundation, the new syllabus doesn't seem to be hugely different from the old one. Or am I missing something?
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Re: Draft of new exam syllabus now available.

Postby m0lsx » Tue Jun 27, 2017 9:59 am

There is a run down of the changes at Essex Ham. A lot of the changes are things moved from the Intermediate & there will now be a lot more to remember for the foundation exam..

Technical Aspects. A significant increase here....An increase from 20 items, to 44 items, and I can’t see a reason why any of the new proposed material needs to be here.


Feeders and Antennas....Previously, there were 18 examinable items in this section. The proposed change takes this to 40 items! A lot of extra material moved en masse from Intermediate, making this a much more complex module. I wonder how much of this is truly helpful at Foundation…


Operating Practices and Procedures......Codes such as QTH and QSO really should have been introduced in Foundation, so the move makes sense, but it’s 15 codes that a newbie now has to memorise, which isn’t ideal.


Practical Assessments...It’s good to have an alternative to Morse, and adding data modes is great – however, why mandate only an SDR for data? Do all clubs and trainers possess £1,200 SDR transceivers and software interfaces? With a class of 10 students, how practical is it to get all 10 students to set up an Icom 7300 from scratch, set up the interface and software, the various macros and have a QSO? With JT QSOs taking 9 minutes each, is this viable for classroom courses?
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Re: Draft of new exam syllabus now available.

Postby lars » Tue Jun 27, 2017 12:23 pm

I wonder how much of this is a reaction caused by all those folks that got into amateur radio in the City and Guilds days, complaining that everything has been dumbed down?
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Re: Draft of new exam syllabus now available.

Postby m0lsx » Tue Jun 27, 2017 2:06 pm

No, at all. The old City & Guilds guys are the ones who introduced this system & this is many years down the line.
It may be a tightening up of what has clearly become a too easy weekend. But it's nothing more than that, at the most.
Also it is not clear who is driving the changes, the RSGB or Ofcom. The idea had been to make it less of a step between Intermediate & Advanced. But it looks like both Foundation & Intermediate may both be going up a very small gear. However it's still going to be an easy test at foundation.
I do Communicator badge training for the Scouts most JOTA weekends & what the Scouts ask of it's members for a badge is not much short of what Ofcom was asking of people for a Foundation Licence.
For example I have been testing Scouts on Q Codes for years & I have never understood why Q codes were not included in the Foundation syllabus.
But some of those abbreviations they have now made part of the Foundation Syllabus are not used or hardly at all.
I often sign off on voice with a Dah Dee Dah. (K) & I have heard people say KK. But when does anyone say AR or KN?
Also given the ability of some trainers I wonder if they will know the reason & meaning of SK? Which is not Silent Key, but end of contact.
I saw one trainer who was giving the training on VHF & UHF section as per the Foundation Syllabus actually go white & flounder when asked why the 2 meters channels were listed on the given band plan as RV & V...HE DID NOT KNOW :shocker: :shocker: :shocker: He had been asked to train people for JUST the VHF/UHF segment & did not even know the basics!!!!!!!
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Re: Draft of new exam syllabus now available.

Postby lars » Tue Jun 27, 2017 2:40 pm

I have no problem with the foundation licence being harder, or containing more stuff -- so long as it's the right kind of stuff. What you mention about Q-codes seems exactly the kind of thing that should be included. There ought -- in my view -- to be more stuff about operating protocols and conventions, more about how to use real radios in real set-ups, and less about engineering and physics.

It's always baffled me that the foundation licence has stuff about circuit theory, when (a) the licence does not allow the licencee to build or modify equipment, and (b) the content is so superficial that it is of no practical value. I incline to the view that there shouldn't be a foundation exam at all -- that competence should be assessed by observation, as driving is (well, was, until recently).

I've spoken to a lot of amateurs about this, and I get the impression that most think that the licence stages should be a kind of graded technical education. I can sort-of understand why people think that way, but the technical and practical aspects of radio could easily be separated, until one gets to a stage where actual electronic engineering work is allowed.

I suppose the real, deep problem is that there is no consensus about what amateur radio is actually for. So we have an exam syllabus that tries to cover all the different possibilities, in a way that probably won't satisfy anybody.
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Re: Draft of new exam syllabus now available.

Postby m0lsx » Tue Jun 27, 2017 3:00 pm

The three grades of licence were conceived of as a graded system that people would work through. The Foundation & Intermediate have never been intended to be a licence in their own right & maybe it's because too many are using them in that way. That they system is changing.
I regularly see people with callsigns issued at the same time as my foundation or even before who are still operating as an M3. Unlike with a motorcycle provisional there is no retest every so often. People just sit for decades on a Foundation.
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Re: Draft of new exam syllabus now available.

Postby lars » Tue Jun 27, 2017 5:08 pm

Sure. And why not? I only have a foundation licence -- I'm only interested in QRP operation on HF, so why would I want anything else? I've already got degrees in electronics and physics, so I don't feel I need anybody to tell me what a transistor is, or try to explain EM propagation without the math. Frankly, I'd take the intermediate tomorrow morning and the full in the afternoon if I thought there was any need for it; but right now I can't think why I would want to.

But I concede that I am probably an atypical case.

The tension I see with all this is that the RSGB would like to attract more people into using amateur radio -- but only as a technical hobby. They don't seem to want people to use radio for anything useful. I do understand that, because the RSGB is a technical society, not a licencing body. Your argument that the foundation licence was never conceived of as an end in itself makes perfect sense when looked at in those terms. However, if we aren't providing any lawful alternative access to the airwaves for casual users then how can we, in all conscience, deny them access to the amateur bands?

You'll probably argue (many people do, anyway) that PMR and CB are available for people who just want to talk, and I agree to some extent. But PMR has crappy range, and CB is, well, CB. And even a half-decent hand-help CB is much more expensive than a Baofeng VHF.

Ironically, many of the amateurs I know have no interest in technical matters at all. Most of the HF activity I hear is contesting; the idea of radio as a competitive sport leaves me completely baffled. Some of these guys are sitting in front of rigs that cost > £5000, putting out hundreds of watts, and congratulate themselves when they manage to exchange antenna sizes with somebody in Mauritius or something. Well whoopy-f*cking-doo! I simply fail to see how this activity is more in the spirit of the RSGB's charter than the guys who chat on their Baofengs through a repeater on their way home from work.
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Re: Draft of new exam syllabus now available.

Postby m0lsx » Tue Jun 27, 2017 5:49 pm

There use to be gains for each level. When I had my Foundation, I could not pass 3rd party messages & I could not use 10 meters. So I wanted my Intermediate so I could join RAYNET.
Then I wanted my full licence as Special Event Stations interest me.
I often work QRP & although I do have various linears for different bands. I normally do not run any where near the maximum power that I could on any band. In fact I spend most of my time just listening & normally not to the amateur bands.
For me, if I had the ability to change anything licence wise. It would be to limit Foundation Licence holders to 10 meters & above. And I would make every Foundation licence holder prove they knew how to operate Satellites before they could get a Intermediate licence.
On Satellites you run the power you need & no more. As the stronger your signal then the less chance there is that someone else can use it. So using too much power is the height of bad practice & soon gets you moaned at.
For me increasing simplex usage on 10 & up & SSB activity on 2 & 70, is what is needed to get Foundation licence holders interested in the technical side of the hobby. Currently there is no incentive for it to be anything more than a plug & play interest & that really depresses me.
For me CB & PMR are the natural home for anyone wanting plug & play QSO's. The £75 for 5 years simple/light licence is ideal for chatting on. Especially as one licence can cover 100's of users. I occasionally use the low band VHF frequencies & the range is good. And as CB now gives SSB, that could be a great home for longer distance car to car QSO's too.
I really do think we need to separate amateur radio from CB. Not in an elitist way. But in a way that we
separate the use of say Bicycles & HGV's.
One person can be both an amateur & a CB'er. In the same way that one person can cycle to their job as an HGV driver. But the legal requirements for riding a Bicycle are very different from the licence & driving requirements of an HGV.
I agree with you about Contesting. Saying 5 & 9 to each contact as a signal report is hardly good radio practice or demanding & sporting. However is sitting for hours on a repeater any better, (or worse? )
I came into amateur radio via being a MW DX'er & a SWL as a teenager & then via land based broadcasting. And when I listened to the repeaters one thing was clear. Some get a amateur radio licence simply to talk. Others for the radio.
I was always taught listen for two thirds of your time. Transmit for one third.
The VHF/UHF repeaters depress me so much I now no longer even listen to them. We should reduce the number of repeaters & make people learn how to use them before they are allowed to use them.
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Re: Draft of new exam syllabus now available.

Postby G4RMT » Wed Jun 28, 2017 8:45 am

I do find it depressing that the really basic practical skills needed for the hobby now seem optional? I understand people don't wish to know how a radio works, just buy one - but some people cannot even understand the stuff they glean from the net on really basic stuff - Where can I buy a dipole for HF as I cannot understand the stuff I googled? They cannot do practical bodges - two bits of wire into a block connector is too hard for some, let alone master a soldering iron - probably one of the most useful skills for anyone to have to simply fix things around the home. There really is a limit to how far you can dumb down something. I have to balance this with things I don't know - as in.
the 2 meters channels were listed on the given band plan as RV & V...HE DID NOT KNOW

What is RV and V. I don't think I have ever heard this term. Is it something I've missed and very important?

Exams throughout the years have always changed and every single time the old holders complain the new ones are easier. Perhaps in a way they are, but they reflect what it is people need to know. Think about how hard it is for elderly people to use a modern phone. My 86 year old mum gets shown by my 5 year old grandson. He is not more intelligent than her, yet if there was an iPhone test, he would get A* and she would fail.

Exams are gatekeeping exercises. Amateur radio is a world wide hobby that involves the governments of hundreds of countries. No doubt they all talk about ham radio, and believe it to be worthwhile - or they'd have banned it. Remember the Cold War days - Russian and US hams would speak each day on the radio. Sure, we now know the Russian hams were party members and monitored by the KGB, but they WERE allowed to join in. In 1953 the hams did great work with the floods here, and in the war, loads were allowed to keep their gear and become sort of spies. In the 80s, the hams again got involved in civil defence and disaster stuff. I firmly believe that no matter what personal opinions are of st john, red cross and Raynet - it's the list of names held by OFCOM that is attractive - unlike the anonymous brigade of CB and 446 users.

If for some reason there was a need for skilled HF operators (remember Independence Day?) they could find them pretty quickly. Lots of people start with novice and stay there, even, as detailed above, when their skills would give them an easy pass at any of the levels. However, many upgrade - and these people could be pretty handy. If the world fell apart and they introduced conscription, Royal Signals would get the hams wouldn't they.

I doubt the Government is interested one jot in ham radio from the innovation perspective any longer but maintaining ham radio worldwide benefits every country.

I'm not sure that the Morse derived codes still need to be there. AR, SK etc were chosen because of their sound - as in di-dad-di-dah-dit and di-di-di-dah-di-dah

They make no sense as letters. Out works, but remember that the Home Office prescribed Off for quite a while instead of OUT. "Invitation to transmit" became "Over" and so on.
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