The Road Home

The Road Home
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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Radio - Wanna Be a General, Part 3

Hello, Frank here.

Hope all are doing well. Everybody got their tin hats on? All a tin hat is, is a Faraday cage for your head. You do know what a
Faraday cage is, don't you? Well, if you don't, then look it up. Because I know that everyone now knows what the gray line is. I've been reading lately about a lot of gray people. I've talked about it often in some of the other things I write, but I didn't know there was an actual term for being nondescript, not attracting attention to yourself, kind of being plain, boring, well, maybe not boring. This is what the gray person is. It has nothing to do with the gray
line. But when you get into radio, or anything in life for that matter, if you want to be the type of person that is always hollering or screaming, "Look at me! Look at me!", then that is your choice. But if you're not that type, then you might be a gray person. Being gray will keep you out of tense and sometimes intense situations. But that's not what a gray line is. I have seen gray line spelled 'grey' and 'gray', so take your pick.

So, I'm going to go back to page 10 and start talking about circuit components. Is it important that you know what all of the answers really mean? Well, that's yes and no. If you want to design and build your own radios, then yes, it's critical that you know what these components mean. You'll need to know how they're built, where they come from, and you will need to know a detailed knowledge of electronics and electrical physics. In
my neck of the woods, we have a very popular VHF repeater and most guys talk about the weather, sports, stuff like that. But every now and then somebody will chime in and ask a question related to tube circuitry. What amazes me is there are normally three or four guys waiting in line to answer the question. You see, I'm a plug and play type of survival radio guy. I don't need to know whether a resistor is better if it's coated in silver or gold. That's just not on my radar. But for the guys that want to do this, that is wonderful. If you're one of those guys, then you can probably find someone in your area that is extremely knowledgeable about radios. So, just because I make off colored jokes sometimes about these guys, that does not mean I don't have the highest respect for their knowledge. But for our purposes here, you need to know the question and you need to know the answer. And with Romanchik, at the end of each section, example, the bottom of page 11, there are links to many of the questions he just discussed. So please use them.

Okay, I'm skimming through pages 11, 12 & 13, information that you will need to know. It will be on the test. If you don't understand it, but you're capable of memorizing the answer, that's great. By the way, at the bottom of page 13, there is a link to diodes and LED's that
has some really cool information. You might want to check it out. As you've noticed, I'm not going into detail during this part of this manual because during the Technician's test, you should have learned what type of learner you are, and what techniques you will use to get to your end results. Okee-Dokee? So this part here, we're just going to skim.

Like on page 14 at the bottom, it talks about DB-9 and RCA phono. These are two types of connectors. Romanchik does not provide pictures. If you need more information, copy, paste and search. As I mentioned before, I did not use Romanchik for my General. I used HamTestOnline, the paid version. But a buddy of mine only used, which is free, for both his Technician and General. So you should know your learning style by now. In the near future I am going to start working on my Extra license. My plan is to use HamTestOnline, the paid version. I also bought the Romanchik version online and I have invested in all three levels, Technician, General and Extra manuals from ARRL, because on occasion, there are questions I have that are not in Romanchik or the online testing services. An example of that would be, "What is a gray line?" So, we all have different learning styles. Some people can read this stuff one time, take the test and Wa-la! they pass. And it also depends greatly on how deep of a knowledge you want or desire.

Okay, back to Romanchik. Page 16, Practical Circuits. This is interesting talking about AC, DC, peak power and things like that. In this manual, it gives you a very simple explanation. Very simple. So to truly understand it you will need more information from an outside source. And I believe page 17 has our first circuit diagram, Figure G7-1. If I remember correctly the
Technician had two diagrams. These little picture looking gizmo things you do need to know what they are. It would be nice if you understand how everything functions and how they are related to each other. And if you really want to know, you can find the answers. But you do need to know what all of those symbols mean, because it will be on the test.

Okay, page 18. I always find this stuff kinda cool. Ones and zeros in a binary number system. This is not something that you will ever really use, but if you can understand it and grasp it, it just improves your overall knowledge of how the smallest circuits work. And, as usual, you will see these questions and answers on the test. And, don't forget the links at the bottom of each section.

Okay to finish off today's discussion, go ahead and read up to page 21. Because next time we are going to go into Signals and Emissions, which  
is something that you do need to understand. Some of it will be a repeat of what you learned in your Technician, just going a little bit deeper. At this stage you should have been in touch with ARRL a long time ago. There are going to be some items taught here that there are just not easy answers for, so you will need some type of a mentor. Not all mentors are a good fit. Find someone you can talk to and ask real questions. Don't be afraid to ask what you may think is a stupid question. Let's finish up here for today.

But let's finish thinking safety. As we discussed earlier, you're getting into an area of radio where you can use more power. It's kind of like driving down the highway with your stereo going full blast. There will come a day when you will start seeing a hearing loss. It's kind of like using extra power
in a radio. You may not notice that you are losing part of your brain, but over time, it could be a significant problem. Don't be afraid of radio, it's very easy, but do it right. And if you don't know what's right, call that ARRL guy that you have developed a relationship with. You want to do it right and you want to do it safe. You don't want to key your microphone, and you're putting out 1000 watts, and you forgot that you disconnected your antenna. If you want to know what happens, ask your ARRL buddy. It's not something you will probably do twice.

Well, I gotta go. I've got baby chicks a hatchin' and goats a birthin' and every time my wife and I go up to the barn, we carry an HT in our pockets.

We'll talk more later. 73, Frank

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