Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

This is the time of year that we at celebrate the birth of our God.  Many of you don’t share those beliefs, but we all share a desire to learn, to help those around us, and to make the world a better place than it is.  Whatever you celebrate this season, may it be a good one, and my you find joy in your life, in this hobby that we all love, and in the family and friends around you. Continue reading

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D-Star Hotspot with the ID-5100

This blog is for a lot of things; one of them is that it gives me a place to drop information that took me some work to find but seems relevant to many people.  This is one of those posts =]

Using D-Star with non-Icom hardware

Many people who want to play with the full range of D-Star may not have (or may not always have) available an Icom D-Star enabled repeater to use.  There are also those who consider Icom’s equipment to be just a little bit too expensive and so have built homebrew repeaters that work with D-Star.

Continue reading

Posted in D-Star Operation | 9 Comments

EmComm Anti-Patterns

I am a software developer. In software, we have what we call “Design patterns” which are software patterns that we can use to solve common programming problems in clean ways. There are a huge number of these patterns, but they all share a common theme: They are tested, widely used, and solve a particular class of problems in a solid way.

Similarly, sometimes we talk about anti-patterns.  An anti-pattern is a “common response to a recurring problem that is usually ineffective and risks being highly counterproductive” (from Wikipedia).  In other words, it’s a response or solution to a recurring problem that seems reasonable but is actually problematic.

I am very much a process-oriented person. Whenever I spend a lot of time doing something, I can’t help but try to identify what went well, what went poorly, and how it could be improved. It’s of particular note that even very experienced hams often find themselves using anti-patterns such as these.

Here are some patterns and anti-patterns that I have observed in my area.  Perhaps they will help you!

Continue reading

Posted in Emcomm practices | 14 Comments

FCC Registration Numbers

Whenever someone takes an exam from the VE team I work with, we require that they have an FRN — FCC Registration Number. Why? Simply put, without an FRN, we would have to collect your Social Security number.  This should probably worry you — it certainly worries us.

We require everyone to provide an FRN because we don’t want the responsibility of keeping your SSN safe.

EDIT: Some VEs have responded to this article asserting that their teams do not keep copies of the 605 form (the form your SSN goes on) and thus consider this to be unimportant for their applicants. They are missing the point; the SSN still goes through a lot of hands that aren’t known to the applicant, and in addition even if the VE team doesn’t keep copies of the 605 form, the VEC does.

I have spoken with the staff of several of the VEC companies, and I trust them as much as I would any corporation (more than almost any other, likely), but even the best intentioned make mistakes. That which isn’t in their archives cannot be lost, stolen, or otherwise compromised.

Continue reading

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FCC to allow expired General, Extra class operators to relicense by taking the Tech

Good news for anyone who previously held a General or Amateur Extra class license and allowed it to lapse! The ARRL has just announced that the FCC has approved a change to the rules for obtaining an Amateur Radio license allowing those who previously held a General or Amateur Extra class license but allowed it to lapse (2 years past the expiration date) to regain that level after only taking the Element 2 (Technician) license exam.

Previously if you allowed the two-year grace period to expire you would need to retake all exams and no free credit was given for the expired license.

The good

We see a lot of people who have been out of the hobby for awhile and decide they want to get back in.  This will make it a lot easier for those interested in HF or otherwise wanting to regain their higher license privileges! I’m sure there will be a lot of people who take advantage of this new ruling.

The bad

There is a possibly small but very vocal movement of people in the Amateur communities that feel strongly that the changes made to Amateur Radio licensing in the United States in the last ten to twenty years has lowered the overall technical competence of ham radio operators in the nation.

While I’m not sure that I agree with that (or perhaps I don’t see it as the same level of problem that they do) I certainly expect that this will fuel that perspective.

Time frame

While we don’t know the exact day that this will take place yet, the ARRL article states that “The new rules become effective 30 days after their publication in The Federal Register, which is expected to happen this week.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

2014 Technician Pool live on

We’ve had the new pool technically up on the site for months, but since we didn’t have a link to it most of you couldn’t find it.  Well, we didn’t want to put it up until we had all the explanations from the old pool linked to the new and could see exactly what had changed.  That is done, and it’s now live!

The changes

As usual, most of the changes to the pool are just minor edits.  Here are some stats on the new pool:

  • 47 questions have been removed
  • 79 new questions have been added
  • 29 questions have had significant (more than a couple of words) updates
  • There are 32 more questions than in the previous pool for a total of 426 questions (the old pool had 394)
  • 4 of the questions with figures in them have been removed, eliminating 3 of the 6 figures from the previous pool

For more details, check out the complete graphical diff!

What still needs to be done

As with any change, there are things that need to be done.  If you notice above, there are 79 new questions in this pool — that means those are questions we don’t have explanations for yet! If you find any of these, please fill them in — we’ll be posting a link to help you find them sometime soon, but first priority was making sure you can all still study!

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments T-Shirts available!

We’re pleased to announce that we now have t-shirts available for sale!

$15 with free shipping

HamStudy shirts

Why get a HamStudy shirt?

Every HamStudy shirt you buy donates about $5 to the development of HamStudy.  More importantly, the more people wear HamStudy t-shirts (particularly to test sessions and other ham radio events), the more people will know about the awesomeness that is HamStudy!

For now we have a limited stock.  Order here

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Canadian Basic and Advanced question pools added!

To support our friends to the north, we have added two new question pools to HamStudy!

You might say that we don’t have a lot of experience with the Canada pools, but there they are =] Let us know if any of you have any issues with them.  Note that the basic has a passing score set at 70%, so if you’re aiming for the 80% mark you’ll need to pay attention to that yourself.

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Guest user option released!

You asked for it, and it’s finally here! You can now use HamStudy without creating an account.  To do so, simply use the “login” button and click “Continue as Guest”.

Screenshot 2014-02-18 23.47.42


What this means


When you log in as a guest your data is being saved but not in a way that is any way tied to you or your email address.  This is great for users who want to try out HamStudy without the hassle of creating an account or users who may not have easy access to an email account when they go to study.

Screenshot 2014-02-18 23.50.09

Guest users cannot edit site content such as question explanations and your data will be lost if your browser cookies are deleted or you don’t use the site for more than a month.  Guest users also cannot share data across multiple computers or devices. works great on all desktop and mobile devices.

Click here to go to the site.

Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments