Frydenlund's Crib Sheet For General

 

This is a summary of the information that you need to have under control to answer the various questions that will appear on the General Class Ham exam. These are taken from the sample questions in the 2004 pool.

   

I used to prepare sheets like this to study for exams in grad school and have taken the same approach here.  This crib sheet presupposes that you have some understanding of the material and primarily need to be reminded of key ideas.  It is no substitute for a text.

 

Each question is taken from a group of  approximately ten questions.  In some cases most of the questions are quite similar and only a small amount of information need be learned to master the group.  These questions are suffixed here with an “E” for easy.  As the amount, or difficulty, of the information necessary to master the questions in a pool goes up, my subjective ratings increase from “E” to “M” to “H” to “VH”. YMMV.

 

You must get 26 out of 35 questions correct to pass.  My approach was to target 30 so that I had some margin for error. Being lazy, I mastered the easiest questions first.  Interestingly, the first question, requiring essentially straight memorization, was the first that I threw away...

 

In my opinion:
There is one VH question (1A).
There are six H questions.
If you master all the E and M questions, you will get 28 correct on the exam, enough to pass (with a few to spare).

 

Since all the questions in the General Test are prefixed with “G”, I have omitted that prefix in the references here.

 

Good Luck   KG6LRP

 


1.Commission's Rules

 

1A  Frequency Privileges (VH) – Requires memorizing the spectrum allocation in the question pool.

 

1B Antenna Structure, good engineering practice, beacons, restricted operation, retransmission (M) -
     Maximum antenna height 200 feet
     Always operate in accordance with good engineering and amateur practice
     Beacon Stations may transmit One Way Comms, one signal per band, <100W
     Expediency does NOT allow Ham to be used for news information gathering
     Music is ONLY allowed incident to rebroadcast of space craft comms
     You CAN NOT send secret codes, EVER (except for space telecontrol)
     Widely published codes are not secret nor are common abbreviations
     You CAN NOT use obscene or indecent language, EVER

 

1C Power Standards, Amplifiers, HF Data Standards (E) -
     On 80 and 30 Meters, max power is restricted to 200W PEP
     The minimum power necessary to carry out the comms is what is allowed
     More than 1500W PEP is never legal for routine comms
     Band = Wave length (Meters) = 300/Freq(MHz)
     60 Meters is special, USB only, 5 channels, narrow (2.8KHz), max power 50W

 

1D Exam Prep and Administration, temporary station ID (E) -
     You may only prepare elements below your highest number
     You may administer the same elements
     Techs pass element 2
     Generals add elements 1 and 3
     Extras add element 4
     Techs who pass element 1 get limited HF CW privs
     To administer tests you must be an accredited Volunteer Examiner (VE)
     It takes 3 VEs to administer a test 
     After you pass but before you receive your upgrade you may operate with your
           new privs by adding /AG to your call sign
     You only need to add /AG when using General Privs

 

1E Local control, Repeaters, Harmful Interference, 3rd Party comms (E) -
     If you operate a station using your privs and the station owner does not rate those
          privs you give the call as Owner Call/Your Call
     A Ham can use any repeater where he has the right to the input frequency and the
           owner has the right to the output frequency
     Repeaters repeat messages simultaneously on a shifted output frequency
     Coordinated Repeaters have precedence over uncoordinated ones
     Harmful interference is called Harmful Interference
     Third Party Traffic must be either technical or personal (never commercial)
     Such traffic CAN NOT be passed under automatic control
     Secondary Users ALWAYS yield to Primary Users
      NEVER cause Harmful Interference to a Primary User if you are
            Secondary
     US licensed Hams MUST give their call signs in ENGLISH

 

1F Power Amp Certification, HF Data Standards (M) -
     AMPS below 144 MHz may require FCC Certification
     If you build only 1/yr no certification is required
     Certified AMPS CAN NOT reach full power if driven by less than 50W
      Max Power gain = 6 db at 10 Meters
     AMPS should not operate between 24 and 35 MHz (CB Freqs) nor be
          User Modifiable to operate there
     RTTY baud rates  <10 Meter = 300 bauds, above 28 MHz = 1200 bauds,
          above 50 MHz = 19.6 kbauds
     RTTY and unspecified digital  bandwidth at 2 and 6 meters 20 KHz

 

2 Operating Procedures
2A Phone (E) -
     20 meters and up in freq = USB for phone, convention
     HF phone usually SSB
     SSB Narrow BW, More power to Signal, No Carrier

 

2B Courtesy (E) -
     If you interfere, move, net or not
     phone separation 3 – 5 KHz
     CW separation 150 – 500 Hz
     RTTY 250 – 500 Hz
     Band Plans are voluntary guidelines
     All emission types: follow rules, follow band plans, listen first
     Always listen first
     CW send QRL? De Call and listen

 

2C Emergency Comms (M) -
     Can use ANY means available
     Only when normal means NOT available
     FCC can declare temporary communications emergency
     FCC may set special rules by notice, you must follow them
     Power limitations are suspended
     Any frequencies and mode may be used
     Station in distress should be given priority and be answered
     RACES drills prep for real emergencies
     Distressed stations should give location and nature of distress
     Use “best” means available

 

2D Amateur Auxiliary, antenna orientation, HF, logging (M) -
     Amateur Auxiliary consists of volunteers who encourage self regulation and
           compliance
     Fox Hunts provide practice in RDF
     Azimuthal projection map is centered on a given geographic location
          Gives Great Circle compass bearings to rest of world
     Long Path and Short Path 180 deg apart
     Logs are NO LONGER REQUIRED but are useful records
     Logs normally have dtg, Band, freq, call sign and RST of contact plus comments
     Log can aid in resolving interference complaints
     Unidirectional antenna best focus of beam
     On 60 meters if not using dipole, you must keep record of antenna gain

 

2E 3rd Party, VOX, ITU regions (E) -
     ITU = International Telecommunications Union
     ITU Regions, Americas = 2, Europe/Africa = 1, Australia/Asia = 3
     International comms should be technical, personal and “unimportant”
     VOX allows hands free ops using voice actuated transmission
     VOX controls include anti-VOX, VOX Delay, VOX sensitivity
     VOX sensitivity sets loudness level when VOX keys transmitter
     Anti-VOX prevents received signal from keying transmitter
     “End of Message” is used to signify completion of formal voice message

 

2F CW procedures, RTTY Procedures, prosigns, digital procedures (H) -
     QSK, full break in telegraphy, signals can be heard between dots and dashes
     80 meter data in 3580 – 3620 KHz
     20 meter RTTY 14.070 – 14.095 MHz
     ASCII is 7 bit, Baudot is 5 bit, AMTOR error corrects
     RTTY stands for radioteletype
     RTTY typically uses freq shift FSK of 170 Hz
     RYRYRY is used to aid in tuning in RTTY
     NNNN means end of message in RTTY
     Prosign AR means end of message in CW
     PSK31 is in varicode and data bits per character varies
     Data Packet routing and handling info are in “Header”

 

3 Radio Wave Propagation

 

3A Ionospheric disturbance (ID), solar effects (M) -
     When comms suffer in Ionospheric Disturbance go UP in frequency
     Ionospheric Disturbance mostly affects low freqs
     UV and Xrays from solar flares travel at speed of light (8 min Sun to Earth)
     Solar Flux is Radio Energy emitted by Sun, measured by SF Index
     Geomagnetic Disturbance is sudden, dramatic change in magnetic field
     Geomagnetic Disturbance effects HF comms above 45 degrees Latitude
     K Index is measure of geomagnetic stability
     A Index is daily measure of geomagnetic disturbance
     High Sunspots = enhanced upper HF and lower VHF comms
     Sunspot cycle is approximately 11 years
     High Corona Activity (Coronal Hole) = bad HF coms due to emitted charged
           particles
     Charged particles arrive Earth 20 to 40 hours behind light and EM waves
     Charged particles generate visible aurora

 

3B Maximum Usable Frequency (MUF), hops (E) -
     Wavelength (Meters) = 300/frequency(MHz)
     Skip conditions tend to repeat every 28 days (Solar rate of rotation)
     Frequencies below MUF are bent back to earth, above go to space
     During low solar activity, high frequencies are least reliable hops
     20 Meters is usually good at any point in the sunspot cycle
     F2 hops are usually maxed out at 2500 miles
     E hops at 1200 miles
     If Lowest Usable freq (LUF) exceeds MUF, there is no ionosphere HF comms
     MUF a function of locations, season, time, solar radiation, ionospheric factors
     Signal reaching you by both long and short path has echo
     If hops are getting shorter on current band, MUF probably rising

 

3C Height of Ionospheric regions, critical angle/freq, HF scatter (E)
     E layer = 70 miles
     F layer max (summer) = noon
     F2 layer gives longest hops because it is highest
     HF Scatter typically has wavering sounds due to multiple atmospheric paths
     HF scatter signal  typically weak because only some propagated into skip zones
     HF scatter detectable in area between hops
     HF scatter most often on freqs above MUF
     Absorption in ionosphere minimized near MUF
     40 Meter daylight fading associated with D level absorption

 

4 Amateur Radio Practices

 

4A Two Tone Test, TR switch, Amp neutralization (E) -
     Two tone test is used to test amplitude linearity of SSB on O-scope
     Two tone test uses two non-harmonically related tones, within audio bypass
     TR (transmit/receive) switch normally between XMTR and low pass filter
     Electronic TR switches much faster than mechanical
     Minimum grid current change with output change indicates best neutralization
     Neutralization required to cancel oscillation caused by inter electrode capacitance
          Called self oscillation
     Neutralization uses negative feedback to cancel positive feedback
     Diodes only allow current to flow in one direction (according to its bias)

 

4B Test Equip, O-scope, signal trace, antenna noise bridge, field strength meters (M) -
     Oscilloscopes have vertical and horizontal channel amps
     Monitoring O-scope good for monitoring signal quality
     RF output of Xmitter goes to vertical O-scope input to check signal quality
     For AM/SSB trapezoidal check, set sweep to twice modulating frequency
     A signal tracer is useful to identify inoperative stage in receiver
     Noise bridge finds impedance. Placed between rcvr and antenna and tuned to
           minimum noise
     Field strength meter (FSM) monitors RELATIVE RF output
     FSM useful for measuring antenna output field patterns
     FSM useful for final RDF in high signal strength situation
     S Meter theory, increase 1 S unit = 6 dB = 4 times the power

 

4C Audio Rectification, RF Ground (E) -
     Bypass capacitors can reduce audio-freq interference in home entertainment equip
     RFI filters can be added to telephone circuits
     SSB interference in PA circuit usually garbled or distorted voice
     CW usually on and off humming or clicking
     Long (resonant) Ground wires make antennas, try to keep grounds short
     If ground resonates, generates RF hot spots in shack
     Good ground reduces noise, interference, and probability of electric shock
     Good ground rod minimum 8 feet
     NEC says only ONE ground SYSTEM per building (all must tie together)
     NEC silent on RF exposure
     All shack equipment should be grounded
     Avoid ground loops by connecting all equipment to same ground point
     Coax braid makes good ground buss
     Intermittent grounds can cause severe broadband RF noise
     Poor contact in wires increases chance of rectification and induced currents

 

4D Speech processors, PEP calcs, wire size, fuses (M) -
     Speech processors improve intelligibility at receiver
     SP increases average power without increasing PEP
     PEP = (0.707 x PEV) x (0.707 x PEV)/R where PEV = Peak Envelope Volts
     For unmodulated carrier, average power = PEP
     In AC circuits, only “hot” wires should be fused, never neutral or ground
     20 amp circuit requires #12 AWG wire, gets 20 amp fuse/breaker
     Speech Clipping circuit prevents transmitter modulator overdrive
     P = I x E,  E = I x R where P = power, I = current, E = voltage, R = resistance

 

4E Common connectors, fastening methods, HF mobile installs, generators, batteries,
wind, solar (E) -
     PL-259, Type N, BNC, all radio connectors...  DB-25 not (computer connector)
     Power plug should be neat, follow color codes, be properly grounded
     HF mobile rigs should use short, heavy-gauge, fused wires, direct to battery
     Cigarette lighter sockets have limited current capacity (<8 amps?)
     Mobile HF effectiveness typically antenna limited
     Emergency generators should be well ventilated, grounded, and have safe fuel
          storage
     Lead/acid batteries give off hydrogen while being charged
     Sunlight to electricity is called photovoltaic conversion
     Photovoltaic typically = 0.5V per cell
     Panel size should be selected based on max volts and current required
     Wind power requires large storage for times with no wind
     Emergency Generators should not feed output to electric wiring of house unless
           there is cutoff switch because:
               Restoration of power may damage generator
               Hazard to electric company workers who expect dead circuits
               Other household devices may draw power overloading generator

 

5 Electrical Principles

 

5A Impedance, resistance, reactance, inductance, capacitance, metric measure (E) -
     Impedance is resistance to AC current (measured in Ohms)
     Reactance is impedance caused by action of inductors and capacitors to AC
     Coils have inductance, as freq goes up, reactance goes up
     Capacitors have capacitance, as freq goes up, reactance goes down
     When source impedance = load impedance, power transfer is maximized
     Core saturation in coils leads to harmonics and distortion

 

5B Decibels, Ohms law, current and voltage dividers, power calcs, series and parallel components, transformers, RMS values (H) -
     3dB increase  = twice the power
     dB = 10 x log10 (P2/P1)    where P2 = measured power, P1 = reference power
     Sum of all currents entering junction = sum off all currents leaving
          Kirchoff's Law
     P = I x E,  E = I x R where P = power, I = current, E = voltage, R = resistance
     Es = Ep x (Ns/Np)  where E = volts, s = secondary, p = primary,
           N = nr of windings (transformer calculations)
             turns ratio = sqrt impedance ratio = sqrt (Ip/Is)
     For sine wave, power from DC volts = RMS power AC volts
      Be careful when volts are given or asked peak to peak. Which is double
           normal description of AC voltage
     Mutual inductance makes volts appear on secondary of transformer
     C series = (C1 x C2)/(C1 + C2)
     R parallel = 1/(1/R1 + 1/R2 + 1/R3 + ...)

 

6 Circuit Components

 

6A Resistors, capacitors, inductors, rectifiers, transistors (H) -
     Resistors change resistance with temperature change by
          temperature coefficient rating
     Electrolytic capacitors are typical for filters in AC power supplies
     Capacitors that filter voltage spikes are “suppressor capacitors”
     Input to a transformer goes to the primary coils
     Current in the primaries of a no load transformer is the “magnetizing current”
     Peak inverse voltage of a rectifier is the max voltage it will handle in non-
          conducting direction
     Power supply rectifiers should not exceed peak inverse voltage and ave forward
          current 
     Output of unfiltered full wave rectifier = pulses at 2X freq of AC
     Half wave rectifier conducts through 180 degrees
     Full wave rectifier conducts through 360 degrees
     Diodes in parallel have equalizing resistors in series to prevent one from taking
          most of load
     Wire wound resisters should not be used in tuned circuit because windings act
          as inductor and detune circuit
     Ferrite toroidal inductors can have large values, be core saturated, contain most
           magnetic field in core
     Transistor (bipolar) used as switch should be stable in saturation and full off
     Solenoid inductors should be mounted at right angle to minimize mutual
          inductance
     Mutual inductance should be minimized to reduce stray coupling between RF
          stages

 

7 Practical Circuits

 

7A Power Supplies and filters, SSB XMTR and RCVRS (H) -
     Bleeder resistors discharge filter capacitors
     Power supply filters include capacitors and inductors
     Minimum peak inverse rating of rectifier should be 2 X peak output voltage
     Impedance of low pass filter should be ~= transmission line impedance
     In typical SSB XMTR signal goes from balanced modulator to filter to mixer
     In typical SSB XMTR signal goes from speech amp and carrier oscillator to
          balanced modulator
     In typical SSB superhet RCVR signal goes from RF amp and local oscillator to
           mixer
     In typical SSB superhet RCVR signal goes from IF amp and BFO to detector
     Over voltage in power supply often protected by “crowbar” circuit
     Rectified DC power often filtered by low equivalent series capacitors
     Switched power supply allows small light low cost transformers
     First step in switched power supply is to rectify and filter input

 

8 Signals and Emissions

 

8A Signal Info,  AM, FM, SSB, DSB, bandwidth, modulation, deviation (H) -
     Amplitude Modulation changes signal level proportional to intelligence (audio)
     Frequency Modulation changes freq  proportional to intelligence
     Phase Modulation changes phase proportional to intelligence
     Reactance modulator modulates phase
     In SSB and DSB Carrier should be suppressed at least 40 dB
     With carrier suppression, more power can be put into sideband(s)
     SSB is the narrowest bandwidth phone emission
     Overmodulated SSB and DSB distort and spread in bandwidth (splatter)
     Flat topping is distortion caused by over driving SSB
     Microphone gain should be adjusted to give slight movement on ALC meter on
          modulation peak
     In FM the freq changes with the instantaneous audio amplitude change
     The signal out of the balanced modulator includes both modulating signal and
          unmodulated carrier

 

8B Frequency mixing, multiplication, bandwidth, HF data comms (H) -
     In RCVR, stage that combines oscillator and input is called “mixer”
     In XMTR mixer local oscillator with IF  to create (after filtering) an output RF
     In FM XMTR stage that selects harmonic for transmit is the multiplier
     FM bandwidth too wide (16 Khz) below 29.5 Mhz
     For FM  Bw = 2 X (D + M)   D = deviation,  M = Modulating frequency
     In FM transmit freq provided by multiplier stage(s)  Oscillator is multiplied too
          To compute correct freq deviation for oscillator must reverse multiplication
           Multiplication factor = XMIT FREQ / HF Oscillator FREQ
       Deviation Oscillator FREQ = Deviation/Multiplication Factor
     Image Response (interference) results when there is a received signal the same
           amount as the IF above and below the VFO
     In FSK as speed goes up frequency shift must go up
     RTTY, CW, and PSK31 are all digital modes
     When sending data modes duty cycle is important so you do not overheat
     In 20 meter, most PSK found low (below RTTY at 14.070)
     On 60 meter, max USB bandwidth 2.8 Khz
     Mixing 2 RF signals call heterodyning

 

9 Antennas and Feed Lines

 

9A Yagis (M) -
     Larger diameter elements have wider freq response (SWR bandwidth)
         ˝ wavelength YAGI (feet) = 468/Freq (Mhz)  (Driven element, dipole)
     Reflector = 1.05 driven element, director = 0.95 driven element
     Increased boom length, increased directors = increased gain
     Yagis have good side and back signal rejection
     Front to back ratio = power radiated forward vs. power radiated backward
     Main lobe = forward radiation
     Optimizing boom length and element spacing optimizes Yagi
     Polarization does NOT effect forward gain

 

9B Loop Antennas (M) -
     1 Wavelength driven element (feet) = 1005 / Freq (Mhz)  (Quad or delta)
     Reflector = 1.025 driven element
     Quads perform much like 3 element Yagi
     Quads more directive, horizontal and vertical, than dipole
     Quad horizontal feed = horizontal polarization, vertical = vertical
     Front to back ratio = power radiated forward vs. power radiated backward
     Main lobe = forward radiation

 

9C Random Wires, impedance matching, radiation patterns, feed points, dipoles, verticals (M) -
     End fed random wires do NOT require feed line
     End fed random wires are multi-band
     End fed random wires may introduce RF feed back to station
     Sloping Radials on ground plane antenna increases impedance, 45 deg ~= 50 ohm
     Dipole ˝ wavelength above ground exhibits figure 8 emissions pattern
           perpendicular to antenna
     Lowering antenna makes pattern omni directional
     Most energy goes out in major lobe
     Parasitic elements in dipole work like Yagi...
     Radials of ground mounted vertical antenna typically on surface or down couple
          of inches

 

9D Feedlines (E) -
     Twin lead feed: main factors for impedance = diameter of wire and separation
     Flat Ribbon feed typically 300 Ohm
     Coax is typically 50 or 75 Ohm
     Impedance mismatch between feed and antenna reflects power back into feed
         To prevent standing waves (SWR),  match impedance
     Inductively coupled network matches unbalanced XMTR output to balanced
          feed lines
     In coax, higher freqs have higher losses
     Normal measure of loss is dB per 100 feet
     50 Ohm to 200 Ohm connection will result in 4:1 SWR (big number always first)

0 RF Safety

 

0A RF Safety Principles (E) -
     RF duty cycle, frequency, power density, polarization all factors in heating body
           tissue
     Frequency (wavelength) most important effect on permitted RF exposure
     Most important measure is “Spectral Absorption Rate (W/Kg)
         1270 Mhz has most effect on eyes
     Athermal effects are biological impacts other than heating
     Body absorbs radiation most efficiently in VHF
     Total RF exposure limits usually time averaged
     RF evaluation must be performed if PEP and Frequency are in certain limits in
           Part 97
     If eval shows you are above limits, you must prevent human exposure
     In multi XMTR environment, each device operating at more than 5% of max must
          be included in overall site eval

 

0B RF Safety Rules (M) -
     RF safety rules control max permissible human exposure to RF
     At multi site, any XMTR contributing over 5% must ensure rules are met
     Low Duty cycles allow higher instantaneous exposure
     20 Meter max PEP before one must do evaluation = 225 W
     15 Meter max PEP before one must do evaluation = 100 W
     10 Meter max PEP = 50 W
      VHF to 10 meters all at 50 W
         < 10 Mhz max PEP = 500 W
     Maximum Permissible Exposure (MPE) levels are freq dependent
     All stations exceeding power parameters are subject to routine environmental eval

 

0C Routine Station Evaluation Measurements (M) -
     Free space far field strength decreases linearly with distance
     Free space far power density decreases as a square with distance
     Boundary between far and near space function of wavelength and size of antenna
     A routine RF exposure eval will ensure compliance with RF safety regs
     In free space far field, electric field and magnetic field constant impedance
          relationship of 377 Ohms where E/H = 377, E in V/Meter, H in Amps/M
     RF field measured by field strength meter
     If in compliance at a power level, always in compliance at lower power

 

0D Practical RF Safety apps (E) -
     Locate antennas as far away from living space as practical
     When adjusting feed lines, disable XMTR
     When working on Antenna, disable XMTR, disconnect feeds
     Fence around ground mounted vertical will control access to MPE RF
     Directional antennas should be mounted high to reduce MPE RF in surrounding
           structures
     At 1270 Mhz be especially careful with radiation to eyes
     Car roofs act as good RF shield
     Attic mounted antennas may expose people in structure to MPE RF
     EME moon bounce antennas typically high gain, high directivity and have high
           ERP causing MPE risk, interference, and self detuning if aimed at nearby
          structures

 

0E RF Safety solutions (E) -
     RF burns in shack indicate possible MPE RF in shack
     Too much RF in shack?  Reduce power, improve grounds, tighten equipment
           covers
     If indoor dipole creates too much MPE, move antenna to safer location
     To minimize RF exposure problems, install antenna far away, avoid pointing at
           populated areas, minimize feed line radiation, minimize power
     Dummy antennas convert “all” power to heat
     Conductive materials make best equipment enclosures (RF containment)
     High Gain, narrow antennas let you point power away from people but may
          point power at people
     High mounted antennas have less RF risk than low ones
     Fences can keep people away from MPE RF risk areas
 

 

Useful Formulas:

 Wavelength (Meters) = 300/frequency(MHz)
 PEP = (0.707 x PEV) x (0.707 x PEV)/R where PEV = Peak Envelope volts
 P = I x E,  E = I x R where P = power, I = current, E = voltage, R = resistance
 dB = 10 x log10 (P2/P1)    where P2 = measured power, P1 = reference power
 Es = Ep x (Ns/Np)  where E = volts, s = secondary, p = primary,
   N = nr of windings (transformer calculations)
 turns ratio = sqrt impedance ratio = sqrt (Ip/Is)
 Cseries = (C1 x C2)/(C1 + C2)
 Rparallel = 1/(1/R1 + 1/R2 + 1/R3 + ...)
 For FM  Bw = 2 X (D + M)   D = deviation,  M = Modulating frequency
 ˝ wavelength YAGI (feet) = 468/Freq (Mhz)  (Driven element, dipole)
  Reflector = 1.05 driven element, director = 0.95 driven element
 1 Wavelength driven element (feet) = 1005 / Freq (Mhz)  (Quad or delta)
 Reflector = 1.025 driven element