Friday, April 27, 2012

Classy Operators

Thought for the day:  The class of the license isn't nearly as important as the class of the operator.

[THEME: Amateur radio]

The letter X, huh?

This isn't gonna be easy.

Matter of fact, it's gonna be XTRA hard.

X-ray? Nah. 

Xylophone? Nah.

Although, come to think of it, amateurs wouldn't mind testing out a xylophone as an antenna. Hams are XTRA innovative when it comes to antennas. After all, just about anything can be used as an antenna; some things simply aren't as efficient as others ...

Hmmm, I think I may need some XTRA time to come up with something here. 

Then again, how about the word ... XTRA??? (And yes, I know that isn't how ya spell it; gimme a break, okay?)

There are multiple license classes in amateur radio. In the United States, the highest class, and the one with the most operating privileges, is the EXTRA class, which is what my license happens to be. To become an extra class operator, I had to pass multiple written tests and Morse code proficiency tests up to 20 wpm, but the whole process has since been simplified and streamlined. There are now only three classes for new hams in the U.S.  to achieve, and there is no longer a requirement to learn any Morse code at all. (Classes and requirements vary in other countries.) In the U.S., the three classes are
  • TECHNICIAN: The entry-level class, which now even offers some limited HF privileges. Many technicians have traditionally used their VHF and UHF capabilities to provide vital manpower in support of public service and localized emergency communications. To attain a technician class license requires passing a 35-question multiple choice test.
  • GENERAL: HF privileges are greatly expanded in this class, which also requires passing a 35-question test.
  • XTRA: Privileges here cover the entire gamut of amateur radio spectrum, and enable us to jump buildings in a single bound. (just kidding) At fifty questions, the test is longer, and allegedly more difficult. 
                                                                  So, there ya have it. 

                                                           (HE'S an x-cellent conductor!)

No trees were killed in the sending of this message. However, a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.


  1. I presume the assertion that no trees were harmed is backed up by a licensed xylotomist. Great post!

  2. An x-cellent post.

    I'm sure the inconvenienced electrons will soon return to their resting orbitals.

  3. Now, that was Xtra special! :)

  4. You gotta believe that the pool of people who know Morse Code is pretty small. My grandfather was a telegraph operator for the railroads in his twenties and still remembered it, but who the heck still uses Morse Code anymore?

  5. Yeah, you and hubby could rig something up with the xylophone for sure. Maybe add it to the car.

  6. Hey, Susan,
    XXXXXcellent posting! Best regards,
    Ruby aka Grammy

  7. I tell ya -- your A-to-Z posts have been great! I've learned so much about ham radio, I feel I could almost pass the XTRA test!

    Great job, Susan!

  8. Geo- But of course!

    Udita- :D back atcha.

    Connie- Maybe. They're so doggone negative, it may take them a while to get over the disturbance.

    Linda- Thanks.

    L.G.- A lot of hams still use Morse code, but not nearly as many as in the past. Although learning it is no longer a licensing requirement, many new hams are learning it simply for the sheer fun of it, and young people especially enjoy playing with it.

    Carrie- There's actually an annual "Strange Antenna" contest, and you wouldn't BELIEVE the bizarre contraptions hams use for that one. A xylophone would be pretty tame by comparison.

    Ruby- I've been seeing your smiling face on a bunch of different blogs during this A-Z, so you've been one busy lady. Thanks for making time to stop by here, and good luck with the rest of the challenge. (Almost done!!!) It's always good to hear from you.

    Chris- Cool! Go for it!!!! (Gonna have to take the other two tests first, though.)

  9. Don't you hate the end of the alphabet? Just as you are getting worn out from the rest of them, up pops XYZ. Too much for my old brain; they should be left for Generation X to handle.

  10. Xceptional job on the A to Z challenge.

  11. Quite x-cellent. Xceptional even.

  12. Arleen- No, actually I'm quite fond of the end of the alphabet. It means we're almost DONE! This ol' gal is about tired of blog-hopping. I might be a boomer by definition, but I'm sure feeling like a member of the Y-gen right now, as in "Y did I think blogging this often was a good idea ...?"

    G- Thanks. You, too.

    Laurita- Thanks. I appreciate you stopping by.

  13. I didn't need to read this to know that you have eXtra class! Julie

  14. X~tra special post sweetie. I truly enjoyed it 'cause X is super hard!!!

    Great job!!!

    God bless ya and have a fantastic weekend sweetie!!! :o)

  15. Julie- Aw, you're just too sweet for words. X-tra sweet! Thanks.

    Nezzy- Thanks. You have a super weekend, too.

  16. Ha Ha! I mentioned x-ray & xylophone too! X is well, X.
    so many blogs, so little time but I Yam glad I found yours. #198 following

  17. good job I am a nurse!
    noticed the "tail" on the xray!!!!

  18. interesting post. I'm going to have to come back and check out the ones I missed. There's a lot more to amateur radio than I ever guessed!

  19. I think you are XTRA cool and talented.


  20. I hope you aren't going to leave us hanging...what are the "operator privileges" that you can gain with these classes?

  21. Kate- I yam glad you found my blog, too. Loved your X post, but still haven't been successful in getting your blog to accept me as a follower. Not sure what the problem is, but I had the same thing happen (or NOT happen, depending on how you look at it ...) with a couple other blogs, too. Will try again later. Anyhow, welcome aboard! I appreciate you signing on as a follower.

    John- Smartie! Can't slip a dog past YOU!

    Marcy- Super. I hope you do. If nothing else, I'd hoped to make more people aware of amateur radio and its endless possibilities.

    Janie- Aw, shucks! Thank you, ma'am.

  22. Botanist- No, I won't leave you hanging, but the details on the operating privileges of each class are a bit much to include in a simple A-Z post. However, you can find all the details you want (and more!) at

  23. Hi Susan .. Did he need an Xtra conductor? Do the X-clouds offer hope to non-musicians? Cheers - Hilary

  24. Hilary- As long as he's x-tra careful, no x-tra conductor (a semi-conductor?) is necessary.