On Sun, Feb 26, 2006 at 02:33:56PM -0600, Ben Dover wrote:

Been there & done that too.

[snip build-up]

The place was full of hams there to upgrade, and private pilots who wanted a 3rd Class Radiotelephone (has a bit more class than a Restricted Radiotelephone card). I showed up with a brown paper bag that got a few snide comments about bringing my lunch from some of the younger ham applicants.

I was a bit surprised by the examiner... a middle aged Lady who looked like she didn't want to be there to begin with, and was accordingly tough on the applicants.

These were the days of ham testing by listening to the code and then answering 10 questions about what was sent. While they went thru that charade I wrote the 1st Class Radiotelephone test.

After the new 13 WPM General applicants were processed, I finished the 1st Class Radiotelephone exam. Passed.

She then took out a new set of cassette tapes and announced the 2nd Radiotelegraph exam. The sole applicant, me, hauled out a legal pad and some sharpened #2 pencils from the brown paper bag.

The 20 WPM started up first... and while I copied I noticed out of the corner of my eye that the upgrade hams (some Extras among them) were sort of google eyed and poking each other. I caught whispers of "He's actually WRITING it! And what was THAT they sent?" (the commercial exam used full punctuation that WASN'T used for the ham exams; the quotation marks, semicolon, and brackets sort of threw them!).

Then... the 16 WPM coded groups test. These guys were TOTALLY freaked out now!

I handed in my copy (it was SOLID, and block printed like I'd trained myself to do since the beginning of code training; I was a HOT CW operator back then!). The examiner glanced at it, her eyebrows went up, and she sort of gave an ironic smile. "You passed" she said... "But then you already KNEW that".

"Time for the second half of the test" she said.

I reached to the floor for the paper bag... out came a homebrewed code practice oscillator, and I hauled out one of my prized possessions; a 1965 vintage Vibroplex "Presentation", which I'd bought used but sent back to Vibroplex to have my callsign engraved on the gold top plate!

When I opened the carrying case and they saw THAT, the ham applicants practically started wetting their pants! MORE whispers... "Is he gonna SEND TOO? She didn't make US do that!!".

Plug in the key... ripple off a few 30 WPM "TESTs" to get the feel of it.

The examiner gave me a card with the test text on it and I started sending. She was grinning now when she stopped me; "Slide that weight down a bit... I only want 20 words per minute"!

By this time... there's mass cardiac arrest going on in the ham audience. Caught a few whispers of "Oh Sh*T!"...

The written test was an anticlimax...

I've gotta say that was the MOST fun I've EVER had at an FCC license exam! <>