Passed the Amateur Extra exam

Radio Club

It took a while of studying, and a HamCram at the end, but I got my Extra class ticket this afternoon with W6SF Stockton Delta Amateur Radio Club. I missed one out of the 50-question exam.

I highly recommend taking your amateur license exam with SDARC. They don’t follow all those outdated 1980’s ways of doing ham things (i.e. physically mailing a big stack of paper to the VEC), but file with the VEC/FCC electronically. The VE assures me I’ll see the FCC database update in 3 days; instead of weeks with other examiners.

This is the last level of amateur radio licensing. Now I have no excuses… I need to just focus on actual radio practice and experimenting with all the different things that have opened up at this level.

I will have the ARRL Band Plan on hand at all times till I memorize it, and can now pretty much transmit on all available FCC amateur bands without worrying if I’m in the wrong operator allocation.

N6KZW Paul was there, not in a VE role, but helping out. He asked me, “What are you going to do in ham radio?” I said, “Just get out there and reach people.” I actually don’t know what I want to do next… There’s still so much to learn, and to even get working (e.g. my HF antenna mounting, digital, learn CW…). What will I do in ham radio? My problem is I want to do it all, with never the time or finances to follow each path in depth. This constraint drives selectiveness and getting creative.

This was a huge rush for me, and I’d personally like to thank W6SXA Mark for study tips earlier this month; NZ6Q John for leading the HamCram and the Club (he’s got ideas and is moving the whole ham community!); K6AAN Mike for being a VE and reigniting some interest in homebrew DMR repeaters, N6KZW Paul for always being a warm helpful jokester, N6TCE Bob and N6ZDH Dan for doing a bunch of legwork and setup for the exam.

Now to get on the air.

We want to put up our antennas!


Senator Diane Feinstein wrote (or her auto responder wrote) me back:

Dear Dennis:

Thank you for writing to express your support for the “Amateur Radio Parity Act.” I appreciate hearing from you, and welcome the opportunity to respond.

As you may know, current Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules require local governments to “reasonably accommodate” amateur radio installations. This requirement does not, however, apply to land use restrictions limiting the size and dimensions of installations on private land. This means that many amateur radio operators are unable to install functional outdoor antennas because they do need to be “reasonably accommodated.”

You may be interested to know that Representative Adam Kinzinger introduced the “Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2017” (H.R. 555) on January 13, 2017. This bill passed the House of Representatives on January 23, 2017.

On July 12, 2017, Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) introduced a Senate companion bill, the “Amateur Radio Parity Act (S. 1534),” which would direct the FCC to clarify that amateur radio stations may be installed regardless of any private land use restrictions. This would provide amateur radio operators with the ability to negotiate with homeowners associations to get their antennas installed. This bill is currently awaiting consideration by the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, of which I am not a member.

Please know that I believe that the service that amateur radio volunteers provide to local, state and federal governments in times of emergency is invaluable. I agree that it is important to keep these airwaves accessible so that they can continue their good work.

Be assured that I have made note of your comments, and I will be sure to keep them in mind should this, or related legislation, come before me for consideration.

Once again, thank you for writing. Should you have any other questions or comments, please call my Washington, D.C., office at (202) 224-3841 or visit my website at You can also follow me online at YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, and you can sign up for my email newsletter at

Best regards.
Sincerely yours,
Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

It is good to hear that some government officials value the individual and coordinated research that we hams put into amateur radio. Many hams like me are driven by preparedness and volunteering, and would like to hone our skills at home.

SDARC Meeting 11/9

Antennas, Radio Club

Met with the club members of Stockton Delta Amateur Radio Club (SDARC) this evening at a classroom in the Bear Creek Community Church. The club elected (or re-elected, rather) the club board for 2018, and discussed upcoming club events.

Then W6SXA Mark gave a presentation and demo of the Rigexpert AA-600 antenna analyzer. He reviewed other types of analyzers with their pros and cons, and settled upon the one he got, the AA-600.

W6SXA/Mark presents on the AA-600 antenna analyzer.

This is a sensitive piece of equipment that can scan from 0.1 to 600 MHz (all the favorite ham bands) and even interface with your computer to produce very accurate SWR, reactance, capacitance, return loss, and TDR (Time Domain Reflectometer) graphs, among other functions.

Mark then demonstrated the tuning of a 440MHz antenna he constructed, as well as a 2m wire vertical he made for demo at Elmer University.

A good antenna analyzer helps greatly with getting the most out of your antenna setup, significantly reducing the time required to adjust an antenna. It’s one of those tools where once you try it, you wonder how you did anything before you used it. While the AA-600 is pricey (at around ~$600), Mark assures us that it is well worth it and he doesn’t regret the price he paid one bit.