Sunday, March 17, 2013 Ham Radio License Review and Exam In San Francisco

The Black Rock Amateur Radio Association and Langton Labs are proud to present:

A Ham Radio License Review and Exam in San Francisco

Sunday, March 17, 2013, 10 am to 5 pm

Get Your Entry-Level Ham Radio License in Just One Day!

Please read this carefully as it will answer most of your questions

This is a one-day event in San Francisco to help you get your entry-level ham radio license. It has four parts:

1. A "Ham Cram". This is a five-hour review of all 396 questions in the "Technician Class" license question pool, followed by an official ham radio license exam. The Technician license is the entry-level ham radio license and the technician license exam is made up of 35 of the questions from the pool; you must answer 26 (74%) of them correctly. All answers are multiple choice. In the last few years, a nine-year-old girl and a 94-year-old man passed the test — so you can too!

The ham cram runs from 10 am to 3 pm, with breaks for lunch and bio breaks.

Note that this is not a complete class covering all the knowledge in all the questions — it is a last-minute review. You must study the material beforehand. If you have studied on your own, there is usually a 90 or 95% pass rate. If you have not, your chances of passing are much lower! Many people pass the test by themselves with only a little study on their own.

Because the ham cram is so time and energy intensive, we will only do it if we have 10 people signed up.

2. An informal, peer-run review session. The ham cram isn't for everybody. If it doesn't sound like it's for you, feel free to show up between 1 and 3 pm. There will be people on hand to answer your questions and to study with; we'll also have some flash cards available. Of course, for this option to work, you need to study in advance all the more.

3. The official ham radio license exam. The official ham radio license exam will start at 3 pm. It usually takes most people about 30 minutes to complete.

4. A hands-on, practical, "what now" class. After you've passed the exam, we'll have a hands-on, practical, "what now" class focusing on ham radio in the Black Rock desert. We'll talk about things you can do with ham radio as well as practical stuff like what radio you should buy. And we'll do it over beer and chips. :-) It should start around 4 or 4:30 pm depending on when people finish their exams.

Logistics and Practical Details


DROP-DEAD DATE: The drop-dead date for registration is March 1, 2013. Please let us know before then — preferably well before then! — if you want to sign up.

COSTS: Cost is $15, cash only. This money goes to the ARRL, the national ham radio organization. Once you pass the test we'd love it if you joined the Black Rock Amateur Radio Association by donating $20 to us, but that's optional and strictly up to you.

SCHEDULE: If you're taking the cram, please show up by 9:45 am to get settled. We will begin the cram promptly at 10:00 am and then break for a 1 hour lunch (plus morning and afternoon bathroom breaks). If you are just interested in the informal review session (as opposed to the cram), show up between 1 and 3 pm. The license exam is at 3:00 pm. The test usually takes most people about 30 minutes to complete. The informal, hands-on bit will be after the exam, probably around 4 or 4:30 pm.

BRING: Please be prompt and ready for class with pencils, highlighters, paper, and any normal class materials you need. Bring a small calculator but if it's a scientific calculator the Volunteer Examiners will probably make you remove the batteries and wipe the memories. Note: you cannot use a cell phone or smart phone (iPhone, Android) as a calculator. You must bring identification for the test. If you don't have a driver's license, bring a school ID, library card, or something similar. And of course, don't forget the $15, cash.

LOCATION: The review class and the exam will be held at Langton Labs in San Francisco on Langton Street, between Howard and Folsom, south of market. It is an easy walk from the Civic Center BART station. Additional details will be emailed out once we know exactly how many people we have signed up.

UPGRADES: If you already have a ham radio license but want to upgrade to the next higher license (General or Extra), you don't have to attend the ham cram. However, you still need to sign up so we can make sure we have test materials for you. Cost for a ham exam is $15.00, cash (this is an FCC mandated test fee; we don't make money on it). Don't forget to bring your current FCC license (or CSCE) as well as your FRN.

DO-OVERS: If you don't pass the test, you can re-take the test a second time by paying a second test fee ($15) but your second test will have different questions. Additional test sessions are also held regularly in major cities. Nationwide test schedules are available at

KIDS: Children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

ATTENTION PRIVACY HOUNDS: The forms you will need to fill out to take the exam ask for your Social Security Number. If you don't want to give this out, you can register with the FCC in advance of the exam and obtain an "FCC Registration Number" (FRN) at this URL: Note that you must do this before taking the exam. This is a bit more complicated but, if you care about such things, it will mean you won't have to put your SSN on the paperwork. (Or you can just not worry about it, like the rest of us.)

Study Materials

There are a number of free resources on the web to help you study:

You can also buy books. A good guide is Gordon West's The Technician Study Manual (July 1, 2010 - June 30, 2014) available from for $20.95 plus shipping. They ship fast! He's reorganized the questions for logical learning and gives bite-sized explanations of the correct answers with a lot of diagrams and drawings.

The Amateur Radio Relay League is the premier amateur radio organization in the country and has the Ham Radio License Manual (2nd Edition) for $29.95. It has a free, downloadable companion study guide as well. The ARRL book has the most knowledge and in-depth learning in it but most people find it rather dry. However, you'll find it a handy reference book once you get licensed! It's sometimes available in book stores or it can be ordered from The ARRL also has a Tech Q & A available for Kindle readers that's available from

Questions and Signing Up

Questions? Please email us at hamcram (at)! To sign up, visit the signup page.


Phil Lapsley, N6TCT, on behalf of the Black Rock Amateur Radio Association, and the co-organizers: Michael Curry, KI6TYV; Jordan Hayes, KG6UAE; Todd Huffman, KJ6JQQ; Ted Hullar, K5KZ; and Bill Newcomb, K6BN. Special thanks to the residents of Langton Labs for graciously allowing their space to be used for this class.