Foundation callsign

Foundation at the entry level continues to be the most popular way of getting into amateur radio. It is attracting those who have had some previous hobby radio communications interest (CB, 4WD, scanner listener) and others who are attracted to communication technologies for the first time.

It is an interesting and stimulating hobby enjoyed by millions worldwide. The biggest change is that it no longer takes about six months of study.

Also removed is the requirement to pass Morse code tests. The decision to make the move and enter amateur radio is really easy - do something different, become an active radio amateur.

Text references

The study and operational practice guide book Your Entry into Amateur Radio is available from our Shop.

By international treaty countries are required to ensure that individuals have the knowledge and skills to operate anamateur radio station.

Foundation is the entry level for those wishing to engage in amateur radio activities after they gain their ACMA Recognition Certificate (Foundation).

Those wanting to gain this qualification will need to study and learn the required skills and knowledge as set out in the Foundation syllabus.

This syllabus reflects the knowledge and skills required to assemble and operate an amateur radio station without causing interference.

This includes a mix of the rules and operating standards, distress or emergency communications, safety, and electronics and radio communications theory.

At first glance the syllabus may appear daunting, but with a little study and a Foundation training session the average person should not have any real difficulty in getting qualified.

The assessment consists of a 25 question multi-choice examination covering both theory and regulations and a practical assessment which includes setting up an amateur radio station.

There is no doubt at the end of the process you will be prepared to venture with confidence on to the amateur airwaves as responsible qualified operators.

ACMA recognition certificate (Foundation) Syllabus and examination information - 1.1MB PDF

Those interested in long distance communications (DX) will find the high frequency bands of interest. The distances achieved using them depends on the time of day, season of the year and the 11 year Sunspot Cycle.

During high and peak cycle conditions 21MHz and 28MHz will provide international radio contacts. 28MHz can also have surprise openings due to a phenomena known as sporadic E propogation.

The two metre and 70cm bands provide local home station and mobile two way contacts. Interstate contacts can be made by tropospheric ducting mainly during the summer and autumn period.

There are also repeater stations located strategically across the country which significantly increase the range of operation on VHF and UHF. An Internet Radio Linking Project (IRLP) installation connects amateur stations around the world by using voice over IP. IRLP 'nodes' are accessed using frequencies in the 2 metre and 70cm bands.

HF Frequencies
  • 3.5MHz-3.7MHz (80 metres) medium distance night and local day
  • 7.0MHz-7.3MHz (40 metres) night and medium distance day
  • 21.0MHz-21.450MHz (15 metres) local and long distance
  • 28.0MHz-29.7MHz (10 metres) local and long distance
VHF Frequency
  • 144MHz-148MHz (2 metres) local and medium distance, long distance via (IRLP) and fixed station and mobile
UHF Frequency
  • 430MHZ-450MHz (70cm) local and medium distance, long distance via (IRLP) and fixed station and mobile

Radiocommunications (Amateur Stations) Class Licence 2023

Australian band plans

As to be expected with Foundation there are limitations on the equipment and frequency bands that can be used. These are controlled by the Licence Condition Determinations (LCDs) which form part of the regulations sets by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

What amateur bands am I allowed to use?

3.5MHz (80 metres), 7MHz (40 metres), 21 MHz (15 metres), 28 MHz (10 metres), 144MHz (2 metres) and 432MHz (70cm)

There are "Band Plans" that set aside parts of each band for special purposes.

The WIA Band Plans are known as "gentleman's agreements" and do not in themselves have the status of being regulations. But if you operate outside them, or without regard to normally accepted practices, you are very likely to interfere with other radio amateurs and lessen their enjoyment of their activities.

What power level can I use?

The power limit is 10 watts.

What equipment can I use?

The regulations and conditions are that only commercially made, unmodified transmitting equipment may be used. Holders of either Standard or Advanced can build or modify the transmitters, while this is not permitted for the Foundation level.

What sort of commercial equipment will meet the equipment requirement?

In general terms, any commercially made amateur radio transceiver.

How should I ensure that I am transmitting within legal bands?

Most modern transceivers have a digital readout which is acceptable for this purpose.

My transceiver is capable of operating with more than 10 watts, and outside my allowable bands. Can I legally use it?

Yes. All radio amateurs are trusted to use their equipment according to the regulations. A Foundation operator must pay close attention to the power measuring meters in your equipment, so that you do not exceed the power limit. There is nothing stopping you from listening around the amateur bands on which you are not allowed to transmit.

Anyone seeking their first entry level, whether it be Foundation, Standard or Advanced will need to meet the requirements of a practical.

This is conducted by an Assessor who will require the candidate to demonstrate their operating knowledge and skills by some verbal questions and hands-on activity. The assessment is based primarily on Part 8 of the Foundation syllabus, however it may also address matters included in Parts 2 and 9 of the syllabus - licence conditions and safety.

The Amateur Radio Victoria Foundation training course covers all aspects of the practical assessment so candidates are adequately prepared and confident in setting up and operating an amateur station.

Standard and Advanced syllabi have an identical practical section.

A summary of the practical assessment requirements are:

1 - Identification of common transmission lines types.

(a) Using physical examples or photographs or diagrams,identify three types of transmission lines as coaxial or parallel line.

(b) Using physical examples or photographs or diagrams of a balanced line and an unbalanced line, correctly identify each.

2 - Identification of common coaxial connectors

Using physical examples or photographs, or diagrams of a PL259, Type N and BNC connector, correctly identify at least two types.

3 - Demonstrate a continuity check on a terminated coaxial cable

Using a Multimeter set on the Ohms range conduct or describe how to conduct a continuity test and a test for a short circuit fault condition on a coaxial cable with connectors.

4 - Identification of antennas

Using photographs or diagrams of five antenna, identify at least four of them.

5 - Simple Choke Filter

Using examples of a RF choke or photographs, describe the properties and function of a RF choke (interference protection).

6 - Identification of electronic symbols.

Given a chart of symbols, identify five correctly of which two must be antenna and earth.

7 - Safely demonstrate the connection of a transceiver

Correctly connect or describe how to connect a transceiver in a logical safe manner to its power supply, VSWR meter, antenna tuner and antenna

8 - Frequency band identification.

Given a copy of the current Licence Condition Determination (LCD), identify the band limits for any four bands chosen by the assessor.

9 - Requirement not to transmit on frequencies in use

Given a tuned, fully adjusted amateur radio station, demonstrate or describe listening on the frequency before making a transmission. This may include adjusting the squelch to a minimum position (called 'opening the squelch') to make the receiver as sensitive as possible and able to hear very weak signals. You then may make a short transmission saying 'This is VK3ABC, Is this frequency in use ?'. This could be repeated once twice to make sure.

10 - Operating Practices

Given a fully adjusted amateur radio station, demonstrate or describe the required techniques for making on air calls on HF, VHF and UHF. This will include describing the R-S-T system of reporting; readability on a 5 point scale, signal strength on a 9 point scale (and tone on a 9 point scale if using CW/Morse code)

You will also explain the need for short pauses between transmission to allow for other stations to break in.

11 - Operating through a Repeater

Demonstrate or describe the techniques for operating through a repeater including explaining the use of CTCSS - Continuous Tone Coded Squelch System for repeater access. CTCSS are tones you can't hear as they are very low in frequency. Many repeaters will require to receive these tones before they will operate. This is to prevent false signals turning them on.

You will explain the use of sending DTMF - Dual Tone Multi Frequency signals for remote control or command of a repeater.

Also explain the need to leave breaks between transmissions when operating through a repeater both to allow break in and to reset the repeater timer.

12 - Changing frequency

State that QSY is a short way of saying or indicating a change of frequency. The call could be 'VK3ABC ,let us QSY to 144.2 Mhz'.

13 - Abbreviations

State that the Q Codes are terms describing various amateur radio operations and processes. State that the Q Codes and phonetic alphabet are used to aid clarity in communications.

14 - Transmitter measurements

Demonstrate or describe how to make power measurement by adjusting a transmitter to the legal limits when connected to a non-radiating dummy load.

Demonstrate or describe how to make SWR measurements and state that 1.5:1 or less is acceptable.

State that a high VSWR in an antenna system can be managed by using an Antenna Tuning Unit (ATU) or by adjustment of the antenna.

15 - Dangerous voltages and currents

Describe the dangers of high voltage (electric shock) and high currents heat, burning and fire.

Online tutorial

Amateur Radio Victoria offers an on-line tutorial when there is sufficient demand.

Online assessments

Amateur Radio Victoria offers on line assessments for all levels of amateur radio qualifications, contact Peter Cossins VK3BFG

Amateur Radio Victoria

Remote Examination Process

ACMA Recognition Certificate

Australian Communicatons and Media Authority (ACMA) is responsible for managing all the radio spectrum in Australia and also the administration of Amateur Radio assessments.

Your first action is to send an email to your selected Assessor with the following information.

  • Full name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Email address

Clearly indicate which assessments are required.

If you are already have a Foundation level then you will not need to repeat the practical.

  • Foundation or
  • Standard Theory or
  • Standard Theory and Regulations or
  • Standard Theory, Regulations and Practical or
  • Advanced Theory or
  • Advanced Theory and Regulations or
  • Advanced Theory, Regulations and Practical

The remote examination process necessitates two video sources with Internet access. For instance, you can utilise a single PC equipped with its camera alongside a laptop or mobile phone, the latter providing a clear view of the work area.

Remote assessment set up

Remote assessment

The communication is conducted using Zoom. You'll receive a link via email, and all you need to do is click on it at the scheduled time. There's no requirement for Zoom to be installed on your PC.

A second link will be sent to connect you to view the examination paper on the PC facing you. It's essential to ensure your workspace is visible at all times.

At the end of the allocated time, close the examination paper link. Then, scan or take a photo of the answer sheet and promptly send it to me via email.

We will then undertake the practical by Q and A and simulations if that component has not been undertaken previously.

Your Driver's License or Passport will also need to be viewed for formal identification purposes. If you have already achieved a Recognition Level and you are upgrading, then you will not need apply for a callsign unless you wish a change.

After the assessment the assessor will mark your paper, advise you of the result and upload it to the ACMA.

Before being able to operate, the candidate has to apply to the ACMA and receive:

  1. an ACMA recognition certificate
  2. a valid callsign

Visit Qualifications to operate amateur radio

ACMA Fees and Charges: to 30 June 2024

  • ACMA recognition certificate application: $45.20
  • Call sign applications:
    • Next-available call sign: $30.15
    • Preferential call signs:
      • 2-letter call sign with the prefix VK1, VK5, VK6, VK7 or VK8 $41.45
      • 2-letter call sign with the prefix VK2, VK3, VK4 $52.75
      • 3-letter call sign with the prefix VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, VK7 or VK8 $41.45
    • Special event, contest or VK0 or VK9 call sign $52.75
    • Replacement call sign: no charge
    • Recognition of prior learning assessment application $188.35

Peter Cossins VK3BFG

ACMA Specialist Assessor

Amateur Radio Victoria

Face to face assessments

Assessments can also be undertaken in the Amateur Radio Victoria rooms in Ashburton.

These options will be dependent on government regulations for a safe environment.

Callsign allocation

After successfully acheiving a pass grade you can apply to the ACMA for a callsign.

View the publically available callsigns before making a decision.

All callsigns allocated in Victoria have a VK3 prefix. Eg VK3XYZ.

Any operator with a callsign may keep it when upgrading. The letter R is reserved for Repeaters. eg VK3RML.

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