The entry level Foundation licence 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 ham radio for the first time.
It is an interesting and stimulating hobby enjoyed by millions worldwide. The biggest change with this licence is that it no longer takes about six months of study to get a basic licence.
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, became an active radio amateur.
The study and operational practice guide book for the Foundation licence is available for $37.60 from our shop
By international treaty countries are required to ensure that individuals have the knowledge and skills to operate anamateur radio station.
The Foundation licence is the entry level for those wishing to engage in amateur radio activities after they gain the Amateur Radio Operators Certificate of Proficiency (Foundation).
Those wanting to gain this qualification will need to study and learn therequired skills and Knowledge as set out in the AOCP(F) syllabus.
The AOCP(F) 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 licence training session, the average person should not have any real difficulty in getting qualified.
The assessment for the Foundation licence 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 the Foundation licence holder will be prepared to venture with confidence on to the amateur airwaves as responsible qualified operators.
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 two 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
- 144MHz-148MHz (2 metres) local and medium distance, long distance via (IRLP) and fixed station and mobile
- 430MHZ-450MHz (70cm) local and medium distance, long distance via (IRLP) and fixed station and mobile
Australian band plans
As to be expected with a beginner's licence 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)
I see there are "Band Plans" that set aside parts of each band for special purposes. Do I have to operate in accordance to those plans?
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 of licence is that only commercially made, unmodified transmitting equipment may be used. Holders of either a Standard licence or Advanced licence can build or modify the transmitters, while this is not permitted for the Foundation licence.
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 their licence conditions. As a Foundation licensee you 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 licence, whether it be Foundation, Standard or Advanced, will need to meet the requirements of the practical assessment.
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 licence training course covers all aspects of the practical assessment so candidates are adequately prepared and confident in setting up and operating an amateur station.
The Standard and Advanced syllabi have corresponding and 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 mannerto an antenna, SWR Meter and power supply.
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 techniquesfor making on air calls onHF, 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.
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.
On line tutorial
Amateur Radio Victoria offers an on-line tutorial when there is sufficient demand.
On line assessments
Amateur Radio Victoria offers on line assessments for all levels of amateur radio qualifications. Candidates would have first paid the examination fee to the Australian Maritime College (AMC) and have received an application form and blank answer sheet.
Contact Peter Cossins VK3BFG at vk3bfg[at]amateurradio.com.au
Amateur Radio Victoria
Remote Examination Process
Amateur Operators Certificate of Proficiency
The Australian Maritime College (AMC) is responsible for amateur radio examinations and the issue of amateur radio callsigns. Their charges can be viewed here
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Your first action is to send an email to the AMC with the following information about yourself.
- Phone number
- Email address
- Date of birth
- Type of assessment
- Name of the assessor (Peter Cossins VK3BFG)
They will then send you a blank answer sheet and an application form. You fill in the details on the application form as far as you can and signand date it but do not return it to the AMC at this time.
When you pay the examination fee include your receipt number at the bottom of the application form. You then contact me to arrange a suitable time for the assessment.
The remote examination process requires two computers with access to the internet with at least one with a camera. Alternatively, a single PC with an external camera can be used. In either case the camera must be orientated so that I can clearly see all of your work area. A laptop has been found to work well for a second computer if a two computer arrangement is used.
The communication is conducted using Zoom. I will send you a link via email and you simply click on it at the agreed time. You do not have to have Zoom loaded on your PC. I will then send you a second link that will connect you to view the examination paper on the PC facing you. Remember I need to see your work space clearly all the time.
At the end of the prescribed time, you close the examination paper link down and then scan the application form and the answer sheet.
You can also fill in and scan a callsign application form, but there is no need to pay for this until you get your assessment results. I will also need to view your Driver’s Licence or Passport to formerly identify you. Finally you will need a head and shoulders passport quality photograph of yourself. You send all the documents to me by email.
If you have already achieved an AOCP and you are upgrading, then you will not need to send a photograph or callsign application form unless you wish a change.
Peter Cossins VK3BFG
AMC Level 3 Assessor
Amateur Radio Victoria
Face to face assessments
Amateur Radio Victoria conducts exams in Central Victoria for all levels of licences. To arrange an exam contact Ross Pittard VK3CE, at vk3ce[at]amateurradio.com.au
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.
There are three levels for successful candidates to select a Callsign, Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 , the process being managed by the Australian Maritime College.
A publically available callsigns list can be viewed on the AMC website before making any decision. Each of the levels carries a different charge.
All callsigns allocated in Victoria have a VK3 prefix. Eg VK3XYZ
- Level 1 Will take any Callsign allocated. eg VK3XXX (If available from the Public List)
- Level 2 Can nominate a three letter Callsign eg VK3XYZ (If available from the Public List)
- Any Licence holder with three letter Callsign may keep their existing Callsign when upgrading.
- The letter R is reserved for Repeaters. eg VK3RML