The Novice License


The Novice Class license offers an ideal way to get started in amateur radio -- reduced code speed and a simplified written examination. It grants a portion of amateur privileges on an "apprenticeship" basis for one year. The examination is available only by mail. This chapter explains the license in detail and contains sample questions for the written exam.


In an incentive to encourage a greater number of people to engage in the hobby of amateur radio, the Federal Communications Commission has established a Novice Class of license with greatly reduced requirements and only a few of the privileges available to amateurs. This class of license might well he termed an apprenticeship. It has a term of but one year, compared with the five-year terms of other amateur licenses, and the objective is to give a newcomer a period of a year of actual on-the-air experience or training in amateur operation so that he may develop his skills toward one of the permanent classes of license more rapidly than he would by textbook study and audio-oscillator code practice.


The Novice Class license examination may now be taken only by mail, under the direct supervision of an amateur holding a General Class license or higher, or a commercial radiotelegraph license. This is true no matter where the applicant lives. Refer to the section "Examination Procedures " in Chapter 5 for details on the rules governing the routine for making application and obtaining a set of examination papers. Requirements for the Novice license are the passing of a code test in sending and receiving at the rate of 5 words per minute, and a written examination in the most elementary aspects of amateur regulations and theory.


The privileges which are currently available to the Novice licensee are:


3700 3750 kc. - telegraphy

7150-7200 kc. - telegraphy

21,100-21,250 kc. - telegraphy

145-147 MC. --telegraphy or voice


In addition, the transmitter used by a Novice licensee must be crystal-controlled, and may not have an input exceeding 75 watts. Of course, the Novice may operate portable or mobile on any of these frequencies. (SeeChapter 7).


The most important point concerning the Novice license is that it is valid for only one year and may not be renewed. Before the end of his license term the Novice must qualify for one of the other grades of amateur licenses, or go off the air. He may try for a Technician Class or a General Class license (or Conditional Class, if eligible to take the mail examination). Whatever his choice, he must qualify for all requirements of the particular license class inasmuch as the Novice Class license, being obtained by mail, carries no credit toward a higher grade of license even where the examination elements are identical (such as the Technician 5 w.p.m. code test). He may not try for a class higher than those mentioned, of course, since experience as a Novice operator does not qualify for the service requirements for the Extra Class license.


Anyone who is a citizen of the United States may apply for the Novice, license, except a person who holds or ever has held an amateur license of any class. Thus a Novice not only is unable to renew his license at the end of his term, but he may not again apply for Novice privileges. If an applicant for Novice privileges feels that he can pass the standard written examination for amateur licenses but is unable to meet the 13 w.p.m. code requirement, he may simultaneously apply also for the Technician Class of license, taking the 5 w.p.m. code test, the elementary Novice written exam, and the standard written exam.


A Novice may operate any FCC-licensed amateur radio station, but only to the extent of the privileges available to the Novice and similarly available to the licensee of the station being operated. For example, when a Novice visits a station licensed to a General Class amateur, he may operate in only the Novice bands, using crystal control and with 75 watts input power or less. He uses his host's call sign exactly as issued, however. When a Novice operates a Technician's station, he may use only the 145-147 Mc band, since that is the only band common to both Novices and Technicians.


As stated, the written examination for the Novice license is quite simple. It consists of about 20 questions dealing with basic amateur regulations, and certain points of theory and technique. The questions are of the "multiple-choice" type, as explained in Chapter 1. There are no diagrams required. Following is a set of questions similar to those which are asked in the examination. If you are thoroughly able to answer each of these sample questions, you will have no difficulty in passing the written exam. However, in any event we recommend additional study of at least the technical material in How to Become a Radio Amateur and preferably of the introductory chapters of The Radio Amateur's Handbook ($3.50), both available postpaid from the ARRL, West Hartford 7, Conn.


The receiving code test for the Novice Class license consists of 25 five-letter words, mostly common ones. No punctuation marks or numerals are included. To pass, the applicant must copy at least 25 consecutive letters accurately. In the sending test, numerals and simple punctuation marks may be included.




1. What is the maximum input power permitted to the final stage of the transmitter in a station licensed to the holder of a Novice Class license or operated by such an operator?


The maximum input power permitted a Novice is 75 watts.


2. What is the maximum penalty for a violation of the rules and regulations of the Federal Communications Commission?


A fine of up to $500 for each day during which the offense occurs, suspension of operator license, and revocation of station license.


3. On what frequency bands may the holder of a Novice Class license operate an amateur radio station?


3700-3750 kc.

7150-7200 kc.

21,100-21,250 kc.

145-147 Mc.


4. On what frequency bands may the holder of a Novice Class license operate an amateur radiotelephone station?


145-147 Mc.


5. What is the log of an amateur station, and what information is required to be entered therein? How long must it be preserved ?


The log of an amateur station is the written record of transmissions.

The log must show:

1) the date and time of transmission

2) the signature of each licensed operator operating the equipment and

the name of any person not holding a license who speaks over a

radiotelephone transmitter directly or by recording, or operates a

teleprinter keyboard

3) call of the station called

4) the input power to the transmitter

5) the frequency band used

6) the type of emission used

7) the location of the station at the time of transmission

8) the message traffic handled


Information such as the input power, frequency band, type of emission, location of station, need be entered only once provided the conditions are not changed. Similarly, one entry of the date need not be repeated for other transmissions made on that date. If the station is mobile, the approximate geographic location can be indicated in the log.


The log of an amateur station must be preserved for at least one year following the last date of entry. Similarly, any message traffic handled must be kept on file for at least one year.


6. What is the term of an amateur Novice Class license? Under what conditions may this license be renewed?


The term of an amateur Novice Class license is one year. It may not be renewed under any conditions.


7. What are the rules and regulations regarding the transmission of improper language, false signals, or malicious interference?


The transmission of obscene, indecent or profane language, or of false or deceptive signals or call letters, or of malicious interference is expressly prohibited and there are heavy penalties for violation.


8. What are the rules and regulations regarding purity and stability of emissions?


Below 144 megacycles, spurious radiations must be reduced in accordance with good engineering practice, and must not cause interference to near-by receivers of good engineering design not tuned to the transmitter. Voice modulation of a transmitter must not cause spurious emissions; the maximum modulation percentage is 100%. Simultaneous frequency modulation and amplitude modulation is not permitted. The frequency of the signal transmitted must be as constant as the state of the art permits.


9. What method of frequency control is required to be used in the transmitter of a station licensed to the holder of a Novice Class license?


The frequency must be crystal-controlled.


10. What are the rules and regulations regarding the measurement of the frequencies of the emissions of an amateur radio station?


Regular measurement of the frequency of the transmitter is required. This measurement must be by means independent of the means used to control the transmitting frequency and must be of sufficient accuracy to ensure operation within the frequency band used.


11. Who may be permitted to operate the transmitter of an amateur radio station licensed to the holder of a Novice Class license?


Any amateur radio operator (though a Technician may operate a Novice's station only in the band 145-147 Mc., since that is the only band the two classes have in common).


12. Under what circumstances may an amateur radio station be used by a person who does not hold a valid license?


A person not properly licensed may not operate an amateur station. However, he may speak over the microphone of an amateur radiotelephone station or use the keyboard of an amateur radio-teleprinter, provided a duly licensed operator is present to control the emissions.


13. What is the maximum permissible percentage of modulation of an amateur radiotelephone station?


One hundred per cent.


14. At what intervals must an amateur station be identified by the transmission of its call sign? May any transmission be made without identification of the station?


An amateur station must identify its call sign at the beginning and end of each transmission and at least every ten minutes if a single transmission lasts longer than ten minutes. No transmission by itself may be made without identification of the station, except that during a sequence of transmissions each less than three minutes long, the call sign needs to be given only once each ten minutes as well as at the beginning and end of the work.


15. Under what conditions is notice of portable or mobile operation required to be given, and to whom in each case?


Notice of intended portable operation, or mobile operation, must be given the FCC Engineer-in-Charge of the inspection district in which such portable or mobile operation is contemplated only when the operation is or is expected to be for a period longer than 48 hours.


16. What are the recognized abbreviations for: kilocycles, megacycles, Eastern Standard Time, Greenwich Mean Time, continuous wave, frequency modulation, amplitude modulation?


kilocycles - kc.

megacycles - Mc.

Eastern Standard Time - EST

Greenwich Mean Time - GMT

continuous wave - C.W.

frequency modulation - f.m.

amplitude modulation - a.m.


17. What is the relationship between a fundamental frequency and its second harmonic; its third harmonic, etc.?


The second harmonic is twice the frequency of the fundamental, the third harmonic is three times the fundamental frequency, and so on. A harmonic is always related to its fundamental frequency by an integral multiplier; i.e., 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, etc.


18. What is the relationship between a cycle, a kilocycle, and a megacycle?


1 kilocycle = 1000 cycles

1 megacycle = 1000 kilocycles = l,000,000 cycles


19. What instrument is used to measure: electrical potential; electrical current; electrical power; electrical energy?


Electrical potential is measured by a voltmeter.

Electrical current is measured by an ammeter, milliammeter, or microammeter.

Electrical power is measured by a wattmeter.

Electrical energy is measured by a watt-hour meter.


20. What is the purpose of: a modulator; an amplifier; a rectifier; a filter?


A modulator is used to vary the amplitude, frequency or phase of the output of a transmitter for the purpose of transmitting information. An amplifier is used to increase the amplitude, or power level, of a signal. A rectifier is used to change alternating current into pulsating direct, current. The purpose of a filter is to attenuate undesired frequencies while simultaneously passing, without appreciable attenuation, a desired band of frequencies and/or direct current.


Examples: The power-supply "smoothing filter," which eliminates the alternating-current ripple from the output of a rectifier but permits direct current to flow with little or no attenuation; the "low-pass" filter, which attenuates all frequencies (such as harmonics of a transmitter) above a given frequency but passes all lower frequencies.


21. What is meant by: amplification; modulation; detection; attenuation?


Amplification is the process of increasing the amplitude, or power level, of a signal. Modulation is the process of varying the amplitude, frequency or phase of the radio-frequency output of a transmitter. Modulation is normally employed for the purpose of transmitting information. However, it may also occur inadvertently, as in the case of "hum" modulation of a signal resulting from ripple in the output of an insufficiently-filtered d.c. power supply. Detection or demodulation is the process of extracting the information contained in the modulation on a radio-frequency signal. Attenuation is a reduction in amplitude.


22. What is the purpose of: a radio-frequency choke; an audio-frequency choke; a filter choke?


The purpose of a radio-frequency choke is to oppose the flow of radio-frequency current while permitting direct current and audio frequencies to flow without appreciable opposition. The purpose of an audio-frequency choke is to oppose the flow of audio-frequency currents while permitting direct current to flow. The purpose of a filter choke is to aid in smoothing the direct-current output of a rectifier.


23. How is the actual power input to the tube or tubes supplying energy to the antenna of an amateur transmitter determined?


The input power is determined by measuring the direct-current plate voltage and the d.c. plate current to the tube or tubes in the final stage in the transmitter. The power input is equal to the plate voltage multiplied by the plate current in amperes. Example: Two tubes in the final stage of the transmitter take 50 milliamperes each, at a plate voltage of 500 volts. The total plate current is 2 X 50 = 100 milliamperes, or 0.1 ampere. The power input is therefore 500 X 0.1 = 50 watts.


24. Why are a rectifier and filter required in the plate power supply system of an amateur transmitter when operated from alternating current?


The amateur regulations require that an adequately-filtered plate supply be used on transmitters operating below 144 Mc. The rectifier is used to convert the alternating current into direct current. However, its d.c. output is pulsating, not constant, and the filter must be used to smooth out the pulsations so that the output is essentially "pure" -- that is free from pulsations or "ripple."


25. What is a frequency multiplier?


A frequency multiplier is a device that delivers output at an integral multiple (i.e., 2, 3, 4 times, etc.) of the applied frequency. The output of a frequency multiplier is consequently on a frequency that is a harmonic of the fundamental (applied) frequency.


26. What are the undesirable effects of overmodulation in radiotelephony?


Overmodulation results in the generation of spurious sidebands that is, frequencies lying outside the band of frequencies or "channel" actually required for transmitting the information contained in the modulation. Those spurious frequencies, called "splatter," will interfere with communication on near-by channels and may even lie outside an amateur band. At close range they may also cause interference with broadcast reception.


27. What is meant by a "parasitic" oscillation?


A parasitic oscillation is one not essential to the operation of the equipment and usually occurring on a frequency considerably removed from the operating frequency.


28. What is the purpose of a "key-click filter" and when should it be used?


The purpose of a key-click filter is to reduce spurious radiation generally when keying a radiotelegraph transmitter. It should be used whenever required for suppressing such spurious radiations.


29. What is Ohm's Law?


Ohm's Law expresses the relationship between potential, current and resistance in any circuit.


It is stated as I = E / R where I = current in amperes, E = potential in volts and R = resistance in ohms. By simple algebra it is also E = I * R and R = E / I.


30. What precautions should be taken to avoid the danger of shock from high-voltage electrical circuits?


Such circuits in transmitters and receivers should not be exposed where the operator can inadvertently come in contact with them when the power is turned on. All work on equipment involving the possibility of contact with such circuits should be done only after the power has been turned off. All power-supply capacitors should have bleeder resistors connected across them, to discharge the capacitors after the power has been turned



31. What is the relationship between the frequency and the wavelength of a radio wave if its velocity in space is 300,000,000 meters per second?


The frequency in cycles multiplied by the wavelength in meters is 300,000,000. Therefore, the wavelength is inversely proportional to the frequency; in other words, the longer the wavelength, the lower the frequency. The formula for calculating frequency (f) in cycles when the wavelength in meters is known is f = 3,000,000 / wavelength ; similarly, wavelength = 3,000,000 / f. Example: The wavelength of a signal whose frequency is 3700 kilocycles is 300,000,000 / 3,700,000 or 81.08 meters.


32. What symbol is used in the amateur rules to designate amplitude-modulated telegraphy without the use of modulating audio frequencies (on-off keying)?


Al. (The "A" indicates amplitude modulation, and the numeral "1" is used to indicate telegraphy by on-off keying).


33. What is the ruling regarding eligibility for reexamination?


An applicant who fails an operator examination may not take another examination for the same or higher privileges within 30 days (except that this does not apply to an examination for a General Class license following a mail examination for a Conditional, Novice or Technician Class license).


34. What factors are commonly responsible for harmonic radiation and what practical means can be used to detect and correct such condition?


The principal factors responsible for harmonic radiation are (1) improper operating conditions in the final amplifier, such as excessive grid bias and excessive drive, causing the tube or tubes to develop unnecessarily large harmonic output: (2) poor selectivity interstage tank circuits, resulting in excessive harmonic content in the excitation voltage applied to the final stage (3) inadequate selectivity in the final tank circuit because of too-low operating Q; and (4) insufficient selectivity in the coupling circuit between the final-amplifier tank circuit and the antenna, or omission of such a coupling circuit.


These defects can be corrected by (1) reducing grid bias and drive to the minimum necessary for reasonably efficient operation of the final tube or tubes; (2) using higher-Q interstage circuits, usually by increasing the ratio of capacitance to inductance or by decreasing the coupling to lighten the loading on the circuit; (3) adjusting the final tank inductance so that the tuning capacitor will be set for higher capacitance at the operating frequency: and (4) installing a tuned antenna-coupling or matching circuit between the transmitter and the transmission line or antenna.


The presence of harmonics in the output of a transmitter can be detected by the use of an absorption wavemeter, having a sensitive indicator, coupled to the final tank circuit or to the antenna coupling circuit, and successively tuned through the harmonics of the operating frequency. Alternatively, tests can be conducted with a nearby amateur station, with the cooperating amateur listening on the various harmonic frequencies while the transmitter is in operation. The receiving station should not be so close that the fundamental-frequency signal strength will be such as to overload the receiver and thus cause spurious harmonic responses in the receiver itself.