Foundation Online – Your Questions

Here’s a full list of all of the FAQs on our site. Click on the arrow to see the answer:

About Our Course (28)

The course runs online and is accessed from a web browser. Once you’ve enrolled, you’re given access to an online classroom. A new module is released every couple of days, and you work through each module online, either reading the on-screen material, or watching the video (or both).

You take a short multiple-choice quiz before the next module is available.

At the end, there’s a mock test.

This video explains what to expect from the course:

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Nothing – the course is free. If you get to the end and fancy making a donation to help cover running costs, that’s always appreciated.

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Foundation Licence Manual BookNothing in particular – You’ll need a web browser, an Internet connection, and at least 3-hours free time to study each week. We’d strongly recommend you get a copy of the RSGB’s “Foundation Licence Manual”, which costs around £5. This is the official book that supports the course, and our online course broadly follows the structure of this book. More: Foundation Licence Manual

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No. There are no ‘live’ classroom sessions and there are no set times that you need to be in front of your computer.

We do ask you to find 2-3 hours per week at a time of your choosing to complete the modules.

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There are no ‘live’ classroom sessions and there are no set times that you need to be in front of your computer.

We release between 2 and 3 modules a week via our online classroom. The classroom will email you to let you know that a new lesson is available, and you can complete them whenever’s suitable. We expect you to spend around 3 hours a week studying in our online classroom, at a time to suit you.

 

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We find that many people learn better if they can study in chunks, not all at once. By splitting the course into 9 sections, we encourage you to tackle the course in small sessions. We also find it helps to have others on the course who also start at the same time, so the modules can be discussed as a group. It’s also easier for us to run.

If you have an imminent exam, or a need to get on a course straight away, contact us and we may be able to help, thanks to our Fast Track course.

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The course runs from a standard web browser on any desktop, laptop or tablet computer. You’ll need an Internet connection. No webcam required.

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For the UK Foundation, there is a formal exam syllabus issued by the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB).

Our course goes through each part of the syllabus in detail. For a course summary, see: Foundation Online Course Structure

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The online training course consists of nine modules, which are delivered as follows:

1 Getting Started

The basics of UK amateur radio, and what you need to know about the hobby.

2 Technical Basics

Symbols, formulas, components and frequencies.

3 Transmitters & Receivers

A look at transmitter & receiver block diagrams, and modulation types.

4 Feeders & Antennas

Types of feeders, connectors, types of antenna and matching.

5 Propagation

A look at radio waves, the differences between HF and VHF/UHF, and the Ionosphere.

Half-way Mini-Mock (13 Questions)
6 Licence Conditions

This module covers Ofcom, callsigns, restrictions, licences and band plans.

7 EMC

Causes of interference, minimising interference, earthing and correct station setup.

8 Safety

Dangers of voltage, current, and RF burns. Shack and antennas safety.

9 Operating Practices and Procedures

Operating on-air, using repeaters, band plans and handling abuse.

End of course-Mock (26 Questions)

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Our amateur radio training course has been created with adult learners in mind, however the course material is child-safe. Note that the online software used to deliver the course does have an un-moderated forum where students can discuss the course. The course organiser, Pete M0PSX is a RSGB-registered assessor and holds a DBS Enhanced Certificate.

Under 16s are welcome to join, but we require a parent or guardian’s consent.

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Yes, if you wish. As a reminder, we are funded by donations and as such if you’ve found the course so useful that you want to take it again, we ask you to consider showing your appreciation by making a small donation. If you’d like to support the course with a donation, see: Donating to support the course

 

Any more questions? See our Course & Exam FAQ

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Our Foundation Online course covers the UK amateur radio Foundation syllabus. The Foundation licence can only be used to transmit whilst in the UK only, so is of limited use to those outside the UK.

Those looking to get a UK licence that can be used overseas would need a UK “Full” licence, which can also only be taken in the UK currently.

Also note that the UK course covers UK licence conditions, which do not reply outside the UK.

If you are genuinely intending to visit the UK to sit the Foundation Exam in the next three months, you are welcome to apply, otherwise, we would ask you not to apply, so that we can allocate spaces to those in the UK intending to sit an upcoming exam.

Still want to take the course?

If you really want to take the course (perhaps just out of curiosity), we would ask that you make a donation of at least £5 GBP – this will help us to cover our costs and continue to allow us to offer our course for free to those within the UK.

More questions?

For answers to more course questions, see our Foundation Online FAQ

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Yes, we have on occasion had existing amateurs ask to join our course for a refresher.

Our course is free to those new to the hobby, but for those with a licence, we normally ask that you show your appreciation in the form of a small donation at some point during the course, as donations help to cover our costs and allow us to provide courses for those looking to get into the hobby. See: Donating to Essex Ham

To apply, go to: Enrol on Foundation Online.

For answers to other common questions, see the HamTrain FAQ.

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Very possibly. Whether you’re a stand-alone independent trainer, or involved with training for a club, this could be useful. Your students sign up (for free) and can learn at their own pace in parallel with your own training programme.

If you’re a trainer and are curious about our online amateur radio training course, please contact us and we’ll let you have a look at our test area, so you can see how it all works.

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We aim to provide a free course to everyone who’s genuinely interested in getting their Foundation licence, but there are costs associated with running a course, including web hosting, software, web plug-ins, graphics design, video editing software, mailing list services and a whole lot more, not to mention time and admin. We don’t charge for courses, and we don’t charge for membership.

Our courses and training material can only be provided free thanks to the kind donations given by visitors and candidates on our courses. If you’ve found our content useful, or you need a service that above-and-beyond our monthly free courses, we’d very much appreciate a small donation to cover running costs.

If you’d like to make a donation, you can do so here: www.sxham.uk/trainthanks

 

 

Any more questions? See our Course & Exam FAQ

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Sorry, but we don’t offer a phone service for our Internet course. With over 60 enquiries and applications a month, and this being a free part-time service, it’s not practical for us to handle phone enquiries, course support or content enquiries.
If you need to talk to someone about UK amateur radio courses by phone, you may wish to give the RSGB a call on 01234 832700

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We’re only able to run our free courses thanks to the generosity of those who make a small donation to help with our ongoing running costs.

We’re very grateful to those who take part in our courses and find them so useful that they want to say “thanks” with a donation. For those who complete our course, and are kind enough to make a donation, we offer a “thank you” in the form of some “bonus mock tests” – these are in a dedicated Schoology classroom separate from the main course. From here, you can take a further 5 mock tests if you wish – which some may find handy in the run-up to an exam. Also, if you’ve made a donation, you can ask for a PDF “Certificate of Completion”.

If you’ve finished the course, found it useful and fancy making a small donation to help us to continue to run these courses – we can send you a certificate and some extra mocks as a “thanks”. If you decide to make a donation, you can do so here: www.essexham.co.uk/train/thanks

Alternatively, you can download two free mock papers from the RSGB Mocks Page. There are also apps for Apple iOS and Android phones that offer mock tests on your smartphone. There are also other websites offering mock tests – although make sure they are for the syllabus that started from 1st September 2019, not the older syllabus.

 

 

Any more questions? See our Course & Exam FAQ

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For those who complete our course, we’re able to send you a PDF “Certificate of Completion”, as well as providing some additional “bonus mock tests” available, which some may find handy in the run-up to an exam.

We’re only able to run our free courses thanks to the generosity of those who make a small donation to help with our ongoing running costs. We send certificates and access to the mock tests only to those who’ve been kind enough to make such a donation.

If you’ve found the course of use, fancy making a small donation to help us to continue, and want a certificate and some extra mocks as a “thanks”, then you can make a donation here: www.essexham.co.uk/train/thanks

 

 

Any more questions? See our Course & Exam FAQ

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That’s a good question. In March and April 2020, we asked those who’d taken our course to let us know. The results were as follows:

How close were our questions to the actual questions?

Answer People Percentage
Pretty close 70 81.4%
Exam questions were easier 3 3.5%
Exam questions were harder 6 7.0%
Exam questions were completely different to mock questions 5 5.8%
Other 2 2.3%
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On our standard course, we release a new module every 2-3 days. We feel this pace allows people to take time to study without rushing through modules.

If you’re in a rush, we offer “Fast Track”, where all of the material is available on the same day… handy for anyone with an upcoming exam.

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At the end of each of the 9 modules in our course, there is a short quiz. This helps you to test that you are comfortable with what you’ve studied

Where are the tests?

  • Log into the online classroom
  • Go to to “Materials” (on the left)
  • Open the module
  • Look down the list of topics, and the last item should be the test
Schoology Quiz
Screenshot of the Schoology Quiz

How do I start the test?

  • Click on the link (as above)
  • Read the instructions
  • When you’re ready, start the test

 

Start the Schoology Test
Starting the Schoology Test

Answer all of the questions, and submit the answers when you’re ready.

 

 

Any more questions? See our Course & Exam FAQ

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At the end of each of the course modules, there is a short quiz. This is just there for your reference, to help you to get an idea of how well you understood the material.

Note that there is a time limit on our tests, so only start the test when you’re ready.

You get three attempts at each module test. Most people only need/use one. It’s the same questions each time, so on the second attempt, you should know all the answers, so there is no point in taking the tests three times in a row.

If you didn’t do well in a test, that indicates it’s worth you doing some more study, rewatching the videos and having another try at the test later.

Later in the course, the extra module tests can be used for extra practice, or as a quick revision aid perhaps just before the exam.

 

Start the Schoology Test
Starting the Schoology Test

Any more questions? See our Course & Exam FAQ

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Occasionally, there can be a small lag in updating the “completed” information in Schoology. This is a noticeable issue at the moment as the Schoology platform is hugely busy due to schools moving to online teaching during COVID.

The problem is nothing to worry about, and normally sorts itself out in a few hours. In almost all cases, this doesn’t stop you moving on to the next module or cause any actual problem.

Must Complete

It’s an annoying “niggle” with Schoology, but it indicates that their servers are quite busy, and it almost never affects the flow of the course.

We’d ask that you don’t email us about this, or post anything in the classroom, unless this is actually stopping you from progressing.

In the rare chance that it IS causing you a real problem and you can’t progress, here are some suggestions:

  • Double-check you have viewed every single page of the last module, as there is a chance that you have genuinely not completed it. (you can’t progress until each page of the previous module has been viewed)
  • Try logging off and on again
  • Try waiting a couple of hours
  • We’ve also had reports that clearing the browser cache can help

If you find that you really can’t progress, and have tried all of the above, then the option of last resort is to raise a support request with Schoology to get them to look at your account. Schoology Support Request

 

Any more questions? See our Course & Exam FAQ

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We occasionally get reports from people reporting that they selected an answer, but a different answer got registered on Schoology.

From what we understand, it’s unlikely that the problem is at the Schoology end, and it seems to be related to some web browsers transmitting the wrong data to Schoology. Schoology can only mark based on the answers sent from the browser to their server.

This issue has been reported to us before, and when we have looked into this, it was proven to be a browser issue – the browser holds the information locally until the test is submitted. If you change an answer prior to submission, the browser caches the first answer, not the final answer. It was tracked down to an out-of-date browser.

It does seem that this can happen when using some Apple devices, especially on a mobile/tablet – if that the case for you, then it may make sense to use the Schoology app, not the Safari web browser, or to try on a different device.

Each module test has 3 options, so before attempting again, try some of the following suggestions:

  • Try a different web browser
  • Clear your browser cache
  • Try a different device, or if using a mobile or tablet, try the app instead
  • Double-check you have definitely submitted a wrong answer
  • Make sure the correct entries are definitely selected before submitting
  • We enabled a feature that allows people to double-check answers prior to submission, and we’d urge people to take a few minutes to check carefully prior to submission, as this seems to eliminate the problem.

If you’d like to log this with us, you can do so here

As the marks are only for your reference, it’s not a big deal – as long as you know the answer, the question has served it purpose and the score is just for your reference. If you want to avoid this happening again, you could perhaps check you are using the most up-to-date version of your browser, try it on another machine, or try some of the suggestions listed above.

 

Any more questions? See our Course & Exam FAQ

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Our course emails are sent out using an automated mailer system, and we do occasionally get reports that emails get marked as spam, especially with Google’s Gmail service.

If you’ve not got an email from us, check your spam folder, and also whitelist emails from the @essexham.co.uk domain.

If you use Gmail, which seems one of the worst culprits, we recommend doing the following:

1. Check Gmail’s Web interface

Log into Gmail’s web interface, where you can see all of the folders – If our messages have been filtered, see the following screenshot for an idea where they have gone. If you find it, mark it as “not spam” so that future emails from us don’t get filtered:

Gmail Spam Screen
Checking for messages in Gmail’s folders

Set up a Gmail filter

You can add a filter to ensure all mails from us don’t get moved, deleted, hidden or marked as spam. For details, see Gmail Filter help, or go to Settings and follow the example below:

Setting up a Gmail filter
Setting up a Gmail filter

 

Still having problems? Contact us and we can try to resend a message you’re missing, or try with a different email address.

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See: Problems Logging In To Schoology

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On our standard course, new modules are released every 2-3 days.

We release a new module every 2-3 days which you can work through at a time of your choosing.

If you haven’t already, you may want to enable email notifications, to be informed when new lessons become available. You can turn on email notifications from here: app.schoology.com/settings

Please remember to log on every 2 or 3 days to see the new modules as they’re released.

Setting Schoology Notifications
Setting Schoology Notifications

If you have the Schoology app installed, you can also get notifications sent to your smartphone (making sure to enable notifications on your device.

If you’re still having a problem – just pop back every two-to-three days.

Need more help? Search for “Notification” on Schoology’s Support Site.

Need mopre help? See

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Here’s how to check the scores in previous module quizzes:

1. Select the quiz from the module list

Select the quiz
Select the quiz

2. This will show you previous attempts on quizzes, scores and time taken. If you want to review your answers, click on View at the end of an attempt

View Quiz Scores
View Quiz Scores

3. Selecting View will bring up the answers you entered, and the correct answers.

Check Answers
Check Answers

Sometimes there can be a very short delay in the scores getting published, especially if the Schoology system is busy – please wait a few minutes and try again.

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Questions about taking the exam (14)

Yes. During the UK Coronavirus ‘lockdown’, you can take the exam online from home without the need to visit a club

Normally, you’ll need to take the Foundation Practicals in front of a registered assessor, then sit the exam at an RSGB-recognised exam centre. During the COVID-19 Lockdown, practicals are suspended and it’s possible to take exams online from home – See Exams and COVID-19

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The steps to book an online Foundation exam are as follows:

  • Make sure you’ve properly studied. The pass mark is 19/26, and we’d encourage those taking our free Foundation Online course to make sure you get at least 19 in our end-of-course mock.
  • Check that you have a suitable Windows or Mac computer for the exam, stable Internet connection and a webcam – as per the specifications listed here
  • Book your online exam via the RSG’s website: RSGB Book an Exam and make payment of the exam fee (£27.50)
  • About a week before the exam, the RSGB will be in touch re. next steps, which include installing the special exam software and a pre-exam video call with RSGB

If you need to call the RSGB Exam team, the number is 01234-832700 (8.30am-4.30pm Monday to Friday), although note that they are very busy at the moment

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One of our most common questions, and the answer is really up to you.

At the time of writing (mid-April 2020) there is a lot of demand for online exams, with a lead time of around 3-4 weeks – some are lucky enough to get cancellation slots, and some are waiting longer.

When you book the exam is up to you. The sensible answer is to suggest that you only book when you’re comfortable you’ve done enough study. The pass mark is 19/26 and when you’re comfy that you’ll be able to get this mark in the exam, that’s a sign that you should be ready for the exam itself.

We’d encourage those taking our free Foundation Online course to make sure you get at least 19 in our end-of-course mock. As our course contains numerous online tests, this will prepare you for the actual online test, so is great preparation.

Alternatively, you could book now to get the first available place, and hope you’ll be prepared enough in time – some are better at studying than others, and some like the pressure. The worst that could happen is that you find you’re struggling with the material, you start getting stressed by the approaching exam, or worst-case, you take the exam before you’re ready, and fail. If that happens – simply take it again (note you need to pay RSGB £27.50 per exam attempt).

For answers to other common questions, see the HamTrain FAQ.

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There are several options – You can study from the RSGB’s Foundation Manual, get help from your local club’s training team, or study online

Our free revision course isn’t affected, and many are choosing to study with us during lockdown. Our course offers online lessons, videos and mock tests – If you want to sign up, please complete our course application form.

Courses start at the beginning of each month. We also offer a “Fast Track” course if you have an imminent exam and can’t wait for the next course.

For a flavour of what the course is, and how it works, please watch the following video:

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According to the RSGB’s Online Exam FAQ, you’ll need:

  • A Windows (Windows 7+) or Mac (Mac OS 10.8+) desktop or laptop with either 2GB or 4GB of RAM (no tablets, smartphones or Linux)
  • A stable Internet connection with at least 512kbps per candidate
  • A working webcam, microphone and speakers (Headphones are optional)
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You’ll need to complete five basic practical exercises – they’re straightforward and don’t take long. See our Foundation Practicals Information page for full details, and some videos showing what’s involved.

Update: During the COVID-19 Lockdown, practicals are suspended and it’s possible to take exams online from home – See Exams and COVID-19
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Not at present. During the UK Coronavirus ‘lockdown’, all practicals for Foundation have been suspended. This means that you can take the multiple-choice exam online from home without the need to visit a club, or to do any of the normal Foundation practicals.

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No – The exam is managed by the RSGB, the Radio Society of Great Britain

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Yes – as long as it’s silent, and non-programmable

See our dedicated page on this subject: Amateur radio exams and calculators

 

 

 

Any more questions? See our Course & Exam FAQ

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For exams taken at home, you need a webcam. This is so that the invigilator can monitor you during the exam to check that you’re not cheating. You’ll also need a microphone and speakers, so that the examiner can hear you and speak to you. Many webcams have a built-in microphone.

If you have a webcam that’s built-in to your laptop, this should be fine. You can also use a USB webcam.

Note that the invigilator will ask you to move your webcam around, asking you to point the camera around the room, so they can check out the entire room. For this reason, a fixed, non-movable webcam (like a wall-mounted webcam) is not ideal.

RSGB will arrange a text video call before the exam, where you get a chance to test your webcam before the exam.

Basic WebcamNot got a moveable webcam? A basic webcam costs around £15. These typically plug into a free USB port on your Windows / Mac computer. If you don’t have a webcam, buy yourself a cheap one online (or in larger supermarkets), or borrow one for the exam.

Want to buy one online? See: Webcams on Amazon or Webcams on e-Bay

Exam Video

The following video explains how the exam works:

Any more questions? See our Course & Exam FAQ

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Basic WebcamA basic webcam costs around £15. These typically plug into a free USB port on your Windows / Mac computer. If you don’t have a webcam, buy yourself a cheap one online (or in larger supermarkets), or borrow one for the exam.

Want to buy one online? See: Webcams on Amazon or Webcams on e-Bay

 

 

Any more questions? See our Course & Exam FAQ

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No!

There is no requirement to be a member of a club to take your exam. If you wish, you can book your exam direct with the RSGB. See how to book my exam

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No

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Yes. See our guide to Amateur Radio & Dyslexia

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Candidate Questions (8)

No. The Testreach exam software runs on Windows or Mac OS operating systems only.

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A comment from one of our candidates about the 4-page Foundation Exam Booklet:

“I really struggled with the schedule and band plan questions. Finding it a bit confusing though the corrections to the first attempt have made things a bit clearer. I was having to work with the pdf on screen as printer is not working. Even with the pdf at 180% the mauve print is not completely clear, which didn’t help.”

Some of our students have reported that the booklet is difficult to read. Here are some ideas:

All of the content in the 4-page booklet can be found within the pages of the Foundation Manual, which is recommended for all students studying Foundation.

The booklet can be viewed on-screen using a PDF viewer and “zoomed in” as needed

Users of Windows 10 can make use of a built-in feature called “Magnifier”, which you can access by typing in “Magnifier” – This will allow you to toggle an on-screen zoom:

Windows 10 Magnifier
Windows 10 Magnifier

Some larger printers can scale up and print on A3, or print zoomed-in extracts

If printing the booklet, you can try printing in greyscale, and also get the print quality to “best” or “high”

Print quality settings
Print quality settings

If your printer is still not printing a good copy, you may need to try on another printer – a laser printer may be better than a cheap inkjet printer

If you feel that, for the actual exam, you might struggle to read the print on the 4-page booklet, you should bring this to the attention of your exam secretary, giving as much notice as possible. They may be able to contact the RSGB to obtain a large-print version. You may also be allowed to use a magnifying glass or other tool.

Hopefully that gives you some ideas.

Pete M0PSX

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The official RSGB course book for Foundation the “Foundation Licence Manual” – Whilst the book is helpful, it’s not essential – this course covers the entire syllabus, just as the book does. You don’t need the book, but may find it helpful.

If you’re struggling with our course material and find you really need it in book form, it’s available from Amazon in Kindle format, and there are free Kindle readers for most computers, smartphones and tablets.

For more on the book, see: www.essexham.co.uk/train/foundation-licence-manual/

Pete

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Not at present, but this is something the RSGB is looking to bring in soon

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The official RSGB course book for Foundation is called the “Foundation Licence Manual” – Whilst the book is helpful, it’s not essential – this course covers the entire syllabus, just as the book does. You don’t need the book, but you may find it helpful.

If you’re struggling with our course material and find you really need it in book form, it’s available from Amazon in Kindle format, and there are free Kindle readers for most computers, smartphones and tablets.

For more on the book, see: www.essexham.co.uk/train/foundation-licence-manual/

The old book

The old book was called “Foundation Licence Now”. The syllabus changed in September 2019 and the old book doesn’t cover about 30% of the course material that was added or changed from September 2019. The old book is still useful, but does not cover the entire syllabus.

 

The old Foundation Licence Now book
The old Foundation Licence Now book
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Question received: “Can I take the RSGB online exam using an Android tablet? (Paul H)

No. The exam software, provided by a company called TestReach, only runs on Windows or Mac OS. It can’t be used on iPads, Android tablets or the Linux OS.

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A question from Paul H: “Is windows7 compatible with the RSGB foundation exam?”

The RSGB uses software from a company called Testreach – this runs on Windows 7 (and above) or Mac (Mac OS 10.8 and above)

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No – this is for the UK syllabus only. The syllabus for Ireland is different

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Foundation Syllabus Question (3)

The frequency range 431.0MHz to 432.0MHz has a restriction that states that it is not available for use within 100km of Charing Cross, but why?

The Primary User for that frequency range is the UK MoD (Ministry of Defence). Amateur Radio is a Secondary user, and as such can’t interfere with the Primary user. The Primary User in this case has asked that it’s not used within 100km of the centre of London (defined at Charing Cross). There is also an e.r.p. limit in place, which prevents use of a beam antenna at 101kms away from beaming in more than 10 watts.

Why don’t the military want us chatting on 431-432MHz in and around London? Probably best not to ask!

100km of Charing Cross
Map showing a 100km radius from Charing Cross
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A question from one of our online Foundation candidates:

“On the question about who Is responsible for an in car installation I would argue that each was jointly and severaly responsible as a:- the installer has a duty of care to install safely. b:- the licensee is duty bound by his licence not to cause interference. c:- the car owner for not checking himself before driving off

An interesting question. I’m no legal expert on this, so this is a personal opinion:

I can certainly see the logic of the argument, but here’s my take:

  1. Any work done on a vehicle has to be authorised by the vehicle owner, and that person has an obligation to ensure that anything that’s done to their car has been done by someone competent.
  2. Certain types of modification to vehicles needs to be notified to the insurance company. Failure to declare modifications may invalidate the insurance. Driving without insurance is illegal.
  3. Let’s assume that the person installing it is a personal friend who is used to installing car sound systems. You ask him to install a radio. He does just that, but he has no clue about amateur radio. Let’s assume that the presence of 50 watts of RF on a specific frequency upsets the ABS on your vehicle and you have an accident. Who is legally responsible? The installer could quite rightly say that all he did was mount a box you gave him and connect it to 12V (like he’d do with an in-car sound system), and that it was your responsibility to ensure it was a) suitable, b) compatible, and c) that you had notified your the insurer.

Let’s take a more extreme example of modification – let’s assume you have modified your car to install blue neon lights under the vehicle. The legality of using these in the UK seems to be questionable, and from what I’ve read online, this type of modification would almost certainly invalidate the insurance. There are several other modifications that impact vehicle safety. So, who is legally responsible if there’s an accident? The installer for doing what you asked? The member of the family who borrowed the car to drive to the shops? Or the owner for allowing an uninsured vehicle (with a possibly illegal modification) to be driven? I’m no lawyer, but I suspect it comes down to the owner.

Regardless, for the purposes of this exam, at the time of writing, Section 6F1 of the Foundation syllabus states:

“Recall that it is the vehicle owner’s responsibility to ensure that any radio installation is compatible with the vehicles electrical and management systems and does not affect vehicle safety. Recall that the fact of the installation may have to be disclosed to the vehicle insurers. Recall that professional advice should be sought for all vehicle installations.”

Just my personal opinion – others may disagree, but in the interests of passing the Foundation exam, the text above is what the examiners are testing you on.

Passenger?

We received a follow-up comment:

“If a Licensed Ham passenger keyed up a handheld radio and caused a car to crash, then who is responsible? “

First off, the syllabus item is about the installation, not the operation.

Secondly, what’s being asked here, is who’s legally responsible for the actions of a passenger – whether it’s keying up, causing a dangerous distraction to the driver, or them applying the handbrake whilst you’re driving at 70mph. A quick search reveals: “As a driver, you are responsible for the safety of your passengers and others on the road. When faced with a situation where your passenger is becoming a dangerous distraction, it is imperative that you do everything in your power to avoid an accident.”

Personally, I still feel that if the owner has a device installed that potentially poses a risk to the safety of the vehicle (and invalidates insurance), then it’s the owner’s responsibility, not the passenger’s fault for using the device. Will a passenger be fully aware of the electrical and management systems of the vehicle they’ve just got into, or the terms of the owner’s insurance policy?

 

Your thoughts?

The above are just the author’s personal opinion. Got a different opinion? Please share it by adding a comment below

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A question from one of our online Foundation candidates:

“I was wondering why foundation level users are not allowed to use HF radio at sea? I’m guessing that it has something to do with monitoring /standards and a permanent address but that does not make sense if you can have a /A or a /M suffix?”

An interesting question. I’m no legal expert on this, so this is a personal opinion:

Operating overseas

Foundation candidates will hopefully be aware that they cannot operate in other countries at Foundation – this is because most other country’s administration don’t routinely recognise the UK “Foundation” licence.

The UK “Full” licence, however, complies with an International standard called HAREC (Harmonised Amateur Radio Examination Certificate). Most countries recognise HAREC as acceptable, so a UK “Full” is accepted by a good percentage of countries.

Operating “At sea”

The Foundation licence allows you to operate from a vessel in inland and internal waters. The exact wording states that Foundation & Intermediate can’t operate from a:

"vessel operating on the seaward side of the low-water line along the coastline as marked on large scale charts officially recognised by the relevant coastal state".

Section 2.14 of the October 2018 Ofcom Guidance for Licencees document states:

Generally speaking, the ‘baseline’ is the mean low water mark but can be a line across the mouth of a river estuary.

Beyond the baseline, you’re in UK Territorial sea. Section 2.14 of the October 2018 Ofcom Guidance for Licencees document states:

The UK’s territorial seas extend either for 12 nautical miles from the baseline or until a point is reached halfway to another country, such as France.

Beyond the Territorial sea, you’re in International waters, or in another country’s territorial waters.

UK Territorial Seas - Source: UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO)
UK Territorial Sea – Source: UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO)

Ofcom has no jurisdiction outside the UK (and its territorial seas), so therefore can’t cover transmitting in International waters or another country’s waters.

The Full licence does allow operating from a vessel on the seaward side of the low water line, to the boundary of the UK territorial seas, as stated in the licence:

"2(1) The Licensee may only operate the Radio Equipment in the United Kingdom (including its territorial seas) subject to sub-clauses (a) – (c):(a) Where this Licence is a Full Licence only, and unless it is a Full (Club) or Temporary Licence, the Licensee may operate the Radio Equipment from a Maritime Mobile location;"

 

In summary, at Foundation and Intermediate, you’ll need to get a copy of the appropriate Admiralty chart from the UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) to find the low water line, and you can operate in a vessel that’s on the landward side or from Internal waters. From the seaward side of the baseline, you’ll need to get a Full licence.

 

Exception?

As you’ll see from the comments below, this is open to interpretation. Section 2.14 of the October 2018 Ofcom Guidance for Licencees document states:

Holders of a Foundation or Intermediate Licence may use their Radio Equipment beyond the baseline but are limited to the extent of UK territorial seas.

This implies that Foundation can operate over the seaward side of the line. However, Section 2.15 of the same document says:

The Licence provides that only a Full licensee may operate ‘Maritime Mobile’. This expression refers to a ‘Vessel at Sea’ and that expression, in turn, refers to operation on the seaward side of the low-water line but without imposing any further territorial restriction.

… which I read to mean that over the line, you have to be a Full licencee to operate from a “Vessel” beyond the line.

The Licence, under 17(1)(rr) defines a “Vessel” as:

any floating structure which is capable of being manned

and a Vessel at sea as:

A Vessel operating on the seaward side of the low-water line along the coastline as marked on large scale charts officially recognised by the relevant coastal state

So, my understanding is that for a Foundation licencee to legally operate over the seaward side of the low water line but within UK Territorial sea, they can’t be on a floating structure, such as a ship or boat. Two examples have been given – Foundation could potentially operate from the end of a long pier, or an oil rig that’s supported by legs on the sea floor.

 

(Just my understanding, which may be wrong!) Pete M0PSX

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19 Comments

  1. Christopher fancett 11 September 2016 Reply
    • HamTrain PeteAuthor 11 September 2016 Reply
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