Amateur Radio Foundation Practicals

If you’re looking at getting your UK amateur radio Foundation licence, you’ll be required to complete a number of short practical exercises. Typically, you’ll do these at a nearby amateur radio club, in front of a Registered Assessor (clubs may charge for this). When you have completed them, you’ll receive a form confirming you’ve done them, and you’ll need to present this form when sitting your multiple-choice Foundation exam.

The practicals are referred to as “assessments” – There’s no pass or fail, and you can complete these at your own pace – The assessor needs to be sure that you have the basic competence.

Here is a summary of what’s required, plus some short videos:

Update: During the COVID-19 Lockdown, practicals are suspended and it’s possible to take exams online from home – See Exams and COVID-19

Foundation Practical: Station and Antenna Setup

You’ll be required to demonstrate that you can connect a radio to a mains power supply, microphone (or PC interface), another device (such as an SWR meter or filter), antenna and feeder.

You’ll also have to “tune” an antenna. This means moving the adjustable elements of an antenna known as a dipole, and measuring the SWR (standing wave ratio) value. You keep adjusting until a good SWR reading is achieved.

You’ll also need to use an antenna matching unit to match SWR on two bands.

Here is a video of a typical station setup and antenna tuning practical:

Foundation Practical: FM Radio Contact

This is one of two practicals where you get to try your first messages over amateur radio. The requirements are:

  • Demonstrate correct operation of a VHF/UHF transmitter/receiver  (change frequency & mode, adjust squelch and volume).
  • Read the signal strength meter (where fitted).
  • Demonstrate a CQ call, making a contact and initiating a change of frequency (making sure the frequency is not in use).
  • Make a radio contact, and exchange signal reports and location.
  • Log the contact

Here is a video example of the type of contact you’ll be required to make:

Foundation Practical: SSB Radio Contact

Making a different type of amateur radio contact, this time using SSB (commonly on HF). Requirements are:

  • Demonstrate correct operation of a transmitter/receiver used for an SSB contact (change frequency/band and mode, adjust the volume and microphone gain)
  • Make an SSB voice contact, and exchange signal reports and location.
  • Log the contact

As this is more simple than the VHF QSO – we’ve not made a video for this one.

 

Foundation Practical: Morse Appreciation

At Foundation, you’ll be required to complete either the Morse Appreciation or to make a Data Mode contact. That choice is normally up to the training provider.

You no longer have to learn Morse code to get an amateur radio licence, but many people do go on to learn Morse. To introduce you to Morse, clubs offer an “appreciation”. Typically, this means working with the assessor to send and receive between 20 and 30 characters of Morse code.

There’s no time limit, and no need to rush. You have a printed sheet containing the letters, and can write it down one letter at a time.

The following video shows what’s involved – It’s pretty easy!

Foundation Practical: Data Mode Contact

At Foundation, you’ll be required to complete either the Morse Appreciation or to make a Data Mode contact. That choice is normally up to the training provider.

This involves having a two-way typed contact using a computer that’s connected to a radio. Requirements are:

  • Tune the radio and computer to the correct frequency
  • Selecting the right mode
  • Setting the mic gain and computer audio levels
  • A typed two-way exchange of callsign, signal report and location

(Video coming soon)

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