Example questions from the Technican class exam pool

Technician: Amplifier Components

Which of the following electronic components can amplify signals? [T6B05]

A. Transistor
B. Variable resistor
C. Electrolytic capacitor
D. Multi-cell battery

The answer is, as luck would have it, A. Transistor.  The transistor is probably the miracle of 20th century technology.  It’s an amplifier, a switch, and so much more.

None of the other components listed have the ability to amplify a signal.

Technician: Electric Field

What is the ability to store energy in an electric field called? [T5C01]

A. Inductance
B. Resistance
C. Tolerance
D. Capacitance

Hate to say it, but this is basically a definition question.  The answer is D. Capacitance.  The easy way to remember this is just think about capacitors, the devices that actually store the electric field.  The next closest answer might be A. Inductance, which is the ability to store energy in a magnetic field, using (wait for it) an inductor.

(photo: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Capacitance_Meter_with_Popular_Electronics_Article.jpg)

Technician: Ammeter Current Display

If an ammeter calibrated in amperes is used to measure a 3000-milliampere current, what reading would it show? [T5B06]

A. 0.003 amperes
B. 0.3 amperes
C. 3 amperes
D. 3,000,000 amperes

Don’t panic! This is a simple question about unit conversions, nothing more.

Remember your definitions of metric prefixes.  Milli means one one-thousandth, or 0.001.  Therefore, one milliampere is one one-thousandth of an ampere, or amp.  We can just multiply like this (and also remember to bring your calculator with you to the test!)

3000 x 0.001 = ?

and our answer is then C. 3 amperes.

Technician: 2 Meter Repeater Offset

What is the most common repeater frequency offset in the 2 meter band? [T2A01]

A. Plus 500 kHz
B. Plus or minus 600 kHz
C. Minus 500 kHz
D. Only plus 600 kHz

The answer is B. Plus or minus 600 kHz.  Recall that the frequency offset is the difference between the repeater’s input frequency, and its output frequency.  You transmit from your radio on its input frequency, and you will hear the signal on its output frequency.  Whether that input frequency is 600 kHz higher or lower than the output is dependent on where in the 2m band it lies, and the particular whim of the repeater operator.  Some, like D-STAR repeaters, use non-standard offsets.  Some will use different offsets just to be different.

For example, a local repeater’s output frequency is 146.91 MHz, and its input is 146.31Mhz.  A difference of .6 Mhz, or 600 kHz.

In any case the accepted standard 2m offset is 600 kHz.

(Photo: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:SK7MQ_Repeater_Tower.jpg)

Technician: Monitoring SWR

Where should an in-line SWR meter be connected to monitor the standing wave ratio of the station antenna system? [T4A05]

A. In series with the feed line, between the transmitter and antenna
B. In series with the station’s ground
C. In parallel with the push-to-talk line and the antenna
D. In series with the power supply cable, as close as possible to the radio

OK, lets put on our “common sense” caps and come up with the answer.  A lot of times the exam questions are like this, painfully obvious.  If you’re not ready for them, they can throw you off.

In series with the station’s ground? Why would you do that? It doesn’t even make sense. Neither does in parallel with the PTT line and the antenna. How would you even wire that up?  In series with the power supply cable? The only meter you would want there, is a DC ammeter, to measure the current going into your radio.

Therefore, the answer is A. In series with the feed line, between the transmitter and the antenna.  The SWR or Standing Wave Ratio meter shows how much of your signal is being reflected back from the antenna.  The only way you will know this, is by placing the meter in the signal path from your radio to your antenna.

Technician: Switch Components

Which of these components can be used as an electronic switch or amplifier? [T6B03]

A. Oscillator
B. Potentiometer
C. Transistor
D. Voltmeter

Piece of cake this one is….  Lets go through the false answers first, just to make sure.

A. Oscillator.  By definition, an oscillator simply takes a signal and, well, oscillates it.  on/off, high/low, whatever.  While definitely important in radio (you can’t get an alternating waveform without one) you can’t really make a switch out of one.  It is possible to use an oscillator as an amplifier.  It’s how vacuum tube radios get the work done (and that’s our first clue!)

B. Potentiometer.  A potentiometer is nothing more than an adjustable value resistor.  While it may have a switch built into it, such as an on/off/volume switch combination, a potentiometer by itself doesn’t make a particularly good switch.  I suppose you could use it as one, by increasing a signal via the “pot” up to or below a given “cutoff” value…. but that’s a bit of a stretch.

D. Voltmeter.  A voltmeter simply measures the voltage across a given circuit or component.  Nothing more.  It’s quite impossible to use one as a switch.  (I think!)

So all that remains is C. Transistor.  A transistor is a solid state device that toggles between states depending on an external input.  By placing (for example) a 5V load on a transistor you can essentially “flip the switch,” and removing the voltage will turn it off again.


Technician: Spin Fading

What causes spin fading when referring to satellite signals? [T8B09]

A. Circular polarized noise interference radiated from the sun
B. Rotation of the satellite and its antennas
C. Doppler shift of the received signal
D. Interfering signals within the satellite uplink band

Well, to start with, I suppose we should define “spin fading.”  Spin fading refers to the (sometimes rapid) change in received signal strength you will encounter when listening to amateur radio satellite signals.

It occurs because the satellite is not “fixed” in position during its orbit.  It’s tumbling end-over-end as it makes its pass.  Therefore, the antenna is always moving.

I suppose you could say we’ve just provided our answer, also.  B. Rotation of the satellite and its antennas.  Interfering signals won’t exhibit “fading” characteristics.  Doppler shift will be observed, but it manifests as a slight change in the signal frequency, depending on if the satellite is moving towards you or away from you.  And answer A. Circular(ly) polarized noise interference radiated from the sun just doesn’t make much sense at all.

Technician: Energy in a Magnetic Field

What is the ability to store energy in a magnetic field called? [T5C03]

A. Admittance
B. Capacitance
C. Resistance
D. Inductance

Here we have another example of a “definition” type of question.  The answer is D. Inductance.  A device that stores a magnetic field is called an inductor.  So if you can remember the correlation, it becomes pretty simple.

Just like a device which stores and discharges energy an electric field is called a capacitor, and that ability is called Capacitance.

Admittance is a property of a circuit that describes how easily current will flow in a circuit. The opposite of that is Resistance, which is a property that limits the ability of current to flow in a circuit.

Technician: Correct Copy of Voice Traffic

What should be done to insure that voice message traffic containing proper names and unusual words are copied correctly by the receiving station? [T2C03]

A. The entire message should be repeated at least four times
B. Such messages must be limited to no more than 10 words
C. Such words and terms should be spelled out using a standard phonetic alphabet
D. All of these choices are correct

Let’s look at our possible answers and see if we can’t play a little elimination game.  A. The entire message should be repeated at least four times.  If you’re thinking that’s pretty inefficent and a general waste of time, you’re right.  B. Such messages must be limited to no more than 10 words.  That’s sort of the opposite end of the spectrum.  Limiting traffic to 10 word phrases is quite impractical.

So what do we do? If you find yourself needing to use words that may have unusual spelling, or names, or words that sound similar to other words that would confuse the meaning of your message, you need to fall back to spelling them out using a standard phonetic alphabet.

Now, there are several different types.  The “old school” one that you’ll hear used in, for example, old war movies.  The “police” one that is still used today by departments everywhere, and the one that is the nearly universally accepted standard in amateur radio, the NATO Phonetic alphabet.

That’s not to say you won’t hear different “soundings” of letters on the air, just realize that the correct way to do this is with the NATO alphabet.  Using “America” for “A” might sound nice, but could be confusing to somebody who doesn’t speak English and only uses the NATO alphabet.

The answer then, is C. Such words and terms should be spelled out using a standard phonetic alphabet.

Technician: Parallel Dipole

Which of the following describes a simple dipole mounted so the conductor is parallel to the Earth’s surface? [T9A03]

A. A ground wave antenna
B. A horizontally polarized antenna
C. A rhombic antenna
D. A vertically polarized antenna

Lets recall what we mean when we talk about an electromagnetic field being “polarized.”  The direction of polarization means the orientation of the electric field component of the wave.  We can also remember that the electric field component of a signal given off of an antenna such as a wire dipole is polarized in the direction of the wire.  A vertical antenna produces a vertically polarized signal, and a horizontal antenna produces a horizontally polarized signal.  If our dipole is parallel to the Earth’s surface, its horizontal.

Therefore, the answer is B. A horizontally polarized antenna.

It should be noted that the above logic is only a general approximation.  There are plenty of factors which can change a signal’s polarization, but as an estimation, it works.