Introduction to General Class
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Welcome to the Handiham audio lecture series. My name is Patrick Tice, and my amateur radio call sign is WA0TDA. This audio lecture series is for General Class, so I am going to assume that you already have your Technician license and are interested in earning more amateur radio privileges on the high frequency bands. Well, you have come to the right place! We are going to learn about how to operate on the world wide short-wave bands. The information that you will learn about in this course is actually going to be somewhat familiar to you already. It builds upon what you have learned for you first license. Just as with the Technician exam, the General Class exam will be 35 multiple-choice questions.  

Notice:  I retired in late 2015 and no longer have an Allina email address.  You may contact the Handiham office and talk with Nancy Meydell. 

Our lecture series will cover the question pool for General Class effective July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2019. This question pool has been prepared by the NCVEC, the National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators. You can always find the very latest release of all of the amateur radio question and answer pools at the NCVEC website, which is at  At the Handiham System we maintain the question pool in some other formats that we consider useful to our members with visual impairments or disabilities. For example, we maintain a question pool with only the correct answers given read into audio format. Many of our members find this kind of the question pool to be helpful for review.   

When I do the audio lectures, I like to do more than simply read the question from the question pool and tell you the correct answer. While that may be useful for review purposes, the entire reason for having licensing exams in the first place is to foster an understanding of electronics and the laws of physics related to radio as well as the rules and regulations and operating practices that are going to come in handy for you when you start exploring the high frequency bands. Believe me, you will find this information useful and relevant long after you pass your test. As your instructor, I feel a responsibility to make sure that you are able to understand the material so that you can be a good operator for the rest of your amateur radio career. This audio lecture series is really only a beginning for you in your learning about the wonderful world of amateur radio operation in the HF bands. In the years after you pass your test, you will find that new technologies and modes of operation will be introduced. That means you are always going to be learning something new in amateur radio. In fact, I think this is what makes amateur radio so much fun and what keeps my interest over the years.  

So, let's discuss some different ways to study. I am generally able to produce one or two audio lectures per week. These are announced in our Friday audio update, which we send out by e-mail from the Handiham-notify mailing list. That list has a link to our latest audio page, and you are going to want to look for any updates to the General lecture series. The audio page also lists links to magazine digests and any changes in audio lectures for Technician and Extra. However, you will want to concentrate on General Class. If you have questions about a concept in the audio lectures, you may e-mail us:

One of the benefits of ARRL membership is that you can get that kind of an e-mail address that you can keep when you change Internet providers. The phone number for the Handiham office is 612-775-2291. You can call that number if you have a question about the audio lecture series that cannot be answered by e-mail, but because of the volume of phone calls that I get it is recommended that you send me your questions about the audio lecture series by e-mail. That way, I can research the answer to your question so that I can get back to you with the most complete explanation possible.  

You may also be interested in some reference books in print that will be useful for your studies. The books that we recommend are The ARRL General Class License Manual Eighth Edition.  This book includes the entire General Class question pool and explanations about the concepts and regulations related to each question.

If you are blind, you are probably not going to be interested in a print book and may want to simply study using the audio lecture series.  You may wish to request the NLS cartridge version of the ARRL General Class License Manual, which is available from Handihams starting late October 2016.  Contact for details. 

After you get some serious studying under your belt, it is time to think about taking some practice examinations. I think probably most of you already know about taking practice examinations on the World Wide Web. Although there are several excellent practice websites, the one that we have found that is most consistently blind-accessible and well-maintained with accessibility for people with disabilities in mind is the AA9PW website, which you can find at

Now, lets mention a word about taking practice examinations. It is tempting to get overly-dependent on simply memorizing the question-and-answer pool by taking lots and lots of practice exams on the Internet. In fact, it is possible to familiarize yourself enough with the question pool to be successful in your real exam by just taking lots of practice examinations and doing memorization. However, as I said before, my goal in this audio lecture course is to make sure that you have a working understanding of the electronics, the laws of physics, the operating practices, and the rules and regulations that you will need long after you pass your examination! Believe me; you are going to find that understanding the concepts comes in very useful later on. Therefore, it is our goal in this course to do more than simply memorize to pass the test.  

Does that mean that memorization is bad? Of course not! In fact, some things just have to be memorized. Things like rules and regulations "are what they are" and you should feel comfortable memorizing them. I will attempt to explain the reasoning behind rules and regulations when it is important and necessary to do so. Some of the regulations, such as the ones relating to allocated frequencies, are simply things to memorize and that is that. If I can offer any tips and tricks on how to remember things, I will certainly try to do so. There are other concepts in HF operation such as radio wave propagation where you will benefit from an explanation of how it works in a little bit more depth. That will be useful information when you are involved in contesting or working DX later on in your amateur radio career.  

Now, back to the question pool itself for a minute. As I said, your examination is only going to be 35 multiple-choice questions. These 35 questions will be taken from the pool of 456 Element 3 General Class questions. The way the question pools are structured, they are divided into 10 sections and the examination that you will take will have questions pulled from each of those 10 sections. These sections are called "sub elements" and they all start with the letter "G" followed by a single numerical digit from 1 to 0.  For the first time, we have divided the question pool in audio format up into these sub elements and then further divided each sub element by topic. The topics are designated starting with the G, which stands for General, then comes the sub element number, such as 1, followed by the topic, which is designated by a letter, such as A.  For example, sub element G4 is "Amateur Radio Practices". Under that sub element, we find G4A, which covers questions related to "Station Operation and Set up". So if we check into that section of the Handiham audio question pool, we will hear Handiham volunteer reader Bob Zeida, N1BLF, reading the questions related to that topic area. I think this will make it easier for you to keep things sorted out as you work on your studies, because you can use our list of sub elements and topic areas to find the part of the question pool that you want to review. One thing you will notice as you look at the question pool is that the subsections will be mentioned along with the number of questions that will be on your exam from that section.  Here is an example: SUBELEMENT G1 - COMMISSION'S RULES [5 Exam Questions - 5 Groups].  What that means is that your examination is going to have 5 questions out of this section.  You will also notice that there are five groups in this subsection. One question will be taken out of each of the groups in the subsection.  Once you understand how that works, it makes it easier to plan your studies and especially your review before taking the real test.

We are also going to talk about some of the best radios for HF operation, and we will cover accessibility features.  There is a lot of fun out there on the HF bands, just waiting for you!  

Again, please email us at  if you have any questions.  Let us know when you pass your exam, too.   Happy studying!  

Patrick Tice
Handiham Program Coordinator



Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute 
handiham Program
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