By ‘eck! we did it.

by George on 29 December 2012

So what did we do this year?

It’s a quiet Saturday morning and someone is kind enough to do a summary of their project which you have been part of. This of course makes you think what you did or maybe didn’t achieve this year.

The project here is the Advanced amateur radio exam where the pass rate turns out to be a very respectable 88% with the actual pass mark in the exam being 60%. With 62 questions, that means getting 37 of them correct. For years the exams have been multiple choice with (nearly always) 4 answers to choose from and you have two hours. The standard is somewhere between O & A Level and reminds one very much of the school science lab. While the Foundation and Intermediate Licences lend themselves to two or three long days of study, the much larger Advanced syllabus is much better tackled by attending a college or local radio club or distance learning. Enter here the Bath-based Advanced Distance Learning group run by Steve Hartley with local marker/tutors for the weekly homework including Alan Betts, author of RSGB Exam textbooks. Each tutor handles about 10 students giving detailed feedback on errors and omissions. The study plan over 20-odd weeks includes catch up weeks and works very well.

Full Speed works Best

68 students register, the biggest class ever. One shares the material with a friend who does not have an internet connection, so 69 start of us start in June. Of these 13 choose the half-speed option where the course lasts a year leaving 56 in the main class where the exam is in early December. 35 students actually book for the exam with one not attending the exam due to car trouble, 3 failing and one who has not reported his results yet. Two are planning to take to exam early 2013.

With hindsight, the full speed 6 month course is the right choice. Sunday mornings work very well for my own 3 hour weekly study but even so it is amazing how much one forgets from only 3 months previously. This must be far worse on a 12 month course.

So if you have a goal and join the right group or have the right tutors, it is amazing what you can achieve. My original aim was to get the Foundation, but after that, why stop? Besides the excellent BBADL course, there is loads of stuff on YouTube where the mysteries of capacitors, transistors, Ohm’s LawKirchoff’s Law, electromagnetic radiation &c are explained. Different styles suit different people and with the workings of transistors & capacitors for example, it is easy to find say, four different videos where if one video doesn’t illustrate it, another one will.

Catchie vo Satchie?

Most memorable of these perhaps is Glesga Physics where the mysteries of the universe are explained in a thick Glasgow accent. Narrator is Professor Valdo whom you can follow on Twitter @glesgaphysics finishing each of his videos with the phrase “Catchie vo satchie!” Can someone translate please? Makes me wonder, how long before someone does a Geordie version?

Ages of students range from 20s to 60s with an average age of about 50.

Other achievements of 2012? Volunteer work now includes working in a homeless shelter, a project run by 7 north London churches, where because of charities like Crisis at Christmas we get a short break over Christmas & New Year.

Most memorable failure to achieve? Since being a given a beautiful racing bike for a birthday, I have always wanted to set off the speed camera on the A1 going down to Archway. The camera is slightly downhill from the Archway Bridge known locally as the Suicide Bridge and would need around 40 mph to set it off, but with increasingly crowded London roads, not to mention 14 London Cyclists fatalities this year, I can wait.

What was your proudest achievement this year? Use the Comment box below.


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