We are the Pell City VE Team. We are coordinated by the ARRL. What does that mean? That means that all of our testing material originates from the ARRL. They make up the tests from the FCC approved test question pools and then send them to us. They also give us all of our rules by which we give tests except for the very few that we have given ourselves. I will go into that further on. I have decided to become the contact person for our Team. I am John Higgins/KE4GHC and you can reach me by clicking my callsign anywhere on this page. I will answer any ham radio related questions that you want to ask me. There are several other VE's that show up at the test session on a regular basis. Sometimes there are more, sometimes there are fewer. The ARRL requires us to have a minimum of 3 VE's present whenever a test is given. So whenever we give a test there will be at least 3 of us there to keep everything legal. Most of the VE's in the Pell City VE Team holds an Extra Class license. I have been with the VE team for 6 years but we have been giving tests for many more than that. Many of the VE's live in Pell City but some of us live out of town, and even out of the county. The majority of us however come from Saint Clair County, and Pell City. This way you can be sure that there will always be enough VE's when you show up.
The what is giving Ham Radio Exams. Since we are VE's, we of course give the ham radio exams. We can give you all of them. All of the VE's are Extra class hams. This is not bragging. The FCC says that if you are not an extra you can't give extra class exams. So our whole team are Extras, that way we don't have to sweat not having enough VE's if one of us can't make it.
There are only 3 ham exams that you can take. They are all written tests. These tests are called Technician, General, and Extra. The morse code exam is no longer required. That is right, you no longer need to learn morse code, or 'CW' as we hams call it. Now you can become a full fledged ham by taking 3 written exams. No need for the code.
The basic structure of the different licenses you can earn
Technician by passing the element 2 exam.
General by passing the element 3 exam.
Extra by passing the element 4 exam.
Pretty easy to follow really. The only catch is that you have to pass the tests in order. Before we can give you the General written you have to pass the Technician written, or have proof of passing it elsewhere. Same thing for the Extra, you have to pass the General and Tech or etc.
Please be aware that we have to send a copy of your proof in when we submit your tests to the ARRL. We do not have a photocopier so we can't make a copy of it ourselves. This means that you should have copies of any CSCE's, Licenses, etc before coming to take the exam. If you have any questions about this send me an email.
*** Please Note ***
The ARRL forces us to charge an exam fee for anyone who shows up to take the exam. The price of an exam is $14.00 per sitting.
This does not mean that each test costs $14.00 though. The fee is per sitting. You can take all 4 tests if
you wish, but as soon as you fail one, you have to pay another $14.00 to take it again.
Lets say you wish to take the Technician, General, and Extra exams all in one day. We would charge you $14.00 and give you the Technician. When you finished it we would give you the General exam. Then when you finished the General we would give you the Extra exam. All of that for $14.00.
Now lets say that you took the Tech, and then failed the General. We would have to charge you $14.00 to take the General exam again.
There are no longer any FREE written or code tests. If you have any questions about the test fees direct them to 800-927-7583 or VEC@ARRL.ORG You could also go to this website to see the latest fee information, http://www.arrl.org/arrlvec/"
This is what you will need to bring to the exam.
You will need to bring $14.00 for each test you plan to take. You also need to bring us 2 pieces of identification so that we can verify who you are. The FCC does not want us to give one person a test and have another person get credit for it. So we ask that you bring us some ID. If you are too young to have any you will need to bring a birth certificate and someone to vouch for you, preferably a relation that has ID.
If you have taken any tests elsewhere you will need to give us a COPY of your CSCE. That is what you get when you pass a test. It stands for Certificate of Successful Completion of Examination. When you pass a test, the VE will check off what you have passed and wether you have earned a license. If you did get a license you only have to keep it till the FCC sends your license. If you did not get a license you must bring it so that you can show it to us, and give us a photocopy of it that we can send off with whatever you do at our test session. When you get done with your tests at our session we will give you a CSCE if you pass any tests. This is your only proof that you have taken and passed the tests. If you lose it and you need the proof later on you will be out of luck. I know firsthand. I passed my Extra written, then 11 months later I passed the 20WPM. Much to my dismay, I had lost my CSCE for the Extra Written. I had to take the blame thing over. So if you are smart you will keep it safe until you get your license.
If you would like to take a practice exam to see how you will do on the test click this link. Take an Exam.
The when is easy enough. We almost always give our exams on the third Saturday of every month at 12:30 PM. We may also participate in hamfests or give special test sessions to accommodate those who cannot make it on Saturdays. The special sessions are few and far between and will not be announced here. If you are wondering about them e-mail me to find out if we will be giving them. We will give them if there will be enough people to make it worth our while. Your best bet is to count on the Third Saturday. We have not missed one yet and I cannot foresee us missing one anytime in the future. To see the official schedule for ours or any other ARRL test sessionClick here!
The where is a little bit harder. I
have included some maps so that you can find us as easily as
possible. It is hard to give directions that everyone can find. Sometimes people consider a flashing yellow light a stop light
and sometimes the city of Pell City makes all of the lights flash
yellow, when they should be swapping from red, to yellow to
green. So, you can use the directions at your own risk. There are two maps. The General map is just that. A general
map of northern Alabama with a red circle around the general area of Pell
City. The street map is a Street map. It will show you the layout of Pell City and
has a red line and a circle showing you where we will be testing. The
Street map also has directions that will get you to the session if you are
coming from North, South, East or West.
Beginning on 11/21/2015 we have moved our testing location to the St. Clair County EMA building. It is located directly off Highway 78 (Cogswell Avenue) and is fairly easy to get to. You will need to part behind the building, near the tall tower. Then walk to the rear of the building where the door to the basement is. Please call and we will make sure you can get it. This is a secure building, so you will need to call when you arrive. We will check to be sure no one is stuck outside.
Why do we give these tests? That is a good question. It varies from person to person. I can only tell you why I give exams. I cannot tell you why anyone else does. I give the exams because I feel that it is one of the best ways that I can help the ham community. I can not design nifty electronic gizmos for hams, and my personality does not let me go out and 'sell' ham radio to the world at large. I have to do something to help the community besides getting on the air and trying to follow the rules to the letter. We should all do that. The rules are there because they are what separate us from pirates on the air. So how can I go that extra mile and show that I appreciate the availability of the ham radio spectrum and make sure that the Fed's keep it around for as long as possible. By giving ham radio exams to as many people as I can. The more taxpayers that have taken the tests and hold a license, the fewer there are that want the Ham frequencies opened up to anyone and everyone.
It is also very satisfying to see someone who has studied for who knows how long hear that they have passed. When a person hears they passed the test their faces light up and you can see how happy they are. It also reminds you how happy you were when you passed the tests. It also keeps you interested in ham radio. You hear the new licenses saying how they can't wait to get on the air, and you begin to feel the same way.
If you have not considered becoming a VE you should. It is very satisfying personally and it also helps keep ham radio healthy and running strong. If you would like to become an ARRL VE click on the picture below.