Update on My keyboard and an app review: TechExam by WA7MC

My keyboard has been working perfectly for a week and two days! I think that trying until I got the board to seat perfectly did the trick.  I will continue to clean the connections with rubbing alcohol on a regular basis. That did help.


I’d like to review an app on my Windows Phone. It’s called TechExam by WA7MC. The publisher is Mike Clark. I used this application to study for my HAM radio license.  It has a good flashcard system that gives random exams, matching the format of the actual test, and using the question pool.  Some questions require looking at a picture, so the pictures were included as well. I can’t learn from the questions alone – I’m not that kind of memorizer. But by using the app along side my class at a nearby city hall I was able to pass the exam! There are many free web based tests available, but since I spend much of my study time on buses, the $0.99 was well worth the expense. I highly recommend TechExam for anyone with a Windows Phone that wants to pass the Technician level Amateur Radio Exam.

Why I am a HAM

It all started a few years ago. I was struggling to get up the courage to apply for highly technical college programs. The design aspects of the programs I was looking forward to, but not the hardware aspects. Hardware has never been a strong suit of mine. Fortunately, somewhere, a long time ago, I heard that Amateur Radio was a great way to learn electrical engineering. So I kept it in my head to pursue it.

Well, my step-dad’s cousin (I call him Uncle) is a HAM (Amateur Radio Operator), and I mentioned to him that I was thinking about pursuing the license. And, as you can imagine, he got very excited. Ham operators love sharing their hobby. He even purchased a study guide for me as a birthday gift.

Well, I studied, and studied, and took practice tests, and studied. But the material would not stick in my head. As you remember my interested in Amateur Radio came because I had a LOT to learn, not because it was easy. Fortunately, a class in a local city was offered. I couldn’t attend the first time, but they offered it a second time and I jumped at the opportunity. The classes were awesome. I got to learn lots of electronics. Theory only – we didn’t do any real hands on beyond passing components around show and tell like. But it was enough that the terms started to stick. And a good little intro. And at the end of ten weeks, I passed the FCC exam! I barely passed, but I passed.

Now, I’m out there, talking to people on the radio, and even attending a Field Day Competition with my uncle. (Field Day is where clubs set up emergency stations in public places (usually elementary school fields) and practice reaching as many people as they can on the radio. It’s good practice because they get to set up as they would if they were called upon in a city wide emergency to assist emergency communication traffic). And the best thing? The best thing is that my step dad, who never taught me much in the way of electronics growing up, is now helping me make an antenna! So my goal of leaning hardware and electronics is coming to fruition.

That is why I am a Ham.



I’ve been studying for the Ham Radio ARRL Technician level exam for two years as a way to get better at electronics. It’s been working. I’m learning a lot. The problem is that it is excruciatingly slow going. Until this week I couldn’t pass a single practice test. Radio is all theory until I can pass the test and start actually using the radio.
Recently a number of things all came together and changed my pace. Firstly, I got accepted to a Bachelor’s degree program in Informatics. Secondly, due to circumstances, I took Spring quarter off from school. The new program starts in the fall and I have all the prerequisites I need. Thirdly, a class in Ham radio opened up at a city hall a few cities away. We meet once a week for two hours until the test on week 8. Finally, I started the Khan Academy program in Information Science. The material Khan Academy covers is much of what I’m learning in the technician class, from a different angle. Recently I’ve taken two practice tests and passed them both!
Soon I’ll be able to start talking on my radio. It will be good timing too. I know one of the first classes I’ll take in my bachelors program will involve hardware. By then, I pray, the concept won’t scare me so much!