Practically Intermediate

The UK has three ham license levels; Foundation, Intermediate and Full. Having just completed my Foundation my energy is focused on the next level. Similar to the Foundation but different to the US approach, the Intermediate has a practical assessment followed by a multiple choice exam. The difference is the practical and while the Foundation focuses on operating competence the Intermediate is focused on electronic basics.

The RSGB publishes an 82 page study guide that I have found fun and invaluable.

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Invaluable!

Despite having the US equivalent of a Full license there are things I’ve forgotten or maybe after a beer I might admit had misunderstood. Working may way through the study guide, I decided to build all the circuits no mater how trivial simply to fully experience the journey and hopefully arrive at my goal having been a bona fide student.

Building a Simple DC Circuit (Worksheet 5)

The main goal is to provide a first taste of soldering for participants. My Manhattan style construction layout is almost identical to that in the book.

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Dab of superglue on a MeSquare and then straight to copper board
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Completed but the rechargeable Eneloop batteries result in a dim lightbulb

The neat thing is that the circuit I built is then used and modified in subsequent practicals. Next up is measuring Potential Difference and Current.

Measuring Potential Difference (Worksheet 9) and Current (Worksheet 10)

The worksheets have a series of steps which I followed diligently recording as I measured and then calculating as instructed.

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Measuring with a voltmeter, recording and calculating. All results as expected.
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Measuring current which over a beer I might confess I had forgotten it was done in series

Measuring Resistance (Worksheet 14)

Truth is I’ve always wanted to be an electrical engineer and starting a Physics degree in the UK it might have happened. Unfortunately I was corrupted and end up as a software engineer and points beyond. So when I became a Gentleman Idler it was a perfect opportunity to fulfill that childhood dream. Not so easy it turns out but I did assemble a very nice “junk box” full of capacitors, resistors, transistors etc. Rummaging through these parts that came from reputable and suspect sources made me realize that determining a resistors value by reading the colored bands possibly a fools errand. Violet versus red versus brown arent always that easy to determine.

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Parallel and series resistor practical
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Confirming that a 27k, 6.2k and 3k resistor in series is equivalent to a single ~36.2k resistor

Calibrating a VFO (Worksheet 22) 

Building the VFO is optional but one part of the overall practical examination is to build the VFO that you will then calibrate in this step and use it as your construction project.

Click here to read about my VFO build

Using Diodes (Worksheet 24)

For this practical I had to modify the Simple DC Circuit from Worksheet 5. Remove the light bulb and replace it with a light emitting diode (LED) and in addition remove the bypass wire across R2. Easy to do and a very faint red LED could be seen radiating in my shack.

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Fresh set of AA help light up my red LED

Using a Transistor as a Switch (Worksheet 26)

Following the practical construction to the letter was a wise choice as it makes it easier to  modify the circuits for subsequent practicals including this one where a transistor is used to turn on or off my red LED. To add to the excitement we get to demonstrate that my wet finger is a conductor.

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The strange triffid between B and +ve is the newly inserted transistor

and here is a little video of my finger doing its bit…..

All round a fun time and I’m looking forward to the exam and practicals in late May.

Edinburgh here I come.

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