Amateur Radio Exam Training a New Team

Amateur Radio, Testing

By:Mark Gibson (N4MQU)

King Public Library PTVET



The first exam session is a pivotal movement for a new amateur radio testing team.  The new team leader KX4ZQ took the two hour drive to Fuquay-Varina multiple times to witness how established teams did their exam session.  In this case he had two teams and locations to learn from. Five County VE Team (FCVET) and Central Carolina VE Team (CenCar) do our testing session in similar but they both follow the rules under the administration  of Laurel VEC. FCVET followed the process we learned in developing CenCar.  Allow the potential new team leader to do everything.  Update the computer print documents give instructions work through the computer glitches.  I make it a practice to allow the VE’s on the team to learn how to do everything in the testing process. While training the CenCar team it got to the point doing exam sessions I was able to set back and observe. Giving the session  manager (the person that operates the computer) during the exam session seems to be the best way to train an individual.

Computer Tips

Computer issues during the exam is the biggest issue we’ve had.  The computer tries to update and slows down the section manager program. The teams computer should pause the update of the computer.  I found this article.  The biggest problem I had doing the early days was the printer. I kept plugging the printer to the wrong connector on the printer.  The printer I have now there is only one choice.  Another problem if you use your printer on the WiFi at home and connect it at the test session there seems to be an issue transitioning to the portable operation.

Distractions During the Exam

Sometimes it is necessary to communicate during the exam. Try to keep noise down while testing is going on between team members.  You can’t control noise inside the venue but you can do so within the exam site.  After everyone completes the exam it is important to remain as quiet as possible while the session manager is completing the paperwork.  Use the pass fail percentage chart to check your grading work. Don’t let errors get to your section manager. 

Before and After the Exam

Before the exam the team leader has to establish the schedule.  This will be based on venue and the teams availability.  


The next thing is advertising.  Initially the VEC’s website then ARRL’s website. After that any of the available ham radio sites QRZ, eHam, others. But don’t forget the community websites and Facebook community sites. We need to get the non hams to learn about the availability of people of all ages to get their license.

Customer Service 

When I first became a team leader I heard from applicants that thanked me for responding so quickly.  They had been to other teams and they never heard from them.  I decided at that time to respond within 24 hours.  I have a text document I saved with answers to frequently ask questions that usually answers all the questions.  I acknowledge the registration of the applicants with the venues address and study tips. After the exam I notify them individually with their call sign and information for new ham radio operators. One thing we need to do better is getting new hams on the radio.

VE’s Responsibility 

Notify your team leader as soon as you know you may miss the exam or if there is a possibility you may miss it.  Three VE’s is the minimum but I like six.  Review your policy manual frequently.  If you want more responsibility or a different job let the team leader know.

FCVET Job Titles

From Richard Hall (K7RLH) CenCar


Repeated  opportunities for operation of SM is essential to grasping the nuances of the software and easing one’s mind when operating as I did (by myself) for the first time without your presence on 5 June 2021.  I believe that, while everyone learns by different methods, this is the surest approach to retention of the process.  Call it ‘hands on’ or ‘OJT’ or whatever, but practice makes life easier and hopefully one will have a session without errors.

From Christopher Cancilla (W4CEC) W4CEC VE Team


Procedure is important.

Not my procedure or your procedure, the new team leaders procedure

Each person is unique, learns and understands a different way, but all of the way, the paths, we use will get to the same result.

The result is important, not the way you get there.
A core team is important.

Use the core team to train new VE’s

Do not train them yourself, you have enough to do.

Percentage Chart

Pre-Test Instructions


From Tony Hall (WW4TCH) Deputy Director (CenCar)
My Amateur Radio journey has been an interesting one.  I was originally licensed as KB4LWW in 1984.  I was 12.  But school, scouts, college got in the way and I allowed my license to expire.  I tested with FCHRE on June 6, 2020 and passed my Technicians exam and became KO4EBO.  Then I sat back and said , “Now I have it, what am I going to do with it?”  I decided in August 2020 that I wanted to get involved with emergency communication and realized I needed at least a General Class license to be effective.  I tested with FCHRE on September 26, 2020 and passed my General.  Once glitch was that I had applied for a new vanity call and that was granted the day that I took the exam.  There was some confusion but the FCHRE Team and Laurel VEC worked it out.  On Monday, I was WW4TCH, General Class operator.  I initially was not interest in going for my Extra but was told that while it wasn’t required, Extra Class was encouraged to be as effective as possible.  So I tested with FCHRE on November 7, 2020 and passed my Extra Class exam.  Mark immediately asked me if I want to be a VE.  I believe in giving back to the interests I have and said yes.  On December 5th, 2020 I was a VE on my first session. 
Each session after that was a learning opportunity.  The more experienced team members took every opportunity to train the new team members.  People took different roles are different sessions so they were fully trained. The team would go over the requirements and no corners were cut.  Ever.  Paperwork was checked and rechecked.  No one took for granted what the testing requirements were.  That makes an impact on the team members that are training.
In summer of 2021, The CenCar testing group was established and Richard Hall as leader and he asked me to be one of his deputys.  On October 2, 2021 I served for the first time as the Session Manager with Richard Hall providing instruction during the session. It has been an extremely rewarding 11 months. 
I believe the success in building these teams comes from Mark’s passion which is infectious.  The whole team is enthusiastic and motivated.  That, I believe, is the “secret sauce”.  You can teach someone how to grade the exam, check ID’s, provide testing instructions and run Session Manager.  You can’t teach them to care, and be generous with their time.
I am very proud of what FCHRE has accomplished and am honored to be part of such an outstanding team.


Editors Note:  Tony Hall is not related to Richard Hall. We had to do a manual entry for Tony’s general exam because the database we use hadn’t been updated.  A question on the 605 asks does the applicant has any applications before the FCC that had not been acted upon by the FCC.  The answer was no but it wasn’t updated in the db.  We had to do a manual application and Tony had to come back to sign the paperwork.  At the time I wasn’t sure what was going on.


FCHRE Building on a Legacy

Amateur Radio, Testing

By: Mark Gibson (N4MQU)

The first document amateur radio operator in Wendell, NC in 1930.  W4AVT G.H. Wright, Jr.  He happened to be the post master of Wendell. Five County Ham Radio Enthusiast started testing in Wendell on July 3, 2021.  We have had 20 applicants testing so far.  9 have passed the technician exam, 6 have passed the general exam and 3 have passed the extra class exam.

Third Thursday of September Exam

Amateur Radio, BRTC, Testing

By: N4MQU 

KK4ZQ Jeffrey Webster Team leader Piedmont Triad VE Team

Thanks to the VE team KK4QEF, K4WCA, W2CK, N4MQU, KX4ZQ

We have three new amateur radio operators to announce!
KO4TIN of Raleigh
KO4TIO of North Myrtle Beach, SC
KO4TIP of Raleigh

Be sure to welcome them as they get on the air.

I love those weekday exams the new amateurs getting the call the same day as the exam. Thanks to KX4ZQ for being the session manager. Good luck to him as he establishes his new team in Winston Salem.


Same no charge service two new locations

Amateur Radio, Testing, Weekly Report

By: Mark Gibson (N4MQU)

Next Saturday August 7 is the date when the new team of Central Carolina VE team will have their first exam at the American Legion in Fuquay the exam starts at 10:00 AM. Wendell will have the HF antenna workshop at 1:00 PM exam will be at 2:30 PM details for the Wendell event

Registration for both exams

Five County expands to Virginia!

Not really but it sounds good.  My Virginia Fone Net friend Mark Horner (KX4ZG) started his own Laurel VE Team Westmoreland Amateur Radio Club VE Team and asked me to come up to train the new members.  I was blown away by Mark and his wife’s hospitality.  He had his first exam session and one of the applicants came away with Extra.  Be sure to send your friends in the area to that club.


Berryville Hamfest 

The Berryville Hamfest came the next day after the exam session.  I didn’t buy anything but met a great many friends and even shook hands with Marv Hoffman (WA4NC). He is currently the NC section manager but is running for the Roanoke Division Director and would appreciate ARRL members  support.  We need more volunteers and I applaud anyone that steps up and run for office.
I took some video I hope to post on the website.

Sunday night at 7:00 PM

14 Repeaters are on the Raleigh Carolina 440 UHF Link System full time covering over 45,000 square milesof mobile coverage. In addition to the RF Linked repeaters *Expandable coverage using IRLP, AllStar and EchoLink are available. 

Thanks for reading.  Remember I know some post you are not interested in.  There are various options like muting the topic.  You don’t have to leave the group.
Mark Gibson 

Amateur Radio Workshop HF Antennas

Testing, Workshop

By: Mark Gibson (N4MQU)

Wendell, NC Five County Ham Radio Enthusiasts (FCHRE) is pleased to announce it’s first amateur radio workshop topic and speaker.  The topic will be HF antennas by Curt Phillips (W4CP). The workshop will take place on August 7, 2021 at 1:00 PM. The location will be Wendell United Methodist Church, 129 N Main St, Wendell, NC 27591

Curt Phillips has been a licensed amateur radio operator since he was 13 years old, over 50 years now.  He has written on radio, electronics and engineering topics for numerous national publications, and has taught radio, electronics and energy engineering topics at NC State and Virginia Tech among other universities, as well for several local community colleges.  He is a Life member of the American Radio Relay League.

Amateur radio exams will be given following the workshop at 2:30. All applicants must have a FRN issued by the FCC or a call sign and a valid email address.  There is no charge for the exam. Walk-ins will be accepted but registration is preferred.  Please register at

For background

FCHRE was recently recognized by the largest amateur radio fraternity in the United States the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) North Carolina section manager for their superior efforts involved in organizing Volunteer Examination Sessions during the COVID 19 Pandemic.

From the Federal Communication Commissions website

The amateur and amateur-satellite services are for qualified persons of any age who are interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest. These services present an opportunity for self-training, intercommunication, and technical investigations. Twenty-nine small frequency bands throughout the spectrum are allocated to this service internationally. Some 1,300 digital, analog, pulse, and spread-spectrum emission types may be transmitted.

Our regular dinner gatherings are held on the fourth Thursday of every month at Mclean’s in Zebolon starting at 6:00 PM.  

Image Description:  A rod supporting one end of a HF antenna.  The antenna was used at a special event station celebrating 80+ years of the Virginia Fone Net. 


Poll results

Amateur Radio, Testing, Weekly Report


Our Monthly Gathering 

Please Join us Thursday July 22 at 6:00 PM at our monthly gathering at Mclean’s  in Zebolon. 418 W Gannon Ave, Zebulon, NC 27597

Dinner starts at 6:00 PM tell them at the front the radio club.  

Repeater in that area is 444.875+  100.0 PL. 

Weekly Net

Please join us tonight at 7:00PM  for the Five County Ham Radio Enthusiasts net on the Carolina 440 network. You will be able to find your closest repeater at  If you are not close to the repeater or  are unlicensed and you would like to  listen on line try Tony Hall (WW4TCH) is our regular net control station. 

Thanks to the Carolina 440 net for the use of the repeater. If you would like to help see  Tell them FCHRE sent you.

Add to your QRZ page

If you are a US Amateur you have a QRZ page.  Go to their FAQ section to get help.  

Poll Results 

Amateur Radio Workshop topics top votes.  Looks like more of our voters are interested in HF Antennas with 17 votes followed by a tie Basic home amateur radio station and Portable HF antenna considerations.  Both of those had 9 votes.  If you have expertise in this area please send me a message we will get you scheduled.  We can start at 1:00 PM for the workshop and the exam would start at 2:30 so that will give you 90 minutes.  Our workshop will be on August 7at Wendell United Methodist Church.  

Our next exam

Don’t forget we will have two locations for our first Saturday exam.these exams will be August 7 in Fuquay Varina and Wendell.  Details and registration at

We have exams available at Banks Road on the Third Thursday and by appointment.

Weekly Net

Please join us tonight at 7:00PM  for the Five County Ham Radio Enthusiasts net on the Carolina 440 network. You will be able to find your closest repeater at  If you are not close to the repeater or  are unlicensed and you would like to  listen on line try Tony Hall (WW4TCH) is our regular net control station. 

Thanks to the Carolina 440 net for the use of the repeater. If you would like to help see  Tell them FCHRE sent you.

Mark Gibson 

Launch on need vehicle

Amateur Radio, BRTC, Testing

As the shuttle program came to a close NASA decided to prepare a shuttle in case STS-134 had any issues they would be able to launch another shuttle to rescue the crew.     See Launch on needThe rescue shuttle launch was not needed and NASA launched the last shuttle as STS-135 and the Russians provided the launch on need support.

The Banks Road campus was offered to the FCVET for a test facility when the various fire stations closed their doors to the community due to the pandemic. Our first exam at Banks Road was March 7, 2020.

Thanks to the owners of Supreme. T-shirts & Apparel Paulette (K4PKD) and Stan (W2CK) Disbrow that allows us to use their office in the capital city of Raleigh for amateur radio testing. While some the other established clubs in the area were cutting out the in-person exams in favor of the on-line exams or not doing it all the informal Five County Ham Radio Enthusiasts (FCHRE) clubs VE team FCVET decided to continue to offer regular scheduled amateur radio exams. Here is an article  when we celebrated our first anniversary.

At our last scheduled Saturday testing session I congratulate the following upgrades to Extra.

KK4MZS of Fayetteville

KO4TWA of Wake Forest

I congratulate the following upgrades to General

KO4RNG of Garner

KM4BMQ of Cary

And the following  new amateur radio amateur radio Operators

New Generals

KO4RUA of Holy Springs

KO4RUG of  Cary

New Technicians

KO4RUB of Apex

KO4RUC of Hillsborough

KO4RUD of Raleigh

KO4RUE of Raleigh

KO4RUF of Clayton

KO4RUH of Raleigh

Please sure to welcome them as they get on the air.  

We will not have exams in July on the third Thursday but will continue testing at Banks Road on the Third Thursday of the month starting in August.  We will also continue testing by appointments at anytime agreeable to any FCVET deputy directors and two other VE team members. If you need this accommodation just check other on the   Registration page and make a comment about what day of week and the time frame.

FCHRE New Wendell Venue

Amateur Radio, Testing

Wendell United Methodist Church

By: Mark Gibson(N4MQU)

Lately I felt it necessary to explain FIve County Ham Radio Enthusiasts didn’t start off as a amateur radio volunteer examiner team.  A few of us wanted to have a place to go to locally where we would not have to drive to Smithfield and Raleigh but still get together to discuss amateur radio.  We started testing in 2018 in Wendell and found the fire stations in nearby towns very agreeable to allowing us to use their facility to test in.

When the pandemic closed the facilities to us one of our members offered to allow us to use their private office on Banks Road in Raleigh.  Due to the pandemic and parking limitations we had to start scheduling exams instead of having one session in a day we had several. We adapted and had over 130 Certificate of Successful Completion of Examination (CSCE) issued from Banks Road.  

So that brings us to today.  I started checking around for venues specifically in Wendell and found Wendell United Methodist Church agreeable to allowing us to use the facility.

The first Saturday in July wasn’t scheduled to be our exam date due to Independence Day but since the facility was available and we found VE’s willing to serve we decided to hold one.  This was mainly for us to check out the facility to see what was available to us.  The volunteers examiners for the inaugural testing session was KK4QEF, N4EVT, K4EUP, AJ4NX, AI8U, N4MQU, W2CK.  All but two were from Wendell! We had four visitors come to the meet and greet event.  One of them Gary Ybarra (KO4LRJ) decided to volunteer to become a VE. Two of the guest decided to take the extra class examination.  One of the guest suggested with this facility we could handle a amateur radio workshop event and offered to take the lead in this effort.  

FCVET was recently recognized by the largest amateur radio fraternity in the United States the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) North Carolina section manager for their superior efforts involved in organizing Volunteer Examination Sessions during the COVID 19 Pandemic. 

There are over 3,000 amateur radio operators in Wake County.

The team was the first team in North Carolina to offer no charge amateur radio exams.

Wendell amateur radio workshops will be held on the first Saturday of every month at 1:00 PM.  The no charge amateur radio exams will be held at 2:30.  Study tips and registration.

Thanks to the Wendell United Methodist Church for allowing us to use this facility.  

I had to put my portable office back in service


Fully equipped kitchen

Independence Day Net

Amateur Radio, Testing, Weekly Report

Happy Independence Day!

Amateur radio is one hobby that happens every day including on holidays! One year I was privileged to call the Virginia Fone Net on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.
I will be your substitute net control tonight. Hope to hear you. A couple of weeks ago I received a message on Facebook about someone hearing our net from the Sandhills area. I gave them some information on getting a license and encouraged them to get licensed.
Please join us tonight at 7:00PM for the Five County Ham Radio Enthusiasts net on the Carolina 440 network. You will be able to find your closest repeater at If you are not close to the repeater or are unlicensed and you would like to listen on line try Tony Hall (WW4TCH) is our regular net control station.

Thanks to the Carolina 440 net for the use of the repeater. If you would like to help see Tell them FCHRE sent you.

Our next no charge amateur radio exam is next Saturday July 10. This is our last scheduled exam at Banks Road. We will hold exams there by appointments and maybe continue our once a month weekday exams where the applicants get their call sign in a couple of hours. The VE team is discussing our options.

Two New VE teams formed

Amateur Radio, Testing, Weekly Report


A little history

As most of you know FCVET was the first Laurel VE team formed in North Carolina. I had never lead a VE team and maybe had participated in two or three VE sessions before. That first exam wouldn’t have been successful without WD1U coming all the way to North Carolina from Virginia to help with our first exam. We had a tech in a day class with an exam to follow on the same day. 5 of our 9 students passed. My passion is for free exams. AA5AZ approached me about doing an exam in the Goldsboro area. The Neuse River Basin Team is now set up in that area. W4CEC announced his technician class with the exam to follow the only cost was for the exam fee. I couldn’t let that happen. I got volunteers from several VE teams to sign up with Laurel. I twisted Chris’s arm to form his own team to serve his area and his merit badge and radio classes he teaches. He conducts his classes all they way to Camp Durant to the American Legion building in Wake Forest.

Central Carolina VE Team

Now that things seem to be opening up and K7RLH has decided to start his Central Carolina VE team and serve the Central Wake county area. He has excellent on hands experience and has been a great help on giving exams at Banks Road. He most likely will be testing at the American Legion building in Fuquay-Varina.

Westmoreland Amateur Radio Club VE Team

I also would like to welcome a new Virginia team to the Laurel VEC. I am a member of the Virginia Fone Net and they recently held their convention. I suggested to the manager to hold a VE session there and he agreed I needed a couple of volunteers from the local area and KX4ZG, KC8VFN and W4GMF were the first three from the local area to jump on board. Westmoreland Amateur Radio Club decided to start a new VE team and KX4ZG agreed to become the team leader. They are a ARRL special service club and now they can give exams for free. We tested Friday and Saturday and got two to upgrade to General and one upgraded to Extra. Thanks to the VE’s that volunteered to Friday and or Saturday N4WDC, KC8VFN, KX4VG, AA4GB, N4MQU and WD1U.

FCVET Future

As far as Banks Road we are limited for parking. We are able to keep Banks Road open for appointments and maybe keep our third Thursday exam going. I have an extra set of supplies I can use for testing at special events or private exams or I am also hoping to find a suitable place in Wendell where we could have exams. We have signed up a couple of new VE’s in the Wendell area to help.

Thank you

I really appreciate 76 people that have volunteered to be a FCVET member. I appreciate the 118 applicants we have tested this year (until end of May)This worked out to 65 new Technicians, 31 new or upgraded Generals, 8 new or upgraded to Extra. This represents a savings of $1,770 for the applicants. This does not include the fee for retakes. We had a recent upgrade to Extra class after taking the exam four times. That would cost them $60.00.

Thanks to the ARRL for promoting non-ARRL teams on their website. Thanks to Laurel VEC for offering free exams.

June Dinner Gathering

Our June dinner will be on June 24 at Mclean’s in Zebolon. 418 W Gannon Ave, Zebulon, NC 27597
Dinner starts at 6:00 PM tell them at the front the radio club.
444.875+ 100.0 PL. KF4AUF Wendell, NC


The new moon was Thursday. I still want to take that camping trip the Staunton River State Park.

Thanks for reading,

Mark Gibson (N4MQU)
FCVET Team Leader