The Chelsea Amateur Radio Club announces the “I Hate Cookbooks Guide to Amateur Radio Electromagnetics” training. This is designed for the amateur with little electronics knowledge but an intense desire to upgrade to the General or Extra amateur classes.
For those intimidated by mathematics, brief introductions to such things as imaginary numbers and normalized impedances will be presented at an elementary school level.
Classes meet each Tuesday from 6-7pm by video conference. The primary presenter will be Wes Cardone (N8QM) who believes that cookbooks make it too hard to learn that part of electromagnetics necessary to upgrade one’s amateur radio license. Cookbooks ask you to memorize equations and other unnatural things which you will forget.
At the time of this writing, Wes has two volunteers to help with presentations when Wes can’t make it. Both volunteers are highly skilled electrical engineers. This level of knowledge is important, not to be able to address advanced questions, but to be able to communicate to the student in relevant fashion physical processes.
But at the same time, Wes has made no claim to expert knowledge on demand. Because this is an ad-hoc learning environment, there will be times when Wes says that he doesn’t know or have the answer. There will be times for all three of us to step back and say, “I’ll need to check on that.” But what is likely to transpire under those conditions is that we step back and look at the underlying processes behind the question. That’s the engineering practice for addressing unknowns where there are no cookbooks.
You may ask, “What are some of the unnatural things from the FCC pool questions?” One really good example is the FCC pool question that asks you to memorize the number 468 for use in solving for the length of wire needed for a di-pole antenna. Where the heck did 468 come from? Did somebody pull it from his hat like pulling a rabbit out of a hat?
But 468 is only the beginning. That number is only for use if working in English units. There is another completely different number if working in metric units.
The number 468 comes from a cookbook approach to understanding electromagnetics. Where does it come from? What are its limitations? What are its boundaries for use? What assumptions does 468 make?
The net result is that if you learn electromagnetics cookbook-style, you will never be an innovator. You will always be looking for somebody’s cookbook to do any project that strikes your fancy. You will always be asking other amateurs questions on how do go about solving things. And then, may heaven help you if your cookbook has a typographical error.
The downside to hating cookbooks, of course, is that the path to upgrading is much longer. With a cookbook you can quickly memorize a bunch of things and get your upgrade the next day. We don’t want to suggest that such an approach has no value. You are actually learning some things and that has value.
What we do suggest, however, is for you to determine what your goals are. Maybe all that you are interested in is getting access to a widened set of HF frequencies to work. Or maybe you value being called the coveted Extra Class amateur operator to impress your friends and relatives. These are all really good reasons to stick with the cookbook approach and relegate yourself to the limitations thereof.
We at the “I Hate Cookbooks Institute” hate cookbooks and we think that you should hate cookbooks, too. They make learning electromagnetics too hard.