What is the M3 / M6 Foundation Course

The entry Level is the Foundation licence

This is a new licence that was introduced in January 2002. 

The Foundation licence is designed to get you involved in amateur radio as quickly as possible. 

But before you are allowed to transmit 'live' it is important that you know a little bit about how your radio works, the dangers of interfering with other radio users, how not to upset your neighbours or your parents (if you are a young person) and the rules and regulations of holding a radio transmitting licence.How do you learn these new skills ?.

By taking the Foundation licence training course, which is an integral part of of obtaining a Foundation licence. 

Most of the training is practical. There is a small amount of radio and electronics theory but only enough for you to appreciate things like using the correct fuses in your equipment and how to build an antenna to get the most out of your radio station. 

Don't be afraid of the thought of having to undertake a training course.

The courses are run in a friendly informal atmosphere by experienced radio amateurs. 

The course will take about 10-12 hours to complete at the end of which you will sit an examination comprising of twenty five multiple choice questions.

Your exam paper will be marked on the spot. Foundation Courses at the Widnes & Runcorn ARC are run over a weekend.

Once you have passed the exam you get your 'PASS' certificate and you are on your way!

When you have been issued with your own individual M3 or M6 series callsign you will be able to operate on all bands with the exception of the 28MHz band without supervision but with a power restriction of 10 Watts. 

This is a fairly low level of power but with the experience you will quickly gain this will enable you to communicate around the world.


What Am I allowed ?

All Foundation Licensees are allowed 10 Watts  Maximum (this is power at the antenna) - with the exception of  137kHz where a maximum of 1 Watt is used.

You are allowed all HF allocations with the exception of 28MHz (as previously mentioned) and all the way up to 70cms.

The equipment MUST be commercial or approved kits, absolutely NO home construction is allowed (with the exception of ATUs and such like).

For more information see the Ofcom Website - these are the guidelines for the licence - and they must be obeyed !


What does the course entail ?

Many courses follow a similar system, but they're all fundamentally the same.

Our Foundation courses are run over a weekend from 9am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday.

Normally there is about 1 hour for lunch, a few 15 minute tea-breaks throughout the day.

On the Sunday, the Exam is at around 3pm, but on the Saturday you will be given the timetable for the weekend, so you know where you'll be at what time....

Dependent on numbers - we split off into groups of 4 - 6

Each one has its own allocated  personal tutor, who will be on hand during the break out sessions to answer any questions - perhaps those you didn't think about during the previous lesson, or something that's simply bugging you.

The Morse Assessment is probably the easiest part of the entire weekend - You need no previous knowledge of Morse, as you work from a crib-sheet, which has the alphabet on it - You are then sent about 30 characters of Morse (at about 5WPM) and then you send about the same amount of characters - Do not worry, your Morse tutors will guide you faultlessly through the whole experience.

As mentioned, there is also a practical session, here you are taught how to set up a station and how to operate at both VHF and HF - This is usually the part that tends to over-run as some people want a second go !.

There is usually an extended 'break-out' session before the exam - Just to clear up any last minute problems.

What ?

The test.....25 Questions, Multi-Choice and 45 Minutes, you need to get 18 correct (75%) to pass…

Your exam paper will be marked on the spot..Once you have passed the exam you get your ‘PASS' certificate and you are on your way! 

When you have been issued with your own individual M3 series callsign you will be able to operate on all bands with the exception of the 28MHz band without supervision but with a power restriction of 10 Watts. 

This is a fairly low level of power but with the experience you will quickly gain this will enable you to communicate around the world.


What If I Fail ?

Unfortunately, you will have to pay for a retest and re-sit a test at the next course, or you can come back and re-sit the course.  So long as you have your purple sheet (see below) you'll be OK


What if I miss one of the days ?

If you miss one of the days - you can (prior to arrangement) turn up during the next course.


The Purple Sheet

You carry with you at all times, during the course, a purple sheet - LOOK AFTER IT!!!!! - It tells us (and the RSGB) what you've done, and haven't done.

Should you move out of the area, or you wish to follow up the course elsewhere, this purplesheet will allow the examiners elsewhere, to know where you are at.


© Stephen Roberts 2014