Amateur Radio Prescription and Syllabus

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The Prescription and Syllabus for the New Zealand Amateur Radio Examination

Prescription Version 6, June 2004

General Amateur Operator's Certificate Prescription

An applicant will demonstrate by way of written examination a theoretical knowledge of:-

  • the legal framework of New Zealand radiocommunications
  • the methods of radiocommunication, including radiotelephony,
  • radiotelegraphy, data and image
  • radio system theory, including theory relating to transmitters, receivers, antennas, propagation and measurements
  • electromagnetic radiation
  • electromagnetic compatibility
  • avoidance and resolution of radio frequency interference.

Amateur Examination Procedure and Format

The examination questions are taken from a question-bank of 600 questions. All questions are in the public domain.

There are thirty study topics. Each contains a multiple of ten questions.

One question out of every ten questions is randomly selected from each topic to make up each examination paper. Each examination paper has 60 questions and is unique.

A description of each topic follows in number sequence. The number of questions which will be selected for each examination paper is shown in brackets.

The total number of questions in each topic is ten times the number to be selected from it.


A. Regulatory Matters

1. Regulations: (7 questions)

The regulatory environment.

The amateur radio licence, who issues them, payment of fees.


Power permitted.

Limitations on third party and emergency operation.

Ciphers and secret codes.

2. Frequencies: (2 questions)

Frequencies and bands allocated for amateur radio operating.

Sharing of bands.

B. Basic Electrical Theory

3. Electronics Fundamentals: (2 questions)

Atoms and sub-atomic particles, electrons, ions.

Insulators, conductors and semiconductors.

Fields produced by currents and magnets.

Units of voltage, current, resistance, impedance.

Types of cells.

4. Measurement Units: (1 question)

Units of voltage, current, resistance, impedance, power.

5. Ohm's Law: (2 questions)

Calculations involving voltage, current, resistance (using a single resistor).

6. Resistance: (3 questions)

Values of resistors in series and parallel (using two resistors and more).

Calculations involving resistor combinations, voltage, current.

Internal resistance of cells.

7. Power calculations: (2 questions)

Power calculations given two of voltage, current, resistance.

Power in resistors connected in series and parallel.

8. Alternating current: (1 question)

Frequencies, waveforms and units.

Waveform shapes, rms, peak values.

9. Capacitors, Inductors, Resonance: (2 questions)

Variation of capacitance with plate size, spacing.


Variation of inductance with diameter, length, number of turns (descriptive only).

C and L in series and parallel.

Reactance variation of C, L, with frequency.


Toroidal inductors.

Transformers, turns ratios, voltage transformation.

Series and parallel resonance of L and C.

Q values.

10. Safety: (1 question)

Basic procedures for removing persons from live circuits.

Action of a RCD (residual current device), fuse, isolating transformer.


Colour codes and names of mains wiring.

Purpose of the ground lead, how it should be connected.

11. Semiconductors: (2 questions)

Basic properties of semiconductor materials. Basic properties and uses of diodes, zener diodes, transistors.

12. Device recognition: (1 question)

Recognition of electrode names of bi-polar transistors, FETs, valves, from diagrams.

13. Meters and Measuring: (1 question)

The basic function of voltmeters, ammeters, SWR bridges, power meters, the impedances they present to circuits, how they should be connected.

Peak and rms values.

14. Decibels, Amplification and Attenuation: (1 question)

Power, voltage and current ratios expressed in dB.

Gain in dB of systems connected in cascade.

C. An Amateur Radio Station

15. HF Station Arrangement: (1 question)

Understanding the block diagram of a typical HF station, showing how a transceiver is connected to a linear amplifier, low pass filter.

SWR bridge, antenna switch, antenna tuner, dummy load and antenna.

The basic function of each block.

D. The Radio Receiver

16. Receiver Block Diagrams: (2 questions)

Block diagrams of SSB, CW, FM receivers.

Understanding the purpose of each block.

17. Receiver Operation: (3 questions)

Sensitivity, selectivity, receiver noise.

Operation of superhet, RF amplifier, IF amplifier, mixer, frequency translation, images, product detector, BFO, AGC, audio amplifier, single and double conversion.

E. The Radio Transmitter

18. Transmitter Block Diagrams: (2 questions)

Block diagrams of SSB, CW, FM transmitters.

Understanding the purpose of each block.

Properties of the signals produced.

Linear and non-linear amplification.

19. Transmitter Theory: (1 question)

Meaning of "SSB", "CW", "FM", properties of their signals.

Causes of distortion.

Power distribution in transmitters.

20. Harmonics and Parasitics: (2 questions)

Harmonic frequencies.

Causes of harmonic and parasitic generation in transmitters, filtering to reduce them.

F. Power Supplies

21. Power supplies: (1 question):


Mains input DC power supplies.

Purpose of diodes, capacitors, transformers.

Fullwave and halfwave rectification, ripple frequencies.

22. Regulated Power supplies: (1 question):

Arrangement of transformer, rectifier, filter, regulator sections.

Recognition and basic purpose of each from a block diagram.

Purpose of fuses, crowbars.

Basic operation of switched mode power supplies, advantages and disadvantages.

G. Operating an Amateur Radio Station

23. General Operating Procedures: (1 question)

Standard calling, answering, conversing procedures and conventions.

Initiating and terminating contacts.

Callsign exchanges.

24. Practical Operating Knowledge: (2 questions)

Recognition of common terms (pileup, reverse etc).

Repeater procedures, standard New Zealand splits.

Repeater Linking.

Operation of standard controls on transmitters and receivers.

25. Q signals: (1 question)

Common Q signals used in Amateur Radio communications.

H. From Transmitter to Receiver

26. Transmission lines: (2 questions)

Construction of coaxial and twin-lead transmission lines.

Balanced and unbalanced lines.

Characteristic impedance.

Line losses. Standing waves, SWR.

27. Antennas: (4 questions)

Lengths of dipoles, verticals, for different frequencies.

Impedances, feedpoint position.


Antenna bandwidth.

Elements of a yagi antenna, direction of radiation.

E and H fields around antennas.


Tuning antennas with inductance.


Dummy antenna.

Isotropic antenna.

28. Propagation: (5 questions)

Basic phenomena in HF, VHF, UHF propagation.

Layers which refract signals.

D layer absorption.

Skip zones, hops, MUF, LUF, OWF.

Solar cycle.

Sky waves, ground waves.

Sporadic E.

Great circle paths, radiation angles.


Doppler caused by satellite motion.

I. Interference and How to Fix it

29. Interference & filtering: (3 questions)

Causes and remedying of key-clicks.

Causes and recognition of cross modulation, unwanted harmonics.

Definitions of low-pass, band-pass, band-reject, notch and high-pass filters.

Using filters for interference reduction.

EMC concepts.

Causes and reduction of BCI, TVI.

Gain, impedance, basic properties of operational amplifiers.

Op-amps in active filters.

J. Digital Systems

30. Digital Systems: (1 question)

Basic digital communication principles, names of common digital modes.

Principles of BBS systems.

Modems, TNCs.


Further details about NZART can be obtained from the web at  NZART. There are several categories of NZART membership which include Transmitting and Non-Transmitting. Anyone interested in radio can join. E-mail enquiries to will bring details about NZART Membership. On-line details about  Joining NZART - Membership has advantages.
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Compiled Thu Jan 20 2011 at 9:07:41pm

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