Studying for my HAM Radio Amateur diploma.

At the moment I am studying for my HAM Radio Amateur license. If everything goes well, I will have my first exam on October 22, 2011. So in a couple of weeks.
I don’t know a lot about electronics, so that part is hard for me to understand. Electronics is a completely new world for me. But that is not the hardest part.
I am a native dutch living in Spain, so I have two alternatives, either do the exam in Holland or in Spain. Both have their advantages and disadvantages:

Example of an electronics question in the dutch F license exam

In Holland there are still two types of license. A N(ovice) license and a F(ull) license.
The N license seems fairly easy to do. basically what you need to know is basic electronics, antenna theory, radio regulations and radio operation practice.
N license owners are allowed to work the 2m and 70cm bands and parts of the HF bands.
The F license is a lot harder. Basically you need to know A LOT of electronics. The organization managing the exams in Holland is the Union for Experimental Radio Investigation. Their objective is to promote radio experiments and therefor, to pass the F exam, you will have to be able to design and build a basic radio, diagnose a badly behaving transceiver, etc. Stuff like that.
The N license is comparable to the ARRL full license and gives you access to all bands assigned to HAM Radio.
These strict exams have caused that in Holland the amount of new HAMs is very low. Normally what you see in Holland is that N license owners work all bands. But this is still not according to the rules and therefor illegal.

Electronics question from the spanish exam

In Spain the situation is completely different. There is only one license and that license gives you access to all HAM bands. The exam for this license is comparable to the exam for the N license in Holland. So fairly simple. Since Spain is divided in 9 regions, passing the exam also requires that you know some spanish geography.

“So, “, you would say, “do the exam in Spain and that’s it!”. But it’s not exactly like this. As I said, I am dutch, my spanish is ok to get around, but I don’t know any technical Spanish at all. So, I don’t know electronics, I don’t know technical spanish, what are my chances to pass the exam? On the other side, electronics is Holland is so advanced, I would have to study for six years to understand that.

Final Remarks
Maybe i am in a particular situation here, being dutch and living in Spain. Although i don’t think so. There are many foreigners here. And if those foreigners want to become HAM Radio amateurs, they will run in to the same issues i explained here.

My question is the following:

  • If the HAM Radio are supposed to be the same all over the world, how come that in Holland the exams are so much more difficult than in Spain? 
  • How come that in Holland there are still two types of licenses, in the US three (Technical, General and Extra) and in Spain only one?
  • And last but not least: If the common language on the bands is english, why is it only possible to do the exams in the local language and not in english?

At the end I signed up for the exam in Spain. It’s a big challenge for me, but with studying a lot and being optimistic I will have to do it.
And I will! After October 22, 2011 I WILL finally be a licensed HAM Radio operator.