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Report from Thailand

The First Intermediate License Examination Since COVID-19 Outbreak

Champ C. Muangamphun, E21EIC

The spread of COVID-19 has impacted the ability of RAST to hold any Thai Intermediate and Advance Class Examinations for the past 2 years. The last session that RAST did was back in August 2019 which resulted in a significant reduction of new Thai HAMs entering the HF bands, with the exceptions of those who managed to take the US FCC Exams in 2021 to get the reciprocal licenses.

(Left) Work assignments for the examiners by HS1FVL
(Right) Examiners responsible for registration

After 2 years of travel restrictions and strict rules prohibiting the gathering of large crowds, Thailand’s regulator the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has finally granted the Radio Amateur Society of Thailand under the Royal Patronage of His Majesty the King (RAST) the approval to host the Intermediate Class Examination at Bangkok University, in Rangsit Campus, on 5th February 2022, under strict COVID-19 preventions.

(Left) Candidates checking their seat assignments
(Right) Receiving candidate’s identification card

RAST began to accept applications in January 2022 and 101 novice class licensees registered to take part. The interesting aspect about Thai Intermediate Class Examination is that it is split into 2 sections: a theoretical exam which consists of 100 questions in 4 subjects, and a Morse code exam where the candidates have to copy 40 word-groups and 12 number-groups at 8 words per minute (WPM). There are not many countries left in the world where CW is mandatory, but Thailand is still one of the selected few who places great importance in CW.

(Left) Introduction to the Examination given by HS1FVL
(Right) Candidates listening intently during CW exam

As for all the precautionary measures taken against COVID-19, all exam candidates including staff from RAST and NBTC must register with Bangkok University before arrival, be able to demonstrate a Negative ATK results taken within 72 hours before arrival, and had temperatures taken before gaining entrance to the ground. All this, as well as the standard routine of practicing social distancing, using alcohol to sanitize the hands, and wearing masks at all times, which by now have become a second nature to Thai citizens.

On the actual day, 78 candidates from all over the country, including Chiang Rai, Pattani and Phuket provinces, managed to make it to Bangkok University to sit the exam. A total of 52 candidates passed the CW exams with 25 achieving full marks.

25 candidates who passed the CW exam at a speed of 8WPM with full score and receiving the DIY CW Micro Straight Key developed by CW Morse Paddle, Mr Khunpong Sorsomboon (E20UXA), along with RAST President Dr Jack Hantongkom (HS1FVL) and NBTC Officer

The NBTC will announced the official result of the Intermediate Class Examination 1 month after the exam date, so by the 5th March 2022. But one thing is certain. This set of candidates managed to break 2 Thai records that day. The first, for the highest number of candidates to have passed the CW test at any given Intermediate Class Examination in Thailand, and the second, the highest number of candidates to have passed CW with full marks at any given Intermediate Class Examination in Thailand that was ever held. This just goes to show how dedicated these HAMs are to obtain their Intermediate Class licenses and their interests in CW. Hopefully we can all look forward to seeing more HS and E2 prefixes on the air from March 2022 onwards, especially on the lower end of the spectrum.

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