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Some pros and cons of the book, and some humor I found in it.
on October 5, 2014
This is the right book to get, to if you want your general license. But be careful, there are a couple of mistakes. The worst is the "US Amateur Radio Bands" diagram on page 1-2. This is the wrong diagram, it's already out of date! The correct, current diagram is on page 3.8.
Anyway, I read the book in a week or two, skipping the section on the questions, and then ran through the online practice test about 8 times, passing each time. I took the actual exam yesterday, and only missed one question, passing easily.
The information is densely packed in areas, and very technical, but accurate and usually well explained, so you get an idea of what is going on.
Many of the diagrams showing shapes of antenna field strengths are lacking sufficient orientation information. I still don't know if I'm looking down from the top, or from the side, or what.
There are a lot of formulae included, but most of them aren't important enough to memorize. Don't bother.
The safety section is humorous in a subtle way. The FCC has limitations on human exposure to radio waves, but there exists no backing scientific evidence that any such exposure is harmful. Here is what the books says:
"Exposure to RF at low levels is not hazardous. At high power levels, for some frequencies, the amount of energy that the body absorbs can be a problem." The problem is then explained in the next section: "heating".
So, yeah, if someone touches an antenna that is transmitting, they might suffer a painful RF burn. And if they are a couple of inches away, they might be able to warm up their cold hands, if the power level is sufficiently high, and the frequency is tuned properly for human body resonance. But that's it.
Then there is a section on making sure that your radio waves aren't going to cause problems. Literally, the only problems that this could cause are if someone finds out that you've got a directional antenna pointed at them, and then freaks out due to ignorance of the science. Or, there could be a problem if your station is out of spec, and the FCC comes down on you.
But other than that, the adverse health effects of radio waves coming from your antenna on people walking past are exactly as dangerous as the gravity waves coming from your antenna.