I am using the ARRL General Class License Manual 7th Ed. which was published April 25, 2011. However, I know that the National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators (NCVEC) recently released the 2015 General Class question pool. Does this mean that the ARRL manual is obsolete and I will have to get a new edition?
The question pools are available online from NCVEC:
I downloaded these and ran them through
diff. These are the big changes I noticed:
Section G3E, which is about digital operating procedure, is significantly changed. There isn't anything especially new technology-wise there, but the question pool is quite different. Additionally, there are new questions related to digital modes peppered throughout other sections.
Subelements G4 and G5 have many new or rewritten electrical engineering questions. These questions are largely about electrical engineering. The fundamentals of electricity haven't changed, but the question pool has. As long as you are studying the underlying knowledge, and not trying to memorize the answers, you should be fine here.
Beyond that, there's a lot of rewording and clarification and other insignificant stuff. There are some new questions here and there, but not a lot, and they all cover the same body of knowledge covered by other questions. As always, about 70% of them can be answered with common sense.
What is the first thing you should do if you are communicating with another amateur station and hear a station in distress break in?
A. Continue your communication because you were on the frequency first
B. Acknowledge the station in distress and determine what assistance may be needed
C. Change to a different frequency
D. Immediately cease all transmissions
For the most part, I'd think the old study guide should be fine. The new pool does not go into effect until July 1, 2015. I couldn't find any online practice tests (ARRL, eHam.net, QRZ, and dozens of others offer them for free) using the new 2015 pool, but I bet by July they will be updated. I'd suggest running through that several times before you take the real test, and if you run into any problems with the new questions, remember that you can always get the current question pool online.
As for regulations no changes are forthcoming, the new access to the upcoming new band privileges will bring rules related to them. However, I doubt they will be included in the newest study material since, as of yet, they do not yet have effective dates assigned. Awaiting US Government bureaucracy to complete its requirements.
Here are the highlights of the newest changes:
- The FCC on March 28 adopted rules that will allow secondary Amateur Radio access to 472-479 kHz (630 meters) and to 135.7-137.8 kHz (2,200 meters), with minor conditions.
- Amateurs operating on 472-479 kHz will be permitted a maximum equivalent isotropically radiated power (EIRP) of 5 W, except in parts of Alaska within 800 kilometers (approximately 496 miles) of Russia, where the maximum would be 1 W EIRP. [EIRP is the product of the power supplied to the antenna and the antenna gain in a given direction, relative to an isotropic antenna (absolute or isotropic gain). EIRP is equal to ERP multiplied by 1.64.]
- Amateurs operating in the 135.7-137.8 kHz band will be permitted to run up to 1 W EIRP.
- The FCC is requiring a 1-kilometer separation distance between radio amateurs using the two new bands and electric power transmission lines with PLC systems on those bands. Amateur Radio operators will have to notify the UTC of station location prior to commencing operations.The FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau will provide details on the notification process later, but ARRL is urging radio amateurs interested in operating on either band to register at the earliest opportunity, to avoid having to protect any “post-notification” PLCs.
- The FCC placed a 60-meter (approximately 197 feet) above-ground-level (AGL) height limit on transmitting antennas used on 630 meters and 2,200 meters.
- The bands would be available to General class and higher licensees, and permissible modes would include CW, RTTY, data, phone, and image. Automatically controlled stations would be permitted to operate in the bands.
The 2011 pool is valid and will be used for tests given through June 30, 2015. On July 1, 2015, the new pool goes into effect for the next four years. If you plan to take the test before July 1, use the current, 2011, test pool.
Broadly speaking, the rules don't change fast. The question pool revision just means that you will be asked a somewhat different set of questions on the same material. The material in the book that is about the rules, as opposed to being specifically test study material, should be largely up-to-date.
However, perhaps someone with more information could answer with whether there have been any changes to the actual regulations that would affect the contents of the book.