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So What's it take to get a ham radio licence?


RAD Dad
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What's it take these days to get a ham licence? I remember when I was a kid, my friends dad was into ham, and it seemed like getting licenced was a long, costly, and serious process. Had to learn code, pass a test, then he could use ham only with code, then he had to learn a bunch more stuff, pass a test, then he could use voice....is it still like that? What about the mobile ham radios, what kind of range do they have?

 

ummmm....not sure what to say here....so ummm, well errrr, uhhhh, well I guess that's it.

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It's not that difficult anymore. For one thing, there are now fewer license classes and the Morse Code requirements have been greatly relaxed. Some license classes have no code requirements at all anymore. More information can be found at the website of the American Radio Relay League.

 

That reminds me; I really should work on getting my Extra. I got my Tech (now Tech Plus) so long ago that I think I already have everything I need to turn it into a General without even taking any tests.

 

warm.gif

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Rad Dad - These days becoming a ham is much simpler in that there are so many more readily available resources to aid in learning what you need to know. Online, you can take a simulated test and there are plenty of free programs to teach both the theory and code.

 

Now there are only three classes: Tech, General and Extra. To become a Technician class, all you need is to get 80% correct on a written theory exam. Most of it is common sense stuff. To upgrade to General you need to pass a tougher written theory test and be able to correctly copy 5 words per minute code test. The upgrade written exam for Extra is TOUGH. Lots of electronics theory, etc.

 

A word of warning: Sometime in June the ARRL is going to change the tests for the General class. I believe for both written and code. And six months from then the Extra will be changed, and again six months after that the Tech test will change. They will all be a bit tougher or have more restrictions. I'm not 100% sure of this, but I have been getting warnings (every day!) that I'd better hurry up and study my code. I've already passed the General written, but I'll have to take it again because it was over a year ago.

 

Fuzzy - You can't grandfather into the General upgrade. You will have to take the General written if you've already passed the 5-wpm code test for Tech-Plus. It isn't that tough if I can pass it!

----------

Lori aka: RedwoodRed

KF6VFI

"I don't get lost, I investigate alternative destinations."

GeoGadgets Team Website

Comics, Video Games and Movie Fansite

 

"Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is." - Yoda, Jedi Master from Star Wars - Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

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quote:
Originally posted by The GeoGadgets Team:

A word of warning: Sometime in June the ARRL is going to change the tests for the General class.


Last I heard, the FCC was still responsible for making the rules. When did that change?

quote:

Fuzzy - You can't grandfather into the General upgrade. You will have to take the General written if you've already passed the 5-wpm code test for Tech-Plus. It isn't that tough if I can pass it!


You misunderstand. I've had my Tech for 18 years, since back in the good ol' days when you needed 5 WPM just to get a Novice class license, and you couldn't just get your Tech from a Crackerjack box. icon_smile.gif At that time, there was a 50-question written test for the Tech class, and a 13 WPM code test for General. Later, they split the written test that was originally required for a Tech license into a 25-question written for Tech and another 25 questions for General, but anyone who'd passed the old Tech exam was grandfathered. The last time I checked, I only needed 13WPM code to get my General. Now that the 13WPM is no longer necessary, I should have all of the requirements unless they've significantly changed the written test for General (perhaps requiring some of the stuff that was on the old Advanced test.) However, I haven't checked on any of this because I'm waiting for the dust to clear on all of the recent changes.

 

warm.gif

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quote:
Originally posted by The GeoGadgets Team:

A word of warning: Sometime in June the ARRL is going to change the tests for the General class.


Last I heard, the FCC was still responsible for making the rules. When did that change?

quote:

Fuzzy - You can't grandfather into the General upgrade. You will have to take the General written if you've already passed the 5-wpm code test for Tech-Plus. It isn't that tough if I can pass it!


You misunderstand. I've had my Tech for 18 years, since back in the good ol' days when you needed 5 WPM just to get a Novice class license, and you couldn't just get your Tech from a Crackerjack box. icon_smile.gif At that time, there was a 50-question written test for the Tech class, and a 13 WPM code test for General. Later, they split the written test that was originally required for a Tech license into a 25-question written for Tech and another 25 questions for General, but anyone who'd passed the old Tech exam was grandfathered. The last time I checked, I only needed 13WPM code to get my General. Now that the 13WPM is no longer necessary, I should have all of the requirements unless they've significantly changed the written test for General (perhaps requiring some of the stuff that was on the old Advanced test.) However, I haven't checked on any of this because I'm waiting for the dust to clear on all of the recent changes.

 

warm.gif

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I think the other two have summed things up pretty well. All I know is I have been licensed since late 1992 and love every minute of the time I spend on the radio. As for your second question you asked

(What about the mobile ham radios, what kind of range do they have?)

 

It depneds of what band of radio your refering to. A 2 meter radio is the most common rig used today. (most everyone has one) and just working radio to radio (simplex) you can cover a decent range and still carry on a good conversation.

If you use a repeater you can double or even quad droople your talking range. And now they link repeaters world wide with the aid of the internet by using a system called IRLP (irlp.net)

 

Hope this helps out. I'm still learning more about Amateur Radio everyday myself.

 

Happy Caching... 73's de KA7CJH Chris

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quote:
Originally posted by Warm Fuzzies - Fuzzy:

Last I heard, the FCC was still responsible for making the rules. When did that change?


 

The FCC "approves" the rules that are applied by the ARRL. The ARRL writes the "rules" or laws governing amateur radio and the FCC approves, supports and enforces them (when it can).

 

Since the majority of the tests for amateur radio are written by the ARRL, and submitted, checked and graded by ARRL-approved and licensed V.E.'s using an ARRL-sanctioned format, I'd say that the ARRL is responsible for the "rules".

 

Of course, I could be wrong, I will eat crow should someone come up with a clearer or more accurate answer. I acquired my information from Steak N Eggs who is currently studying for his V.E. exam.

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The way I understand it the question pool commitee

wrote the questions for the exams when the big changes took place back when I upgraded to general.

And every couple of years they go through one set of questions to update them do to technology ect. As for part 97 of the rules FCC I think wrote them with some help.

 

Lee

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There are practice tests on line that (I kid you not) are the actual questions you'll have to field on the exam. Don't try taking the online tests 1000 times and hope to answer all the questions - check out the excellent study materials available from the ARRL. But do try the practice exams - if you can pass those with no difficulty you'll ace the real thing. My favorite can be found at www.qrz.com.

N1KV ex KB1GKT, WB1FTH

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I'd posted this in a separate thread, but check out http://www.hamstuff.net You can take practice tests (in the same format and using the same questions as the actual tests) for each license there. You may opt for the tests to be graded for you in real-time, or you can print out tests and answer sheets to use on-the-go (on the airplane, etc...)

 

The best part is -- it's free and no popups. icon_smile.gif

 

JM-99

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I'd posted this in a separate thread, but check out http://www.hamstuff.net You can take practice tests (in the same format and using the same questions as the actual tests) for each license there. You may opt for the tests to be graded for you in real-time, or you can print out tests and answer sheets to use on-the-go (on the airplane, etc...)

 

The best part is -- it's free and no popups. icon_smile.gif

 

JM-99

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I'm not sure on the exact cost. It's been a while since I've been out of the VEC program. But I would imagine it's not any more than $10 now even with inflation. Some clubs also give exams free. ARRL, W5YI, charge I'm sure of. As far as rank go, there is no price change. (At least as far I know, there never used to be.) It was a one shot deal. ome club's whether you took one test or 5 it cost you one fee.. Others charged per exam. I don't think charging for any Amauter exam is fair.. (But thats why I'm not an ARRL VE anymore!)

 

Randall J. Berry

davros@mdgps.net

mdgeocachinglogosmall.gif

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quote:
Originally posted by Randall J. Berry:

I don't think charging for any Amauter exam is fair.. (But thats why I'm not an ARRL VE anymore!)

 

Randall J. Berry

davros@mdgps.net)

http://www.mdgps.net

 

While I can understand your position, from your photo you look like a young and productive individual. Possibly with a good income, and respect the hobby enough to supply the test session with all needed supplies.

 

Many of the testers out here are retired, on a fixed income, and have enough expences just living day-to-day. They cannot afford to support the VE system with supplies. I guess if they worked the way you would like it, they could either suck it up and pay to help others, or drop out altogether, there-by reducing the opportunity for testing.

 

The fees are designed to allow the testers to recover expenses, nothing more. Locally, if any profit is realised, they donate it to the club for use of the building. I do not see a problem with that. In fact, I would be embarassed to take a test and NOT pay my own way. Additionally, I have paid the test fee for a number of youngsters. This is a much better way of doing it I think.

 

Mike. KD9KC.

El Paso, Texas.

 

Seventeen minutes after her FIRST call for help, police officers arrived to find Ronyale White dead.

 

Prohibiting self defense is the ultimate crime. Police carry guns to protect themselves. What protects YOU ???

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It's easy. Anyone who's got a bit of time and is willing to study can do it. Here's how I proved that:

 

About 8 days ago, due to chats with geocachers in the forums and on #geocaching IRC channel, I finally decided to get my amateur license.

 

I went to the local ham store (a Ham Radio Outlet, in Sunnyvale, CA), and got the ARRL study guides for the three written elements. I also got some free Morse practice software (Morse Academy) and the ARRL Morse CD roms.

 

I read the technician book carefully, as suggested, and took practice tests at hamtest.com.

 

This made me realize that the technician test is very easy icon_smile.gif

 

So I talked my wife into reading for the tech test and I read most of the material in the general license book and some of the material in the extra license.

 

Meanwhile, I practiced Morse code, twice a day, for a half hour, as recommended.

 

This morning, my wife and I went to a test session in Cupertino. She took, and passed with a perfect score, the tech test. icon_biggrin.gif

 

I took the code test. Failed it miserably. icon_redface.gif No real surprise, I knew I wasn't ready, but only took the test for the opportunity to practice taking it.

 

I then took the tech test. Passed, but with a lower score than my wife. icon_smile.gif So we both are now licensed hams.

 

I then took the general test. Passed it easily as well. icon_smile.gif This convinced several people to recommend that I go ahead and take the extra test as well. This is a good idea, because, at that point, it cost me nothing but time.

 

I squeeked by! icon_cool.gif

 

This puts me in the rather unique position of having passed all three written tests, but only having a tech license because of the code. icon_frown.gif

 

But my wife and I are going to keep studying code, and she's going to keep studying the general book. Expect her to have her general license and me to have my extra license in two weeks. icon_wink.gif

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It's easy. Anyone who's got a bit of time and is willing to study can do it. Here's how I proved that:

 

About 8 days ago, due to chats with geocachers in the forums and on #geocaching IRC channel, I finally decided to get my amateur license.

 

I went to the local ham store (a Ham Radio Outlet, in Sunnyvale, CA), and got the ARRL study guides for the three written elements. I also got some free Morse practice software (Morse Academy) and the ARRL Morse CD roms.

 

I read the technician book carefully, as suggested, and took practice tests at hamtest.com.

 

This made me realize that the technician test is very easy icon_smile.gif

 

So I talked my wife into reading for the tech test and I read most of the material in the general license book and some of the material in the extra license.

 

Meanwhile, I practiced Morse code, twice a day, for a half hour, as recommended.

 

This morning, my wife and I went to a test session in Cupertino. She took, and passed with a perfect score, the tech test. icon_biggrin.gif

 

I took the code test. Failed it miserably. icon_redface.gif No real surprise, I knew I wasn't ready, but only took the test for the opportunity to practice taking it.

 

I then took the tech test. Passed, but with a lower score than my wife. icon_smile.gif So we both are now licensed hams.

 

I then took the general test. Passed it easily as well. icon_smile.gif This convinced several people to recommend that I go ahead and take the extra test as well. This is a good idea, because, at that point, it cost me nothing but time.

 

I squeeked by! icon_cool.gif

 

This puts me in the rather unique position of having passed all three written tests, but only having a tech license because of the code. icon_frown.gif

 

But my wife and I are going to keep studying code, and she's going to keep studying the general book. Expect her to have her general license and me to have my extra license in two weeks. icon_wink.gif

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Trust me, you are not the first no-code Extra. Welcome to the faternity. I truly hope you find as much enjoyment in the hobby as I have over the last 25 years.

 

Best of luck to you both in your continuing studies !!!!!

 

Mike. KD9KC.

El Paso, Texas.

 

Seventeen minutes after her FIRST call for help, police officers arrived to find Ronyale White dead.

 

Prohibiting self defense is the ultimate crime. Police carry guns to protect themselves. What protects YOU ???

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Firs of all, a warm welcome to all who have passed their exam(s).

 

The questions for each of the written elements change every 3 years. In 2002, the changes for Element 4 (Extra) took effect, In 2003, Element 2 (Tech) will change. 2004, the General will change.

 

About a year before the change, the Question Pool Committee takes suggestions from Hams (who have already passed the element subject to change) on what should be added/removed from the questions.

 

ARRL VECs currently charge $10 for an exam session. This covers any of the elements the candidate elects to initially take. If the candidate elects to retest on an element that s/he failed, then s/he pays an additional $10 for each element being retaken.

 

Other VECs, such as Laurel VEC don't charge for their exams. They decide whether they have the time/additional exams to allow retesting of any elements not passed on the first try.

 

Some other good testing can be found at:

AA9PW

eHam

 

73, Maria, KG4JB

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As reported before, after a week's study my wife passed the tech test and I passed all of the other written tests. Two weeks later (last Saturday,) we both passed the 5 WPM Morse code tests icon_smile.gif although I had to take it twice icon_frown.gif and my wife passed the written test for the general. icon_biggrin.gif

 

So now she's got her general ticket, and I've got a new call sign (AE6IP) to go with my extra.

 

If we could do that in three weeks, pretty much anyone who has the time to study the manuals and the willingness to study code can at least get their general.

 

Marty

 

Marty Fouts

ae6ip

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As reported before, after a week's study my wife passed the tech test and I passed all of the other written tests. Two weeks later (last Saturday,) we both passed the 5 WPM Morse code tests icon_smile.gif although I had to take it twice icon_frown.gif and my wife passed the written test for the general. icon_biggrin.gif

 

So now she's got her general ticket, and I've got a new call sign (AE6IP) to go with my extra.

 

If we could do that in three weeks, pretty much anyone who has the time to study the manuals and the willingness to study code can at least get their general.

 

Marty

 

Marty Fouts

ae6ip

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quote:
Originally posted by Steak N Eggs:

Now you can study to be a VE. Wish we had more in my area....

 

"My gps say's it RIGHT HERE".

http://www.geogadgets.com


 

Thanks. Filled out the VE test before passing the Morse test. Have just been waiting for my paper license upgrade to come so I could mail it in. Paper license came to day, so I'll mail the VE test to ARRL tomorrow.

 

I've also contacted our local ARES coordinator. I hope I can be of some small use to the ham community.

 

marty

 

Marty Fouts

ae6ip

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quote:
Originally posted by KD9KC:

While I can understand your position, from your photo you look like a young and productive individual. Possibly with a good income, and respect the hobby enough to supply the test session with all needed supplies.

 

Many of the testers out here are retired, on a fixed income, and have enough expenses just living day-to-day. They cannot afford to support the VE system with supplies.


 

That is not officially true, LARC, The Laurel Amateur Radio Club, (Officially registered as Laurel VEC)in Laurel Maryland has been giving tests for FREE for many years.. Although, it may not be practical to travel from all 50 states to take your test in Maryland it proves that it can be done!

 

Especially with a budget as large as the ARRL. The supposed 'non-profit' organization of Amateur Radio. Not to forget, W5YI, and Gordon West's (WB6NOA) Radio School.. How come they get to be a VEC and yet sell a product related to Ham Radio? Then claim they do not have a conflict of interest??

 

Another reason why I had to resign my VE status was because I took a job working for a Ham Radio store as a Service Technician. I did not make a commission from sales, I did not even sell radios, I fixed them. I worked on an hourly wage period. Yet I had to resign because my primary income depended on a field relevant to Ham Radio. (According to the FCC's rules for eligible Volunteer Examiners)

 

I cannot be convinced that the ARRL is not out for anything less than taking whatever money they can get from devoted Hams then telling them they get something back.

 

This is not the first conflict I have had with the ARRL. There are many other stories I can tell you of which concern me over thier true intentions 'for the hobby, or for the money?'

 

I'll join local Ham Clubs to support them. But even if they are an ARRL member organization I will not join the ARRL.

 

At the time of the photo which is actually 3 yrs old. I was a Broadcast Engineer working for an AM station in Massachusetts. I've spent most of my life from the age of 13 until last year, at 34 in radio when I took a side step.

 

Right now I am working for a major newspaper, I still have a few Irons in the fire with the broadcast industry. Unfortunately sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to pay the bills. I was made an offer I couldn't refuse so I took it. Radio, was, is and always will be the first love of my life.

 

I don't mean to scare anyone away from joining the Ham Radio community. But that is my opinion on the Profit organizations who run the show. And on Ham radio of course, you will hear lots of different opinions.

 

I took the exams, I proved my aptitude, I've earned my right to an opinion.

 

Randall J. Berry

davros@mdgps.net

mdgeocachinglogosmall.gifwww.mdgps.net

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This really isn't the forum for debating the value of the ARRL to the hobby.

 

The only comment I'll make is that my wife and I used the ARRL "Now You're Talking", General and Extra class study guides, as well as the ARRL code practice audio CDs as our *only* study guides in our three week cram to get our licenses and I think of it as money well spent.

 

Marty Fouts

ae6ip

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quote:
Originally posted by Davros:

 

That is not officially true, LARC, The Laurel Amateur Radio Club, (Officially registered as Laurel VEC)in Laurel Maryland has been giving tests for FREE for many years


 

What is officially true is that you are looking at one area, and applying what you see to the rest of the country. From your point of view, an elephant's leg could be a tree trunk. Step back and look at the whole elephant. However, if you are volunteering to pick up the cost of materials for the local VEs, I am sure they would be glad to offer the test "FREE", and credit you with the recognition of generosity you deserve.

 

quote:
Originally posted by Davros:

 

I'll join local Ham Clubs to support them. But even if they are an ARRL member organization I will not join the ARRL.


 

That is OK. You do not need to be a member of the ARRL. Even so, the ARRL is the only NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL group watching out for your radio privilidges. They will continue to do so, even without your support!

 

Here is a question. If some government or private group were to try to ban personal GPS use, or take away GPS frequencies, would you support an effort to stop it?

 

I see this attitude all the time. Gun owners would rather have The Peoples Republik of Kalifornia confiscate their guns (YES! That did happen) rather than join the NRA and support the fight against it. When you ask them why, it usually is some pitiful excuse of hurt feelings.

 

Since you do not support the ARRL, can I assume you will not be using the new 60 meter band when it opens? It is the ARRL that is pushing that proposal right now. That goes for the 136 kHz band too. Wonder how many other frequencies you use that the ARRL is the fundamental reason they exist at all. (Like the WARC bands) But you won't stop using them, will you?

 

But as the title says, This is America, and it is your right... I wonder what really hurt your feelings. Sorry if this sounds harsh. No, come to think of it, I'm not! I have a name for people who benefit from the hard work of others without contributing to the effort. But it really would be in bad taste to type it here, so I will not.

 

Continue to enjoy the fruit of others who work and pay in support of it, whatever it is. I am sure you will. This is America, and it is your right...

 

Signed: A supporting member of too many things already, whether I like them 100% or not - and willing to try to do more - if I can....

 

Mike. KD9KC.

El Paso, Texas.

 

Citizens of this land may own guns. Not to threaten their neighbors, but to ensure themselves of liberty and freedom.

 

They are not assault weapons anymore... they are HOMELAND DEFENSE WEAPONS!

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I have re-read the statements I put in the above message This is America, and it is your right... yesterday. I had only 4 hours sleep the previous night, but I still stand behind what I typed. HOWEVER, I thought it might help to justify my stance with some facts. The following is all out of QST magazine over the last 3 months. This is just an example of what the ARRL does. It is just a short list, done in 15 minutes. I am quite sure there is much more.

 

1. Providing the U.S. ham representation to the WRC-03. The largest item on the agenda is the full expansion of the 40 meter band. Anyone who has ever tried to use 40m phone after sunset knows what this is about. 7000-7300 worldwide is the goal.

 

2. Lobbying for HR-4720, the House Bill trying to force cities and subdivisions with restrictions (C, C, &Rs) to accomodate ham antennas similar to PRB-1, which was also started by the ARRL.

 

3. Lobbying for HR-4560, the House Bill for the Spectrum Protection Act, to protect ham radio bands from being auctioned off to the highest bidding phone company etc.

 

4. Working with the FCC against high-power part 15 devices. Several manufacturers of part 15 devices are lobbying to have a higher power limit, which could cause interferance to ham bands.

 

5. Starting new training program to train hams in ememgency communications, as a part of the Homeland Security Program.

 

6. Coordinates with NASA for the ARISS program.

 

7. Working with the FCC against the proposal to use power lines for broadband digital communications. And you think you suffer from line noise now?

 

8. Lobbying with other international amateur radio unions to work toward a global ham license.

 

9. Provides the U. S. international QSL bureau.

 

10. Provides QST magazine, which:

 

A. Keeps you informed of all the above information.

 

B. Provides lab-quality testing of new radios and other equipment. Nice to read about it before I buy it.

 

C. Provides detailed construction projects, and also the boards and parts.

 

D. Provides technical information on anything from Antennas to Z-impedence.

 

E. Provides information about contests like Field Day, and also provides the scores after the contest is finished.

 

F. Provides operating hints to make your operating time more efficient and pleasurable.

 

G. Prints and sells many other items, like the ARRL Handbook, the ARRL Antenna book, several study guides, morse code tapes, etc etc...

 

Name me one other Ham Radio club in this counrty that does all of this! So now tell me what part of the above doesn't deserve your support. You may not like everythng they are doing, but they are doing more and better than any other ham radio organization.

 

Oh, BTW, I forgot they also coordinate the VEC system! I also forgot the effort to get us the 60m band, the 135 kHz band, the TVI resolution service, and again, there is much more!

 

Don't get me started on the NRA!!! *GRIN*

 

Y-all have a great day.

 

Mike. KD9KC.

El Paso, Texas.

 

Citizens of this land may own guns. Not to threaten their neighbors, but to ensure themselves of liberty and freedom.

 

They are not assault weapons anymore... they are HOMELAND DEFENSE WEAPONS!

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