My plan now is to complete a vanity call sign request and resurrect my late father's first call - WB5SQC - but now you've added a wrinkle. What about WD8NXC identifies it as a novice call? Is a novice call considered a good or a bad thing?
Good question, Mike. This long answer involves a bit of recent US amateur radio history:
My understanding is that I took my novice exam relatively shortly after the FCC stopped issuing special "N" prefix novice call signs. In other words, under the previous call sign assignment system my call would have been, in theory, WN8NXC. I then had two years to earn at least a technician class license -- by passing the old general class written (in front of an FCC examiner back then, by the way) -- or just let my license lapse. It was move up from novice or move out back in the old days.
Had I successfully upgraded from novice I would have had the "N" dropped from my license to be replaced with whatever second letter was in the sequence at the time (in this case a "D" to end up with WD8NXC, again assuming the old system had been used).
Back when they were issuing "K" calls, a novice call sign of KN#XXX would have been converted to simply K#XXX upon that licensee's successful upgrade from novice. I expect your dad would have been WN5SQC when he was a novice (and I think all hams HAD to start out as novices way back when) ***braaaap... disregard the previous statement... see post #49 in this thread for details*** and then been reassigned his call of WB5SQC after his successful license upgrade.
HOWEVER, again, I earned my novice ticket after the "N" calls were no longer being issued so I was simply assigned whatever sequential callsign came up, in this case WD8NXC. Nothing in that call identified me as a novice, by the way. What I didn't realize was that during the two year term of my novice license the FCC changed that class from non-renewable to renewable status (I kind of let my interest in the hobby fall away shortly after earning my ticket). Had I realized that I could have renewed the license I would have done so, just for the heck of it if nothing else.
So yes, at one time novices were very much identified by their callsigns and they had very limited bandwidth in which to operate, in CW only and limited in transmitter power (I think something like 75 Watts later going up to 200, or something like that). Of course no new novice licenses have been issued since the year 2000, I believe.
Another thing to note; for a period of time, when N#XXX calls were available, if one had a KX#XXX call there was an assumption that they at least started out as a novice, which was a source of pride for many. Now, of course, that distinction no longer exists in newly issued call signs.
One more note (cripe,when will this guy shut it off ): The novice class license exam -- up until 1994, plus or minus -- was administered by any two hams of general class or above, who chose to do so, over a certain age (like 21 then down to 18 maybe, I forget) at any place as long as neither of the two hams were related to the examinee. Many a novice took their test over at a local ham's house on the kitchen table. The catch was that with some exceptions, further upgrades were earned at FCC examination sessions.
Then came the VE program in the 1980s, but that's a different story.
To wrap it up (finally ) it would be cool for you to go for your dad's call sign. Since you're a tech I believe you are in fact able to be assigned that call.
Glad to hear they were looking out so the "So F****** Cool" phonetics didn't find their way over the air
Sorry this post was so long (and probably loaded with misspellings... no spell checker in this browser). Hope it provides some interesting background for any current or prospective ham, though.