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Jacks-or-Better

HAM noob to be

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Hey,

I'm interested in getting into HAM. Can any of you operators out there refer me to some good study sources? Beginner radios? etc?

 

I'm in Maryland and would be interested in meeting up with someone who wants to give a noob some pointers.

 

I plan to either install a unit in my Jeep or perhaps just use a handheld.. maybe both..

 

Thanks much,

JoB

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As for study guides there are two choices... the ARRL books and the Gordon West series. Both cover the same material, just presented differently. I've always used the ARRL books, but some people prefer the Gordon West books. You can find them below...

 

http://www.arrl.org/catalog/lm/

 

http://www.w5yi.org/catalog.php?sort=4

 

Also, going to QRZ.com and taking the online practice tests are a good idea.

 

As for an initial radio...get a mobile unit for the vehicle. Although handhelds are tempting, you are limited to 5 watts of power. With a mobile you can get up to 50 or 75 watts depending on the make and model. I currently have 2 Yaesu FT-7800R's which are fantastic radios! I have one in the car and bought another for the shack.

 

Good luck on your exams!

 

Kevin, KB1OBG

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I studied with the Gordon West book. I read it through once, took the test, and missed only 4 questions. I think you remember more by the Gordon West books. :grin:

 

As for radios, If money isn't an issue, get a Yaesu FT-8900. If money is an issue, get either the FT-1802, or FT-2800.

Handhelds are short range except with a better antenna. I hooked my handheld up to a 5/8 wave J-Pole, and from where I am in south Cleveland, TN, I can talk on a Knoxville repeater.

Don't get just a hand held, cause sometimes you need that extra power to make long distance contacts.

A good hand held is a Yaesu VX-170 (or some of the others like that). They are water proof, the battery last about a week, unless you are using it all the time, and it has extended receive.

 

With handhelds, don't expect the same reception as with a mobile, or base. It won't happen except with a better antenna that the rubber duck!

 

I have a Yaesu FT-1802, and a VX-170. Very good radios!

 

Say your call sign on 147.180 (has a tone of 118.(something)) if you ever drive through chattanooga.

Or, I moniter 147.555 quite often.

 

Hope to hear you on the air soon

Jon

KI4WVW

 

B)

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Not knowing any other hams nearby to elmer me, I ended up taking a new approach. Use two browser windows, one to take the practice test on qrz.com and the other to google information on the questions you missed. The technician test was pretty easy, passed that in only two days of practicing. The general and extra exams took a month of practice, but googleing not just the answers, but the theory behind them, probably taught me more then a semester of electronic engineering courses at any college. In the end, its been the most rewarding thing I have done this decade.

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You guys have been a big help. I'm getting excited about this.

 

I'll probably start studying in December, I have to finish my MCSE before I take this on. I hope to be on the air by next summer.

 

Thank you guys for your tips, advice, and general thoughts.

 

be safe,

David

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Take a look at http://www.hamtestonline.com/

 

A 2-year subscription is $50 and you can prepare for any (and multiple) test during that time.

 

A complete newbie, knowing nothing at all about ham radio, I spent six hours one Friday studying at HamTestOnline and passed the Technician test Saturday morning, then did the same thing a while later, studying HamTestOnline for a few hours on a Friday and passed the General on Saturday.

 

As one of their earlier customers my purchase entitles me to a lifetime subscription instead of just 2 years, so I will definitely use them again when I test for Extra (If I ever do!).

 

As far as radios, they're about like GPSr; any of the major brands work about the same, so buy the feature set that interests you.

 

Most hams use VHF (2-meter), so any of the Dual or Tri-band radios will do most of what you need.

 

A mono-band HT, by the way, will be virtually useless!

 

See http://everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=663714 for what's where in the spectrum and buy the radio(s) that let you play in the sandbox you want to play in.

 

Here in Birmingham Alabama I use mostly a Dual-band HT (portable Handie-Talkie) or a Dual-band Mobile in my truck.

 

I have, or have had, HTs, mobiles and base radios from Henry, Radio Shack, Kenwood, Icom and Yaesu; all work fine, and all about equal in performance.

 

I put two VHF antennas on my truck, both Dual-band Diamond Hy-Gainers; I keep one attached to the mobile radio and the other is available if I want to hook up an HT to it (greatly expanding its range).

 

I do public service events, StormWarn storm spotting and disaster-relief volunteer work and therefore need to monitor multiple nets simultaneously... during my 42-day stint doing Katrina relief for example I monitored six nets on different bands and frequencies 24/7 from a card table 'ham shack' set up beside and powered from my Jeep.

 

Three weeks ago I worked the cross-country 3-Day Alabama Yellowhammer Endurance Horse Ride communications and monitored two repeaters and two simplex frequencies from my truck, far out in the wilderness beyond cell-phone coverage areas.

 

Tomorrow I will serve as net control for a footrace through Birmingham, using my dual-band mobile tuned to both a local repeater for talk-in (giving directions to volunteer spotters to get to their assigned location) and a simplex frequency for communicating with the spotters along the course.

 

So, if your interest in ham radio goes beyond rag-chewing on the local repeater (I hope it does!) and you want to be of service when called upon, get dual-banders that have true dual transmit/receive, such as the Kenwood TH-D7 or TMD-700 for example, as each of those is essentially two radios in one... you can monitor different bands or frequencies as if you had two radios and switch transmit back and forth with one touch of a button.

 

With four radios; an Icom IC-746 on a screw-driver tunable HF antenna, Kenwood TMD-700 Mobile and Kenwood TH-D7 HT on two Diamond Super-gainer antennas, and a Magnum S6 for 10 & 11 meters on a dual-band MonkeyMade antenna in/on my 4wd Durango I can operate from anywhere, can be on HF while monitoring (or serving as net control operator for) multiple EmComm nets (Red Cross, Salvation Army, county and state Emergency Operations Centers, National Weather Service and local repeaters as well as non-ham civilians (CB) and be the only one in the area with knowledge of what all the others are doing or needing done.

 

Also, consider cross-band repeat as a very valuable function for your mobile. When I am in the woods with a SAR-K9 search team my HT is of limited use (limited line-of-sight distance) but with my mobile nearby (within say 3 miles, depending on topography) I can transmit a 5 watt signal from my HT, my mobile picks it up on one band and retransmits it at 100 watts on the other band, essentially giving my little HT a tremendous footprint (wide area coverage)!

 

Just remember that antennas are more important than the radio, antennas are more important than power output, antennas are in fact the key to dependable communications, and what radio at what power you have won't much matter unless you have a good antenna system!

 

Pay attention to that word, system, as an antenna system includes everything from the antenna, its coax, coax connectors (cheap press-on connectors especially... use only quality well-soldered connectors), its mounting type (avoid magnets) and location (center of the car roof, ugly but efficient!), antenna and radio grounding (ground everything, (even the exhaust system!) to the battery) and more!

 

Run power to the radio, with in-line fuses on both positive and negative leads, directly from the battery (I have two gell-cells in the back of the truck for extended operation; most modern alternators can charge three batteries, but check before trying this), not from a cigarette lighter or accessory plug on the dash. Under-powered and poorly grounded radios operate poorly and soon die.

 

I power my HT, laptop computer and television (for watching radar while storm chasing... being left, right or behind a tornado is fine, being in front of it is not!) from a 2500 watt 12v DC to 110v AC Cobra Power Inverter.

 

Your new 50 watt mobile using a cheap magnet-mount antenna may actually only transmit 3 watts, crippling your ability to communicate!

 

That's why those of us who want the most from our radios have that silly-looking antenna farm on top of our homes and vehicles!

 

If you can buy just one radio, get a dual-band or tri-band HT with a remote DTMF microphone and a really good antenna system and you will be prepared for portable or mobile communications at surprising distances.

 

Good luck, feel free to call me if I can help in any way.

 

Ed

73 de W4AGA

205-914-6814

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