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Thinking Of Taking The Plunge

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Been thinking of going for my ham ticket for awhile. Seems like it would be a good thing to have up here. In many places, cell phones are no good and FRS is a joke.

 

Would the bands I have access to with the no code ticket be good enough for repeater use and basic communication? Or should I set my sights on the next level (General I think it is)?

 

Also, what books would you guys suggest for learning the ropes and passing the test? Not sure if classes are available up here, but I work nights and such classes would not really work for my schedule.

 

Thanks

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Been thinking of going for my ham ticket for awhile.  Seems like it would be a good thing to have up here.  In many places, cell phones are no good and FRS is a joke. 

 

Would the bands I have access to with the no code ticket be good enough for repeater use and basic communication?  Or should I set my sights on the next level (General I think it is)?

 

Also, what books would you guys suggest for learning the ropes and passing the test? Not sure if classes are available up here, but I work nights and such classes would not really work for my schedule.

 

Thanks

The no-code Tech ticket will get you on the air on VHF and higher. It will allow you access to all the 2-meter and 70-cm repeaters, which will provide an impressive amount of coverage, often from a radio as small as a pocket pager. The 2-meter band is where the vast majority of your local activity will likely reside.

 

From there, it's not that much more difficult to advance towards the General and Extra classes, which will gain you the use of HF frequencies, which will let you traverse thousands of miles on just a handful of watts.

 

For getting the ball rolling, I used a copy of "Now You're Talking" - often used as a textbook in ham radio classes, and studied the question pool printed in the back of the book. since then, many websites have sprung up that offer online practice tests. Two of them that spring to mind are eHam.net and QRZ.com.

 

For my upgrades, all I used was a copy of the question pool, the practice tests, and some Morse code CDs. I made liberal use of the Internet and the various search engines to do the actual learning about the theory behind the answers, rather than just memorizing which ones were correct. I've known plenty who skipped the "learning" part and passed the exams, but are now faced with having no actual knowledge as to how to apply their upgraded licenses to operate effectively on the HF bands.

 

Learning Morse code was my biggest hurdle, but not an insurmountable one. I got a set of the ARRL discs and listened to them until I found that I had accidentally memorized them. Once I found myself working ahead of the discs and accurately predicting what the next letter would sound like, I found a website that generated random conversations, and used those to hone my Morse copying until I was confident that I could pass the exam. I did it in one try.

 

I was a Tech class ham for about six years before I decided to upgrade, but once I sat down with the material, I was a General in about two months, and an Extra in another seven (This while being a full-time student at Florida State University as well). I've been having a blast on the air, and am constantly exploring new bands and modes of communication. I've talked to people around the world with radios I've built myself, and getting my ticket is a decision I've never regretted.

 

Hope to meet you on the air someday...

 

-- Seamus

W4TQI

Tallahassee, FL

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Once you have the tech. license, if yo decide to upgrade to the general, do the written test first. then you have one year to pass the code. But by then the code reqiurement should be gone. Then you will not need to take the code test.

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Go for it!

 

Seek out a local amateur radio club first. They'll likely have the study materials already and can lend the all important moral support!

 

That's what I did 18 years ago. Got everything for free, including morse code practice tapes, studied for 2 months hitting up one of the member a couple times to explain some of the technical stuff in a way I could understand, and passed the test(s) on the first try.

 

Joined the club after that and hung around two years before I moved house.

 

C-A

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What i did was get my no code tech back in 1997. waited a bit and started listening to code tapes and got my 5wpm and upgraded to a tech Plus. i shortly after that passed my general theory but was unable to pass my 13 wpm code. (did i mention i hate code) i tried 4 times and basically said forget it, a year passed and my csce expired, they later changed the code requirements to only 5 pm, so i retook the general theory and am now a general since i was a tech plus with 5 wpm already.

 

bought an extra book, read it a bit and never tried for the extra, my book expired and i havent bought a new one or anything. one day i'll be an extra though, when i get motivated, but since i spend most all my ham time on 440 and 2m, it not a high priority, although after the fun of this last field day i almost bought a new extra book, but didnt.

 

Chris - KF6JAX

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... you have one year to pass the code. But by then the code reqiurement should be gone. Then you will not need to take the code test.

I've not been following this development. The code requirement is expected to go away?

Just for General bands or for all amateur bands?

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I've not been following this development. The code requirement is expected to go away?

Just for General bands or for all amateur bands?

All bands. The international treaty that required that all ham on 50MHz (or was it 30MHz) and below know Morse Code is no longer there. Many other countries have already dropped the requirement. All that's left if FCC rules and that's being reviewed.

 

I believe the odds are very strong that either the code will be dropped completely or that it will only be retrained for the highest license.

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... you have one year to pass the code. But by then the code reqiurement should be gone. Then you will not need to take the code test.

I've not been following this development. The code requirement is expected to go away?

Just for General bands or for all amateur bands?

 

The ARRL has proposed:

To drop the code requirement for all but the extra class.

Reintroduce the Novice as an entry level no-code limited HF + VHF and UHF license.

Current techs and tech plus moved to general class, with no additional testing.

Extra class- no changes.

 

Proposed changes to the licensing structure can be found on the ARRL website here: (news story: ARRL to Propose New Entry-Level License, Code-Free HF Access)

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If you can handle the theory, don't let the code keep you from getting your extra. IMO, 5wpm isn't a very high bar, it's practially just being able to recognize the characters.

 

73 DE W7APD

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The license exams were proposed, but have gone no where since. I thought about waiting until I heard a definitive answer. I think it will be a long wait and went ahead and bought a CD for CW and the current General license.

 

Going from the Tech exam this spring to the General now is a big jump. I don't see a good way to get the content of the current General license into either the "Novice/Tech" or the AE exam without really pushing the difficulty of either way up.

 

From talking with the Dx'ers at field day, if you want to to anything close to QRP you need CW anyway.

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If you do get so lucky as to become entranced with the beauty of code and QRP, you'll immediately realize that 5 wpm really makes communication almost impossible (only necesary in extremely bad conditions). Even 10 wpm is easy once you get going, and then you can actually start to chat.

 

If you do pursue code, whatever you do, DO NOT EVER LOOK AT PRINTED "CODE"! As in a drawn dash & dot. It'll corrupt you faster than Hugh Heffner. Code hasn't been a printed language since shortly after Morse invented it, and it will hamper you greatly if you try to visualize it. Also, whether you use a Farnsworth, Koch or what/whomever's method, listen to the characters at a 15 or 20, even 25 wpm rate, just have longer spacing between characters to bring the effective speed down to your learning level. That way, you'll learn the actual sound of the character, and not start counting the dits & dahs. The characters will still sound identical as you increase your speed, just the spacing becomes shorter.

 

If I had known these 2 tricks when I learned the code 20 years ago, I'd be much better off now. Due to lack of radio time, I tend to hover around 15 wpm, but did get my Extra in 1999 when the speed was still 20 wpm.

 

Best of luck, and 73

 

Mike, KW1ND

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The license exams were proposed, but have gone no where since.  I thought about waiting until I heard a definitive answer.  I think it will be a long wait and went ahead and bought a CD for CW and the current General license.

 

Going from the Tech exam this spring to the General now is a big jump.  I don't see a good way to get the content of the current General license into either the "Novice/Tech" or the AE exam without really pushing the difficulty of either way up.

 

From talking with the Dx'ers at field day, if you want to to anything close to QRP you need CW anyway.

Not necessarily true.

Admittedly, most of the QRP traffic is in CW, but my first HF radio was a PSK-20 from Small Wonder Labs. The PSK-20 is a kit rig designed specifically for PSK-31 use on the 20 meter PSK frequency (14.070 USB, though the radio is actually 14.073 LSB - PSK is not polarity-sensitive). It plugs into a COM port and the sound card on your PC, and has a maximum output of about 3 watts.

 

Using my PSK-20 and an attic-mounted dipole aimed mainly north-south (from my QTH in Tallahassee, FL), I have been able to work everything from Brazil to the south, up the east coast to northeastern Canada, to one really great night when I got Russia, France, Germany, Romania, and the Czech Republic - all on 3 watts out.

 

I have since upgraded bot the radio and the antenna (now running an Icom IC-718 into 200 feet of wire in the treetops), but I still enjoy turning down the power and running low-power PSK-31, mainly on 20 meters. It's amazing how far a PSK signal will go on just a handful of watts.

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