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Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Intern
10/23/12 1:03 p.m.

I'm interested in HAM radio, and I figured some of you would know more.

So far, I'm thinking I'll start with a 2m mobile radio and a 2m/ 70cm antenna on a NMO mount mounted to the Trooper. I'm just looking to get my tech license for now.

Questions: what kind of repeater coverage is there in central Florida? Can I get email over 2m, or do I need to get into HF for that? Anything else I should know about HAM radio?

Why I'm looking at HAM? I think it's interesting, I love radios, and I geek out over all this stuff. I don't necessarily need to have a practical reason, but it sure would be nice to be able to talk to my parents at the lake house while I'm 10-15 miles away with no cell coverage. I've played around extensively with CBs, so I'm not a newcomer to amateur radio.

1988RedT2 UltraDork
10/23/12 1:12 p.m.

Watching with interest....

spitfirebill UltraDork
10/23/12 2:14 p.m.

Me too. You already know more than I do.

N Sperlo
N Sperlo PowerDork
10/23/12 2:50 p.m.

Step one: Get the technician book. It will basically tell you all you need for starters. Study it, take the test and pass.

http://www.radioreference.com should have repeater information. Email over 2M? Unlikely.

On my F150 I use a magnet mount 2M antenna. I have touched Texas from Saint Louis before, but that was due to an unusual situation. Usually you'll get 30 miles on a repeater if you're lucky.

I'd only suggest getting an antenna capable of 70cm if you plan on using UHF. A 2m antenna works best for 2m, but I have done well at 2m on a dual band antenna.

www.hamcity.com is a good resource for equipment.

Now, study up and get that call.


moxnix Reader
10/23/12 3:05 p.m.

I should actually do something with mine and upgrade to tech.

<- has a novice ham radio license but has never been on the air.

N Sperlo
N Sperlo PowerDork
10/23/12 3:09 p.m.

In reply to moxnix:

Thats impressive. I don't think they even offer the novice anymore.

CW is no longer necessary. I really need to get on the air more. Just took the dual band NMO mount if the Zx2 to prepare it for sale. (the car, not the antenna.) I can amounts toss the big boy antenna on the roof, but that subdued dual band was nice for the coupe.

moxnix Reader
10/23/12 6:26 p.m.
N Sperlo wrote: Thats impressive. I don't think they even offer the novice anymore.

They stopped offering novice in 2000.

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess UltimaDork
10/23/12 9:10 p.m.


Anyway, email is out. There was an email system some time ago, like 10 years or so, but there was a federal ruling that the transmitter operator was responsible for EVERYTHING that went over the email, regardless of the source or what it was, and that was that. So, no more email system.

I probably know people local to you, or close, anyway. If you don't mind a slight drive east, I can put you in touch. Uh, they might be gettin' a bit old, but still fine CW ops, and probably have a 2M rig around too.

Florida is going to be very well covered by 2M repeaters.

I suggest an older Icom HF rig. I have a 735. They are also general coverage, so you can listen in on everything from AM broadcasts up. Some of the Icoms are practically DC to 2 meters, I think.

73 NG6Y/5

N Sperlo
N Sperlo PowerDork
10/23/12 9:19 p.m.

Nowadays I only buy Icom and Kenwood. My 2m is an Icom 2200h and is petty easy to use. I also have a 706mkII (does VHF and HF), and an old Kenwood HF rig I've been meaning to put in a protective box.

Any HAM here would be happy to help you, I'm sure. In fact, tomorrow, I'm going to pick up a new book to study. You have enabled me. I'm surpsurprised White and Nerdy hasn't chimed in yet.

Hess, I'll have to call you out next time I'm in Bentonville.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Intern
10/23/12 9:35 p.m.

What's CW?

Also, it sounds like 2 meter is the way to go. I told my parents I wanted this for Christmas:


based on a tip from Expedition Portal. What do you guys think?

Also, if I get a 2 meter handheld as well, is there any reason I can't hand it to a buddy when we're out wheeling for clear consistent communications? They'd techically need a license, but would anyone care if they aren't on a repeater? Do HAM licenses apply to immediate family so they can use my radio, like GMRS licenses do?

Beer Baron
Beer Baron PowerDork
10/23/12 9:43 p.m.
Tom Suddard wrote: What's CW?

Morse code.

Tom Suddard wrote: Also, if I get a 2 meter handheld as well, is there any reason I can't hand it to a buddy when we're out wheeling for clear consistent communications? They'd techically need a license, but would anyone care if they aren't on a repeater? Do HAM licenses apply to immediate family so they can use my radio, like GMRS licenses do?

Oh, now that gets tricky. I'm trying to remember the term for it, but you can allow someone else to transmit on your equipment as long as you remain control operator. I forget the exact protocol. You identify yourself and what is happening. That does not allow you to give one handy talky to a friend and wander off yourself. If you're control operator, you must remain at the control station.

However, there is the practical consideration of "Who will know?" and "Who will care?" If you are out in the boonies and on a frequency no one else is using, no one is likely to notice anything.

Your license does not grant special rights to your family. The Technician license test is easy for reasonably intelligent, technically competent people to pass. I'd say your family likely qualifies. If you understand Ohm's Law already, you can probably just walk in and pass.

If you're not sure, go take some practice exams online: http://www.qrz.com/ht/


Osterkraut UltraDork
10/23/12 10:48 p.m.

Sounds like you just read this. If not, it covers exactly what you're looking to do.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Intern
10/23/12 10:51 p.m.

Yep, I read that a week or so ago, and it stuck in the back of my mind. I figured I'd ask the GRM gods what they thought about HAM radio.

N Sperlo
N Sperlo PowerDork
10/23/12 10:57 p.m.

Beer Baron pretty much hit it on the nose. I would never suggest you send someone off with a radio, but when you run 2m you are line of sight if you run simplex. Ham operators are the last of a dying breed, so they tend to want their frequencies to stay under strict control.

Your rig is up to you and as long as you know how to operate it, you're set. I've mentioned what I like, but it can be like Ford Vs. Chevy. A pointless argument to have. If you were to have a similar rig as one of us, we could always walk you through the processes. It can get tricky setting tones and such to access repeaters. The Icom seems pretty fool proof when it comes to operations. I haven't used a Yaesu.

The tests can also be accessed through androids. They have pretty good study guides set up, but get a book. It will help a ton.

Really with regular operation, it comes down to knowing what you can transmit on (Technicians can use all of the 2m band) and knowing the process. Transmit your call sign at the beginning of any contact and every five minutes you are transmitting and that pretty much covers the basics of operation. Now you have to know all the technical E36 M3 for the test too.

Now I need to go play with my rig an re-learn it.

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess UltimaDork
10/24/12 8:44 a.m.

Yeah, NS. Shoot me a PM when you're down this way.

And, as has been pointed out, if you're going to talk to momma on the ham rig, she needs a license too. However, if you get in with a club with a repeater and a phone patch (they still have those, right?) then you can call her on the phone through your 2M rig. Most repeaters with phone patches require you to be a club member.

I used to carry a hand held 2M with me when I went to sea. Darn, can't think of the brand. Wasn't a Yaesu, Icom or Kenwood, but was a nice 2M hand held. I got a large telescoping antenna for it to use instead of the rubber duckie. I could hit the 2M repeater somewhere near Santa Barbara when I was off the coast of California with it at like 150 miles away. I'd go up on the bridge deck, about 100+ ft up in the air with my big antenna on it and get someone on the repeater to pull up the phone patch for me and call my parents. Not too bad for a couple watts or so of power.

I dug out my Ten-Tec Delta a few months ago, rebuilt the tuner, put up a long wire and dusted off my keyer. My fingers don't work as good as they used to. I can hardly send at 30 anymore. A little bit of work and I can still copy 45 in my head. I bought the Icom 735 to have the general coverage for SW listening and, you know, in case the zombies attack. And I always wanted one.

My friend lives in Ocala. I'm going to guess he still has 2M gear and uses it. I only talk to him on 40M CW. If you want to visit his shack, let me know and I'll put you in touch.

www.arrl.org is the site to start out at on your amateur radio journey.

N Sperlo
N Sperlo PowerDork
10/24/12 9:14 a.m.

Yep. Phone patches are still around. Usually you need the inaudible tone to access (most radios scan for them) and then audible tones to use it.

RossD UberDork
10/24/12 9:35 a.m.

Other than talking to someone outside of the usual Citizen's Band range, what can you do with HAM radios?

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess UltimaDork
10/24/12 9:43 a.m.

You can talk to people all over the world. It's an interesting hobby. Led to a couple of careers for me. Lots of interesting fields to explore, learning wise.

N Sperlo
N Sperlo PowerDork
10/24/12 9:54 a.m.

Yes, Ross, it's a fun learning experience. I'm involved with citizens emergency response where I live. I do communications for them. We actually have a trailer full of radios in order to contact the authorities in a state of emergency.

Knowing how the radio works and knowing how to make it work better makes being a hobbyist all the more fun. Compare it to driving a car vs autocrossing.

If you're interested, do some reading on it and see if it sparks any interest.

RossD UberDork
10/24/12 11:54 a.m.

My recent tube amp building fetish has fingers reaching into the HAM radio arena. I have a couple of old short wave radios now too. I was just going to use them for parts, though. Every once in while I'll see tube HAM radios on craigslist that make me do a double take...

1988RedT2 UltraDork
10/24/12 12:48 p.m.

Hmmm. Why am I suddenly overcome by this urge to build (of all things) a ham radio?

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess UltimaDork
10/24/12 1:35 p.m.

Ten-Tec has a DIY kit for a general coverage receiver. It is reasonably priced. Looks like phun, too.

I still have a 4CX1500B somewhere for my one of these day's amp project. Oh, yeah, that's a TUBE and a half, there. I have a plate transformer for it too. 4KV at an amp with capacitive input. If I recall, I'm only lacking a socket, case and time for that project.

Duke PowerDork
10/24/12 2:01 p.m.

A friend of my father's wife was completely bedridden back in the '70s and very early '80s. He built her a HAM rig so she could talk to the world while he was at work. She got to be one of the fastest Morse keyers in the amateur world - I am hazy on the exact numbers, but I want to say she could send at over 75 with great accuracy.

Per Schroeder
Per Schroeder Technical Editor/Advertising Director
10/24/12 2:05 p.m.

Good, you got a girlfriend before you start getting interested in Ham radio. It usually doesn't work all that well the other way around.

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess UltimaDork
10/24/12 2:35 p.m.

If you know her call sign, Duke, I'll ask around if anyone knew/knows her. QRQ CW is a world unto itself and only so big. I can get most of what's going on at a little over 50 these days. Not as good as I used to be when I did it professionally 8-12 hours a day. There are people that can do 100. Few. At speeds over 40 or so, you have to use a keyboard for sending. Way back, before computers, state of the art was to use a teletype terminal punching tape, then feeding the tape into a baudot to Morse converter. People were hitting 50+ WPM doing that.

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