General Discussion > Ham

Welcome to Amateur Radio!

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Hammer (Avi):
I have been fielding a lot of questions about Ham radio out at the events, and it was requested that I start a forum topic on the subject.  I will update this page a lot as I go through and answer questions, but for now I'll start with the basics.

What is Amateur radio?
The short answer.  The FCC set up areas throughout the frequency bands for use by amateurs, which is to say, not professionals, not commercial, not business. 
Why?  To allow for people to communicate and practice communications, for emergency purposes, for event purposes, for research purposes.  Many antenna designs have come out of the amateur arena. 

Why should I get into Amateur radio? 
Do you travel throughout the wilderness alone and find yourself lacking cell service?  Do you enjoy volunteering to support events?  Do you like tinkering with electronics and building things? 
These are all good reasons to get into Ham. 

More information.
I'll add more as I have time, but in the meantime check out the ARRL website Here   

I found some classes on youtube that start here

Also a practice test is available here

Lets Get Started
Yes, you need a license to operate, but anyone can listen and the test isn't killer.  I can't say I highly recommend the book.  It may help, but a lot of people just study the questions and figure it out.  There are example tests online, feel free to ask questions on this thread. 

You need a radio, luckily the Chinese are making these things cheaper than ever. 
This is the basic model Here , or similar on Amazon Prime ->   It comes ready to go, but the antenna is lacking and you may end up upgrading it and the battery as well. 

I use one of these, or similar on Amazon Prime ->  The antenna and battery are both better.  The biggest issue with this model is that it was designed with business use in mind, so to switch from pre programmed to manual tune you need to power off and hold the menu button while powering on. 

Programming either of these is basically identical, it can be done manually and there are youtube videos on doing this.  I cheated and ordered up the cable you'll find on ebay and programmed it with a program called chirp.

For those of you interested in skipping ahead to a less awkward and more powerful mobile system.  I own a Kenwood TM 281A.  It works only on the 2 meter band, but this is the most common, and it offers 65watts of output.  It has a great speaker in the front, rather than the top or bottom, and does not require a fan to run.     

The Basics

You will find the majority of communication is performed in one of two ways.  Either Simplex, or via a Repeater. 

Simplex most people are already familiar with, it involves dialing up the same frequency your buddy is on and talking.  Range will very by condition, but with a handheld you should expect at least 2-4 miles with the 5watts of power available.  With a mobile system expect up to 50 miles with good line of site. 

Using a repeater provides the largest advantage to the individual Ham user.  A repeater is a transmitter, typically mounted on a tower on top of a hill or mountain.  They provide good line of site to a large area and repeat the signal in higher power throughout the surrounding area.  In order for repeaters to work, they cannot re transmit on the same frequency they listen to, the signals would counter each other.  Instead the repeaters transmit on one frequency, and listen on another, this is referred to as an offset frequency.  Typically this is either + or - 0.600Mhz.  Additionally, you don't want your repeater repeating any thing it "hears" so they use an access "tone."  This is a tone produced by the initiator of the signal which tells the repeater to go ahead and repeat this signal.  So, in conclusion, to program a repeater into your radio you will need three items, the frequency, the offset, and the tone.   


Hammer (Avi):
For those interested in getting your Ham license there are classes starting March 5th.  This is a great way to get your license, as far as I can see the only fees are $15 for the test and $25 for the book.  Se the attached flyer for more info.

Flyer link

Also, the training is available on youtube, Here but it is 6 hrs of pbs style 80s work.

Thupertrooper (Victor):
Thanks Avi
I will most likely attend this.

Hammer (Avi):
For anyone interested in jumping in, here is a smoking deal on a good radio.  Note, anyone can purchase a radio and listen in, you need to get certified before you mic up.  Listening in and programming your radio is a great way to learn about half of what the test is about. 

Stoic V:
Well I picked up one today...... I just need to install it.


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