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View Full Version : As a new (soon to be) HAM radio operator, a few lessons from me to you...


johnny1290
12-13-2012, 6:06 PM
First off, cool forum, I just realized what it was!

Secondly, I've been trying to learn this stuff via practice exams and websites. I could pass but barely. I plonked down the $30 for the ARRL book and it's totally worth it, and not a bad read.

If you don't strictly understand everything, you'll at least know the questino and correct answer for the test.

On hamexam.org I now pass every time, sometimes even with an A! :D Oh and I barely know the math...I get those wrong.

What also helped was getting a baofeng uv5r radio for $40 and listening to it, programming it, all that stuff(cable is well worth it). It really helped me get a grasp of the things going on and the concepts.

If you have a radio and haven't fooled with it, thinking you'll rise to the occassion in an emergency...good luck. This stuff takes real work to understand and make a COMMUNICATIONS PLAN. It's a radio not a cell phone, so if you're got to make plans for phone calls. With alternates. And more alternates. A WRITTEN PLAN to share with your pals, since nobody will be able to remember all this. You also have to figure out what repeaters you can reach from your home

anyway there's a lot more, but I'd suggest at least a roll up j pole antennasince the one on your handy talky just isn't that big. I got one for $25 or so from n9tax (http://www.2wayelectronix.com/) that's supposed to be great.

There's ham radio outlet? by guns direct on magnolia, lotsa cool stuff there. I got a few books there, including personal emergency
communications by andrew baze that I highly recommend if you're trying to setup a commo plan like me :)

Also, ham radio emeregency channels are not as set in stone as you'd think.

You have to have stations preset, repeaters with the offsets and tone and whatnot, if you hope to communicate with *anybody*, pretty much anytime. I put in FRS and GMRS and MURS as well(bubble pack radios) with the idea that it might come in handy. Just scanning for people without presets....good luck. This stuff requires work and practice with whoever you think you want to talk to.

On Ham Radio vs CB: I had this debate myself. Remembering CB from the 70s, and getting a taste of it on different frequencies on ham radio, makes me realize what a wasteland it is. CBers *might* do something for you in an emergency. HAM radio guys *live* for the opportunity to relay messages or help somehow. They're also smart enough to pass a test, so at least they can read ;-) CB will be all but useless in LA, but it might work for you.

I'd like to set up a cross band full duplex repeater rig in my car. That way if, say, I'm in the woods, my car in the parking lot could be a 50w repeater for me to my HT, and reach another repeater that I couldn't hit with my handset. I could also use it if the power goes out since I could just run my car, or use it to relay to my handset in my house, or whatever, tons of different ways to use it for around $350 plus antenna. Pretty cool I thought.


how to send a distress message via radio (http://www.survivalistboards.com/showthread.php?t=227794)

alaska wilderness communication, with good emergency/shtf comm info (http://www.survivalmonkey.com/threads/alaska-wilderness-communications.33818/)

johnny1290
12-15-2012, 3:15 PM
fwiw I took my test earlier, first one done and passed. I guess you can use calculators fwiw. I read the study book over 3 nights. I'll upgrade to general when I get back to ham radio outlet and buy a study guide. I got in the 50s to 60s on the General test without studying, so it isn't too much further to get that 74 required.

No joking at the test, this is very serious stuff LOL nice folks but whoa! LOL

I'll post my comm plan for your perusal when I'm done, I'm still workin on it.

The uv5r is the greatest radio deal ever. Free software(chirp), $40 delivered, and each accessory is $10 or less.

Extra battery, $8, extended battery $18, cable $9, antenna $3.79, BNC converter $4, nice jpole antenna $25, AAA battery pack $9, car adaptor $8, hand mike/speaker $9

the yaesu ft60 car adaptor $20?, AAA batt pack $30, etc etc it does more but costs almost 3 times as much.

I should buy another uv5r just cuz.

tradecraft
12-15-2012, 3:24 PM
I just started studying for mine to pass the time in the air. Do you mind sharing your source for the radio at $40 shipped? Thanks.

johnny1290
12-15-2012, 5:15 PM
I got my handsets from amazon (http://www.amazon.com/BaoFeng-136-174-400-480-Dual-Band-Transceiver/dp/B009MAXPBU/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1355620216&sr=8-4&keywords=uv5r) Looks like they're $41 with super saver shipping. Not bad! The rest of the stuff I got off ebay from various chinese sources.

One of the guys at the test was going to sell his $500 handset and buy one. They aren't perfect, but they're amazing for the money.

I've been trying to wear out my battery to drain it before I recharge it again and it just won't die.

tradecraft
12-15-2012, 5:17 PM
Thanks. Nice, no sales tax!

Onetyme
12-21-2012, 8:29 PM
Great info. On my way to certification as well. Just ordered a radui off ebay. I'll look for the book over the next few days. I have an outdated one.

Cali-Glock
12-21-2012, 10:54 PM
This thread had me interested, but....


1.0 out of 5 stars Total junk, November 26, 2012
By
radioman - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dual Band UV5R Transceiver PACKAGE Complete Deal Setup VHF / UHF 2 Way Amateur Radio
I own one of those radios. It's total JUNK! Don't waste your money. It's 100% made in China. You'll be sorry if you buy it, believe me..

Cali-Glock
12-21-2012, 10:54 PM
This thread had me interested, but....


1.0 out of 5 stars Total junk, November 26, 2012
By
radioman - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dual Band UV5R Transceiver PACKAGE Complete Deal Setup VHF / UHF 2 Way Amateur Radio
I own one of those radios. It's total JUNK! Don't waste your money. It's 100% made in China. You'll be sorry if you buy it, believe me..

Hurstolds
12-21-2012, 11:04 PM
...

johnny1290
12-22-2012, 1:16 AM
I got my license and spent $180 on the radio plus an extra for chargers and stuff. Over $300 total. I found the whole process complicated and never actually used it so i sold it all.

LOL yeah I hear ya. You're not the first! That's whats cool about the uv5r. You can get it with all the extras and be hard pressed to spend over $100

My friend is in the same boat. He wishes he bought a CB. I'm putting together a plan so I think he'll get it worked out.

It's a hobby and good for emergencies, but it's certainly not plug and play. Far from it! That's a CB, but then you get unlicensed people on there and they act as irresponsibly as trolls on the internet.

speaking of trolls, so somebody found a bad review of the $40 ham radio. So what? There's lots of good reviews. Luckily I had $40 to make such a 'risky' investment LOL

livermoron
12-25-2012, 10:42 PM
Welcome to HAM radio from a guy whose been a "HAM" for 25 years. You'll find many interesting, practical, and dare I say, fun modes and methods.

My wife and I both have radios with us at all times (portable or mobile). Absolutely have a simple communications plan in writing, like on a laminated wallet card. This will be quite useful in a SHTF situation.

73! :)

Livermoron

johnny1290
12-26-2012, 12:42 AM
Livermoron, great name LOL

Thanks for the welcome and thanks for the good idea about the laminated card. I think checklists are the only way I'll get anything done in an emergency, as there's no way I'll think of this stuff.

After using this jpole antenna in the apartment, it's hard to go back to the ducky. I gotta find something else I can use for that thing. Ebay here I come!

johnny1290
12-26-2012, 12:42 AM
Livermoron, great name LOL

Thanks for the welcome and thanks for the good idea about the laminated card. I think checklists are the only way I'll get anything done in an emergency, as there's no way I'll think of this stuff.

After using this jpole antenna in the apartment, it's hard to go back to the ducky. I gotta find something else I can use for that thing. Ebay here I come!

Yugo
12-26-2012, 8:14 AM
TAGGED

parcours
12-26-2012, 9:50 AM
My son and I are studying to take the test in Jan. We setup our Jeep with both a CB and a potable Kenwood TH-F6A, running tri-band, 144/220/440, with a Comet Antenna.

The nice part of portables is the flexibility to swap between vehicles. I'm limited to 5W on the HAM and CB, but for our off road trips that works OK.

The CB is a Midland 75-822 which also works great on the trail.

4DMASTR
12-26-2012, 9:53 AM
I was all into CB radio as a kid and wanted to get into HAM radio but the costs killed it. I believe I still have a study guide maybe its time to look back into it.....

blackandredwarrior
12-26-2012, 10:47 AM
I also recommend joining a local club (or multiple) as well as the ARRL (the NRA of the Ham world, hated and loved just as much.) Local clubs are great places to meet others. Different clubs do different things. Some are just a donuts eating get together once a month.

I've been at it for 4.5 years.

My excitement in the hobby comes and goes from time to time as well as my activity. I help out with community events. It's a big eye opener and what can happen when stuff starts going down.

I've also done fox hunting (useful for finding people) and VHF/UHF contesting (it's useful for burning a lot of fuel if you're a rover and finding out how far you can actually reach on the VHF/UHF bands).

Although HTs are great for portability, I really recommend a mobile for working from home or on the road.