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Guide to Amateur "Ham" Radio

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Old 10-05-2010, 11:10 AM   #1
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Guide to Amateur "Ham" Radio

What is Amateur "Ham" radio:

Amateur radio, also known as ham radio, is a hobby enjoyed by several hundred thousand people in the United States and by over a million people worldwide. Amateur radio operators call themselves "radio hams" or simply "hams."
To become a radio ham, you must pass an examination. Wireless amateur communication is done on numerous bands (relatively narrow frequency segments) extending from 1.8 MHz (a wavelength of about 160 meters) upwards through several hundred gigahertz (wavelengths in the millimeter range). There are several license classes. The more privileges a class of license conveys, the more difficult is the examination that one must pass to obtain it.

Amateur radio operation is fun, and that is one of the main reasons hams do it. But ham radio can provide communication during states of emergency. Ham radio works when all other services fail. After Hurricane Andrew struck South Florida in 1992, the utility grid was destroyed over hundreds of square miles. All cellular towers and antennas were blown down. Only amateur radio, the Citizens Radio Service ("Citizens Band"), and a few isolated pay phones with underground lines provided communication between the outside world and the public in the affected area.

Amateur radio operators are known as technical innovators, and have been responsible for important discoveries. For example, in the early part of the 20th century, government officials believed that all the frequencies having wavelengths shorter than 200 meters (1.5 MHz) were useless for radio communications, so they restricted radio amateurs to these frequencies. It was not long before ham radio operators discovered the truth, and were communicating on a worldwide scale using low-power transmitters. Thus the shortwave radio era began.

Why ham radio when CB doesn't require a license?

First a little tech on frequencies. Radio is a wave. Radio waves travel at a given speed. The difference is the frequency they operate at. Picture a wheel. The RPM of the wheel is similar to the frequency of a radio wave. The number of revolutions per second is the the frequency. Given that radio waves travel at a constant speed the lower the frequency the further those signals will travel in one sinusoid or wave. the distance they travel in one wave is also the wavelength of the signal or what we hear as 2meters. The distance a wave travels at the operating frequency of that band.

Radio waves at different frequencies are better for different applications. Because of their long wavelength and their ability to bounce off the upper atmosphere, HF frequencies are best suited for long range, but because of this behavior they are not as good for short range communications. HF frequencies generally start for the ham at around the 6 meter band. Shorter wavelengths and higher frequencies are much more suited for short range communication. CB radio operates within the HF band at 11 meters. Those frequencies are better suited for long range communications. They go a very long range but then tend to skip over close by stations. Ham radio operators tend to use 2m and 440mhz bands for mobile communications. These are VHF and UHF bands. Because of their shorter wave lengths they are much better suited for short range line of sight communications.

CBs by law are also limited to 4 Watts. There are lots of easily attainable illegal amplifiers for CB. Because of what i mentioned before about skip, even with gobs of power and a good antenna you will find you may be able to talk several hundred miles away, but not to your friend 25 miles away. Ham radio, because you are required to obtain a license which is supposed to ensure you have the knowledge to handle more power. Ham radio is operators are allowed to operate significantly more power. With most 2m/440mhz radios operating at 50W right out of the box. You can also operate legally with up to 1500W!



Licensing Info:

Check out http://www.arrl.org/ for lots of information on the hobby and licensing.

Check here specifically http://www.arrl.org/licensing-preparation-exams for information on where and how to get a license.

If you don't mind paying a few bucks to make the studying super simple I recommend http://www.hamradiolicenseexam.com/index.html

I will add LOTS AND LOTS more information to this thread as I have time to add to it. Mods can we please sticky this?


PS: I will fix typos and crappy run on sentences as i have more time.
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Old 10-05-2010, 11:18 AM   #2
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Good Thread!

Adam Kd7mrj
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Old 10-05-2010, 11:29 AM   #3
wo ai ni bao bei ^_^
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Old 10-05-2010, 12:04 PM   #5
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Same as Larry!
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Old 10-05-2010, 12:09 PM   #6
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I'm in the midst of reading the ARRL basic and general manuals so I can test and get licensed. I'm doing it for work...but I can see it being helpful for all the VERY remote trekking I do in the truck.
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Old 10-28-2010, 05:51 AM   #8
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Good informative thread.

- K6TJM
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Old 10-28-2010, 12:38 PM   #9
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Hey good job. I'm glad you showed the difference between We Hams and CBers.
KE7BIN
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Old 10-29-2010, 10:31 AM   #10
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In Texas you can get a Radio Operator license plate too.

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Old 10-29-2010, 12:44 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tidrow View Post
In Texas you can get a Radio Operator license plate too.

Same in cali. Its a one time fee, but no annual fee like standard custom plates.
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Old 11-16-2010, 12:51 PM   #13
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The practice tests on QRZ.com also seem to be pretty good. When you take your test, take along the license manual and a highlighter. Leave it in the car as they VE's will not likely let you have it near by. But once the test is over and if you are or are not sucessful take a few minutes and flip through the questions marking the ones that gave you troubles. It will help when you study to test again or even upgrade.
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Old 11-30-2010, 02:40 PM   #14
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OK, you ham guys. I've installed my new VHF/UHF in my truck. I've raised a couple people on it, and keyed up a couple local repeaters.

Now I'm going through the painstaking process of programming memory locations.

I've got the scan band limits set up so that I can scan JUST the ham 2m and 70cm bands, without going through all the nearby frequencies and all the digital noise on them. Yay!

I've programmed in the simplex calling frequencies.

I've programmed a handful (like 3 or 4) local repeaters into memory.

I've gone to the norcal repeater coordinator site http://www.narcc.org/ and made a list of norcal repeaters, sorted by frequency, printed those out, stuck 'em in a binder, and have that (along with the ARRL repeater listing) under the passenger seat.

So here's my question: If I hopped into your truck right now and started flipping through your memory channels:

1. How many programmed memory locations would I find?

2. How many of those do you use regularly?

3. Do you use the alphanumeric label feature? My radio allows a 6 character label - that's not many characters. If you use the labeling, what scheme do you use to help identify the frequencies you've memorized?
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Old 11-30-2010, 02:43 PM   #15
Bullwinkle J. Moose
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This is the simplest, most straightforward study guide I found:

http://www.kb6nu.com/wp-content/uplo...studyguide.pdf
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Old 12-01-2010, 12:25 PM   #16
Bullwinkle J. Moose
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Bump.
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Old 12-01-2010, 01:15 PM   #17
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Screwdriver HF Antenna mount questions

Just bought 2011 Taco, went from a Dodge Quad Cab 2500 Deisel. Radio and antenna mounting locations where no problem. Now on Taco... I have got the remote head for my 857D mounted at the pocket below lighter panel. Main unit still deciding between under passenger's seat or behind back seat of Double Cab, I think either is not a problem. The problem is mounting the Tarheel screwdriver antenna. I have added a Trifecta folding cover so bed mount is out. I have been thinking of how to add to the top of trailer hitch, easy to do with a piece of channel and a 2" square u-bolt, but in order to access the tailgate I would need to come up with some sort of foldover mount to let antenna lay sideways so tailgate can open. Anybody have any ideas??
Thanks
DocTaco aka WN4E
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Old 12-01-2010, 01:32 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DocTaco View Post
Just bought 2011 Taco, went from a Dodge Quad Cab 2500 Deisel. Radio and antenna mounting locations where no problem. Now on Taco... I have got the remote head for my 857D mounted at the pocket below lighter panel. Main unit still deciding between under passenger's seat or behind back seat of Double Cab, I think either is not a problem. The problem is mounting the Tarheel screwdriver antenna. I have added a Trifecta folding cover so bed mount is out. I have been thinking of how to add to the top of trailer hitch, easy to do with a piece of channel and a 2" square u-bolt, but in order to access the tailgate I would need to come up with some sort of foldover mount to let antenna lay sideways so tailgate can open. Anybody have any ideas??
Thanks
DocTaco aka WN4E
I think a custom fold over mount for the hitch is your only option.
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Old 03-06-2013, 11:14 AM   #19
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Great write up! Some good info, it explained a little to me to get me started for sure!
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