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Old 03-14-06, 02:54 PM   #1
KrisPistofferson
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Ham radio buffs-Talk to me.

What does one need to get started? Cost? Thanks.
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Old 03-14-06, 03:09 PM   #2
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Old 03-14-06, 06:40 PM   #3
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You need an FCC license and some radio equipment.

The license costs $10 and you need to pass a test. The cost of the radio equipment depends. It ranges from free (stuff you find in a junkyard) to thousands of dollars.

Can you be a little more specific about what exactly you're interested in doing with ham radio?

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Old 03-14-06, 06:45 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Propofol

Can you be a little more specific about what exactly you're interested in doing with ham radio?
Listening to broadcasts and talking with people the next state over and on the other side of the planet. I've always been intrigued by it, and was listening to Art Bell the other night-He's obviously a huge enthusiast-he was absolutely gushing over it. Was mainly inquiring about cost because I can't afford many other expensive hobbies besides cycling.
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Old 03-14-06, 06:55 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krispistoferson
Listening to broadcasts and talking with people the next state over and on the other side of the planet. I've always been intrigued by it, and was listening to Art Bell the other night-He's obviously a huge enthusiast-he was absolutely gushing over it. Was mainly inquiring about cost because I can't afford many other expensive hobbies besides cycling.
Oh boy...if you think cycling takes up a lot of your time, wait until you get into ham radio. It's an electronic tinkerer's dream.

Just to clarify a few things you mentioned. First, hams are not allowed to broadcast (like a FM or AM radio station) - they can only transmit over radio to communicate directly with someone or something. The broadcasts you are referring to are shortwave radio broadcasts and not amateur radio (which can be very interesting to listen to in and of themself). Stations like the BBC, Voice of America, Radio Netherlands, Deutche Welle, etc. are shortwave broadcast stations and can be heard around the world. Shortwave frequencies are unique in that they have the ability to 'bounce' and 'skip' off the earth and earth's atmosphere to propagate around the world from one location.

Ham radio operators are allocated certain radio frequency bands for 'hobby' use and can be used for lots of different purposes. Some frequency bands are more suited for round-the-world communications and some work better for 'local' use. In order to use (read: transmit on) these frequencies, you have to take and pass a test administered by the FCC and receive a license. However, you do not need a license to tune into and listen to ham radio or shortwave.

If you're talking about shortwave, then all you need is a shortwave tuner. These can be as cheap as $50. The most important thing isn't the radio, but the antenna - the longer the better. And antenna design is a whole other ball of wax.

I suggest looking at http://www.ac6v.com/swl.htm to start. Shortwave and amateur radio is a fun hobby. But be careful, it may eat into your cycling time!
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Old 03-14-06, 07:05 PM   #6
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- find a good local club...

- for practice tests, go to:

http://www.qrz.com/p/testing.pl

- you shouldn't have to spend any money to take the tests (they're free in many places), but other tests may charge a nominal fee...

- if you get serious, get one of these to learn CW for your Element 1 test (which will give you high-frequency privileges for world wide communication)...

- it's a blast to operate bicycle mobile on HF - have talked with many US and foreign operators using a 20-watt transceiver in a pannier on a rear rack!
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Old 03-14-06, 07:07 PM   #7
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Right. The tests are free, but I think it's $10 or so for the license fee.

I like operating 2M and 440 with a 500mW handheld and handsfree transceiver while riding!
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Old 03-14-06, 07:16 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Propofol
Right. The tests are free, but I think it's $10 or so for the license fee.

I like operating 2M and 440 with a 500mW handheld and handsfree transceiver while riding!
- some VECs and clubs charge for 'filing'... but if you're in the Northern Virginia area, there is no charge for testing or filing thanks to the Laurel VEC and the Mount Vernon Amateur Radio Club:

http://www.mvarc.com/pages/1/index.htm

- it's also great that the FCC license is free and good for 10 years!
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Old 03-14-06, 07:17 PM   #9
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Oh, OK...I stand corrected. I guess the check I wrote went to the VEC and not the FCC. It's been 4 years, so my memory is spotty
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Old 03-14-06, 07:25 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Propofol
Oh, OK...I stand corrected. I guess the check I wrote went to the VEC and not the FCC. It's been 4 years, so my memory is spotty
- if you like operating 500mW, you're a QRP'r!

- i love low-power ops... best so far was 500mW phone on 17M from western Maryland to Belfast (wire dipole 50 feet up a pine tree)... best 2M QRP i've done was 35 miles via an Alinco DJV5 (at 2,400 feet elevation in the Appalachians to hit a WV repeater from MD)...

- during a 15M opening 16 months ago, i sat on my back deck down here in Pineapple Junction and chatted with a fellow 50km south of the Arctic Circle in Finland using 20W and an NVIS (i.e., crappy $5 wire dipole at 15 feet) antenna...

- ham radio is a *lot* of fun!
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Old 03-14-06, 08:05 PM   #11
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Yeah, me likey QRP operation.

My best QRP DX was in Hawaii, at the summit of Mt. Haleakala in Maui. At 10000 feet, I was able to hit repeaters in Kauai (over 100 miles away) with 500mW and a telescoping whip antenna on my Yaesu VX-2R!
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Old 03-14-06, 08:55 PM   #12
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KP chattin' old school, yo!
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Old 03-14-06, 10:38 PM   #13
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I've got a license, but don't use it. Haven't been on the air for many years. Really there isn't much appeal since the advent of cell phones and the internet. HF rigs to talk overseas, are pretty pricey andn FM stuff which is affordable isn't all that exciting anymore. Used to be thrilling to talk three counties over but since the advent of cellphones what's the big deal?

Either way, it does cost.
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Old 03-14-06, 11:36 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ranger
I've got a license, but don't use it. Haven't been on the air for many years. Really there isn't much appeal since the advent of cell phones and the internet. HF rigs to talk overseas, are pretty pricey andn FM stuff which is affordable isn't all that exciting anymore. Used to be thrilling to talk three counties over but since the advent of cellphones what's the big deal?
Because when the Internet goes down, your cell provider goes down, or you find yourself in an area with no internet or cell coverage, it's good to have a backup.

Remember, the primary function of the amateur radio operator is to assist in emergency communications when other means are down or overloaded. That's part of my motivation to stay in practice.
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Old 03-15-06, 08:29 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Propofol
Because when the Internet goes down, your cell provider goes down, or you find yourself in an area with no internet or cell coverage, it's good to have a backup.

Remember, the primary function of the amateur radio operator is to assist in emergency communications when other means are down or overloaded. That's part of my motivation to stay in practice.
Yup...cell phone companies will be the first against the wall when the revolution comes.
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Old 03-15-06, 08:56 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Propofol
Because when the Internet goes down, your cell provider goes down, or you find yourself in an area with no internet or cell coverage, it's good to have a backup.

Remember, the primary function of the amateur radio operator is to assist in emergency communications when other means are down or overloaded. That's part of my motivation to stay in practice.
You're preachin to the choir. Look, I'm an advanced level amateur operator. I know the value of amateur radio. I'm just talking about the reason for my lack of interest. In a perfect world, I would be able to afford and have time for tons of hobbies, but when time and money are involved, one has to prioritize. And amateur radio is not appealing enough for me at this time to sacrifice $ from activities that i really enjoy like cycling.
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Old 03-15-06, 11:02 AM   #17
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I enjoy being a part of my community's Communication Specialist Volunteers (CSV's). We practice very week to assure we will be able to communicate in an emergency.

I'm not really into HAM as a hobby, but I enjoy the community service and preparedness aspect.

It's also helpful to have a couple of the high powered radios on Scout trips...where cell phone signals fear to tread.

If you're interested, and since I'm not sure where you live, check with the police department to see if a CSV team exists in your area.

"73"
rich
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Old 03-15-06, 01:03 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ranger
You're preachin to the choir. Look, I'm an advanced level amateur operator. I know the value of amateur radio. I'm just talking about the reason for my lack of interest. In a perfect world, I would be able to afford and have time for tons of hobbies, but when time and money are involved, one has to prioritize. And amateur radio is not appealing enough for me at this time to sacrifice $ from activities that i really enjoy like cycling.
Fair enough, Ranger. I just didn't get the impression that you knew the 'value' of amateur radio since you gave the impression that the reason why you gave it up was because the popularity/availability of the Internet and cell phones obviated the need for ham radio. You didn't say anything about not having the time to devote to it.
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Old 05-30-08, 02:49 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Portis View Post
Used to be thrilling to talk three counties over but since the advent of cellphones what's the big deal?
It's funny, when I got my driver's license, people asked me basically the same question, only it was "Why do you spend an hour riding your bike to Davis (the next town) when you can drive there in ten minutes?" I don't have a good answer but it's just fun, somehow, like cycling or making your own hooch.

Sorry to resurrect such an old post, I'm spending my lunch hour at work playing with the search function.
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Old 11-15-14, 12:14 PM   #20
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i'm (still) free! (mr. Humphries)
I go bike portable-

bnc mount for a 2m rubber duck and an mfj multi-band Walkman telescopic on the rack, and a 3/8x24 mount for an mfj 6m hamtenna stick.
my radio is a yaesu ft-817nd and I park the bike somewhere and commence to pollute the airways.
rode it to a techfest 3 weeks ago and caused quite a stir.

I don't ride and yak- too many bad variables.
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Old 11-17-14, 06:26 PM   #21
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My son just got his HAM license and is working with the county HAM club. They have let him borrow a couple different radios so far. Also found out a guy in our neighborhood is the US HAM satellite coordinator. They help universities with comm on their space experiments using 4 inch cube satellites and get a repeater in the bargain.

Hook up with a local HAM group for help with just about anything HAM related.
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