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Discussion in 'Communications' started by Lester_7, Oct 3, 2008.
Anyone here do or into ham radio? How long have you been doing it for?
I do not do HAM radio yet, but am currently looking into a crash course in HAM radio...
I think this will be the only real choice for communication outside of your immediate surroundings in a SHTF TEOTWAWKI situation...
I've been a Ham Radio operator for a number of years - and yeah they are reliable communicators. You must be licensed by the FCC to operate them, and if you upgrade your license class, you are allowed more frequency privileges (more elbow room), which increases the range at which you can conduct reliable communications.
I have a handi-talkie, and a longer-range base station. Power output in the 5-10 watt range is more than sufficient for short range communication. My base station has a factory output of 100 Watts, which is more than enough to get your signal around the world with a good enough antenna.
Lots more of the communications on Ham Radio is being done by voice, as opposed to Morse code (which is no longer a requirement for higher license classes). It makes for a great hobby, and keeps you in practice for when the real thing happens. I loved operating in the North Texas area, where I got to do a little storm-watching for the Weather Service, and serve as part of a large early-warning system for tornadoes! It's a great way to provide a valuable service and capability in your local community.
There are many ways to prepare to get your license, but everyone still has to find a place to take the FCC exam to get your license.
You can find a few guides to get your license at http://www.arrl.org (American Radio Relay League) - and perhaps even a local radio club where tests are administered.
I have been in amateur radio over 30 years. I have been a member of the Quarter Century Wireless Association.
If you will go to the American Radio Relay League, you can find test sessions close to you as well as a club close by with members who can help you, not only with the tests but also with the questions about how much radio to buy.
I've been a ham for years. The tech. class lic. is eaiser than ever to get & would give you 2 & 440 meter priviledges as well as limited 10 meter. Which are all good bands for emergency comms. like the other guys suggested check out arrl.org.
By all means check it out. Now you can obtain a Technician's license with very little studying/cost. I think it's a 35 question multiple guess test, and you have to get 26 of them correct. The license is good for 10 years, and the cost is very reasonable. No code involved ever again.
I have had my Tech license since 2003, which allows me to talk on VHF, (line of sight) type radios, and 10 meters on HF.
Cost of equipment is minimal, and a great sport. Oftentimes, there will be a local group who get together regularly to chew the fat, and keep tabs on others. In my area, we have a group of old timers, who get together every morning at the same time, just to make sure everyone is up and kicking. A great hobby. Check out all the particulars on ARRL. www.arrl.net
You could start out by getting a scanner then you can pick up some ham channels...
I've been wanting to for the longest time now. How hard is the test?
The technician test isn't bad at all -- it took me a couple of days (at a leisurely pace) to master the material. You can take practice tests (with the same question pool) at http://www.aa9pw.com -- and it will tell you which area of the question pool you need to work on.
Does anyone have any information on straping an ICOM 751 or 751A to operate on 11 meters?
Do you have a call sign?
Whats the basic equipment you need to have a ham radio?
The most basic?
You need a receiver to hear incoming signals, an antenna to pick them up the radio waves that carry the signal, and a transmitter if you want to send out signals to others.
Nowadays they usually put the receiver and transmitter together, and call it a transceiver. If you get a handi-talkie, you get all three in one, but with a great deal of compromise (a handi-talkie antenna is not as good as an taller, more specifically designed antenna). You also don't get the same power-output on a handie talkie as on a "base station" transceiver - one that's designed to "plug into the wall" at home or in your shack.
That's the basics, basically.
Could you use a scanner as a receiver and just purchase a transmitter or are scanners extremely limited in channels?
Scanner/Receiver and Transmitter vs. Transceiver
Scanners usually have a VERY wide range of frequencies that they can pick up. Some of them block out "cell phone" frequencies, and other frequencies not available for civilian use. You make compromises when you use one, however. You'll get "okay" reception across all of the bands... but you won't get "stellar" reception on any single one, unless the signal is originating from nearby. Scanners are good for finding WHERE on a frequency bandwidth there are transmissions being made, and faster than a human could do it. Getting quality reception of those transmissions is not the forte of scanners, in my opinion.
The way that Hams back in the day did it was to listen on their receiver, and transmit on the transmitter, using two different machines. There was some wiring that had to be done in order to make it possible for the receiver and the transmitter to use the same antenna in that case.
If you really wanted to, you could use a scanner as a receiver... but the antenna would probably be the limiting factor in that regard. Generally the antennas used for scanners are designed to work well over a broad spectrum of frequencies... and don't work especially well in just one area. So... you'll get mediocre reception across the entire bandwidth of frequencies, instead of stellar performance in just a few selected frequencies.
In principle, yes you could use the scanner as a receiver - but it's easier just to buy the receiver and the transmitter in a package deal these days. It might cost you the same to get a transmitter as it would to get a transceiver, which does both, and eliminates the hassle of trying to get the two to work well together. It also lets you focus your attention on which antenna to use, which some would argue merits the most attention, and makes the most difference. As a matter of fact, the ARRL has devoted an entire 300 page Manual, updated yearly, to the construction of antennas, and improving the antennas you already have. That should give you a pretty good idea of the importance that antennas have for a Ham Radio operator!
Your best bet in my opinion?: Get a good quality transceiver, and find an antenna that performs well in the frequency range you are most concerned with. Use a scanner to help you find where on that frequency range you are mostly likely to find transmissions.
How Hard is the Test
If you don't STUDY, it's the worst test on the planet.
There are sample tests online.
Many wannabe hams get the study materials, study them, and practice taking the online tests before actually sitting for a real exam.
What kind of crazy stuff have you heard on the ham radio / people you have talked to? Is there jargon like truckers use?
CB and Ham Radio
Most truckers don't use Ham Radio - they use CB. CB and Ham Radio are two very different worlds. Ham Radio is largely self-policing, with most operators tending towards courtesy and law-abiding use. CB can't say the same. Most CBers out there totally disregard FCC regulations - and for the most part Ham Radio operators don't like to be associated with the CB crowd (some call it the "Chicken Band").
Jargon? Yes, but again very different from the CB crowd. CB jargon tends to be more like slang, whereas Ham Radio jargon is internationally recognized and used frequently as a clear means of communication. The "Q" codes were originally intended for use solely in Morse Code (also known as CW), but many of them have crept into the voice communication side.
Other than the basic principles of sending and receiving radio waves, there are only a few similarities between CB and Ham Radio.
That being said, I also know several ham radio operators that choose to travel with both - Ham Radio to talk to one crowd, and CB to monitor/talk with the other crowd, and send out a call for help in an emergency, should your cell phone not meet your needs.
I'm sure you'll meet other Ham Radio operators with opinions that differ from mine!
Crazy stuff? I did storm watching in the Tarrant County RACES organization -- we were the ones who made your weather radio's alarm go off when there was a tornado. THAT provided some highly interesting radio traffic!
amateur radio: a great tool
Even if you never use it, I encourage anyone active in disaster response from citizen, CERT member to public safety officer to obtain an amateur radio license. It's another tool in your arsenal. Amateur radio is an enjoyable hobby, but it's main basis and purpose is to be a resource to serve the community in times of need.
The variety of modes, the vast technical skills of the operators, make amateur radio a great community resource in times of need. When network based systems become unavailable, amateur radio shines as a reliable, interoperable and flexible communications system that doesn't need infrastructure to function. No network? No problem. The points of failure are minimized to only the individual operators and their equipment. With a variety of modes and frequencies, it is possible for one to talk locally across the street, the state, country or world without any public switched network.
I encourage anyone to get licensed. Amateur radio works, no matter what.
Fachento did a good job of answering this question. I'll add a bit more. In my area there's a lot of good information that goes out on the air via discussions about ham radio. We also have a "Tech Net". A net control operator asks a question and others try to come up with answers. CB/Truckers jargon is NOT used. Each station is identified by an FCC assigned call sign, often the first name is also used. You can fake it, but not for long. Every call sign, the person it belongs to, and their address is public knowledge. Every ham knows exactly where to find it.