Ham Radio?

Discussion in 'Overlanding / Off-Road' started by Kylemeister, Sep 24, 2016.

  1. Kylemeister

    Kylemeister Member

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    Just curious if there are any hams on the forum.

    My buddy and his girlfriend took a class, given by the group at the FAA Campus here in OKC. Since he and I do a bunch of stuff together, I figured why not and set off a course of studying materials from the Internet. Made technician pretty easily.

    Decided that since the material was still fresh, I'd make the push to hit general before he did. Sent him a pic of the white copy when I passed and told him to get started. General was a little more study, but not horrible. Material was a little more complicated than Tech, but followed the same path.

    Extra is a mean mutha of a test. Studied about 3 times as long to pass it. When I turned in the test, I actually thought I had failed it. But, somehow I passed.

    Running a Yaesu FT-60 HT for my radio, using an upgraded Diamond flex antenna if I'm on foot. I drive a company vehicle during the week, so I can move the radio over with an MFJ -1729 mag mount antenna. My job can involve a fair amount of driving, so I'll usually try to dial up a local repeater or two and see if I can log a contact. 2m can be pretty hit & miss, especially with only 5 watts of power. Debating mobile radios, leaning toward the Icom 880-H since there some good rebates right now.

    My buddy was big into storm chasing in the late 90's, and was actually about 5 minutes behind the F5 that went through Moore, OK on May 3rd, 1999. I researched the repeaters in Oklahoma, and found out which ones are used by Skywarn -- volunteers who have been trained by the National Weather Service to act as storm spotters, not storm chasers, and who report information back to the NWS in Norman. The PC programming software is worth the investment if you're going to save a bunch of repeaters into memory.

    Looking into HF rigs. The Icom IC-7300 looks pretty sweet if you're sitting at home, but the Elecraft KX-3 looks pretty sweet if you operate mobile (albeit at 10 watts). The Yaesu FT-991 looks pretty sweet, but after seeing it in person I'm afraid my fat fingers would hit the VFO while working buttons around the dial (and the spectrum scope isn't as nice as the 7300 to me). Having a homeowner's association to deal with, I'm gonna have to play cool with antennas, so I'm thinking maybe the Buddipole antenna or a couple of others.

    Working on learning CW right now. Did some self study via the K6RAU MP3's floating around. It was a class he did for boy scouts, who were using modified transistor radios. Started hitting a wall with that, and got to talking with a buddy who turned me on to the Code Quick course he had used when he was in the military. That made a huge difference. I'm no speed demon, but I am getting good copy on the 6 wpm stuff at the end of the course.
     
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  2. timdgsr

    timdgsr Member

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    We have a few hams around, or did before we made the forum cutover.

    I'm a general level. I don't do much with it honestly, I got interested in it and wanted to pass the tests. Glad I did, but I haven't had a chance to play with much outside of hitting local 2m and 70cm stuff when driving using a handie.

    I've got a Yaesu VX-6r and a few baofengs. I'm moving in the near future, and plan on dedicating a little desk space to act as a "ham shack" in the new garage/shop area that I'll be building. It will likely just consist of a mobile radio and some homemade external antenna.
     
  3. koolaidnd

    koolaidnd Member

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    Im studying for the technician test but I haven't had much time or motivation lately.
     
  4. Skinz0021

    Skinz0021 Member

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    I have a few baofeng uv5r radios & one 8 watt pofung that i cant get setup. Im waiting on chirp to add it. My boss bought me a new antenna that i can string up in a tree but dont know if i have everything to get it up and running. My radios are setup to listen to local LEO but are locked from transmitting. I have a few channels saved that do not require a license.
     
  5. Wisdom

    Wisdom Member

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    I'm in! FT-60, FT-8800R, half a dozen or so UV5Rs. Main antenna is an Ed Fong J pole. Best antenna for the money Ive found! 73
     
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  6. charles bower

    charles bower Member

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    Same.
     
  7. Kylemeister

    Kylemeister Member

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    I used HamStudy.org for studying. Register (free) so it can keep stats on your learning. Do the flash cards all the way through, then work practice tests. When you can pass 10 in a row, you're probably good to go sit for the exam for Tech & General. I studied 20-30 minutes a day. Same goes for learning CW. The guy recommends three 20 minute sessions a day, instead of one hour all at once. There are times I make it, times I don't. But even if you only get a little time in, it beats nothing.
     
  8. Wisdom

    Wisdom Member

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    This is going to be my next purchase. I have used the 7300 and it is awesome. Tons of features for the money! I don't do much outside of 2 m/70CM. I want the 7300 for when the days get shorter and I have more time to play on other bands.
     
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  9. Nowhere

    Nowhere Member

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    Neither Here, Nor there...
    I'm a technician. I have an FT-897D in the house (with a Diamond antenna for 2M and 440 and a G5Rv Mini for HF), an FT7900 on the truck (I forget what antenna at the moment) and FT2D and VX6 handhelds. My wife got her tech license a couple of years ago.

    I think anyone who thinks they want to be prepared for when stuff goes awry needs to think about communication beyond the mobile telephone and amateur radio fits the bill nicely.
     
  10. Ravenous12

    Ravenous12 Member

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    I'd really like to get into it, but I haven't found a good place to learn yet. I have a bunch of baofengs I don't even know how to use.
     
  11. JAD

    JAD Member

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    KC0TTM - poor rendering of a zero using the standard forum font.

    I have a Technician Class license. My ham radio is nothing but a tool for working road rally races. I don't participate in any ham radio endeavors just for the sake of short wave radio communication.

    My mobile unit is a Kenwood TMV-71A dual band, 2m and 440kHz bands, (side by side-I can monitor two frequencies simultaneously with this rig).

    My primary HT (handheld) is a dual band, 2m and 440kHz, Yaseu FT-60R.

    Strong recommendations for either unit as they have served me well in harsh conditions with irregular usage.
     
  12. indulf

    indulf Member

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    planning on studying up and getting a license whenever i have the time.. that's the hard part :)

    i do have a GT3TP programmed to my local public service channels and weather radio. beyond that i don't do anything with it.
     
  13. mike

    mike Member

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  14. mike

    mike Member

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    hi from N.H. KC1BHZ
     
  15. charles bower

    charles bower Member

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    Thanks for the HamStudy site. I don't know where I put my study book during the move so I've been listening to study podcasts. My dad has been a ham as long as I can remember (N4NMR) and my mom had a tech license but she let it expire. Before cell phones he would radio in as he left work. He would also bring some pretty lengthy steel rods with us when we went on vacation. The first thing he would do is set them up as an antenna.

    During 9/11 the cell towers were overloaded but hams could easily get through.

    The baby shower is next weekend. My dad said he'll send me a new transceiver he's been playing with. All I know is its a handheld BaoFeng but that's about it. It'll give me a chance to just listen in to some frequencies and I can get started as soon as I show up in the FCC lists after my test.
     
  16. indulf

    indulf Member

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    the baofeng handsets can be difficult to program, but other than that they work really well for the price. i was very surprised how cheap mine was and how well it works.
     
  17. charles bower

    charles bower Member

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    Good to know. I'm sure YouTube will be a big help for that. Or if I have time I could stop by the local radio clubhouse.
     
  18. Kylemeister

    Kylemeister Member

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    One of my friends had a little difficulty getting his Baofeng setup to hit repeaters, but he thinks he finally got it sorted out. One of the clubs runs a series of networked repeaters, so it's possible that I can talk to him some 90 miles away via the network. I don't have enough power with my HT and antenna combination to hit the repeater closest to me, so we're still experimenting.

    I've been eyeballing the Icom IC-7300, which looks like bad ass base station. But, the Elecraft KX-3 also interests me. There are a surprising number of locations in Oklahoma that are listed for the SOTA project, and the KX-3 would be awesome for a portable station. And it's an excuse to get outside and do a little hiking.

    I'm considering the Icom ID-880H as a mobile radio, simply because of the rebates being offered until the end of 2016. It's a helluva radio for $250 after rebates.

    I've been working on learning Morse using the Code Quick program. The sound-alikes seem to work for me. Some guys say it's a disadvantage in the long run, but I don't care if I ever hit crazy speeds at this point. I'm a big fan of learn it slow, then increase speed over time as you become more proficient. It's like shooting or martial arts in the "slow is fast, fast is slow" idea. I have hit a bit of a wall right now at 10-11 words a minute, so I'm going to try running some 7½ and 10 wpm code from the ARRL website just to get more saturation with code.

    Morse is really only about 40 unique sounds to learn, but man... I'm not dyslexic when it comes to reading, but apparently I am when it comes to listening. But this appears to be fairly common. Things that are reversed, such as "A" (. _ ) and "N" (_ . ) are sometimes reversed by the brain. U and W are two others that are common, and I sometimes hear a 1 when it's actually a J, both of which are similar to W. But, then again, it took a good while for me to learn how to transition from a C chord to an F chord playing guitar, and shooting and martial arts took a while. So, I just consider it part of the normal learning process. I tried learning CW back in the 90's when it was still required for a license and eventually gave up. I suppose it's possible that learning how to play guitar also tapped into the listening part of my brain to some degree, which might explain why it's easier this time around.

    If you're studying for a license, or studying CW, the trick is just to practice every day. My buddy passed his technician license; I told him that since he's already in the mode of studying, he should keep at it and go for general. Same thing applies to whatever you're learning. If you play guitar every day, it's easier to play guitar. Doing martial arts 2-3 times a week is easier than just once a week.
     
  19. JAD

    JAD Member

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    Good knife sharpening takes practice too. I do it most days.
     
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  20. Moonpie

    Moonpie Member

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    I'm a General Class (with code) and I was first licensed in 1996... No ****, I quit smoking cold turkey 7 years ago and haven't been able to sit in front of a radio since. I was an avid HF operator for years.
     

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