Thinking of getting into ham radio (1 Viewer)

Neutron

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Hello! I've been thinking of getting into ham radio. I've never done this before so what would you guys recommend for a good first but affordable radio?

Unfortunately I live in an HOA so I can't put up an antenna.


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KE4EST

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I would start with a good 2-meter rig and a stealthy indoor or attic mounted antenna.
Do some research in your area like on to a local club meeting and ask questions.
Work on getting your ticket first, while you are saving up for you first radio.
You may want to get a dual-bander as we call 'em. These do 2 meters and 440(70 cm). You will want this if there is a lot of 440 activity in your area.
In my area there are several 2 meter and 440 repeaters including one that I own. However, most of the local FM activity is on 2 meters, and a single band rig would be cheaper as a starter.
I favor the Yaesu brand myself for a commercial bought rig, and the FTM-3200DR is a great low cost 2-meter radio that does traditional analog FM and Digital. :)
All for about $135 bucks and sometimes cheaper on sale.
 

KE4EST

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Side Note:
I saw you interested in SBC computers in another thread. My repeater system is all home brew, except for a 440 exciter and amp.
Any way for a few years the controller was an old 8-bit computer, that I added external electronics and wrote all the software.
I then moved to a Raspberry Pi as the brains and used that for a couple of years.
I recently this year moved to Arduino as the controller, since it was a better choice I think. No OS to boot up and crash etc.
It is set and forget now and almost instant on if there is a power failure. Way more robust then the Pi....just set and forget.
 

Neutron

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Thank you! Funny that you mention that model as I was looking at that particular one right before I posted my thread. How much range will this radio give me? Would I be able to hear stuff from far away?

Also neat on using the Pi for part of this!


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KE4EST

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Well that opens up a whole can of worms.
2 meters does not travel as far a the HF frequencies, at least not under normal conditions. You do get tropospheric ducting, just like getting that stray TV channel once in awhile.
It also depends on elevation, if you are on a mountain you are going to travel much farther. You will find out that this is the reason repeaters are very common on VHF and UHF.
So through repeaters you can go hundreds of miles are more with linked repeaters. However, just radio to radio and the normal 50 Watts you will will get 30 - 50 miles dependent on terrain, structures and elevation.
I mean I could go on for pages and pages.........
 
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Neutron

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This is great knowledge and I really appreciate it! Where we live isn't far from Dallas and the elevation here is about 540 ft unfortunately.


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Neutron

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I'm hoping KE4EST keeps sharing more info. I'm really getting into this. From what I've seen it takes 2 exams to get the license to talk worldwide. The cost surprises me; $15 each?


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N6BY

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.... From what I've seen it takes 2 exams to get the license to talk worldwide. The cost surprises me; $15 each?
Yes, pretty much. With a Technician license the lowest frequency you can talk on is 28.3 MHz. For talking worldwide, you usually need to go well below that frequency depending on conditions. But you can do morse code on a portion of the 80 meter (3.5 MHz) band. The next step up (General) lets you talk on the 80 and 160 meter band.

As for the cost, its to help offset the expenses of the 3 VE's who administer the exam. After you pass the Technician test, the VE's often offer to let you take the General exam in the same session (for no additional fee).

I first got my license in '98 . About 1 1/2 years ago I decided to get back into it with my son (my license had expired). I did Tech and General in the first session. About a month or so later I got my Extra license. It was significantly harder than the General test!

My best starting advice would be to buy a SDR (Software Defined Radio) and learn to receive the various amateur bands and transmission modes. After that you should have a better idea of what kind of transceiver you want to buy -- and those can get quite expensive! As for antennas for the low bands, you may be able to get around your HOA restrictions with a simple long wire, say 24 gauge copper, as high as you can manage to get it. Unless you know its there, you cant see it!

Anyway, its a great hobby and you will never stop learning. The past couple of months I have been completely immersed in SDR and digital modes -- so much that I rarely watch TV anymore. In fact, I recently took the LNBs off of my big dish and am now using it to try out some microwave antennas I am building.
 

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Hello! I've been thinking of getting into ham radio. I've never done this before so what would you guys recommend for a good first but affordable radio?
Unfortunately I live in an HOA so I can't put up an antenna.

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If you are studying to take the Tech Test, I would suggest looking at http://ham-cram.com/ The site was designed, developed, and maintained by W1UL.

The concept is only to teach the correct answers to the test questions. The website has a high success rate of peoples who passed the test.
The recommendation is if you are studying for the Tech test and planning to take the test with the VE, run through the General testing a few times
and take the both Tech and General at the same time, it cost the same. Once again, there is a good success rate on passing both.
 
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KE4EST

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When I studied for my exams, back before internet, I did the same thing as hamcram the week leading up to the test. I got the book and read it cover to cover several times. Not because I was a goody two shoes and wanted to brag that I actually really studied, but because I was so interested in it. Then about a week or two before I knew the test was coming up, I went to question pool in the back of the book and circled the correct answer. Not the letter, A, B C, etc but the answer, because I knew the ABCD would be different. Then I went through it and I would read the question, read the answer....go to the next one read question, read the answer. When I got to the end I started over, and over and over......, until test day. I had a friend read me the question and I would give the answer. Often I would give the answer half way through the question. I knew I was ready. I passed the written portion of the test with flying colors.
 
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spongella

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You also might want to check with a ham radio club in your vicinity, this way you will have some idea from other hams of what a great hobby it is.

There are tons of used radios out there, you can go on eham.net and look at the reviews of the different ham radios (and other radios e.g. shortwave) that have been manufactured. All are rated by users on a scale of 0 - 5 so that will show you which ones to look for and which to avoid.

Even though you are in a HOA you can buy a mobile radio and run it from your car, or perhaps your local radio club has a station.

You want to shoot at least for the General license, this way you'll have lots of HF bands to talk around the world. Good luck and hope you soon join the ranks of ham radio.
 
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Cham

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Local clubs can do the testing, and often have study material and/or classes to take to get your ham ticket. They often have equipment building seminars where they help you build your own antenna or other hardware. ARRL.net has lots of info on local clubs etc.
-VE4GLS
 

Neutron

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I was thinking now that we have a spot for our RV I can always run an antenna there too.

This is good info guys, thank you!!


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KE4EST

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I promise ham radio will be one of those hobbies, that you will say, "Man!, I wish I had gotten into this sooner". :)
 

Neutron

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Finally getting into this as I may be getting a new radio for Christmas that tunes into Shortwave. I’m checking into a local club as well. Excited!!
 
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KE4EST

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Yeah, like was mentioned before that is the quickest way. Find a friendly club and start going to the meetings. Find an elmer. Some places even have free classes to help learn the books.
 

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