Author Topic: Ham Radio Primer... how to get started with ham radio... Technician Class  (Read 22254 times)

Offline Zombie Axe

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An intro on getting starting: http://www.hello-radio.org/
 
Ham radio is not like many other radio services that you may be familiar with. FRS, GMRS, and CB are just several channels in one band. Ham radio is many frequencies on many bands.
 
Ham radio is not unlike any other hobby. You can spend around $250 to several grand for ham radios. Quality brands are Kenwood, Icom, Yaesu, and Alinco. The type of gear that most beginners prefer are handie talkie (2 meter and 70cm also known as 144mhz and 440mhz, VHF/UHF) as well as mobile radios in the same frequency ranges. However if all that can be purchased is a single band radio, 2m/144mhz equipment is the minimum standard.
 
For comparrison I will link to 2m and then dual band equipment to understand the pricing differences.
 
A good 2m Ht (handie talkie) like the VX-150 costs around $125 http://www.gigaparts.com/store.php?action=profile&sku=ZYS-VX-150-64B This is a complete unit ready to go out of the box. A 12V DC "car charger" plug is also recommended as it may be the only means to recharge the battery when the power goes out... You can always charge it from the car or a small solar setup!
 
A good 2m mobile radio is the Icom IC-V8000. This radio is very rugged and easy to use. http://www.gigaparts.com/store.php?action=profile&sku=ZIC-V8000 This radio will give you much longer range communications (20+ miles or greater over open terrain depending on antenna choice) or even longer distances with repeaters.
 
A cheaper alternative is the Kenwood TM-271A http://www.gigaparts.com/store.php?action=profile&sku=ZKW-TM-271A
 
You will also need an antenna for a mobile radio. Such as a 2m antenna on a magmount for around $50 or if you wish to use this @ your home as well, you will need a 2m base antenna, for about the same price...
 
A good dual band HT is the Yaesu VX-6r http://www.gigaparts.com/store.php?action=profile&sku=ZYS-VX-6R, or I really like the tri-bander Kenwood TH-F6a http://www.gigaparts.com/store.php?action=profile&sku=ZKW-TH-F6A
 
A dual band mobile rig is the Icom IC-2820H http://www.gigaparts.com/store.php?action=profile&flash=1&sku=ZIC-2820H , or the Yaesu FT-7800R http://www.gigaparts.com/store.php?action=profile&sku=ZYS-FT-7800R
 
There are expensive radios out there, but they do the local UHF/VHF and HF (HF is called high frequency , but don't let it confuse you, HF is lower in frequency than VHF (very high frequency) and UHF (Ultra high frequecny) is higher than either VHF or HF) HF allows you talk around the world if the atmospheric conditions are optimal and it is the correct time of day.
 
What we as survivalist/preppers areshooting for as  team/group commo is the local and regional comms capabilities of the VHF and preferably VHF/UHF dual band rigs. I do have the world wide capabilites of HF but as a team, everyone does not need that capability. However, you may find a new hobby that you will want to pursue further.
 
Getting you license is not difficult. You must pass a test with about 35 questions on it that are pulled from a pool of over 600 questions. Just a few hours a week and in a month or two you will be ready. My wife is also a ham and it gives us alternative communications should the cellphones and phonelines go down for whatever reason. All it takes is dedication and a will to do it!!! Here is a license guide I would use: http://www.arrl.org/catalog/?item=9639 Feel free to shop around for a better price if you wish. Alot of the questions you have about ham radio, will be answered by this book...

Once you feel like you are understanding the material you will want to take practice tests on http://www.qrz.com/p/testing.pl or http://www.eham.net/exams/ Your first license is the Technician class one and it will get you as far as you need to go to get started. Like I said, you may want to go further if you want.
 
Once you are making over 90% on the online practice tests, you will want to locate an exam testing session near your location @ http://www.arrl.org/arrlvec/examsearch.phtml . If you find that you learn better in a classroom environment some clubs offer classes http://www.arrl.org/FandES/courses/ or if you want to learn from some of the locals try looking for a club near you http://www.arrl.org/FandES/field/club/clubsearch.phtml

The cost to take the test is $10-25 depending on what the local VE test team charges this will also include your application fee if you pass. License is good for 10 years. Renewal costs about $10-15 ,also depending on what the FCC charges the year of renewal. For comparrison a GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) costs $85 for 5 years.

If you have any further questions just ask the folks in this forum, got many a good person in these forums :)

Offline BigDanInTX

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Thanks for this write-up.  There has been quite alot of information posted, but this is definitely a great primer on the subject.  =-]

Offline fritz_monroe

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Great information.  I've been thinking about getting a ham license for a number of years.  Now that I'm no longer one of the sheep, I think it is time to start looking into it more seriously.

dlbrunner

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You might want to keep an eye on craigslist.com for used rigs. As with hamfests, guys seem to want to set a high price (sometimes), but it's a good start. There are other swap-type sites as well (for example):
http://swap.qth.com/

charlieboy

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Even though this is an old post topic, thanks for all the good advice for a 'newbie'

Offline Sister Wolf

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Re: Ham Radio Primer... how to get started with ham radio... Technician Class
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2009, 07:22:26 PM »
ZA - I just wanted to let you know that I've come back to this thread SEVERAL times to re-read your info.  Thank you so much for taking the time to post it.  +1

Offline Zombie Axe

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Re: Ham Radio Primer... how to get started with ham radio... Technician Class
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2009, 08:40:09 PM »
You are certainly welcome and I hope that it helps everyone who wishes to become a ham radio operator benefits from it!

Good luck and 73!


Offline Sister Wolf

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Re: Ham Radio Primer... how to get started with ham radio... Technician Class
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2009, 08:42:30 PM »
You helped me decide which ht radios to buy for me and TW.  It's not on your list, but i found it because of your list.  I sincerely appreciate it.  When the time comes to buy a couple of mobile gigs, I'll be back on this thread, scouting out the "right one".  :)

Offline bubtech

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Good post... I might get started now ;)
B

Offline AZCeltic formerly occeltic

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Re: Ham Radio Primer... how to get started with ham radio... Technician Class
« Reply #9 on: December 22, 2009, 06:16:34 PM »
I was in the local library today just seeing what information they had on Ham Radio, and as expected, it was pretty out of date. In one of the books it mentioned something about studying for and taking the novice test along with the technician test. Has this changed? Also, I am seeing some conflicting information about updates to the rules. In one instance, I am reading that the rules of 2006 are good until 2010. In another spot I was reading something about changes that take place every two years. Any comments on this? I want to study for my technician license as soon as possible, and found a study book on Amazon that's put out by ARRL. Is this the way to go?

Offline palmbay lou

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Re: Ham Radio Primer... how to get started with ham radio... Technician Class
« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2009, 07:49:52 PM »
Thanks ZA for the great post, my wife and I are looking into the Tech classification also.  Thank you for taking the time, it is very much appreciated.

Offline Gadget

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Re: Ham Radio Primer... how to get started with ham radio... Technician Class
« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2009, 08:16:59 PM »
The ARRL book has a lot of info in it, but it can seem a little overwhelming. I recently found The Ham Radio Podclass on iTunes and they have a great audio study guide for the 3 different tests that cut out all of the BS. Listen to them enough and you should be able to pass the test easily.

You can also Google Ham radio test and find lots of different free practice tests to take. When you can pass them easily, go take the test.

For an inexpensive first radio, the PX-777+ that is available for  $90 from MURS-Radio that works pretty good. I have 4 of them.

Offline AZCeltic formerly occeltic

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Re: Ham Radio Primer... how to get started with ham radio... Technician Class
« Reply #12 on: December 22, 2009, 08:23:50 PM »
Thanks so much Gadget! I will have to check out the itunes site tonight. I am also on the notification list for the PX-777 from MURS-Radio. When you say that they work pretty good; can you elaborate a little on that? I see you have four, so you must like them. If this is a good starter radio; would they serve us well, should I not be able to upgrade to a better unit later?

Offline The Wilderness

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Re: Ham Radio Primer... how to get started with ham radio... Technician Class
« Reply #13 on: December 22, 2009, 11:41:04 PM »
occeltic

When Sis and I were studying for our licences we used this website http://www.hamtestonline.com/study.jsp

We both had to subscribe and pay a fee for the use, but it worked really well for us.

I liked the fact that on it remembered where you need help and put more emphasis on that area
We will be using them soon for the General class work.

Check them out, they may work for you too.

TW
« Last Edit: December 23, 2009, 09:20:30 AM by The Wilderness »

Offline Gadget

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Re: Ham Radio Primer... how to get started with ham radio... Technician Class
« Reply #14 on: December 23, 2009, 06:38:03 AM »
Regarding the PX-777, I got mine from SolidRadio on Ebay for about $70 each (2 for @ $120) before MURS started selling them. I like them since they were an inexpensive starter radio that is easy to program and has good sound in & out. I am able to hit most of the repeaters in my somewhat rural area with the normal antenna. You can get adapters for attaching different antennas to get better range. The battery lasts for days on monitor and does pretty good when actually transmitting. They are not built as solid as a Yaesu or Motorola, but what can you expect for $70?

This is the radio that most of my local prepper friends are getting as starter radios due to cost,but I will probably get a higher quality radio for me later as I get more into Ham radio. We put the MURS frequencies in them for those that are not Hams yet.

Offline AZCeltic formerly occeltic

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Re: Ham Radio Primer... how to get started with ham radio... Technician Class
« Reply #15 on: December 23, 2009, 07:01:16 AM »
TW

Thanks for the link. I've just spent the last 20 minutes running through the practice test and know most of the answers. It looks like a great site for study. Thanks again.

Oh BTW, the link you gave me thought I was you when it took me to the site. You may want to remove part of that link.

Offline AZCeltic formerly occeltic

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Re: Ham Radio Primer... how to get started with ham radio... Technician Class
« Reply #16 on: December 23, 2009, 07:05:01 AM »
Thanks for the additional information Gadget. I know that the PX-777 is on the low end, and wonder if I should try for something a bit better. Who knows what will be available in the future. Is there a site that rates various gear?

occeltic

Offline Gadget

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Re: Ham Radio Primer... how to get started with ham radio... Technician Class
« Reply #17 on: December 23, 2009, 11:47:01 AM »
Yes, it is on the low end of the gear spectrum, but I have been happy with mine so far. You might check out the reviews on http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/6221. They have reviews on lots of Ham gear. They also have practice tests on their site.

Offline AZCeltic formerly occeltic

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Re: Ham Radio Primer... how to get started with ham radio... Technician Class
« Reply #18 on: December 23, 2009, 05:29:45 PM »
Awesome my friend. Thanks for the input. I picked up the ARRL Ham Radio study book today, and have been reading through the material. I am anxious to get started!

Offline jbritely

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Well, I wish I had found this thread before I took the test, but I did pass on the first attempt (technician and general).

I used the iphone app called "Amateur radio exam prep" for $5.  It is a great app.  Use the "review" exam pool option and then the practice exam option.  About 10 hours on the ARRL technician book and the ipone app and the technicians exam was easy (I studied durring my commute so I couldn't use the web sites mentioned above).

Now I just need some equiptment.

One question about the px-777, what does the description mean "Because this radio is flexible enough to transmit on numerous frequencies, the buyer assumes all responsibility for proper operation and licensing."  Is this for a non-ham who bought one?  Or is this a cell phone frequency thing?


Offline ZenGunFighter

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My wife and I just took the test last week. We used the practice tests at www.qrz.com to study
one of the settings lets you keep picking answers until you get it right. For Technician, the question pool is just under 400 questions. If you take 20 or so practice tests you will be able to pass the exam.

But that doesn't really prepare you for using a ham radio...
If you poke around ARRL's website you can find information on radio clubs in your area. They can help you get started.

For radios, I bought two Yaesu VX-6Rs. They came highly recommended. I've been listening with mine, but haven't tried transmitting yet.

Offline AZCeltic formerly occeltic

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I've had my technician license since the end of January, and have really enjoyed being able to jump into the world of Amateur Radio. I spent allot of time listening in to get a feel for the on-air protocol so that I wouldn't be too embarrassed when I finally spoke up. I have to admit that I am now hooked!
It was my goal to read through and understand the ARRL study manual before I decided to take my test. I knew I could simply use the various websites that had the technician question pool and take the test through memorization and pass it with no problem. I decided to go the traditional route and actually study the material. I believe it is so valuable to actually understand the facts and the theory behind Amateur Radio, and I know that I will be a better operator because of it.
If you can, join a local club. My local club runs $90 to join up, with yearly dues at $50. I just don't have the funds right now for that, but you can visit as many times as you like to get to know the people and see if you gel with them. In the meantime, be sure to join TSP Ham Club. Truik does an awesome job of putting together very pertinent information, not only for the seasoned ham, but also and especially for the new ham. The monthly email newsletter is great!

Good luck to everyone!

Occeltic

KJ6EZR

Offline Don Tango

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Well, I wish I had found this thread before I took the test, but I did pass on the first attempt (technician and general).

I used the iphone app called "Amateur radio exam prep" for $5.  It is a great app.  Use the "review" exam pool option and then the practice exam option.  About 10 hours on the ARRL technician book and the ipone app and the technicians exam was easy (I studied durring my commute so I couldn't use the web sites mentioned above).

Now I just need some equiptment.

One question about the px-777, what does the description mean "Because this radio is flexible enough to transmit on numerous frequencies, the buyer assumes all responsibility for proper operation and licensing."  Is this for a non-ham who bought one?  Or is this a cell phone frequency thing?



The flexible enough from my experience means the unit may be able to transmit outside our band. That might be the cell phone range or simply past our band edges. My IC-7000 beeps when I reach the end of a band so I know without watching I am past my legal area. Now my Wouxun UVD1P does not have that warning. According to their specs it looks possible to transmit out side our ham bands. We must be careful when operating.

As always be a good operator and enjoy the hobby.

Offline scoutmaster

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congrads, to all that have recently passed the test. There are so many different aspects of ham radio it is impossible to touch on each, it is a great hobby/tool that can be used in both times of need, and fun times as well. It is the only tool that I know of that will give you comms with others anyplace you want with a little planing. Please don't stop at the Tech class as many do.

During really tough times, and black out times the general class would be very valuable  If no more than talking to the family 100 miles away, or keeping track of emergency operations on the HF bands that can be heard on some of the non ham bands but still in the Ham radios.

There is something that will help you in almost every thing we do dealing with electrical stuff. If it has wires, or not Ham knowledge will help.
Have Fun. 

Offline Heavy G

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OK, I'm  thinking about trying the HAM Technician license.

Someone in the thread above already pointed this out, but I wanted to emphasize that there is an iPod app with practice tests.  It's called Amateur Radio Exam Prep and it's available on the iTunes store.  They have one for the various classes of exams. 

Might be helpful.  Take your test prep anywhere with you. 

Hmm... 
« Last Edit: July 23, 2010, 09:44:36 AM by Heavy G »

Offline Sister Wolf

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OK, I'm  thinking about trying the HAM Technician license.

It's worth it, G!

Offline Greywolf27

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just downloaded the app.  gonna start studying.  Want to get off my duff and do this before the end of the year.