Author Topic: HAM Q & A...  (Read 5916 times)

Offline TimSuggs

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HAM Q & A...
« on: July 01, 2009, 08:13:20 PM »
Hi All!  I've used many different types of radio's through the years PD/FD/CD, FRS/GMRS, Business, etc. and I listen to local (?) HAMS on my scanner from time to time but,  you guys have piqued my interest in obtaining my HAM Tech Class license and trying to enjoy the hobby for all it's worth as well as the other obvious aspects of it to folks like us on TSP.  I am trying to get all 3 of our kids interested as well and would like to be able to communicate with them as we find ourselves in one city after another or on the road.   Here's some of the Questions I have as the hobby applies to me.

Q:  My wife is an RN, and we will be going "mobile" this summer and hitting the road traveling across the US as she does one 90 day assignment after another, each time in a different city.  Will I be able to connect to local repeaters? 

Q:  Is there "permission" required? 

Q:  Costs to access local repeaters? 

Q:  Will I be able to talk outside of the "local" area? 

Q:  How far?

Q:  Handheld or mobile, or both?

Q:  Radio recommendations?

TIA (Thanks in advance).

Tim.


Offline Sister Wolf

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Re: HAM Q & A...
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2009, 08:42:28 PM »
Hi All!

Hey tim!  We've missed your wonderful presence on the board, and I'm super glad to see you back here so often lately.

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I've used many different types of radio's through the years PD/FD/CD, FRS/GMRS, Business, etc. and I listen to local (?) HAMS on my scanner from time to time but,  you guys have piqued my interest in obtaining my HAM Tech Class license and trying to enjoy the hobby for all it's worth as well as the other obvious aspects of it to folks like us on TSP.  I am trying to get all 3 of our kids interested as well and would like to be able to communicate with them as we find ourselves in one city after another or on the road.   Here's some of the Questions I have as the hobby applies to me.

You'll find while studying for your tech license, that some of your questions will be answered in the literature necessary to become a Tech.

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Q:  My wife is an RN, and we will be going "mobile" this summer and hitting the road traveling across the US as she does one 90 day assignment after another, each time in a different city.  Will I be able to connect to local repeaters? 

Most probably.  I am fairly sure that it would be better for you guys to both go tech AND general, so that you can use more frequencies (general allows more, but requires a lot more knowledge).

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Q:  Is there "permission" required? 

On "closed" repeaters, yes, permission is required.  If the repeater is closed, you can decode the CW (morse code) that the repeater sends out, to get the person's call sign who operates it, and obtain permission from them.  There are lots and lots of open repeaters, though, and that is probably what you'll end up using.  Open repeaters are just that.  Open.  They require no permission for their use.

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Q:  Costs to access local repeaters? 

I'm ALMOST sure that it's illegal to charge for use of repeaters.  I could be wrong.  But I've never heard of people charging for their use.

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Q:  Will I be able to talk outside of the "local" area? 

What is local?  10 miles?  30?  100?  With a tech license and Line of sight repeaters (no mountains between you and your honey), you will be able to talk for quite a ways.  Again, though, the general class license offers more frequencies on which to chat, and I think offers longer ranges.

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Q:  How far?

I don't know.

I don't know any answers to the rest of your questions.  I'm excited that you guys are considering HAM licenses though!  TW and I will be getting ours this month, probably.  YAY!

Offline ECACE

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Re: HAM Q & A...
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2009, 08:58:02 PM »
Q1) Generally across the USA, you will be able to hit a repeater.  Granted there will be spots where you can not hit one.  But if you have a decent radio with a decent antenna, you should be OK.  I live in extreme SE Wisconsin right between Milwaukee and Chicago.  From Kenosha, I can easily operate repeaters in Milwaukee and Chicago.  50 Mile range is not uncommon at all.  There are also linked repeaters, which have an extremely large area as they may have 5 or more repeaters tied together.

You also have repeaters across the country that are tied together via the internet.  On those repeaters you can literally talk around the world with those repeaters.  Note, with ham radio you can talk around the world, but this is via repeaters on the 2 meter and 70 CM bands (144 Mhz and 440 Mhz).

Q2) Most repeaters are open.  If you pick up a repeater directory, it will list if it is open or not.  In general if you are not hogging the repeater, you won't get any flack.  You can pick up a repeater directory at any ham radio store or just look it up online.

Q3) See Q2.  If a repeater is open, you shouldn't have to join.  Most repeater clubs are open to people using them.  If you are on a particular repeater a LOT, you may be "encouraged" to join.  But for occasional usage, they are usually very open to letting others use them.  NOTE: Like everything else in life, you will end up running into a jerks out there even in the ham radio world.  But for the most part, you will find very helpful people on the radio.

Q4) 50 miles is not uncommon, there are exceptions though as listed in Answer 1

Q5) Mobiles can give 50 miles. Now my that I mean that the distance from the mobile to the repeater, not covering how far the repeater itself will be reaching.  Then again, with my handheld, while at work, which is 30 miles into Illinois, I can hit a repeater that is north of Kenosha by 10 miles (40 mile distance), while on the second story of my work place I can be into that repeater with no problem.  That repeater is a stronger one that will reach to about the middle of Milwaukee.  So if someone were in Milwaukee, and in that repeater, I could be talking to them from my worplace giveing a distance of about 80 miles.  Now granted, that is an ideal situation, where I am in a second story building by a windo, getting into a strong repeater, yadda, yadda, yadda...

Q6) Icom, Yeasu, Kenswood, all make some good ones.  Your antenna is as important as the radio.  If you want max distance, you need a decent antenna.  Mine is about 5' tall, has high gain, and was over $100.  THis last question can hav hams arguing for hours.

I kjnow it was a lot of an answer, hope I covered it all.  If I missed anything, let me know or others can chime in.  Best of luck.

Eric (KA9ZYU)

Offline TimSuggs

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Re: HAM Q & A...
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2009, 09:01:41 PM »
Thanks SW, it's nice to be missed!  I still owe you a PM about your event ideas, just been super busy with City Stages for the past month, which I am sad to say after 21 years has now folded, as in no-more, out of business, won't be another next year.  The economy sucked the life out of this one and we had to ask the City of Birmingham for (and received) an emergency infusion of $250k just to meet our artist obligations.  But that's another thread...

We use a repeater with a net controller with our City Stages radios and we can talk all over the county.  I guess I just need to stick my head in the study guides and I'm sure a lot of the answers I seek are in there somewhere.  Sort of like when I got my student pilots permit, my instructor told me "just learn the books, everything you need is in there".  I do have an FCC radio/telephone license around here somewhere for aircraft radio operation, but it's been a few years since I knocked the dust off my log books too, probably has changed since the last time I flew something (usually a Cessna 172).  Tell TW I said hi!

Tim.

Offline TimSuggs

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Re: HAM Q & A...
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2009, 09:10:11 PM »
Eric (KA9ZYU)

Thanks Eric and WELCOME to TSP!  As far as my questions, I just need to go ahead and pay my dues and learn the material, get my license and then really learn the hobby.  Your's and SW's info has been very helpful and further inspires me to get off my butt and "Git 'er done" as is oft said here in Dixie.

Oh, and I created this HAM Q & A topic for ANYONE that has questions about HAM Radio, so I've shown my ignorance first, now it's ALL of you that are interested in HAM but didn't know where to ask the questions.

Tim.

Offline Sister Wolf

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Re: HAM Q & A...
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2009, 10:15:33 PM »
Thanks SW, it's nice to be missed!  I still owe you a PM about your event ideas, just been super busy with City Stages for the past month, which I am sad to say after 21 years has now folded, as in no-more, out of business, won't be another next year.  The economy sucked the life out of this one and we had to ask the City of Birmingham for (and received) an emergency infusion of $250k just to meet our artist obligations.  But that's another thread...

Take your time, darlin'.  I want to do it in 2011, so we've got time yet.  :)

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We use a repeater with a net controller with our City Stages radios and we can talk all over the county.  I guess I just need to stick my head in the study guides and I'm sure a lot of the answers I seek are in there somewhere.  Sort of like when I got my student pilots permit, my instructor told me "just learn the books, everything you need is in there".  I do have an FCC radio/telephone license around here somewhere for aircraft radio operation, but it's been a few years since I knocked the dust off my log books too, probably has changed since the last time I flew something (usually a Cessna 172).  Tell TW I said hi!

TW says "hi!!!" 

My daddy used to fly a Cessna 172!  I LOVED that plane!!!

Offline DeltaEchoVictor

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Re: HAM Q & A...
« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2009, 06:02:57 AM »
Hey Tim, I put quite a few getting started resources in The Getting Started in HAM Radio Thread in The Repository.

I recently purchased The ARRL Repeater Directory pocket book edition to keep in my Jeep.  It contains all the repeaters in the country & gives you the pertinent information about using them, including whether they are open or closed repeaters.

Offline TimSuggs

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Re: HAM Q & A...
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2009, 06:54:48 AM »
Take your time, darlin'.  I want to do it in 2011, so we've got time yet.  :)
TW says "hi!!!" 
My daddy used to fly a Cessna 172!  I LOVED that plane!!!

2010 is MY year.  Everything I want is coming my way in 2010.  My train has been dreailed for about 3 years now, but finally got it back on track, stoking the firebox, taking on water and building up steam.  You and TW will be able hear the whistle blow in CA when I set the wheels in motion. 

The Cessna 172 is indeed a great plane, rugged, a great trainer, just point the cowl at the horizon and it'll get you just about anywhere you want to go.

Tim.


Offline TimSuggs

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Re: HAM Q & A...
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2009, 06:59:55 AM »
Hey Tim, I put quite a few getting started resources in The Getting Started in HAM Radio Thread in The Repository.
I recently purchased The ARRL Repeater Directory pocket book edition to keep in my Jeep.  It contains all the repeaters in the country & gives you the pertinent information about using them, including whether they are open or closed repeaters.

Thanks oh great pink fluffy spectre of death.  Love the avatar, did you draw that one?  I'll go read it now, maybe I'll stop asking stupid questions after that?  I doubt it!

Tim.


Offline DeltaEchoVictor

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Re: HAM Q & A...
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2009, 07:13:05 AM »
I haven't seen you ask a stupid question pal.

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Love the avatar, did you draw that one?
Thanks, & no.  It's actually Magpul's unofficial mascot.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2009, 07:15:14 AM by DeltaEchoVictor »