Author Topic: Looking for Help Getting Started: What Next?  (Read 5213 times)

Offline Drezden

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Looking for Help Getting Started: What Next?
« on: July 23, 2009, 01:08:54 PM »
I've recently gotten interested in getting my Technician's License. I picked up ARRL's Ham Radio License Manual (Technican Level) and I've just finished my first read through and have started going over the test questions and have started working on practice tests on eham. I looked around and there is a club in Garland (near me) so I may visit them to meet & greet. I can see that there is a lot to learn and one area I'm short on is the stuff about Circuits and stuff. I know that ARRL has some electronics books, but I'm not sure if they're for me. I've noticed many references in my current book to their website, but I've found a few links that are either dead or missing and I'm not overly thrilled with the idea of buying another book that says to check a nonexhisting website.

I'm also getting to the point where I'm wondering "what next"? While I'm not at the point where I'm ready to buy my first radio I wanna start looking around and try to balance what I want and what I can afford. Any suggestions?

Offline ncjeeper

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Re: Looking for Help Getting Started: What Next?
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2009, 03:20:42 PM »
I'm in the same boat. Picked up the books and started reading and studying for my tech. I had electricty/electronics classes in college so it makes alittle sense to me.

Offline Ragnar

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Re: Looking for Help Getting Started: What Next?
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2009, 02:15:46 PM »
I think the best book to get is the series by Gordon West. He does a good job putting like questions together and then having explanations of the questions and theory right below.

I also liked the Hamtestonline.com, more of a flashcard type learning (that is exactly what it is) but you ahve to join to get access to all questions

Offline survivininct

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Re: Looking for Help Getting Started: What Next?
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2009, 12:36:53 PM »
If I remember correctly, its been a while (Been an old school General Class for a while), I do not think they get too heavy into circuits and stuff like that.  Just take the practice tests and you should be fine.  Its not that hard to get through.  Go to the club and ask who their (head?) VE (volunteer examiner) is and speak with that person.  They will be able to help as well.  Clubs are great for getting help.  If you have any specific questions, I would be happy to answer them as well (if I can???).. 

Here is a link to the tech class question pool - your questions will be some of these and no others.

http://www.ncvec.org/page.php?id=349

Another practice exam site:   http://www.qrz.com/ham/

and more info   http://www.radioexam.org/

If you have an I-Phone, there is an app that will ask the questions too. Just search it on i-tunes

Best of Luck -

Steve

Fred_47460

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Re: Looking for Help Getting Started: What Next?
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2009, 01:32:23 PM »
<snip>
I'm also getting to the point where I'm wondering "what next"? While I'm not at the point where I'm ready to buy my first radio I wanna start looking around and try to balance what I want and what I can afford. Any suggestions?

That depends somewhat on what you think you'd like to do.

 Are you gonna want to get on HF??? That means you might want to look around your yard for good places to hang some wire antennas. Dipoles are a really good and simple antenna antenna to put up.... the formula for a dipole is 468 divided by the frequency (in mega hertz) gives you the length in Feet of a dipole....so you'll need to know the band you want to work and decide where you can "fit" the antenna....and how you'll launch it into the tree.

Are you going to start out on VHF/UHF??? That means you'll want to be thinking about how to mount an antenna to the house....or where-ever you are going to operate from. First....where IN THE house do you want to set up a station?? It would be handy to have the antenna mounted on THAT side of the house. A "push up" pole is a very handy way of mounting a VHF/UHF antenna to your house.

If you are just gonna try the HT route first, then Eham.net is a wonderful site to check out reviews on equipment. These reviews are written by other hams...so there may be some biases towards certain brands or whatever....the big thing to look at is the overall average of the ratings. If a radio has 150 reviews and the average is in the 3s or below...the radio sucks! If there are 150 reviews and the ratings average in the 4s it's a decent radio. Don't be afraid to try used equipment.....there are some excellent used radios out there but you might want to work with an elmer in making sure you don't get screwed in buying over the internet.

Sooooo, if you want to be a little more specific in what you think you might want to try....we can be a little more specific in helping you. If at this point you're really not sure what you want to do, then I would encourage you to join the local ham club and visit some the local hams stations....maybe something you see will spark some interest. Also, they may have used equipment they would like to sell that you could actually try before you buy!!

Congrats for making the effort!! I hope to hear you on the air soon!

73

Offline Drezden

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Re: Looking for Help Getting Started: What Next?
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2009, 01:42:09 PM »
Sooooo, if you want to be a little more specific in what you think you might want to try....we can be a little more specific in helping you. If at this point you're really not sure what you want to do, then I would encourage you to join the local ham club and visit some the local hams stations....maybe something you see will spark some interest. Also, they may have used equipment they would like to sell that you could actually try before you buy!!

Congrats for making the effort!! I hope to hear you on the air soon!

73
As soon as I have specifics I'll post them. Right now I'm generally interested, but not directed. My first curiosities were moonbounce and satelite bounces, but as I looked into that more I think it's a project or later. One part of me really wants to just see what I can tune in and hear. One of my local clubs meets tonight so I'm gonna drop by and see what's going on.

Fred_47460

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Re: Looking for Help Getting Started: What Next?
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2009, 03:42:04 PM »
My first curiosities were moonbounce and satelite bounces, but as I looked into that more I think it's a project or later.

Wow....yep, that might be good to put off for a while. Moonbounce generally takes lots of stacked VERY high gain beam antennas (Read VERY expensive). Also, moonbounce is usually (actually I think ALWAYS) morse code....you didn't say whether you did morse or not.

I knew a ham that thought he wanted to do satellite right away....so he bought a bunch of stuff and couldn't get everything to work right so he got disgruntled and gave up ham radio.

Both of the things you mentioned are better off left till you've got some solid experience with radio equipment. I would encourage you to upgrade at least as far as General....this gives you some meaningful HF band privileges. That way you can get a lot of contacts under your belt on bands that are MUCH more plentiful with easy contacts while using equipment requiring much LESS specialised knowledge.

Whatever you try first....have a BLAST!! Welcome to the hobby, and don't be afraid to ask questions!

73.....de....Fred

Offline Drezden

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Re: Looking for Help Getting Started: What Next?
« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2009, 09:00:46 AM »
Wow....yep, that might be good to put off for a while. Moonbounce generally takes lots of stacked VERY high gain beam antennas (Read VERY expensive). Also, moonbounce is usually (actually I think ALWAYS) morse code....you didn't say whether you did morse or not.

I quickly learned how expensive things can get so I think I'll start smaller and work my way up. Besides I have a history of getting really interested in something and then eventually getting bored with it so I think I'll start smaller.

One of the things that inspired me to Ham was the book Alas Babalon. In the story they used a ham to keep abrest of things going on out in the world after the bombs dropped. That sounded like a very useful skill to have. I also must admit that I'm intrigued by the idea of trying to build my own radio so I may eventually esperiment in that direction. I'm a Computery Guy by profession so I guess it comes naturally to wanna see how things work.

I attended the Garland Radio Club meeting last night and the people there were very friendly and helpful. One thing that I heard was how it seems that the technical aspects of hams as well as hams themselves seem to be a dying breed, not much new blood coming into the hobby.

Offline Pukwudji

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Re: Looking for Help Getting Started: What Next?
« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2009, 05:24:58 PM »
Here's my story (in brief).

Three weeks ago I decided to start studying and get a license.  I got the question pool (http://www.arrl.org/arrlvec/pools.html) and used the practice tests at http://www.qrz.com/testing.html (it is free).

After a week of studying I found a test in my local area the next day and decided I'd go.

The morning prior to the test (about 5 hours before) I decided I would at least try for the General ticket so I went back to ARRL again and printed out the next pool of questions.  I read through them (reading only the RIGHT answer) which took a couple of hours.  Then I took a few practice tests and was passing 75% of the time but only just barely.  I took a break, drove to the test location and spent about thirty minutes studying the portions of the test I felt the most unsure about.

Not only did I pass the Technician test, I passed the General test with only three missed. 

First, most of the Technician and some of the General test are around policies and procedures.  These tend to be such common sense that once you read the right answer you think "Duh!" and it sticks.  The rest of the tests focus on electronics, frequencies, and antennas.  With a little understanding of a few basic formulas and trusting your own mind to recall the right answers that you've already seen, even these portions aren't that difficult.  With the formulas you can at least narrow down the wrong guesses.

What are the forumulas? 

Offline Pukwudji

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Re: Looking for Help Getting Started: What Next?
« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2009, 05:32:58 PM »
....Here are the formulas I used the most:

Wavelength = 300/Frequency

Example, 30mhz divided into 300 is 10, so 30mhz is in the 10meter wavelength.  You have to use a little rounding but it should get you pretty darn close (300/144 = 2.08meters)


Watts = Amps * Voltage   -An easy way to remember this is to draw a pyramid.  Inside the top point of the pyramid write "W" for Watts (or P for Power), in the bottom right corner write "A" for Amps (or C for Current), and in the bottom left corner write "V" for voltage.  Cover up wichever letter you need to know the answer for. 

  W
V  A

So if I want to know the watts and I cover up the W.  Reading what I have left I know to multiply Volts by Amps.  If I want volts I cover up the V and know I need to dived Watts by Amps.  For Amps I divide Watts by Volts.  I hope this makes sense because I used it a few times on both tests.

The last formula I used quite a bit is almost identical to the above WAV pyramid.  The difference is Volts moves to the top (replacing Watts), and Ohms takes the place of Volts.
   V
O  A


The same method of covering what you want is used.  To determine Volts you multiply Ohms by Amps.  To find Ohms you divide Volts by Amps.

Easy Peazy.

Hope this helps you,
Brian