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Thread: Ham Radio Operators?

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    Regular Member Dreamer's Avatar
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    Ham Radio Operators?

    I am thinking about getting my amateur radio "General" license this summer, and I wondered if there were any folks out there who were "hams"? I've got a lot of questions...
    It is our cause to dispel the foggy thinking which avoids hard decisions in the delusion that a world of conflict will somehow mysteriously resolve itself into a world of harmony, if we just don't rock the boat or irritate the forces of aggression—and this is hogwash."
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    Regular Member stuckinchico's Avatar
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    I took the License class and that greatly helped me pass the class.. What questions do you have ??? Pm if you want iHave no problem answering them in public either. I do emergency communications for Rescue groups.

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    De N8MVV ask away...
    Last edited by Sheldon; 06-21-2011 at 11:46 PM.

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    Wait, you need a government permission slip to use a ham radio? What is the penalty for using a ham radio without a permission slip? From where does the Federal Government derive the authority to regulate ones non-commercial radio communications?
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    Assault Weapon (N) “Any firearm whose design disturbs the sleep of progressive politicians.”.

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    Regular Member Dreamer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by END_THE_FED View Post
    Wait, you need a government permission slip to use a ham radio? What is the penalty for using a ham radio without a permission slip? From where does the Federal Government derive the authority to regulate ones non-commercial radio communications?

    Penalties can include seizure of your equipment, fines (typically from $7,000-$10,000, depending on how much power you are running, and how many people complain), and even jail time...

    The relevant Federal Code is "Section 301 of the Communications Act of 1934", as amended by the The Telecommunications Act of 1996:

    http://transition.fcc.gov/telecom.html

    http://www.criminalgovernment.com/do.../ComAct34.html

    They claim authority to regulate amateur radio transmissions because it constitutes "interstate and foreign commerce in communication by wire and radio". Yet another dubious application of the "Commerce Clause", IMO...

    However, in a true SHTF situation, using an amateur radio without a license to call for help in an emergency is allowed under the law.
    It is our cause to dispel the foggy thinking which avoids hard decisions in the delusion that a world of conflict will somehow mysteriously resolve itself into a world of harmony, if we just don't rock the boat or irritate the forces of aggression—and this is hogwash."
    --Barry Goldwater, 1964

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    Regular Member VW_Factor's Avatar
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    I do not have a licence. My father and mother do however. I have some of their older equipment, and know how to setup antennas. In a situation where/needed.. Licence or not, I am going to use the radios..

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    Regular Member Dreamer's Avatar
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    "stuckinchico" and "Sheldon",

    Thanks for the offers. I have a LOT of questions, as you can imagine. I've got a fair amount of experience with technology, and have a little knowledge about radio tech, (more of a computer guy and audiophile though...) so I think I at least know the right questions to ask for a "beginner"...

    First, should I just take the tests one at a time, and space them out, or should I try to get both the Technicians and General class licenses in one go? I don't think I have enough time to study up for all three classes in one go (the next test here is in August). What advantages are there to getting the General over just Technicians? What extra privileges do Amateur Extra give me, if I decide to pursue that? And is "Extra" even worth the effort if I am on a limited budget?

    Second, I don't have a lot of "disposable income" to put into gear right now, I'm not interested in any sort of super-high-tech/high power rig, and I haven't done Morse code since I was a Boy Scout earning my Radio merit badge (about 30 years ago), so I have no interest in CW--just voice. I may want to re-learn Morse in the future, when I have more time for the hobby, but for now, I'm more interested in the self-sufficient long-distance (local to about 3-500 miles) communications aspect of ham radio...

    Third, knowing the above, what sort of rig would you recommend? 2-meter, 10 meter, VHF, HF. Again, remember that I am a grad student, and don't have a lot of time to dedicate to the hobby right now, nor do I have a big budget. Used rigs are acceptable, if you have a favorite. Portable would be good for my uses right now, but I'd probably be using it as a base station most of the time. I live in Eastern NC, and have a 3-story house so getting an antenna up to a decent height is easy enough, but I'm not expecting (or wanting) to DX to Hawaii or Rome at this point, but conversely, I'm not really interested in QRP operation right now--again, I don't have a lot of time for the "hobby" aspects right now, but DO want to explore that after I finish my Masters degree, and settle down. I was looking at 10meter, because it seems to be the best choice for "bang for the buck", regarding range/cost/availability of used gear. If I am mistaken about this, and y'all have a better suggestion, I'm all ears...

    I've been looking at some of the smaller, mobile ICOM, Yaseu, and Radio Shack 10 meter units, and maybe just a big whip antenna or a "HamStick" or a small 4-element Quad. I want to get a small amp (because most of the units I've been looking at are 25 watts or less, and I'd like to run at least 100 watts to start with). Most of my neighbors are on cable, and the houses are pretty far apart in my area (which is semi-rural) so unless I am pushing 500w or more, I don't think it's going to be an issue. Also, where I live, there is no "covenant" or other pseudo-legal silliness that would restrict external antennas on my house.

    Just FYI, the local Ham group is having a "Field Day" this weekend about 15 miles from my house, which I plan to attend and ask a LOT of questions. But any input that you folks have is greatly appreciated.

    73...
    Last edited by Dreamer; 06-23-2011 at 09:20 PM.
    It is our cause to dispel the foggy thinking which avoids hard decisions in the delusion that a world of conflict will somehow mysteriously resolve itself into a world of harmony, if we just don't rock the boat or irritate the forces of aggression—and this is hogwash."
    --Barry Goldwater, 1964

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    Campaign Veteran since9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dreamer View Post
    Penalties can include seizure of your equipment, fines (typically from $7,000-$10,000, depending on how much power you are running, and how many people complain), and even jail time...

    The relevant Federal Code is "Section 301 of the Communications Act of 1934", as amended by the The Telecommunications Act of 1996:

    http://transition.fcc.gov/telecom.html

    http://www.criminalgovernment.com/do.../ComAct34.html

    They claim authority to regulate amateur radio transmissions because it constitutes "interstate and foreign commerce in communication by wire and radio". Yet another dubious application of the "Commerce Clause", IMO...

    However, in a true SHTF situation, using an amateur radio without a license to call for help in an emergency is allowed under the law.
    Good links! No license is required to purchase or operate a ham radio. Only if you intend to transmit under non-emergency conditions.

    You can find some very good 2011 practice tests, here.

    If you want to learn more about the technical aspects, here's a good forum.

    Finally, here's one of the better-known retailers of ham radio equipment. They have outlets in twelve major cities.
    The First protects the Second, and the Second protects the First. Together, they protect the rest of our Bill of Rights and our United States Constitution, and help We the People protect ourselves in the spirit of our Declaration of Independence.

  10. #10
    State Researcher Bill Starks's Avatar
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    I hang around with lots of Hams and while under their supervision, I don't need a license to use their equipment.

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    Regular Member Deadcenter45's Avatar
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    It's like $14 to take the tests, the license lasts ten years. Plus, you can take as many tests as you like until you fail one ... so might as well take the general after the tech.

    I used the free online practice tests till I passed them regularly then sat for the tests.

    I got my tech ticket just before the morse code req was dropped, now have General.

    Tech is good for 2M gear, you'll need general class to use the 10M rigs.

    You can listen as much as you want, but transmitting without a license is unwise. You'll just make an @$$ of yourself, and the community does not look kind on pirates. $14 and a little time is much better than the potential fines for pirating. Yes, you can be tracked any time you key up.

    It's easy enough, fun, and rewarding to become a HAM.

    You can also get into ARES & RACES which are the volunteers providing communications during disaster.

    DXing or distance contesting is another fun time sink.

    73 DE KE7FNC

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    Regular Member Dreamer's Avatar
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    "Deadcenter45", thanks for the tips. From what I'm reading 10m seems to be the hot band during periods of high sunspot activity, but doesn't have much distance during solar minimum. From the NOAA and NASA info I've seen, we just came out of a solar minimum in 2008 (they are 11 year cycles) so things should only be getting better and better for chances to DX on 10m over the next few years, if I understand things correctly.

    "since9", thanks for those links--but as you know, I am a manic researcher, and I've had those bookmarked for about 2 weeks already. Downloaded the "study guides" for Tech and General last week, but haven't had much time to look them over. I may be signing up for one of those online text simulators this week, to start brushing up for the upcoming round of exams (12 Aug). If I could knock out Tech and General in one sitting that would be great, but I don't know if I'll have time to devote to studying that much material, with all the other work I have to do for school...

    I wish I had a LOT more disposable income to throw into this hobby. I went to the local ham club's "field day" yesterday, and ended up spending about an hour talking with a guy who was running a REALLY spiffy Elecraft K3 unit, using a Macintosh and an iPad to do all the logging and control. It was an amazing rig, but there is no way I could afford that on my "students budget" right now. He was an optometrist, and ALSO had an Elecraft K2 in his brand new RV (which, BTW was the size of a school bus), and had an antenna mounted in the field that looked like it came from VOA's surplus. He had batteries, and solar cells rolled out on the ground to trickle charge them, AND was running a generator. I bet he had $20k JUST in radio-related gear at the field day event...

    Anyway, being a Mac guy myself, we were pretty much "instant buddies", and he spent over an hour showing me what his rig could do. Pretty amazing setup. He could send and receive email from his laptop over 2m, to his rig at home which was tied to a computer acting as a server, which was connected to the internet. It was sick...

    So now, I need to study for the exams, and then find an extra few hundred dollars for gear, I guess...
    It is our cause to dispel the foggy thinking which avoids hard decisions in the delusion that a world of conflict will somehow mysteriously resolve itself into a world of harmony, if we just don't rock the boat or irritate the forces of aggression—and this is hogwash."
    --Barry Goldwater, 1964

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    Saw this thread a bit late but better than never! :-)

    I've been a ham since 1975 - picked up the now-obsolete Novice license while in grade school, and recently renewed my volunteer examiner (VE) credentials to help out a local club with an exam session. BTW, the fee to sit for exam(s) is $15 for 2011 - at least those sessions affiliated with the ARRL VEC.

    Considering Morse code is no longer required for any license class, I'm surprised not more people study up, go straight to Amateur Extra and be done with it. Operating HF should be very interesting in the next few years due to increasing solar activity, and already I am hearing about openings (long-distance communications opportunities beyond the usual) occurring on 6 and 2 meters - both of which are authorized to Technician class operators. Talking *really* far on HF (160-10m) can be quite a rush too, so keep your options open.

    For the question about starter rigs, I'm really enjoying the Wouxun KG-UV2D 2m/440 HT and recommend it. Goes for around $110 new - about 1/3 the price of anything similar from any of the big four Japanese brands (Yaesu, Kenwood, ICOM, Alinco) and plenty featureful. A web search on the model/mfr will turn up at least 2-3 vendors. There's only so much a small whip antenna on an HT like that will do though, so if you put up say, a 2m beam antenna with some height, or even a 1/4-5/8 wave mag mount antenna on your car, you may be surprised how many repeaters you can reach with five watts.

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    Regular Member Deadcenter45's Avatar
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    Another fun thing about amateur radio is the 'homebrew' possibilities. I built a "copper cactus*" for my 2M rig, it works just as well as any commercial antenna.




    *http://www.n7qvc.com/amateur_radio/copper.html

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    Regular Member Dreamer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deadcenter45 View Post
    Another fun thing about amateur radio is the 'homebrew' possibilities. I built a "copper cactus*" for my 2M rig, it works just as well as any commercial antenna.

    Thanks for that link--interesting project!

    I'll admit that even though I am VERY interested in the new, high-tech gadgets like SDR, I have a soft spot for "old tech" to. There is something inherently cool and romantic about spark gaps, glowing glass tubes, and tapping out dits and dahs as a method of long-distance communication...

    So while I'll probably be using some relatively high-tech gear when I start, when I'm done with school, and have a little more spare time, I'll probably get into some of the more "retro" parts of the hobby...
    It is our cause to dispel the foggy thinking which avoids hard decisions in the delusion that a world of conflict will somehow mysteriously resolve itself into a world of harmony, if we just don't rock the boat or irritate the forces of aggression—and this is hogwash."
    --Barry Goldwater, 1964

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    Regular Member Deadcenter45's Avatar
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    Wink

    Quote Originally Posted by Dreamer View Post
    Thanks for that link--interesting project!

    I'll admit that even though I am VERY interested in the new, high-tech gadgets like SDR, I have a soft spot for "old tech" to. There is something inherently cool and romantic about spark gaps, glowing glass tubes, and tapping out dits and dahs as a method of long-distance communication...

    So while I'll probably be using some relatively high-tech gear when I start, when I'm done with school, and have a little more spare time, I'll probably get into some of the more "retro" parts of the hobby...
    Ok, I'll raise you one more, have a look into QRP rigs ... long distance low power code based communication with very small 'spy' radios that will typically fit in an altoids tin sized enclosure ...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QRP_operation
    Last edited by Deadcenter45; 06-26-2011 at 11:39 PM. Reason: typo

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    Quote Originally Posted by xdfan View Post
    Operating HF should be very interesting in the next few years due to increasing solar activity...
    I'm a moderator on a science forum focusing primarily on astrophysics. While increased sunspot activity is what's supposed to happen, it's also preceded by various telltales, strangely absent at the moment. As a result, scientists are currently estimating this cycle's peak will mostly be a dud. In addition, they're estimating very little activity for the next 30 years.

    SolarHam is a good source for current and predicted information about how the Sun affects Ham radio operation. In the meantime, I'll look for the link to the detailed article and post it here if I find it.
    The First protects the Second, and the Second protects the First. Together, they protect the rest of our Bill of Rights and our United States Constitution, and help We the People protect ourselves in the spirit of our Declaration of Independence.

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    Regular Member Dreamer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deadcenter45 View Post
    Ok, I'll raise you one more, have a look into QRP rigs ... long distance low power code based communication with very small 'spy' radios that will typically fit in an altoids tin sized enclosure ...

    Actually, I'm following an old RS-6 on ebay right now, for just that reason...

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...=STRK:MEWAX:IT
    It is our cause to dispel the foggy thinking which avoids hard decisions in the delusion that a world of conflict will somehow mysteriously resolve itself into a world of harmony, if we just don't rock the boat or irritate the forces of aggression—and this is hogwash."
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    Regular Member Dreamer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by since9 View Post
    I'm a moderator on a science forum focusing primarily on astrophysics. While increased sunspot activity is what's supposed to happen, it's also preceded by various telltales, strangely absent at the moment. As a result, scientists are currently estimating this cycle's peak will mostly be a dud. In addition, they're estimating very little activity for the next 30 years.

    So maybe you can explain to me (and all the hams on here who are wondering) why NIST's "WWV" and "WWVH" stations are dropping their geophysical weather reports from their transmissions in September... If were heading into what looks like an irregularly low "solar cycle peak" you'd think that they would want to keep than info beaming out to the public and to hams.

    The excuse that NIST, NASA and NOAA are giving for dropping the geophysical weather reports is that they are already doing it on their website, and feel that broadcast of this information is needlessly redundant...

    I'm wondering what the REAL reason is. Our government NEVER stops doing something because it's "redundant"...

    The only reason, historically, that the government changed modes of information dissemination is because they are trying to control said information more tightly.
    Last edited by Dreamer; 06-27-2011 at 12:37 AM.
    It is our cause to dispel the foggy thinking which avoids hard decisions in the delusion that a world of conflict will somehow mysteriously resolve itself into a world of harmony, if we just don't rock the boat or irritate the forces of aggression—and this is hogwash."
    --Barry Goldwater, 1964

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    Notice how NOAA weather on VHF is now just a text-to-speech system with a human voice heard only occasionally. There is far more geomagnetic weather info available on the Internet today than I ever heard on WWV. It was cool 30 years ago. I think that just like they say, the agency is cutting expenses because more detailed and numerous info dissemination methods have become available.

    In any case, hams themselves do plenty of propagation predictions and reports, such as SolarHam and the K7RA Solar Update on arrl.org. Info about what's happening on the sun - at least in terms of effects on radio propagation, would surely keep coming even in the event of outages of Internet-provided services.

    I wouldn't be surprised if WWV went away at some point too, but would miss it. Great as a precise 10 MHz reference for tweaking the master oscillator of my older HF transceiver. It used to be people set clocks by the top of the minute beep on WWV, but for instance, I now use a specialized GPS receiver connected to a Linux box running a patched low-latency kernel, keeping its clock set to that same time standard to an accuracy of a microsecond or two.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dreamer View Post
    So maybe you can explain to me (and all the hams on here who are wondering) why NIST's "WWV" and "WWVH" stations are dropping their geophysical weather reports from their transmissions in September...

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    Regular Member sraacke's Avatar
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    KC5SAS checking in here. Tech since 1995 and currently the RACES officer for Iberville Parish OEP in Louisiana.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dreamer View Post
    So maybe you can explain to me (and all the hams on here who are wondering) why NIST's "WWV" and "WWVH" stations are dropping their geophysical weather reports from their transmissions in September... If were heading into what looks like an irregularly low "solar cycle peak" you'd think that they would want to keep than info beaming out to the public and to hams.

    The excuse that NIST, NASA and NOAA are giving for dropping the geophysical weather reports is that they are already doing it on their website, and feel that broadcast of this information is needlessly redundant...

    I'm wondering what the REAL reason is. Our government NEVER stops doing something because it's "redundant"...

    The only reason, historically, that the government changed modes of information dissemination is because they are trying to control said information more tightly.
    Answer: The invaders from Shoggoth demanded it.

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    Regular Member TechnoWeenie's Avatar
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    /tin foil hat


    If people want to know who you are, what you post, etc. then posting your callsign is a sure way to freely give that information away.

    I would suggest against posting your callsign, as it makes identification that much easier.

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    Regular Member Dreamer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xdfan View Post
    Notice how NOAA weather on VHF is now just a text-to-speech system with a human voice heard only occasionally. There is far more geomagnetic weather info available on the Internet today than I ever heard on WWV..

    So explain to me how, after a Katrina-like incident when there is no power or internet in a specific zone for MONTHS, a website is going to be of any value to field-operating hams under emergency conditions?

    That's all I'm saying...
    Last edited by Dreamer; 06-27-2011 at 09:01 PM.
    It is our cause to dispel the foggy thinking which avoids hard decisions in the delusion that a world of conflict will somehow mysteriously resolve itself into a world of harmony, if we just don't rock the boat or irritate the forces of aggression—and this is hogwash."
    --Barry Goldwater, 1964

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    A solar propagation web site probably won't be of much interest, but there are plenty of other Internet resources that can be important, so as a supplement to ham communications, yes, I would expect limited Internet access, such as at a mobile terminal. Hams are pretty good at running radio gear on emergency power too (a skill honed by Field Day, among other events). You work with what you have and if Internet is really important, there are ways to do it, such as one of these running on solar or generator power: http://www.peplink.com/max-mobile-router/

    At least in the early stages of such a disaster, hams will typically be passing health and welfare message traffic via voice and packet nets, focusing on the essentials. If solar activity will have some bearing on management of the emergency, then sure, it would be included. Local nets are on VHF and UHF, and long-haul nets on HF - commonly 75m. During Katrina I remember listening to a SATERN (http://www.satern.org/) net on 75m that remained active for months. After you get your ham ticket, if you want to help out and get on the fast track learning about emergency communications, consider joining a local club with ARES and/or RACES affiliation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dreamer View Post
    So explain to me how, after a Katrina-like incident when there is no power or internet in a specific zone for MONTHS, a website is going to be of any value to field-operating hams under emergency conditions?

    That's all I'm saying...
    Last edited by xdfan; 06-27-2011 at 10:04 PM.

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