How to get started??

Discussion in 'The Okie Corral' started by G23Adam, Jun 3, 2007.

  1. G23Adam

    G23Adam .- -.. .- --

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    I just ordered a couple of books, "Ham Radio for Dummies" and Gordon West's "Technician Course" and I've went through quite a few of the online tests and most of that stuff seems like common sense to me, so how do I seek out someone to administer the test? It seems most of my questions I have problems with is how bands work (I know the divide into 300 trick, but sometimes it doesn't work)

    I currently have all the local repeaters in my scanner and I listen in (I have a Discone antenna on the roof, so I can pick up pretty much anything if it comes my way) but I never hear of them talking about any sort of events... mostly it's general chatter, really heats up around 2100.

    Any other tips for someone interested in getting my ticket?
     
  2. R. Emmelman

    R. Emmelman Tired Member

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    Well you have started off good. The first stop should be

    www.arrl.org

    The next thing you need to do is contact a local club. You can find one in your area at:

    http://www.arrl.org/FandES/field/club/clubsearch.phtml

    Most if not all clubs/members would be more then happy to help you. Most clubs have infromation on testing sites and some offer free classes. You can not go wrong with associating with a club. Most clubs have some area of interest such as emergency communications, DXing (working distance stations), homebrew (building equipment). ARRL is a national group (like NRA)and offers several member services and a magazine. Hope this helps. Please do not hesitate to ask further questions or you can PM me..

    Keep us up to date on how you are doing!

    Rich WI9NDY/AFA1CY
     

  3. G23Adam

    G23Adam .- -.. .- --

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    Right now I am listening to a net on 145.49 out of Trenton SC, they are discussing complaint letters :)

    I've written down calls from 3 states and I'm having a good time just listening.

    I'm really interested in building antennas etc, I've built Quadrifilar Helix antennas for WeatherFax and Dipoles and Quads for wireless networking.

    This one guy has a super clear mic, it's a PR40, it sounds wonderful, I have to get me one of those.

    I'm growing tired of listening ;)

    So what kind of radio equipment/antennas would one need to start out with? I assume there is band specific SWR equipment? I have a meter for CB, and am familar with tuning CB installations... is tuning a ham system any different?
     
  4. R. Emmelman

    R. Emmelman Tired Member

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    For HF (160 meters to 10 meters) the tuning is not much different then CB. As far as equipment it depends on what you are interested. If you want to start out with local communications 2-meter or 440MHz will work. I have a mobile 2-meter that I use for mobile and base. For the base side I use a power supply and a dual band (144/440) vertical. I can cover about 60 mile radius with this setup.

    For HF work I have an Icom IC-718 and a long-wire antenna. I use a MFJ Versi-Tuner II to match the antenna. Here is an older picture of my setup (I had not got the tuner at this time)

    [​IMG]

    Here is the 144/440 antenna:

    [​IMG]

    Hope this helps. Keep the questions coming.

    Rich WI9NDY/AFA1CY
     
  5. G23Adam

    G23Adam .- -.. .- --

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    here's my "plan" for my shack....

    Scanner on discone 2m scanning repeaters, public safety etc.
    some sort of 2m/440 radio on yagi with TV rotator to turn it on a 40 ft tower. I'll also have a PC out there to look up contacts and keep track of who I talk to.

    So how does one feed both of the antenna feeds on a dual band antenna into one SO-239 on the back of the radio?

    I haven't really figured out HF yet, as I guess I need a really big yagi? I assume this is gonna be made from coax inside a PVC frame? Is cable length really critical as it is with CB? I assume I'll need SWR meters for every band I plan on xmitting on...

    I see a lot of wire dipoles for sale, how does one turn them? I assume it involves a lot of going outdoors?

    After reading, I am more interested in emergency communication and field expedient comms. Tansmitter hunting looks like fun too, a geocache that talks ;)

    I really don't care too much for the J poles, but it appears they are quite popular....

    I am signed up for the 7th of July to take my test.
     
  6. FN64

    FN64

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    G23..

    Sounds like you're on a good track thus far..

    The "dual band" antennas for 144MHz & 440MHz are fed with the same feed line. Most 2 meter antennas will radiate quite efficiently on the 440 band.

    HF is a whole different animal than VHF/UHF!! Generally speaking the antennas are larger because as you get lower in frequency the wavelength gets longer, hence rwquires a larger antenna.
    Big yagis are quite expensive but the good news is.. you can work a good part of the world on a simple dipole if it's properly installed. Yagis don't have coax inside PVC.. In many ways they're similar to a dipole with a reflector & director elements added.
    Cable length is NOT critical unless you're setting up a phased antenna system. Just use GOOD coax...Not the Indochinese crap from RS!!
    You will need SWR meters!! Chances are good that the one you have for CB will cover all the HF bands but check the specs to be sure. You'll need a second meter to cover the VHF/UHF part of the spectrum.

    First of all.. don't BUY a dipole!! Make it yourself. They're inexpensive, very efficient (about -2.1DBi) and easy to build. Plus you'll learn a lot in the process!! They can be made for a single band, multi-band or used with a tuner.
    Once they're tuned to the proper length theres no need to be "going in and out".. All this you'll understand in time..

    EMCOMM and field expedient go hand in hand. The ARES and RACES groups deserve a lot of credit and knowledge of field expedient antennas provided a lot of commo into & out of the gulf after the hurricanes.
    Fox hunting is a ball and yes it's a lot like Geocaching but ya dont have any coords to look for.. just an RF signal. (cool..another geocacher in the mix!)

    Don't diss the j-poles to early!! they're popular for a reason. They're easy to make either out of 300 ohm TV ribbon or from copper pipe, they work well on 2M & 440 & theyre inexpensive. (plus the learning experience from building one) Sure they're not as efficient as an 11 element beam but they're not meant to do the same thing either.

    Try to hook up with someone from your area and attend "Field Day" events. Here you will see some serious "field expedient" setups, have a chance to get on the air, meet experienced hams, ask questions & enjoy some great BBQ. Most clubs are involved so check with the folks in your area.

    Here's a link where you can enter your ZIP and get a list of local hams in your area.. Chances are good you'll know a few of them.. Make some calls & let them know you're getting a ticket. Most are willing to help in many ways.

    http://www.qrz.com/i/name-search.html

    Good luck with the test & feel free to post questions.

    FN
     
  7. G23Adam

    G23Adam .- -.. .- --

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    This particular Yagi I'm looking at has a feed for 2m and 70cm, it looks to be a very well constructed antenna, but looking at pictures does little sometimes.

    So the dipoles aren't directional? I guess since it is a yagi without a reflector and director it wouldn't be...

    To use one of these long wire antennas, I guess the easiest thing would be is to make it for the length of the longest band you want to catch then use an auto tuner to bring it back?

    I was thinking of using RG 58 as the elements, stuff it in a piece of PVC so it has support and hoisting it, I also assume it needs to be horizontal.

    I've also came across slinkys made into antennas, neat :)

    This is the SWR meter I have:
    http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?parentPage=&productId=2036239

    Thanks again for all the replies!
     
  8. FN64

    FN64

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    OK..sorry.. I thought you were talking about something other than the yagi.. Get an antenna switch. They're not real expensive & a lot cheaper than a diplexer.

    Dipoles mounted a half wavelength above ground DO have a "broadside" bi-directional pattern.

    Yes.. but remember.. the antenna tuner only fools the transmitter into thinking it has a match.. It does NOT improve the efficiency of the radiated signal.

    Full stop!!! The 58 is ok for a feedline but use either stranded or solid wire (not coax) for your radiating elements as well as the director(s) & reflector.
    Read thru some links at http://ac6v.com/antprojects.htm Lotta homebrewed antenna designs there.. They'll give you a better understanding of what you're trying to accomplish

    They're ok in a pinch or out of a hotel room but not for general operating. Kinda fun though.. not very efficient.

    That will do for HF bands but NOT for UHF/VHF

    The http://ac6v.com site is the mother load of amateur radio links.. bookmark it cause you'll use it often!!

    73..FN
     
  9. G23Adam

    G23Adam .- -.. .- --

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    So the large dipole is the way to go for the longer bands?
    I found a nice vertical all band antenna for the HF... it's 43', requires a tuner and a 4:1 balun.

    I've decided on an icom or a yaesu radio, any thing I should look for? I want the Yaesu mostly because I used Vertex at the fire dept. and they are really good radios.

    I am currently looking at a Yaseu FT 7800 or an Icom 2800, which are both mobile units. I would like to stick to one brand of radio, but it's flexible.

    Any suggestions?


    So what are some good code tapes/cd's to listen to? I am thinking of taking all 3 tests and the code test in the same day....
     
  10. R. Emmelman

    R. Emmelman Tired Member

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    Both Yaesu and Icom are good rigs. I believe the IC-2800 is no longer available and has been replaced by the IC-2820H. One thing to look out for in the VHF/UHF rigs is the ability to receive both bands at once. Some rigs will not let you receive VHF and UHF at the same time. Depending on how you want to operate this might be important. Check out

    http://www.eham.net/reviews/

    before buying any rig.

    Rich WI9NDY/AFA1CY
     
  11. G23Adam

    G23Adam .- -.. .- --

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    I'm looking at a couple of used radios, the Icom 2800H being a very neat looking unit, and the Yaesu looking like something one could use for a hammer in a pinch.

    I think the Icom has all the bells and whistles, etc.

    I also dug out a studio mike boom arm in my junk pile today ;) Now for building myself an "On Air" sign...
     
  12. martho

    martho

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    It's been mentioned in other threads and I can't stress it enough. Get involved with a local club and/or local hams. Experienced operators can teach you so much and save you lots of headaches.

    A dual band radio(capable of dual band simultaneous receive is a must as Rich said) and a simple antenna like a Diamond X50 or the Comet equivelent is a great setup for 2m/70cm.

    I would forget the yagi and rotor for VHF/UHF unless you are going to operate the weak signal modes. Polarization is also a big factor and for FM you want everything to be vertical. You can lose 20dB of signal by being cross polarized.

    Since we are posting shack pictures, here is my station

    FT-1000mp
    FT-847
    Kenwood TMv7A 2/440
    Icom 2330A 2/220
    Drake L7
    Heath 2060A
    Rotatable dipole 10/12/15/17/20
    full size 30m vertical with 32 1/4wave radials
    full size 40m vertical with 16 1/4wave radials
    80m end fed wire
    245' Beverage Rx antenna
     
  13. martho

    martho

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  14. FN64

    FN64

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    Try to get to the field day event in your area & yes there WILL be one in your area..

    These events take place every June and amateurs from all walks of life attend. Most clubs will host a field day event.

    Here's where you can see the actual setups, talk with some serious hams, ask tons of questions, get on the air & there's usually some good chow to be had as well.

    Trust me here.. you'll be amazed.. I know I was the first time I attended!!

    73..FN
     
  15. R. Emmelman

    R. Emmelman Tired Member

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    And hamfest! Don't forget the hamfest! Even the small ones are worth going to if just to meet and greet :)
     
  16. martho

    martho

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    Field Day is an excellent opportunity.

    Here are all the SC clubs that participated last year. Do some searching on QRZ and find a local group.

    I would stay away from the groups that make 200 Qs or less on field day. There is not going to be much operating going on and probably won't be a spot for you. Find the groups that make at least a couple hundred Qs as those groups tend to be more active. Also, the 1D stations are guys operating at home.
     
  17. G23Adam

    G23Adam .- -.. .- --

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    Well, I bought my first radio, a Yaesu 1500M, yes it's a discontinued radio that only does 2m, but it was a cheap way for me to get started quickly, and it has a data port so it will be useful for any other projects I may get into,

    Someone suggest an SWR meter for me to use on the high band stuff. I'm gonna buy a firestik 2m mobile antenna and mount it to the lightbar on my truck. Does the base of the antenna need to be grounded to the electrical system, or just the ground plane of the vehicle enough? I might actually use a body mount and put it on the rear quarter panel, I don't know yet.

    I plan on getting an all band desktop model and a Yaesu 7800R for the truck, then moving the 2m indoors, but as all projects they do take time. I did set up the PC in the newly cleared out future ham shack, and I sank a 30ft pole with a CB antenna up there. I'll move the scanner as time comes closer to move outside, and I get the air conditioner mounted in the wall.

    I'm thinking large dipole, I'm guessing a full wave dipole would be nice, but which way would one point it if mounted permanently, N/S or E/W? I am guessing E/W, but I could be wrong. Or would it be better for a 1/4 wave supported by something on a rotator? I am thinking it doesn't matter, as I've read of people putting them in their attic and under eaves, and I KNOW they didn't orient their home for proper propagation. After reading a ton, I think I may go J Pole for the shack 2m/70cm as it does seem a good tradeoff.

    Also, I have 6 6v golf cart batteries and a deep cell charger, I assume I could build a nice rack for them outside, then run like a 4/0 inside to a buss for everything? If I run completely on battery power I wouldn't have to worry about A/C interference would I?

    I am a tinkerer by heart, so I'm always collecting, well, junk. I always have 4 or 50 projects going on at once, so I do have a lot of stuff that can be cannibalized for other uses.... Who knew copper prices would skyrocket, and all these pieces of throwaway (1 and 2 ft pieces) would be worth so much! I just wish Coax was cheaper, the current electrical schematic I've pen'd out had 6 runs of RG/8 U and 10 runs of RG 6, and I'm going to put an RG 11 in there for good luck. Should these be pasted and soldered, or compression fittings? Or is there anything else I should look at? LMR 400?

    As far as the 2m yagi, I'd turn it on it's side ;) Perhaps a quad?

    I'm going to try to find a field day in my area, all the clubs locally don't list anything on their sites, and no one's mentioned anything on the nets, (the local club has a net tomorrow night at 2100 I'll listen to)

    Thanks again guys, The more info I'm fed, the better I am, as I do listen and read a lot.

    That's a very nice and clean rack of equipment you have there, that's what I'm going for, clutter free and comfortable...

    (Oh yea, the 11 is for the WeatherFax...)