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-   -   Ham, getting started questions (http://www.wranglerforum.com/f40/ham-getting-started-questions-4893.html)

skeeter 12-31-2006 05:43 AM

Ham, getting started questions
 
The What's your sign? HAM Radio. thread got me thinking and reading and I've got a few questions.

What do you need for a basic rig? is it like CB and you just need a radio and antenna? or is there other gear you just have to have? (SWR meter is a given)

What would be the best bands to run in a mobile unit mostly running around town but also in the remote mountains where hitting a repeater might not be feasible?
I'd like to be able to communicate upto 100 miles unit to unit between our two Jeeps without relying on a repeater, is that reasonable?
I also love DXing or riding the skip when I'm bored.

Will a 2 meter rig cause interference or be interfered with by a CB mounted in the same rig? or do you need to turn one off to use the other?


Assuming it works, would something like this be a decent radio to get started on a budget?
Radio shack 2meter rig

What kind of range can you get with a hand held unit like this?
YAESU VX 170 2 meter handheld
Would it be possible to connect a remote antenna and mic for use in the Jeep? something similar to this.
Midland 75-822 Handheld CB Radio

KA5IVR 12-31-2006 01:30 PM

Most new Hams run out and get a 2 meter or 2/440 dual band hand held. I have seen that time & time again for over 25 years. I have handhelds too and they serve a purpose, but they are not the best for a Ham rig in the Jeep or any mobile. Why; low wattage, a tingle of wires for external power, and little rubber antennas. Save your money and get a real mobile rig first.

The best mobile rigs for running around town are VHF/UHF and there are many to choose from. I would suggest sticking to either Icom, Kenwood, Yaesu, and maybe Alinco. You need to know what you want to do with it and what conditions it will be subject to mounted inside your Jeep. Some are Mil-Spec and some are not designed very well for rough mobile environments. The single VHF band rigs, like the Icom V-8000, are the most economically for under $200. Antennas are about $50. You can get VHF/UHF privileges by taking just the Technician test.

You stated you wanted to communicate about 100 miles without repeaters. You will be able to do that with a HF radio and to right type of antenna, but it may not practical to have this type of setup in a Jeep. I run a HF setup in my tow rig and probably use it more than my VHF/UHF, but I have more room for everything and the full size truck is my daily driver. How often and how remote do you go in the mountains? Even in the mountains, you may be able to hit a VHF/UHF repeater anyway. The HF radios from about $800 to $1,500 dollars and the Antenna may as much as $500. Mobile HF Rigs and a Budget do not go together. You will have to also take the General test to gain HF privileges.

You will need separate antennas for your CB and 2-Meter. You should not have a problem running both, but you could always turn one off, while talking on the other.

skeeter 12-31-2006 02:25 PM

Thank you.
The reasons I'm considering a hand held are #1 mounting space in AMy's TJ is scarce #2 we often go Jeeping to get to a nice remote area to go hiking but we have FRS radio's that can work for that. #3 I drive a truck for a living and being able to easily transfer the radio from one rig to another would be good.
I realize a handheld would have limited range, I use handheld CB's often when out of my truck but I imagine a handheld ham rig would be somewhat more effective than my CB's.

I ran across this site last night and took the technician test and got 83% the tests (if this is a reasonable example) look fairly easy.
http://www.qrz.com/p/testing.pl

KA5IVR 12-31-2006 03:24 PM

Go to Radio Shack and find the Gordon West tech study guild. Gordon has the complete question pool and explains the answers. If you can get 83% on a practice test, you won't have any problems.

Some of the VHF/UHF rigs is some have remote mountable heads. You can put the control head in view and mount the main radio body under the seat or in the back, out of the way, saving on real estate.

I have my HF and VHF/UHF equipment in the pickup truck mounted in a home made rack. I can easily transfer it to another vehicle or home. I will try to get some photos of it and post to give you an idea. It would work good in a Big truck. GEEPS has been working on several mounts as well. Check out http://www.otrattw.com

Geeps 12-31-2006 05:29 PM

The Gordon West books are the best out there (imo). Very well written.

There is also a computer program available from http://www.hamuniversity.com .

Even with the computer program, you still should have the book.

KA5IVR 01-01-2007 06:05 PM

3 Attachment(s)
Quote:

Originally Posted by skeeter (Post 42041)
I drive a truck for a living and being able to easily transfer the radio from one rig to another would be good.http://www.qrz.com/p/testing.pl

Skeeter, Here are some photos of my Ham setup in my pickup. This removes easily for transfer to another vehicle. I also use it in my VW Camper Bus between the front seats, but I don't think it will work in the TJ, unless I sat it in the back behind the console. ??? It works as a stand-alone on a desktop or table too.

It is basically two flat plates with the Tuner on the bottom and the HF rig pointing up at 45 deg's with the 2/440 mounted below the HF. My original 2/440 had the control head on the radio, but when I switched to the TM-700a, I had to use a Ram Mount to hang the control head from.

It may give you some ideas... :D

Good Luck and let's us know when you pass your test!

skeeter 01-02-2007 06:01 AM

Nice looking radios, looks a little large to mount in a Jeep unless you strap it to the passenger seat and make every body ride in back. Thanks for the pics.
We're going to get the books and start studying, we found a local group that administer the tests on a walk in basis.
Our daughter is interested as well, is there any age limit? she's 9.

Geeps 01-02-2007 11:13 AM

The FCC has no age requirements for licensing.

kg4kpg 01-02-2007 01:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by KA5IVR (Post 42050)
Go to Radio Shack and find the Gordon West tech study guild.

RS doesn't carry them anymore. At least not any around Charleston. I went yesterday, the guy says there just isn't enough interest so they are getting out of ham radio products completely. I have to get a new General book as the one I have I bought before the pool changed in '04. Oh well.

Geeps 01-02-2007 01:26 PM

http://www.w5yi.org/

Very fast shipping.

KA5IVR 01-02-2007 05:38 PM

W5YI does have them or you could mail order it from AES or HRO. If you call W5YI, make sure they send the Gordon West book. They had their own books, but they did not explain stuff like Gordon. Let me know if you can't get one. I'll find one here in town and will send it to you!

My Ex-Wife preferred the online tests over the books, when she studied. I liked the books better. Use what ever works the best for YOU.

A 9 year old girl should not have any problem with the test. Two or Three of the locale Ham's daughters that age passed. She will not have to understand everything, but a girl that age can remember the answer. I think boys need to be a couple of years older to do it.

skeeter 01-02-2007 05:52 PM

She keeps taking the practice tests and is getting decent scores, she's better at the math sections than I am.

KA5IVR 01-02-2007 06:34 PM

What I did with the books was:

I read though it the first time, read the answers and the explanation. Next, I read though it, highlighted the correct answer, and ignored the others. Last, I read it once again and only looked the correct answer. It seems like a lot of questions, but most are the same question that is asked 3 different ways.

This method worked for me passing Three tests in Three months for the General, Advanced, & Extra. The tests were only offered once a month, so I didn't kill myself doing it. You're lucky you don't have to worry about the code too. You will be surprised that you will recall the correct answer, enough to pass. Don't sweat the Math. You might have one or two questions with that, maybe.

I worried about the Frequencies, but I remembered the answer. I still have to look at the chart from time to time on those.

skeeter 01-07-2007 10:28 PM

Well, I'm scheduled to take my technician exam this thursday if there isn't too large a turnout.
Amy and Jessie are going to wait till next month to take their tests.

Jessie is getting really excited, I dug out some of my old radio gear and setup a scanner for us to listen to the local 2 meter repeaters, while looking around on the internet for frequencies I ran across a site talking about listening in on satalites and the space station. We found a satalite tracking program, figured out when the ISS was going over head and were able to pickup some CW.
Here's the link to the tracking software if anybody is interested.
http://www.stoff.pl/

We've also been looking around ebay for a beginner radio and ran across this Rockmite Ham Radio 20 meter CW QRP Transceiver, this thing would be a blast to take up in the mountains with a wire antenna :D
Now I just gotta learn morse code :eek:

Geeps 01-07-2007 11:47 PM

Good luck on your exam :cool:

tjchad 01-08-2007 02:15 PM

Hey Skeeter- thanks for the link to the sat tracking SW. I'll have to set that up and see what I can hear.

I just got my Tech ticket a little over a year ago and finally installed my 2m/440 radio in the Jeep a few months back. I inherited a bunch of gear from my uncle who was a life long ham until he passed a year and a half ago. His passion was code so I'll be studying up for that even though the requirements are gone for Gen and Extra. I figure it'd be appropriate.

Good Luck on the test!

Later,

Chad

amerijeep 01-08-2007 06:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by skeeter (Post 43873)
Well, I'm scheduled to take my technician exam this thursday if there isn't too large a turnout.
Amy and Jessie are going to wait till next month to take their tests.

Jessie is getting really excited, I dug out some of my old radio gear and setup a scanner for us to listen to the local 2 meter repeaters, while looking around on the internet for frequencies I ran across a site talking about listening in on satalites and the space station. We found a satalite tracking program, figured out when the ISS was going over head and were able to pickup some CW.
Here's the link to the tracking software if anybody is interested.
http://www.stoff.pl/

We've also been looking around ebay for a beginner radio and ran across this Rockmite Ham Radio 20 meter CW QRP Transceiver, this thing would be a blast to take up in the mountains with a wire antenna :D
Now I just gotta learn morse code :eek:


Good luck, Skeeter. Do you have a radio at all yet?

skeeter 01-08-2007 06:35 PM

Nope, I'm looking but it's a little dificult to find a good 2 meter mobile with repeater tones under $60, I may have to save a little more. ;)

amerijeep 01-08-2007 07:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by skeeter (Post 44086)
Nope, I'm looking but it's a little dificult to find a good 2 meter mobile with repeater tones under $60, I may have to save a little more. ;)

If you pass the exam, I'll give you a 2m HT I have. I never have really used than for anything than to listen to my own station from time to time.

It's an Alinco DJ-195 that runs on batteries (AAs). You can get a rechargeable pack for it, but it cost more than the radio did. I have the original box, but no manual. I'm sure you can probably download the manual online somewhere. I'll look and see if I can find it online. I may actually find the manual somewhere around my files if I look hard enough.

amerijeep 01-08-2007 07:26 PM

Go here and click on DJ-195 on the left handside to see the specs of the radio.

amerijeep 01-08-2007 07:30 PM

Found where you can dowload the manual here.

amy 01-08-2007 09:21 PM

Oh my gosh, Amerijeep! That is so generous of you!
And, you left Skeeter completely speachless, just sitting there babbling, for at least 10 minutes.
Thank you.

amerijeep 01-08-2007 09:24 PM

Yall are very welcome. Now hush. Yall are ruinin' my bad rep.

amy 01-08-2007 09:27 PM

Ooops, sorry. Your secret is safe with me. ;)

KA5IVR 01-08-2007 09:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by skeeter (Post 44086)
Nope, I'm looking but it's a little dificult to find a good 2 meter mobile with repeater tones under $60, I may have to save a little more. ;)

Skeeter,

Good Luck on your Test this week! You should budget more like $200 for a basic 2 Meter mobile rig. Something like a Icom V-8000.

147.200, 146.660, & 147.160 are listed as 2 Meter Freq's in the Spokane area repeaters, if your trying to hear some activity.

whiteyj 01-08-2007 10:32 PM

and the rest of us can be bought......Amerijeep, Very cool.

skeeter 01-09-2007 06:53 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by KA5IVR (Post 44179)
Skeeter,

Good Luck on your Test this week! You should budget more like $200 for a basic 2 Meter mobile rig. Something like a Icom V-8000.

147.200, 146.660, & 147.160 are listed as 2 Meter Freq's in the Spokane area repeaters, if your trying to hear some activity.

That would be nice, Unfortunately I've got alot of doctor bills to pay off before I could even consider spending that kind of money.
I'll be happy with whatever I come up with for the Jeeps until I can upgrade, even if I just get some older rigs without tone encoding, they'd be far superior to the CB's we've got now and the hand held Amerijeep is sending should be able to hit the local repeaters easily and will allow us to get used to operating on the more structured ham frequencies.

This is the local ham club that will be handling the exams, they have several repeaters running that we've been listening in on.
http://www.vhfclub.org/

Thank you for your encouragement and advice, I've been interested in doing this for a long time but I've always found an excuse not to go through with it, no more excuses now.

skeeter 01-09-2007 06:58 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by amerijeep (Post 44174)
Yall are very welcome. Now hush. Yall are ruinin' my bad rep.

That's why I sent you all that mushy stuff via PM, Amy just doesn't understand us Manly men have reps to protect;)

One thing I said in PM I'd like to say out here.
Quote:

This is amazing, I didn't understand why Amy kept coming back to this forum when she barely even looked at the other Jeep forums, now I do.
Thanks you very much!!!!
You folks really are amazing, first the response to Amy being in the hospital, and now this.
Thank you.

KA5IVR 01-09-2007 07:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by skeeter (Post 44280)
even if I just get some older rigs without tone encoding, they'd be far superior to the CB's we've got now and the hand held Amerijeep is sending should be able to hit the local repeaters easily and will allow us to get used to operating on the more structured ham frequencies.

Most of the 2 meter rigs in the last 10 years will have the Tone Encoding (to key up the repeater) included with the radio. Some of the rigs have the decoding chips (for the repeater to open your radio receiver) as an option, but it should not be required for normal repeater operation.

Amerijeep is sending a Handheld? Very Nice! If you are going to operate it from the house, just make yourself an outside antenna for it. You will be surprised how easy and cheap you can make one to work on 2 meters, plus it's fun to do. My 2 meter antennas at home are both homemade from 1/2" copper pipe. I even made one that mounted on top of the refrigerator, but I was single and only used it for Beer & leftover Pizza :D

kg4kpg 01-09-2007 09:08 PM

Yep, making an antenna is not hard at all. I made the 10 inch 440 antenna (the little red one) on my jeep from supplies I bought for about 5 bucks from FireStik. It works great and I can assure you I know how to enjoy a hobby on a super tight busget. ;)


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