Taking the plunge into Ham Radio

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SoupOrMan
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Taking the plunge into Ham Radio

Post by SoupOrMan »

So, thanks to the Illinois State Police committing regular acts of fuckery with not sending out FOID and CCL cards, I can't buy ammo from out of state via online sellers. This means I have had to go from a "stockpile more ammo" preparation phase to an "acquire comms" preparation phase. I bought a Kenwood TH-D74A under the buy once cry once principle. I figure it will be a good expandable radio as I go from basic use to stuff like APRS. My Technician license manual and other study materials are also en route.

This has always looked like fun and now I have the time and money to do it. It might also be a good backup comms for my drives around the state when I go fishing in case I run out of cellphone range.
Remember, folks, you can't spell "douche" without "Che."

“PET PARENTS?” You’re not a “pet parent.” You’re a pet owner. Unless you’ve committed an unnatural act that succeeded in spite of biology. - Glenn Reynolds
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randy
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Re: Taking the plunge into Ham Radio

Post by randy »

Make sure you check in here if you have any questions.

I have a TH-D74A myself and have a pretty good understanding of it for basic voice and APRS functions. (DStar, not so much. I configured it, made one contact and haven't used that mode since).

I've also been using APRS since the 90's so can help there as well.

Here's some resources from a document that I posted on some MeWe ham sites:

Online study resources include (there are more):
http://www.arrl.org/files/file/Educatio ... -4thEd.pdf
https://ky4kybars.wixsite.com/home/how-to-become-a-ham
http://www.arrl.org/ham-radio-license-manual
https://www.w5yi.org/

You can take practice tests to learn what you need to study:
http://www.arrl.org/exam-practice
https://hamexam.org/
https://www.eham.net/exams/
https://www.qrz.com/hamtest/

Once you are ready you need to attend (physically or virtually) a test session. To find a session:
http://www.arrl.org/find-an-amateur-rad ... am-session
https://hamradioprep.com/ham-radio-license-test-online/
https://hamstudy.org/sessions

Good luck and 73
...even before I read MHI, my response to seeing a poster for the stars of the latest Twilight movies was "I see 2 targets and a collaborator".
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randy
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Re: Taking the plunge into Ham Radio

Post by randy »

It might also be a good backup comms for my drives around the state when I go fishing in case I run out of cellphone range.
With the D74 you will need to look at at an external antenna, and the cigarette power plug (or a battery eliminator) to get your signal outside of your mobile Faraday Cage.

I would strongly suggest looking into a 50 watt VHF/UHF dual band mobile (The TM-D710G would be a good companion for your D74).

Down the road if you get your General you can look at HF mobiles to really reach out from remote locations. ;)
...even before I read MHI, my response to seeing a poster for the stars of the latest Twilight movies was "I see 2 targets and a collaborator".
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Jered
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Re: Taking the plunge into Ham Radio

Post by Jered »

The Tech can get you to 10 meters.

I'm waiting on my 6M antenna to get here so that I can start playing with FT8 and JS8
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SoupOrMan
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Re: Taking the plunge into Ham Radio

Post by SoupOrMan »

My next step in the plan after the HT is to get a better antenna and alternate power sources. I will eventually pick up a 50W mobile, but that won't be for a while. Thanks for the links, too. I think they'll be a good refresher for all the electronic theory I've forgotten.
Remember, folks, you can't spell "douche" without "Che."

“PET PARENTS?” You’re not a “pet parent.” You’re a pet owner. Unless you’ve committed an unnatural act that succeeded in spite of biology. - Glenn Reynolds
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Weetabix
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Re: Taking the plunge into Ham Radio

Post by Weetabix »

I used the QRZ practice tests. I don't remember if I tried others.

Study for both the Tech and General and most places will let you take them both for the same fee. I passed them both at one sitting, and they coerced me into trying the Extra. I didn't do as well on that one. :-)

You could get a mag mount mobile antenna with an adapter to plug into your HT. I got decent performance out of those. I eventually got a Larsen 2/70, but you have to be dedicated or a bit loopy to drill your car roof.

APRS question - what is the draw in telling the whole world, "Here's exactly where I am?"
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Weetabix
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Re: Taking the plunge into Ham Radio

Post by Weetabix »

Jered wrote: Fri Mar 26, 2021 1:13 am The Tech can get you to 10 meters.

I'm waiting on my 6M antenna to get here so that I can start playing with FT8 and JS8
I haven't played with those yet. My "shack" hasn't been my own until recently. Maybe one day we should figure out about setting up a TGC net for people who are close enough or can reach far enough.

I read about a mode called Olivia that sounded intriguing.
Note to self: start reading sig lines. They're actually quite amusing. :D
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SoupOrMan
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Re: Taking the plunge into Ham Radio

Post by SoupOrMan »

I'm also going to get into CW transmission, because tradition.
Remember, folks, you can't spell "douche" without "Che."

“PET PARENTS?” You’re not a “pet parent.” You’re a pet owner. Unless you’ve committed an unnatural act that succeeded in spite of biology. - Glenn Reynolds
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randy
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Re: Taking the plunge into Ham Radio

Post by randy »

Weetabix wrote: Fri Mar 26, 2021 7:51 pm APRS question - what is the draw in telling the whole world, "Here's exactly where I am?"
Since I am primarily interested and active in Emergency Communications, APRS helps with tracking resources and cutting down on voice traffic.

It's also one of those things that you need to practice using regularly or you find you forget some of the nuances that can trip you up if you need it in an emergency (when you've got 500 other things to do right now.

Example; We use it every year in public service events (Including the Air Force Marathon) to track the lead runners of the various events and where Tail End Charlie is. (We have trackers with bicycle riders with the runners and in the chase car at the end of the pack). This keeps the "where is...?" traffic down on the voice frequencies, keeping them clear for emergency traffic. I run the net control station in the command post and the race officials like being able to look at a map and see where everything and everyone is. And having that display means they aren't asking me same question every couple of minutes ;)

In other events such as long bike rides we have trackers in our SAG (Support And Gear) vehicles. If a rider calls the incident command on their cell with a mechanical or minor medical problem, we know where the nearest SAG on the course is and can vector them in to the rider over voice either by radio if they have an operator in the vehicle, or by cell if they don't.

All of my family are licensed and each of our vehicles have Kenwood APRS radios. It's a nice way to see where everyone is and to flight follow a family member when they take a long trip. I've used it to vector Darlin' Daughter around a major interstate traffic jam on surface streets and back onto the interstate below the back up.

I know of at least one case where someone used an Emergency beacon to get help in an area with no cell service

I know of at least two cases where a ham's stolen vehicle was recovered because the crooks didn't understand that the radio was also beaconing their position.

And APRS is more than just "Here I Am". I can pull WX reports from local APRS enabled weather stations, send and receive text message without using my cell.

If you're paranoid about transmitting your position there are a few things you can do:

1. Don't enable the Beacon function. You can receive everything but not let the system know you are there.

2. You set Position Ambiguity in your radio so that it does not transmit a precise position. It only shows you in an area (how large is defined by how your set your ambiguity).

3. You can set the Datum used by the GPS to a non-standard one, thus throwing your displayed position way off your actual.

And if you carry a Cell phone around, you're already being tracked with a much more detailed record of your activities that anyone could get off APRS.
...even before I read MHI, my response to seeing a poster for the stars of the latest Twilight movies was "I see 2 targets and a collaborator".
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randy
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Re: Taking the plunge into Ham Radio

Post by randy »

Weetabix wrote: Fri Mar 26, 2021 7:54 pm I read about a mode called Olivia that sounded intriguing.
A couple of our county ARES groups hold weekly digital nets. We've played with Oliva, but since the nets are held over VHF/UHF repeaters we mostly use MT63-2KL. My understanding is that Olivia is popular with some of the local HF digital nets.

We're using fLdigi software as it handles a multitude of digital modes (including CW) in one software package, so it's easy to switch modes as needed depending on the band conditions and situation. It also has a suite of associated programs that can integrate for things like rig control and message handling using standard forms. http://www.w1hkj.com/
...even before I read MHI, my response to seeing a poster for the stars of the latest Twilight movies was "I see 2 targets and a collaborator".
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