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Old 09-16-2011, 12:13 PM   #15
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Here is a question from a potential HAM wannabe. How do you use it? I know the question suggests that I don't have a clue about HAM activities and I really don't.
With Ohm's law questions you only need to know two things

I = E/R
P = IE

With these two you can work out everyting on the Technician test.. I need one more to get my Extra.

How do you use it.. Usually I sit and listen as the hand held scans for repeaters (I am currently using a hand held with amplifier, it used to be in my car... when I had a car)

Occasionally you pick up the mic, push the button and talk..

Fact is many folks get "Mic Fright" the first few times doing that.. I spent 25 years doing it for a living so I don't have that problem.. I also sing solo, just not on the radio.


Check out this URL Ham Nation | TWiT.TV
and this url AmateurLogic.TV - Your Source For Practical Technology, Hacks, and Mods. :. Amateur Logic IPTV Vidcast Podcast .:

The first is hosted by Bob Heil (Helisounds, yes, that Bob Heil) and Gordon West (Again yes, that Gordon West) You may find some of the episodes (There are 17) helpful.

The second is 3 hams, one of which is in the last 8 or 9 HN's.

if you have MIRO on your computer (Miro - Free, open-source music and video player.) it can auto-download Amateur Logic.. Can't (AS FAR AS I KNOW) do Ham Nation yet. but George has told them about the problem and hopefully Leo is working on it. Many of his TWIT video-casts are Miro compatable (Leo is W6TWT by the way, General class, thanks to Gordon West)

TWIT in case you wonder: This Week In Technology.
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Old 09-16-2011, 09:17 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by TXiceman View Post
Do you want to operate UHF and VHF from the rig? Or do you want to operate HF? Antennas for UHF/VHF are smaller and easier to deal with, but you are limited in range. Tp get on the HF bands (other than 10m) you will need a general class license.
Ken
I don't yet know enough to know begin to answer your question. I understand that there is another tier on the license but I'm a baby steps kind of a guy and have to get past the first test first.

My interest was generated because of emergency preparedness seminars. The speaker talked about problems with cell phones in emergency/catastrophe situations and recommended Amateur radio as part of a solution. What I really need is a good overview of the bands and what they typically would be used for on a day to day basis as well as in emergency situations.

I appreciate your advice to look up a local club. I'll set about doing that. We probably will not make the October rally at this point but we can still exchange information if you are willing.

Charlie
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Old 09-16-2011, 09:23 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wa8yxm View Post
With Ohm's law questions you only need to know two things

I = E/R
P = IE

With these two you can work out everyting on the Technician test.. I need one more to get my Extra.

How do you use it.. Usually I sit and listen as the hand held scans for repeaters (I am currently using a hand held with amplifier, it used to be in my car... when I had a car)

Occasionally you pick up the mic, push the button and talk..

Fact is many folks get "Mic Fright" the first few times doing that.. I spent 25 years doing it for a living so I don't have that problem.. I also sing solo, just not on the radio.


Check out this URL Ham Nation | TWiT.TV
and this url AmateurLogic.TV - Your Source For Practical Technology, Hacks, and Mods. :. Amateur Logic IPTV Vidcast Podcast .:

The first is hosted by Bob Heil (Helisounds, yes, that Bob Heil) and Gordon West (Again yes, that Gordon West) You may find some of the episodes (There are 17) helpful.

The second is 3 hams, one of which is in the last 8 or 9 HN's.

if you have MIRO on your computer (Miro - Free, open-source music and video player.) it can auto-download Amateur Logic.. Can't (AS FAR AS I KNOW) do Ham Nation yet. but George has told them about the problem and hopefully Leo is working on it. Many of his TWIT video-casts are Miro compatable (Leo is W6TWT by the way, General class, thanks to Gordon West)

TWIT in case you wonder: This Week In Technology.
Thanks for the detailed feedback. The ohms law questions on the pre-test were word questions so I just have have to get my head back into what they were trying to ask. I got most of the them correct the first time but there were a couple that I couldn't wrap my brain around.

Perhaps I'm trying to make it more complicated than it is by my HOW question was not a mechanical one. How is more like "for what purpose?" I understand generally that Amateur radio is to communicate with people who are probably outside of your area but this thread is specifically using it in a MH. Perhaps my question really should be "why would I use it in a MH?"

Trust me, mic fright will never be my problem.
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Old 09-16-2011, 09:59 PM   #18
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vhf and uhf are used locally. typically a few miles radio-to-radio, 50-100 miles using repeaters. farther if conditions are right. hf rigs are used for everything from state-to-state to world-wide. as a for instance, i can talk from richmond to norfolk when using the williamsburg, va repeater. and i have talked to people as far away as korea and austrailia with a 5-watt mobile rig in my jeep. (40+ countries, btw)
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Old 09-17-2011, 08:31 AM   #19
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Charlie, what do YOU want to do with a radio. From my truck, I have talked to Belgium, Italy and the southern tip of South Americas as well as all over the USA and Canada.

Using 2m repeaters and Echolink, I have talked to Australia. You can also use Echolink with only a computer and a WiFi connection.

There are a lot of possibilities.

The Tech exam is pretty simple as is the General exam. The Extra is a bit harder. None of the questions require a calculator in my opinion. The problems can be worked in your head.

Ken
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Old 09-17-2011, 08:46 AM   #20
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vhf and uhf are used locally. typically a few miles radio-to-radio, 50-100 miles using repeaters. farther if conditions are right. hf rigs are used for everything from state-to-state to world-wide. as a for instance, i can talk from richmond to norfolk when using the williamsburg, va repeater. and i have talked to people as far away as korea and austrailia with a 5-watt mobile rig in my jeep. (40+ countries, btw)
I suspect that there is information that explains it better but the emergency preparedness speaker talked about 2m as a possible entry step. He was talking about using repeaters, too.

I'm still a bit confused about purpose. I understand that it is possible to talk to others at great distances. I guess my question is why would I want to do that from an RV? I've always had a great concern about being out of cell phone range where we camped (and it happens a fair amount) so if there is a way to use HAM in a camping emergency, I'm very interested in that. My problem is most likely that I don't know what is possible and therefore don't have any appreciation for how useful it might be.

I followed Ken's advice and have reached out to two local clubs. Based on their posted meeting schedules, it could be over a month before I can get to a meeting. I've been to the ARRL website and followed the Getting Started link to FAQs. What is provided is pretty high level stuff. I haven't tried Google searches yet but I'm not exactly sure what I'm searching for.

Being one who is willing to "dive into the deep end of the pool", last night I signed up for the communications topic on the emergency preparedness group series. My job will be to put together guidance for the group about communications in emergency situations. I have several people to use as resources and figure that the several weeks that I have before my materials are due will give me time to do the necessary research. Since I'm interested in using the RV in the preparedness effort, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to figure out how to put communications and RVing into perspective. So my interest in this topic goes beyond me personally.

All additional inputs are welcomed.

Charlie
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Old 09-17-2011, 10:59 AM   #21
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Charlie,
Just think, when it's over with you'll be the one giving advice on how to get a license.

Seems like you are already gaining a lot of information.

Good luck.
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Old 09-17-2011, 05:44 PM   #22
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Charlie,
Just think, when it's over with you'll be the one giving advice on how to get a license.

Seems like you are already gaining a lot of information.

Good luck.

I've found that the quickest way to learn something myself is to try to teach it to someone else. Of course, the old saying about the blind leading the blind can also apply.

As I see it, getting the license is just the first step in a long process. Like a driver's license, the government saying that you have met the minimum requirements does not keep you from being a menace on the road.
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Old 09-17-2011, 07:02 PM   #23
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I suspect that there is information that explains it better but the emergency preparedness speaker talked about 2m as a possible entry step. He was talking about using repeaters, too.

I'm still a bit confused about purpose. I understand that it is possible to talk to others at great distances. I guess my question is why would I want to do that from an RV? I've always had a great concern about being out of cell phone range where we camped (and it happens a fair amount) so if there is a way to use HAM in a camping emergency, I'm very interested in that.
I haven't seen the above addressed so I will try to do that
First, 2m/70cm is normally used for local communications just as a cell phone would be used, except you are limited to communicating to those that hold a amateur radio license. BC (Before Cellphones) most of my family got their ham license and used the radio all the time to keep in touch with other members of the family. More than once the radio was used to reach someone because of an emergency. One time my wife had a wreck in my corvette. She called me on the radio but I wasn't near the radio. However, 3 other local hams answered the call and got help to her in a matter of minutes. Another instance was when she was headed to work. She was an RN and worked the 11pm-7am shift and had a flat on a busy highway in not so good of an area. She called me on the radio and before I could get there another ham had responded. During the 34 years I have been licensed I can give you many incidents like the 2 I just mentioned. While cell phones have taken the place of ham radio in the two items mentioned, cell phones will never be able to take the place during high level emergencies nor when cell phone service is lacking or overloaded. When you are in your RV and in an area that has no cell phone service there is most likely a 2m/70cm repeater within reach of your RV. If not and you have a General or Extra class license then you have the ability to reach someone without the use of repeaters thus taking your ability to communicate to a higher level. An example of HF use, while not in an RV, was several years ago a missionary friend of mine in Haiti needed to escape the takeover of the country. There were no phone lines and no Internet out of the country. He called on his HF radio and another ham answered. The other ham then called me on my phone and I fired up the HF radio and assisted my friend to get out of the country.

On a day to day basis ham radio is basically a way to keep track of your friends and family which can be done via a cell phone. However, during an emergency I am a firm believer that you need ham radio. If a ham does't use ham radio on a day to day basis then he/she will not be sure there equipment will even work.

The question you basically had is how to use ham radio in an RV. Here are some of my answers.

APRS - APRS is a method to use your computer, GPS and ham radio to report the position of you or your RV to others around the world. I have APRS hooked up in my MH and my family can check a APRS website to see where we are located. APRS can also be used for computer keyboard to keyboard communications with short messages.

2m/70cm - I use 2m/70cm for voice communcations either simplex (radio-to-radio) or via repeaters just to chat to other hams in the area I am in, to participate in severe weather nets, to commuicate to family members via new methods such as Echolink or D-Star which link repeaters around the world via the Internet.

HF - While I don't currently have a HF antenna on our MH that is something I will be doing over the next few weeks. I use HF to communicate to friends around the world that I have made over the years. There are also RV HF nets that meet everyday that a lot of ham RVer's use.

Emergencies - I was the emergency coordinator for ham radio in our county for over 20 years. My county is near a nuclear power plant so we had annual excercises each year and being in tornado country we spent many hours out chasing storms and reporting to the National Weather Service. I will always have at least a handheld 2m/70cm radio near me no matter where I am including church missions trips overseas.

FUN - Ham radio is fun way to meet new people and make new friends!

Sorry for the long post but I like Ham Radio!
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Old 09-18-2011, 10:55 AM   #24
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Thanks Ronnie (WD5GIC).

Your explanation was clear and understandable. May I follow up with a few questions?

1. What is the general trend for Amateur radio? Are there more or less today than 3 or 5 years ago? Why am I asking? Your scenarios depend on others who are actively listening and willing to act at the time of the events. I'm just try to assess whether that is more likely or less likely tomorrow.

2. I'm very active guy even when we are camping. I would drive myself silly setting in front of a radio for long periods of time. What kind of a time commitment is needed fairly regularly in order to effectively master Amateur radio use. I'm assuming that it is like riding a bicycle - once you have it, you can easily go back to it. It is the acquisition period that I question. Yes, I understand that you can simply turn on the radio and key the mike. I suspect that there is really a lot more to "effectively use" than that.

3. Assuming that I wanted to jump in to the most effective setup available via used equipment, what might be a price of admission? Does used stuff sell 40-50% off retail or is it higher than that? Some of the pictures of equipment that I've seen look scary price wise. Yes, I know that it all depends on what you want to do but let's talk about an average investment, not the one that a guy who is really gung ho would make. Are we talking $1,000s or $10,000s?

4. How doe Amateur Radio fit into the RV lifestyle? When I camp, I typically turn off the cell phones. I went there to get away from the regular routine. I'd had to trade the cell phone for a 2m handheld. I understand that, to some extent, I can control how much time I spend at anything.

5. What kind of power requirements does Amateur radio have? I'm assuming that a 2m handheld is battery powered but if you are really using it, what is the recharge requirement? Assuming HF use is a 110v only environment (or possible installation of a 12volt vehicle setup?).

6. How campground friendly are antennas? I've seen some pretty impressive hardware on pickups and am not sure how those would work on a MH. I'm a technical novice but know that my CB radio on the MH isn't very good from an antenna setup.

Thanks for any additional information that you can provide. Feel free to PM me if you think that I'm taking the conversation to a level that will turn off other forum members here.

Charlie
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Old 09-18-2011, 12:06 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chasfm11 View Post
Thanks Ronnie (WD5GIC).

Your explanation was clear and understandable. May I follow up with a few questions?

1. What is the general trend for Amateur radio? Are there more or less today than 3 or 5 years ago? Why am I asking? Your scenarios depend on others who are actively listening and willing to act at the time of the events. I'm just try to assess whether that is more likely or less likely tomorrow.
Over the past 10 years, amateur radio licenses have increases some. We constantly work to keep the younger folks involved and interested. There has been more push to some of the digital modes and the younger generation loves the link to computers.

Personally, I just like to get on the air and "rag chew".

2. I'm very active guy even when we are camping. I would drive myself silly setting in front of a radio for long periods of time. What kind of a time commitment is needed fairly regularly in order to effectively master Amateur radio use. I'm assuming that it is like riding a bicycle - once you have it, you can easily go back to it. It is the acquisition period that I question. Yes, I understand that you can simply turn on the radio and key the mike. I suspect that there is really a lot more to "effectively use" than that.
The newer solid state radios are much easier to set up and tune than the older ones that you had to set the plate and grid before operating. Antenna tuners are now automatic and result in getting a rig on the air easier.

3. Assuming that I wanted to jump in to the most effective setup available via used equipment, what might be a price of admission? Does used stuff sell 40-50% off retail or is it higher than that? Some of the pictures of equipment that I've seen look scary price wise. Yes, I know that it all depends on what you want to do but let's talk about an average investment, not the one that a guy who is really gung ho would make. Are we talking $1,000s or $10,000s?

A clean used rig will typically run 60% of retail. As I had noted earlier, I sold a nice all band all mode radio for $700.00 with the original manuals and packing. An antenna can run from a basic wire dipole fro less than $100 up to a nice vertical for $500.

For a mobile instillation, you can start with a ham stick and change it when you change to another tuned ham stick for the next band.

A lot of hams use a screw driver antenna on the RV and they run $500.

4. How doe Amateur Radio fit into the RV lifestyle? When I camp, I typically turn off the cell phones. I went there to get away from the regular routine. I'd had to trade the cell phone for a 2m handheld. I understand that, to some extent, I can control how much time I spend at anything.

Some time I have the radio on HF while on the road and sometimes not. When parked I may or may not get on the air.

5. What kind of power requirements does Amateur radio have? I'm assuming that a 2m handheld is battery powered but if you are really using it, what is the recharge requirement? Assuming HF use is a 110v only environment (or possible installation of a 12volt vehicle setup?).

6. How campground friendly are antennas? I've seen some pretty impressive hardware on pickups and am not sure how those would work on a MH. I'm a technical novice but know that my CB radio on the MH isn't very good from an antenna setup.

Most campgrounds do not much like big antennas or antennas strung among the trees...but some don't mind. An antenna on a motorhome can be a real challenge. I still need to set one up on my trailer.

Thanks for any additional information that you can provide. Feel free to PM me if you think that I'm taking the conversation to a level that will turn off other forum members here.

Charlie
Charlie, are you coming to the October rally? I can show you what I have, and so can Randy.

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Old 09-18-2011, 12:41 PM   #26
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Charlie,

I think Ken answered the questions effectively but I would like to add the following.

Cost: The cost of your equipment will vary from a low of $100 to well over a few thousand according to how involved you want to be. An older 2m handheld can be had for around $100 or less. Adding a new 2m antenna to the RV would run $25-$75. Moving up to a 2m/70cm handheld will run between $100 and $200 for a good used older radio. There are a lot of mobile 2m/70cm radios out there on the used market for anywhere from $200 and up, while a new rig will cost you $500 and up. There is no need to start with new gear. There are lots of hamfests around the country, normally summer months, that you could attend and look over hundreds of radios and get a decent price for a used rig. If you want to move into HF so you can talk around the world without the use of Internet linked repeaters then plan on spending at least $1000 for a radio and a mobile antenna.

Power Requirements: This all depends on the radio. Handhelds are battery powered and thus require charging. However, most handhelds have a 12vdc input that you could connect to avoid having to recharge the batteries while heading down the road. Most HF rigs that you would use in your RV are 12vdc as they are designed for mobile use.

As for turning off the cell phones when you camp, you can do the same thing to the radio. Once you have communicated a few times and are comfortable with your equipment the only reason to turn it on, except to communicate to someone, is to ocasionally test your equipment by using it. This could be once a month to just call CQ (general call to see if someone will answer you) or key up a repeater and provide your callsign.

Ham radio has so many modes, radio types, frequencies and configurations that no one will be able to figure out what the really want to do until they jump in and get on the air.

I personally love contesting, contacting as many stations in a given time frame as you can, and even one a first place award on a weekend contest just before I went to the hospital to have my apendix removed.... didn't plan to have the apendix removed but that is just the way it happened!

So, study and take the test, purchasse a 2m handheld and get started!
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