Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?

Started by White Tiger, September 27, 2012, 03:30:54 AM

Previous topic - Next topic


QuoteSo to really dumb it down what is a carrier and what are sidebands?

That would be a long answer, and I am no expert. So, you might want to use Google for this...

QuoteAre you recommending taking the test before getting a radio?

I don't think it matters. I had a few radios before I got my license. I was just listening.

QuoteI would expect the answer to be yes, but I don't know if there are handheld units that have SSB.

Yes, you do need SSB on both ends. For a CB SSB handheld, see:
I don't believe it's legal though...
Handhelds are pretty much FM.




Quote from: Geek on February 05, 2013, 09:04:14 PM
What about a short wave handheld?
Sadly, they pretty much don't exist.  Among other things, most SSB happens on the SW bands which require really long antennas for effeciency.

One note.  You don't even need a radio to listen.  There are SW radios on the web you can listen to.  Go to  Scroll down to the box that says Frequency, click the 40M button (40 meter band) and then click the + and - buttons to move the receive frequency around.  Note the yellow trapezoid that shows the bandwidth you are listening to.  In the Bandwidth window click the USB button (upper side band) when listening to 20M.  On 40M and on all the others click LSB.  For technical reasons I forget the old timers picked the convention of using USB for 20M and shorter bands and LSB for the longer bands.

Down at the left (low frequency) end of the bands is where the Morse guys hang out.  I'll tune down there and try to copy code.


Do you mean don't exist with SSB, or don't exist at all?  I am seeing ads, particularly for Baofeng and Yaesu that seem to be offering SW handhelds but they make no mention of SSB.

Gil, the link for the CB handheld seems to take me to a radio that has SSB, but it looks like an AM radio, not a CB radio.  Am I misinterpreting the ad?

To summarize the advice so far, everyone is saying take the test, so I clearly need to do that.  For radios for my scenario, i.e. family members spread over a 30 mile radius, I have a recommendation for a MFJ radio that can be placed at home or mounted in a car.  For handhelds I have a link to a CB? radio with SSB, but  there may be no SW handheld with SSB, which means a car mount would be as portable as I can get.


QuoteGil, the link for the CB handheld seems to take me to a radio that has SSB, but it looks like an AM radio, not a CB radio.  Am I misinterpreting the ad?


30 miles is pretty far and would be practically impossible with a CB. Even with a Ham radio, it won't be easy. Car antennas are too small and too low for good results at that distance, except if you use a repeater on 2m. I'd say start with 2m for local stuff. It's cheap. Yaesu makes great handhelds and car radios. With a good antenna, maybe a Yagi, you might get your 30 miles. When you're set-up with 2m, get into HF and pass your General license. Then the whole world opens to you.
Don't be in a hurry to buy a radio right now. You need to learn a bit more to make the right choice...



To see if I understand the advice so far:  1) is get a license, 2) sounds like CB just won't get me the range I need, though I might do better with a base station at one or both ends, 3) 2m SW radio with SSB is recommended and even that might have trouble with the range unless repeaters are operating.  4) if 2m is insufficient I need to look at something beyond my current understanding.  :-)

Thinking about the scenario again, I am not sure we need the range from a vehicle, so if we have a 2m SW with SSB base station in each home, would a 30 mile distance be achievable?


February 06, 2013, 07:39:00 PM #21 Last Edit: February 06, 2013, 07:42:08 PM by gil
Quote2m SW radio with SSB is recommended

2m is not shortwave, it's VHF. Shortwave means frequencies between 1.8 to 30MHz. 2m is 144 to 148MHz.
2m handhelds and car radios do not have SSB, they use FM. Only 2m base stations have SSB.
Some HF+VHF car radios have 2m SSB, but they are expensive ($900+).
You can find 2m FM & SSB base radios on Ebay for about $300, but they are pretty old.
That said, 2m FM should give you 30 miles with good antennas mounted high enough..

Look at the Yaesu FT-270R and FT-2900R, the later could be used at home and in a car, and has 75W in FM.
Best thing is, they are cheap and rugged.
The handheld will only give you a few miles. Of course there are repeaters, but not to be excessively relied upon..

Also get a shortware receiver... That way you will get a better understanding of what's going on on HF.
Short wave and HF means pretty much the same thing.



This is really helpful.  Thank you.

It sounds like part of my confusion is understanding what all the categories are.  With this latest correction I have in order of range: 1) FRS/GMRS, 2) CB, 3) 2m VHF, 4) Shortwave with SSB.  I need a Technician license for 3 and it sounds like a General license for 4.  Am I missing any more categories?  Have I got this correct now?


You got it, that's pretty much it.

You can go on some parts of HF with a tech license, but with Morse code only, parts of 80, 40 and 15m.
The only exception is 10m voice (SSB or AM or FM) between 28.3 and 28.5MHz.
The range on 10m can be more than CB (11m), because the band is less noisy and you can use more power.
When conditions are good, 10m can give you intercontimental communications.
The tech license gives you all privileges above 30MHz.

Once you have learned enough and got your Tech license, the General isn't much harder, just a bit more material.
Lots of people pass the Tech and General the same day, but you don't have to. It does save you $14 and a bit of time.



That is really helpful.  I hope I can contribute in a way to return the favor.  Since I have hijacked this thread as my introduction, here is a bit more background on myself.

I've demonstrated a complete lack of knowledge about radio communications, but I have been through a few disaster situations including one tornado, a couple minor earthquakes, blackouts, a bunch of hurricanes including Sandy, and I was in in the World Trade Center when it was hit on 9/11/2001.  In the past I have also been involved in Boy Scouts (which is great preparedness training), flying small airplanes (VFR and some IFR training) and scuba (including Rescue and Decompression certifications).

Those experiences may allow me to provide some useful input when there are more general preparedness questions as opposed to radio questions on the forum.


Dam dude, your invincible!!

Save some money and register for free with it is a great website that got me my General in a couple study sessions and 5-6 practice tests.


More like a mix of prepared and lucky, but thanks.


Interesting, because I am a pilot and have done a lot of cave diving..


White Tiger

February 07, 2013, 11:00:33 AM #28 Last Edit: February 07, 2013, 01:07:20 PM by White Tiger
Geek -I started this thread for exactly the type of questions you have been asking - so don't worry about hijacking it!

As I see it, other than the World Trade Center scenario - our situations, experience, and knowledge regarding ham radios/emergency communication preparedness was pretty similar...because I knew nothing!

The folks here have been very helpful and I've learned A LOT! I am the least technical person anyone would meet, and they got me up and running in no time. It helps to have a mentor in this because its easy to overwhelm reality you just need to check out the link already provided for testing - or use the one I used: If your style is to kern by study, you can do that, or you can take practice tests after practice test until you pass them. The questions used are the exact question pool used on the FCC licensing test ( they want you to pass)!

I knew nothing, and a combination of a great mentor (WA4STO/Luck, fellow board member here),, and this board - got me thru it in about 45 - 60 days (and that included the radio, antenna and feedline, for the preparedness plan I had in mind).

I have made some fantastic QSO's (contacts with other hams) and have begun learning by doing!

You're on the right track!
If you're looking for me, you're probably looking in the wrong place.


February 07, 2013, 11:11:16 AM #29 Last Edit: February 07, 2013, 11:15:25 AM by RadioRay
It sounds like you've taken the plunge into several forms of adventure and recreation, so you know that the toughest question when starting something entirely new is : "what do I do first" - - - later it's, "what do I do next?" .  We're HAPPY to help you with this. 

Good suggestions here, so the Tech License, you could probably pass in a week of simple on-line study at the site WhiteTiger suggested or any of the other 'ham test on-line' type of sites.  That license allows you to use BETTER than 'professional grade' line-of-site radios and methods, like data communications.  It also allows you to use "short-wave" (AKA: HF) for those distance from 0 to thousands of miles.  The Tech license "HF"  allotment is Morse only and frankly, there are those of us on here who ONLY use Morse, because it is SOOOOOO amazingly effective, uses tiny radios and is easy to supply power to, because it uses so little power for the amount of communicaitons it provides. Morse is easier to learn than ever, because of the internet and personal computers.  We can help you with that.  Gil is up to speed on the newer programs and methods which worked so well for him.  (I learned my code back in the dinosaur days . . .   ;^)  Have a look at the postings under "Coffee QRP" (link below)  where Gil operated portable from his local coffee shop, using a collapsable antenna and a TINY radio transceiver that he made from a kit & was talking with me in Morse, over 800 miles away - daily. Project that into your planning for prepping and non-infrastructure dependent communications.,307.0.html

Welcome, and we're happy to help.

de RadioRay ..._ ._
"When we cannot do the good we would, we must be ready to do the good we can."  ~ Matthew Henry