Radio Preppers

General Category => New To Radio => Topic started by: Geek on April 27, 2013, 07:57:54 am

Title: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: Geek on April 27, 2013, 07:57:54 am
So I've gotten my Technician license and an HT.  My son is studying for his license.  In the meantime I have been listening to whatever is happening on the 2m band and reading this forum.  The forum seems composed of newbies to radio like myself and folks who have been into radio for decades, with no one in between.  I remain interested in this primarily as a prepper, not a radiohead.  So now that I know I've solved my problem out to about 50 miles I just need to follow through with a bunch of HTs wrapped up in Faraday cages and go back to putting food in 5 gallon buckets.  That seems pretty dull, so I need a new challenge that doesn't involve a soldering iron.

The next communication goal would be to collect news from outside that 50 mile circle during an emergency.  So here is my scenario:  I get another Hurricane Sandy coming through (I am in the area here it hit.) and the power is out everywhere except my house because I am the only one in the neighborhood with a generator.  (My neighbors are slow learners.)  Because of preparations up to this point I can communicate with my family in a 50 mile radius, but they're all fine.  The cable service is out, and the AM/FM radio isn't providing anything because every station within a hundred miles is without power.  What would be the least challenging way to a) pick up stations from a bit further away, or b) establish some sort of Internet connection.  The goal is to get some news from outside the disaster area without learning morse or picking up a soldering iron.  Since I mentioned the generator, low power is not a requirement.

Please explain any acronyms or terms so I have a clue what you're talking about.  :-)
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: cockpitbob on April 27, 2013, 09:13:21 am
Hi Geek,
Since collecting information is your main goal for longer distances, a good short wave receiver is what you want.  "Whort wave" (a.k.a. HF to us hams) is the set of frequencies from3MHz to 30MHz and are the ones that do a great job skipping around the globe, depending on atmospheric conditions.  As you know, hams get involved in emergency and disaster communications so being able to listen in on the ham bands will bring in a lot of good info.  Most good receivers will get evrything from AM broadcasts (<1MHz) up through and beyond the short wave bands.

Google around for SWL (short wave listening).  It used to be a real radio-sport with people sending and getting SWL cards just like hams exchanging QSL cards.

A good antenna makes all the difference.  One good option is the Par end-fed SWL antenna (http://www.parelectronics.com/swl-end.php).  If you have room to string a 45' long wire anywhere into the trees or off your chimney you'll do enormously better than some 4' long telescoping antenna.
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: Geek on April 27, 2013, 11:58:51 am
3-30Mhz sounds like helpful advice.  Is everything in those bands in Morse, or will I find plenty to listen to?
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: WA4STO on April 27, 2013, 12:05:09 pm
Quote from: Geek on April 27, 2013, 07:57:54 am

The next communication goal would be to collect news from outside that 50 mile circle during an emergency.

Please explain any acronyms or terms so I have a clue what you're talking about.  :-)


We're here to assist you.  So if you find that we're talking over your head, don't be bashful; hit us (me) up side the head with a 4 x 4 and tell us (me) to be more descriptive, more factual, less acronymical.

First, congrats on getting the Technician.  A job well done.  You now have free access to millions and millions of radio frequencies. 

I would encourage you to go get the General now.  Same story; we provide you with ALL the questions and ALL the answers to the exam.  No surprises.

But even with the Technician, and given that you live in an area with a bajillion licensed radio amateurs, it's entirely possible that you can become a part of the long distance networks that we have established for your use.  More on that later, if you have an interest.

My second encouragement would be along the lines of redefining what you want to accomplish.  To my mind, it's almost useless to think in terms of listening in for information, without establishing real communications.  What frequency would you listen on?  What information would the transmitting station be providing to you? 

Those questions are what have prompted me to participate in networks that *I* can transmit (and receive) into so that *I* am in control of who I am communicating with, where I get my info from, how reliable those people are and -- of course -- how prepared they are.  SHTF?  Are those  networks still up and running, are the people intent on keeping their information coming and going? 

All of that is determined -- in advance -- by you.  By your exercising your equipment and your skills. 

Given where you're located, the HT and almost any antenna will let you into the amateur radio networks.  You'll need one more piece of equipment which costs about $40 used and since you're not into soldering irons, you'll end up purchasing the cable for it off the shelf.

Does any of this pique your interest?  Fire away with questions.  Right here is a fabulous place to get the answers.

Best 73

Luck, WA4STO
ARRL A1-operator, BPL Medallion holder
NTS(D) Digital Relay Station, Central Area
NTS(D) Target Station, CAN, TEN & NE
TCC Station ?Foxtrot?
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: Joe on April 27, 2013, 12:10:23 pm
Hello Geek

You will have plenty to listen to on 3-30Mhz. Gather the frequencies used by your local clubs for emergency comms. That way when dial it in, you know about where the information is coming from. I dont know if you have one but a good scanner with external antenna would be good. You can program in your local channels and NOAA but also the Interoperability channels that DHS has chosen. You can download and print the frequency list. The download is at the bottom of the page.

http://www.dhs.gov/national-interoperability-field-operations-guide

73 Joe
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: cockpitbob on April 27, 2013, 12:11:55 pm
Quote from: Geek on April 27, 2013, 11:58:51 am
3-30Mhz sounds like helpful advice.  Is everything in those bands in Morse, or will I find plenty to listen to?
Take a long look at this chart (http://www.arrl.org/files/file/Hambands_color.pdf).  It details the bands hams are allowed on.  Green is voice.  Red is digital modes.  Morse is allowed anywhere but usually happens in the red areas.
The letters beside each color stripe indicate what minimum license you need to transmit in those frequencies.  You can listen anywhere, no license required.
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: Geek on April 27, 2013, 02:39:41 pm
Thanks for the help here so far.  I do intend to get the General license, but I admit I have not started to study for it.  My communications needs are met, two way, for a 50 mile radius.  My goal is to be able to get news during an event like Hurricane Sandy.  Obvious everything from cable service to cell phones were out of service within a day of the Hurricane as they exhausted whatever backup power they had.  I was comfortable at home with my generator, but if nobody is broadcasting you won't get much news on your typical AM/FM.  My objective is to pick up some kind of news from outside the area.

Note that I have been in a variety of disaster situations such as Hurricane Sandy and being in the WTC when it was hit.  I can tell you that in almost any disaster a complete loss of news is to be expected.  It would be nice to pick up a station from a long way off and hear things like, the nature of the disaster, how long it is expected to last, how wide an area is affected, etc.  That should be an easy hole to plug.  I just checked the frequencies my HT can handle and they go through the 3-30 MHz range suggested, so I am going to listen in on those frequencies and see what I can pick up.  I can easily imagine needing a different antenna for that and have no idea how well it will work until I try.

Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: Geek on April 27, 2013, 05:39:08 pm
I checked the manual on my HT and the frequencies recommended were supported, so I set it to scan and I picked up three religious broadcasts and nothing else.  I am not going to take this as a sign to go to church.  Anyone care to recommend an antenna for my Yaesu HT that covers 3-30MHz?
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: Quietguy on April 27, 2013, 05:44:06 pm
Geek, I would encourage you to consider your two-way communications needs as just begun, not complete.  The problem with all this is it requires practice and repetition to learn what it is all about.  Comms isn't something where you can pick up a few radios, stick them in a box and check an item off your preps list.  When the time comes that you need those preps, you need to know how to use them without fumbling around for cheat sheets and trying to remember how things work.

As far as shortwave goes - like everything else in radio - there are multiple aspects involved.  One is commercial broadcast... there are many, many stations around the world that broadcast on short wave.  Many of these are government run stations, like the BBC, Voice of Russia, China Radio International and many others.  They mostly broadcast in AM mode just like your local AM radio stations, only on shortwave frequencies.  They are an excellent source of news, but national biases come into play just like with US news sources.

There are also a lot of ham radio allocations in the shortwave bands.  Many special purpose nets are organized when there is a disaster or other need.  There is a regular Hurricane Net that activates whenever there is a hurricane threatening the US.  That net provides up to the minute reports on storm conditions.

A good communications receiver that accepts an external antenna and covers the AM broadcast band will pull in regional stations well outside of your hurricane impact area at night. 

A touch of radio nostalgia: when I was a young teenager all of the local radio stations that played that new Rock and Roll music in the Tampa Bay area of Florida went off the air at sundown per FCC rules.  The few stations that remained on the air at night didn't play music that young teenagers at the time wanted to listen to.  So, routinely we would tune the old vacuum tube car radios (well, they weren't that old at the time) to out of state high powered "Clear Channel" radio stations.  We could reliably receive WLAC in Nashville and sometimes could get WCKY in Cincinnati among others.  My point is... with a decent receiver and the hurricane-enforced quiet of no electrical noise you would be amazed at what you can receive.  But you will never know these things unless you spend a little time and poke around the bands and do a little experimenting.  You don't need to make a career out of it, but most people have a little down time where they can practice these skills.

And, yes... I am that old.  I really enjoyed seeing Buddy Holly along with Bill Haley and a few others in concert.

Wally
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: gil on April 27, 2013, 05:45:53 pm
Hello Geek,

Just use a long wire... The longer the better, usually... Or try the PAR (LNR Precision) SWL end-fed.

Gil.
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: Quietguy on April 27, 2013, 05:51:51 pm
Quote from: Geek on April 27, 2013, 05:39:08 pmAnyone care to recommend an antenna for my Yaesu HT that covers 3-30MHz?

Go to Ebay and find an adapter that goes from whatever your antenna connector is (I don't have one so I don't know) to something like a BNC connector.  Then make yourself a wire antenna maybe 20 or 30 or 50 or however many feet long that you can easily deal with.  This will only cost you a few dollars and will give you reception of shortwave.  Length isn't critical because you aren't going to transmit on it and you aren't going for a specific frequency.

Wally
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: Geek on April 27, 2013, 08:33:35 pm
Quote from: gil on April 27, 2013, 05:45:53 pm
Hello Geek,

Just use a long wire... The longer the better, usually... Or try the PAR (LNR Precision) SWL end-fed.

Gil.


How long is the PAR and do you mount if vertically or horizontally?
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: Geek on April 27, 2013, 08:43:19 pm
Quote from: Quietguy on April 27, 2013, 05:44:06 pm
Geek, I would encourage you to consider your two-way communications needs as just begun, not complete.  The problem with all this is it requires practice and repetition to learn what it is all about.  Comms isn't something where you can pick up a few radios, stick them in a box and check an item off your preps list.  When the time comes that you need those preps, you need to know how to use them without fumbling around for cheat sheets and trying to remember how things work.

As far as shortwave goes - like everything else in radio - there are multiple aspects involved.  One is commercial broadcast... there are many, many stations around the world that broadcast on short wave.  Many of these are government run stations, like the BBC, Voice of Russia, China Radio International and many others.  They mostly broadcast in AM mode just like your local AM radio stations, only on shortwave frequencies.  They are an excellent source of news, but national biases come into play just like with US news sources.

There are also a lot of ham radio allocations in the shortwave bands.  Many special purpose nets are organized when there is a disaster or other need.  There is a regular Hurricane Net that activates whenever there is a hurricane threatening the US.  That net provides up to the minute reports on storm conditions.

A good communications receiver that accepts an external antenna and covers the AM broadcast band will pull in regional stations well outside of your hurricane impact area at night. 

A touch of radio nostalgia: when I was a young teenager all of the local radio stations that played that new Rock and Roll music in the Tampa Bay area of Florida went off the air at sundown per FCC rules.  The few stations that remained on the air at night didn't play music that young teenagers at the time wanted to listen to.  So, routinely we would tune the old vacuum tube car radios (well, they weren't that old at the time) to out of state high powered "Clear Channel" radio stations.  We could reliably receive WLAC in Nashville and sometimes could get WCKY in Cincinnati among others.  My point is... with a decent receiver and the hurricane-enforced quiet of no electrical noise you would be amazed at what you can receive.  But you will never know these things unless you spend a little time and poke around the bands and do a little experimenting.  You don't need to make a career out of it, but most people have a little down time where they can practice these skills.

And, yes... I am that old.  I really enjoyed seeing Buddy Holly along with Bill Haley and a few others in concert.

Wally
I qualify as a senior citizen but feel like I am the youngest guy around when I listen to the local HAMs.  :-)

I take your point about the skills but there are so many things to learn that some of them are going to be a book in the library until needed.  Right now I am doing all my radio experimenting on a little multiband HT.  It is working out amazingly well.  I may get into it more deeply, but I am still coming at it from the prepper trying to get covered on radio perspective, not the HAM operator who has decided to prep direction.  We have both on the forum here and it is really helpful.
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: Geek on April 27, 2013, 08:47:51 pm
Quote from: Joe on April 27, 2013, 12:10:23 pm
Hello Geek

You will have plenty to listen to on 3-30Mhz. Gather the frequencies used by your local clubs for emergency comms. That way when dial it in, you know about where the information is coming from. I dont know if you have one but a good scanner with external antenna would be good. You can program in your local channels and NOAA but also the Interoperability channels that DHS has chosen. You can download and print the frequency list. The download is at the bottom of the page.

http://www.dhs.gov/national-interoperability-field-operations-guide

73 Joe
Thanks, but I spend too much time in airports to trust anything that says "Homeland Security".  :-)
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: KC9TNH on April 27, 2013, 10:17:18 pm
First Geek, congratulations. Next 25m target is your General. I would highly encourage you to begin study for this ASAP and then test for it. Why? Much of the General exam you will find is regurgitated Tech material (or slightly re-done with a bit more detail) so you can focus more energy on the new stuff that comes with it. Do it while it's fresh. Honest.

Lots of trails the thread could take but I'll just mention a couple of things SPECIFIC to what you said you feel the need is, and want to expand on. You mentioned being able to contact others, particularly relatives or those OUTSIDE the affected area who may be able provide you critical info. That's because there's an informational black hole - oh, and you're in it. Another shameless marketing ploy for the General.

(Sermon warning)

If I lived in an area that could suffer a storm like Sandy (or many others through history) I'd have the General and have a basic workmanlike HF transceiver, 100 watts. (These will typically do CW, Single-Side Band (SSB) voice, AM and one or more types of RTTY (Radio Teletype) or digital modes. The comment about being able to also ID yourself to those outside willing to help you or provide info is something I heartily agree with. SWL is great, really and a good staring point - investiment very minimal. And it will continue to be great right up to the point that they're not telling you what you need to know.

The HF transceiver will, specifically, give you coverage of 80/75m, 40m, and 20m for sure. How much of that you can receive will be related to how much antenna you can do - 'nuther discussion but if you have room for 33' of wire you can do a fine 1/2 wave 20m antenna so you can do 2-way communications with.....

The Maritime Mobile Service Net on 14.300 (http://mmsn.org/), who seriously watch weather systems like Sandy before they become formalized as hurricanes and up to the point where...
The Hurricane Watch Net on 14.325 (http://www.hwn.org/) stands itself up.

Except for contesters who have their brains & manners encased in Titanium, these are internationally recognized frequencies for emergency activity & the nets that support them. 14.300 goes 24/7/365 and depending on time-of-day may be the Intercontinental Traffic Net or the Pac Seafarer's Net.

These folks are all volunteers, lots of experience, very professional - general "howdy" check-ins are their last priority. Many of these folks volunteer for shifts on MMSN and will then go pull a shift or two on HWN when needed.  They know their stuff, and there are enough "fans' out there who've acted as relays that it's rare that someone doesn't get heard.  During Sandy, which I monitored, it was not unusual for them to get requests from INSIDE the area, research actual emergency management bulletins being issued, and then pass back to that affected station info specific enough that "hey, there is going to be some scheduled release of waterflow and it should only impact as far as the location 5-blocks from you, blah-blah." They are VERY good.

So if something like Sandy is approaching or likely, naturally you've got your deep-cycle batteries available & charged, the old laptop will be charged up & you're prepared to ration your power for stuff that matters and - if taken just a little further - your computer & HF rig can do digital email, over HF, and let everyone OUTSIDE who cares about you that you're really livin' large.  :)

There's one reason for your General. And you DO NOT need to run out & get a brand-new whiz-bang DX-RockStar transceiver.  There are LOTS of good ones on the used markets by hams who change their rigs more than their un...  well, you get the idea. You do not need to do this all at once; it's a journey. But as someone told me once, the two best times to plant a tree are 20 years ago & right now.

FWIW: I would do the same thing, with only a slightly different focus (like calling in groceries) if I lived in the hinterlands of Alaska.  I love CW, I really enjoy the satisfaction of making a low-power signal more than it is with an antenna, and copying weak signals, BUT - in this specific instance, a basic HF transceiver capable of voice signals as well is something that's called for. Just my $.02, but at that point it's not a hobby, its' YOUR situation not mine, not the guy surrounded by Secret Service getting a helo-borne tour of your area, it's you & yours.

I mention the 75m thing (the area typically 3.8-4.0 mHz) because alot of states' regional HF nets will fire up in that area because that band works very well for just covering a 300 mile area or so.  Contact them & find out what frequency that is.

I think your focus is on the right priority because what you mentioned can and has happened. In terms of running a risk analysis, likelihood not often, but consequences are in the potentially devastating category.

(End of Sermon)
8)
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: KK0G on April 27, 2013, 10:38:00 pm
I'll second Quietguys advice, you can't just get a technician license, play with a handheld radio for a week or two then squirrel it away in your supplies and assume you're now ready to communicate when the SHTF. There's skill, art and science involved in efficiently communicating via radio that only comes from knowledge gained through hands on experience. After a while of playing with radio day in and day out things like what bands usually have good propagation to what parts of the world, at what time of day, during what time of year; what a likely frequency on that particular band to actually contact someone is and what type of antenna you'll need to do that because the hurricane tore yours to shreds so you now need to build one from scrap wire you find, will all be second nature. The things I listed barely scratch the surface, TEOTWAWKI is definitely not the time to learn all this stuff. Besides, it's a lot of fun, you might just enjoy it  8)
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: Geek on April 27, 2013, 11:11:18 pm
I already said I intend to get the General license.  I'm starting to get the sense you guys don't believe me.  I also started with a question about extending my capabilities beyond where they are now.  That hardly constitutes squirreling the radio away and ignoring it until SHTF.
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: Geek on April 27, 2013, 11:21:32 pm
Quote from: KC9TNH on April 27, 2013, 10:17:18 pm
First Geek, congratulations. Next 25m target is your General. I would highly encourage you to begin study for this ASAP and then test for it. Why? Much of the General exam you will find is regurgitated Tech material (or slightly re-done with a bit more detail) so you can focus more energy on the new stuff that comes with it. Do it while it's fresh. Honest.

Lots of trails the thread could take but I'll just mention a couple of things SPECIFIC to what you said you feel the need is, and want to expand on. You mentioned being able to contact others, particularly relatives or those OUTSIDE the affected area who may be able provide you critical info. That's because there's an informational black hole - oh, and you're in it. Another shameless marketing ploy for the General.

(Sermon warning)

If I lived in an area that could suffer a storm like Sandy (or many others through history) I'd have the General and have a basic workmanlike HF transceiver, 100 watts. (These will typically do CW, Single-Side Band (SSB) voice, AM and one or more types of RTTY (Radio Teletype) or digital modes. The comment about being able to also ID yourself to those outside willing to help you or provide info is something I heartily agree with. SWL is great, really and a good staring point - investiment very minimal. And it will continue to be great right up to the point that they're not telling you what you need to know.

The HF transceiver will, specifically, give you coverage of 80/75m, 40m, and 20m for sure. How much of that you can receive will be related to how much antenna you can do - 'nuther discussion but if you have room for 33' of wire you can do a fine 1/2 wave 20m antenna so you can do 2-way communications with.....

The Maritime Mobile Service Net on 14.300 (http://mmsn.org/), who seriously watch weather systems like Sandy before they become formalized as hurricanes and up to the point where...
The Hurricane Watch Net on 14.325 (http://www.hwn.org/) stands itself up.

Except for contesters who have their brains & manners encased in Titanium, these are internationally recognized frequencies for emergency activity & the nets that support them. 14.300 goes 24/7/365 and depending on time-of-day may be the Intercontinental Traffic Net or the Pac Seafarer's Net.

These folks are all volunteers, lots of experience, very professional - general "howdy" check-ins are their last priority. Many of these folks volunteer for shifts on MMSN and will then go pull a shift or two on HWN when needed.  They know their stuff, and there are enough "fans' out there who've acted as relays that it's rare that someone doesn't get heard.  During Sandy, which I monitored, it was not unusual for them to get requests from INSIDE the area, research actual emergency management bulletins being issued, and then pass back to that affected station info specific enough that "hey, there is going to be some scheduled release of waterflow and it should only impact as far as the location 5-blocks from you, blah-blah." They are VERY good.

So if something like Sandy is approaching or likely, naturally you've got your deep-cycle batteries available & charged, the old laptop will be charged up & you're prepared to ration your power for stuff that matters and - if taken just a little further - your computer & HF rig can do digital email, over HF, and let everyone OUTSIDE who cares about you that you're really livin' large.  :)

There's one reason for your General. And you DO NOT need to run out & get a brand-new whiz-bang DX-RockStar transceiver.  There are LOTS of good ones on the used markets by hams who change their rigs more than their un...  well, you get the idea. You do not need to do this all at once; it's a journey. But as someone told me once, the two best times to plant a tree are 20 years ago & right now.

FWIW: I would do the same thing, with only a slightly different focus (like calling in groceries) if I lived in the hinterlands of Alaska.  I love CW, I really enjoy the satisfaction of making a low-power signal more than it is with an antenna, and copying weak signals, BUT - in this specific instance, a basic HF transceiver capable of voice signals as well is something that's called for. Just my $.02, but at that point it's not a hobby, its' YOUR situation not mine, not the guy surrounded by Secret Service getting a helo-borne tour of your area, it's you & yours.

I mention the 75m thing (the area typically 3.8-4.0 mHz) because alot of states' regional HF nets will fire up in that area because that band works very well for just covering a 300 mile area or so.  Contact them & find out what frequency that is.

I think your focus is on the right priority because what you mentioned can and has happened. In terms of running a risk analysis, likelihood not often, but consequences are in the potentially devastating category.

(End of Sermon)
8)
Thank you for those frequencies for the nets.  Those are very helpful.  Now some questions:  How does one make use of RTTY or digital modes?  I have no idea what is required for that or what the benefits might be.  You used the acronym SWL.  What is that?  How do I do email over HF?

BTW:  Your description of being in a hole is what Sandy was like, what Hurricane Irene was like, what being inside the WTC on 9/11 was like, what the various NY or northeast blackouts I've been through were like, etc.  You're getting it.
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: gil on April 27, 2013, 11:24:41 pm
QuoteThe things I listed barely scratch the surface, TEOTWAWKI is definitely not the time to learn all this stuff.


What gets people is that it all seems deceptively simple... Until you don't make contact, and you don't know why... This is especially true of course for HF, but sometimes also VHF. I highly suggest getting into HF with a General license as well. Tech does allow HF, but only on 10m and lower, using CW. Like I said, General isn't much harder to get.

Most of all, do listen to people here with more experience... Had I not taken my time, I would have spent much more before actually getting what I really needed and wanted... My first inclination was to buy one of the big-name rigs, like a yaesu FT-897D at $1K. Not that it's a bad radio, but it doesn't answer my needs for portability and low current draw. Some radios draw 1.5A on receive. Others draw 0.04A... Think about battery size and weight... A battery that can power an IC-7200 for an hour will power my QRP rig for 37Hrs!

Then, we are getting into antennas, and that is whole new ball game, with polarizations, pattern graphs, impedance matching, and a flurry of other details which can help you or prevent you from making contact. So, sure, anyone can turn on a radio and press the PTT button. Whether anyone will hear them is another matter. Not to mention propagation...

The Technician license is a good start, but ommits a lot of technical and scientific knowledge. Even the General and Extra licenses far from cover it all. It took me close to a year to get to where I am at now, and that included previous schooling in electronics and messing around with CB. There are still many subjects I do not quite grasp. However, I do know now not to waste my money on gear that won't help me. For example, I have no family in the vicinity, so VHF is not a priority for me. Passing messages through HF nets or contacts over long distances is...

Also keep in mind that an HF transceiver doesn't cost much more (sometimes less!) than a good short-wave receiver, which it also functions as... Take the KX1 for instance: It received short-wave and transmits and receive Morse code... My KX3 does everything but serve coffee in the morning... Even a cheap MFJ-9440X will allow LSB and CW, and receive a few short-wave stations on 40m. You could even learn Morse and get on 7025 to 7125KHz with your Tech license! HTs are typically not good SW receivers... A lot of older radios can be found on Ebay for $300 or less that will do all that and more.

"SWL" means "Short Wave Listening."

Luck can tell you all about digital modes and email over HF...

I do email over HF too: I send a message to Ray in Morse, and he emails it for me  ;) Hahaha! Thanks Ray!

Gil.
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: Geek on April 27, 2013, 11:31:23 pm
I SAID I AM GOING TO GET THE GENERAL LICENSE!!!!!

Is there an ignore button for the next guy who brings it up?
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: gil on April 27, 2013, 11:34:16 pm
QuoteI SAID I AM GOING TO GET THE GENERAL LICENSE!!!!! Is there an ignore button for the next guy who bring it up?


LOL  ;)

Gil.
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: Geek on April 27, 2013, 11:35:53 pm
Quote from: gil on April 27, 2013, 11:24:41 pm
QuoteThe things I listed barely scratch the surface, TEOTWAWKI is definitely not the time to learn all this stuff.


What gets people is that it all seems deceptively simple... Until you don't make contact, and you don't know why... This is especially true of course for HF, but sometimes also VHF. I highly suggest getting into HF with a General license as well. Tech does allow HF, but only on 10m and lower, using CW. Like I said, General isn't much harder to get.

Most of all, do listen to people here with more experience... Had I not taken my time, I would have spent much more before actually getting what I really needed and wanted... My first inclination was to buy one of the big-name rigs, like a yaesu FT-897D at $1K. Not that it's a bad radio, but it doesn't answer my needs for portability and low current draw. Some radios draw 1.5A on receive. Others draw 0.04A... Think about battery size and weight... A battery that can power an IC-7200 for an hour will power my QRP rig for 37Hrs!

Then, we are getting into antennas, and that is whole new ball game, with polarizations, pattern graphs, impedance matching, and a flurry of other details which can help you or prevent you from making contact. So, sure, anyone can turn on a radio and press the PTT button. Whether anyone will hear them is another matter. Not to mention propagation...

The Technician license is a good start, but ommits a lot of technical and scientific knowledge. Even the General and Extra licenses far from cover it all. It took me close to a year to get to where I am at now, and that included previous schooling in electronics and messing around with CB. There are still many subjects I do not quite grasp. However, I do know now not to waste my money on gear that won't help me. For example, I have no family in the vicinity, so VHF is not a priority for me. Passing messages through HF nets or contacts over long distances is...

Also keep in mind that an HF transceiver doesn't cost much more (sometimes less!) than a good short-wave receiver, which it also functions as... Take the KX1 for instance: It received short-wave and transmits and receive Morse code... My KX3 does everything but serve coffee in the morning... Even a cheap MFJ-9440X will allow LSB and CW, and receive a few short-wave stations on 40m. You could even learn Morse and get on 7025 to 7125KHz with your Tech license! HTs are typically not good SW receivers... A lot of older radios can be found on Ebay for $300 or less that will do all that and more.

"SWL" means "Short Wave Listening."

Luck can tell you all about digital modes and email over HF...

I do email over HF too: I send a message to Ray in Morse, and he emails it for me  ;) Hahaha! Thanks Ray!

Gil.

Thanks for explaining the acronym.  So far it seems the HT is enough to allow me to listen to 1.8MHz on up, but the rubber duck just isn't doing the job.  I am interested in the antenna you recommended but want to know the length, and whether to set it up vertically or horizontally.  Once I get past that hurdle, I'll want to take a stab at the email.
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: Geek on April 27, 2013, 11:37:23 pm
Quote from: gil on April 27, 2013, 11:34:16 pm
QuoteI SAID I AM GOING TO GET THE GENERAL LICENSE!!!!! Is there an ignore button for the next guy who bring it up?


LOL  ;)

Gil.
Thanks for taking that the right way.  :-)
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: Geek on April 28, 2013, 12:36:14 am
I've now ordered the PAR EF-SWL antenna.  The ad says it is 45' long.  I think I have the right connectors to hook it to my radio.  If I don't I'll lose some time getting those, but I know where to get them if I need them.  If this works right I should be able to pick up something besides the 3 religious stations I picked up with the rubber duck.

I still need to figure out whether I want it horizontal or vertical in order to know where to put it.  Once I have it working I'll listen in to find out what frequencies I can pick up.
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: KC9TNH on April 28, 2013, 08:44:51 am
Quote from: Geek on April 27, 2013, 11:21:32 pmThank you for those frequencies for the nets.  Those are very helpful.  Now some questions:  How does one make use of RTTY or digital modes?  I have no idea what is required for that or what the benefits might be.  You used the acronym SWL.  What is that?  How do I do email over HF?

BTW:  Your description of being in a hole is what Sandy was like, what Hurricane Irene was like, what being inside the WTC on 9/11 was like, what the various NY or northeast blackouts I've been through were like, etc.  You're getting it.
The stuff done over HF using digital modes (that I was speaking of anyway) has its own forum area here and there are several good threads with many contributors; those discussing using a little Signalink  modem and WINLINK.org provided email software. That's all stuff several here can help you with after you've got a rig & are further down the path you want to go. But assuming all setup here's the caveman version of how it works:
- You draft an email in the software and stick it in the outbox.
- You start a session that interfaces your computer & your HF rig.
- You select a relay station from a big list that is likely to give you the best likelihood of the signal getting through. These are updated regularly; BEFORE the weather/event hits, if possible, get the latest update via the internet; your software will do this if your net connection is still running. But like alot of radio stuff, time of day, space weather conditions affect things. After awhile you'll have some "old reliables in your list. Not to worry now.
- You click Start and the software starts contacting the relay station, they hook up, the relay dumps to you any traffic that's been waiting for you, it takes your email , and then end of session.
- After the session you read the email from the Inbox and file or toss your little 9-liner (or whatever) "Hi folks, we're OK, power restoral 3-days out, cell service same, have water & chow, etc."

This relay then takes your message & passes it along to the internet addresse(s) via their internet connection - which is running because they didn't get hammered like you did.  Messages aren't meant to be real long and, face it, the longer you're up & running doing this, your batteries are being used. Beyond that, see the Digital Modes area.

cockpitbob I think covered SWL in post #2. One thing to remember with using wide receive capability as "dessert" to an HT is that it won't be as good as a radio designed for SWL. It works good on its transmit frequencies precisely because it does have filter walls on either sides of its primary frequencies. But anything out the window vs. the duck is a good thing.

Locate your new SWL antenna as far away from likely ground-wave noise sources as possible, such as residential horizontal power lines. Follow the manual as to orientation based on your primary needs as to where the source of the signal is. If the manual doesn't cover that, c'mon back - not personally familiar with that antenna. Based on my own experience with an end-fed HF antenna which happens to have a 9:1 on the end of it, and is located deeper into the proper away from some nagging noise sources, I'd say orient the thing horizontally (physical, not talking polarization here). First, follow the maker's instructions.
:)
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: KC9TNH on April 28, 2013, 10:13:57 am
Quote from: KC9TNH on April 28, 2013, 08:44:51 amFirst, follow the maker's instructions.
:)
Follow-up: Downloaded their notes on this antenna (which come with it) and they provided a few plots of horizontal vs. sloper on certain bands & they did something very nice for you with those. Their plots are oriented at 0 and 180 degrees, so when looking at them "fresh" orient the plot with the top - the far end of wire - North on your property layout, look at the lobes of where you want to receive from most, and modify the orientation of your antenna accordingly, e.g., you may want to orient it NW to SE.

One thing they mention that is important to keep in mind is that the outer-ring of those plots (think of it as the directions of best performance for now) are not the same value for horizontal & sloper. Visually the sloper seems like hands-down the best, but it might not be. Then again, it might be because of the shorter ground-run, shorter is good for grounding.

If I were doing this I'd do a compromise of horizontal & sloper. If thinking of the far-end as 30' high I wouldn't put the matching box right at ground level. I would locate it higher, if possible, maybe 1/3 that distance. You could still keep a ground run fairly short, and it also gets the unit up & out of the way from critters, kids & lawn care weapons while accessible with a common step ladder. Just a thought, not knowing your call or specific location.
:)
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: Geek on April 28, 2013, 11:34:07 am
Thank you.  All of that was very helpful information.  To be clear on the radios, I intend to acquire the appropriate equipment for what I intend to do gradually and use what I have for learning.  To put that in perspective, I have one HT and a growing collection of antennas (rubber duck, aftermarket longer duck for 2M band, Larsen Mobile for car, etc.  High on my list is getting radios into the hands of other family members and getting them licensed.  Next on the list would be whatever "base station" radios I settle on.  I expect to go slowly in order to avoid buying stuff I am disappointed with and just having to replace it.  Based on what you are saying I would expect the base station to include at least one powerful 2M for the local communications and a HT radio for the long range communications.  Beyond that I don't know enough to plan.

I like your description of the radio email.  I believe I understand the basic process, but I am unfamiliar with the hardware to connect the computer to the radio.  Also, what bands are normally used for this purpose?

Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: WA4STO on April 28, 2013, 11:42:49 am
Quote from: Geek on April 27, 2013, 11:21:32 pm
Now some questions:  How does one make use of RTTY or digital modes?  I have no idea what is required for that or what the benefits might be. 


Please go back and read my previous http://radiopreppers.com/index.php/topic,432.msg3593.html#msg3593 (http://radiopreppers.com/index.php/topic,432.msg3593.html#msg3593)  since it relates primarily to the digital modes.

I know it's confusing.  It is to us as well, particularly when we consider the huge number of options available.

I already explained (but am more than happy to discuss it further with you, as we all are here) that you would need a $40-ish gizmo to do the digital modes with, but let's discuss the 'benefits' first.

With some of the digital modes (does not include RTTY) you get the benefit of error correction.  Thus, the info that was sent to you by your buddy in outer slobovia will arrive, letter-perfect and not garbled at all.  This is huge because if your question to him was "how many units of O-positive do you have on hand?" and his response back was "3", you don't know for sure that he got the "O-positive" part from you correctly, UNLESS you used specific digital modes that are known to support total error correction. 

With modes like voice, CW, RTTY and others, there is no error correction.  Errors happen.  You can't rely on what you think you got. 

That's benefit #1.

Benefit #2 is that, with some of the digital modes, you (and your equipment) become part of one or more specific networks.  Thus, if you have an itty bitty signal (quite likely during and post - SHTF) that's OK because the next guy in the network will accept your message and forward it along to wherever it's destined.

In my case, I utilize HF, typically 40, 80 and 30 meters and transmit my inquiries to the next station in the 'chain'.  I know which specific frequencies and bands the next guy is listening on, but if propagation is such that he can't hear me, we move on to the next guy and so on. 

The  key to all of this working is -- as others have already correctly stated here -- is practice.   I practice every single day by sending a thousand or so messages per month every which way possible.  That way, I know who's out there, scanning for my signal, and awaiting the opportunity to relay my signals.  You can do the very same thing.

Questions?  Fire away!  :)

Best 73

Luck, WA4STO

(http://www.hurderconsulting.net/radiostuff/2013.jpg)
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: WA4STO on April 28, 2013, 11:56:27 am
Quote from: Geek on April 28, 2013, 11:34:07 am
but I am unfamiliar with the hardware to connect the computer to the radio.  Also, what bands are normally used for this purpose?


I presently have two different radio modems.  The first one:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/AEA-PK-232MBX-w-Power-Supply-and-Manual-/370792133079?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5654eef1d7 (http://www.ebay.com/itm/AEA-PK-232MBX-w-Power-Supply-and-Manual-/370792133079?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5654eef1d7)

is used for specific modes that my second one can not do.  I just sold one for $50 on ebay so they're cheap.  Plus, they're very attractive to have in the 'shack'.

The second one is for use with 'radio email' and goes new for just under a hundred bucks:

http://www.dxengineering.com/search/product-line/tigertronics-signalink-usb-digital-communications-interfaces?autoview=SKU&keyword=signalink (http://www.dxengineering.com/search/product-line/tigertronics-signalink-usb-digital-communications-interfaces?autoview=SKU&keyword=signalink)

So one of those, plus an appropriate cable to link your gizmo to your specific radio, and you're golden, hardware-wise.

73

Luck, WA4STO
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: KC9TNH on April 28, 2013, 12:50:21 pm
Quote from: Geek on April 28, 2013, 11:34:07 amI expect to go slowly in order to avoid buying stuff I am disappointed with and just having to replace it.  Based on what you are saying I would expect the base station to include at least one powerful 2M for the local communications and a HT radio for the long range communications.  Beyond that I don't know enough to plan.
Actually, I think you do. It seems to me you're seeing in your mind's eye what an end-state might look like, over time & within the periodic wallet considerations. Questions? That's what the forum is for.

One consideration based on what you mention above about 2m base in conjunction with HT's for the clan. You can do workmanlike HT's with a couple of the different Chicom imports. These are also well-supported with programming software that can let you "clone" the radios to be sure everyone is on same page when needed. Same with the common big manufacturers out there, but they're pricier when you consider buying several. As to a base that also gives you fixed 2m capability, unless you separate that function from your base HF station that will limit your options (if you want it in 1 rig, FT-897 would be an example). In terms of terminology I think of "station" as you-with-call in your shack (or wherever) regardless of what you're using at the moment, vs. a single radio. But you're thinking through it all & that's very good.
:)

WA4STO has contributed alot in the digital sub-forum and re-reads of his stuff are recommended.
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: Geek on April 28, 2013, 01:54:18 pm
Quote from: KC9TNH on April 28, 2013, 12:50:21 pm
Quote from: Geek on April 28, 2013, 11:34:07 amI expect to go slowly in order to avoid buying stuff I am disappointed with and just having to replace it.  Based on what you are saying I would expect the base station to include at least one powerful 2M for the local communications and a HT radio for the long range communications.  Beyond that I don't know enough to plan.
Actually, I think you do. It seems to me you're seeing in your mind's eye what an end-state might look like, over time & within the periodic wallet considerations. Questions? That's what the forum is for.

One consideration based on what you mention above about 2m base in conjunction with HT's for the clan. You can do workmanlike HT's with a couple of the different Chicom imports. These are also well-supported with programming software that can let you "clone" the radios to be sure everyone is on same page when needed. Same with the common big manufacturers out there, but they're pricier when you consider buying several. As to a base that also gives you fixed 2m capability, unless you separate that function from your base HF station that will limit your options (if you want it in 1 rig, FT-897 would be an example). In terms of terminology I think of "station" as you-with-call in your shack (or wherever) regardless of what you're using at the moment, vs. a single radio. But you're thinking through it all & that's very good.
:)

WA4STO has contributed alot in the digital sub-forum and re-reads of his stuff are recommended.
Based on the advice here I am thinking of the base station as a location with multiple radios, a communications hub so to speak.
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: Geek on April 28, 2013, 01:57:53 pm
Quote from: WA4STO on April 28, 2013, 11:56:27 am
Quote from: Geek on April 28, 2013, 11:34:07 am
but I am unfamiliar with the hardware to connect the computer to the radio.  Also, what bands are normally used for this purpose?


I presently have two different radio modems.  The first one:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/AEA-PK-232MBX-w-Power-Supply-and-Manual-/370792133079?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5654eef1d7 (http://www.ebay.com/itm/AEA-PK-232MBX-w-Power-Supply-and-Manual-/370792133079?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5654eef1d7)

is used for specific modes that my second one can not do.  I just sold one for $50 on ebay so they're cheap.  Plus, they're very attractive to have in the 'shack'.

The second one is for use with 'radio email' and goes new for just under a hundred bucks:

http://www.dxengineering.com/search/product-line/tigertronics-signalink-usb-digital-communications-interfaces?autoview=SKU&keyword=signalink (http://www.dxengineering.com/search/product-line/tigertronics-signalink-usb-digital-communications-interfaces?autoview=SKU&keyword=signalink)

So one of those, plus an appropriate cable to link your gizmo to your specific radio, and you're golden, hardware-wise.

73

Luck, WA4STO
Sounds great.  Once I am sure the new antenna works, I think I'll go with the second of the two and try to get the radio email working.  Is there a digital mode that will give you full web browsing?
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: Geek on April 28, 2013, 02:14:14 pm
Thanks for all the help again.  Here is the plan as it sits now:

1) Get other family members up and running to complete the local communications capability and probably salt away a few cheap HTs just to annoy you all.

2) Get the General License (Yeah I got the message!)

3) Obtain one or more satisfactory antennas for HF bands (one already on order) and test to see that I have connections and determine what frequencies are of most interest.

4) Move on to digital modes and establish working radio email.  This requires a radio modem and software.

5) Obtain equipment for a base station consisting of a stronger 2M radio and an HF radio, models and bands  to be determined later.

That set of tasks should keep me occupied at least through the end of the year.
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: WA4STO on April 28, 2013, 02:19:35 pm
Web browsing via ham radio?

Not likely at all.  UNLESS you live in a very highly-populated ham radio area and then only if the locals have set up a high bandwidth server on UHF-to-microwave portions of the spectrum.

For now, in the early stages of your ham radio 'career', you'll probably wish to stick with the type of communications that you'd need in an SHTF scenario.  Here's something you might want to consider:

1.  Choose ten relatives, friends, or prepper-friendly individuals who are dispersed all over the country.  Let them know (via email, perhaps) that they're going to be getting disaster - related inquiries from you as test messages, and that they should respond, via the operator who called and delivered your message.

2.  Begin sending them messages with your present amateur radio equipment.  The mode will likely either be CW or voice until you purchase the previously - discussed radio modem.  You won't be contacting them directly.  Rather, you'll use any of the numerous systems we have in place for your use. 

3.  Keep a chart or -- better yet -- a spreadsheet that shows which of your friends you got responses from.    And note how long it took to get those replies. For those that you don't get responses from, keep hammering.  Send each of them a dozen more messages until you finally get through.  Be persistent. 

As you become equipped for more and more modes of operation, you'll be able to use more of the available systems.  In short, ham radio becomes more and more useful to your SHTF and prepping goals as you progress, and as you practice.

73

Luck, WA4STO
ARRL A1-operator, BPL Medallion holder
NTS(D) Digital Relay Station, Central Area
NTS(D) Target Station, CAN, TEN & NE
TCC Station ?Foxtrot?
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: KC9TNH on April 28, 2013, 02:51:21 pm
Quote from: WA4STO on April 28, 2013, 02:19:35 pmFor those that you don't get responses from, keep hammering.  Send each of them a dozen more messages until you finally get through.  Be persistent.
Ahh, the old RF-water torture method. ;D
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: Geek on April 28, 2013, 02:52:01 pm
I gather with this suggestion you are referring to folks who are not currently HAMS.  I think this is an excellent idea.  I've been listening to a local net a couple evenings a week and even got contacted by them after I got my license with a "congratulations" message from someone in California after I got my license.

Despite listening to these folks, I don't quite gather how the nets work in terms of sending a message.  The traffic I have been listening to is all about delivering messages.  So I am sitting here with my newly minted Technician license the time and frequency when this one local net operates and want to send a message to my cousin on the opposite coast.  What do I do?
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: WA4STO on April 28, 2013, 04:04:05 pm
Luckily (for you!) there's a ton of helpful info available.  Still, there's a learning curve.

You need to learn the format for "radiograms".  That's because the station you send these to (on your local net)  is expecting to receive that exact format.  And the dozen or so stations that your message gets to, along the way, will also be expecting to see the correct format.

Here's one example I sent just today:

NR 4237 R WA4STO 7 WILBER NE APR 28
TIMOTHY T APKE KD8UPW
1146 WALNUT CREEK TRL
LEBANON OH 45036
513 228 2009
BT
CONGRATS ON YOUR NEW HAM RADIO LICENSE
BT
LEIGH IN WILBER NEBRASKA

And here's one or two 'how-to' sites that will help you understand how to create a radiogram to send to your 300 best friends.  Or, you could send 300 to one best friend, provided that you realize he won't be a friend after you do.  :)

http://nts.ares-mi.org/pdf/NTStrain.pdf (http://nts.ares-mi.org/pdf/NTStrain.pdf)

and

http://www.ask.com/wiki/Radiogram_%28message%29?qsrc=3044 (http://www.ask.com/wiki/Radiogram_%28message%29?qsrc=3044)

Now that you have the overall format of a radiogram, I can tell you that it would be MUCH easier for you to follow along when you hear somebody sending a message on your local net..

Questions?  We got answers.  Boy oh brudder, do we got answers!  :)

73

Luck, WA4STO
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: WA4STO on April 28, 2013, 04:46:55 pm
Quote from: Geek on April 28, 2013, 02:52:01 pm
I gather with this suggestion you are referring to folks who are not currently HAMS.  I think this is an excellent idea.


Actually, you'll hear messages to and from folks who are licensed and who are not licensed.  In other words, anybody.

One station (well a club, actually) in Germany has begun sending "welcome to ham radio" messages to newcomers here in the States.  Here's what one of those looks like:

NR 250 R DL4FN 14 ERBACH ODW APR 26
ROBERT A GREEN  KF5UXD
113 N PARK DR
ARKADELPHIA AR 71923
(870) 230-1265
BT
CONGRATS ON YOUR NEW HAM
RADIO LICENSE AND ALL THE
BEST WISHES FROM GERMANY
BT
PETER DL4FN

One of the reasons that your local net is big on local deliveries of message traffic might be due to the net having gained a reputation for having outlets in a number of towns and cities in your area. 

But that doesn't mean that they'll have somebody available to take 'far away' traffic for/from you.  Still, if they suddenly start getting 'thru' traffic (from you!) they might just figure out a way to route it up the chain to the next level of the system. 

The whole reason for message traffic is to practice.  The members of the net might know absolutely nothing about SHTF; what they DO know is how to practice for the day when a 'served agency' (Red Cross, Salvation Army, your State's emergency management agency) needs to get messages to the 'outside' world.  So think of your 'practice' as being of a huge potential help to many many folks.  Happens all the time.

73

Luck, WA4STO
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: Geek on April 28, 2013, 05:20:00 pm
So let's say I have a radiogram written out, ready to deliver.  When I referred to them as a "local" net, I meant they were located close to where I am.  I now realize I don't know what their coverage is and whether they are prepared to deliver a message across the country.  I assume they are, based on receiving a message from across the country.  To send the message, do I just write it out and then when they are accepting messages, announce my call sign and read them the message when they are ready?
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: WA4STO on April 28, 2013, 06:03:09 pm
Quote from: Geek on April 28, 2013, 05:20:00 pm
To send the message, do I just write it out and then when they are accepting messages, announce my call sign and read them the message when they are ready?


That's pretty much the gist of it.  However, well, I have an idea.  Since the proper format of radiograms is so very important, why not consider 'writing it out' but then sending it to me, right here.  Together, we can get the format exactly right.

Just as one example of how difficult it is to get it "right" when you're new, consider the matter of the 'check'.  That's the digits that follow  your callsign up in the top (preamble) of the message.  It's one of the very few ways that the stations along the way are going to know whether or not they have the text exactly as you originally sent it.

Remember, you're using a non-error-corrected mode.  Voice.  Somebody somewhere, along the path of the relay stations, is going to screw it up.  It just happens.  The 'check' is almost the only way of knowing whether they got it right.

Yah, I more I think of it, the better I like the idea.  Wanna give it a try?

73

Luck, WA4STO
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: Quietguy on April 28, 2013, 07:11:15 pm
Quote from: Geek on April 28, 2013, 02:14:14 pm4) Move on to digital modes and establish working radio email.  This requires a radio modem and software.

5) Obtain equipment for a base station consisting of a stronger 2M radio and an HF radio, models and bands  to be determined later.


You may already realize this, but just to make sure, if somebody is running a VHF gateway in your area you will be able to send email via two meters.  But - in your hurricane scenario, that 2 meter gateway probably won't be available (at least that's the assumption).  Then you need to go to email over HF, which your HT won't do.  So getting going on two meter packet email is a good first step, but it might not work when you really need it.  For that you need HF, where you can hit gateway stations several states away if need be.  Both are viable scenarios - email over VHF and email over HF - but they require different equipment and different software.  Neither is particularly difficult, just different.

Wally
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: Geek on April 28, 2013, 08:23:00 pm
Quote from: WA4STO on April 28, 2013, 06:03:09 pm
Quote from: Geek on April 28, 2013, 05:20:00 pm
To send the message, do I just write it out and then when they are accepting messages, announce my call sign and read them the message when they are ready?


That's pretty much the gist of it.  However, well, I have an idea.  Since the proper format of radiograms is so very important, why not consider 'writing it out' but then sending it to me, right here.  Together, we can get the format exactly right.

Just as one example of how difficult it is to get it "right" when you're new, consider the matter of the 'check'.  That's the digits that follow  your callsign up in the top (preamble) of the message.  It's one of the very few ways that the stations along the way are going to know whether or not they have the text exactly as you originally sent it.

Remember, you're using a non-error-corrected mode.  Voice.  Somebody somewhere, along the path of the relay stations, is going to screw it up.  It just happens.  The 'check' is almost the only way of knowing whether they got it right.

Yah, I more I think of it, the better I like the idea.  Wanna give it a try?

73

Luck, WA4STO
Yes.  I'll draft the message and send you a PM.  Thank you.
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: Geek on April 28, 2013, 08:40:52 pm
Quote from: Quietguy on April 28, 2013, 07:11:15 pm
Quote from: Geek on April 28, 2013, 02:14:14 pm4) Move on to digital modes and establish working radio email.  This requires a radio modem and software.

5) Obtain equipment for a base station consisting of a stronger 2M radio and an HF radio, models and bands  to be determined later.


You may already realize this, but just to make sure, if somebody is running a VHF gateway in your area you will be able to send email via two meters.  But - in your hurricane scenario, that 2 meter gateway probably won't be available (at least that's the assumption).  Then you need to go to email over HF, which your HT won't do.  So getting going on two meter packet email is a good first step, but it might not work when you really need it.  For that you need HF, where you can hit gateway stations several states away if need be.  Both are viable scenarios - email over VHF and email over HF - but they require different equipment and different software.  Neither is particularly difficult, just different.

Wally
I think I would probably want to test both during normal times and if the local net had backup power and was operating that would be great, but not expected.  Actually my HT seems to cover the frequencies, but the rubber duck antenna wasn't picking up much.  When I get the new antenna I'm hoping to be able to test things like the email and find out whether the radio is minimally adequate or not.  If not it is still a great HT.
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: Quietguy on April 28, 2013, 09:40:22 pm
Quote from: Geek on April 28, 2013, 08:40:52 pmActually my HT seems to cover the frequencies, but the rubber duck antenna wasn't picking up much.

The ringer there is your HT receives the right frequencies, but it doesn't transmit on them.  I don't remember which model Yaesu HT you have (and I don't have one myself), but I believe they all transmit only on a combination of  VHF and UHF bands - typically 2 meters and 70 cm (440 MHz) with maybe 6 meters, 1.25 meters (220 MHz) and 1.2 GHz thrown in on some models.  So you can listen to the right frequencies, but the radio won't transmit there.

Wally
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: Geek on April 28, 2013, 10:24:55 pm
Quote from: Quietguy on April 28, 2013, 09:40:22 pm
Quote from: Geek on April 28, 2013, 08:40:52 pmActually my HT seems to cover the frequencies, but the rubber duck antenna wasn't picking up much.

The ringer there is your HT receives the right frequencies, but it doesn't transmit on them.  I don't remember which model Yaesu HT you have (and I don't have one myself), but I believe they all transmit only on a combination of  VHF and UHF bands - typically 2 meters and 70 cm (440 MHz) with maybe 6 meters, 1.25 meters (220 MHz) and 1.2 GHz thrown in on some models.  So you can listen to the right frequencies, but the radio won't transmit there.

Wally
I checked the manual and you are correct.  I wanted to listen initially anyhow, so I think my plans are unchanged, but I appreciate your pointing that out.
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: s2man on May 08, 2013, 06:56:02 pm
Quote from: Geek on April 27, 2013, 08:47:51 pmThanks, but I spend too much time in airports to trust anything that says "Homeland Security".  :-)


Well, Geek.  The DHS page just has a link to http://publicsafetytools.info/start_nifog_info.php.  Don't you want to monitor frequencies which the, ahem, good guys will be using to protect you? :-)  Unless you really want to read all about it, I would just grab no. 6, the .xls spreadsheet with the frequencies.
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: Geek on May 08, 2013, 08:18:29 pm
Good point.
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: Joe on May 08, 2013, 09:01:26 pm
Quote from: s2man on May 08, 2013, 06:56:02 pm
Quote from: Geek on April 27, 2013, 08:47:51 pmThanks, but I spend too much time in airports to trust anything that says "Homeland Security".  :-)


Well, Geek.  The DHS page just has a link to http://publicsafetytools.info/start_nifog_info.php.  Don't you want to monitor frequencies which the, ahem, good guys will be using to protect you? :-)  Unless you really want to read all about it, I would just grab no. 6, the .xls spreadsheet with the frequencies.


Quote from: Geek on May 08, 2013, 08:18:29 pm
Good point.


If you would like so you don't have to download and leave cookies. I have the hard copy that I can scan and send you. It's not copy writed material, It's set up to be duplicated and past out. When we had to switch over our system it was my responsibilty to make sure every non HT radio had a copy with it. And I have the original.  :)
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: Geek on May 09, 2013, 09:26:48 am
I'm not paranoid, I just react to "Homeland Security" as being a part of the "People's Republic".  Just hearing the name makes me feel like "I Miss America".
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: KC9TNH on May 09, 2013, 09:46:20 am
Quote from: Geek on May 09, 2013, 09:26:48 am
I'm not paranoid, I just react to "Homeland Security" as being a part of the "People's Republic".  Just hearing the name makes me feel like "I Miss America".
Unintended consequences of a knee-jerk, post-event (11 Sep 2001). Don't look for them to go away; gov't monoliths are like self-filling ice-cream cones until they're completely defunded. As to the freq tables, go for it. Personally that's more stuff than I'd be capable of paying attention to in an event & keep in mind that it's an interoperability plan.

One thing I found interesting on that website is the frequency mapping tool. Lots of selectively filterable categories and one can play with the map of their (or adjoining) county and get the Lat/Lon (down to 1/10th of a sec) of pretty much any tower around.  Hmmm.

Looking at the way it's implemented it almost looks as if DHS put up a very fancy front-end to stuff that was available to Spectrum Managers from the FCC for quite awhile.
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: Geek on May 11, 2013, 11:05:41 am
I passed the General exam this morning, so you all can get off that topic.  :-)

I've been getting a lot of help from folks and I now intend to acquire the hardware and software to get radio email going.  That should be handy during the next Sandy.
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: KK0G on May 11, 2013, 11:11:44 am
Quote from: Geek on May 11, 2013, 11:05:41 am
I passed the General exam this morning, so you all can get off that topic.  :-)

I've been getting a lot of help from folks and I now intend to acquire the hardware and software to get radio email going.  That should be handy during the next Sandy.


Good job, congratulations!!
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: Joe on May 11, 2013, 11:28:57 am
Quote from: Geek on May 11, 2013, 11:05:41 am
I passed the General exam this morning, so you all can get off that topic.  :-)

I've been getting a lot of help from folks and I now intend to acquire the hardware and software to get radio email going.  That should be handy during the next Sandy.


Congratulation !!! (http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-dance005.gif) (http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys.php)
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: WA4STO on May 11, 2013, 11:53:16 am
Quote from: Geek on May 11, 2013, 11:05:41 am
I passed the General exam this morning, so you all can get off that topic.  :-)

I've been getting a lot of help from folks and I now intend to acquire the hardware and software to get radio email going.  That should be handy during the next Sandy.


Oh, man; way to go!!

Let Dave or I know if you're in need of any further advice on getting the radio email going.  And don't get the free equipment loans available from the NTS(D) equipment bank.

Best 73

Luck, WA4STO
ARRL A1-operator, BPL Medallion holder
VUCC Satellite (all CW)
NTS(D) Digital Relay Station, Central Area
NTS(D) Target Station, CAN, TEN & NE
TCC Station ?Fox?
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: Geek on May 11, 2013, 12:30:28 pm
Dave offered me the TNC, so I need to call him for that.  Once I have that and all the other hardware bits, he said he'll walk me through the whole set up process.
Title: Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
Post by: KC9TNH on May 11, 2013, 12:45:39 pm
Quote from: Geek on May 11, 2013, 11:05:41 am
I passed the General exam this morning, so you all can get off that topic.  :-)
OUT-standing!

And THAT is a huge step-up on your path exploring whatever your PERSONAL level of readiness dictates.
Cool beans!
8)