Radio Preppers

General Category => New To Radio => Topic started by: White Tiger on September 27, 2012, 03:30:54 AM

Title: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: White Tiger on September 27, 2012, 03:30:54 AM
I have been wearing out a friend of mine - who has been kind enough to "Elmer" me (for those that don't know - that's what ObiWan was for Luke...) as I have bumped along this road to my current spot. Maybe a description of my very recent journey into amateur radio will help?

Only 2 months ago I didn't have a radio, didn't have a clear understanding of what it was, and beyond wanting to use it to talk to the world - and maybe a little closer to home...only a vague idea of what High Frequency (HF), "short wave" communications, were all about. I bought "Ham Radio for Dummies", which cleared up the fundamentals. I had distant memories of family friends speaking to missionaries in far off lands on an old "short wave" Heathkit radio , and played around with my uncle's CB base station as a teenager...that was during the CB radio craze of the late 70's early 80's...it was short lived, and I never even got around to buying my own radio.

So, basically, I knew nothing...but after the economic meltdown really hit home for our family - I started investigating prepping - ..so without belaboring that point more - let's just say my wife, son, and I all scrimped, saved, studied, planned, & adapted - eventually met the tartget goal. We did a LOT in a short period (from beginning to end of 2011) we layed in: food & water storage, firearms, training, and stockpiling ammunition, to focusing on paying off debt...

That's been about a year ago - and while I realize a preppers life in todays depressing and difficult times means something a little different for all of us - the bottom line is, that there is never a point that we feel we got "there"...I mean I NEVER feel 100% sure that I've finally got everything. Seems I only need to talk to one or two like-minded folks for me realize something else I've forgotten - for the family or for a *neighbor's* (prepper parlance for: someone who sees trouble ahead, and agrees to do something about it now, and strategizes with me on ways to help each other out), need...but at least we can sleep without the nightmares...and we can breathe a little easier...

It's for those of you in this state that the rest of this post is for.

It's been a little more than a year ago that I finally stocked the last of those food storage cases away...and I got that familiar edgy feeling of needing...something...while listening to a new podcast from Jack Spirko of Survival Podcast (new normal - I listen to survival folks everyday) - I think I finally realized what it was I needed now. Jack constantly talks about the neccesity of developing a sense of community...that no one of us can be as smart and talented as a group of likeminded folks with differing interests...and that we need to stay in contact with that community...I heard him interview a ham radio guy by the name of Tim Glance (from Texas, of course) about how Tim and many of his friends had integrated amateur radio into their prepping - for the express purpose of keeping in touch with their community - that it all came perfectly clear.

...so the next part of the journey just began for me...like I said, about 2-3 moths ago. I had no idea of what to do, or what I would need, beyond a means to stay in touch with my family - one group of 6 and another group of 14 - strewn nearly 500 miles apart from each other. Fortunately for me, it was at this time that I met another current board member of this fine forum - Luck WA4STO - on another board. Luck is VERY knowledgable about amateur radio, heck - he used to workf for ARRL and he even wrote some of the FCC rules we're studying/abiding by! Ol' WA4STO helped narrow my perspective and search a bit. Gave some great advice about identifying the type of operating I wanted to do (HF, voice), the type of radio I would need for the things I wanted to do - and again - it was on a budget (and trust me - it CAN be done n a budget). Now I have a radio that was built in America back in the 80's - and get this, the company that built it - built such a fine piece of equipemnt - they STILL build ALL their radios in America!

I'm now studying for my exam (something I never thought I would or could attain) and ol WA4STO has me interested in some digital modes of HF communication that can be used for security - and get this - amateur radio can communicate WITHOUT the power grid and DOES NOT NEED the internet to send pictures/email!!

Anyone where I was a couple months ago? Anyone have any questions about starting, best type of equipment, WHAT equipment and/or what the expenses are...I can sure help! Not because I'm an expert, but because I just went through it...and I may know someone who just might be able to help answer your questions!  I may be the least knowledgeable poster on this forum - and at times that is readily obvious - but maybe there's one or two who come in and lurk...trying to get an idea of how to start....and maybe this post will help you discover what it is you want to do, and how to get started toward your goal.

I just don't know how anyone can have a prepping plan that does not include communications - especially if you have family spread out across a county, or state, or even further...we have to have a way to contact them - and amateur radio might just be the thing you're looking for!
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Sunflower on October 09, 2012, 11:40:44 PM
No radio here.

I do have some study books, so that is progress.
Title: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: White Tiger on October 10, 2012, 01:23:47 AM
Do you have an interest in a radio Sunflower, or are you satisfied concentrating on studying?
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Sunflower on October 13, 2012, 09:40:03 PM
I am kind of afraid of a radio. It is only on faith that I am taking up this venture. I figure if GOD gave me the interest, he will surely give me the ability. This site has gotten me this far. I plan to keep it up.

Gil is sending me a gift/oscillator I think- for practice. I have some shortwave radios but they don't recieve HAM business. I did not realize that when I got them. A HAM man actually recommended them. At the time my HAM hopes were still on the back burner.

I have not had the time to search YouTube for more HAM radio listening.

I will do good to squeeze in 10 min on CW training tonight.

Got a lot done today - a lot for me at least.   
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: White Tiger on October 13, 2012, 11:55:41 PM
That was a very generous offer Gil made you - glad you're taking him up on it! He would not have done it if he didn't think you were 1)  trustworthy 2) hardworking!

I figure if you think God gave you a desire then it is something you can and should pursue. Just remember, he promised tribulation...too... ;-)

Radio seems intimidating before you study, less so after you start studying...but at some point during study, a light switch goes off!

I am sorry for that Ham who misled you about the radios you sought his advice on...I had a similar experience, only I knew what I was doing when I acquired my 10m/CB...it is nearly worthless...my troubles started easing up once I met a ham who helped...I know you said you checked the database locally...but my "Elmer" is several hundred miles away - and he helped me tremendously...WHILE I was traveling. Maybe you can see if ARRL has a "buddy program" where they assign an experienced amateur radio enthusiast that you enjoy talking through any issues/questions?

At any rate - we're proud of ya' and for ya' - keep up the good work! Remind that veteran husband of yours that we're pulling for you both!
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Sunflower on October 14, 2012, 12:19:42 AM

I am sorry for that Ham who misled you about the radios you sought his advice on...I had a similar experience, only I knew what I was doing when I acquired my 10m/CB...it is nearly worthless...my troubles started easing up once I met a ham who helped...I know you said you checked the database locally...but my "Elmer" is several hundred miles away - and he helped me tremendously...WHILE I was traveling. Maybe you can see if ARRL has a "buddy program" where they assign an experienced amateur radio enthusiast that you enjoy talking through any issues/questions?

At any rate - we're proud of ya' and for ya' - keep up the good work! Remind that veteran husband of yours that we're pulling for you both!
Sorry for the misunderstanding. I was only a housewife not studying HAM operations when I consulted with the man from YouTube, who happens to also be a HAM. THe gentleman uses his sign letters for his YouTube communications, so I that is why I choose him to get references on radios. I am very happy with my wind up/solar shortwave radios. There is no CW that I can find, but that is OK. When I do get a radio it will be interesting. I hope I don't get overwelmed. Simple  things like computer troubles and TV service from the Cable/phone company can get to a state that I feel like I will stroke out. Literally. I sort flip and wig out. Not sure why, but my buttons get hot trying to interpret what my husband says is wrong and trouble shoot with the operator on the phone. I hope HAM does not get to be anything like that. If so, then I will be out and off to other ventures. So far, everyone seems happy with the many options and styles of amatuer radio. I sure hope I get this CW thing, and my Technicians Licence before too long. There is a test this week, but I am not ready - not even close. The test sight is only 90 min. away so that is relatively close by for Western Kansas.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 05, 2013, 01:34:25 PM
Yes, I am so new I don't have a SW radio and this is also my introductory post as I just found this forum.  I do have some FRS/GMRS radios and the GMRS license and I have a CB for the car.  Those radios are superior to shouting at each other, but not by much.

I am coming at this from a prepper persepctive.  I feel communications is a problem that I haven't even addressed unless you count the FRS/GMRS radios.  I'd like to start with anything that will extend the range of the existing radios, e.g. antennas, base stations etc. and get enough understanding of SW to read an advertisement for a radio and have a clue what is being said.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: gil on February 05, 2013, 02:32:00 PM
Welcome aboard Geek,

You are better equipped already than most preppers. I probably won't be the only one to suggest that you get your Ham license. At $14 and a few hours of study time, it is a very small price to pay for a lot of capabilities. That said, using your existing equipment, learning more about antennas would definitely benefit you a great deal. Does your CB have SSB (USB/LSB)? That is a major must-have if you want any range.. You can't swap antennas on FRS radios, but on CB, you can use whatever you want. I would suggest that you try the PAR End-Fed 10m model, which should work for the upper part of the CB band. That would allow you to take your radio out of the car and operate it from a small battery. I shoot up fishing weights and line up trees with a slingshot to hoist up wire antennas; works like a charm.

If you want to go the Ham way, and simple/cheap, nothing beats Morse code. CW radios are small and cheap, and you can go on 40, 10 and 80m with a simple technician license. The tech license also gives you 10m SSB and VHF/UHF for local communications. You could get a radio like the MFJ-9410X. The General license though is what you want to get as soon as you can. Get yourself a book and do the qrz.com practice tests... You'll be ready in a few days.. There are a lot of people here willing to help.

Having a SW receiver is a must as well. Just make sure it also receives SSB and has a plug for an external antenna. I'll attach the Ham frequencies band plan to this post..

Gil.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Sunflower on February 05, 2013, 03:59:15 PM
Yes, I am so new I don't have a SW radio and this is also my introductory post as I just found this forum.  I do have some FRS/GMRS radios and the GMRS license and I have a CB for the car.  Those radios are superior to shouting at each other, but not by much.

I am coming at this from a prepper persepctive.  I feel communications is a problem that I haven't even addressed unless you count the FRS/GMRS radios.  I'd like to start with anything that will extend the range of the existing radios, e.g. antennas, base stations etc. and get enough understanding of SW to read an advertisement for a radio and have a clue what is being said.

Welcome Geek. Also, nice summary from Gil. Hang in there Geek. If you do not have the HAM Bug yet, you will catch it. I did. I am still in the kindergarten stage or maybe pre-school. Still studying to test for Tech. Picking up some equipment, but it is all coming slowly. I am kind of busy with getting adjusted with other topics in life, but looking forward to more HAM and more of this forum in my future.

On a prepper kind of topic, I picked up the 8th Edidtion of Hornady Handbook of Cartridge Reloading this morning. Also got lucky with getting a box of 22-250. The .223 is starting to come in the stores again, but is getting gobbled up. .22LR is really tough to get. Amazing.

Remember when prepping - try to get enough to share. I shared a box of .22LR with a trapper friend last evening. He has skunks to deal with and his .22short pistol was jamming. Bobcat trapping has been really good this year as noted by several trappers in my area. I came across what appeared to be mountain lion tracks recently. Maybe they eat bobcats? Anyways, seemed time to graduate to a 1911, .45Auto. ... Its a Sig and feels awesome to hold. I have not located any caps to practice with yet. Need to get better acquainted with the model. ....

So I digressed. Welcome GEEK. Don't worry if firearms are not your thing. This forum is called radio preppers not gun preppers. I am just a little enthusiastic about my new 1911s and other purchases to help manage grief. Everyone deals with life differently. My sister in law bought when her mom died, I bought guns when my sweetie died. Looking forward to spring. I still have not located a very local HAM radio club in my area, but have not given up.  At the gun shop, there is at least some knowledge of who the HAms are.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 05, 2013, 04:09:51 PM
Thanks again.  I've been on a couple other forums related to survival topics and/or gun topics and feel that I at least know what I need and can carry on an intelligent conversation on those topics, but I don't feel that way about communications, so I am pleased to have found a forum dedicated to this topic.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: cockpitbob on February 05, 2013, 04:14:14 PM
Welcome Geek,

I'm going to say what Gil said in a slightly different way.

I strongly suggest you get your ham license.  Just get on the qrz.com practice test site and spend 20min/day grinding through the tests.  In a week or 2 you'll be ready for the test.  Don't worry about the theory for now.  Just learn the correct answers.  Learn enough of the rules and operating procedures to stay out of trouble.  If you make ham radio one of your hobbies the theory will come with time. 

There are 3 levels of license:  Technician, General and Extra.
Technician:  Gets you all the VHF and UHF line of sight stuff.  You can work some of the SW bands, but only with Morse.  You can use the handhelds (usually 5W) or stick a 50W rig in your car, but it's all line of sight VHF/UHF.  Still, a 2meter hand heald will carry much further than a FRS/GMRS plus you can work the repeaters and talk with people 50 miles away via the repeaters.

General:  Gets you most of the SW bands.  Now you can talk around the world with a microphone instead of morse key.

Extra:  Gets you the remaining small slices of the SW bands.  You really don't get that much more.

Unless you are gifted in learning foreigh languages or music, learning Morse will be harder than getting the Tech and General licenses.  On the other hand, Morse will go further on less power, cost less money and you really do become one of ham radio's elite.  The Morse community is very tight but friendly.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 05, 2013, 04:38:12 PM
Thanks.  That description of the levels of licenses is helpful.  I also saw a reference to "Novice".  Is that useful?  Should one get the license before buying a radio, or get a radio and listen before getting the license?

Gil, you recommended SSB.  What is SSB and why is it important?  The radio you recommended looks fine for home, but coming back to my scenario, I am picturing multiple family members each with something portable and capable of functioning when the power goes out.  I've seen ads for portable two-way SW radios, but the ads don't seem to mention SSB.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: cockpitbob on February 05, 2013, 04:49:52 PM
There used to be more levels of license.  Novice is one of the old ones.  A few years ago they streamlined things.  Now there are just the 3 levels and you don't need Morse for any of them.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: gil on February 05, 2013, 07:52:50 PM
Quote
Gil, you recommended SSB.  What is SSB and why is it important?

Hello Geek,

SSB stands for Single Side Band. Historically, the first voice mode was AM, Amplitude Modulation. Still used today. An AM signal has a few components: A carrier and two sidebands. These are the upper (USB) and lower (LSB) sidebands. So, AM requires quite a bit of power to produce those components. You can actually remove the carrier and be left with the two sidebands. It's call Double Sideband (DSB). Going further, since the sidebands are identical, you can filter one out and be left with one sideband, USB or LSB. A CB radio will typically output 4W in AM and 12W in SSB. So, you get more range with SSB as opposed to AM or FM. The only other modes better than SSB (voice) are CW (Morse) and digital modes. Most Ham radio operators use SSB on HF. A few use AM for the nostalgia but also better sound quality. So, if your receiver has SSB, you can listen to Ham radio operators chatting. For CB, it's a matter of range. Some Hams use SSB on VHF and UHF for regional contacts, 100-250 miles. These often involve an amplifier and a directional antenna.

CB works great but will only provide long distance communications during the day and at the peak of the solar cycle, which we happen to be right in the middle of now. Having access to the Ham bands allows you to choose your frequency depending on the time of day and season. It also gives you more modes to use, especially Morse code with CW. Like Bob says, a 2m handheld will beat the pants off an FRS radio. You get slightly better privacy as well, though there are better options for that. So, essentially, with Ham radio, you multiply your changes of making contact at any time, especially if you really need it. I do own a CB, and I am not going to sell it. However, it's collecting dust since I use Ham radios now.

The tech license is very easy. I can't emphasize that enough. It's really not worth not getting. Today, I could even use CB much more efficiently with what I have learned about Ham radio. Look around the site, you will find many interesting topics. You could probably pass your test after doing so, LOL. Those qrz.com practice tests are great. Think about it, they give you the answers, the exact same FCC questions you get on the test. How hard is that?

Gil.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 05, 2013, 08:15:27 PM
Quote
Gil, you recommended SSB.  What is SSB and why is it important?

Hello Geek,

SSB stands for Single Side Band. Historically, the first voice mode was AM, Amplitude Modulation. Still used today. An AM signal has a few components: A carrier and two sidebands. These are the upper (USB) and lower (LSB) sidebands. So, AM requires quite a bit of power to produce those components. You can actually remove the carrier and be left with the two sidebands. It's call Double Sideband (DSB). Going further, since the sidebands are identical, you can filter one out and be left with one sideband, USB or LSB. A CB radio will typically output 4W in AM and 12W in SSB. So, you get more range with SSB as opposed to AM or FM. The only other modes better than SSB (voice) are CW (Morse) and digital modes. Most Ham radio operators use SSB on HF. A few use AM for the nostalgia but also better sound quality. So, if your receiver has SSB, you can listen to Ham radio operators chatting. For CB, it's a matter of range. Some Hams use SSB on VHF and UHF for regional contacts, 100-250 miles. These often involve an amplifier and a directional antenna.

CB works great but will only provide long distance communications during the day and at the peak of the solar cycle, which we happen to be right in the middle of now. Having access to the Ham bands allows you to choose your frequency depending on the time of day and season. It also gives you more modes to use, especially Morse code with CW. Like Bob says, a 2m handheld will beat the pants off an FRS radio. You get slightly better privacy as well, though there are better options for that. So, essentially, with Ham radio, you multiply your changes of making contact at any time, especially if you really need it. I do own a CB, and I am not going to sell it. However, it's collecting dust since I use Ham radios now.

The tech license is very easy. I can't emphasize that enough. It's really not worth not getting. Today, I could even use CB much more efficiently with what I have learned about Ham radio. Look around the site, you will find many interesting topics. You could probably pass your test after doing so, LOL. Those qrz.com practice tests are great. Think about it, they give you the answers, the exact same FCC questions you get on the test. How hard is that?

Gil.

So to really dumb it down what is a carrier and what are sidebands?  I get that AM has a carrier and two sidebands, so if I can get the concept moved back one more notch I can follow the rest from there.

Are you recommending taking the test before getting a radio?  I'm sure I can learn what I need to to pass the test based on the descriptions you all have provided.

Finally, since my scenario is to have communication between two or more family members, we need at least two radios.  The radio you recommended looks like it would be fine for a base station, but we would also need one or more handhelds.  Can you recommend a handheld unit as well?  Do you need SSB at both ends to get the benefit you describe?  I would expect the answer to be yes, but I don't know if there are handheld units that have SSB.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: gil on February 05, 2013, 08:26:42 PM
Quote
So 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...

Quote
Are 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.

Quote
I 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:
http://www.copper.com/cart/product_info.php?products_id=1780&osCsid=bb0a55686a9466c1eeb62296083ee0ca (http://www.copper.com/cart/product_info.php?products_id=1780&osCsid=bb0a55686a9466c1eeb62296083ee0ca)
I don't believe it's legal though...
Handhelds are pretty much FM.

Gil.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 05, 2013, 09:04:14 PM
What about a short wave handheld?
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: cockpitbob on February 05, 2013, 10:27:29 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 www.w4ax.com (http://www.w4ax.com).  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.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 06, 2013, 05:20:20 AM
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.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: gil on February 06, 2013, 11:21:46 AM
Quote
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?

Yes.

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...

Gil.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 06, 2013, 05:37:58 PM
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?
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: gil on February 06, 2013, 07:39:00 PM
Quote
2m 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.

Gil.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 06, 2013, 08:05:13 PM
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?
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: gil on February 06, 2013, 08:53:36 PM
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.

Gil.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 07, 2013, 04:38:05 AM
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.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: madball13 on February 07, 2013, 05:36:53 AM
Dam dude, your invincible!!

Save some money and register for free with hamstudy.org it is a great website that got me my General in a couple study sessions and 5-6 practice tests.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 07, 2013, 08:55:52 AM
More like a mix of prepared and lucky, but thanks.
Title: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: gil on February 07, 2013, 10:58:17 AM
Interesting, because I am a pilot and have done a lot of cave diving..

Gil.
Title: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: White Tiger on February 07, 2013, 11:00:33 AM
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 yourself...in reality you just need to check out the link already provided for testing - or use the one I used: www.hamtestonline.com. 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), www.hamtestonline.com, 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!
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: RadioRay on February 07, 2013, 11:11:16 AM
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.

http://radiopreppers.com/index.php/topic,307.0.html (http://radiopreppers.com/index.php/topic,307.0.html)

Welcome, and we're happy to help.


de RadioRay ..._ ._
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: gil on February 07, 2013, 12:15:01 PM
Quote
there are those of us on here who ONLY use Morse, because it is SOOOOOO amazingly effective

Like this morning, Ray and I chatted over 830 miles using 100mW!  :o
A tenth of a Watt!!! That's 8000 miles per Watt.
1000miles/Watt award? Oh please  ::)

Gil.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: RadioRay on February 07, 2013, 12:31:20 PM
By the way, this was not with monster beam antennas (though I'd love to have some!!!) For those who don't know, I have a dipole and a SIMPLE , corner fed, HalfSquare wire antenna. Gil uses a PAR EndFed antenna, which is basically a wire to a tree, from his apartment in a southern city. He started at ten Watts (Oh - the POWER!) and had his usual strong signal - as always and when I asked him to reduce power, I head him send:

.----  -  -    --  .--     ....   .--   ..--..       1 0 0 MW    HOW COPY?  


No problem.  Instead of ten Watts yeilding a signal of S-7 to 9. His power drop to 100 milliWatts yielded a perfectly readable S-1 to 3.  That fits 'the math' of dB, power conversion and S-units on the signal meter on the front of the radio. This is no parlor trick - it's just pointing out that low power, long range RELIABLE communcation is entirely 'do-able' if you can eliminate electrical noise.  Power is for overcoming electrical noise for the guy receiving - not for bridging the distance - as far as I am concerned. From campsite to campsite, you can reeeeeally conserve power, which saves a LOT of hassle with recharging/resupply in the woods.

I used to do that, back in the stoneage - from the Idaho wilderness with my little SW40+ QRP kit. radio . . .  //I was radioman on the Lewis & Clark expedition...//

(http://bill-hay.com/Tractor/images/RadioRay.jpg)

End of Sermon -

de RadioRay ..._ ._


Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 07, 2013, 01:21:11 PM
That does add another twist to the thought process, learning Morse.  Since my first goal is to establish communications with family members, most of whom aren't interested in prepping let alone communications in an emergency, I think I've got to take some intermediate steps.

While I don't get a lot of what you just said, the idea that one can communicate long distances with remarkably low power certainly sounds applicable to a SHTF scenario.
Title: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: White Tiger on February 07, 2013, 01:34:22 PM
Ray and Gil (and WA4STO) have made me curious about morse/digital modes...but so far the only thing I've done to gain more knowledge is download a couple of iPad/iPhone Apps....one is pretty cool when I get the urge to drop down the dial into the data portion of the bands...I turn up the volume, pull up the app, then sit my iPad close to the speaker...and viola! I'm listening and decoding morse traffic...that's about the time I wish I knew how to send...for an emergency situation of ANY kind...I see the need for morse (I just keep stalling the learning of it).

I myself really enjoy conversation - albeit short ones for the most part - and exchanging information quickly. I hold a General license and operate solely on SSB.

Regarding fancy antenna's - mine WAS an incredibly difficult antenna...I'd thrown a rope attached to the center yoke of a fan dipole ("fan" describes what it looks like: 4 copper wires fanning out from the center yolk, covering 80m, 40m, 20m, &15m bands), up into my tall palm tree, over a palm frond up about 25', then attached a length of coax cable to the center of the dipole yolk, and hoisted it up the palm tree (it was recently pulled down by accident by the fellow trying to pull his camper out of my backyard)! The other end of the coax was run into my "shack" and attached directly to my radio. I have worked stations as far away as the Republic of Slovenia (over 5,000 miles) and Venezuela...and as close as very near my home (only requires a different type of alignment of the one of the legs of the dipole).

This arrangement can be done anywhere, and deployed very quickly. While I will use it as a base-station, it is also capable of operating mobile.

I LOVE this set up - and here's the best part: you can acquire everything mentioned above for $700 to $1000!

I also have a 10m/CB and a 2m handheld set-up that I travel with. I have the radio, a 10m dipole, a length of coax and some instructions inside an old military case made of aluminum...

Thea solution can be as complicated/expensive, or as simple/inexpensive as your budget allows.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: gil on February 07, 2013, 02:18:57 PM
Quote
Thea solution can be as complicated/expensive, or as simple/inexpensive as your budget allows.

I usually tell people that you can start Ham radio with $100...

Gil.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 07, 2013, 03:35:26 PM
Inexpensive is good IF it gets the job done.  I can afford to make a couple mistakes along the way, but ultimately I want to be able to use this in a SHTF scenario, so I want to experiment once, get a working configuration and then other family members could buy the exact same set up without worrying about whether it will work when needed.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: RadioRay on February 07, 2013, 05:40:10 PM
Geek,

That's good planning. 

How far are the shortest and the longest distances that you would like to span?  What type of terrain is between these points: flat, rolling hills, Himalayan?  This information can help us to help you for non-infrastructure dependent comms.


>RadioRay ..._ ._
Title: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: White Tiger on February 07, 2013, 06:06:39 PM
Very similar to our plans - group of 4 local families 30 miles apart - I got my General and will have access to HF & pass comms/bulletins to them via 2mVHF. Everyone else will have Tech license.

The other group I'm coordinating has progressed much more slowly, is hundreds of miles away, but more resistant to acting on their concerns - because they are prepping for storms/weather related issues - no "doomsdayers" amongst them, and consequently not really motivated to adapt.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: cockpitbob on February 07, 2013, 06:39:25 PM
Very similar to our plans - group of 4 local families 30 miles apart - I got my General and will have access to HF & pass comms/bulletins to them via 2mVHF. Everyone else will have Tech license.
30 miles?  A little too far for reliable VHF simplex.  You might consider putting a repeater in the most centrally located house.  That way everyone could easily get by with an HT and maybe a slim-jim in the attic.  That house would need back-up power, but if they are preppers they probably already have that.
 
Maybe just a mobile radio that has cross-band repeater capability.  That would be much cheaper than a real repeater and you wouldn't need to go through all the FCC approval, and bad guys wouldn't find it in the repeater data base.   
Title: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: White Tiger on February 07, 2013, 06:58:06 PM
Very similar to our plans - group of 4 local families 30 miles apart - I got my General and will have access to HF & pass comms/bulletins to them via 2mVHF. Everyone else will have Tech license.
30 miles?  A little too far for reliable VHF simplex.  You might consider putting a repeater in the most centrally located house.  That way everyone could easily get by with an HT and maybe a slim-jim in the attic.  That house would need back-up power, but if they are preppers they probably already have that.
 
Maybe just a mobile radio that has cross-band repeater capability.  That would be much cheaper than a real repeater and you wouldn't need to go through all the FCC approval, and bad guys wouldn't find it in the repeater data base.   

Excellent advice Bob!

Yes, in actuality 3 of the four families are within 7 miles - the 4th member is about 20 - 30 miles away. We thought a separate slim Jim atop my 30' HF antenna mast would do the job, but the mobile cross-band repeater might be a better option - in which case my house would be the most centrally located anyway - could my Icom 271A work in that role?
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: RadioRay on February 07, 2013, 07:37:31 PM
There is a Po'Boy way to do this: a simplex repeater.  Basically, a simplex repeater is a short (20 second or less) digital recorder chip that 'plays what is hears back into the transceiver after it has received a transmission. Install a transceiver (HT) with good antenna where it best suits you. Plug the simplex repeater box into the mic/speaker and then when a call is heard by the transceiver when the sender unkeys their mic - a few seconds later on the SAME frequency, the simplex repeater re-transmits the message.  This works for all who can access your transceiver/simplex repeater. Use PL tone for the repeater and no tone for normal simplex.

It's like hiring a moron with a phonographic memory to stand between your team and repeat every word that you say , but you don't have to feed him . . .   :o

EzPz.


>Ray
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 07, 2013, 07:51:18 PM
I am also looking at 30 miles maximum.  I already have FRS/GMRS radios and CBs for short ranges.  My location is NJ, which has hills, but no real mountains in between us.  I see the most important communications occurring at the inception of whatever problem develops.  Ideally we would assemble at one of two locations, but there is going to need to be some communication to decide that it is time to assemble, account for anyone who is not at home when the problem begins, etc.  Assuming phones are out, this is the most critical time.  Once we are together the needs would be much lower.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: cockpitbob on February 07, 2013, 08:31:11 PM
- could my Icom 271A work in that role?
That Icom can't be a cross-band repeater since it is only 2M.  You need a dual-band rig (2M & 70cm) with seperate antenna connectors for each band.  I have a lot to learn about this.  Here's an article (https://www.scc-ares-races.org/training/courses/Cross_Band_Rpt/Cross_Band_Rpt_ICOM.pdf) on the subject I just found.
 
Ray's idea of a poor man's repeater is interesting.  I've never heard of that trick being done.  If there's an off-the-shelf or kit solution, that would be a super cheap way to go.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: RadioRay on February 07, 2013, 09:01:37 PM
Get Thee  to E-Bay!     ;)


Also - at only thirty miles, ten meter SSB (voice) might just be able to make that shot and that wavelength will do quite well with hills and such.  You would only need the Tech license for the ten meter link. Also, ten meter is easy to install into a mobile and many 10 meter rigs are available on E-Bay and etc. at reasonable prices.  It's worth talking to those who use ten for LOCAL / area communications.  We used to to have a local Maryland/Pennsylvania ten meter net, and I seem to remember ground wave comms working at MUCH farther than 2 meter line of sight range.  This could be a VOICE solution for area & tactical comms.


>RadioRay ..._ ._


Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: gil on February 07, 2013, 10:44:13 PM
Well, since Geek is going to start with a Tech license, I think that 2m FM and 10m SSB are the way to go...
There are plenty of Radio Shack HTX-10 for sale on Ebay, very cheap. Worth a try..
AND you can make the same antenna work for CB and 10m!

Gil.
Title: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: White Tiger on February 08, 2013, 02:54:20 AM
I personally like the Magnum Mini Mag for 10m...but the band isn't really very reliable...when it's working its a dream, but it doesn't work reliably...
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 08, 2013, 03:04:33 AM
Sounds like we have some disagreement on the band to use for 30 mile communications.  I take it the only way to resolve that definitively is trying each to see what works.
Title: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: White Tiger on February 08, 2013, 04:27:50 AM
Sounds like we have some disagreement on the band to use for 30 mile communications.  I take it the only way to resolve that definitively is trying each to see what works.
Not really Geek - I don't use my 2m rig - so I would listen to the hams here who know what they're talking about.

My 30 year old HF radio will pick up signals very near me (0-300 miles) with just a slight readjustment of how I configure the legs of my dipole on 80m - its called NVIS (there's a thread on the board that discusses it in some detail - basically you arrange the antenna in such a way that you bounce a signal off of the ground, it shoots nearly straight up to the Ionosphere, then is deflected back to Earth n such a manner that the range is a circle with your station in the center, and you can talk to stations within the circle). As a matter of fact, there is a Florida net every week - I can hear stations near me, but I don't quite have my antenna configured correctly, as they cannot hear me. I have communicated with them via relay - other hams who can hear us both, relay the information to both parties. During an emergency that is a very valuable technique, too!

Once I get the NVIS (Near Vertical Incident Skywave) configuration correct, I can leave the other legs of my fan dipole configured in inverted V's and reach around the world, while using one of my HF bands arranged for local traffic...I can also pick-up weak signals from nearby HF stations via long path (travels around the world and I pick it up on its return journey) with my regular antenna set up, when the conditions are right.

I think HF is the way to go - its extremely versatile - which is why I selected it.

...with some help from my friends...
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 08, 2013, 09:20:41 AM
So if I use HF instead of 2m I should simply be dealing with the antenna to get a good signal at 30 miles?
Title: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: White Tiger on February 08, 2013, 12:19:38 PM
Geek, yes, that's about the gist of it - ill see if I can find a link to some information regarding NVIS and post it here.

Yeah, this isn't THE article on it, but it's pretty good:

http://www.w8ne.com/Files/NVIS%20nvis_AI0W.pdf (http://www.w8ne.com/Files/NVIS%20nvis_AI0W.pdf)

Here is THE article (I think) on the subject:

http://www.qsl.net/wb5ude/nvis/ (http://www.qsl.net/wb5ude/nvis/)
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: WA4STO on February 08, 2013, 12:39:08 PM
So if I use HF instead of 2m I should simply be dealing with the antenna to get a good signal at 30 miles?

Perhaps my particular case would be of value to you.

I have a fairly expensive nine band vertical antenna.

(http://www.hurderconsulting.net/radiostuff/hv9vphoto.jpg)

The first thing you will likely note is that it's huge, compared to a 2 meter antenna.  Which brings up the point that, for  a given frequency band, the size of the antenna is dramatically different from other bands.

So what's the problem?  Well the problem that I was trying to solve is that my local prepper group insists on using voice.  Thus, in order to for me to disseminate bulletins to/among them in preparation for, and in the aftermath of SHTF, I am struggling with the same thing you are, namely the EXTREME difficulty of reaching out reliably for 30 miles.  In my case, it's only 15 miles.  Still can't do it reliably on 2 meter voice, even with a fairly large 144 mHz beam, rotator, supports, etc.  Thus, HF.

80 meters is VERY reliable for that distance.  80 is one of the HF bands.  Problem with 80 is that it requires a huge antenna, in order to be resonant (extremely important).

I'll be moving in a few weeks.  In order to utilize the WINMOR networks (full error-correction, inability of third parties to successfully monitor it, etc) I'll be putting up something like this:

(http://www.radioworks.com/nloop1.gif)

Yes, it's big.  Has to be, in order to be resonant way down there.  But it's incredibly cheap.  With the full-wavelength horizontal loop like that, I'll have full access to the 80 (and 40) meter WINMOR systems, AND I can easily get the 30 miles problem solved.

White Tiger (and others here) correctly point out that mounting a cheap wire antenna fairly close to the ground gives  you much better close-in signals. 

I'm saying all this in order to give you some options that will take into account, budgetary considerations, the severe problem of reliable communications at such a relatively short distance, and the fact that you DO have options.

Remember, by taking a couple of silly tests that involve our giving you all the questions and ALL the answers (in advance!)  we grant you the use of millions and millions of frequencies, all up and down the radio spectrum.  The frequencies you operate on will be key to how far you can RELIABLY provide SHTF communications to your community and the "outside world". 

We're here to help you. 

Best 73
Luck, WA4STO

(http://www.hurderconsulting.net/radiostuff/smallcall.jpg)
Title: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: White Tiger on February 08, 2013, 12:45:10 PM
Also, here's one of the threads where this tossed around (originally) by a few of us...Ray had a very informative post/summary with a link.

http://radiopreppers.com/index.php?topic=122 (http://radiopreppers.com/index.php?topic=122)

Also I see WA4STO posted - he guided me through most of this - he is an excellent resource!
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 08, 2013, 02:38:54 PM
This is definitely getting complex, but it seems to be the same problem everyone else is trying to solve.

As I now understand it, I am better off going up the frequency spectrum, but the negative to that is winding up with a huge antenna.  NVIS solves a few problems, but it is still a pretty long wire set up about 7' off the ground.

The implication is that I also need to learn about antennas in addition to all the background on radios, bands, frequencies, etc.  It is looking like there is a huge challenge in just getting to the point where I set up my first radio and start listening.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: gil on February 08, 2013, 03:43:47 PM
Anything between 20 and 500 miles is a challenge... I can have  QSO 800 miles away using 100mW on CW but not being able to reach someone 50 miles away. Case in point, Tim and I have tried a few times, unsuccessfully. 30 miles is the maximum line-of-sight distance.. Though ground waves and other weird propagation modes can extend range without ionosphere bounce.. 2m SSB can get you 250 miles, but requires power and a beam antenna. NVIS works once you find out how to set-up your antenna, by trial and error..

Luke, would that 4x70' square loop work 20' off the ground?

Gil.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: WA4STO on February 08, 2013, 05:31:41 PM


Luke, would that 4x70' square loop work 20' off the ground?

Gil.

Sure.  On 80 meters, that would definitely be NVIS in nature.

You can usually think of full-wave loops as being much like dipoles.  They work great when they're high.  But when you're trying to get close in, reliably, 20 feet up works well too.

What trips my trigger is that, once fed with open wire line, you've instantly got a multi band antenna.  A lotta guys can't wrap their heads around open wire feeders since they're no longer 'mainstream', and appear to  present problems that coaxial cable doesn't seem to.

 But coax generally means ONE very very small frequency of resonance.  Plus, it has loads (sorry...) of loss. 

Open wire feeders are, uh, just plain OOOOOOGLY!

(http://www.hurderconsulting.net/radiostuff/ladder.jpg)

Then again, "beauty" and "eye of the beholder" and all that.

73 de Luck, WA4STO
Title: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: White Tiger on February 08, 2013, 11:29:34 PM
This is definitely getting complex, but it seems to be the same problem everyone else is trying to solve.

As I now understand it, I am better off going up the frequency spectrum, but the negative to that is winding up with a huge antenna.  NVIS solves a few problems, but it is still a pretty long wire set up about 7' off the ground.

The implication is that I also need to learn about antennas in addition to all the background on radios, bands, frequencies, etc.  It is looking like there is a huge challenge in just getting to the point where I set up my first radio and start listening.

Geek, I hear ya man...I was in a similar place to where you are right about now...and I JUST got my General in October of 2012...

Just relax, Luck, Ray and Gil can help you figure out a starting point...you're in good hands. You DO NOT have to learn everything at once!

...but remember, you were absolutely right, communications is a critical need once you have shelter, water, food, and security...along with the importance of communicating with loved ones & gaining outside information - passing communication traffic for others will be a negotiable capability. It will make you an important key member of a community...

You simply have to figure out if the pain of gaining the knowledge and working through some logistics, is worth the payoff once you attain a level of proficiency - for you.

You can make this as complicated and thorough, or as simplistic and basic as YOU want.

Plus, like anything worth doing, once you start learning/committing, it really isn't that complicated or difficult.

...good luck!
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 09, 2013, 06:34:48 AM
It is starting to sound like just getting reliable communicaions for a 30 mile distance will be like learning to play poker.  Get 2 radios and antennas (one for each end), see if they work.  If they don't, start replacing stuff until you trip over the right combination of stuff to successfully communicate.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: RadioRay on February 09, 2013, 10:03:08 AM
Hi Geek,

I've been doing a little analysis using coverage plot software to a randomly selected part of NJ and this might just make it easier to do your 'math' in choosing systems.  In it I compare two systems with basically identical physical installation, BUT one is at 148MHz - the so called "2 meter band" and the other is in the 28 MHz "10 meter band".

Antenna:  At 25 feet - (6 dB gain) - for transmit near Elizabeth, NJ and for any receive site.
Power:     100 Watts //Note: the power does not matter as much as antenna height //

Here are the coverage plots side-by side.
(http://www.qrz.com/hampages/w7asa/NJ1_coverage_comp.jpg)


As a PRACTICAL matter, it's much easier to install a '2 meter' system because everything can be 6 times smaller.  This is especially important if you install equipment into a car.   The 2 meter band also has a TON of 'repeaters' which greatly extend your range, allow you to communicate with many other hams, is the PRIME band for emergency coordination activities and the radios also usually let you listen to the national weather service broadcasts - direct.  - should you so choose, a 2 meter radio ia a great source of local intel.  The same is NOT true with 10 meters. On my little car, I use a "mag-mount" antenna and a 25 Watt radio. I can reach our local 'repeater 30 miles away, with soe shaded (no contact) spots, based upon terrain.

COVERAGE will be better in the "10 meter" portion because of the longer wavelength, because it tends to fill-in to valleys and other 'shadded areas' which the hight '2 meter band' will not fill-in. In other words, behind low hills, some buildings and etc. the 10 meter band will give you better coverage BUT the best will be 102" tall on a car, which is a pain unless you drive a truck.  BOTH of these bands (and more) are available to you with if you get your Technician license, which you could do with a week of casual study and our help.

My suggestion:  Go to the "radiomobile" site http://www.ve2dbe.com/rmonline.html (http://www.ve2dbe.com/rmonline.html) and put in your exact location, then use the frequency/height and etc. that you think you can deal with.  This software is actually rather accurate. If you like, I can do this for you, as it's a little bit of a pain to use.

>>>=====>  This does NOT work for skywave radio propagation, like the NVIS and other modes we talk about.  There are other software tools for that.


Enjoy -

de RadioRay ..._ ._
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: WA4STO on February 09, 2013, 10:29:53 AM
It is starting to sound like just getting reliable communicaions for a 30 mile distance will be like learning to play poker.  Get 2 radios and antennas (one for each end), see if they work.  If they don't, start replacing stuff until you trip over the right combination of stuff to successfully communicate.

I initially wanted to retort to this by saying "no, no, no, that's a horrible way to have to do it". 

Then it dawned on me that it's the very way that I did things -- and CONTINUE to do things, 43 years later!

It's kinda like life.  Once you find out that there's no manual to help you along, you start taking suggestions from whoever you can find to suggest ideas on what will "definitely work".  At least according to THEIR experience.  YMDefinitelyWILLV!

From what I understand of your communications needs at present, I'd like to offer the following:

While most amateur radio operators traditionally want to throw up an antenna and see who they can work, you're in a different situation.  You want to overcome the extremely difficult challenge of communicating with ONE other person, who happens to be in a miserable place, communications - wise.

I believe that the likely outcome of buying a couple of radios and  realizing that they can't overcome that 30 mile distance, will cause you to give up on amateur radio.  I've seen that happen to a LOT of newcomers.

My recommendation would be to do as White Tiger did and purchase a relatively inexpensive older HF radio.  He bought a Ten-Tec which is serving him very well. 

If you look at his postings here, you'll notice that he's been successful at making contacts, some VERY far away and he's having fun. 

Is he making contact with that elusive 30-miles-away crowd?  Not yet, maybe, but he's been clever enough to get VHF equipment that will do exactly that, but mostly because he's in an urban area with tons of local repeaters.  He's also maximizing his enjoyment of ham radio (that is, he's set his rifle sighting differently) so that he's not likely to give up any time soon.

There are other, more clever ways to accomplish the goal, provided that you're willing to utilize the extreme flexibility that's built into ham radio.

For example, I'm fond of (and everybody here's getting tired of hearing me yap about) the digital modes, some of which can readily overcome the 30 miles problem with ease.

How's that?

Well,  let's take one of my 'local' prepper friends.   He's 15 miles away and doesn't have diddly for antennas, so he and I can't transfer information.  At least not in the traditional way.  But we could easily fix the problem by utilizing other relay points that we can BOTH hear.  Propagation on 40 meters, for example, is such that we can both work a number of emergency power - equipped, non-internet-based WINMOR and WINLINK system nodes. 

So even though he (point A) can't reach me (point B), he can utilize the automatic features of (points C, D, or E) to get his messages to me and oh, by the way, the rest of the world as well.

An excellent, real-time  example of this is the storm up in New England.  I can't readily reach the WINMOR node in Owls Head Maine, so as to read the weather - related bulletins that they're sending out.  But those bulletins reach me just fine, since they are all relayed, error-free, via the system, on an automated basis.

Yah, it's all a learning experience.   You've correctly dubbed it a 'challenge'.  But hang in there.  Keep asking questions.  You WILL get it all figured out.

Best 73

Luck, WA4STO
in Wilber Nebraska
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 09, 2013, 11:20:11 AM
Hi Geek,

I've been doing a little analysis using coverage plot software to a randomly selected part of NJ and this might just make it easier to do your 'math' in choosing systems.  In it I compare two systems with basically identical physical installation, BUT one is at 148MHz - the so called "2 meter band" and the other is in the 28 MHz "10 meter band".

Antenna:  At 25 feet - (6 dB gain) - for transmit near Elizabeth, NJ and for any receive site.
Power:     100 Watts //Note: the power does not matter as much as antenna height //

Here are the coverage plots side-by side.
(http://www.qrz.com/hampages/w7asa/NJ1_coverage_comp.jpg)


As a PRACTICAL matter, it's much easier to install a '2 meter' system because everything can be 6 times smaller.  This is especially important if you install equipment into a car.   The 2 meter band also has a TON of 'repeaters' which greatly extend your range, allow you to communicate with many other hams, is the PRIME band for emergency coordination activities and the radios also usually let you listen to the national weather service broadcasts - direct.  - should you so choose, a 2 meter radio ia a great source of local intel.  The same is NOT true with 10 meters. On my little car, I use a "mag-mount" antenna and a 25 Watt radio. I can reach our local 'repeater 30 miles away, with soe shaded (no contact) spots, based upon terrain.

COVERAGE will be better in the "10 meter" portion because of the longer wavelength, because it tends to fill-in to valleys and other 'shadded areas' which the hight '2 meter band' will not fill-in. In other words, behind low hills, some buildings and etc. the 10 meter band will give you better coverage BUT the best will be 102" tall on a car, which is a pain unless you drive a truck.  BOTH of these bands (and more) are available to you with if you get your Technician license, which you could do with a week of casual study and our help.

My suggestion:  Go to the "radiomobile" site http://www.ve2dbe.com/rmonline. (http://www.ve2dbe.com/rmonline.) and put in your exact location, then use the frequency/height and etc. that you think you can deal with.  This software is actually rather accurate. If you like, I can do this for you, as it's a little bit of a pain to use.

>>>=====>  This does NOT work for skywave radio propagation, like the NVIS and other modes we talk about.  There are other software tools for that.


Enjoy -

de RadioRay ..._ ._

This looks like exactly what I need but the link is not working.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 09, 2013, 11:31:13 AM
It sounds like the reason for the uncertainty is the prospect of one end of the communication being in a valley, making line of sight difficult.  Some bands do better than others and some antennas do better than others, etc. depending on how hilly the terrain is.

As it turns out I am on the east side of a hill, but the good news is everyone I want to communicate with is east of me and they are on relatively high points within their neighborhoods, so I think I should have relatively little difficulty with someone being in a valley.  I'd like to check with that mapping product to be sure.

Assuming I am correct, we're back to the 2m band and can use it in each home and possibly some vehicles, albeit we may have to experiment with the height and type of antenna.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 09, 2013, 12:10:28 PM
Figured out the link.  I needed to set up an account.  This thing is great!  According to the map, I can use 2m bad with an antenna only 2 meters high at each end.  Even if it is off a bit, I can try putting the antenna in the attic at each end or mount some sort of exterior antenna and have some improvement due to the additional height.  I have a wide open attic.

I tried this just with the Omni antenna choice, but there are other choices.  Any suggestion as to the best type of antenna for this application?  Assuming we also go mobile, what sort of antenna should go on the vehicle?
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: RadioRay on February 09, 2013, 12:11:11 PM
Ooops -

Link fixed in the original and HERE:


http://www.ve2dbe.com/rmonline.html (http://www.ve2dbe.com/rmonline.html)



>Ray
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: RadioRay on February 09, 2013, 12:12:46 PM
If you are going point-to-point a directional antenna on each end - like a 'yagi' and a 'gain' of 10 dB on each antenna will give you a virtual pipeline - if you have any path at all.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 09, 2013, 04:40:57 PM
Can the antennas be different types?  I would think they could but want to make sure.  If everyone was trying to contact a central point, they could be using directional antennas, but the central point would not want a directional antenna.

BTW:  That map is really the key to figuring out where to start with everyone who is struggling with this same issue.  Thanks.
Title: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: White Tiger on February 09, 2013, 05:12:22 PM
Ray - the link worked for me and I was able to set up an account...but you're right...it's a pain to maneuver through! Any quick tutelage on how to make it work? Do I need to log on through a windows machine and build a spreadsheet and upload it? Is it Apple-friendly?
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: gil on February 09, 2013, 05:22:43 PM
Quote
Can the antennas be different types?

Yes, but they need to be polarized the same way. Using a vertical antenna to communicate to a horizontal antenna won't work well at all. 2m FM usually uses verticals, and 2m SSB horizontally polarized antennas. It's just a convention, not a rule of man or physics.

Gil.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 09, 2013, 06:28:15 PM
Quote
Can the antennas be different types?

Yes, but they need to be polarized the same way. Using a vertical antenna to communicate to a horizontal antenna won't work well at all. 2m FM usually uses verticals, and 2m SSB horizontally polarized antennas. It's just a convention, not a rule of man or physics.

Gil.

So an Omni at one end and a Yagi at the other is no problem as long as they are both oriented the same way.  Since I may want to put one of these in a vehicle it sounds like vertical should be the standard for my little family group.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 09, 2013, 06:34:44 PM
Ray - the link worked for me and I was able to set up an account...but you're right...it's a pain to maneuver through! Any quick tutelage on how to make it work? Do I need to log on through a windows machine and build a spreadsheet and upload it? Is it Apple-friendly?

Once you are logged on, you need to first define the location you want a map for.  Save that because you have to redefine the location starting with a map of the world otherwise.  Then if you want to generate differing equipment configurations, etc. you can just pull the location from a drop down list.  I found the interface a bit cumbersome as well, but I felt it was more about my unfamiliarity with HAM terminology than anything else, so I mostly accepted the defaults.  Once I produced a map and could see what was green, I felt it was worth the few minutes of figuring it out.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: gil on February 09, 2013, 06:40:51 PM
Quote
So an Omni at one end and a Yagi at the other is no problem as long as they are both oriented the same way.

Correct.

Gil.
Title: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: White Tiger on February 10, 2013, 12:18:03 AM
Ray - the link worked for me and I was able to set up an account...but you're right...it's a pain to maneuver through! Any quick tutelage on how to make it work? Do I need to log on through a windows machine and build a spreadsheet and upload it? Is it Apple-friendly?

Once you are logged on, you need to first define the location you want a map for.  Save that because you have to redefine the location starting with a map of the world otherwise.  Then if you want to generate differing equipment configurations, etc. you can just pull the location from a drop down list.  I found the interface a bit cumbersome as well, but I felt it was more about my unfamiliarity with HAM terminology than anything else, so I mostly accepted the defaults.  Once I produced a map and could see what was green, I felt it was worth the few minutes of figuring it out.

Thank you Geek - did you try to enter a Longitude/Latitude? I can't seem to find out how to do this?

By the way - I know mine because of my FCC license. I registered for a www.qrz.com account - when I entered my call sign it auto-populated the long/lat info from the address I used on my license (don't forget that part if you're worried about OPSEC).

If you, Ray, or anyone can help me figure out how to do this, it seems to be the only way to dial in on a specific region...right?
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 10, 2013, 01:12:34 PM
I did not try to enter latitude and longitude.  It came up with a world map centered on the west coast of Africa.  By moving the cursor and the magnification like using a Mapquest map I was able to center the location right on my house, but it took a bunch of iterations of move cursor, change magnification, repeat until I got it in the right spot.  Do that once and then save the location.  You'll never have to do it again unless you want to define another location. 
Title: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: White Tiger on February 10, 2013, 01:44:19 PM
I did not try to enter latitude and longitude.  It came up with a world map centered on the west coast of Africa.  By moving the cursor and the magnification like using a Mapquest map I was able to center the location right on my house, but it took a bunch of iterations of move cursor, change magnification, repeat until I got it in the right spot.  Do that once and then save the location.  You'll never have to do it again unless you want to define another location.

Thanks Geek, I'll give it a try!
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Tadpoe62 on February 10, 2013, 10:12:39 PM
Hi all,

I am very new to the whole radio business and would like to know more about the equipment.  I am in Kansas and if SHTF, I would like to be able to communicate, or at least hear, what is happening around the country.  I won't say my resources are unlimited but I can afford to purchase good equipment.  I am just not sure what I should be looking at.  I would like to be able to keep it somewhat disguised, as far as antenna, but otherwise not to worried about it.

In my current situation, bugging out is not an option so mobility is not necessarily important.  But I would like to be able to use handhelds as well as a base.  So go ahead, start blasting away with questions or comments.  I will do my best to keep up!  LOL!

Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: gil on February 10, 2013, 10:42:08 PM
Isn't Jericho in Kansas?  :o

Gil.
Title: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: White Tiger on February 11, 2013, 12:52:36 AM
Hi all,

I am very new to the whole radio business and would like to know more about the equipment.  I am in Kansas and if SHTF, I would like to be able to communicate, or at least hear, what is happening around the country.  I won't say my resources are unlimited but I can afford to purchase good equipment.  I am just not sure what I should be looking at.  I would like to be able to keep it somewhat disguised, as far as antenna, but otherwise not to worried about it.

Im pretty new at this myself, just got my license in October, but I wanted you to know no one is ignoring you. The veterans on this board will probably get back to you tomorrow. They enjoy helping new folks out - I will ask a couple of the basics to get an idea of your current condition? First, do you currently have a license? It is a requirement, but more than that, it gets you to minimum level of proficiency- and it makes you aware of the risks of operating. Personally, I initially intended to go "pirate" without a license, I was encouraged to check into a bit more thoroughly...good thing too...I am part of a group of friends & family that recent.y went through a few storms that saw a number of us cut off from each other. We decided we would change that if we could. After some discussions with someone who offered to help me accomplish the goals I set out for myself, it was decided that I needed a layered approach. Communications with a group over 400 miles away and communication with a local group. Sounds similar to what you're asking - but I don't want to assume - so, is this what you had in mind?

You mentioned the term HT - which sounds like you may have some understanding of radio already? Hope my questions don't seem rudimentary, or assume you know less than you do - just need a starting point.

What I settled on was HF (high frequency) operation, and with some basic configuration of a very simple antenna - and I think pretty stealth. I do have a VHF radio and antenna for close-in communication (5-200 miles depending on utilizing repeaters), but it has limitations, if the towers go down, or power is lost, the repeaters blink off and I would be left with a 5-10 mile range. near enough for 2 or 3 of the other 4 households, but not enough. After many conversations I have mothballed the plan to rely on 2m/VHF and go with the advice of a few here who suggested a technique to manipulate one of the four HF bands my antenna covers. I am running fiberglass poles which will be affixed (zip tied) to the side of a palm tree, up to about 32'. This should allow me some "stealth" and all the local contact (0-300 miles) I need on a very reliable band (80m) and as far away as Europe, the Caribbean, and California on the other bands (40m, 20m, 15m).

The risk is this - High Frequency = High Voltage. Learn what you can - it isn't hard - but investigate.
In my current situation, bugging out is not an option so mobility is not necessarily important.  But I would like to be able to use handhelds as well as a base.  So go ahead, start blasting away with questions or comments.  I will do my best to keep up!  LOL!

It's good that you have a general understanding of the type of preparedness you will be committing to. It will help narrow the decisions somewhat.

What is the purpose of the handhelds? Do you envision utilizing them for patrols, hunting, close contact? I have a couple in my gear, but they are "just in case" or after thoughts, not something I will expect to rely on. Plus, HT's are 2m VHF/UHF and are limited by line of site (unless you can reach a repeater...and we're back to the starting point regarding power and reliability). Not to mention, I find 2m difficult because you have to dial a specific tone to reach a repeater, you have to know what offset you're operating on, and it has just seemed NOT user friendly).

If you do not have a license, the tests may seem difficult, but they're really not. They require some study, but they give you access to the actual question pool that the FCC uses for the tests. There are ways to study for it to make sure you pass - Gil (the owner of this website) has some technical expertise with electronics/software, but he studied and passed all 3 tests at one sitting! I studied for about 45-60 days and passed 2 out of the 3 levels of the tests (Technician, General, Amateur Extra) and came away with a General license...and I am probably the LEAST technical guy on this board!

I'll let you answer some of these to get us more familiar with your current condition and level of enthusiasm...and maybe that will help some of the veterans with some of the specifics...

Like we just suggested to Geek (also a new member), you made the right decision - communications MUST be on everyone's list of preparedness skills - so were glad you're here, and glad to help however we can!
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 11, 2013, 08:29:01 AM
I did not try to enter latitude and longitude.  It came up with a world map centered on the west coast of Africa.  By moving the cursor and the magnification like using a Mapquest map I was able to center the location right on my house, but it took a bunch of iterations of move cursor, change magnification, repeat until I got it in the right spot.  Do that once and then save the location.  You'll never have to do it again unless you want to define another location.

Thanks Geek, I'll give it a try!

Letr me know how this works for you.  I was very pleased with my results and I'd like to know if this works for others.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 11, 2013, 10:36:54 AM
I have a question about the reliability of repeaters.  I found a directory of repeaters online and there are a bunch of them in the area.  This is great for day to day, but I am curious how reliable they might be in an emergency.  Do they typically have power backups?  If so, how long might they remain active?  Is there any information available about repeater up times?  For instance, this area was affected by Hurricane Sandy.  If I want to know which repeaters stayed up and which ones went down, would there be an easy way to find out?
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: cockpitbob on February 11, 2013, 01:27:22 PM
Repeaters are owned by clubs and private individuals.  I'm not aware of any standards or requirements for backup power, so I think it all depends on the owner.  Some repeaters are used by the local emergency communications  or weather spotter (Skywarn) groups.  I would guess those repeaters are more likely to have backup power, but not guaranteed.

The larger clubs that own repeaters have web sites that may describe (brag about) their repeaters.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Tadpoe62 on February 12, 2013, 08:59:35 PM
Hi White Tiger,

Sorry if I gave the impression I had any knowledge of radios.  I have just started reading about it (VHF, UHF, etc) but honestly most of it is greek to me.  I have not obtained a license but know that I should and am not turned off by studying for a test at any of the three levels.  And I guess that it where my questions should begin. 

First, my concern is the collapse of our dollar, our government and all the extreme outcomes that could come with that.  Particularly, power grid and other infrastructures to include communications.  I am preparing my food, water, and alternative power sources but I need to be able to listen into what is happening around the country as well as communicate with others.  My understanding is HAM radio is the best way to go.  Therefore, I need to learn more and obtain the equipment.  And I want to get started quickly, before anything starts happening and resources dry up.  The handhelds are for hunting and possibly patrol circumstances if warranted but mainly for hunting. 

Where I am located, I "assume" I can set up whatever is necessary to accomplish my needs.  I live in the country, on top of a hill, with no tree or tower interference.  I know there will be height restrictions for towers, but then I also understand I may need it to be stealth depending on the circumstances as well so I am open to suggestions.  I do not have any high voltage wires near my house.  My feed is underground from the transformer which is a good 150' from my house. I guess what I am saying is, I am up for covert type antennas or whatever someone may suggest but I want solid, reliable equipment.   

If anyone knows someone in my area (Topeka), I would be glad to meet up and work with a mentor.  I certainly want to learn the proper etiquettes and be respectful of others more knowledgeable.  Hope that helps you and the experts figure out where I am coming from and what I am looking for!!

Thanks in advance!
Title: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: White Tiger on February 13, 2013, 01:32:19 AM
Hi White Tiger,

Sorry if I gave the impression I had any knowledge of radios.  I have just started reading about it (VHF, UHF, etc) but honestly most of it is greek to me.  I have not obtained a license but know that I should and am not turned off by studying for a test at any of the three levels.  And I guess that it where my questions should begin.

The way I was encuraged to learn/study was to check out www.hamtestonline.com (there many others) - they have the exact question pool that the FCC utilizes for the test. You can buy a study guide sponsored by ARRL (which also has a CD and test questions, just make sure you get the correct year of publishing). If you ise the website I listed above, you can also use it with whatever method works best for you - read until you feel ready to test...then take a practice test. Afterwards you can study the specific questions you missed and...take another practice test....

...or (this might make some shudder) you can do what I did...take practice test after practice test until I was scoring in the mid 80% range...then I scheduled a test with a local Volunteer Examiner (usually on a Saturday at a local Library, Church, fire station, radio club). You can find a testing facility by visiting http://www.arrl.org - from the website - next test date and location:

04/13/2013 | Topeka KS 66604-1304
Sponsor: KVARC
Location: Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library
Time: 2:00 PM (Walk-ins allowed)

As for the bands you are considering (VHF/UHF) listening to what you're looking for - you may want to keep ALL your options open. Range, type of desired communication, feed line loss, and versatility, will be important - so what have you read about HF? I actually thought VHF/UHF would be easier to learn than HF...man did I have it backwards! I found the equipment for the two similrly priced, while 2m/VHF/UHF operation was a bit more complicated. Besides, I wanted to be able to he foreign broadcast news - as well as the local/domestic traffic...that is why I selected HF.
First, my concern is the collapse of our dollar, our government and all the extreme outcomes that could come with that.  Particularly, power grid and other infrastructures to include communications.  I am preparing my food, water, and alternative power sources but I need to be able to listen into what is happening around the country as well as communicate with others.  My understanding is HAM radio is the best way to go.  Therefore, I need to learn more and obtain the equipment.  And I want to get started quickly, before anything starts happening and resources dry up.  The handhelds are for hunting and possibly patrol circumstances if warranted but mainly for hunting.

I hear you - and I started for similar reasons maybe with different actual motivation (worried about all you listed PLUS due to the already weakened economy; the very real fear that I could lose my job through no fault of my own...I didn't, but it was first-person-personal, I can tell you that).

While things seem to be ramping up - it might take some time for the economy to collapse...while it isn't optimal...what we are seeing play out in the domestic & global financial markets is actually buying us some time....how much is anyone's guess. It was my thinking that whatever asset I bought today, it would be a bargain as time wore on. I was not wrong, I bought food first, today the same amount of food I started buying two years ago is 20% more expensive...you apply that same math to any other priority...except firearms and ammo - all of its higher because someone is artificially manipulating the buyers/market, and that can be said of even "commodity" items today. The prices for things we live on (and in) are considered too volatile to be included in the governments statistical analysis of economic indicators...'nuff said...

Sounds like you have your priorities right - don't think that's not a big deal, folks spend alot of time arguing should they "leave the gun, or pack the canollis" ( hint, always pack the canollis first)...so from a Prepper perspective - you're on the right track!
Where I am located, I "assume" I can set up whatever is necessary to accomplish my needs.  I live in the country, on top of a hill, with no tree or tower interference.  I know there will be height restrictions for towers, but then I also understand I may need it to be stealth depending on the circumstances as well so I am open to suggestions.  I do not have any high voltage wires near my house.  My feed is underground from the transformer which is a good 150' from my house. I guess what I am saying is, I am up for covert type antennas or whatever someone may suggest but I want solid, reliable equipment.
from a technical aspect, I am really lacking in knowledge...I can tell you what I did...but that may not be what is best for you. I think on this point folks like WA4STO, Gil, cockpitbob, KC9TNH, RadioRay, RayBiker (just to name a few) would do a better job directing you on this...and ttabs has an excellent thread on his solar power system he set up. He says he's new too, but he is a wealth of information on radio, solar/battery power.

For me, it was whatever I could get the most "bang for the buck" - reliably - and for the long haul. It had to fit the criteria of long and local communication, and my antenna had to be simple and as stealth as possible. My shack is about 120' from my antenna - and my feedline needed to be a bit longer than it was...and since the original configuration it is about to go through a reset...but EVERYTHING I wanted/needed prior to buying is EXACTLY what I have - I wouldn't change anything (well, I'd ADD to what I have, but the base set-up would remain the same).

That came from listening to one veteran ham and getting his input (i.e., pestering him to death with questions)...but this forum contributed a LOT to my understanding. Gil has been a big help to my understanding...including offering to help me with some major soldering (which turned out not to be necessary).

There's a lot of experience on this board. I think they should be the one who answer this question.
If anyone knows someone in my area (Topeka), I would be glad to meet up and work with a mentor.  I certainly want to learn the proper etiquettes and be respectful of others more knowledgeable.  Hope that helps you and the experts figure out where I am coming from and what I am looking for!!

Hmmm...is Topeka anywhere near Wilbur, Nebraska...? If so you have one heck of a mentor/Elmer right up the road...he got me this far...
Thanks in advance!

We're all glad you're here, you're taking the right course of action!
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: WA4STO on February 13, 2013, 11:49:13 AM

Where I am located, I "assume" I can set up whatever is necessary to accomplish my needs.

Hi Tadpoe.  And a very warm welcome to the group.  We're here to help you.

Your assumption is correct; you CAN set up whatever is necessary.  The only thing I see lacking in your planning at this moment in time is a firm understanding of who you will need to communicate with and -- more importantly -- what distance they are from you.

That distance is critical since there is no one setup that will be exactly right for all distances.  For example, if "hunting" is your concern, that implies that you'll want to communicate via voice (there are MANY other modes...) with someone VERY close by.  Which would probably translate into a set of small hand-held radios (one for each of you) that operate in the VHF or UHF regions.

That is way different from the need to communicate to another BOL or compound located maybe 30 miles away, or around the county, country, or planet. 

Those latter scenarios are what I'm involved with; I operate a digital relay station that transfers text and files to other licensed radio amateurs all around the State (I'm north of you, into Nebraska), Region, and country.  The radios, in my case, are different, as are the antennas.  White Tiger has equipped himself for both local and long-distance and he chose to do so by  purchasing two different kinds of equipment, used, at a fraction of the new price.  Plenty of stuff available and we can assist you with that as well.

Looks like you've got the testing and licensing part well in hand, so let me leave you with my standard mantra:

"We provide you with ALL of the questions and ALL of the answers BEFOREHAND to the two simple tests that you will want to take.  Unless you wish to, there is no need to 'study'.  Just memorize the correct answers, go take the tests, and you're done.  At that point, we give you access to millions and millions of frequencies, all up and down the radio spectrum, and dozens of transmission modes that will allow you to get your messages from point A to point B, often by way of points C, D, and E -- all automatically, error-corrected, and not readable by the public, the media, or nosy third parties".

In short, we want you to succeed, we want you to have a blast, and we're willing to help you get there.

Best 73

Luck, WA4STO
in Wilber, Nebraska
http://www.qrz.com/db/wa4sto (http://www.qrz.com/db/wa4sto)

The short distance stuff is so simple, that I'm wondering if you might not want to get into discussions with us (here) about how best to accomplish the long-distance stuff.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Tadpoe62 on February 13, 2013, 09:18:17 PM
WA4STO,

You're absolutely correct about the hunting and handhelds.  That I got a grip on.  My interest is in being able to communicate with guys/gals around the area and country.  I want to be able to know what is going on around the country even if I can't do anything about it.  As I mentioned in my first post.  I know nothing about this stuff and honestly don't want to spend the time studying all the various brands, models, combos, etc.  I am looking for someone to help me get a good, solid setup and help me learn how to best utilize it.  Without sounding like a complete paranoid, I would prefer to be able to keep people from being able to recognize what I am doing unless they are familiar with the equipment (i.e. retractable antenna when not in use, or some easy way to camouflage that it's a radio antenna). 

I guess I should ask, what is the difference between using voice (which is what I picture radio to be) and the "text and files" that you refer to.  Is the text more like typed messaging (actual text messaging) or more like Morse?  I am assuming from your post the two require different equipment.  In your opinion, given my concerns, should I be looking at one vs the other or both?

I have no problem with the memorization and testing, hell, that's how I got through school...LOL!  But I do want to learn how to get the most out of my equipment and not tread into areas I don't belong.  I want to learn the etiquette and protocols!  I appreciate you offer and being as how we're only 2 - 3 hours apart I would love to get together sometime as we move forward.  I actually have some relatives not far from you.

Thanks!

Tadpoe62
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: WA4STO on February 14, 2013, 10:50:27 AM
My interest is in being able to communicate with guys/gals around the area and country.  I want to be able to know what is going on around the country even if I can't do anything about it.


Good goal.  This brings up one of the primary reasons for going at it on a licensed vs. unlicensed basis.  If unlicensed, you won't be able to communicate with those who have the info you need.  They simply won't do it.  But once licensed, you'll be able to query the digital networks so as to ask if the folks there are noticing any U.N. blue helmets, whether martial law has been imposed, etc.

The point being that you will have the ability to check with specific areas of the country and/or world, rather than just listening and hoping that you'll hear some tidbit of info. 

  As I mentioned in my first post.  I know nothing about this stuff and honestly don't want to spend the time studying all the various brands, models, combos, etc.  I am looking for someone to help me get a good, solid setup and help me learn how to best utilize it.


Sounds very reasonable.  Actually, the brands and models aren't as important as you might otherwise think.  Let's take White Tiger's efforts as an example.  He didn't have much of a clue either.  None of us do when starting out.  In his case, it was more a matter of trying to find something on Ebay, perhaps, that would do what he wanted without breaking his bank.

He was very successful.  At this point, he's attempting to push the envelope even further, by utilizing 1980s equipment with today's technically-astute modes and protocols.  And ya know what?  I think he's going to succeed.  Watch what happens, right here.


 Without sounding like a complete paranoid, I would prefer to be able to keep people from being able to recognize what I am doing unless they are familiar with the equipment (i.e. retractable antenna when not in use, or some easy way to camouflage that it's a radio antenna). 


No problem.  We can use my situation as a great example, perhaps, in that I'm moving in a couple of weeks and am not particularly interested in having the neighbors know what's up.  Uh, not to sound paranoid myself, but no less than THREE of my new neighbors are sheriff's deputies. 

So I'm selling off my nine band vertical that looks way too techy and maybe way too *errorist in nature.  Instead, I'm putting up a single wire.  That's also what I'm going to recommend for your three acres on the hill.  More on that as we go along.


I guess I should ask, what is the difference between using voice (which is what I picture radio to be) and the "text and files" that you refer to.  Is the text more like typed messaging (actual text messaging) or more like Morse?  I am assuming from your post the two require different equipment.  In your opinion, given my concerns, should I be looking at one vs the other or both?


Excellent question.  And I'll admit right up front that I'm pretty 'rabid' about my opinions on this topic.  But having said that, here goes; the others here can avert their eyes, they've heard it all before:

Perfectly understandable that you'd equate 'radio' with 'voice'.  The vast majority of licensed radio amateurs enjoy voice modes.  I don't.  The reasons for that are as follows:

1.  I'm not interested in my three above-mentioned neighbors hearing what I'm saying.  Ditto for the media, which often takes things WAY out of context.  So if I'm participating in a communications test that deals with the  providing of evacuation comms around a nuclear power plant, I don't want the deputies telling their boss that a nuke plant is erupting in the next county over. 

By using voice, it's extremely unlikely that you're going to be able to encrypt it.  But if you're using keyboard modes, such as WINMOR, or one of the several other modes that 'squishes' the text before sending it, the media won't get the wrong idea.  In fact, they won't get ANY idea.

2.   If you're using voice, it's extremely likely that what happens from the time you push your mike button to the time that the guy on the other end of your conversation interprets it will result in the wrong thing being communicated.  What goes in isn't what goes out.  Was that "eight units of O positive blood needed ASAP" or was it "eighty units of A negative in stock at present" ?  You get the idea. 

By using the error-corrected digital modes, that problem doesn't exist.  What's sent is what's got.  Guaranteed.

3.  Digital modes frequently utilize the networking approach.  This is important because if your goal is to get your message to Fresno from Topeka, you'll very likely end up sending it to the data node that you CAN hear, which might be in, say, Omaha.  The network approach has things pre-established, such that messages for Fresno, once received in Omaha, are switched to Denver, perhaps, on their way to Fresno.  All automatically, all error-corrected, all media-proof, all without any sign of the internet.  See the difference now?

73 for now.  Keep the questions coming.   We all learn from them.

Luck, WA4STO
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: gil on February 14, 2013, 11:42:14 AM
Quote
I guess I should ask, what is the difference between using voice (which is what I picture radio to be) and the "text and files" that you refer to.  Is the text more like typed messaging (actual text messaging) or more like Morse?

Hello. There is the privacy issue mentioned by Luke, though anyone who can do some research on the Internet can find out how to decode a digital mode. Simply downloading a program like Fldigi allows to decode many digital modes. Real encryption is illegal on Ham bands. It is peculiar, because encryption is not illegal on the internet. Go figure.. Anyway, it is also a matter of efficiency. Digital modes are more efficient than voice, meaning that you get more range for the same power. Personally, I am not a fan of digital modes because they require more gear, which means more stuff to carry, more batteries to charge. I believe in a real national emergency there would be few stations operating digital. I am not part of any emcom group, so basically, in it for myself, friends and family, none of whom are Hams.

My favorite mode is sort of a digital mode though, and that is CW, Morse code. You can do amazing things with Morse code that wouldn't work any other way. Last week I had a 830 miles QSO using 100mW! A tenth of a Watt! It takes a long time to learn (at least it did for me), but brings great rewards. I have a Rock-Mite radio I built that fits in an Altoids mints box and reliably gets me heard 600 to 1300 miles away. You can't do so much with so little using voice or a digital mode. A small CW transceiver will run 30Hrs on a few AA batteries..

If you want to know what's going on in the country, get a short wave receiver, or make sure the Ham radio you buy allows listening to SW. For example the Elecraft KX1 allows SW listening, even though it is a Morse code radio only. Most radios these days allow listening outside of the Ham bands.

Gil.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Tadpoe62 on February 14, 2013, 10:58:45 PM
Hi Gil,

Thanks for the input.  I am always open to opinions and ideas from everyone as I get started in a new adventure.  Especially if they've been at it awhile.  I wondered if Morse was still utilized much.  Never studied it much but it does seem a little daunting to learn.  More so with your comment about taking quite awhile to learn. 

Let me ask some questions, for clarification, do you agree that digital is more secure and better suited for my purposes?  Whether starting with WA4STO's setup or one like yours, I could learn to migrate between both correct?  Additionally, do you believe the Morse (CW?) is more secure than the digital setup of WA4STO?  Is it because fewer people use it?  Please elaborate a little more.

Thanks to both of you guys.  I am already starting to figure out I came to the right place to learn.

Tadpoe62
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: gil on February 15, 2013, 01:42:53 AM
Hello,

I would say digital is more secure than Morse. Someone could record a Morse communication and play it back many times to finally decode it. Digital works fine but requires more gear and knowledge. The chances of being listened to are slim on Ham frequencies already... Morse, even less, and digital, extremely unlikely. I wouldn't worry about it. Start with voice modes for their simplicity. Once you understand more about modes, operating, propagation and antennas, try Morse or digital, or both. You will most likely use the same equipment anyway.. I love Morse because for me, it is the essence and origins of radio. To this day, nothing beats the simplicity of it and of the radios used. It can also be used with a flashlight, banging on something, touching someone's arm, blinking your eyes, the possibilities are endless.

Gil.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 15, 2013, 12:17:49 PM
I now have study materials and I am working through them.  The materials say that repeaters receive on one frequency and retransmit on another.  If I am trying to communicate with someone through a repeater am I switching back and forth between frequencies?  It seems cumbersome unless there is some aspect of this I don't know about.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: gil on February 15, 2013, 12:47:58 PM
Quote
am I switching back and forth between frequencies?

No, the radio does that for you automatically.

Gil.
Title: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: White Tiger on February 15, 2013, 12:51:00 PM
I now have study materials and I am working through them.  The materials say that repeaters receive on one frequency and retransmit on another.  If I am trying to communicate with someone through a repeater am I switching back and forth between frequencies?  It seems cumbersome unless there is some aspect of this I don't know about.
Hence, you have run into one of the reasons I don't like and have lost interest in 2m/VHF/UHF. I prefer the simple binary operation on HF

Some HF (High Frequency) radios allow for the ability to "split" TX/RX to transmit on one frequency while listening/searching up the dial for another contact/QSO...but that is mostly used for contestors....fortunately I haven't run into a lot of them - at least not as far as I know!
Title: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: White Tiger on February 15, 2013, 12:58:42 PM
I now have study materials and I am working through them.  The materials say that repeaters receive on one frequency and retransmit on another.  If I am trying to communicate with someone through a repeater am I switching back and forth between frequencies?  It seems cumbersome unless there is some aspect of this I don't know about.
don't you have to preset/preselect on your radio and load it all into memory to make easier to use some of your local/favorite repeaters? Or do you mean that some radios do this automatically...?
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: gil on February 15, 2013, 01:05:48 PM
Quote
Or do you mean that some radios do this automatically...?

Yep, mine does, the Yaesu FT-270R. Most of them do. If I tune to a frequency in the repeater part of the band, it automatically puts it in split mode with the 600KHz offset. I don't have to do anything. Of course I may need to set the correct tone, but that's it.

Gil.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 15, 2013, 02:29:01 PM
Advice here was to take the test before buying a radio, so no radio yet.  If the radio does the switching automatically, is that a feature I need to consider when purchasing, or is it pretty much standard?
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: gil on February 15, 2013, 03:08:29 PM
Quote
Advice here was to take the test before buying a radio, so no radio yet.  If the radio does the switching automatically, is that a feature I need to consider when purchasing, or is it pretty much standard?

I would say pretty standard with the big brand names. You can verify this by downloading a model's manual from the manufacturer's web site. I think the point is not necessarily to get the test before you buy a radio (I had five radios before getting my tests, three of which I built), but to avoid buying a radio before you have learned enough to make the correct choice.

Gil.
Title: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: White Tiger on February 15, 2013, 04:10:55 PM
Advice here was to take the test before buying a radio, so no radio yet.  If the radio does the switching automatically, is that a feature I need to consider when purchasing, or is it pretty much standard?
So long as you've decided on a VHF-UHF radio. That would limit your range to about 30 miles (with a tower BUT without repeaters), up to a maximum of about 200 miles (relying on repeaters). I think you could go further with an echolink set-up...but with additional limiting dependencies.

The dependency on repeaters and the limited range of VHF otherwise, were limiting factors for me.

Not trying to influence you, just trying to make sure you're aware of these issues before committing to something!
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 15, 2013, 05:29:02 PM
Well, the advice is looking good, because I am certainly learning new stuff.  What is "echolink"?
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: gil on February 15, 2013, 05:39:20 PM
Quote
What is "echolink"?

Echolink is a system linking radios to the internet. So, you could talk to someone in another state using a simple 2m HT. Useless for emergencies because then you would of course simply send an email or use Skype or something. Useful only if you're 1. in range of an Echolink repeater. 2. The repeater is on. 3. The internet is working. Very limited use... Personally, I would not bother with it. Winlink, sending emails through radio, I will get into. Echolink, I don't think so.

Gil.
Title: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: White Tiger on February 15, 2013, 06:16:59 PM
Quote
What is "echolink"?

Echolink is a system linking radios to the internet. So, you could talk to someone in another state using a simple 2m HT. Useless for emergencies because then you would of course simply send an email or use Skype or something. Useful only if you're 1. in range of an Echolink repeater. 2. The repeater is on. 3. The internet is working. Very limited use... Personally, I would not bother with it. Winlink, sending emails through radio, I will get into. Echolink, I don't think so.

Gil.
+ 1

Also why we chose HF over VHF (I have a complete set-up, just no interest - Gil sold his VHF system).

More flexibility in HF - simpler systems - better coverage options and better OPSEC.

...but to each their own!
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: gil on February 15, 2013, 06:38:05 PM
Quote
Gil sold his VHF system

I still have my HT and I am waiting for the KX3 2m module...
No doubt I perfer HF though...

Gil.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 15, 2013, 08:24:47 PM
Reading about the Baofeng UV-5R it has something called "semi-duplex".  Is this what I need to use a repeater painlessly or is it telling me it has something less than the duplex feature I need?  The beauty of this unit is the price.  I could get a pair of them and test reception 30 miles apart.  If they handle duplex I could definitely get through with the repeaters in the area and then experiment with antennas, etc. until I get Simplex working.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: gil on February 15, 2013, 09:34:22 PM
You will not get 30 miles between two HTs. A few miles at most, maybe four or five. With high-up antennas on both ends, maybe 15 miles..

Gil.
Title: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: White Tiger on February 15, 2013, 10:09:49 PM
Reading about the Baofeng UV-5R it has something called "semi-duplex".  Is this what I need to use a repeater painlessly or is it telling me it has something less than the duplex feature I need?  The beauty of this unit is the price.  I could get a pair of them and test reception 30 miles apart.  If they handle duplex I could definitely get through with the repeaters in the area and then experiment with antennas, etc. until I get Simplex working.
I have the UV-5R - not only is Gil correct regarding the range of an HT - it does not automatically duplex. You must manually store the various/multiple repeater set-up's in memory. It is also designed to be programmed via a computer and a special cable, but this is not something the UV-5R does well...
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 16, 2013, 12:07:14 AM
Thanks.  The antennas can be high and the map shows I should have line of sight.  I will need a radio at each end just to get started.  I figured HTs could be a starting point and then be either handed down to other family members or placed in vehicles.  So it now sounds like I need two base stations to establish the link I want.  The MFJ-9402 was recommended.  If I have one of those at each end I would think there would be no problem with a repeater and I might get a Simplex connection, or I might need to work with antennas to get things working right.

If that sounds right to the folks here, then I would consider buying one now, listening while I am studying for the test, then buying the other and setting the second location and testing.  Does this make sense?
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: gil on February 16, 2013, 01:08:42 AM
The MFJ-9402 is a great radio. However, it is SSB only, no FM. You can't use it with repeaters. You can't use it to communicate with an HT. Depending on where you live, you might not hear many people on 2m SSB, if any... Also, you would need to use a horizontally polarized antenna, as it is the convention with SSB VHF. It will get you your 30 miles, most likely using a Yagi on both ends.

A pair (or more) 2m HTs will serve you well for very local communications, 4-5 miles radius. A better choice for a base station would be to find a used Icom 2m multi band radio, like the IC-271A I used to own and Tim has.. It is probably the best, having SSB and FM, and the tones board for use with repeaters. If my KX3 wasn't going to get a 2m module in a few months, I would have kept mine for sure. They go on Ebay for about $300 to $350. You could of course try the HTs with higher antennas, like the Slim-Jim I describe in the antennas section.. If it doesn't work then you can try something with a bit more omph... The FT-2900R has 75W and costs only $160...

Gil.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 16, 2013, 01:27:55 AM
It's a good thing for me you are familiar with so many models.  I don't want a base that can't talk to a HT.  With Yaesu FT-2900R at each end do you think I'd have a shot at making my 30 mile Simplex connection, given adequate antennas?  It looks like it has the Duplex feature I need to use the repeaters.
Title: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: White Tiger on February 16, 2013, 01:38:52 AM
Thanks.  The antennas can be high and the map shows I should have line of sight.  I will need a radio at each end just to get started.  I figured HTs could be a starting point and then be either handed down to other family members or placed in vehicles.  So it now sounds like I need two base stations to establish the link I want.  The MFJ-9402 was recommended.  If I have one of those at each end I would think there would be no problem with a repeater and I might get a Simplex connection, or I might need to work with antennas to get things working right.

If that sounds right to the folks here, then I would consider buying one now, listening while I am studying for the test, then buying the other and setting the second location and testing.  Does this make sense?
I think using a 2m HT is a good approach just for local/2-3 mile range - it is part of my prepps. My first order of business was to establish my HF base station while simultaneously studying for my license.

Only After these two issues were accomplished & established, and I began making contacts, did I begin to I branch out. As I said previously - I have a "comms case" in two of my three vehicles. Inside each case is a combo 10m-CB radio/10m dipole antenna, 100' of rope/paracord, 50' of RG213U coax cable, and a Baofeng 2m HT.

If you're decided on going VHF/UHF - selecting a good radio, like those Gil mentioned, is paramount. I would just be concerned that you would be severely lacking for long range communication. Your plan definitely covers local communication - but it doesn't seem to cover getting/sending a transmission outside your locality - is this a concern?
Title: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: White Tiger on February 16, 2013, 01:42:45 AM
It's a good thing for me you are familiar with so many models.  I don't want a base that can't talk to a HT.  With Yaesu FT-2900R at each end do you think I'd have a shot at making my 30 mile Simplex connection, given adequate antennas?  It looks like it has the Duplex feature I need to use the repeaters.
The Icom 271A/H is also a great multi mode radio. I picked up Gil (he was using his 271) on my UV-3R about 2-3 miles from his house. Although I'm not sure he could hear my signal until I was about a mile away.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 16, 2013, 03:21:03 AM
Thanks.  The antennas can be high and the map shows I should have line of sight.  I will need a radio at each end just to get started.  I figured HTs could be a starting point and then be either handed down to other family members or placed in vehicles.  So it now sounds like I need two base stations to establish the link I want.  The MFJ-9402 was recommended.  If I have one of those at each end I would think there would be no problem with a repeater and I might get a Simplex connection, or I might need to work with antennas to get things working right.

If that sounds right to the folks here, then I would consider buying one now, listening while I am studying for the test, then buying the other and setting the second location and testing.  Does this make sense?
I think using a 2m HT is a good approach just for local/2-3 mile range - it is part of my prepps. My first order of business was to establish my HF base station while simultaneously studying for my license.

Only After these two issues were accomplished & established, and I began making contacts, did I begin to I branch out. As I said previously - I have a "comms case" in two of my three vehicles. Inside each case is a combo 10m-CB radio/10m dipole antenna, 100' of rope/paracord, 50' of RG213U coax cable, and a Baofeng 2m HT.

If you're decided on going VHF/UHF - selecting a good radio, like those Gil mentioned, is paramount. I would just be concerned that you would be severely lacking for long range communication. Your plan definitely covers local communication - but it doesn't seem to cover getting/sending a transmission outside your locality - is this a concern?

At this point I am not concerned about communicating with the world at large, but with being able to communicate with my family.  They are within that 30 mile distance I mentioned.  Note that we've been through a variety of disasters, most recently Hurricane Sandy which knocked out power (wired and cell), phone service, Internet, etc.  You couldn't even go anywhere because of downed trees.  I was pretty comfortable at home with my generator, but I couldn't check on my family.  Just having a bit of comms would have allowed us to assure each other we were all okay.

The plan at the moment is to get this one link going and to get through the test.  Once that's done, we can add nodes to our network, and I can help those in my family that are interested get through the licensing.  When the entire group is up and running, then I might worry about outside the area.

I realize that most of those here are into HAM radio, in addition to having an interest in prepping.  However, I've been experiencing a variety of disasters of varying proportions, most recently Hurricane Sandy.  As a result, I am really coming at communications from a prepper direction.  I can easily imagine getting licensed, accumulating communications gear, testing all the connections, and then storing the equipment until disaster strikes again.

Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: gil on February 16, 2013, 11:42:52 AM
Quote
With Yaesu FT-2900R at each end do you think I'd have a shot at making my 30 mile Simplex connection, given adequate antennas?  It looks like it has the Duplex feature I need to use the repeaters.

It does, and yes, I think it would work. I am no VHF FM expert though, so you might want to verify that... I don't use 2m much at all... 30 miles is pretty far for line-of-sight.

Gil.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 16, 2013, 12:22:49 PM
I realize you can't guarantee that any particular combination will work.  You aren't here, and it needs to be tested anyhow.  What I am trying to do is just figure out the best place to start.  If I try this and it goes 25 miles, but fails at 30, I'm not going to blame anyone.

Given that would you suggest a different band or does 2m make sense?
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: gil on February 16, 2013, 12:27:43 PM
Quote
Given that would you suggest a different band or does 2m make sense?

It think it is your safest best and a good start. Everyone needs 2m anyway. You can try HF later after you solve your 30 miles challenge...

Gil.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 16, 2013, 02:27:27 PM
Thanks!  I think I will now get a Yaesu 2m radio, start listening, and in particular see if I can pick up some of the repeaters in the area.  Once I get the license, if it still seems promising, I can get a second radio and place it at the place 30 miles away and make a test.  If I can be heard at that end, then we're in business and just need to add licenses and radios at each home.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 16, 2013, 03:13:08 PM
Now it looks like the unit is DC only.  It isn't clear if an AC adapter comes with it so I can use it in the house.  Do I need a power adapter and if so anyone care to recommend one?
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: WA4STO on February 16, 2013, 05:57:50 PM
Now it looks like the unit is DC only.  It isn't clear if an AC adapter comes with it so I can use it in the house.  Do I need a power adapter and if so anyone care to recommend one?

Yes, a great many of today's radios are 12 volts only.

That's a good thing.  Good, because it makes the radios a lot smaller.  Good, because they work from SHTF-able power sources.  Good, because you have options.

As to your question, there are a number of options.  First, if you look at your user's/owner's manual, it will tell you what the current draw is for that radio.  In my case, my Icom IC-7000 is a one hundred watt radio so it requires a much larger power supply than your radio does.  In my case, I utilize an MFJ-4225MV power supply like this:

(http://www.gigaparts.com/parts/gpcpa/original/zmf-4225mv.jpg)

But there's a big problem with my use of this power supply.  Can you guess what that is?  Hint: I'm a prepper...

You might ask yourself if a bug-out location is in your plans.  If so, you're likely to be using deep cycle batteries.  Bingo! 

In fact, I use both the power supply shown above during normal times AND I have a fairly hefty amount of battery power available and it would take me about zero time to switch to SHTF power.

OK, there are other options.  If you determine that you need, say ten amps of current at 13 volts, you could opt for something like these:

http://www.gigaparts.com/store.php?action=search&category=DSW-138&type=radio&showall=1 (http://www.gigaparts.com/store.php?action=search&category=DSW-138&type=radio&showall=1)

Still, if you're going to put that much cash into a power supply, why not spend more and get something that will power the radio during and well after SHTF?

Oh!  And don't forget, your 12 volt radio works just fine in the car...

Best 73

Luck, WA4STO


Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 16, 2013, 06:28:17 PM
I not only have a generator, but I also have spares for each electronic part in the generator, so if I don't have power, . . .  I ordered the MFJ product.  It looks like exactly what I need indoors.  Thanks.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: WA4STO on February 16, 2013, 08:19:08 PM
Yes, it's a good product and it will cover your 12 volt needs pretty well.

There's something else (there always is...) that you might consider.  And that's the fusing of your various 12 volt gizmos.

Now it may be that your radio already has a nice fuse in it.  But some of your stuff, as you go along, will not.  Now would be a great time to consider how you're going to distribute the 12 volt lines from your MFJ to the various 12 volt thingies.

Here's what I use.

(http://www.westmountainradio.com/images/catalog/4005-bigZoom.jpg)

These are fused coming OUT of the MFJ power supply as well as fused going TO your radios.

Notice the red/black connectors.  Those are known as "anderson power pole" connectors and they have become an industry standard among most amateur radio groups:

(http://www.powerwerx.com/_images/products/PP120_xlrg.jpg)

In my case, I have a couple of things that wouldn't otherwise be protected by fuses:

1.  A muffin fan that serves to cool the final transistors on my IC-7000 HF/VHF/UHF rig.  Cooler is always better, except when it comes to women.

2.  A little 12 volt light inside of my HF antenna tuner.

Putting a fuse in line with everything keeps the well-known "smoke test" from failing.  You do know about smoke tests, right?  It goes along with the notion that every little (and not so little) electronic thingie contains smoke, sometimes hidden very deep inside.  Do things wrong, and darned if that smoke won't escape.  Sometimes dramatically.

73 de WA4STO
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 16, 2013, 08:51:58 PM
Sounds like a good idea.  Where do I get one and what size fuse should I be using for my one and only indoor 12v device?
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: raybiker73 on February 17, 2013, 03:46:20 AM
I can easily imagine getting licensed, accumulating communications gear, testing all the connections, and then storing the equipment until disaster strikes again.

You'd be surprised how quickly it becomes something you want to do every day, disaster or not.  :)
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Frosty on February 17, 2013, 09:23:28 AM
Thanks!  I think I will now get a Yaesu 2m radio, start listening, and in particular see if I can pick up some of the repeaters in the area.  Once I get the license, if it still seems promising, I can get a second radio and place it at the place 30 miles away and make a test.  If I can be heard at that end, then we're in business and just need to add licenses and radios at each home.

Like Gil said, 30 miles is a long way for 2m FM. I can hit a repeater with a 120' antenna at about that distance with my FT2900R using 10w, but only get about 15 miles base to mobile (bumper mount antenna) even at 75w across mostly flat terrain.  LOS is everything, if there's a hill in the way it won't go 3 miles (in my experience). 

I like the rigs themselves, and the ARTS function makes it easy to test range.  If your local public safety hasn't moved to a digital system, then they can double as scanners too.  Open it up with the MARS/CAP mod, and there's even more SHTF options.  With some homework and time spent scanning/listening now, and with a prearranged plan with your group, a true geek shouldn't have a problem making contact during the confusion of a SHTF event. :) 
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 17, 2013, 11:04:13 AM
Thanks!  I think I will now get a Yaesu 2m radio, start listening, and in particular see if I can pick up some of the repeaters in the area.  Once I get the license, if it still seems promising, I can get a second radio and place it at the place 30 miles away and make a test.  If I can be heard at that end, then we're in business and just need to add licenses and radios at each home.

Like Gil said, 30 miles is a long way for 2m FM. I can hit a repeater with a 120' antenna at about that distance with my FT2900R using 10w, but only get about 15 miles base to mobile (bumper mount antenna) even at 75w across mostly flat terrain.  LOS is everything, if there's a hill in the way it won't go 3 miles (in my experience). 

I like the rigs themselves, and the ARTS function makes it easy to test range.  If your local public safety hasn't moved to a digital system, then they can double as scanners too.  Open it up with the MARS/CAP mod, and there's even more SHTF options.  With some homework and time spent scanning/listening now, and with a prearranged plan with your group, a true geek shouldn't have a problem making contact during the confusion of a SHTF event. :)

Ive got Line of Sight, so we are good there.  What is the ARTS function and what is the MARS/CAP mod?

What I am figuring is I will test this and see if it works between the two houses that are the greatest distance apart.  It is slightly less than 30 miles LOS and slightly more by the road.  If it doesn't work then I will determine whether to work with differing antennas, or move to another band.  I feel good about this choice because even if it doesn't work for 30 miles I can probably use the units in vehicles or for some of the houses at lesser distances.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Frosty on February 17, 2013, 12:33:49 PM
ARTS is Yaesu's Automatic Range Transponder System, you can configure it on two radios to indicate when your "in range" or "out of range", but each radio xmits at regular intervals to determine it, so not something you want to leave on.   Handy for working out your max range during a Sunday drive without having to call the other station repeatedly.  The FT2900 manual is here:  www.w7awh.com/manuals/ft2900manual.pdf 

MARS/CAP:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_Affiliate_Radio_System
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Air_Patrol

The mod opens the radio up for xmit on 136-172MHz, which includes marine, MURS, business band, and many public safety freqs, none of which are legal to xmit on with this radio (at any power level) if I'm not mistaken, except in an emergency of course.  radioreference.com is a great site for finding what frequenices are in use in your area. 
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 17, 2013, 02:12:02 PM
I'll take ARTS as a "bonus feature".  :-)  I can see driving all over the place to figure out what will work.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 20, 2013, 02:59:43 AM
I have a new question on Repeaters.  I see directories online that show repeaters all over the area.  Most of the lists seem to have a column with the heading "PL" with what looks like a frequency listed.  What does "PL" stand for?
Title: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: White Tiger on February 20, 2013, 03:10:14 AM
I have a new question on Repeaters.  I see directories online that show repeaters all over the area.  Most of the lists seem to have a column with the heading "PL" with what looks like a frequency listed.  What does "PL" stand for?
I think it stands for "Private Line" - it refers to a way to activate a specially coded CTCSS tone to initiate a repeater dedicated to a group that owns or controls access to a specific repeater or groups of repeaters...see, it kind of acts like a phone number. If you know the code, you're "in" and can make contact. Mostly they're published by city/state - I have an app on my iPhone that lists all of the repeaters and plots them on a map with your location in the center a it also gives all the pertinent info to make contact with and via the repeaters in your area.

To help you sort it out ( trust me, I know what youre going through, As I tried to sort it all out myself...just before I lost interest...but then I do have a terrible case of A.D.D.) to save you some time - let me add this link and excerpt:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuous_Tone-Coded_Squelch_System (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuous_Tone-Coded_Squelch_System)

"CTCSS is an analog system. A later Digital-Coded Squelch (DCS) system was developed by Motorola under the trademarked name Digital Private Line (DPL). General Electric responded with the same system under the name of Digital Channel Guard (DCG). The use of digital squelch on a channel that has existing tone squelch users precludes the use of the 131.8 and 136.5 Hz tones as the digital bit rate is 134.4 bits per second and the decoders set to those two tones will sense an intermittent signal (referred to in the two-way field as "falsing" the decoder). This and other technical and historical topics is covered in this article: <http://www.repeater-builder.com/tech-info/ctcss/ctcss-overview.html>."
Title: PL Tones
Post by: RadioRay on February 20, 2013, 07:44:00 AM
"PL" or sub-audible tones are a funny thing.  Basically, a radio is programmed to transmit a tone lower than you will hear through a matching radio BUT that tone activated all radios similarly programmed.  The reason for this is so that on a crowded channel the radio with it's "PL" set, will hear ONLY those who are transmitting using the same "PL" tone.  Groups of radios can use PL so that they do not have to listen to people outside of their group.

Here's the complication: people get it backwards, thinking that if their PL is set to some odd number that nobody else can hear their conversations (because they do not hear anyone else).  Not true.  This is like my idiot little sister declaring that she was invisible when her eyes were closed. . .  ha ha

So - to only hear your own guys - set the PLs to the same number and turn them ON.  However, you will not hear anyone else.


de RadioRay ..._ ._
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 20, 2013, 08:34:52 AM
So on my soon to be acquired 2m radio, if I am tuned to the repeater is there another control for the PL tone?
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: cockpitbob on February 20, 2013, 08:57:37 AM
So on my soon to be acquired 2m radio, if I am tuned to the repeater is there another control for the PL tone?
Typically you enter a text name for the repeater, the frequency and the tone.
 
By far the best thing to do with an HT is to get the programming cable and software.  Often the programming software can be found as free-ware.  As one guy put it, an HT is a computer with a 2" monitor and 16 keys on the keyboard.  They can be really tough to program manually.  Programming them with the computer is easy.
 
To work a repeater there are really 3 things that need to be set, but 1 is usually automatically set:  Frequency, offset direction and PL tone.  When you transmit to a 2M repeater it will retransmit your signal on a frequency 600KHz higher or lower, depending.  Higher is a + offset and lower is a - offset.  Wheather the offset is positive or negative depends on the frequency and is standardized so almost all radios just know if you are in repeater mode (as opposed to simplex) it will automatically set the offset amount and direction.  So, all you have to do is set the repeater's frequency and PL tone.
 
Again, get the software.  On my HT (Yaesu FT-60), I can have up to 10 pages (banks) in memory.  I have bank-1 full of local 2M repeaters.  Bank-2 has local 70cm repeaters.  Bank-3 is repeaters down near Boston for when I travel down there.  I have a bank for listening to local police and fire frequencies (ours haven't gone secure trunking digital yet).  Etc.  You just can't do that much programming without using a computer.
Title: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: White Tiger on February 20, 2013, 09:05:58 AM
So on my soon to be acquired 2m radio, if I am tuned to the repeater is there another control for the PL tone?
Typically you enter a text name for the repeater, the frequency and the tone.
 
By far the best thing to do with an HT is to get the programming cable and software.  Often the programming software can be found as free-ware.  As one guy put it, an HT is a computer with a 2" monitor and 16 keys on the keyboard.  They can be really tough to program manually.  Programming them with the computer is easy.
 
To work a repeater there are really 3 things that need to be set, but 1 is usually automatically set:  Frequency, offset direction and PL tone.  When you transmit to a 2M repeater it will retransmit your signal on a frequency 600KHz higher or lower, depending.  Higher is a + offset and lower is a - offset.  Wheather the offset is positive or negative depends on the frequency and is standardized so almost all radios just know if you are in repeater mode (as opposed to simplex) it will automatically set the offset amount and direction.  So, all you have to do is set the repeater's frequency and PL tone.
 
Again, get the software.  On my HT (Yaesu FT-60), I can have up to 10 pages (banks) in memory.  I have bank-1 full of local 2M repeaters.  Bank-2 has local 70cm repeaters.  Bank-3 is repeaters down near Boston for when I travel down there.  I have a bank for local police and fire frequencies (ours haven't gone secure trunking digital yet).  Etc.  You just can't do that much programming without using a computer.
bob, thanks for that explanation - I think I learned something!

If you get a sudden power outage, will it knock the radio's memory settings out?

Why don't people simply broadcast in simplex on 2m? Is it just to lock out traffic? If so, why do they publish a list of repeaters with all this information?

Help me understand what looks like logical inconsistency - which confuses me about 2m operation...
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: raybiker73 on February 20, 2013, 09:11:59 AM
Here's a pretty basic explanation of how and why repeaters do what they do:

http://www.hamuniverse.com/repeater.html (http://www.hamuniverse.com/repeater.html)
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 20, 2013, 09:44:04 AM
Programming sounds like a necessity to use repeaters.  Given the fact they may disappear in a disaster, it sounds like the real trick may be to select frequencies for family contact that will avoid repeaters if they are operating.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: cockpitbob on February 20, 2013, 10:03:25 AM
Programming sounds like a necessity to use repeaters.  Given the fact they may disappear in a disaster, it sounds like the real trick may be to select frequencies for family contact that will avoid repeaters if they are operating.
Exactly.
And if you have a bugout plan that involves radios you had better have a copy of the maual, or at least the programming section, packed in a ziplock bag.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: raybiker73 on February 20, 2013, 10:10:57 AM
Exactly.
And if you have a bugout plan that involves radios you had better have a copy of the maual, or at least the programming section, packed in a ziplock bag.

Hallelujah, sing it brother! My little Yaesu HT is intuitive enough when it comes to programming, but the Baofeng in my get-home bag and the Kenwood in my Jeep rank somewhere between brain surgery and development of the warp drive in complexity.

It's easy enough to jot down the essentials on a card and get it laminated, but I've found the "Nifty Manuals" to be fantastic. A lot of information packed into a little pocketable space. They're a worthwhile investment. I have one for each of my radios.

http://www.niftyaccessories.com/index.html (http://www.niftyaccessories.com/index.html)
Title: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: White Tiger on February 20, 2013, 06:40:08 PM
Exactly.
And if you have a bugout plan that involves radios you had better have a copy of the maual, or at least the programming section, packed in a ziplock bag.

Hallelujah, sing it brother! My little Yaesu HT is intuitive enough when it comes to programming, but the Baofeng in my get-home bag and the Kenwood in my Jeep rank somewhere between brain surgery and development of the warp drive in complexity.

It's easy enough to jot down the essentials on a card and get it laminated, but I've found the "Nifty Manuals" to be fantastic. A lot of information packed into a little pocketable space. They're a worthwhile investment. I have one for each of my radios.

http://www.niftyaccessories.com/index.html (http://www.niftyaccessories.com/index.html)
thanks for this link ray - I placed an order for a couple of those myself...although they do not have one for the "vintage" radios. I sent a note to them via email link on their site - and got a reply back that they do not have plans to update quick reference guides for the older model radios - as they did not have the respurces to update old manuals that he never formatted for originally. I told him the interest on these radios on secondary market is pretty high - but they still have no plans....(darn).

Oh well, guess I will have to use his manuals as the format for my radios...hey...wait a minute...
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 20, 2013, 07:30:54 PM
What I have done for other important documents is scan them and then I can put them on a thumb drive, Kindle, phone, etc.  A thumb drive then goes in each BOB along with paper copies of driver's licenses, etc.  I would do the same for any new radios as well.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: RadioRay on February 20, 2013, 08:20:39 PM
I made e-copies with passport and other docs for foreign travel. This also allowed my personal representative in the USA to assist me in replacing docs, credit cards and toher 'things' incase I were stranded in some odd place, with little more than an embassy provided e-mail terminal or local cyber-cafe' to establish my bonafides. The little , flat memory cards are also a good choice, because of the postage stamp size and ability to be carried in a wallet, shoe insole & etc. You can probably store much inside of the drive on a comon cellphone as well - preferably encrypted.


>Ray
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: gil on February 20, 2013, 08:42:53 PM
Quote
preferably encrypted.

However, in most other countries, encryption is prohibited and would land you in jail..
An SD card would certainly work. Photocopies for travel might be best.
For traveling, I would even suggest declaring your passport lost before leaving to get a new one. This way you have two. One to carry with you if required, the other one to keep in a safe place.

Gil.
Title: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: White Tiger on February 20, 2013, 08:52:26 PM
What I have done for other important documents is scan them and then I can put them on a thumb drive, Kindle, phone, etc.  A thumb drive then goes in each BOB along with paper copies of driver's licenses, etc.  I would do the same for any new radios as well.
I've thought about this too. I have printed-off a few key documents...on the off-chance of some type of EMP event - but dumping a memory stick into my EMP box is just as easy...and slipping the laptop into a non-static/non-EMP envelope would supply some protection...but It's not like I'm going around with my laptop slipped in that condition all the time....
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 20, 2013, 10:18:28 PM
What I have done for other important documents is scan them and then I can put them on a thumb drive, Kindle, phone, etc.  A thumb drive then goes in each BOB along with paper copies of driver's licenses, etc.  I would do the same for any new radios as well.
I've thought about this too. I have printed-off a few key documents...on the off-chance of some type of EMP event - but dumping a memory stick into my EMP box is just as easy...and slipping the laptop into a non-static/non-EMP envelope would supply some protection...but It's not like I'm going around with my laptop slipped in that condition all the time....

That's pretty much what I have done, with copies of the memory stick tossed into each BOB.  I have an old laptop in an anti-static bag in a closet.  If I get really worried about EMP, then I need to put the bag in a metal box or garbage can, etc. but for now the electronics are just in anti-static bags.  However, the copies of the memory sticks can also go into each BOB so if you have a disaster, other than an EMP, where you have to bug out, you've got whatever documents you chose to back up in this fashion.

If you really expect to be referencing these materials, transferring them to a smartphone or eReader and dropping that in an anti-static bag is even better.  You can carry an entire library around if you think you need it.
Title: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: White Tiger on February 21, 2013, 03:01:02 AM
If you really expect to be referencing these materials, transferring them to a smartphone or eReader and dropping that in an anti-static bag is even better.  You can carry an entire library around if you think you need it.
Geek - this has given me an even more interesting idea!

I'm going to scan/transfer documents into word/.pdf/autocad files...and save them to an e-reader. My Kindle will work well for that, and the other 66 books I have will be safe there too! My iPad has the Kindle reader app on it - so I can pop the old Kindle into the anti-static/anti-EMP BOB case....genius, thanks!
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on February 21, 2013, 08:47:54 AM
If you have replaced a smartphone with a newer model, you can store material on the old phone as well.  Then drop the phone in a anti-static bag.  Make sure you remember chargers and occasionally charge the device as well.  I just went through a cycle of bringing every BOB in and charging the radios.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: kc0rzw on February 21, 2013, 11:09:45 AM
So on my soon to be acquired 2m radio, if I am tuned to the repeater is there another control for the PL tone?
Typically you enter a text name for the repeater, the frequency and the tone.
 
By far the best thing to do with an HT is to get the programming cable and software.  Often the programming software can be found as free-ware.  As one guy put it, an HT is a computer with a 2" monitor and 16 keys on the keyboard.  They can be really tough to program manually.  Programming them with the computer is easy.
 


I disagree, for an experienced ham the programming cable might be convenient.  For a newbie, it is important to learn how the radio works, and learn how to program it, or you may be stuck somewhere without your computer and cable.  If you have some frequencies to program, you will be kicking yourself for not knowing how the radio works.

I have heard the Chinese radios are about impossible to manually program, so you may have no choice but to use the cable, but I would still try to figure it out anyway.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: raybiker73 on February 21, 2013, 11:33:56 AM
I disagree, for an experienced ham the programming cable might be convenient.  For a newbie, it is important to learn how the radio works, and learn how to program it, or you may be stuck somewhere without your computer and cable.  If you have some frequencies to program, you will be kicking yourself for not knowing how the radio works.

I have heard the Chinese radios are about impossible to manually program, so you may have no choice but to use the cable, but I would still try to figure it out anyway.

I know the Baofeng UV-5R series is a challenge to program manually, but it can be done. In fact, for me it was do or die, because none of the available drivers would work to connect it to a computer to program it. Unless you've got an XP machine still kicking around, the chances of getting the software to work are hit-or-miss at best.

The Nifty Accessories card for the UV-5R is pretty comprehensive, but even it is cryptic about how to program a repeater. The key is that you have to program the receive, the offset and the transmit separately. I've only found one clear and accurate guide about how to do it:

http://miklor-uv5r.99k.org/UV5R-BuddysQPG.html (http://miklor-uv5r.99k.org/UV5R-BuddysQPG.html)

If you have a UV-5R series HT, print this out 100 times, save it on a dozen different hard drives, and memorize it besides. You will need it. Otherwise, basic programming isn't too hard.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: White Tiger on February 24, 2013, 04:29:49 AM
I should've waited for your post...

Ah well...I do have a couple other quick reference catalogue's and some information coming in the mail soon!
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on March 09, 2013, 10:21:48 AM
I passed the Technician exam this morning.  Time to do some shopping for a radio!
Title: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: White Tiger on March 09, 2013, 11:06:25 AM
I passed the Technician exam this morning.  Time to do some shopping for a radio!

Congratulations Geek!
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: gil on March 09, 2013, 11:16:16 AM
Congratulations Geek!

Remember you can do Morse code on some parts of the HF bands!

Gil.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on March 09, 2013, 02:28:50 PM
Easy for you to say.  :-)
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: gil on March 09, 2013, 03:36:27 PM
Oh it wasn't easy  :o

Gil.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on March 09, 2013, 04:31:55 PM
Actually, before I consider learning Morse, I would want to go back and take the General exam.  So the plan right now is 1) get a radio and listen, 2) take the General exam, 3) figure out what's next.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: gil on March 09, 2013, 10:13:02 PM
That would certainly give you much more bandwidth to play with!
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on March 17, 2013, 06:03:36 PM
I decided to switch to a handheld for the first radio.  I'll need at least 2 radios to test anything, so I figured I would start with the handheld and see which repeaters in the area I could pick up.  I bought a Yaesu VX-6R/E.  It arrived late yesterday and I have been listening today while waiting to get my call sign from the FCC.

Along with the radio, I bought the cable and software to be able to program it from the computer.  I programmed in some of the local repeater frequencies and have been scanning and picking up signals from all over northern NJ.

So far I am pleased with the radio.  It is amazingly small and I get decent reception even though I am indoors on the second floor of my house.  I am interested in doing two things:  Identifying a car antenna that can be used with this radio and getting a headphone/microphone that can plug into the jack provided.

Does anyone care to make a recommendation?  I'll probably go with the FR-2900R next so 2m is the most important band.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: RadioRay on March 17, 2013, 10:41:11 PM
I have an older, multi-band VHF.UHF transceiver similar to the FR-2900R and I am VERY pleased with it.  It's rugged, sensitive and once programmed, easy to use. My unit is older and the multiple button presses for programming it are a bit of a pain, but you only have to do it once per area. Yours being a different and newer model, may not have these problems.

As a general suggestion, a 5/8 wave , mobile antenna give noticably better performance than the 1/4 wave antennas - as a general rule.  they are taller, but when I drive into a populated area, I take the antenna off and toss it onthe the floor beneath an old coat so that I'm not advertising to the usual suspects that I have a "CB" radio for them to steal. That's rare in this mostly rural location, but the walmart parking lot is a feeding zone for the local thieves. //1 returned veteran sniper could solve that little issue, but it seems that midnight backet ball leagues, free passes to the "Y" and turning a blind eye is the method of choice for local authorities. . . " I'd rather give a vet a good job at something he has experience with - but then again I'm like that.    ;)



Congratulations with the license and getting started with the radio.  Remember NOAA radio 162.XXX MHz - it comes in handy.


>de RadioRay ..._ ._
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: gil on March 18, 2013, 12:28:02 AM
Excellent Geek. That is what I did, got a Yaesu FT-270R first... 2m is indeed a must-have band. That said, I never found VHF traffic very interesting.. Maybe just my area.. I knew I wanted to do Morse code from the start, and of course that's HF. The next car I get, I'll put an FT-2900R in it. Right now I just can't justify the expense. Now you can think about the General exam  ;)

Gil.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on March 18, 2013, 12:37:29 AM
I have an older, multi-band VHF.UHF transceiver similar to the FR-2900R and I am VERY pleased with it.  It's rugged, sensitive and once programmed, easy to use. My unit is older and the multiple button presses for programming it are a bit of a pain, but you only have to do it once per area. Yours being a different and newer model, may not have these problems.

As a general suggestion, a 5/8 wave , mobile antenna give noticably better performance than the 1/4 wave antennas - as a general rule.  they are taller, but when I drive into a populated area, I take the antenna off and toss it onthe the floor beneath an old coat so that I'm not advertising to the usual suspects that I have a "CB" radio for them to steal. That's rare in this mostly rural location, but the walmart parking lot is a feeding zone for the local thieves. //1 returned veteran sniper could solve that little issue, but it seems that midnight backet ball leagues, free passes to the "Y" and turning a blind eye is the method of choice for local authorities. . . " I'd rather give a vet a good job at something he has experience with - but then again I'm like that.    ;)



Congratulations with the license and getting started with the radio.  Remember NOAA radio 162.XXX MHz - it comes in handy.


>de RadioRay ..._ ._

The Sandy Hook (NJ not CT) weather channel was clear as could be.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on March 18, 2013, 12:50:48 AM
This worked out great.  I was picking up a signal from a 2m repeater that was further away than any of the family members I've been concerned about reaching.  One conversation was coming from a repeater located in a town on the Hudson River, probably 35 miles from my home, and one of the participants was up in CT, probably another 30 miles beyond the repeater.

Other than the fact the repeaters probably are located higher than my antennas will be, I should have no problem with the distances.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on March 28, 2013, 09:18:00 AM
Another update:  I have gotten signals on the 2m band as far away as Saratoga, NY which is about 150 miles away, and as close as a repeater about 3 miles away.  My son is now studying for the Technician exam and I am studying for the General exam.  I need to get a second radio and I am debating with myself on what to get next.  Once I have that and my son has his license, we can actively test all over the area.  I am pretty optimistic about our ability to communicate in an emergency.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: RadioRay on March 28, 2013, 09:29:13 AM
Geek -


I'm very happy to hear that this is working out for you!  'The Math' looks good in analyzing your area's terrain, but there is nothing like turning ON the radio and hearing distant stations.  Reality is the most convincing of all 'data'.

Please do keep us posted.  I am enjoying hearing about your progress.



>Ray
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on March 28, 2013, 12:53:49 PM
Thanks for the encouragement.  This forum has been a great help.  I admit to be kind of disappointed when I check in and there are no unread posts.  LOL
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: breslau on March 31, 2013, 08:04:44 AM
I picked up one of these a few days after taking the test. I found a driver that works with Vista and have had no trouble programming with CHIRP but it would be good to have a guide to manual programming. The link in this post to the Miklor site is now a 404. Does anyone have a pdf of this info?

I know the Baofeng UV-5R series is a challenge to program manually, but it can be done. In fact, for me it was do or die, because none of the available drivers would work to connect it to a computer to program it. Unless you've got an XP machine still kicking around, the chances of getting the software to work are hit-or-miss at best.

The Nifty Accessories card for the UV-5R is pretty comprehensive, but even it is cryptic about how to program a repeater. The key is that you have to program the receive, the offset and the transmit separately. I've only found one clear and accurate guide about how to do it:

http://miklor-uv5r.99k.org/UV5R-BuddysQPG.html (http://miklor-uv5r.99k.org/UV5R-BuddysQPG.html)

If you have a UV-5R series HT, print this out 100 times, save it on a dozen different hard drives, and memorize it besides. You will need it. Otherwise, basic programming isn't too hard.
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Frosty on March 31, 2013, 02:20:53 PM
Just ordered a UV 5R+ from Amazon today.  Says the manual is "more convenient and more humanized".  We'll see.  Found a manual here, but think it's the older one:  http://www.radioinc.com/Baofeng/Baofeng-UV-5R-Color-Manual-2012.pdf

Anyone that owns one, is it safe to leave the radio in the charger after it's fully charged - or does it cook the battery?
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: Geek on March 31, 2013, 05:01:38 PM
I would expect it to be safe to leave in the charger, unless that's where it is when the EMP hits.  :-)
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: raybiker73 on March 31, 2013, 05:06:47 PM
I picked up one of these a few days after taking the test. I found a driver that works with Vista and have had no trouble programming with CHIRP but it would be good to have a guide to manual programming. The link in this post to the Miklor site is now a 404. Does anyone have a pdf of this info?


I saved it as a PDF and stuck it in my Dropbox public folder. Here's a link:

http://db.tt/1f8lcQB0 (http://db.tt/1f8lcQB0)


Ray
Title: Re: Anyone so new they don't even have a radio yet?
Post by: breslau on April 02, 2013, 07:12:19 PM
I saved it as a PDF and stuck it in my Dropbox public folder. Here's a link:

http://db.tt/1f8lcQB0 (http://db.tt/1f8lcQB0)

Thanks! Printed a copy for the BOB