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Author Topic: Do you REALLY need that ham license?  (Read 52609 times)

IT Tech

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Re: Do you REALLY need that ham license?
« Reply #45 on: January 19, 2014, 09:58:35 AM »
" One thought comes to mind, if a lightning bolt can travel a couple of miles through the sky, can't it travel a couple of inches or feet in the vehicle or the shack if left unterminated."
---
Yes , a direct lightning strike can easily span a few miles, thus easily span a few feet. However, you know from electrical laws  that even for a direct strike,  electrical current follows the path of least resistance. So if the ladder line is laying on the lawn rather than connected to the radio inside of my house, the energy should find that a very much more direct path to ground rather than than leaping off elsewhere - though the near field energy might cause damage.

However, the induced field from a near-by strike can and does dump a LOT of energy into surrounding conductors. By being disconnected from the rig by even inches, the induced current from a near-by, but not direct strike is far less likely to damage my radio gear and I can sit back and enjoy the SHOW!



>de RadioRay ..._  ._

Yes Ray - you are right, however..  My last full time employer before my disability was as a sub contractor for a Electric Utility Company - and the first thing you learn is that most lightning strike damage is caused by the lightning hitting the electric lines and not by the lightning striking your antenna.

The infrastructure of the electric utility is very large, while the antenna atop your house or vehicle roof is miniscule in comparison.
The lightning strikes the line, is adsorbed by the transformer - which becomes a weird capacitor when those currents are induced through the lines - because they transformer, lightning arrestor and other grounds and equipment are only designed for 60 hz power, not the lightning.

The lightning comes into the shack through the power lines and gets inside of all of the electrical equipment inside of the house..  Today with the furnace controls and microwave ovens, computers, and televisions - there are lot's of things to be damaged by the power spike.

It would be more prudent to disconnect the power supply from the home station then to disconnect the antenna.   Even using coax as a station ground, the coax becomes a inductor - which can amplify the currents present like a transformer.  But I have seen people use coax to a dedicated ground grid that switches the antenna to this ground when lightning is suspected or present to protect the station.

Many people makes the mistake of connecting the station ground directly to the electrical utility ground stake - which just helps bring the lightning in that much easier.

The neat thing is that the cellular tower industry has taken a page from the electric generation industry and has built their cell tower locations with the same technology used to build a electric sub-station.
Having multiple ground stakes away from the equipment, putting a grid underneath a couple of inches of gravel, cad welding everything together.   Making the grid spread the current over a large area as opposed to just attaching a cable to a ground stake.

For anyone that has ever worked around a sub- station during a electrical storm, and has saw a lightning strike and a fireball ( St. Elmo's Fire ) appear out of the surface 100 feet from the substation -you know that this technology works.

RadioRay

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Re: Do you REALLY need that ham license?
« Reply #46 on: January 19, 2014, 09:47:53 PM »
Your opinion then, is that there is no need to disconnect and remote antenna feed lines while taking nearby lightning strikes?
 ::)
NO THANK YOU. :o
The damage to my MOBILE  autocoupler occurred during a series of close lightning strikes - not a direct hit. My insurance paid for that analysis through the marine radio electronics shop.  I was on the porch watching the storm come through when this happened. The HF transceiver was disconnected and undamaged, though the mamory was scrambled, but easily reset.  Naturally, my vehicle had no connection with the POWER LINES which took the strike on the edge of my property. That was only a 16' mobile whip tied forward. The series of strikes at that time were essentially immediate flash/CRACK, and a column of electrical plasma with massive current flow at extreme voltage is absolutely going to couple a lot of power into my large and HIGH home dipole antenna and feedline, even without a direct strike.  That is what an antenna does; couple faint EM energy into the HF station..

Many of the sailors I know  have had significant lightning damage to their marine SSB (HF) and etc. from other than direct strikes while under sail or on the hook (anchored). Naturally, no power lines there.

Is it a good idea to fully isolate, including from power lines ? Yes.


YMMV,


>de RadioRay ..._ ._



« Last Edit: January 19, 2014, 09:52:43 PM by RadioRay »
"When we cannot do the good we would, we must be ready to do the good we can."  ~ Matthew Henry

IT Tech

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Re: Do you REALLY need that ham license?
« Reply #47 on: January 20, 2014, 08:01:53 AM »
This is what you should be using at the top of the mast of your boat. - http://www.lbagroup.com/products/lightning-protection-masts-dissipators#tower

I'm surprised that no one has told you this before.

http://www.jamestowndistributors.com/userportal/document.do?docId=995

When you are on the water, you are the highest thing in the neighborhood - hence your mast becomes a convenient lightning rod.

KK0G

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Re: Do you REALLY need that ham license?
« Reply #48 on: January 20, 2014, 08:35:13 AM »
This is what you should be using at the top of the mast of your boat. - http://www.lbagroup.com/products/lightning-protection-masts-dissipators#tower

I'm surprised that no one has told you this before.

http://www.jamestowndistributors.com/userportal/document.do?docId=995

When you are on the water, you are the highest thing in the neighborhood - hence your mast becomes a convenient lightning rod.


I have to be brutally honest here.I have been thrown off every Prepper board in existence for speaking my mind when it comes to amateur radio.


Really? I never would have guessed.
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" - Benjamin Franklin

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RadioRay

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Re: Do you REALLY need that ham license?
« Reply #49 on: January 20, 2014, 02:07:13 PM »
"...honest..." & "...thrown off every Prepper board... ."

Hmmm   ???   Must be some use of the word "honest" with which I was previously unfamiliar.

de RR  ..._  ._



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

whoppo

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Re: Do you REALLY need that ham license?
« Reply #50 on: January 20, 2014, 10:21:36 PM »
For those of you concerned with adding your location to the fcc database, bear in mind that form 605 asks for your mailing address, not your physical address. My address of record is a personal mail box at a ups store several miles away from my rural home.

gil

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Re: Do you REALLY need that ham license?
« Reply #51 on: September 20, 2014, 04:06:12 AM »
Hello,

I am sure I won't be the only one replying, so I will make it short, because it is passed my bed time here, and I need to get up at a reasonable hour..

If you don't want to get a Ham license, that is your prerogative. I can tell however by reading your post that you do not have the knowledge required to insure reliable communications. No offense intended, we have all been there. What seems like "child play" from the outside might turn into something more... It's no rocket science mind you, but there is a bit of an art to it. Only practice (not reading about it) will give you the skills to communicate reliably, technically, environmentally and humanly speaking.

CB is great, but very unreliable because the high frequency signal will not bounce on the ionosphere unless the conditions are very good. It will reliably work up to maybe 15 miles, possibly more depending on antenna height. It will also sporadically work beyond say, 500 miles. Between 15 and 500, not so much, that being the skipped zone. CB laso has only 40 channels, and that can become crowded very fast. A lot of people have them, so there goes your OPSEC. BTW there are no "CB bands." CB is only one band, the 11m/27mHz band, period. There is no such thing as "UHF CB." You must be reffering to FRS or GMRS, maybe MURS? They are not CB. Not much OPSEC there either as most people have a pair laying around somewhere (MURS is better in that regard)..

As far as antennas and their applications, a lifetime of study might be enough to understand them all, but even then... That is rocket-science level stuff.

All that being said, I am sure you would figure it out soon or later, but trust me, it would take you quite a bit longer than you think... In radio, it's not the equipment only that ensures reliable communications, it's the way you use it, and the variables are numerous. Problem is in an EOTW situation, do you have time to experiment and goof around learning, or do you need things to work NOW!? You could learn to swim from a book, but you wouldn't jump from a boat in deep water on your first try, right? Because the chances that everything will work according to your previsions are rather slim.

Anyway, welcome to the forum :) Nobody is going to blast you here, it's not that kind of forum. We have high-caliber people here, and very knowledgeable. Keep browsing around and you will slowly realize how much there is to learn. As to privacy, you just give a different address for your license than your real domicile. I don't think there is a big risk of any country invading the U.S. "A gun behind every blade of grass," remember... The Japanese knew better than to try.

Gil.

NCGunDude

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Re: Do you REALLY need that ham license?
« Reply #52 on: September 20, 2014, 07:25:07 AM »
freax, welcome to the forum. You made a point in your first post, and reiterated in your second, but learning morse is no longer required on any of the licensing exams.

With regards to OPSEC and SHTF comms, it's true while you might get by without a license, your signal will give you away before anything else, such as an address in a database. If it's grid down, it won't matter much, no one's coming to your house. You can't compare WWII with anything occurring today, except for human nature.

The prevailing wisdom is it's better to get your license, get your gear, and practice, practice, practice, instead of buying gear and putting it away for SHTF. The same is true for any aspect of your preps. My family camps, for example. Being prepared is a lifestyle, not a hobby.

I highly recommend getting your license, it costs $14 to take the exam. The answers to the question pool are online, you can take the technicians, general, and extra all in one day, if you keep passing. I took separate exams for the technician and general. You'll want General to transmit on HF.

Chinese HT's can be had for $35 and a mag mount antenna will get you on most of the repeaters in your area. I've found the HAM community to be very accommodating to new operators of all backgrounds.

KK0G

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Re: Do you REALLY need that ham license?
« Reply #53 on: September 20, 2014, 10:13:40 AM »
Welcome to the forum freax, glad to have you aboard.

Fully aware that I'm inexperienced with the on-air protocols required to contact and interact with another HAM radio member. However seeing as I am going to be using my equipment for mostly local family-to-family or friend-to-friend contacts who make up a large part of my prepping team have no experience dealing with HAM operators so talking in Q-Codes to them wouldn't be very useful or helpful at all.

This is what Gil was referring to when he said "Only practice (not reading about it) will give you the skills to communicate reliably, technically, environmentally and humanly speaking." He wasn't talking about on-air protocols or Q-codes, while those are handy to know - when communicating with other hams - they're not at all required to effectively communicate. As some examples of what he's talking about, what band would probably be best suited to effectively communicate to one of your prepping team members 300 miles away at 1900 local time during the month of June? What mode would be best suited for that? How about the antenna type? Do you have the skills necessary to effectively operate your receiver filters, AGC and pre-amp to pull that possibly extremely weak signal out of the noise? If you don't have either the band, mode, or antenna available for the previous questions, what time of day would be better suited to make contact with what you do have available? The knowledge to answer all these questions comes from years of experience that you gain from actual day to day on air operating, I'm a little hesitant to say that it can't be learned from a book, but I'll say it really can't be learned from a book. Oh, and the above questions barely even scratch the surface of what we're talking about.

I highly encourage you to get your amateur license, it sounds like you're pretty handy with the technical side of things, you'd have no problem passing the tests. If you're worried about security do as others have already said; don't give the FCC your address. All that's required by law is someplace for them to send you mail, it can be PO box, a friends house, your cousins PO box, anywhere that will accept mail for you.
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" - Benjamin Franklin

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gil

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Re: Do you REALLY need that ham license?
« Reply #54 on: September 20, 2014, 12:46:14 PM »
Right on Chris, that's what I was going to say, but you beat me to it. Personally I hate protocols. I abide by a few in Morse code because they make understanding easier, but in voice modes, I find them silly. I know, they are somewhat useful, but I just have a hard time with them, or the Q code for that matter, which using CW shortens messages a great deal. Sometimes Ray sends me a Q code and I go "shit" and fire up google to check it :-\

A note on CW vs Morse code: Morse code is the dits and dahs code. I could compare it to, say, English or French. It's a coded language. CW is a mode through which you send Morse code. It's easy to use them for the same thing, but they are not. CW is like USB or FM, just a mode. You don't say "I learned USB" or "I speak USB." The same way you can't say "I'll learn CW." You can't learn a mode. I could make up my own "Gil code" and send it in CW...

BTW is sounds like Freax is not in the U.S. am I correct Freax?

Quote
As some examples of what he's talking about, what band would probably be best suited to effectively communicate to one of your prepping team members 300 miles away at 1900 local time during the month of June? What mode would be best suited for that? How about the antenna type?

I couldn't have said it better! Propagation conditions depend on time of day, season, solar cycle, solar activity, frequency, take-off angle and how many cows are facing North-West in the Southern hemisphere :o Just to say that there are some variables we do not quite understand... What if it's daytime here but it is night time for my contact? It gets quite convoluted. The good thing is that once you have established what works best for one contact throughout a year, it will likely be the same the next year.

If I had to pick a couple bands that work most of the time at different hours it would be 40 and 20m. As a third one I would pick 80m, but antennas are a pain... CB is too high frequency to be useful for long range. Even 15m isn't very reliable. I would be content with just an MFJ-9420, 20m USB radio, which is pretty cheap. I don't use anything but CW really... My MTR with 5W on 20/30/40m covers all my needs, except SWL.

Quote
The knowledge to answer all these questions comes from years of experience that you gain from actual day to day on air operating

Well, I'd say months, minimum... It took Ray and I a while to find which frequencies work for us at what time, and we are still experimenting. Now though, I know which band to use. If he said "let's have a sked at three" without specifying the band and frequency, I'd know where to go because of previous contacts. For the finer points of radio operating, yes, that can take years. I'm only two years in, so there are still a few things I haven't figured out...

Freax, I definitely encourage you to learn Morse code. Also, you might want to use paddles and an electronic iambic keyer. It makes much better code for sending, unless you're an expert with a bug or straight key... Unfortunately it does cost a bit more. Most modern radios have a built-in keyer that will accomodate a straight key or paddles. Keep in mind also that you can use Morse code with a flashlight or laser pointer, and in many other different ways, not just on the radio...

Gil.

KK0G

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Re: Do you REALLY need that ham license?
« Reply #55 on: September 20, 2014, 10:18:11 PM »
I could make up my own "Gil code" and send it in CW...
I think you should do it. So what if you can't communicate with another living soul on the entire planet using Gil code because only you know it. ;D
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" - Benjamin Franklin

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gil

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Re: Do you REALLY need that ham license?
« Reply #56 on: September 21, 2014, 01:17:28 PM »
Quote
And way ahead of you on learning morse. The hard way.

Great, it took me a year and a half... Not proud of that :-[

I spent two months in Australia more than 20 years ago, hitch-hiking from Sidney to Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Broome, Darwin, Alice Springs and back. Even got my Australian ultralight aircraft license! Had a great time and met wonderful people :) Maybe I'll go back on a sailboat some day...

Gil.

Lamewolf

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Re: Do you REALLY need that ham license?
« Reply #57 on: January 07, 2015, 04:43:52 PM »
"If SHTF, I'll just go down to the XYZ store and steal everything I need!  Like a Hummer H1!"

Don't worry about people who think they can do this with no training, no practice, and gear they've never used.  It's highly unlikely you'd ever hear them on air at all.

That kind of thinking doesn't surprise me at all, you simply can't fix stupid !  That would be the same as buying an airplane and then try to train yourself to fly it !  :P

emergen

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Re: Do you REALLY need that ham license?
« Reply #58 on: January 07, 2015, 04:53:06 PM »
Spot on Lamewolf.


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jdavidboyd

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Re: Do you REALLY need that ham license?
« Reply #59 on: January 08, 2015, 06:02:43 PM »
Don't have room to store a whole air-o-plane.  I'll store me a kit, build 'er, and then teach myself to fly 'er.  Where's that good ol' 'merican ingenoooity?
:-)

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Radio Preppers

Re: Do you REALLY need that ham license?
« Reply #59 on: January 08, 2015, 06:02:43 PM »