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Author Topic: I have my Technician license, what's next?  (Read 20945 times)

Geek

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Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
« Reply #30 on: April 28, 2013, 01:54:18 PM »
I expect to go slowly in order to avoid buying stuff I am disappointed with and just having to replace it.  Based on what you are saying I would expect the base station to include at least one powerful 2M for the local communications and a HT radio for the long range communications.  Beyond that I don't know enough to plan.
Actually, I think you do. It seems to me you're seeing in your mind's eye what an end-state might look like, over time & within the periodic wallet considerations. Questions? That's what the forum is for.

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

WA4STO has contributed alot in the digital sub-forum and re-reads of his stuff are recommended.
Based on the advice here I am thinking of the base station as a location with multiple radios, a communications hub so to speak.

Geek

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Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
« Reply #31 on: April 28, 2013, 01:57:53 PM »
but I am unfamiliar with the hardware to connect the computer to the radio.  Also, what bands are normally used for this purpose?

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

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

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

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

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

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

73

Luck, WA4STO
Sounds great.  Once I am sure the new antenna works, I think I'll go with the second of the two and try to get the radio email working.  Is there a digital mode that will give you full web browsing?

Geek

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Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
« Reply #32 on: April 28, 2013, 02:14:14 PM »
Thanks for all the help again.  Here is the plan as it sits now:

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

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

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

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

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

That set of tasks should keep me occupied at least through the end of the year.

WA4STO

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Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
« Reply #33 on: April 28, 2013, 02:19:35 PM »
Web browsing via ham radio?

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

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

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

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

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

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

73

Luck, WA4STO
ARRL A1-operator, BPL Medallion holder
NTS(D) Digital Relay Station, Central Area
NTS(D) Target Station, CAN, TEN & NE
TCC Station ?Foxtrot?

KC9TNH

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Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
« Reply #34 on: April 28, 2013, 02:51:21 PM »
For those that you don't get responses from, keep hammering.  Send each of them a dozen more messages until you finally get through.  Be persistent.
Ahh, the old RF-water torture method. ;D

Geek

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Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
« Reply #35 on: April 28, 2013, 02:52:01 PM »
I gather with this suggestion you are referring to folks who are not currently HAMS.  I think this is an excellent idea.  I've been listening to a local net a couple evenings a week and even got contacted by them after I got my license with a "congratulations" message from someone in California after I got my license.

Despite listening to these folks, I don't quite gather how the nets work in terms of sending a message.  The traffic I have been listening to is all about delivering messages.  So I am sitting here with my newly minted Technician license the time and frequency when this one local net operates and want to send a message to my cousin on the opposite coast.  What do I do?

WA4STO

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Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
« Reply #36 on: April 28, 2013, 04:04:05 PM »
Luckily (for you!) there's a ton of helpful info available.  Still, there's a learning curve.

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

Here's one example I sent just today:

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

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

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

and

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

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

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

73

Luck, WA4STO

WA4STO

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Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
« Reply #37 on: April 28, 2013, 04:46:55 PM »
I gather with this suggestion you are referring to folks who are not currently HAMS.  I think this is an excellent idea.

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

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

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

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

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

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

73

Luck, WA4STO

Geek

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Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
« Reply #38 on: April 28, 2013, 05:20:00 PM »
So let's say I have a radiogram written out, ready to deliver.  When I referred to them as a "local" net, I meant they were located close to where I am.  I now realize I don't know what their coverage is and whether they are prepared to deliver a message across the country.  I assume they are, based on receiving a message from across the country.  To send the message, do I just write it out and then when they are accepting messages, announce my call sign and read them the message when they are ready?

WA4STO

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Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
« Reply #39 on: April 28, 2013, 06:03:09 PM »
To send the message, do I just write it out and then when they are accepting messages, announce my call sign and read them the message when they are ready?

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

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

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

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

73

Luck, WA4STO

Quietguy

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Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
« Reply #40 on: April 28, 2013, 07:11:15 PM »
4) Move on to digital modes and establish working radio email.  This requires a radio modem and software.

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

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

Wally

Geek

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Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
« Reply #41 on: April 28, 2013, 08:23:00 PM »
To send the message, do I just write it out and then when they are accepting messages, announce my call sign and read them the message when they are ready?

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

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

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

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

73

Luck, WA4STO
Yes.  I'll draft the message and send you a PM.  Thank you.

Geek

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Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
« Reply #42 on: April 28, 2013, 08:40:52 PM »
4) Move on to digital modes and establish working radio email.  This requires a radio modem and software.

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

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

Wally
I think I would probably want to test both during normal times and if the local net had backup power and was operating that would be great, but not expected.  Actually my HT seems to cover the frequencies, but the rubber duck antenna wasn't picking up much.  When I get the new antenna I'm hoping to be able to test things like the email and find out whether the radio is minimally adequate or not.  If not it is still a great HT.

Quietguy

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Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
« Reply #43 on: April 28, 2013, 09:40:22 PM »
Actually my HT seems to cover the frequencies, but the rubber duck antenna wasn't picking up much.
The ringer there is your HT receives the right frequencies, but it doesn't transmit on them.  I don't remember which model Yaesu HT you have (and I don't have one myself), but I believe they all transmit only on a combination of  VHF and UHF bands - typically 2 meters and 70 cm (440 MHz) with maybe 6 meters, 1.25 meters (220 MHz) and 1.2 GHz thrown in on some models.  So you can listen to the right frequencies, but the radio won't transmit there.

Wally

Geek

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Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
« Reply #44 on: April 28, 2013, 10:24:55 PM »
Actually my HT seems to cover the frequencies, but the rubber duck antenna wasn't picking up much.
The ringer there is your HT receives the right frequencies, but it doesn't transmit on them.  I don't remember which model Yaesu HT you have (and I don't have one myself), but I believe they all transmit only on a combination of  VHF and UHF bands - typically 2 meters and 70 cm (440 MHz) with maybe 6 meters, 1.25 meters (220 MHz) and 1.2 GHz thrown in on some models.  So you can listen to the right frequencies, but the radio won't transmit there.

Wally
I checked the manual and you are correct.  I wanted to listen initially anyhow, so I think my plans are unchanged, but I appreciate your pointing that out.

Radio Preppers

Re: I have my Technician license, what's next?
« Reply #44 on: April 28, 2013, 10:24:55 PM »