So new I can barely spell Ham Radio

Started by ericturner, April 19, 2013, 06:12:54 AM

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Opinions are fine, thoughts & facts backed by real world examples and experience are really most helpful to those asking questions.  Disagreements about the pluses and minuses of the various methods and equipment to solve radio communications goals are going to occur, but can be handled with tact & perhaps even with a bit of class.  On-the-other-hand, your claiming that others here are spreading 'disinformation' is completely out of line. That was simply a low-class & gutless way of calling good people,  'liars'.  Let's not do that - shall we? 

Let's quench some of your incorrect statements right here, so that Eric and others are not misled by you:

1.     Ham radio is not dependent upon Internet, commercial power & etc. There are some people who like to tie their radios together using Internet.  That has precisely zero relevance to this topic.

2.     Ham radio can be inexpensive or expensive, because people's tastes vary.  Gil and I talk directly, EVERYDAY on tiny, home made , battery powered radios. One type of these costs less than $30.  That's 800 miles - every day.  That's reliable and inexpensive and only requires learning a few new skills: learning is good.  If you've been reading in the 'Tactical' section of this forum, you've been seeing that Gil is on a backpack trip and that he & I STILL talk everyday on the radio while he's in the field, using his NEW "INexpensive" dual band, radio transceiver.,407.0.html
It is miniature, the size of a cigarette pack, solar rechargeable and uses a wire in a tree as an antenna.  The transceiver kit with COOL enclosure (case) cost him $120, if I remember correctly. I literally just got off the air with him again, having already made our earlier scheduled radio contact a few hours previously.  I happened to be tuning around - testing one of my gadgets - when I again heard him enjoying a conversation with someone else during his noon break at camp. That is over 800 miles everyday with no infrastructure, from his home, from his coffee shop and yes - from camp on his backpacking trip.  That would easily be defined as 'reliable',  yes?

3.   Your statements that CB can can reliably "transmit to every single place..." is more of a religious statement than a factual one. If you disagree, please demonstrate how this statement might be correct by setting-up contacts with a few of us on this forum ON-THE-AIR during the next week to prove your point.  I look forward to your log of reliable/daily contacts being posted here in the coming week.

4.   "too reliant on today's technology" .  Do CB radios operate on some OTHER 'technology', other than electronics and electro-magnetic waves?

5.   "regulated..." What is NOT regulated ?  CB has many regulations as do, hot dogs & birth control devices (never use these two items together...)  cars, food, electric service, shampoo . . . almost everything in the united States has regulations.  We are not a free people.

Look - if you like CB, enjoy it and tell us about the enjoyment you get from it.  If you see that it can be a good tool , we're all ears (get it??)  .  But please - no sniping at other team members on this forum.  Please make your statements factual, wherever possible.  And never go around saying that people are spreading 'disinformation' (i/e calling them liars) when you have not - so far- shown any understanding of the subject. It would be best to demonstrate success for the methods you are declaring, because nothing speaks like success.

>de RadioRay ..._ ._

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

White Tiger

Quote from: 2MT350 on April 19, 2013, 05:25:03 PM
technically, cb radios are the best choice for a prepper, ham radios have become too reliant on todays technology, and also require repeaters for their range.

Not exactly. High Frequency (or HF) does not need anything more than a radio, some coax, a dipole (it can be literally an antenna with wire ends on two poles), strung up over a branch of a tree, a grounding strap (bolting to the back of the radio and also to the appropriate plumbing stack of your home). Thats it.

I have made contacts all around the world, including Venezuela, the Slovak Republic and Milan Italy. I have also adjusted the the "legs" of the two poles - and spoken to folks within 30 miles of my location! I can tell you I didn't use a single repeater (unless you count the ionosphere)!

Other equipment can be bought, really powerful (or even expensive) antennas can be constructed/erected - like fishing - you can "just" get your signal out there, or you can "cast" it to a specific spot on the map. I'm pretty fascinated that I can accomplish a lot of what the "power" users pay/build - with a little learning, observation and some practice. I can get almost anywhere with my cheap dipole, by observing what frequency goes where, at what time of day...and I did (and have figured out some routes on some frequencies). ...and like Luck/WA4STO've got bazillians of unlike CB, you won't ever find a time when someone is crowding you off any frequency (CB is confined to channels).

I know you're trying to provide good advice, and are no doubt offering some of that advice from experience - and that's great. My understanding of CB is very limited, so I am interested to find out more about how you get so much "skip" on your signal, etc., but I wanted to speak to what I know in order to correct something.

I think your statement concerning HF/HAM is a good one - even if it was wrong - it helps correct misconceptions, and THAT is incredibly important - because for every poster, there's at least one reader with the same idea. So thanks for letting us address the misconceptions - somewhat at your expense.

Quote from: 2MT350 on April 19, 2013, 05:25:03 PM
a good classic cobra 142 gtl base station with a decent antenna will get ya around 40-60 miles. and cb's an be setup to run alot
more then the standard 4 watts :)

and we know that the 4 watt limit only gets enforced when somebody decided to be a bunghole and reports the op for
bleeding over his stuff, lol.

Well, during an emergency - no one is going to question you operating to find aid - but anyone new to radio really needs to get a license (all the answers are provided for study, and the it only costs $14.00) and start practicing with it L-O-N-G before SHTF. When it really gets bad - good luck getting a channel when THOUSANDS of people are all trying to use FORTY channels.

Quote from: 2MT350 on April 19, 2013, 05:25:03 PM
as long as your in a decent rural area, you shoud be good at 200 - 500 watts with a linear amp :)

You may use quite a lot of power for that linear amp to get a fuzzy signal into the ether over those 40 channels - and you might find an open channel. My radios operate on 12v marine/car batteries too, the difference is that Im assured of making contact with someone.

Now, if you're talking about 2m HAM radios - you are partially right that they are limited to line of sight - but that's a very small portion of HAM bands. My HF radio operates on 80m, 40m, 20m, and I have a 10m/CB combo, as well as a 2m multi-band and several hand-helds that are for comms between a local group - BUT they do not need repeaters AND operate at reduced power consumption at .05 to 40 watts.

I would not rely - at all - on CB! I bet my comms on HF for faraway news/comms and VHF for local comms/bulletins.

I came to much of this information via a LOT of questions to a radio mentor/friend (HAM's call them "Elmer's")...and from many on these boards!
If you're looking for me, you're probably looking in the wrong place.


My experience with CBs is they are also line of sight and good for about 5 miles tops.  Gil seems to do much better with his Galaxy, but we are still talking like 15 miles if I remember correctly.  Of course these are legal radios at legal power settings.

I am now getting 250 miles with my Yaesu HT with a Nagoya rubber duck style antenna.  This is all totally legal.  While I am not likely to give Gil any competition for long distance, low power, communication in the near future, my next challenge is to get other members of my family licensed.


Quote from: Geek on April 21, 2013, 08:17:49 AM
... my next challenge is to get other members of my family licensed.

Your family must be a lot different than mine.  The two scariest things I can think of in this world is my drunken cousin obtaining a concealed carry permit, and my mother-in-law with a ham license.


Quote from: Frosty on April 21, 2013, 09:50:09 AM
Quote from: Geek on April 21, 2013, 08:17:49 AM
... my next challenge is to get other members of my family licensed.

Your family must be a lot different than mine.  The two scariest things I can think of in this world is my drunken cousin obtaining a concealed carry permit, and my mother-in-law with a ham license.

Well, I am being selective about who I am encouraging to get a HAM license.

My cousins have been armed since before the revolution, so that one has left the barn.  :-)


I started radio with CB in the early 80s. I still have two of them, rarely used.. So, I know about CB and what it is good for, or not. Sorry 2MT350, but CB is not as reliable as Ham radio, period. I do like CB, and would definitely mount one in my car for a long road trip. There is no better way to hear about road conditions ahead. I think it is important to own one, just because they are so common. That said, the 11m band is NOT "often" open. It is rarely open, especially during low solar cycles. When the band is open, it is hard to have any kind of conversation with so many users cramped into forty channels. By the way, using CB amps is illegal, and I will not allow suggesting using them. They are often low quality and splatter prone. A few Watts is enough for Worldwide range. I know, I do it every day. Ham radio is vastly superior to CB in so many ways..

2MT350, learn more about Ham radio before making unsubstanciated statements. You can like both, it's not heresy. And please remain civil.

I will not allow bickering here.


Jim Boswell

        2MT350, there are some merits to what you say.  Amateur radio is great, but you will be talking to other hams, not the general public. I make sure I have both formats, amateur and CB. With both formats, I can relay a request for help (or information) to and from a trucker to public service people.
       About 30 to 40 years ago people tried to use CB during Skywarn events. The lightning crashing noise disabled communication, and hams steped-in with VHF FM and the system worked great. People still use CB for road condition reports.
       Although my CB antenna is down for the short term, I plan to get that antenna back up by Fall. Myself and several other hams have CB units just in case. One thing to consider, AM CB can not deliver clean clear communication like VHF FM can.
I consider CB another tool in the toolbox, at different times, different tools may work, I reserve the right to carry all the tools I might need. 73'S  KA5SIW


If it was me, I would use an HF radio capable of 40, 30, and 20 meter bands.
You should be able to communicate locally and regionally. 30 is digital only, but it is workable day and night.
The antennas for these bands are manageable.

Locally you can communicate on the HF frequencies in SSB and use groundwave to your advantage. This makes it harder for the conversation to be listened to by a scanner user. Remotely NVIS would work well for the distances involved.


Hello Jim,

This thread is a year old and if I remember well, 2MT350 was banned for trolling. I think pretty much everything has been said about CB. Useful, yes, reliable, no.
Here is what I would use per distance:

  • 5 miles and less: Pretty much anything! I'd use 2m.
  • 0 to 15 miles.: CB if I didn't have a Ham radio license.
  • 5 to 50 miles.: 2m FM.
  • 0 to 100 miles: 160m ground waves, if I had the space for the VERY long dipole.
  • 50 to 100 miles: 2m SSB with a Yagi-Uda antenna as high as possible.
  • 100 to 350 miles: 80m NVIS with a low dipole. 40m if not enough space.
  • 350+ miles: 20 and 40m.



Confession time; I came from the land of the chicken band many years ago :o .

My experience there taught me a few things, mainly that 11 meters in it's current state is about as useless as tits on a boar. Whoever the rocket surgeon was at the FCC that thought an HF band with world wide propagation would be a good place for untrained, undisciplined citizens to communicate locally and then channelize it full of AM carriers was truly brilliant, only the federal government could screw something up that bad.

In my opinion FRS, GMRS or MURS is a far, FAR better choice for non hams to reliably communicate locally (out to maybe 10, possibly 20 miles or so under ideal conditions with relatively simple equipment). Could that 10-20 miles be made to work under not so ideal conditions or streched out even further to 20, 40, 50 miles? Sure, but if you have the know how and skill to do that then you have the know how and skill to get an amateur license.

For truly reliable long distance personal communication to the other side of the state, 3 states over, the other side of the country or the other side of the world there's only one option....... amateur radio.

In a nutshell, if you want reliable communications, get your amateur radio license if you don't already have one. I don't think they can make the tests any easier........ 5 year old kids have passed it!!
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" - Benjamin Franklin



Quote from: KK0G on May 12, 2014, 08:34:24 PM5 year old kids have passed it!!
My son got his tech and General when he was 11.  Of course he mostly memorized the correct answers and didn't understand much of the theory, but he learned enough to get on the air and stay out of trouble.


The hardest part of group communications, especially when it comes to familes, is getting anyone to go pass a simple test.. I have been mentioning to a few friends that they should spend the $15 and a little bit of time to learn the basics but none of them have lifted their little finger yet.. I've even offered to buy them a UV-5R as an incentive.. Nope.. But again, none of them has more than a fridge full of perishable food. Well, except one friend of mine who is exceedingly well prepared, but that's it, and he just wants to get a CB. Crisis time is too late to learn. I also came from CB and I know its limitations. $15 plus two weeks of assiduous reading and practice tests and I had an Extra license.. It's not that hard. Convincing others to go for the basic Tech exam, that's harder than anything else!



Quote from: gil on May 12, 2014, 09:05:46 PM
The hardest part of group communications, especially when it comes to familes, is getting anyone to go pass a simple test.. ...........

..........It's not that hard. Convincing others to go for the basic Tech exam, that's harder than anything else!
That ain't no kidding! If someone asks or brings it up in conversation I'll tell them pretty much what I said above, but I gave up trying to convince those that have no self motivation long ago.
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" - Benjamin Franklin