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Posted: 5/3/2011 6:41:35 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 6/2/2015 9:21:38 PM EDT by ar-jedi]


people interested in obtaining a ham radio license
and learning basic operating practices

this is YOUR THREAD


the members of the ARFCOM Ham Radio forum offer instruction, pointers, direction, tips, encouragement, hand-holding, coddling, WHATEVER IT TAKES, to help you get an amateur radio license and understand basic VHF/UHF operations (both simplex [radio-A to radio-B] and repeated [radio-A to repeater to radio-B]) such that local communications (and monitoring) are possible after events such as a tornado, flood, hurricane, sold out Lady Gaga concert, or other SHTF.

if you "sign up" by stating so in this thread i and other members of the Ham Radio forum will do everything possible to get you to a state where you have 1) a valid amateur radio license, 2) equipment suitable for your needs, and 3) know how to operate it for effective communications. you will need to put forth some effort. if you are self-motivated it will be quick and painless (as many others will attest to).

note that there is VERY LITTLE expense involved with getting basic communication functionality. there are many options, and the forum members can find a solution to everyone's situation. repeat: this is not going to cost you an arm and leg –– and the effort/money you do put into it will result in far more communications capability than CB or FRS radios.

note that if you are not motivated we will ride your sorry ass like a busted mule.

it is possible/practical to get from ZERO knowledge of communications to lawfully operating a VHF/UHF ham radio in a matter of weeks –– and that includes just a couple hours of study time. concepts which you don't understand immediately i and others will explain in detail.

no one is going to confuse you with complicated terminology.
no one is going to expect that you go on to become an uber-elite operator.
no one is going to suggest investing in thousands of dollars of equipment.
everyone is going to help you to your goals.

ps:
example of success:
http://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=1&f=5&t=1143360 <–– even a Marine could do it!!! (don't hurt me, please!)

example of MAJOR success: (author is an ARFCOMer)
http://www.eham.net/articles/20777

That morning started out as many do for me in the early part of November. I was hunting by myself on a 750 acre farm, about an hour from my home. At dawn, I was climbing up into a tree in which I had hung a stand. I had built a ladder on to the side of the tree by nailing 16" long pieces of 2x4 lumber on to the trunk, using 4" long 16D nails. As I climbed up the tree, one of these came loose and fell to the ground. I was still able to climb to the stand, but you'll see why I mention this in a moment.

Once I reached the level of the stand, I carefully checked it by putting one foot on the stand. I had a safety strap in my pocket and I always put it on before I sit down. As I stepped on to the stand, I thought I had a good hold on the tree when the stand fell away beneath me. I lost my grip and fell 20' backwards to the ground.

Remember that 2x4 with the 4 rusty nails sticking out of it? Well, I found it. It was impaled on my back with all 4 nails sticking into my back. They were roughly at the level of my shoulder blade, with one about 1/4" from my spine. The wind was knocked out of me and my entire body hurt. One nail seemed to be touching a rib. It was in this condition that I placed my "Mayday!" call [using my ham radio].


––––––––––

IF YOU ARE A SELF-STARTER you can begin by reading the Ham Radio 101 thread, here:
http://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=10&f=22&t=604477
see specifically the VHF/UHF-related sections such as those titled,
–– ham radio 101
–– an introduction to VHF/UHF repeaters
–– how to get a ham radio license, in short
–– simplex communications and approximate ranges
–– how to find your local repeaters

––––––––––

ar-jedi

ETA:
several ham radio forum folks have IM'd me offering to help with answering questions etc in this thread –– BY ALL MEANS jump in and keep the ball rolling at any/every opportunity. i have that pesky full-time "job thing" on the side, and a wife with a to-do list, so the more mentors we have the merrier!

––––––––––

THE "IN" CROWD:

[updated Tue May 28 12:45:37 UTC 2013]


<... the long list deleted ...>


I HAVE COMPLETELY GIVEN UP ON THE LIST.

IT WAS A GOOD IDEA. I THOUGHT I COULD DO IT.

WITH NO REMORSE WHATSOEVER, I HAVE TO ADMIT THAT IT'S BEEN ALL BUT
IMPOSSIBLE TO KEEP TRACK OF ALL OF THE ARFCOM'ERS WHO HAVE GOTTEN
LICENSED WITHIN THIS THREAD. THE TOTAL OF NEW LICENSEES IS EASILY
OVER 200. THERE ARE ABOUT THE SAME NUMBER OF SUCCESSFUL LICENSE
UPGRADES AS WELL.

YOU GUYS BEAT ME.

GREAT STUFF!


––––––––––

important note for those taking exams:

periodically, the license question pool is adjusted a bit -- to reflect current operating practices, or to sync up with bandplan changes, etc.
hence, if you are using an online or paper study guide, be sure to verify you are using one that reflects the current ARRL question pool for the license class you are interested in.


the question pools are updated approximately every 4 years, but the effective dates are disjoint across the three license classes.

specifically,
http://www.ncvec.org/page.php?id=338

The Question Pools are developed and maintained by the Question Pool Committee (QPC) of the NCVEC by FCC instruction and Part 97 Rules & Regulation : Sec. 97.523 Question pools All VECs must cooperate in maintaining one question pool for each written examination element. Each question pool must contain at least 10 times the number of questions required for a single examination. Each question pool must be published and made available to the public prior to its use for making a question set. Each question on each VEC question pool must be prepared by a VE holding the required FCC-issued operator license.

The question pools are normally valid for 4 years and the current Question Pools are as follows:

Element 2 - Technician - Effective July1, 2014 until June 30, 2018

Element 3 - General - Effective July 1, 2011 until June 30, 2015 <<------------ !!!

Element 4 - Extra - Effective July1, 2012 until June 30, 2016
View Quote


as you can see from the information above, the general class license pool is being updated in June 2015.

general tests given prior to June 30, 2015 use the current published pool.
2011 -> June 2015 general pool --> http://www.ncvec.org/page.php?id=350.

general tests given after June 30, 2015 will use an updated pool.
June 2015 -> 2019 general pool --> http://www.ncvec.org/page.php?id=364.


for reference,
2014-2018 technician pool --> http://www.ncvec.org/page.php?id=362
and
2012-2016 extra pool --> http://www.ncvec.org/page.php?id=356
View Quote


ar-jedi

ps
example thread noting comms needs/benefits
A few things i have learned so far from the tornado disaster in Alabama

specifically this post,
http://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=10&f=17&t=646357&page=8#11023103
Link Posted: 5/3/2011 6:54:03 PM EDT
I'm going to try to test for the tech next week. I'm passing all of the practice exams on qrz at 80+%, was doing better but quit studying for a week or two. I'd like to test for general at the same time, but so far I'm only scoring about 55-60% on the practice exams(I am studying the ARRL Q&A book and have the big book with all of the other stuff in it).

I have a radio(ft60) and some "extras" inbound. I still need a good speaker/mic(which I'm not sure on), 12v charger, and some way to mount it where it will be easily viewable and accessible. I guess a carrying case would probably be good too.

I'm looking at this speaker/mic http://twowayplanet.com/vertex-mh-45b4b-speaker-microphone.aspx and this mount http://www.theantennafarm.com/catalog/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=476_512&products_id=4186

Any tips on memorizing the conversion formulas for amps/watts/resistance or passing the general would be appreciated.
Link Posted: 5/3/2011 6:59:40 PM EDT
Yes U Can!

Passed myTech test last month, with the help and encouragement of those here-now on to General-Test next month!

Go Ahead, you know you want to
Link Posted: 5/3/2011 7:01:59 PM EDT
Threads like this one are the reason that this is the only ham radio forum I frequent. Count me in as a mentor (when life affords me the time.)
Link Posted: 5/3/2011 7:08:29 PM EDT
And this thread is further proof that it IS ar-jedi's fault, AND he likes it that way !!! (Isn't that lesson #3?)

P. (Who's still hoping to pass the Extra exam on 5/17 but who had better hit the books again before then!)
Link Posted: 5/3/2011 7:25:51 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/3/2011 8:02:05 PM EDT by ar-jedi]
Originally Posted By machinisttx:
I'm going to try to test for the tech next week. I'm passing all of the practice exams on qrz at 80+%, was doing better but quit studying for a week or two. I'd like to test for general at the same time, but so far I'm only scoring about 55-60% on the practice exams(I am studying the ARRL Q&A book and have the big book with all of the other stuff in it).

keep taking the practice tests, you'll see the questions more often and the correct answers will become second nature.

Originally Posted By machinisttx:
I have a radio(ft60) and some "extras" inbound. I still need a good speaker/mic(which I'm not sure on), 12v charger, and some way to mount it where it will be easily viewable and accessible. I guess a carrying case would probably be good too.

not wasting any time, i see.
a pleather case is usually a good idea, and a 12Vdc charger is a mandatory accessory. and note that the std issue antenna that comes with an HT is "handy" but not optimal. you can construct a much better antenna out of a piece of TV lead, which will MARKEDLY improve your communications range. of course there is a size/portability tradeoff, but for fixed operations (like from your kitchen table) it works. note that increasing antenna gain DRAMATICALLY reduces the amount of RF power you will need to transmit for a given distance. and in turn, that DRAMATICALLY reduces the amount of battery power your radio needs, which results in extending the time until the battery is depleted.

Originally Posted By machinisttx:
Any tips on memorizing the conversion formulas for amps/watts/resistance or passing the general would be appreciated.

many folks like to use this sort of "wheel" –– work from the inside out, insert an "=" sign when you cross the inner circle. e.g. V= I x R


but in general, if you can remember two formulas, you are gtg:
1) V = I x R (aka Ohm's Law)
2) P = V x I


with those two formulas in hand, you can re-organize the terms as needed, and/or combine the two as needed, to get any result you need.

for example: knowing current I and resistance R, how do we get power P?
well P = V x I and V = I x R, so substituting the "V" in P = V x I with "I x R" gives P = (I x R) x I, which rearranged a bit is P = I^2 x R. check with the wheel above to see if we got that correct.

every power/voltage/current/resistance relationship can be worked out from the two formulas posted above.

ar-jedi
Link Posted: 5/3/2011 7:58:04 PM EDT
ill help out and give my experiences where I can.

this type of thing is how the Ham community stays alive if we don't help each other in the never ending process of learning about our hobby no one would ever join or advance.
Link Posted: 5/3/2011 9:08:50 PM EDT
I'm in. I have the Q&A books for Technician and General and am about half way through the Technician book. It's a lot to learn!
Link Posted: 5/3/2011 10:06:10 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/3/2011 10:06:28 PM EDT by Cacinok]
thanks ar-jedi. tagged for later study. i'm saving for a radio now.
Link Posted: 5/3/2011 10:16:20 PM EDT
Sign me up.

I downloaded a few kindle books and started reading them the other night.

Background: I have been involved in electronics and radios my entire life. I reprogram radios for my fire department and have been responsible for multiple radio systems, repeaters, base stations, towers, mobiles, and portables including during my time in the military 15 years ago. But, I never got involved in the HAM side. I have essentially retired from FD and only help service the radios now.

Now that I have free time from that life, I want to do this for myself and my family as I know how important comms can be. I also know how quickly comms become useless without proper knowledge. I absolutely refuse to depend on just one means of communication. After considering the latest disasters, both political and environmental I decided it was time for a backup plan.

The faster I can get this done, the more likely I will succeed. My time is limited due to work and family. But I am very serious about getting this done.

Help me...
Link Posted: 5/3/2011 10:19:19 PM EDT
In. I have fire radios and need ham.
Link Posted: 5/3/2011 10:41:48 PM EDT
Count me in as a mentor. Amateur Extra, instructor, and Volunteer Examiner.
Link Posted: 5/3/2011 11:01:59 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/3/2011 11:07:46 PM EDT by machinisttx]

Originally Posted By USNDOC:
Sign me up.

I downloaded a few kindle books and started reading them the other night.

Background: I have been involved in electronics and radios my entire life. I reprogram radios for my fire department and have been responsible for multiple radio systems, repeaters, base stations, towers, mobiles, and portables including during my time in the military 15 years ago. But, I never got involved in the HAM side. I have essentially retired from FD and only help service the radios now.

Now that I have free time from that life, I want to do this for myself and my family as I know how important comms can be. I also know how quickly comms become useless without proper knowledge. I absolutely refuse to depend on just one means of communication. After considering the latest disasters, both political and environmental I decided it was time for a backup plan.

The faster I can get this done, the more likely I will succeed. My time is limited due to work and family. But I am very serious about getting this done.

Help me...

Here are some practice tests. http://www.qrz.com/exams If you're going to try for general at the same time, note that the question pool will change on June 30. You can go here to find when tests will be given in your area. http://www.arrl.org/find-an-amateur-radio-license-exam-session IIRC, it's $14 per exam session, so you can pay $14 and take tech, general, and extra at the same time if you want..it won't cost you any more.



ETA: Is there a list of arfcom hams and general location? I'm north of dallas about 80 miles and could probably benefit greatly from the assistance of a local Elmer.
Link Posted: 5/3/2011 11:11:27 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/3/2011 11:14:35 PM EDT by wganz]
I'm in as a student.
Just got my call sign KF5KXC today as a Technician.
Am already working on the General license test on QRZ.com.
Just got an excellent condition Kenwood TR-9130 as a starter. Getting a Yaesu FT-897D as the 'real' box which will be funded by culling the herd in the toy box. Have already dragged two loads of tired iron to the toy shop for consignment. Not going to be able to tote all that shit anyway if I have to bug out; and, ain't willing to leave it behind to be used against me or like minded later. So, am dead serious about getting into this.

OK, where am I now? Need to get straight on the best battery setup to push the Kenwood and an antenna that is quick&easy to erect and take down. Am thinking of getting an AGM deep cycle marine battery and a trickle charger. Was thinking of getting a TAK-tenna antenna initially for the quick&easy and then something better.

ETA: Have the two pages of Ham 101 printed out and in a 3 ring binder already. Got the 54 pages of the 'Everything you wanted to know' thread converted to pdf and am printing that off to be put there also for a reference book.
Link Posted: 5/3/2011 11:17:11 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/3/2011 11:19:15 PM EDT by ar-jedi]
Originally Posted By USNDOC:
I downloaded a few kindle books and started reading them the other night.

in case others might be interested –– what kindle books are you using and how would you rate them?

Originally Posted By USNDOC:
Background: I have been involved in electronics and radios my entire life. I reprogram radios for my fire department and have been responsible for multiple radio systems, repeaters, base stations, towers, mobiles, and portables including during my time in the military 15 years ago. But, I never got involved in the HAM side. I have essentially retired from FD and only help service the radios now.

general class licensee in 2 weeks, you can't miss!

Originally Posted By USNDOC:
Now that I have free time from that life, I want to do this for myself and my family as I know how important comms can be. I also know how quickly comms become useless without proper knowledge. I absolutely refuse to depend on just one means of communication. After considering the latest disasters, both political and environmental I decided it was time for a backup plan.

good great goals!

Originally Posted By USNDOC:
The faster I can get this done, the more likely I will succeed. My time is limited due to work and family. But I am very serious about getting this done. Help me...

start with the Ham Radio 101 thread linked in the first post in this thread, it at least provides a topical overview of the how and what.

then, a high level "What's Ham Radio?" page,
http://www.hello-radio.org/whatis.html

(reminder that amateur [ham] radio is an expansive hobby, sort of like firearms. just as there are folks who compete in .22LR bullseye, others who do cowboy action shooting, still others that hunt big game, and then there's IDPA, trap/skeet/sporting clays, black powder, etc etc etc –– something for everyone –– same with ham radio. there are many, many, sub-areas within the hobby itself. there are folks who do a little bit of all facets, and there are folks that concentrate on one area only. don't fret about the expansive scope of the hobby, work on the capabilities you would like now by defining what the problem is (example, "i want to be able to gather useful info during SHTF") and then working on a solution to that particular problem. otherwise you are going to try to wrap your arms around too big and too heavy of a whiskey barrel right off the bat.)

next i would read the Technician and General class license study guides. you may choose to take both exams in one sitting, this is actually a common route for folks. or you may choose to take just the Technician class exam. in either case, having a guide is good.

example commercial guides are here,
https://secure.qrz.com/store/w5yi/index.html

many, many "free" downloadable PDF guides are available as well, example
http://www.kb6nu.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/2010_Tech_Study_Guide.pdf
http://kb6nu.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/05/2007GeneralStudyGuide.pdf <–– ONLY VALID UNTIL JUNE 30th !!!

also see
Yahoo search link

the exam questions (for all classes of licenses) are public; you can download the current exam question pools from many sites. it is certainly possible, though not recommended, to "learn the questions and their correct answers" without actually gaining any useful knowledge. you can repeatedly take the (free) online exams (which are generated by selecting a set of questions from the overall question pool) and if you do this for a couple of hours you will be able to pass the test just by memorizing the answers. this approach has some good points and some bad points, but it is what it is.

once you have done some study work and have taken the practice exams online, scoring >80% consistently, you are ready for the real exam. bring ID, some pencils, $15, show up for about 20 minutes, and then approximately 3-10 days later you will have a license. you can find out where you can take an exam locally using this website,
http://www.arrl.org/find-an-amateur-radio-license-exam-session
if you do not get any close hits, post in this thread where you are at (city, state) and we'll help you find someone to administer the test.

ar-jedi
Link Posted: 5/3/2011 11:27:53 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/3/2011 11:28:57 PM EDT by ar-jedi]
Originally Posted By wganz:
I'm in as a student.
Just got my call sign KF5KXC today as a Technician.
Am already working on the General license test on QRZ.com.

i need your help!

for the benefit of folks joining in on this thread...

what is your technical background, if any, if i may ask?
how long did it take from the time you said "i'm going to do this" to getting your license assigned?
how many hours would you say you spent reviewing material and taking practice exams?
how long did you spend in the actual exam session?
at any time were you subject any weird cult-like rituals which caused you to blade at 45 degrees?

ar-jedi


Link Posted: 5/3/2011 11:37:08 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/3/2011 11:37:31 PM EDT by ar-jedi]
Originally Posted By JaxShooter:
Count me in as a mentor. Amateur Extra, instructor, and Volunteer Examiner.

dear VE,

what kind of facility do you administer the test at?
how much does the test session cost?
how long does a typical technician test take to complete?
can i take more than one test at a single sitting?
assuming i pass the technician test, does taking the general test cost extra?
can i skip taking the technician exam and just go right to general?
what happens after i pass –– you send the results somewhere and then what?

ar-jedi
Link Posted: 5/3/2011 11:43:26 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/3/2011 11:43:59 PM EDT by echomancer]
In to help answer questions. General here now, working towards extra by early summer.

Best free testing site I know of is http://www.hamexam.org

This site will help you identify which sections you need the most work in, and it can also operate in a "flash card" mode.
Link Posted: 5/4/2011 8:58:37 AM EDT
Originally Posted By ar-jedi:
Originally Posted By USNDOC:
I downloaded a few kindle books and started reading them the other night.

in case others might be interested –– what kindle books are you using and how would you rate them?



ARRL's General Q&A [Kindle Edition]

The Ham Whisperer's Technician Class License Course [Kindle Edition]

So far I am reading the whisperers guide and it seems ok. I already know most of the material. I could probably take the exam and pass it without studying. Part of it is knowing how to take multiple choice tests. I have a pretty good knack for spotting the correct answer :D
Link Posted: 5/4/2011 10:02:21 AM EDT
I'll get in on this thread. I even wrote down in January my goals for 2011 to get a HAM lic. This is just the little extra bump I need.
Link Posted: 5/4/2011 10:15:00 AM EDT
Originally Posted By ar-jedi:
dear VE,

what kind of facility do you administer the test at?

Our club uses a meeting room at one of the local malls. I have also conducted sessions at a branch library for another club.


how much does the test session cost?

The ARRL VEC Exam Fee for 2011 is $15.00. W5YI's current fee is $14.00. Volunteer examiners are permitted to charge a fee to recover their out-of-pocket costs in administering an examination so it's possible for this amount to vary slightly.


how long does a typical technician test take to complete?

This depends on you. I've seen people ace it in about 15 min while others take 30-45 depending on their confidence level and the time they spend re-checking their answers. If there are a lot of people testing your longest wait may be in getting your exam graded. Each exam is graded by all three examiners. Multiply that by the number of people testing and figure 10 min or so for us to fill out all of the paperwork.


can i take more than one test at a single sitting?

If you fail the exam you can retake it after paying the fee again. This may be time dependent, though. For example, our location closes at 9pm and we have to be out before that so we may not have time to administer another exam.


assuming i pass the technician test, does taking the general test cost extra?

Following on with the previous question, when you pass your exam you can take the next exam at no cost. As long as you keep passing you can keep testing for the cost of the single exam fee. It's possible to go from zero to hero and get your Extra for one fee if you pass Tech and General together.

If you feel confident about your Technician and think you may like to try General, please let the VE team know ahead of time (especially if you pre-register). This allows the team to have your paperwork and multiple exams in order.


can i skip taking the technician exam and just go right to general?

No


what happens after i pass –– you send the results somewhere and then what?

When you pass your Technician exam you will be given a CSCE that says you passed. The VE team will then take all of your paperwork and send it (either via USPS, FedEx/UPS, or electronically) to the VEC. Once they have your paperwork it will be transmitted to the FCC so your call sign can be assigned. Since you do not have a license yet cannot transmit. Typically within a week your call should show up in the FCC ULS database. Once your call appears you can get on the air. You don't have to wait for the paper license to appear in the mail.

If you are upgrading your license you can start using your new privileges once you walk out the door with your CSCE as long as you use the appropriate designator for General (/AG) or Extra (/AE).

Link Posted: 5/4/2011 12:16:20 PM EDT
First, thanks for everyone's offer to help!

I'm having trouble wrapping my head around power change calculations to find decibels. What is the key to these?
Link Posted: 5/4/2011 12:38:22 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/4/2011 1:02:15 PM EDT by fatdoggie]

Originally Posted By Some_Beach:
First, thanks for everyone's offer to help!

I'm having trouble wrapping my head around power change calculations to find decibels. What is the key to these?

I'm studying for my test now, and the trick I'm using for change in watts expressed in dB is that every time power doubles, it is +3dB.

If you're using a calculator,
dB = 10 * log10 (watts1/watts0)

If it's been a while since you used the log button on a regular scientific calculator - enter watts1 divide key watts0 EQUALS log key (that should be the log base 10 key) multiply key 10. It's been ages since I used something other than an RPN or algebraic calculator, so it took me a while to remember how to do that - I kept trying to enter the log base
Link Posted: 5/4/2011 1:36:56 PM EDT
Guys as I mentioned I just got the ticket.

here is some insight YMMV:

Read the Manual (whichever one you have access to) then go to the back of the book (where the Q&A are).

Highlight the correct answers, mess over the wrong answers with a #2 Pencil (with coversheet between pages-you'll see why) or something to remove the distraction

Study the Back of the Book, the Test is there as well as the answers. Don't make it too hard on yourself!

The Online test (or ARRL CD-Rom) test will be of GREAT help!

1. Read Book (once, maybe twice if you feel it really didn't stick)
2. Study Q&A
3. Take Online Test
4. Pass Test

it took less than 15 min to complete test and check answers-it seems a gigantic looking in-it's an Easy Test to Pass if you Prepare Correctly
Link Posted: 5/4/2011 2:01:29 PM EDT
Originally Posted By SCWolverine:
Highlight the correct answers, mess over the wrong answers with a #2 Pencil (with coversheet between pages-you'll see why) or something to remove the distraction

Are you just memorizing the answer or learning why it's the right answer?
Link Posted: 5/4/2011 2:02:31 PM EDT
Originally Posted By wganz:
I'm in as a student.
Just got my call sign KF5KXC today as a Technician.
Am already working on the General license test on QRZ.com.
Just got an excellent condition Kenwood TR-9130 as a starter. Getting a Yaesu FT-897D as the 'real' box which will be funded by culling the herd in the toy box. Have already dragged two loads of tired iron to the toy shop for consignment. Not going to be able to tote all that shit anyway if I have to bug out; and, ain't willing to leave it behind to be used against me or like minded later. So, am dead serious about getting into this.

OK, where am I now? Need to get straight on the best battery setup to push the Kenwood and an antenna that is quick&easy to erect and take down. Am thinking of getting an AGM deep cycle marine battery and a trickle charger. Was thinking of getting a TAK-tenna antenna initially for the quick&easy and then something better.

ETA: Have the two pages of Ham 101 printed out and in a 3 ring binder already. Got the 54 pages of the 'Everything you wanted to know' thread converted to pdf and am printing that off to be put there also for a reference book.

You need to make sure that TR-9130 has a CTCSS "tone board" installed in it for most repeaters. The older rigs such as the 9130 didn't come with one and Kenwood didn't offer one for it. Some hams used the Communication Specialist brand boards in them. I have one in a Kenwood TR-7730 that works well and was easy to install.

ar-jedi. I offer my assistance in any way I can. This year, 2011 is my 20th year as a ham.

Link Posted: 5/4/2011 2:16:03 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Some_Beach:
First, thanks for everyone's offer to help!

I'm having trouble wrapping my head around power change calculations to find decibels. What is the key to these?

The simple answer is... Every time power doubles there will be a 3db increase.

So 20 watts doubles to 40, and you have a + 3db change. When 40 watts doubles to 80, you again have a + 3db change. If, however, 20 watts was increased to 80, you would have a + 6db change.
Link Posted: 5/4/2011 2:58:43 PM EDT
Originally Posted By ar-jedi:
what is your technical background, if any, if i may ask?
dual degree as RN & Software Development. Grew up on a farm where my father randomly changed what was hooked up to the electric fence; so, am leery of even hooking up speaker wire now. Had a CB back in the 1970's for about 6 weeks until it went TU. Last used a soldering iron back in high skool circa 1970. Did assembly PC's from component parts until about 6 years ago when I went Mac. I could change my own oil if I had to do so.
how long did it take from the time you said "i'm going to do this" to getting your license assigned?
~4 weeks
how many hours would you say you spent reviewing material and taking practice exams?
Went over 2~3 QRZ tests / day which took ~ 30 minutes
how long did you spend in the actual exam session?
Went through the 35 questions in 10 minutes.
at any time were you subject any weird cult-like rituals which caused you to blade at 45 degrees?

None required
ar-jedi


Link Posted: 5/4/2011 3:15:21 PM EDT
Originally Posted By JaxShooter:
Count me in as a mentor. Amateur Extra, instructor, and Volunteer Examiner.


+1

Link Posted: 5/4/2011 3:28:40 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/4/2011 3:29:21 PM EDT by Gamma762]
Originally Posted By ar-jedi:
at any time were you subject any weird cult-like rituals which caused you to blade at 45 degrees?

CW tests ended years ago

Well, except for those of us who have nightmare flashbacks of trying (and failing) to pass the 20wpm test

On topic, I'll help out as I can with answering questions.
Link Posted: 5/4/2011 4:02:22 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Gamma762:
Originally Posted By ar-jedi:
at any time were you subject any weird cult-like rituals which caused you to blade at 45 degrees?

CW tests ended years ago

Well, except for those of us who have nightmare flashbacks of trying (and failing) to pass the 20wpm test

On topic, I'll help out as I can with answering questions.

No kidding...

Link Posted: 5/4/2011 5:07:13 PM EDT

Are you just memorizing the answer or learning why it's the right answer?


Learning of course, that is why i encouraged to read thru once, maybe twice if it didn't stick.

I can see how some could focus on the the mathematical questions; which were very few on the actual test that I took last month. I was hoping to encourage them to begin to get the test in their heads and not stumble on what could maybe be 2 or 3 questions max on the test.

Yes the "math" is an integral part of the process, but I wouldn't want that particular chapter of the book to scare anyone off.
It was the evil math that kept me at bay from 1998-2011, with fears of failing (and laziness in regards to learning). Finally said screw it, did best I could to retain, and passed-easily (couldn't believe how easy and wanted to kick myself for putting it off for so long).

That's all, the simplicity of the actual test maybe isn't stressed enough, and it's the thought of that test that prolly keeps most from getting past the thought of considering HAM to actually getting the ticket.

ar-jedi: if this post isn't constructive, lemmie know and I'll delete.
Link Posted: 5/4/2011 7:10:29 PM EDT
I think the post is fine. Fortunately there isn't a lot of math on the Technician exam. If I could, though, maybe I can give a mnemonic to help folks with a slight mod to the wheel jedi posted.



Swap E for V. This might make it easier to remember. I'm sure most of us like PIE more the PIV right?

Now you can look at the wheel and see the Power = Current (I) x Voltage (E) or P = I x E.

When dealing with voltage, current, and resistance try to remember that the Eagle flies over the Indian and the Rabbit.

E
––––––
I x R

What is the resistance of a circuit in which a current of 3 amperes flows through a
resistor connected to 90 volts?
A. 3 ohms
B. 30 ohms
C. 93 ohms
D. 270 ohms

Based on the formula we just plug the numbers in. E = 90, I = 3. If E is over I we divide 90 by 3 and get 30 so the answer is B.

We do the same substitution for power.

How much power is being used in a circuit when the applied voltage is 13.8 volts DC
and the current is 10 amperes?
A. 138 watts
B. 0.7 watts
C. 23.8 watts
D. 3.8 watts

Looking for P we're given I = 10 and E = 13.8. If we're need PIE then we multiple current and voltage (10 x 13.8) and get 138 making A the answer.

Hopefully these examples will help someone. That's about as difficult as it gets.
Link Posted: 5/4/2011 7:48:36 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/21/2011 10:25:08 PM EDT by ar-jedi]
Originally Posted By Some_Beach:
I'm having trouble wrapping my head around power change calculations to find decibels. What is the key to these?

this is a common complaint –– why would anyone use these damn decibel units?

decibels are employed both to ease the manipulation of measurements which have an extraordinarily large span of values, and allow simple addition/subtraction to take the place of complicated multiplication/division.

but first, understand that seeing "dB" by itself represents a CHANGE –– a relative value –– and not an absolute value. in order for there to be a dB result there must be two values: a reference value, and a measured value. the measured value is expressed relative to the reference value. this is an important concept.

for example, an antenna manufacturer might say "this is a 6dB gain antenna."

your question should be "6dB relative to what?".

their answer might be "oh, we mean 6dBd, or 6dB relative to a dipole". or it might be "oh, we mean 6dBi, or 6db relative to an isotropic point source". note that 0dBd = 2.15dBi. hence, antenna vendors almost always state the dBi value, since it is a higher value it looks "better" on a glossy advertising sheet.

because "dB" is always a relative value, engineer types developed a shorthand way of demonstrating what the reference is as part of the expression. the way this is done is as a suffix to dB, as i showed above with "dBd" and "dBi". dB(x) is simply a measurement relative to (x). typically, related to radio gear, you will see (x) as "m"=(milliwatt), W=(watt), uv or u=(microvolt), and sometimes mv=(millivolt).

with RF measurements, using dBm is very common for stating a power level, and using dBuv is very common for stating a voltage level.

in one's head, one translates "dBm" to mean "dB's referenced to a milliwatt". always remember that dB is a relative value –– question should always be "relative to what?" if it is not explicitly stated.

again, read "dBm" as "dB's referenced to a milliwatt". and so on for dBW and dBuV, etc.

to convert between dBm and watts, use

dBm = (10Log10(milliwatts))
or
Watts = 10((dBm - 30)/10)

0dBm = 1mW
3dBm = 2mW
6dBm = 4mW
10dBm = 10mW
20dBm = 100mW = 0.1W
30dBm = 1000mW = 1W
33dBm = 2000mW = 2W
36dBm = 4000mW = 4W
and so on.

ergo, every added 3dB doubles the power. you can also learn some rules of thumb which will become second nature... in decimal terms, 10dB is 10x, 20dB is 100x, and 30dB is 1000x. a 30dB attenuator, for example, diminishes the output power by 1/1000 of the original.

note that dB measurements can be negative as well (this reinforces the concept that it is a relative, not absolute, measurement). take a 1W (30dBm) signal. put it through a 40dB attenuator. result? -10dBm, which is .1mW. note the ease of doing calculations this way. otherwise, you have 1W / 10000 = 0.0001W. which looks nice, because we are using nice round numbers. try it with 0.5W and 15dB of attenuation.

homework assignment:
(1) what is the power output, in dBm, of a 50W transmitter?
(2) what is the power output, in W, of a 50dBm transmitter?
(3) what is the power output, in dBW, of a 1mW transmitter?
(4) a 5W transmitter feeds a 6dB antenna. what is the ERP?
(5) a 10dBm transmitter feeds a 3dB antenna. what is the ERP?

ps#2
note the computational ease of 5 versus 4.

the cases shown above are specific because we are using a known reference point, say 1 milliwatt (0dBm). the general case is that the reference could be any power level, so the following applies:



the result is in dB and is the difference between the two powers.

ar-jedi


Link Posted: 5/4/2011 10:01:22 PM EDT

Originally Posted By ar-jedi:
Originally Posted By Some_Beach:
I'm having trouble wrapping my head around power change calculations to find decibels. What is the key to these?

snip

homework assignment:
(1) what is the power output, in dBm, of a 50W transmitter?
(2) what is the power output, in W, of a 50dBm transmitter?
(3) what is the power output, in dBW, of a 1mW transmitter?
(4) a 5W transmitter feeds a 6dB antenna. what is the ERP?
(5) a 10dBm transmitter feeds a 3dB antenna. what is the ERP?

ps#2
note the computational ease of 5 versus 4.

the cases shown above are specific because we are using a known reference point, say 1 milliwatt (0dBm). the general case is that the reference could be any power level, so the following applies:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/math/3/5/a/35a09a3f3812c4fd369bf3fea2b719b0.png

the result is in dB and is the difference between the two powers.

ar-jedi

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/a/a0/X_and_log_x.svg
Ok, it makes more sense now after your explanation but with your examples above, I get lost again.

Link Posted: 5/4/2011 10:22:57 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Some_Beach:
Originally Posted By ar-jedi:
(1) what is the power output, in dBm, of a 50W transmitter?
(2) what is the power output, in W, of a 50dBm transmitter?
(3) what is the power output, in dBW, of a 1mW transmitter?
(4) a 5W transmitter feeds a 6dB antenna. what is the ERP?
(5) a 10dBm transmitter feeds a 3dB antenna. what is the ERP?

Ok, it makes more sense now after your explanation but with your examples above, I get lost again.


(1) what is the power output, in dBm, of a 50W transmitter?
50W = 10 x log10 (50W/1W) = 17 dbW

then to convert from dBW to dBM you can either add 30dB, so 17dBw = 47dBm

/or/ redo the calculation using 1mW as the reference instead:

50W = 10 x log10 (50W/0.001W) = 47 dBm.

(2) what is the power output, in W, of a 50dBm transmitter?
50dBm = 10 ^ ((dBm - 30)/10) = 10 ^ (50-30)/10 = 10 ^ 2 = 100W

(3) what is the power output, in dBW, of a 1mW transmitter?
1mW = 0dBm, and 0dBm - 30dB = -30dBW (simple way!)

(4) a 5W transmitter feeds a 6dB antenna. what is the ERP?
5W = 10 x log10 (5W/1W) = 7dBW; 7dBW + 6dB = 13dBW ERP.
13dBW = 10 ^ (dBW/10) = 10 ^ (13/10) = 10 ^ 1.3 = 20W ERP

let's do a sanity check –– we know every 3dB doubles the power. we started with 5W. 3dB more is 10W. 3dB more again is 20W. looks good.

(5) a 10dBm transmitter feeds a 3dB antenna. what is the ERP?
10dBm + 3dB = 13dBm ERP. 13dBm - 30dB = -17dBW ERP.
-17dBW = 10 ^ (dBW/10) = 10 ^ (-17/10) = 10 ^ -1.7 = 0.02W ERP = 20mW ERP

another sanity check –– we know every 3dB doubles the power. we started with 10dBm, that's 10mW. we added 3dB of antenna gain. that doubles it and gets us to 20mW. looks good.

that help any?

ar-jedi
Link Posted: 5/5/2011 7:37:22 AM EDT
Ah, ok, I get it now. Thanks so much for helping me!
Link Posted: 5/5/2011 2:26:43 PM EDT
Hi, my wife & I are both prepping for our first exams.

I’ve been lurking on ar15.com off & on for years but this thread has finally encouraged me to “sign up” even though I don’t own an EBR. Living in Illinois I opted instead for a lever-action in .308.

ar-jedi recommended defining the problem to be solved first before expanding to other interests. A good suggestion for both engineering as well as ham, SHTF prep, etc.

Our primary drive towards ham radio is being able to communicate during normal times.
We live in a rented house on a farm in rural area with more cows than people for neighbors. While my old ICOM FRS radios are good enough for when I’m back in the fields/woods that’s the extent of their practical usage and they EAT triplets of AA batteries. For our location cell phone coverage is iffy between distance and the tin roof. When I’m at work I’m 30 miles away. When she’s at work she’ll be 50 miles from the house, 30 miles from my work and on the other side of the Mississippi River.

Our secondary goal is to be able to communicate during not normal times.
We have had tornados hit within 20 miles of us to the north, east, west and southwest of us in the last 2 weeks. Ice storms are not unusual in this area. Though our home is unlikely to flood, there is a distinct possibility of being cut off by flooding. And during sustained heavy rains the basement is a poor shelter option because it is prone to wetness and even inches of standing water.

In between normal times and needing help ourselves, I look forward to volunteering to assist others. Its part of who I am. Eagle Scout/camp staff/scoutmaster in the past. Some SAR/K-9 SAR training.

BTW: I know how you move a barrel of whiskey that is too big to wrap your arms around and too heavy to move. You open it up and have a toast to good friends. Then by the time you and all your friends that have come around to also toast you and other good friends before you know it the barrel will be easy to move by whoever is still standing. :)

I’m trying to prepare for both the tech & general license in one sitting. My wife thinks she is going to have a problem keeping the electronics parts straight well enough to feel confident about the tech exam though I think that we are both going to need general to meet some of our goals. I am a computer geek (30+ yrs) with a lot of telecomm/datacomm experience. She is more “language arts” type.

I’ve been practicing using hamexam.org. She has been reading “Now you’re talking” 5th ed. My weaknesses are in: 1-antennas; 2-frequency modes and etiquette. What shape lobes you get from different types of antennas, how long and pointed which way, etc. And remembering when should I be using USB/LSB or AM vs FM depending on freq and am I suppose to be shifting by 600 khz and is that up or down.

Thx for db lesson already.
GrinningWolf

Link Posted: 5/5/2011 2:57:57 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/5/2011 3:00:01 PM EDT by GlockTiger]
Originally Posted By GrinningWolf:
I’ve been practicing using hamexam.org. She has been reading “Now you’re talking” 5th ed.


NYT is a great text for the learning part, but make sure she does questions on QRZ or another site that has the up to date pool. Since I knew I'd be helping out on this threat, I took 4 tech practice tests last night and noticed a good many questions that are different from when I tested (and Now You're Talking was still current then).


My weaknesses are in: 1-antennas; 2-frequency modes and etiquette. What shape lobes you get from different types of antennas, how long and pointed which way, etc. And remembering when should I be using USB/LSB or AM vs FM depending on freq and am I suppose to be shifting by 600 khz and is that up or down.
GrinningWolf


LSB for 40 meters and below (80, 160)
USB for 20 meters and up (17, 15, 12, 10, 6...)

Exceptions –– we have five "channelized" frequencies on 60m and they're all USB. And 30m isn't legal for SSB so you don't have to worry about lower/upper.

AM is rarely used even though most HF rigs, but is legal. Normally there's a designated spot for it on the band plans.
FM is used primarily on VHF and above (2m, 1.25m, 70cm, etc) but is also legal in portions of 10m.
Repeater shifts are unique for each band. 2m is the most popular and it's a 600 kHz standard shift. Up or down all depends on the band plan. 70cm is 5 MHz standard shift.
Check out the Band Plan at ARRL.
Also download and print the Ham Bands chart and Considerate Operator's Frequency Guide.
Link Posted: 5/5/2011 3:32:22 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/5/2011 3:55:54 PM EDT by Gamma762]
Originally Posted By KB7DX:
Originally Posted By Gamma762:
Originally Posted By ar-jedi:
at any time were you subject any weird cult-like rituals which caused you to blade at 45 degrees?

CW tests ended years ago
Well, except for those of us who have nightmare flashbacks of trying (and failing) to pass the 20wpm test
On topic, I'll help out as I can with answering questions.

No kidding...

You're not the only one with an "Advanced" callsign

Originally Posted By GrinningWolf:
I don’t own an EBR. Living in Illinois I opted instead for a lever-action in .308.

No state EBR ban in IL, just the Chicago area local restrictions. Plenty of EBRs and EBR manufacturers in IL.


My weaknesses are in: 1-antennas; What shape lobes you get from different types of antennas, how long and pointed which way, etc.

I haven't reviewed the current test elements, so a specific question might be helpful. In general, an antenna element radiates perpendicular to the element, increasing in directivity - ie, concentrating the signal in one direction - until the element gets up to 5/8 wavelength of the frequency in use. Once the element is longer than that, the main lobe of signal skews away from perpendicular and starts going toward the end of the element. Any element more than 1/4 wavelength (monopole, 1/2 wave dipole) will have minor signal lobes in addition to the main lobe. That's simplified, for a single element antenna.... let me know if you have specific questions.

2-frequency modes and etiquette.
And remembering when should I be using USB/LSB or AM vs FM depending on freq and am I suppose to be shifting by 600 khz and is that up or down.

Previous answer covered a lot of it... one thing to remember on the frequency shift is that you use those shifts on VHF/UHF bands only when using repeaters, not for simplex communications. The band plan will probably seem hopelessly complicated at first glance, it might help to think of it in terms of subbands of repeater outputs, and the complimentary subbands 600kHz away of repeater inputs, with simplex frequencies or other uses in between.
Link Posted: 5/5/2011 5:52:25 PM EDT
Originally Posted By GlockTiger:
Originally Posted By GrinningWolf:
I’ve been practicing using hamexam.org. She has been reading “Now you’re talking” 5th ed.


NYT is a great text for the learning part, but make sure she does questions on QRZ or another site that has the up to date pool. Since I knew I'd be helping out on this threat, I took 4 tech practice tests last night and noticed a good many questions that are different from when I tested (and Now You're Talking was still current then).


My weaknesses are in: 1-antennas; 2-frequency modes and etiquette. What shape lobes you get from different types of antennas, how long and pointed which way, etc. And remembering when should I be using USB/LSB or AM vs FM depending on freq and am I suppose to be shifting by 600 khz and is that up or down.
GrinningWolf


LSB for 40 meters and below (80, 160)
USB for 20 meters and up (17, 15, 12, 10, 6...)

Exceptions –– we have five "channelized" frequencies on 60m and they're all USB. And 30m isn't legal for SSB so you don't have to worry about lower/upper.

AM is rarely used even though most HF rigs, but is legal. Normally there's a designated spot for it on the band plans.
FM is used primarily on VHF and above (2m, 1.25m, 70cm, etc) but is also legal in portions of 10m.
Repeater shifts are unique for each band. 2m is the most popular and it's a 600 kHz standard shift. Up or down all depends on the band plan. 70cm is 5 MHz standard shift.
Check out the Band Plan at ARRL.
Also download and print the Ham Bands chart and Considerate Operator's Frequency Guide.


Thx.
I have the ARRL Hambands_color.pdf tacked to the wall beside my desk at work and she has it in the back of NYT. It's a help the the wavelength <=> freq relationship. But the out of date portions of it is distracting/confusing.
I had not seen the Considerate Operator's guide before, but its printing now.

We are both using hamexam.org for practice tests. I like the way it does grading and provides stats.
No practice this weekend though. Meeting with friends for a camping trip out in Central Mo. Maps show it to be high ground. Hopefully high enough.
We don't want to be doing any Huck Finn's floating down the river on a lashed together raft.
GrinningWolf

Link Posted: 5/5/2011 6:35:26 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/5/2011 7:02:59 PM EDT by GrinningWolf]
Originally Posted By Gamma762:
[No state EBR ban in IL, just the Chicago area local restrictions. Plenty of EBRs and EBR manufacturers in IL.


My weaknesses are in: 1-antennas; What shape lobes you get from different types of antennas, how long and pointed which way, etc.

I haven't reviewed the current test elements, so a specific question might be helpful. In general, an antenna element radiates perpendicular to the element, increasing in directivity - ie, concentrating the signal in one direction - until the element gets up to 5/8 wavelength of the frequency in use. Once the element is longer than that, the main lobe of signal skews away from perpendicular and starts going toward the end of the element. Any element more than 1/4 wavelength (monopole, 1/2 wave dipole) will have minor signal lobes in addition to the main lobe. That's simplified, for a single element antenna.... let me know if you have specific questions.

2-frequency modes and etiquette.
And remembering when should I be using USB/LSB or AM vs FM depending on freq and am I suppose to be shifting by 600 khz and is that up or down.

Previous answer covered a lot of it... one thing to remember on the frequency shift is that you use those shifts on VHF/UHF bands only when using repeaters, not for simplex communications. The band plan will probably seem hopelessly complicated at first glance, it might help to think of it in terms of subbands of repeater outputs, and the complimentary subbands 600kHz away of repeater inputs, with simplex frequencies or other uses in between.


EBR ban: no there isn't currently. But there almost was, SB10. And yes, I was then a marcher at IGOLD. After 20 years of living in NJ IL almost seems like firearms paradise. But it still doesn't take long to figure out that the political powers that be still want to ban all guns, but will be happy to start with ones that have things that go up and little wedges of metal that could be used to hang pointy things. Since I was shopping when SB10 was actively in play I looked at my alternatives, surveyed the firearms landscape and decided that either a level action or bolt action that could handle 5 or more rounds in either 45-70 or .308/7.62 do what I was looking to do. Hunt deer or boar in Mo or defend people at home when nothing else I had would be more appropriate. And so I found a Savage 99D.
And its purtty to boot.

[hum, pic not showing up. But it does have a nicely carved stock and forearm.]

Thx for the antenna info. I didn't ask specific test questions because I am trying to understand not just choose the correct answer. Thats also why I'm not as worried about the General pool changing soon. We had hoped to be ready to ready to test at a local hamfest the other weekend at Lewis & Clark but life had other distractions for us. But we are going to get there. We are going to get licensed and we are going to get equiped before we take a long drive out to Seattle area this Aug/Sept timeframe.

Understanding antennas is important to me. My CB experience (going back to analog tuning knobs & vacuum tubes) does not begin to prepare someone for the antenna choices of ham. With the variety of vehicles I have, even there no one antenna is going to do it all from a mobile point of view. (Dodge Calibur - VW Vanagon - Suburban - 40' skooly)

While we talking antennas - polarization. Lets make it simple and then lets go into exceptions.
I put a vertical whip on a 2M mobile. Is that going to give me horizontal or vertical polarization? I've been trying to relate this to my vague recollections of right hand/left hand rule days of EE classes, but those were 30 years ago.
I string a wire between the trees in the backyard (using balun & antenna tuner for SWR adjustment) will I have horizontal or vertical?
Note: questions T3A03 & T3A04 are about polarization.

BTW: has anyone successfully used a cattle fence wire for an antenna? AFTER pulling the plug on the power that is! Actually, since it is DC... And I don't want to be chasing cows any more than I already have to.

GrinningWolf


Link Posted: 5/5/2011 10:31:14 PM EDT
Originally Posted By GrinningWolf:
I put a vertical whip on a 2M mobile. Is that going to give me horizontal or vertical polarization? I've been trying to relate this to my vague recollections of right hand/left hand rule days of EE classes, but those were 30 years ago.

Vertical


I string a wire between the trees in the backyard (using balun & antenna tuner for SWR adjustment) will I have horizontal or vertical?

Horizontal

T3A03
What antenna polarization is normally used for long-distance weak-signal CW and SSB contacts using the VHF and UHF bands?
A. Right-hand circular
B. Left-hand circular
C. Horizontal
D. Vertica

When using 2M SSB for example and trying to cover a great distance you'd want a high element, horizontally polarized beam. Something like a 7- or 12-element beam will get you pretty far.

T3A04
What can happen if the antennas at opposite ends of a VHF or UHF line of sight radio link are not using the same polarization?
A. The modulation sidebands might become inverted
B. Signals could be significantly weaker
C. Signals have an echo effect on voices
D. Nothing significant will happen

If you try to point your horizontal beam at a repeater antenna which is going to be vertically polarized like the one on your house/car you'll have a harder time getting a good signal.

It's not uncommon to run two beams on the same mast in each polarization.
Link Posted: 5/5/2011 11:06:58 PM EDT
Originally Posted By GrinningWolf:
While we talking antennas - polarization. Lets make it simple and then lets go into exceptions.
I put a vertical whip on a 2M mobile. Is that going to give me horizontal or vertical polarization? I've been trying to relate this to my vague recollections of right hand/left hand rule days of EE classes, but those were 30 years ago.
I string a wire between the trees in the backyard (using balun & antenna tuner for SWR adjustment) will I have horizontal or vertical?

Vertical, then horizontal, as previously posted is correct. The right hand/left hand rule you are recalling is the relationship of the electric and magnetic fields... signal polarization is referring to the electric field.

Most common antennas are "electric antennas" so it's easy to tell the polarization just from the appearance of the antenna. Feedpoint feeding an antenna element, is that element vertical or horizontal, that's what the radiation will be. For something like a "quad" or a loop, look at where the feedpoint is - on a quad, feedpoint at the bottom is horizontal, at the side for vertical. Slot antennas, magnetic field antennas and the like get confusing as the polarization is opposite from what they appear (that right hand/left hand rule) but you won't deal with those very often.

BTW: has anyone successfully used a cattle fence wire for an antenna? AFTER pulling the plug on the power that is! Actually, since it is DC... And I don't want to be chasing cows any more than I already have to.

Well I use cattle fence wire (aluminum) as my typical wire antenna material, but not in a cattle fence configuration
Link Posted: 5/5/2011 11:14:09 PM EDT
this has my attention...

How much cash should i set aside for gear ?



Link Posted: 5/5/2011 11:40:59 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 6/5/2011 2:09:51 AM EDT by ar-jedi]
Originally Posted By BattletweeteR:
this has my attention..
How much cash should i set aside for gear ?

approximately the GDP of Sweden. that should get you started!

seriously, though, this is more or less the same as "how much should i set aside for guns?" –– the answer in that case is how far/fast/accurate you want to shoot, etc. you can get a used G19 for $300 and you have a gun. you can also purchase a new Accuracy International AWM in .338 Lapua –– and the scope mounts alone are going to run you $300.

here are some "rough guidelines" that assume new, modern equipment.

HT's, or Handy Talkies –– small, portable, self contained radios that you can put in your jacket pocket. primarily used in conjunction with repeaters, but can be used simplex.
2m VHF or 70cm UHF FM HT: $100 to $150
2m/70cm VHF/UHF "dual band" FM HT: $175 to $300

Mobile radios –– designed to be mounted in a vehicle but are commonly used in the house as fixed stations as well. used in conjunction with repeaters, or used simplex.
2m VHF FM mobile: $125 to $200
2m/70cm VHF/UHF "dual band" FM mobile: $275 to $500

HF radios –– designed for fixed station or portable use. in this category there is HUGE variation in capabilities, and therefore in price as well.
6m-160m all mode HF radio with AF DSP: $600 to $900
6m-160m all mode HF radio with IF DSP: $800 to $1200

"Shack in a box" radios –– all bands, all modes,
2m/70cm + 6m-160m all mode HF radio with AF DSP: $700 to $1200
2m/70cm + 6m-160m all mode HF radio with IF DSP: $1000 to $2000

"Contester" radios, HF radios designed specifically for optimum performance.
6m-160m all mode HF radio with IF DSP and front panel bandscope: $1500 to $10000

now then, antennas...
mobile VHF/UHF installation, requires NMO, magnet, or lip mount AND aerial: $50 to $200
fixed station VHF/UHF installation, requires coax downlead and aerial: $100 to $500

for HF the antenna "system" usually consists of the antenna itself, the downlead, and a tuner. there is a HUGE variety of HF antennas available (and you can also construct them yourself). you can spend $50 or $50,000 on HF antennas, and no i am not making that last number up.
tuner: $100 to $500
fixed station HF, wire antenna, e.g. OCF dipole: $50 to $200
fixed station HF, vertical antenna, $100 to $750
fixed station HF, beam antenna and associated rotor: $500 to $2000

ar-jedi
Link Posted: 5/6/2011 10:24:28 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Gamma762:
Originally Posted By GrinningWolf:
While we talking antennas - polarization. Lets make it simple and then lets go into exceptions.
I put a vertical whip on a 2M mobile. Is that going to give me horizontal or vertical polarization? I've been trying to relate this to my vague recollections of right hand/left hand rule days of EE classes, but those were 30 years ago.
I string a wire between the trees in the backyard (using balun & antenna tuner for SWR adjustment) will I have horizontal or vertical?

Vertical, then horizontal, as previously posted is correct. The right hand/left hand rule you are recalling is the relationship of the electric and magnetic fields... signal polarization is referring to the electric field.

Most common antennas are "electric antennas" so it's easy to tell the polarization just from the appearance of the antenna. Feedpoint feeding an antenna element, is that element vertical or horizontal, that's what the radiation will be. For something like a "quad" or a loop, look at where the feedpoint is - on a quad, feedpoint at the bottom is horizontal, at the side for vertical. Slot antennas, magnetic field antennas and the like get confusing as the polarization is opposite from what they appear (that right hand/left hand rule) but you won't deal with those very often.

BTW: has anyone successfully used a cattle fence wire for an antenna? AFTER pulling the plug on the power that is! Actually, since it is DC... And I don't want to be chasing cows any more than I already have to.

Well I use cattle fence wire (aluminum) as my typical wire antenna material, but not in a cattle fence configuration


Have you read about Joby's rhombic ranch?
Link Posted: 5/6/2011 1:08:23 PM EDT
Hey gentlemen,
I'm currently studying to get my Technician license and started off scoring mid 50's on the practice tests. After a couple days reading I am up to 80%-90%. Next test in my area isn't til July so I've got plenty of time to prepare, may even go for the General. The study guides are great but I would like to learn more than just how to pass the test. There is a local club here that I'll be checking out soon.

I'm not quite sure how I want to start out, as far as equipment. I'm thinking a mobile setup would be best since I travel (and move) a lot.

My Dad (W6DX) has been urging me to get into Ham since I was a teenager and I am finally getting interested. I will talk to him this weekend and get his input. He may even have some gear I could try out before buying.

Thanks guys for the outstanding info here.

Link Posted: 5/6/2011 2:53:30 PM EDT
Good job, Loadthis –– keep it up! Since you mentioned your desire for learning, keep in mind the tacked 101 thread is chock full of practical information. I know we throw people to it all the time and it can be overwhelming in one giant serving, but you can pick through it and grab what you need (as a reference, not a narrative).

Good stuff.
Link Posted: 5/6/2011 3:11:53 PM EDT
Hope this will be some encouragement if anyone is struggling. Last night we had the largest turnout we'd had in a while and everyone passed one or more exams. Now for the encouraging part. One of the guys taking his Tech exam failed. He said he wasn't surprised. This was his 10th attempt since 1993 (I guess he gives up between exams). We encouraged him to try again and that we didn't mind waiting. Well, he passed with flying colors the second time. The point is that he never gave up and soon he'll finally be able to get on the air.
Link Posted: 5/7/2011 1:13:27 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Loadthis:
Hey gentlemen,
I'm currently studying to get my Technician license and started off scoring mid 50's on the practice tests. After a couple days reading I am up to 80%-90%. Next test in my area isn't til July so I've got plenty of time to prepare, may even go for the General. The study guides are great but I would like to learn more than just how to pass the test. There is a local club here that I'll be checking out soon.

I'm not quite sure how I want to start out, as far as equipment. I'm thinking a mobile setup would be best since I travel (and move) a lot.

My Dad (W6DX) has been urging me to get into Ham since I was a teenager and I am finally getting interested. I will talk to him this weekend and get his input. He may even have some gear I could try out before buying.

Thanks guys for the outstanding info here.


When I was studying for my tech ticket a year ago, I convinced myself that the General material was far too complicated to even try. I was so wrong about that. I wish now that I had gone ahead and done the General prep at the same time. In March I managed to pass the General with flying colors after about 15 hours of studying. I'm working on the Extra stuff now, and I've got about 30 hours in on that so far. I still need to hit some of the calculations a little more, but I am starting to feel really confident. I'll probably test on the 17th.

I am pretty math competent (give me multivariate statistical analysis stuff any day, and I'm a happy guy), but I know ZERO about electrical principles (well, I KNEW zero about ep before I started). What's worked well for me is to break the studying into short bits (15-20 minutes at a time). Getting your license is entirely doable, don't make the mistake that I did of underselling your abilities. Shoot for General. If you expect it and work for it, it will come. Afterall, the Jedi promised it.

P.
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