The Ham Radio (and Related topics) Discussion and Question Thread

LOL I had already looked that up! "Kilo Golf One Lima Lima" has a nice ring to it.

It'd sound even nicer if I could replace the 'one' with 'uno'.
It's a great sounding call, and double letters attract attention. You can say 'kilo golf uno lima lima' all you want... as long as you say 'kilo golf one lima lima' at least once every 10 minutes, or simply K G 1 I I . I think the rules still require identification in English, but I could be wrong. Things change, and I canceled my license 3 years ago, so I'm not trying to be up-to-date anymore. You'll rarely need phonetics on VHF/UHF anyway.

I was the VE Team leader in my county for 15 years, retiring from it in 2019, so I'm not well versed in test procedures during the pandemic. Many teams shut down for many months, including my county, which could explain any declines in growth (if there were declines). And it took some time to ramp up online testing... ARRL was not prepared for that. I don't think the team in my county has done any online testing, but I haven't talked with the current team leader in quite awhile, so I may be wrong about this too.

BTW, you won't get a physical paper copy license at all, just a PDF or a link to a PDF that you can print. You may need a printed copy the first time you go to get vehicle license plates with your call, but they will probably renew the plates without showing your current license each time.
 


And it took some time to ramp up online testing...

Yeah, that'd take some time - especially during early pandemic stages.

The software was written by the people behind https://hamstudy.org, by the way.

When the time gets closer, that's when I'll do my practice exams.

BTW, you won't get a physical paper copy license at all, just a PDF or a link to a PDF that you can print.

No? I thought they sent it to you in the mail. I'm not sure that I want to get the vanity license plate.

I own (and sell) multiple cars and often just rotate a dealer plate. Before anyone scoffs and says I'm taking advantage of the system, I had to get the dealership license to be legal AND you're explicitly allowed to do this.

I don't have a dealership with a showroom or anything like that, I just buy so many cars that I end up selling some of them. This happens so often that I had to get my dealership license to meet the letter of the law.
 
I don't need to know the entire spectrum, do I?

Also, I understand frequencies at a fundamental level. I have yet to memorize what 70 centimeters or 20 meters (and the like) actually mean when it comes to their numerical frequency designations.

If I need to know the entire spectrum (no, it's not on the test, but I mean in practicality in order to be a good ham operator) then it's gonna take a minute...

As near as I can tell, this chart is a bit dated. I'm not 100% sure if it is still accurate:

january_2016_spectrum_wall_chart_0.jpg
 
I don't need to know the entire spectrum, do I?
LOL... no. But there are some "frequency ranges" that are (or were) on the Technician test at least, and maybe the others too. When you see those ranges, you'll recognize a pattern that helps to memorize them (like how CW is exclusively reserved at the low end (bottom 25 kHz) of most bands). These charts will help for study and are also good to have near when you are operating. If you are solid on all the other test questions, you don't need to memorize those frequency ranges... that is, you don't have to get a perfect score to pass! You'll want to stay up-to-date with the frequency allocations for your license class too.... these things change sometimes, though not often.

Every question on every amateur exam is openly published in a Question Pool. Many questions is the pools are similar to one another... so if you know the answer then a change in wording won't trip you up. Download and read through the entire pools for exams you want to take several times, then start taking online practice exams (many sites for practice exams). The pools contain roughly 10x the number of questions on the test... so the 35-question Tech test has a pool of about 350-400 questions to look over.

Some questions are withdrawn from the pools for various reasons, so take note of those, but the latest pools probably have them removed already. Be sure to download the graphics file that go with each pool too.


I have yet to memorize what 70 centimeters or 20 meters (and the like) actually mean when it comes to their numerical frequency designations.
A frequency is very specific... and a radio band (or frequency band) is a range of frequencies, referred to by its wavelength. Frequency and wavelength are mathematically related by the speed of light. Here is a frequency-to-wavelength converter to play with, but of course you can't use it on an exam. But the formulas are simple to memorize, though you must remember to use the proper units (Hz, not MHz or GHz). Also, this converter is a bit sticky on accuracy... just use 300,000,000 meters/second for the speed of light. It's close enough for ham radio!

To find the wavelength at 144 MHz:
300,000,000 / 144,000,000 Hz = 2.08 (2 meter band)

To find the frequency of the 80m band:
300,000,000 / 80 = 3,750,000 Hz (3.75 MHz)

You have to carefully watch the units needed in all formulas... wavelength, power, Ohm's Law, etc. And watch those decimal points! But being a math whiz, you aren't going to struggle with this! ;)
 
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These charts will help for study and are also good to have near when you are operating.

Yup. I've got those downloaded. My radio should be here today, but I don't trust UPS all that much.

Download and read through the entire pools for exams you want to take several times, then start taking online practice exams (many sites for practice exams).

That's the plan. It's just multiple choice and I already know quite a bit (for at least technician and maybe general).

To find the wavelength at 144 MHz:
300,000,000 / 144,000,000 Hz = 2.08 (2 meter band)

To find the frequency of the 80m band:
300,000,000 / 80 = 3,750,000 Hz (3.75 MHz)

That's the data I wanted, thanks!

My go to chart.

Yup. Got that downloaded. Amusingly, I didn't bother downloading it until last night. I figure my radio will be here today and I'm gonna want to play with it. Right now, I can only legally listen.

Back when I was still really active with SAR I had a radio that I believe was GMRS - but don't quote me on that. I also had another that was the (kinda) local emergency services but that was just a receiver. I can get the same stations on my scanner just fine. We don't do much digital in my neck of the woods, but there is some trunking and I figure it's time to do some radio upgrades.

I've been looking at buying a 'big boy' radio, even if just to listen. I don't really need one yet, but I can learn how it works while waiting to go do my testing this winter. This one is reasonably priced and has a bunch of features:

 
They are actually made by Albrecht for Radio Shack and they work good for what they are.

Those don't appear to be made anymore, but they do have some stats online.

I figure I'm going to limit myself, at least while mobile, to things that can be programmed with a computer. I don't think I'm going to deep dive into older equipment. I'm going to be optimistic and say that I'm not going to suddenly start buying radios I'll never use, antique radios, collecting radios, or anything like that.

I'm being optimistic.

I suspect I'm going to be grateful that I had them run unused conduits through parts of the house. I should be able to use my lab in my basement and easily run wires to external antennas.

I took a walk through what I call my library and I have a few books about radio. Like, I have the ARRL handbook from 2015 and even have an older Ham Radio For Dummies book and a couple of books on antennas.
 
Those don't appear to be made anymore, but they do have some stats online.

I figure I'm going to limit myself, at least while mobile, to things that can be programmed with a computer. I don't think I'm going to deep dive into older equipment. I'm going to be optimistic and say that I'm not going to suddenly start buying radios I'll never use, antique radios, collecting radios, or anything like that.

I'm being optimistic.

I suspect I'm going to be grateful that I had them run unused conduits through parts of the house. I should be able to use my lab in my basement and easily run wires to external antennas.

I took a walk through what I call my library and I have a few books about radio. Like, I have the ARRL handbook from 2015 and even have an older Ham Radio For Dummies book and a couple of books on antennas.
Those are some odd books to just have laying around. :p
 
Those don't appear to be made anymore, but they do have some stats online.
Nope they haven't been made in quite some time
I think I got them around 2001,2002 they're old.

I figure I'm going to limit myself, at least while mobile, to things that can be programmed with a computer. I don't think I'm going to deep dive into older equipment. I'm going to be optimistic and say that I'm not going to suddenly start buying radios I'll never use, antique radios, collecting radios, or anything like that.
They have some nice radios but those nice radios cost a lot of money.
I bought my 2 meter radios for under a $100.00 each new in a box at a swap meet 20 years ago.
Ham radio was interesting for awhile but I've lost interest in Ham radio these days.
What I have still works if I ever feel the need to get back into it.
I'll most likely keep my license active it's cheap to renew something like $35.00 for 10 years I don't know.

I'm being optimistic.

I suspect I'm going to be grateful that I had them run unused conduits through parts of the house. I should be able to use my lab in my basement and easily run wires to external antennas.
That can come in handy and be useful.
I just made a small hole in the wall where I needed and sleeved it just in case.

I took a walk through what I call my library and I have a few books about radio. Like, I have the ARRL handbook from 2015 and even have an older Ham Radio For Dummies book and a couple of books on antennas.
Old books are useful or always were for me.
Old books go into more depth and detail imo.
Technology changes but the basic theory is pretty much the same.
 
Those are some odd books to just have laying around. :p

I've been interested in radio for a while. I've just never gone beyond scanning. So, I buy books here and there and some of them happen to be radio related. I probably have more, including some old periodicals. Those were just the ones that I noticed.

I have a whole lot of books, but not enough to be a public library. I do have a whole lot of academic books, mainly dealing with math. Some are old and rare, others not so much. Many of them remain unread with the idea that I'll get to them eventually - probably when I'm too old and sore to do other things.

They have some nice radios but those nice radios cost a lot of money.

I figure it's a hobby - or will be a hobby. Hobbies cost money, but it's money invested in a hobby.

I'm also big on 'buy once, cry once' for many things.

Old books go into more depth and detail imo.

We shall see! I may go on a buying spree and pick up some new books. I'll look around and see what's recommended.

That said, the radio was delivered and is programmed in CHIRP and I have it set to work like a scanner.

I've heard some noise, but nothing interesting. That could be because there's nothing interesting. It could be that the antenna is terrible and I am a long, long way from civilization. (Picture someone living moderately remotely, and then divide that by half. I have no local police or anything like that.)
 
If you're way out in the sticks so to speak you may have to put an antenna up in the air.
Where I live I can receive a lot with an indoor antenna.
When I put an antenna outside up in the air wow what a difference it makes.
You can have the best radio receiver made but without a good antenna up in the air it's a no go.
 
If you're way out in the sticks so to speak you may have to put an antenna up in the air.

That's what I'm thinking.

Right now, I can confirm that there's radio activity but no reception on the handheld. The scanner has gone off multiple times and while it scans slowly, it's not that slow. I added some of the generic HAM channels as well, but nada...
 
I used a 36 foot extendable ladder and secured the ladder to the T bar of the clothes line pole we had in the backyard.
Before securing the ladder to the clothes line T bar I mounted an antenna on to the ladder.
Once everything was securely fastened I extended the ladder fully and had a temporary working tower which remained in place for over a year.
It was ghetto but it work well.
 
Nice. Very nice!

I've heard some noise, but nothing interesting. That could be because there's nothing interesting. It could be that the antenna is terrible and I am a long, long way from civilization.
@The Duck is right: you'll probably need an outside antenna soon. I found a couple of repeater sources (map and database) that may not show anything close to you, but these sources may be wrong or outdated... just stuff I found searching. You may recognize any towns that are close to you in the database (2m and 70cm sections at least unless your Baofeng can do more).

You didn't say what channels you programmed, but 146.52 should be included. And the repeater outputs of the closest machines you can find.

Here's a strange twist: when you are licensed, you can probably access some services on the internet that will connect you to repeaters that you can't reach yourself... repeaters in Maine, or all over the world. Many repeater systems are tied into the internet and can be linked. It could be as good a way to get started as any other really (but some hams may frown on it because it's using the internet and not "all radio").

And not just VHF/UHF repeaters... there are HF stations your can operate through the internet if you are licensed. I'm sure there are apartment dwellers like Dave @kc1di who keep active on the air or keep up with friends like this. I think it's a great resource for folks. But I don't think internet-connected radio contacts can be used for any achievement type recognition or awards, so there's that.

I think you're well on your way! Don't overthink things reading The ARRL Handbook! Study the question pools, pass the exams, and then start exploring. It might be a long drive, but you might look for the nearest active club and get to a meeting... sometimes a breakfast or dinner (those are the best kind of meetings). ;)
 
While I'm here, let me give you the first formula I ever learned, and you'll probably need it too (though maybe you know it already). This formula has been stuck in my head for almost 50 years. :oops:

Half-wave dipole:
468 / freq (MHz) = length (feet)

So, an 80m dipole (bottom end of the CW segment):
468 / 3.5 MHz = 133.7 feet

If you want to build your own quarter-wave ground plane for 2m:
468 / 146 = 3.21 feet... /2 to get quarter-wave... = 1.6 feet (about 19.2 inches)
This measured element would be the vertical radiator, and you would add 3 or 4 "ground radials" that should be about 5% longer than the radiator, or about 20.2 inches each. You will see this simple antenna design many times. It is simpler than the J-Pole above, but the J-Pole is a better antenna.

The half-wave dipole formula is also the starting point for the "driven element" of a Yagi beam antenna. "Reflector elements" of the beam (the back) are 5% longer, and "director elements" (the front) are 5% shorter than the driven element.

I think you'll find test questions needing this formula, but it's a helpful starting point for lots of antenna projects.
 
I think you're well on your way! Don't overthink things reading The ARRL Handbook! Study the question pools, pass the exams, and then start exploring. It might be a long drive, but you might look for the nearest active club and get to a meeting... sometimes a breakfast or dinner (those are the best kind of meetings). ;)
Belonging to a local ham radio club is a great way to keep up and learn.
I belonged to a local ham radio club and had a lot of fun and learned a lot.
Seems we were always helping out someone putting up an antenna.
Cooking out was a big part of the fun those were some good times.
Somewhere along the way life took over and I drifted away.
Now I'm old and busted and can't get around like I used to.
 
Here is a list of Maine repeaters. You'll have to scan them to see if from Rangeley you can hit any of them.
It may require a beam antenna from where you are. Also there maybe a repeater or two in NH you can hit from there.
As far as HF rigs go I would look for a used IC-718 or similar rig.
 
Nice. Very nice!

It does look like it'd suit my purposes for a long time to come.

@The Duck is right: you'll probably need an outside antenna soon.

Yeah, I think that's the case. Oddly, I get some solid scanner action here, whenever there's anything going on. I even pick up signals from the village.

I suppose a scanner is more optimized for that sort of thing? I really don't know.

You didn't say what channels you programmed, but 146.52 should be included. And the repeater outputs of the closest machines you can find.

All the local-ish repeaters, the local emergency stations, the basic channels (like 146.52), NOAA, GMamd even FPS and GMRS channels. That sorta stuff. I went for the shotgun approach after getting nothing but some static that broke squelch now and then.

If you want to build your own quarter-wave ground plane for 2m:
468 / 146 = 3.21 feet... /2 to get quarter-wave... = 1.6 feet (about 19.2 inches)

That is a pretty easy project. Is the standard wire just that coax wire used for TVs and whatnot?

Belonging to a local ham radio club is a great way to keep up and learn.

I figure I'll likely end up joining a club, but it's going to be a drive to get to them.

Here is a list of Maine repeaters. You'll have to scan them to see if from Rangeley you can hit any of them.

Yup. I added those. CHIRP makes it all really easy.

I might see if I can hit NH - but I'm not able to hit Mosher Hill in Farmington which is much closer to me. Heck. if I can kinda see it from my house - in the distance. (Due to my elevation.)

I didn't add any NH channels. I'll have a look to see what's close, thanks.

Or Vermont? Or Canada?

Speaking of Canada, I do need to make sure I understand the A Line restrictions. There's a chunk of the spectrum that I can't broadcast on, due to my proximity with Canada.

Thanks everyone!
 

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