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Old 11-23-2012, 9:37 PM
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Default Newbie interested in HAM possibly?

Ok, I do not now have anything but a scanner however getting interested in HAM reading post here. I have a few questions. Is HAM radio like a worldwide CB radio? Also I live in a condo. Do you need a big antennae tower to really do it and have fun with it?

Thanks ahead for any help!
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Old 11-23-2012, 9:43 PM
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Default Ham Radio

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Originally Posted by Wheels47130 View Post
Ok, I do not now have anything but a scanner however getting interested in HAM reading post here. I have a few questions. Is HAM radio like a worldwide CB radio? Also I live in a condo. Do you need a big antennae tower to really do it and have fun with it?

Thanks ahead for any help!
Ham is a lot more interesting than CB. There are plenty of antennas that will work if you are in a condo, especially on VHF and above!
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Old 11-23-2012, 9:45 PM
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Not close to CB in ways of licensing or radio frequency, but you do get to talk to all sorts of people around the world. As for an antenna tower, not needed at all.
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Old 11-23-2012, 9:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wheels47130 View Post
Ok, I do not now have anything but a scanner however getting interested in HAM reading post here. I have a few questions. Is HAM radio like a worldwide CB radio? Also I live in a condo. Do you need a big antennae tower to really do it and have fun with it?

Thanks ahead for any help!
Ham radio is like CB on steroids. It can do many things on many frequencies. You can talk directly to someone on the other side of the world on the High Frequencies with a good antenna. Or you can talk to local repeater systems on the Very High Frequencies and the UHF with a handheld radio with a "rubber duck" antenna. Or you can talk on VHF via satellite or via a local repeater with an internet connection (most of them have that these days) to someone half the world away.

You can spend anything from fifty bucks to fifty thousand depending on what you want and how much money you have.

I suggest making a trip to your local public library and find a book about the hobby. Even if it is a few years (or even decades) out of date it will tell you enough to allow you to understand the diversity of the hobby.

Lots of hams live in Condos and they find ways to get on the air in spite of antenna restrictions. There are whole books on that subject and web sites galore.
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Old 11-24-2012, 8:27 AM
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Believe it or not, depending on what bands you want to use if you live in a condo- a high rise condo that is, you will actually have much better reception and can probably make local contacts with a rubber duckie inside your apartment that most people on ground level would need external antennas. I use to live in one and miss having that ability to get into any repeater while laying in bed talking on an HT. If you want to use the HF bands then thats probably another matter.

There's many different aspects of the hobby. Some people are primarily in to the HF bands and some people are primarily in to the local VHF/UHF/220/900 etc bands, some people are into both. Some are only into satellites some are into CW (morse code), some are just into the community service and serving in special events and times of disaster. Some are into tinkering and building repeaters. Some are just into digital modes. Some are only into Echonlink. Some aren't into any of it but they just like to go buy a bunch of expensive radios and take pictures of them. Blah blah blah.

Nowadays you can talk all over the world with nothing more than a portable radio. Technically, you don't even need that, using VOIP. Of course many prefer to still do it the old fashioned way and bounce signals off the upper levels of the atmosphere.

CB is far more informal. Depending on if you're on AM or sideband and the band conditions, you can work just local stations or others perhaps across the state or your region but it's also far more restrictive in terms of power and what you can do. A lot of the people using CB are using illegal equipment.

You might see if there's a local amateur radio club that meets in your area. Many of them have regular meetings and will be more than happy to give you a demonstration and show you what you can do and give you any help you may need with getting your license.
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Old 11-24-2012, 8:27 AM
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Here are some sites that you could look at:

American Radio Relay League | ARRL - The national association for AMATEUR RADIO

eHam.net Ham Radio Practice Exams (How the ham radio tests look like)

eHam.net Home - Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) Community Site

Welcome to Yaesu.com (Ham radio brand)

Kenwood - Amateur Radio (Ham radio brand)

Amateur Products - Icom America (Ham radio brand)

Frequency Allocations (Shows what freqs and for what license class)

Now Amateur Radio is a hobby first most, then in times of need it can be used as a emergency communication. There are three levels of licenses in ham radio, first is Technician Class, second is General Class, third and last is the Extra Class. You have to study and take a test to get your licenses (Technician Class is the first one)
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Old 11-26-2012, 7:52 PM
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LOL I swear I didn't read this until now...I hope you read my reply in your other thread? I have heard about people slapping mobile antennas on their air conditioner which also works well.
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Old 11-26-2012, 7:59 PM
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For ham radio antenna you don't need a big tower what's so ever is because in a condo community they will not allow you to put up a tower in the community cause some say it lowers the standards of everyone's opinion about the community. You can always use a small antenna and mount it on a window or something that will make a signal coming from the repeater/tower.
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Old 11-26-2012, 9:02 PM
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Everyone here has posted some very good information here. All I'll say is that you should go for it!

I earned my Technician class license in 2005. The Tech class license is the entry-level license. The local Red Cross chapter sponsored a Tech license class that I took. We used Gordon West's study guide and I passed my Tech test easily. A year later the same Red Cross chapter ran a General license class. I also took that and easily passed. However, I would have passed both tests easily even if I hadn't taken the Red Cross classes. Gordon West's study guides are very easy to use. In addition to West's guides there are on-line study guides. Also check for any ham radio clubs in your area. Clubs often run similar classes and VE sessions as well.

It's a great hobby, though at the moment my home station is off the air. Due to a move into a new house, and some upcoming renovations, it will be a while before I can get my station back on the air.
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Old 11-26-2012, 9:54 PM
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In no particular order...
Yes, ham radio is like CB radio in that they both use radios. That's about where it ends though. CB radio requires nothing except money to buy the equipment. Ham radio requires that you have some knowledge to pass a test. That knowledge to past a test includes stuff to keep you from harming your self and other people, and knowing what the rules are (yes, there are rules and they are there for a good reason). Ham radio is not necessarily as inexpensive as CB radio, the equipment is capable of a lot more than the typical CB radio (number of bands, modes, and more). That license also allows you to build your own equipment (along with having the knowledge to do so, naturally). Can't do that with CB radio. You don't have to be a genius to get a license but it does require some 'learning'. It's far from impossible.
I've found that the biggest problem with ham radio is the number of choices about what you can do. If you can think of some electrical means of communicating you can probably 'do' it. That can range from that 'dit dit dah' stuff to television, analogue and digital, you name it. If you can't find some aspect of the hobby that appeals to you, you just ain't looking very hard. Oh well...
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Old 11-28-2012, 11:42 PM
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Well I've been reading up and studying for my license. I do think I would like to do HF some. If I have a balcony antenae will it allow me to still get out in all directions?

Thanks
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Old 11-29-2012, 12:18 AM
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It will allow you to get yoursignal out and get some DX, but won't work as well as a big beam antenna.
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Old 11-29-2012, 2:08 AM
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That balcony antenna will allow you to get an HF signal out. Where it may go is a different story since the building will affect it's radiation pattern. It'll go somewhere though.
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Old 12-02-2012, 6:21 AM
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There are a LOT of things you can do in a condo and still have fun on HF. You have the option of magnetic loop antennas which are small and portable and would allow you to make some contacts on all sorts of bands. You also have the option of using a somewhat larger antenna that you can put down and then pack up and store inside. Depending on your condo you can always run a dipole of some length inside your condo. There is ALWAYS HF mobile even if you can't run a decent setup at home, you can do very very well with that. If you live near the beach like I do, you can throw your ground plane into the ocean and setup your antenna and talk to Europe on 100 watts easily (or if you're out west, Australia).

And to echo other posters, ham radio is like CB radio only in as much as they both use a two way radio. The differences end there. You have more options, more bandwidth and for the most part significantly less idiots and annoyances. Remember that unlike CB, ham radio operators are vetted by having to pass an exam; this process eliminates a lot of riff raff. That's not to say that every ham operator is a great person.. But by in large I've met some terrific people in this hobby, more nice people than anything.
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Old 12-02-2012, 6:25 AM
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You can get out in all directions with vertical type antennas (mobile antennas that you could run on your balcony would be 360 degrees) but you can also use magnetic loop antennas which are directional and get the benefits of a beam antenna in a much smaller package.

Just remember that you are giving up some performance with a smaller antenna, over a bigger one. But with that said, my Little Tarheel II mobile antenna from the beach with my ground plane wire tossed in the ocean managed multiple contacts in Europe and Cuba and all over the US.. And that's a "compromise" antenna, so don't let anyone tell you that just because you're antennas are compromise antenna that they don't work, they do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wheels47130 View Post
Well I've been reading up and studying for my license. I do think I would like to do HF some. If I have a balcony antenae will it allow me to still get out in all directions?

Thanks
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Old 12-04-2012, 4:01 PM
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The Tech class license (entry level) is easy to get and allows you to operate on 2Meter (~144MHz) among other frequencies. Handheld 2M (Walkie Talkie like called HT) devices are relatively inexpensive. 2M is line of sight or so, so think local. Many areas have repeaters where the HT transmits to the repeater on one frequency and the repeater retransmits the same on another frequency. Repeaters are usually mounted up high (towers, mountains, buildings) and so their retransmission extends the reach of 2M.

I just got my technician and will be starting with 2M. I will test for my general soon. Haven't decided which bands I will work and with what sort of radio yet in the HF range.

Start studying for the tech license and all of this will start to make sense.

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Old 12-04-2012, 8:18 PM
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All good advice here!! I just recieved my Tech ticket in September and having a blast on 2 meter and 70cm!!! Like everybody stated then you can upgrade and advance your frequency privledges!!!
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