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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 01-28-2013, 5:35 PM
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Default What to start with?

Brand new to radio stuff. I understand the concept, but I actually want to do something. I obviously don't want to spend a huge amount of money, until I know I like it. My friend in Utah (I'm in Florida.) does some radio stuff, and I wanted to know if there was some type of cheap equipment that could allow me to broadcast and receive from him. However, I'm guessing that that would have to be either REALLY high power, bounced of satellites, or bounced of the ionosphere. Plus, I'm thinking that those frequencies are probably restricted to anyone without a license?

Thanks in advanced ya'll!
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Old 01-28-2013, 10:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Allenph View Post
Brand new to radio stuff. I understand the concept, but I actually want to do something. I obviously don't want to spend a huge amount of money, until I know I like it. My friend in Utah (I'm in Florida.) does some radio stuff, and I wanted to know if there was some type of cheap equipment that could allow me to broadcast and receive from him. However, I'm guessing that that would have to be either REALLY high power, bounced of satellites, or bounced of the ionosphere. Plus, I'm thinking that those frequencies are probably restricted to anyone without a license?

Thanks in advanced ya'll!
Well if you get your Tech ticket, you could connect with him via http://www.echolink.com or possibly on 10 Meters if the conditions are good. Otherwise, you are probably restricted to using sites like HamSphere - Virtual Ham Radio software
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Old 01-29-2013, 1:15 AM
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It really doesn't require a lot of power or spending a lot of money (that's relative!) to talk with your friend. It would require that both of you pick the 'right' band and time though. You would still be at the 'mercy' of propagation too, no way around that and keep the 'cheap-n-easy' part.
The first step in it would be having access to all the bands not just VHF/UHF, which means a general class license. It isn't that much more difficult than the technician class license, just a little bit more 'study'.
I think it would be a very good idea to find out all you can about amateur radio before stepping off into it very deeply. It certainly can get expensive, and you still may not do exactly what you intended. Finding out what's required of you to get into the hobby is a good thing to find out too! You may not want to go to the trouble (it's not a 'give-away').
Good luck and have fun.
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Old 01-29-2013, 8:14 AM
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If you want to talk to Utah, the first thing that come to mind is Echolink (no radio required... heck, you don't even need a computer now, as there's a smartphone app).

The second thing that comes to mind is IRLP, usually that involves finding a repeater that has it and connecting to a repeater that has it where your friend in Utah can get in also.

The third thing that comes to mind is D-Star. For about $200 you can get on the air with a computer and dongle or for $300 you can get on the air with a NIB dstar radio.

Prices are gradually dropping on other digital radios such as NXDN and DMR, both of those will require access to linked repeaters in both locations.

And the last thing that comes to mind is HF, it's anything but inexpensive though.
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Old 01-29-2013, 1:21 PM
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Thumbs up Amateur radio license required

Yes, all the answers do require the operator to have an amateur radio license, even echolink though this can be phone to phone or computer to computer. But to down load the program you have to submit your amateur radio license. Using beams on 10 meters and HF also require different classes of amateur radio license.
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Old 01-29-2013, 3:49 PM
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Thank you very much guys. So, what if I were to get a technician class license? Online I found some cheap old radios, $50 for a 2m 40 watt. First of all, how can I estimate the range? Really, if that doesn't make it to Utah, that is it for me. I'm not paying more than $50 to see if I like a hobby, however, even if I can't, I'll still probably end up getting a 2m and my technician class.

I have done a little with CB, I used to be leader of an SAR ground team when I lived in Utah, as such, I needed to know at least how to operate a low range (20 miles or so.) CB radio. So, that means I know proper radio etiquette, the phonetic alphabet, etc. So, I don't see getting a technicians class license being all that difficult.
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Old 01-30-2013, 8:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Allenph View Post
Thank you very much guys. So, what if I were to get a technician class license? Online I found some cheap old radios, $50 for a 2m 40 watt. First of all, how can I estimate the range? Really, if that doesn't make it to Utah, that is it for me. I'm not paying more than $50 to see if I like a hobby, however, even if I can't, I'll still probably end up getting a 2m and my technician class.

I have done a little with CB, I used to be leader of an SAR ground team when I lived in Utah, as such, I needed to know at least how to operate a low range (20 miles or so.) CB radio. So, that means I know proper radio etiquette, the phonetic alphabet, etc. So, I don't see getting a technicians class license being all that difficult.
2 meters will not make it to Utah all the way from Florida, other then maybe in a really rare event where the conditions are perfect just for that. HF would really be the only way to go if your using radio to radio.
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Old 01-30-2013, 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Rt169Radio View Post
2 meters will not make it to Utah all the way from Florida, other then maybe in a really rare event where the conditions are perfect just for that. HF would really be the only way to go if your using radio to radio.
While a direct connection at 2 meters would be very rare, many repeaters have I.R.L.P. connections and using that you can talk all over the world. I have talked to a ham in Australia using my handheld while waking home from the bus.

Granted it's a "cheat" of sorts, using the internet to make the contact, but still there it is and I'd be surprised if there was anywhere in the USA out of reach of a repeater with an IRLP node.

And of course a Tech license will get you on Echolink, which is a gain rather a cheat and not "real" old fashioned DX, but still it works quite nicely.
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Old 01-30-2013, 1:13 PM
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While a direct connection at 2 meters would be very rare, many repeaters have I.R.L.P. connections and using that you can talk all over the world. I have talked to a ham in Australia using my handheld while waking home from the bus.

Granted it's a "cheat" of sorts, using the internet to make the contact, but still there it is and I'd be surprised if there was anywhere in the USA out of reach of a repeater with an IRLP node.

And of course a Tech license will get you on Echolink, which is a gain rather a cheat and not "real" old fashioned DX, but still it works quite nicely.
If I wanted to get really complicated, couldn't I just piggy back a bunch of traditional repeaters?

Is there an equation for getting estimated propagation?

And one more thing, Florida, being a peninsula, is pretty close to sea level. Will that be like transmitting from a bowl?

Last edited by Allenph; 01-30-2013 at 3:09 PM..
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Old 01-30-2013, 10:24 PM
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If I wanted to get really complicated, couldn't I just piggy back a bunch of traditional repeaters?
Lots of people already do that. For example here on Vancouver Island we have about a half dozen linked repeaters which allows people on the South end, like me, talk to hams on the North end, about 300 miles away and over a few mountain ranges.

This is called the "Island Trunk System" and is by no means the only such system in the world.

I.R.L.P. is already there and all you have to do is set up a node which, if you already have an Advanced ticket you need to set up a repeater anyway, is not very hard nor very complicated. Recent extensions to the Island Trunk have used the internet anyway as it's more reliable and simpler to set up.

But point to point communication on two meters is generally line of site, unless there are unusual propagation conditions such as a tropospheric duct. Or if you really want DX on two meters, you can do "moon bounce".
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Old 01-31-2013, 10:44 AM
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I'm not sure if the WinSystem links up in Florida and Utah but it consists of almost 100 repeaters and reflectors all over the world. I talk to people in Alaska all the time here in Texas. It all depends on where you live and what repeaters are near you and if they are linked in or not. It's something you'd have to research a bit.

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Old 01-31-2013, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by robertmac View Post
Yes, all the answers do require the operator to have an amateur radio license, even echolink though this can be phone to phone or computer to computer. But to down load the program you have to submit your amateur radio license. Using beams on 10 meters and HF also require different classes of amateur radio license.
On hf there is tech,general and extra. pleas enlighten me on the other classes and all about using beams.


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