Frustrated with CB, looking to get Amateur Radio license

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#1
Having had a general lifelong interest in CB radio, I just got done spending a considerable amount of time (and a little money) on setting up a nice NMO roof mount antenna in my car and installing a nice little Uniden radio in my car. While the set up works thanks to help from the internet and this forum, I'm really disappointed about what I hear on CB these days. I remember sitting for hours back in the 90's talking with people on the radio and monkeying around and having a good old time, but it seems those times are over. Hardly anyone around now on CB and most of what is there is garbage. There are a few good operators in my area but I guess I'm looking to go in a different direction.

Since I have a nice NMO and radio mount set up in my car, I'd like to get my amateur license and install a Leixen VV898 in place of the CB. The choice to go with the VV898 is largely due to space considerations, I'm currently running a Uniden Pro510XL and the 898 would fit perfectly in place of the Uniden with minimal alterations to existing brackets, etc. However since I know very little about amateur setups, I am open to suggestions on this.

1. My Uniden is wired to a 10 gauge accessory wire with a 30amp fuse, would this still work with the VV898 putting out a max of 10w?

2. What license would I need to get to start using a radio like that?

3. What is the general feeling about the VV898? Is the speaker mounted to the top or bottom of the unit? Strangely it doesn't specify that in the ad.

4. Other than getting licensed are there additional fees for operating a radio like that?

Thanks in advance for any assistance you can provide and thanks for the great forum.
 
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#2
Have a look at the RSGB web site It is the national society - and while many people are not members, it does give you a feel for what hams get up to - plus they run the exams you have to take. Apart from charges to take the test, ham radio is free. In reality, the licence and test are pretty simple to get in the Novice category, and you get access to radio to radio comms, plus the repeater network that tends to let you talk to anyone within 25 miles or so of the repeater - so maybe a 50 mile diameter circle. Not sure the quality of chat is much better - we have idiots too of course - typically people you wouldn't take to meet your granny! Many however are decent folk - and the fact everyone did at least make an effort to pass a simple or difficult test, and cannot be anonymous, having callsigns that are trackable, makes it different from CB. Note - not better, just different.

Radio wise - they're not bad at all - it's the same chassis I think as one I have which has speaker on the bottom - but not certain, so ignore that. Mine is a clone - same radio, different colour and labels, but same factory. They get hot - so don't enclose them!

The worst feature is that there is no tuning knob - ham wise you spend long times spinning a dial. What you have to do with these is programme in (usually with a computer) every channel you are likely to use, with the repeater tones and stuff into the memories. Plus of course, all your local other stuff like marine band and other non-ham stuff! Then you can scan. They do have LOTS of features and trying to set a repeater frequency access tone and shift when you are driving is a skill I never mastered - just a clever radio with lots of features for a tiny price.

Dig out your local radio club on google - they will probably do the test locally, and you can see if they are a bunch you can get on with or super snobs - hams can be very snobby - not always off course, my local club that I'm not a member of, are all nice people. Some others can be horrible - but you just don't join them!
 

W9BU

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#4
In the U.S., the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) is the largest, nationwide organization for amateur radio. Their web site is Home

You can find local amateur radio club listings using the ARRL search tool at: Search for ARRL Affiliated Clubs

Many of these clubs offer classes for people interested in getting their amateur radio license. License exams are given by volunteer examiners who are local amateur radio operators. You can find local license test sessions at: Find an Amateur Radio License Exam in Your Area or https://www.laurelvec.com/
 
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#5
Thanks for all the great information so far.

What is the difference in difficulty level between the technician and the next level of license? Is it that much harder, and are the additional benefits worth it?

What about my car set up, would I need to run the power wire straight to the positive battery terminal, or could I use my current set up going to a 30amp fused constant hot wire in my car.
 

W9BU

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#6
Technician is the first level of U.S. license. General is the next level. The biggest difference between the two, in terms of operating privileges, is that a General can operate voice and data on all HF bands in addition to the VHF/UHF bands. The General test is a little more difficult and a little more technical than the Technician test.
 
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#7
Your NMO antenna mount and cable, along with your battery power cable will work just fine.

Ham tests, check for online study/practice tests.
 

ko6jw_2

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#9
Amateur radio exams are given by volunteer examiners (VE's) who are affiliated with a Volunteer Exam Coordinator (VEC's). There are currently 14 VEC's in the US. The ARRL is only one of them and is somewhat difficult to deal with. I am an ARRL VE, but I have recently become a VE team leader with the Laurel VEC. When looking for exams and classes it pays to check the other VEC's besides ARRL. Laurel has a web page to help you find a testing session near you. Laurel, unlike some others, does not charge for exams.

Some VEC's are nationwide and others are regional. Anchorage VEC only operates in Alaska, for example.

W5YI is another VEC that is nationwide. I went with Laurel because other clubs in the area are using them. Submissions by VE teams are electronic and FCC filings take a very short time to return the license information.

Good luck.
 
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#11
Looking at getting my license too. Keeping my CB in the truck, along side a mobile HAM radio, and setting up a base station at home, BUT I have power lines running through my neighborhood. Issues?
 
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#12
I live in a fairly densely populated area of the city adjacent to a commercial business park. Naturally,local power lines for the immediate users and high voltage towers and lines feeding the area are visible, maybe 300yds away. In the VHF/UHF band I don't detect any disturbance from power line noise at all. HF band are another story. Some of the band are worse than others. Noise floors are anywhere from S2 to S7. Hardly ideal conditions but I make do. You'll never know until you try. If you have access to a shortwave receiver you could take a spin through the bands and see what they sound like.
 

iMONITOR

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#13
While the set up works thanks to help from the internet and this forum, I'm really disappointed about what I hear on CB these days. I remember sitting for hours back in the 90's talking with people on the radio and monkeying around and having a good old time, but it seems those times are over. Hardly anyone around now on CB and most of what is there is garbage. There are a few good operators in my area but I guess I'm looking to go in a different direction.
You'll most likely encounter similar disappointments with amateur radio. It's not the equipment, or the frequency. It's the people.
 

edweirdFL

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#14
I would encourage the OP to find a way to monitor the local amateur radio frequencies for a while before deciding to spend money on a VHF / UHF radio. I say this because as iMONITOR points out, your experience will vary depending on the types of operators using the local repeaters.

In my particular case I would have been underwhelmed and even dissatisfied if I had only earned a license and bought equipment for VHF and UHF. The amount of opportunities to use it locally for me are very limited. I should point out that there are newer technologies that link multiple repeaters and their users together using the internet and this can help create a busier and more active "channel" for users.

Instead I earned a higher level of license that offered access to the HF bands as well, and I bought a radio and antennas that lets me find a conversation to join, or the ability to initiate a conversation or answer the request for one at almost anytime.
 
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#15
2 Web sites that have test questions and answers for your tech test. QRZ.com and EHam.net Regards Bob N9RMA
 
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#16
One thing no one mentioned is that you're going to have a different antenna. It would be simpler to purchase a specific dual band 2 meter/440 antenna than try to cut down your CB antenna to make it resonant on those bands.

Understanding that you might be on a budget, I'd pass on the Leixen. The few reviews I read were not terribly flattering to the radio. You'd get better and longer service out of a radio from Yaesu, Kenwood or iCom. "You get what you pay for."
 
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#17
I live in a fairly densely populated area of the city adjacent to a commercial business park. Naturally,local power lines for the immediate users and high voltage towers and lines feeding the area are visible, maybe 300yds away. In the VHF/UHF band I don't detect any disturbance from power line noise at all. HF band are another story. Some of the band are worse than others. Noise floors are anywhere from S2 to S7. Hardly ideal conditions but I make do. You'll never know until you try. If you have access to a shortwave receiver you could take a spin through the bands and see what they sound like.
Yeah, my house is located in the middle of a spaghetti bowl, when comes to power lines. I have one set stretched across my backyard, within 30ft of the house, another set perpendicular and connected to those about 100yds south, a third set terminates a little over 100yds straight out my front door (across the street), and a fourth set paralleling those one block north.
 

bobsav21

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#18
Dont get your hopes up to quickly. At least on 2 meters in your " 50 mile circle" you will probably find you stumbled in an " old boys" network that will be hard to crack unless you actually know any of the people.
CB vs 2 meter ham is about the same with less swearing. It will seem all new and cool with your new radio and call sign but after a month or two you will see what I mean.
By all means try it out but as I said don't think it will be much of a change.
JMHO
Bob
 
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#19
Dont get your hopes up to quickly. At least on 2 meters in your " 50 mile circle" you will probably find you stumbled in an " old boys" network that will be hard to crack unless you actually know any of the people.
CB vs 2 meter ham is about the same with less swearing. It will seem all new and cool with your new radio and call sign but after a month or two you will see what I mean.
By all means try it out but as I said don't think it will be much of a change.
JMHO
Bob
It's no where as bad as some of these posts make out. Yes, there are the "old farts" that want nothing to do with "no code" hams, especially those that are former CB users but for the most part amateur radio is pretty welcoming. I was accepted into the community without issues when I first was licensed seven years ago. Now I'm President of a local club, a member of two others, a VE team leader, and Public Information Coordinator for the San Diego Section of the ARRL.

Don't let the negative comments of others deter you from getting your license.
 

iMONITOR

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#20
Try to monitor the bands you plan on operating on to get a real feel of how they're run in your area. They do have a lot of FCC rules that can be pretty restrictive, depending on how you plan to use it. Same with the clubs and repeaters, even more rules and restrictions. All for the greater good, in attempt to prevent it from becoming another DB quagmire, but again acquaint yourself with those as well before investing.
 
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