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Old 03-15-2016, 4:45 PM
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Default San Francisco South Bay Noob questions.

Hey everybody, I just passed my technician exam and I'm waiting for my call sign in the fcc database.

My equipment is: an rtl-sdr scanner on my computer, an inexpensive Uniden scanner, and two cheap Baofeng handheld radios with a magnetic antenna on my car.

I got myself in to this hobby so there is a lot i still don't understand. Here are a few questions.

1. There are many repeaters in the several counties i plan to use my radio, there are so many that its confusing, how do i know which ones link to where, which ones actually have traffic? So far I've been going through various lists and programming the active repeaters in locations I'm familiar with in to my radio. Is trial by error the best method or is there a more comprehensive list to work with? without being able to transmit yet its kind of like shooting in the dark.

2. In an emergency situation where i don't have cellphone service and i need to contact anybody, what frequency would i transmit on where people are most likely to hear me?

3. Lets say I'm camping or hiking in a remote location and i give an unlicensed friend a radio to stay in contact, is that frowned upon?

4. What are the limits on what you can transmit? i understand music and offensive language is not ok but is there anything else i should avoid? i find that most people stick to technical discussions but i find the farther people stray from that the more interesting the conversations becomes. In other words how else is your freedom of speech limited on ham radio?

I know all the information i could need is already out there but it would be much appreciated to hear from the radioreference community. Thank you!
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Old 03-15-2016, 5:53 PM
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Originally Posted by wordisbond45 View Post
Hey everybody, I just passed my technician exam and I'm waiting for my call sign in the fcc database.

My equipment is: an rtl-sdr scanner on my computer, an inexpensive Uniden scanner, and two cheap Baofeng handheld radios with a magnetic antenna on my car.
Welcome. I'm over in Santa Cruz, but I grew up in San Jose.


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Originally Posted by wordisbond45 View Post
1. There are many repeaters in the several counties i plan to use my radio, there are so many that its confusing, how do i know which ones link to where, which ones actually have traffic? So far I've been going through various lists and programming the active repeaters in locations I'm familiar with in to my radio. Is trial by error the best method or is there a more comprehensive list to work with? without being able to transmit yet its kind of like shooting in the dark.
Best way is to check on the internet. There are a number of repeater linking systems in this area that you can use. I used to use the CARLA system for a while. It covers a big chunk of California and Nevada. http://www.carlaradio.net
An ARRL Repeater Guide will often let you know which repeaters are linked to others. I'd strongly suggest picking up a copy of that.

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Originally Posted by wordisbond45 View Post
2. In an emergency situation where i don't have cellphone service and i need to contact anybody, what frequency would i transmit on where people are most likely to hear me?
A local active repeater is your best bet. One of the "linked" systems is probably your best bet at being heard. You can try one of the calling channels, like 146.520 simplex, but that's kind of a gamble. Stay inside the limits of the amateur radio bands, don't transmit outside those frequencies. If you are commonly in situations where you run into emergencies outside the coverage of amateur radio systems, you really should be carrying a satellite phone or a PLB.

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3. Lets say I'm camping or hiking in a remote location and i give an unlicensed friend a radio to stay in contact, is that frowned upon?
According to the FCC rules, yes, it's frowned upon. Unlikely anyone would know, but you'll not know that for sure. Don't risk your new license for that.

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Originally Posted by wordisbond45 View Post
4. What are the limits on what you can transmit? i understand music and offensive language is not ok but is there anything else i should avoid? i find that most people stick to technical discussions but i find the farther people stray from that the more interesting the conversations becomes. In other words how else is your freedom of speech limited on ham radio?
Communications having to do with conducting business is usually not OK, with a few exceptions. Pretty much anything that is family safe is OK in the eyes/ears of most, although specific repeater owners may have different rules. Don't get sucked into the trap of thinking that technical discussions are the only things allowed. Although, keep in mind that a lot of older amateurs seem to enjoy talking about bodily functions (or lack thereof), hernias, hemorrhoids, bunions, ingrown nails, etc. Most of us don't like listening to that sort of stuff.

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Originally Posted by wordisbond45 View Post
I know all the information i could need is already out there but it would be much appreciated to hear from the radioreference community. Thank you!
See if you can find a local club to join. Lots to chose from in the area and they can be useful for continuing your education.
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Old 03-15-2016, 6:23 PM
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I'm not from here, but I'm currently in the city for a couple weeks, and I've been hearing a lot of activity on 145.23 and 145.33, and a couple others that I now forget. It seems pretty active down here. Plus a ton of 440 stuff, too.

Here is a good place to start. https://www.google.com/search?biw=10...16954456,d.cGc

Another idea is to set band limits of 144-148 and scan it for a few hours. You'll soon discover what is happening.

A lot of folks talk about "emergency frequencies". I always say, "the best frequencies in an emergency is one that has traffic". So get on a local repeater, and request any station to copy your priority traffic.

Giving your radio to a "friend" to transmit on the Amateur bands is an excellent way to lose your license. They must earn that privilege, as you did. You are not allowed to communicate with an unlicensed person on the amateur bands.

And while I'm here, I'm going to beat my drum about Baofengs. The problem with them is that they are so cheap and so ubiquitous, that people who have no clue about radio buy them and then randomly transmit everywhere because they have no idea what they are doing.

There are several unlicensed radio services for people who just need a simple radio for communication. The point of Amateur radio is that we (supposedly) studied and learned about radio, and it's a hobby, so we have far more leeway in what we can do. We have entire bands, instead of just channels, but that privilege comes with a responsibility, and that is to know our bands, not transmit out of them, and not start handing out Amateur radios to all the neighbor kids or hiking partners. There is CB, MURS, FRS, and GMRS for that.


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Old 03-15-2016, 6:51 PM
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First, welcome to the hobby. There is plenty to learn and admittedly it might seem a bit overwhelming. However, everyone needs to start someplace.

With regard to repeaters, there are a number of 2M/70cm in San Francisco. A good place to look is a website called Repeaterbook.com. A number of linked systems are CARLA (as mmckenna mentioned) as well as the WIN system (winsystem.org) Another one that you'll probably be able to reach is the N6NFI repeater in Palo Alto. That one is generally pretty busy and the people on it are friendly and welcoming to newcomers

Winsystem 442.900 (receive) 447.900 (transmit) PL Tone 162.2 (transmit only) (Loma Prieta area)
N6NFI 145.230 (receive) 144.630 (transmit) PL Tone 100.0 (Palo Alto area)

Both of the repeater above have pretty good coverage around us (I'm in San Leandro)

As far as the other topics, mmckenna covered them well. If you'd like to try a local contact sometime (QSO in HAM parlance) , feel free to shoot me an e-mail at kk6doq@gmail.com
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Old 03-15-2016, 7:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wordisbond45 View Post
Hey everybody, I just passed my technician exam and I'm waiting for my call sign in the fcc database.

My equipment is: an rtl-sdr scanner on my computer, an inexpensive Uniden scanner, and two cheap Baofeng handheld radios with a magnetic antenna on my car.

I got myself in to this hobby so there is a lot i still don't understand. Here are a few questions.

1. There are many repeaters in the several counties i plan to use my radio, there are so many that its confusing, how do i know which ones link to where, which ones actually have traffic? So far I've been going through various lists and programming the active repeaters in locations I'm familiar with in to my radio. Is trial by error the best method or is there a more comprehensive list to work with? without being able to transmit yet its kind of like shooting in the dark.

2. In an emergency situation where i don't have cellphone service and i need to contact anybody, what frequency would i transmit on where people are most likely to hear me?

3. Lets say I'm camping or hiking in a remote location and i give an unlicensed friend a radio to stay in contact, is that frowned upon?

4. What are the limits on what you can transmit? i understand music and offensive language is not ok but is there anything else i should avoid? i find that most people stick to technical discussions but i find the farther people stray from that the more interesting the conversations becomes. In other words how else is your freedom of speech limited on ham radio?

I know all the information i could need is already out there but it would be much appreciated to hear from the radioreference community. Thank you!
I own property in SF and get there often. As to question 1.. Scan around! There are some repeaters you will be able to reach, others that you may not. If you have a base set up with some height and an outdoor antenna, your range will be much better. In a severe emergency where the grid may go down (like a major earthquake), you actually might be better off with a CB unit in your vehicle that can reach the many truckers who have them installed operating off of their vehicle's electrical system. 3.. In a remote location, you're better off using the non ham frequencies that don't require a license. 4... You are required to abide by FCC regulations regarding the transmission of obscene profane or indecent words language or meaning. Other than that, you can pretty much discuss whatever may interest you!
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Old 03-15-2016, 10:39 PM
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Congratulations and welcome to amateur radio! You can find a lot of information on the internet about what you want to do. I'm sure if you google San Franciso repeaters you will find them. I wouldn't do the thing about giving somebody unlicensed a HT. Get your buddies to get a tech ticket then you guys are good to go!
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Old 03-16-2016, 5:36 AM
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Congrats on your new ham license and welcome to the hobby. Others have covered your questions well so I'll just ask if you need any clarifications or have other questions?

73, Dave K4EET
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Old 03-16-2016, 9:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Seven-Delta-FortyOne View Post
I'm not from here, but I'm currently in the city for a couple weeks, and I've been hearing a lot of activity on 145.23 and 145.33, and a couple others that I now forget. It seems pretty active down here. Plus a ton of 440 stuff, too.
Delta
145.230 is the N6NFI repeater I mentioned above (but realized I typed the offset incorrectly. It should have been 145.830 transmit) and the 145.330 is one of the many repeaters on Mount Diablo. As you mentioned the OP has plenty of choices to choose from.
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Old 03-16-2016, 10:42 AM
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Hey thanks for the reply everybody! I am in Santa Cruz mountains, in San Jose in the Campbell/Saratoga area and also in redwood city. I'm sure I've heard you local guys and I will be talking to you all soon! Forgive my crappy Baofengs I will get a real radio eventually.
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Old 03-16-2016, 4:04 PM
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Hey thanks for the reply everybody! I am in Santa Cruz mountains, in San Jose in the Campbell/Saratoga area and also in redwood city. I'm sure I've heard you local guys and I will be talking to you all soon! Forgive my crappy Baofengs I will get a real radio eventually.
Just Homebrew a nice little outdoor base antenna for those Baofengs, and you'll be surprised at how far you can get out!!
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Old 03-16-2016, 4:39 PM
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Forgive my crappy Baofengs

A lot of hams keep a handful of Bow-Funks around, just for emergency use, and they DO work.

I just personally wish they could not be sold to anyone who didn't hold a license. It's just too much capability for people who have no interest in learning about where and why they can and cannot transmit.

Everyone I know has had to run families and travelers and whatnot off the frequencies, because now-adays it's so easy just to pick up a WIDE OPEN radio, pick any one of thousands of frequencies, and start ratchet-jawing. :headbang:

A family member got one for listening to, and wanted me to test it for him, so I got on a local repeater, and got a report of excellent audio. Than I told him I was on a hand-held, and he was quite surprised. I couldn't bring myself to admit, to a ham who I know, and on the airwaves, that I was actually using a BaoFang.


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I will get a real radio eventually.
Of course you will. We're never really done buying radios, you know.




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Old 03-16-2016, 7:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Seven-Delta-FortyOne View Post
A lot of hams keep a handful of Bow-Funks around, just for emergency use, and they DO work.

I just personally wish they could not be sold to anyone who didn't hold a license. It's just too much capability for people who have no interest in learning about where and why they can and cannot transmit.

Everyone I know has had to run families and travelers and whatnot off the frequencies, because now-adays it's so easy just to pick up a WIDE OPEN radio, pick any one of thousands of frequencies, and start ratchet-jawing. :headbang:

A family member got one for listening to, and wanted me to test it for him, so I got on a local repeater, and got a report of excellent audio. Than I told him I was on a hand-held, and he was quite surprised. I couldn't bring myself to admit, to a ham who I know, and on the airwaves, that I was actually using a BaoFang.




Of course you will. We're never really done buying radios, you know.




Delta
What is really worrying me is the rumor that Baofeng's next venture will be on HF! Supposedly they are working on a basic SSB/AM 10 to 80 meter rig that will be similar in form and function to the HR-2510, and will be priced well under $300!!! Can you imagine what will happen if loads of unlicensed people and the "freebanders" ever get their hands on those???
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Old 03-16-2016, 7:37 PM
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What is really worrying me is the rumor that Baofeng's next venture will be on HF! Supposedly they are working on a basic SSB/AM 10 to 80 meter rig that will be similar in form and function to the HR-2510, and will be priced well under $300!!! Can you imagine what will happen if loads of unlicensed people and the "freebanders" ever get their hands on those???
Wow. Hadn't heard about that.

The only hope I can see, is that some of them might not want to put in the time and/or effort to build antenna's for the lower frequencies. A lot of folks simply don't have room for an 80M, or even a 20M for that matter. Whole different ballgame than a Joe Blow with an HT. Even the CB Freebanders have a little technical knowledge and interest in radio. Doesn't make the conversation any better, I know!




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Old 03-16-2016, 8:11 PM
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What is really worrying me is the rumor that Baofeng's next venture will be on HF! Supposedly they are working on a basic SSB/AM 10 to 80 meter rig that will be similar in form and function to the HR-2510, and will be priced well under $300!!! Can you imagine what will happen if loads of unlicensed people and the "freebanders" ever get their hands on those???
Similar radios are already being sold on e-Bay. $300 or so gets you a 20 watt 80-10 meter radio. Seems to have shown up in the last few months to a year. They don't look half bad, but the color LCD display looks reminiscent of one of the Icom's, I think.
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Old 03-16-2016, 9:22 PM
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Folks, back on topic please.
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Old 03-16-2016, 9:24 PM
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Wow. Hadn't heard about that.

The only hope I can see, is that some of them might not want to put in the time and/or effort to build antenna's for the lower frequencies. A lot of folks simply don't have room for an 80M, or even a 20M for that matter. Whole different ballgame than a Joe Blow with an HT. Even the CB Freebanders have a little technical knowledge and interest in radio. Doesn't make the conversation any better, I know!




Delta
Plenty of those freebanders have substantial set ups, including towers, beams, and linear power amps. I'm sure quite a few of them could fashion a 20 meter dipole, and cause havoc on 20 meters during the daytime!
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Old 03-16-2016, 9:27 PM
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To get back on topic, a little Baofeng with an adapter and a homebrew roof antenna could do quite well in San Francisco, especially if it was positioned on top of one of those big hills!!
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Old 03-20-2016, 8:50 PM
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I grew up in San Francisco, I moved away in '98 and haven't been back since '07 - There are/were loads of repeaters in the Bay Area. You should have no problems finding repeaters in the City, North, East Bay and South Bay....We also used simplex frequencies. Where I am now (North Central PA) I am lucky to even hear a repeater get 'kerchunked.' I also have a few of the CCR's, a Baofung and a couple of 'motorola' GP-68s just sitting around now. They work well and get you on the air. Welcome to the hobby, it's a great way to meet new people and make friends.
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