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Old 08-05-2017, 6:29 PM
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Default 9 months as a Ham and trying to stay interested

This thread is not intended to anger any Hams so please read this as my opinion and hopefully i will get some good feedback. I am looking for encouragement not discouragement or disappointment.

As i sit at my computer typing this and stare at my Motorola Sabre VHF and my Motorola xpr6550 dmr turned off i think about turning it on. I received my Ham ticket 9 months ago. I was hot and heavy for the first month on everyday and now not so much. The club that sponsored the class and test are very into being Hams, years or experience which is great because they answered all of my questions. This thread is not a knock on them at all. I have a few thoughts that I would like to get out there. First difficult thing for me is participating in conversation. Most guys in my club repeater area are retiree's and i am in my early 30"s. I bet i'm not the only one that fits this category. The discussion's on the local repeaters are generally about personal events each guy is having and or radio equipment they are using. I tried leaving my radio on to monitor to pick up lingo and callsigns but the conversations became pure white noise.I eventually stopped monitoring. I know the purpose of Ham is to be an open forum at all times and closed private discussions are not allowed. I just wish there was more group specific conversations , example Sports like ESPN where you can chime in and or listen to a group discuss current sporting events like MLB or NFL ect via a 2way radio. My career is a Firefighter and i wish there was a "Happening now" group which discuss current major events going on in the USA example major fires, major police activity or something that effects a large group of people. I would differently monitor that all the time. I understand everyone is using different equipment but it would be nice to have a group discussion about Motorola or Md380 or whatever which is discussed on this group. I would love to see ham or Digital Ham ( DMR , fusion ect ) have a severe weather group so weather spotters could discuss what they are seeing as they are spotting. That would be an interesting group to monitor for Adrenalin junkies. If you are still reading my post im sure you understand my point. I am just a young ham trying to figure out what the next exciting new way to keep Hams talking could be. I really like talking on a radio but i try to have a purpose driven conversation as much as possible. I do respect the origin of Ham and many of the experienced Hams who still do Morse Code, Packet radio, participate in contests and field days. I just want to create something new that may attract younger Hams and keep them involved. I read articles in ARRL magazine and QRZ.com about the Whats new on the horizon or what can be done to attract a younger crowd. Remember this younger crowd is social media based facebook, instagram, twitter all information passing apps. As for me ,If i didn't love actually playing with and programming radio codeplugs i most likely would have already loss excitement in becoming a Ham. I will say it again this is not a dig on my local club. They are more then helpful. Its more then that , its what is next to keep me and possibly many other young Hams on the radio. Be safe you' all
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Old 08-05-2017, 6:47 PM
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Ham is only part of being a "radio aficionado", in my opinion. I once was interested in it as well, but felt the same as you. My interest became "scanning", police, fire, weather, etc. I find it much more interesting and never did get my ham license. I'm not discouraging you, but as I said, it's only part of radio. There is much to listen to out there, don't be limited by only one thing, use it to compliment your hobby.
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Old 08-05-2017, 7:14 PM
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I was in the same boat at first. ..most guys on my local nets are much older and all know each other so I went to the hf bands to play around there..last year I picked up a qrp rig (ic-703+) and have had a lot of fun trying to make a go with 5 watts and a battery and am starting to think about SOTA or just hiking in general with my radio to add a bit of fun. As for finding specific nets have you looked online to see if there are any around that could be connected to on your end via IRLP? I'm not too familiar with it but maybe someone here may know more on the subject. I played with it a bit a few years back but nothing other than downloading it for my phone.
Or even emergency communications in your area that dont involve firefighting situations..as a firefighter you already follow things like chain of command and specific tasking etc. that is very helpful for those situations...just some quick
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Old 08-05-2017, 8:17 PM
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First of all, we all have our likes and dislikes. I will give you an example of a local repeater here where 2 of the hams get on and spend the next several hours talking back and forth. But they really haven't said anything on any topic that you could make any sense out of. It's a good thing that I have the option of changing the frequency on my radio to another repeater.

These 2 hams could probably have the repeater not pass hardly any audio back and forth and they wouldn't even notice the repeater stopped working. But like I said, you as the control operator of your radio, have the option of changing to another frequency.

It has been a long time since I was out in your area. I could be wrong, but I think there is a lack of usable 2 meter repeaters near you. So that might be part of your frustration. You didn't mention what class of ham license you have or I missed it. But on the HF frequencies, there is a whole different world. Problem is you can also run into the same dull, go no where conversations on the HF bands too. But you have a much better chance to run across a conversation that might interest you.

There have been times, that almost by accident, I have met other hams that knew the same people that I have worked with over the years. Not being one of the younger members of the ham community, I have met some very interesting people in my normal work or got involved with doing some antenna work for someone I met talking on the ham radio over the years.

Now I enjoy helping others as a mentor when someone asks for some help with their radio or a computer.

Bottom line here is that the ham radio hobby can be what you make of it. If you don't associate with other hams one way or another, then I can understand why you don't seem to get much out of the hobby. I might suggest that you try and spend some time going to the local ham club meetings and meet other people there. Don't be afraid to walk up to them and at first, just listen to the conversation. They won't bite and you may even find yourself being drawn into the topic they are discussing at the time.

There may be a work group getting together for the club to repair an antenna or fix a repeater or a radio at the club. Ask them about what they do when bad weather rolls in. Ask them what radio equipment they like to use at home for radios.

You just might hit it off with one or more of the members of the club that have an outside interest that you are also interested in. You will never find these things out or find a conversation you like unless you socialize.

Trying to be a loner just doesn't cut it in the ham radio community. One of the hams will take you by the hand and get you out of that mood fairly fast. Most of the hams I have run into over the many years are very friendly and willing to teach you what you want to learn. If the person right there in front of you doesn't know the topic you need to work with, that person probably knows who can help you.

Learn to network at the club and on the radio. Don't be afraid to ask questions to find out who the go to person for that subject is.

Let us know how you have made out after a while being around the other hams. They don't bite, but are normally willing to bend over backwards to help new comers.
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Old 08-06-2017, 2:13 AM
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I am retired firegighter not that much older but enough to have surfed the beaver board (tail) .
First a warning some ham areas are like some houses you do your share of listening to others stories before you get to start your own , its not all balls to the wall action but then again ham radio usually doesn't have those moments of sheer terror most times either , unless you were in and around Manhattan or battery park on 9/11 .
DMR is only one version of version of digital , have you tried dstar yet ?have you worked all the states , and talked to all of us yet , your ticket and brass pass can take you all over not just DMR and there are tons of us that are retired because of health that would love to talk to guys still in the fight that share our passions , adrenaline, radios Skywarn, C.W.O.P . In radio you will get to experience all kinds of guys young / old ,stupid or studied ,we all think our opinion is right even when we are wrong and you better agree LOL ! There are guys just like you , you just haven't met them yet , and sometimes we don't know each other are alike till we start talking ,beyond the call sign, its the price of admission what you do and where you go is endless , its not all action but you can become part of different groups and find something that will light your fire and your talents and passion and put your ticket to use .
I became a ham when a I was very green firefighter bought a new scanner to listen to other frequencies and found ham radio ( I went from 8 frequencies to 2500 , major improvement)and "found" ham radio, I didn't know it was missing till i found it, and then found out I was second gen but didn't know it, my father was more mad scientist than father before he was gone and I found out all the things we didnt talk about , I was in a foster home, when someone visited the family he recokgnized my face , told me he was my father's 1st sarge in the army signal corp and he was asked to leave because he kept stealing radio trucks parking on a hill in Yonkers and working the world illegally during the cold war , gave the Army fits .really start exploring there's a tons more to the hobby then just the radios and fellowship, have you explored or just experienced the local culture ?

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Old 08-06-2017, 5:08 AM
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One suggestion, try the 2 meter simplex frequency, 146.52. Key your mic, say your callsign followed by "listening" and you might get a response from another ham. .52 is the 2 meter simplex calling frequency where it's more open and less likely to have exclusivity. You might pick up a mobile several miles away or a base station even farther. If the frequency is busy try .55 or .58, depending on your area.
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Old 08-06-2017, 5:17 AM
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On the action side of ham radio, if there is not a weather net in your area, think about stating it yourself. Develop some way of contact the local weather service in your area, look at soe of the weather aps, and you can start "emceeing" weather information. As a fireman, p[robably the last thing you want to do in =your sparte time is poiblic service events but there is much that ham operators can do in that area, providing the local authorities want outsiders help. Therfe are many civlian groups that can use ham radio comms help. Remember cell phone is one to one comms where ham is one to many. I am sure, as a fireman, there was a rookie indoc that you put up with. Your time will come. I think you are doing the right thing, listen alot and talkj little, at least at first. I went from novice to general, then got 2 meters and listened for maybe 3 months before I talked. The club I iun has grown to 110- menbers and the avg age is probably 70. The age is dropping thougfh. Members die off and new hams are testing and coming to meetings. So the average age is going down.
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Old 08-06-2017, 9:55 AM
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I have been an HAM for about a year and a half give or take. I am in my middle 40s. I can see you are a Tech. Have you considered upgrading? Repeaters VHF/UHF have their purposes, no knock on anyone who enjoys strictly utilizing those bands or repeaters in general. We have some folks around here that are Techs and have no desire to upgrade. Good guys too, but they just have no interest in going any further, then local rag chewing, which is fine. Not my cup of tea, but to each their own. I mostly use the repeaters in my area to talk to fellow club members or people I know locally. Check into the occasional net, etc...

My excitement comes from working HF. Like you I work in a high adrenaline gig, but I can't say that is or what I was looking for when I became HAM. My job gives me more than enough of that, I don't need HAM radio to give me anymore.....with that said I do find making contacts with very far and distant locations exciting with nothing more than a wire in a tree in my backyard. I about fell out of chair when I spoke to a HAM in Japan one day. So far Asian and Middle Eastern countries have been the hardest for me to work. May not be your cup tea though....but for me nothing feels better than busting a pile-up of Kilowatters with just 100 watts (if that, due to the comprise antenna I use) and getting a distant entity in my logbook. That was my draw to HAM radio and DXing is just a small sample of HAM radio, there is tons of stuff a guy can get into, i.e. digital modes, satellites, CW, etc...

I will admit, if I don't know someone, I am not much of a rag chewer myself. Discussing the weather, radio set-up, etc can get old, but every now then I'll call CQ or answer someone's else call and have a good conversation, even had some hilarious ones too.

Had one guy, calling CQ for "Tom" or somebody I forget the actual name he was calling for, "who lives down by the river" on 80 meters one night. He must have called 20 times with no response, so I finally chimed in and said, "How about a guy named Tony in Neosho, Missouri" and sure enough he came back and we had the coolest QSO I have ever had to date. I don't know if the guy was sober, but man he was he funny. He ended up confirming our contact and I found out he was an attorney of all people..lol! Anyhow, the weather or our rigs were never discussed....

Its QSOs like that, that I enjoy. Maybe you should upgrade and see if HF interests you too.

As far as being relatively young compared to other HAMs and having things in common. I actually prefer to socialize with the older generation, a lot less drama and they tend to be more sincere in their advice and conversations. Most folks my age are still trying to keep up with the Jones-es and care about more whats in it for them. All of my older club members are than wiling to bend over backwards and help someone out. If it wasn't for one particular Elmer, I would have never got on HF as soon I did. The man loaned me a complete HF station while I was saving to get my own, not to mention a 2 meter mobile rig too while I saved. I have also received Elmership from HAMs my age as well, there some great HAMs out there regardless of age.

I forgot to mention, with you being in DE, you will be a sought after station for folks wanting to earn WAS (Worked all States). Not very many HAMs in DE and not many seem to get on the air on the HF bands, so its been my experience DE is sought after State. Call CQ and say you are in Delaware, I am almost positive you will get a huge pile-up of folks wanting to work you.

Expand from 2 meters and 70cm and you will be surprised whats out there! Anyway, that is my 2 cents from some who hasn't been in the game very long either.

Good luck and stay safe out there!
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Last edited by KE0GXN; 08-06-2017 at 10:06 AM.. Reason: Grammer
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Old 08-06-2017, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by KE0GXN View Post
Expand from 2 meters and 70cm and you will be surprised whats out there!
I spent yesterday morning at a local public park with a group of hams. They loosely call themselves a QRP club, but there's no bylaws, no rules, no dues. It's just a group of hams who like to play with their radios.

What might set these hams apart is that they all have General class licenses or higher. Three of us have been licensed for more than 25 years and have done a number of things in ham radio. One guy was first licensed last September and upgraded to General just two weeks ago. Another guy was first licensed in 2014 and upgraded to General in April of this year. A third guy came into ham radio as a General in 2014 and upgraded to Extra in 2015.

The newest General has gotten interested in CW operating on HF. We had two QRP HF radios with us at the park yesterday. And, they were connected to very simple antennas. The new General sat down at one of the radios and, with a straight key attached, tried to make a contact on 40m CW. One of the more experienced hams was helping him decode the CW and coaching him on what to send. Sure enough, he made a solid contact with a guy in Texas and that was followed by another contact with North Carolina.

As we were packing up to leave, I congratulated the newer guys for looking beyond 2m repeaters and exploring different aspects of amateur radio. These guys have a hobby that they will be able to enjoy for the rest of their lives. Their interests may wax and wane over the years, but my guess is that they will always find something in amateur radio that interests them.
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Old 08-06-2017, 12:08 PM
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I forgot to mention, with you being in DE
He's not in Delaware. He's in Delmar, VA.
I, too, would suggest upgrading your license and getting on HF. More people than you can think of to talk with.
I do understand your frustration on local 2m/440 repeaters.

Used to be on DStar, made tons of contacts all over the world. It filled in my HF needs because I couldn't set up antennas.Then it started sounding like the 'Old Man' band that was analog FM. I listened to DMR on my scanner, just to see if I wanted to get a radio to talk with hams using that digital format. Same old, same old. Example: "Hey, couldn't believe that you got into the repeater using only 5 watts and a dinky antenna." Same people just on a different band. It is frustrating.

My suggestion, since you use a lot of social media, why not post on Facebook that you are looking for people to talk on ham radio who have the same background as you. Asking here is like asking on the local 2m repeater.
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Oh, I've been licensed for 32 years and even I can't understand the need to use a repeater when you can talk on simplex about your personal life

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Old 08-06-2017, 12:10 PM
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Ham is a lot more than vhf/uhf, repeaters or groups! Get away from the groups, and try 6 or 10 meters SSB! Those bands have had quite a few openings lately!!
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Old 08-06-2017, 1:21 PM
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He's not in Delaware. He's in Delmar, VA.
The Amateur Radio badge on his original message links to KC3IQK. The address for that callsign in the FCC ULS is Frankford DE. That is southern Delaware in the area known as the DelMarVa peninsula for its proximity to Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.

His location may be contributing to his displeasure with amateur radio. Frankford DE has a population of 847 and it's some distance from large population centers. I find that amateur radio moves at a much slower pace in small towns and it can be difficult to find younger hams who are into new technology.

Though I do agree with the previous poster that if he gets on HF, he will be very popular for folks who are chasing Worked All States.
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Old 08-06-2017, 1:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by N8IAA
He's not in Delaware. He's in Delmar, VA.
I went off his ULS. I figured DelMarVa stood for DE, MD, VA, as in the States of.....

22 years of being a cop has taught me some detective work...
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Old 08-06-2017, 2:04 PM
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Didn't use the badge. Went off of his description under his join date.
Didn't think of the three different states. Normally I can figure that out
Larry

Last edited by N8IAA; 08-06-2017 at 2:07 PM.. Reason: changed statement
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Old 08-06-2017, 3:26 PM
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I spent yesterday morning at a local public park with a group of hams. They loosely call themselves a QRP club, but there's no bylaws, no rules, no dues. It's just a group of hams who like to play with their radios.

What might set these hams apart is that they all have General class licenses or higher. Three of us have been licensed for more than 25 years and have done a number of things in ham radio. One guy was first licensed last September and upgraded to General just two weeks ago. Another guy was first licensed in 2014 and upgraded to General in April of this year. A third guy came into ham radio as a General in 2014 and upgraded to Extra in 2015.

The newest General has gotten interested in CW operating on HF. We had two QRP HF radios with us at the park yesterday. And, they were connected to very simple antennas. The new General sat down at one of the radios and, with a straight key attached, tried to make a contact on 40m CW. One of the more experienced hams was helping him decode the CW and coaching him on what to send. Sure enough, he made a solid contact with a guy in Texas and that was followed by another contact with North Carolina.

As we were packing up to leave, I congratulated the newer guys for looking beyond 2m repeaters and exploring different aspects of amateur radio. These guys have a hobby that they will be able to enjoy for the rest of their lives. Their interests may wax and wane over the years, but my guess is that they will always find something in amateur radio that interests them.

Yep. There is no better feeling then making an HF contact with another HAM, knowing its my wire to his wire/vertical/beam, etc... with nothing more than some watts of RF. No infrastructure, repeaters, internet or cellular network. Just antenna to antenna....I still find it unbelievable the distances I have been able to make contacts!

Worked 10 meters yesterday and made it as far east as NC. Again with just a wire in a tree. Cool stuff!
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Old 08-06-2017, 3:56 PM
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I'll second the FB suggestion N8IAA made. There are some good HF groups on there. One thats good for new guys like us is "100 watts and wire". You don't have to even be a General or Extra, they are accepting of anyone who is interested in HAM radio. Many Techs on there too, waiting to upgrade and so forth.

Members will often post when and the where they are calling CQ on HF. Some post about D-Star, DMR etc too. There is a varied membership of all ages, license classes and walks of life. Great folks who won't beat you down if you ask simple newbie questions. Plenty of people there willing to help you with whatever you can't grasp or have questions about. A lot social HAM stuff too. I enjoy being a member.
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Old 08-06-2017, 4:46 PM
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No infrastructure, repeaters, internet or cellular network. Just antenna to antenna....I still find it unbelievable the distances I have been able to make contacts!
That's exactly the point I made to these guys yesterday. They were running about 5 watts into temporary antennas and were still able to make contacts. Just a boy and his radio.
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Old 08-06-2017, 9:13 PM
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Getting on repeaters especially 2 meters is the worst thing to do if you want an intelligent or interesting conversation

2 meter repeaters are clogged up with CBers these days with little to no technical knowledge and little interest in learning or letting anyone join their little group of good buddies

At least those on 440 and above seem to at least have some level of intelligence and don't say Roger Doger or roger on that after every transmission

Way back when you had to actually KNOW something to get an extra class license, I had many intelligent and technical conversations on a regular basis

But just like me, they also got disgusted with the waves of good buddies getting on the repeaters and eventually just gave up

Eventually you get tired of hearing all the 2 meter repeaters with 20db of desense because the CB experts decided to put a 24 db gain preamp on a repeater that already had desense

They stroke each others ego by telling each other they are " full quieting" when they are into the noise and they use amplified CB microphones so they sound like channel 19

I always favored a handful of QUALITY operators over a thousand appliance operators but the opposite has happened
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Old 08-06-2017, 9:29 PM
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Get into a skywarn group and report severe weather.
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Old 08-06-2017, 9:40 PM
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Get into a skywarn group and report severe weather.
+1 on Skywarn, and/or study up and get involved in ARES/RACES/CERT and net message handling.

https://www.skywarn.org/local-groups/
https://www.meted.ucar.edu/training_course.php?id=23
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USRACES.ORG
http://www.felge.us/tfctools.html
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