Advice Appreciated- Ham Radio Newbie

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Txhunter67

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Good afternoon. I am new to having an active account but have been reading the site off and on for several weeks. I have also been doing quite a bit of study on the Internet. However there is so much info out there I am getting a bit overwhelmed.

For awareness and preparedness (and enjoyment of course), I would like to get a ham radio set up for my son and I. We would’ve beginners; but I would like it to grow with us for awhile, so to speak.

Not sure what other type of information would help. We live in Austin, Texas. Could possibly be moving in the next few years it most likely will remain in Central Texas area.

I will be looking into getting the license; as well as looking up my local ham club (I sincerely hope there is one—most likely is, Austin isn’t small anymore)

Also—I am also looking into getting a new police scanner. Dumb question: do I need both? I’ve seen various opinions on these boards. Sort of confused.

Thank you in advance— and please ask questions if this would help.
 

jaspence

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You need both. Even the best ham HT is slow compared to a real scanner and no ham HT made will scan trunking and the P25 700-800 band.
 

MTS2000des

5B2_BEE00 Czar
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I strongly recommend the getting with the local club route. What is known as "Elmering" is becoming a lost art in ham radio, but genuinely needed to guide you. Hopefully there will be a good club who can assist you with the licensing/testing and getting you going. Maybe someone will chime in who is in the Austin area and take the lead. Good luck!
 

jim202

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Welcome to the world of ham radio. Don't be a stranger on here and feel free to ask questions. There are some very talented people on this site that are more than willing to lend a hand or point you in the right direction.

You could try doing a search on the Internet for ham radio clubs in Austin to see what shows up.

There are a number of different classes of ham licenses. The technician license will let you get on the VHF and higher frequencies. Not sure what activity is on the air for 6 meters, but there should be plenty of 2 meter and the 440 MHz. repeaters you can get on.

To be able to get on the HF bands and have access the world wide hams, you would need at a minimum of a general license for this.

There is not that much difference between a technician and the general license. Most of it is questions are on frequencies and some technical questions that you should know anyway working with radios.

There are some practice exams you can find on the Internet. You can also pick up some ham radio study guides. I am not sure where to point you for the study guides. It's been a number of years since I took my test.

If your looking for local communications around the city, the 2 meter band might be the best selection. Using your local repeaters, you should be able to get around 30 miles or so depending on how high the repeater antenna is located.

Good luck with your efforts and hope to see that you and your son are on the ham radios soon.

Jim
 

kg4icg

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I have Kenwwod TH-D72A, Kenwood TH-D74A and Uniden SDS100, and SDS200 , because the scanners can do DMR, NXDN and P25 while the D74A can do DStars.
 

wtp

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Port Charlotte FL
as they mentioned on the other post. listen online.
i see your county has some ham stuff to listen to.
anyone getting into ham radio needs the advice....
listen, listen, listen.
some folks just want to talk about their equipment or skip or who they contacted.
so lend an ear and see what is out there.
 

Whiskey3JMC

Keep your friends close & your radios closer
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To be able to get on the HF bands and have access the world wide hams, you would need at a minimum of a general license for this.
You also need a fat wallet to get on HF. At the minimum expect to spend between $500 to thousands for transceiver, power supply, antenna(ae), coax, antenna tuner/SWR meter if you so desire, etc. Unlike 2m/70cm which relies on local repeaters (or hot spots for the digital modes) HF relies solely on the ionosphere and favorable propagation to reach around the world
 

Hit_Factor

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Saint Joseph, MI
You also need a fat wallet to get on HF. At the minimum expect to spend between $500 to thousands for transceiver, power supply, antenna(ae), coax, antenna tuner/SWR meter if you so desire, etc. Unlike 2m/70cm which relies on local repeaters (or hot spots for the digital modes) HF relies solely on the ionosphere and favorable propagation to reach around the world
Maybe a bit fatter than that. I bought a run of the mill IC-7300, power supply, cable, mast, OCF antenna and it was about 2 grand. Not trying to scare anyone away. All of that was new equipment.
 

alcahuete

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There are a lot of posts like this here, and what most people don't include is why they got into ham radio...what do they specifically want to do with ham radio?

So...what doyou want to do? :D Why did you get your license? Do you want to talk locally using repeaters? Do you want to work DX and talk around the world? Do you want to do contesting? Do you want to do digital? There are just so many facets of amateur radio that without knowing why you got into the hobby, it's really impossible to recommend equipment.

And you might not know yet, being new to the hobby. But this is where the local clubs or a local elmer would really come in handy. Meet someone who will allow you and your son to spend some time in his/her shack and observe and work some of the various modes. Get on some of the local repeaters for a bit. Get on HF. Get on some of the digital networks. Your shack will be perpetually growing, but that will at least give you an idea of where you might want to start.
 

bharvey2

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Alcahuete brings up the first questions you should be asking yourself. Ham radio certainly offers the greatest latitude but if you and your son are just looking to communicate with each other over a distance of a few miles, GMRS is an option too. The license requires no testing and covers the entire family. Also, picking one doesn't exclude you from the other. Many on this site, including me, are licensed for both ham and GMRS.
 

W5GX

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There are several clubs near you.




Travis County ARES (an ARES club - may actually be more involved for your experience at this point)

There are also many repeaters in the area, check Repeaterbook.com. It's been nearly 15 years since I moved from Austin, so I don't remember which ones I frequented.

Best of luck!
 

Txhunter67

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May 24, 2020
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Sorry for late response. I was pulled to special project at work relating to finding Covid tests for Veterans nursing homes run by my agency. Totally absorbed all of my time and energy. Will be evaluating the great information provided above. Thank you to all!
 

WB9YBM

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Without knowing what kind of operating you'd like to do or what you expect out of your set-up, it's a bit hard recommending a direction to go in. A 2M mobile with outdoor antenna mounted as high as is practical will be good for local work, especially through repeaters. Hooking up with the locals will provide a good resource for information, including invitations to see other peoples' stations for first-hand examples of what & how to do things. It'll also provide insights on practical operation of these stations, and you can develop your own station that way.
 

JDrisc3480

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I echo what W5GX said which is to get with a local club. I would do this first because June 27-28 is what is called "Field Day". This is where individual operators and clubs setup in a "field" and operate without commercial power. It is suppose to simulate operating during an emergency. Now the public is encouraged to come out to these locations and the clubs use the time to educate the public as to what Ham radio is all about. When I was getting my license, I went out and observed during a field day operation and learned quite a bit. You can also check out the ARRL website.
ARRL - Home
On this site you can look at licensing, and search for clubs near you. There is a lot of information for you to look at. Then there is also this site, which has a lot of good information as well as people willing to help.
 

GlobalNorth

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Go visit as many clubs as you can find. Some clubs are welcoming and inclusive of all/most modes and some are not - example: if you are interested in satellites, SSTV, or VLF and the local club is nothing but HF DX contesters, you will not be happy.

Amateur radio can be an expensive hobby and it tends to be the domain of older people. Network around and look for amateurs who are downsizing or selling off their gear; getting into the hobby with used gear will save you cash.
 
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