First radio and other Ham stuff

Status
Not open for further replies.

sfgiantsradio

Member
Joined
Dec 25, 2009
Messages
56
Planning on getting my Tech soon. I was wondering if anyone has advice on a first radio. I guess a dual-bander ht is the best way to go. I was thinking about the VX-3R.

You can get a vanity call sign as a tech, right?
Have you ever heard of anybody failing the Tech exam?

What kind of simplex range can you expect in an town/city area with two hts with rubber ducks?

Thanks a lot and 73!
 

DannB

Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2008
Messages
337
Location
Jersey City NJ (Hudson Co.)
My 2cents

Planning on getting my Tech soon. I was wondering if anyone has advice on a first radio. I guess a dual-bander ht is the best way to go. I was thinking about the VX-3R.

You can get a vanity call sign as a tech, right?
Have you ever heard of anybody failing the Tech exam?

What kind of simplex range can you expect in an town/city area with two hts with rubber ducks?

Thanks a lot and 73!
Ok HT's are great and all ,most are a max 0f 5 or 6 watts ,that can be plenty at times but sometimes you need alittle more punch. Its hard to say how far the signal will travel ,there are so many factors. IM home on my couch right now talking to a repeater that is a good 30 miles away but im sitting on top of a mountain which helps me Big Time. If you plan on using it inside the car it would make sense to hook it up to a outside antenna. Even a $40 ant.(comet M24M works great ) would make a big difference over the Rubber Duck inside the car. I also have a mobile ft2900 yaesu in the car 75watts makes a big difference as far as range goes . If you have your heart set on a HT buy one ane test err out , if it works for ya great .Radios Now are priced quite well so you could probaly buy both in time.. HAMCITY.COM have great prices.. good luck and dont worry you will pass dont sweat it. and yes you can get a vanity call.
 

reedeb

Member
Joined
Sep 14, 2006
Messages
818
Location
Dallas Texas
If money is your problem then yes an HT will do for now. I started in 1995 an had very little to spend and was lucky enough to get an older Yasue HT [this thing was a brick only 3 watts] and it did an OK job for what I used it for. Later on got a Radio Shack 2 mtr HT AND mobile rig [still got em] and they worked good [still do] and was able to pick up a used Kenwood 733 dual band mobile.
My Kenwood is my Base rig and RS mobile is set up for quick connect for mobile use as is the HT

So if you got the money for a mobile fine. BUT an HT may be better for you at first
 

KC9AXZ

Member
Joined
Jun 1, 2005
Messages
36
Location
Sheboygan, WI
The HT is ok but I suggest a mobile unit. The HT is too limited for a first rig. Save your money and buy a power supply, mobile and mobile antenna. Jetstream makes a good small switching power supply that is pretty inexpensive. If money is an issue than just buy a 2 Meter mobile. Brand doesn't matter much but stick with the big 3, Yaesu, Icom, and Kenwood. If money isn't a huge issue then find a dual band rig. Then last you need a mobile antenna. Here again the brand doesn't matter much either. The reason for the mobile antenna is you can use it in a car or on a cookie sheet in the house. You should consider a HT once you have a good setup. Just don't limit yourself too much by starting too small (HT).
 

Laxplurr06

Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2008
Messages
176
Location
Boston, MA
I own 2 HT's the Radio Shack HTX-202 and Motorola HT1250. I have had my tech for about a year now and I at first got the HTX-202 as a cheap first radio at a flea market. The radio is connected to a discone antenna in the attic and a 10 watt amplifier I got for 2 bucks. I usually don't use the amplifier because I can hit a lot of repeaters from my house with my discone antenna. I would say if you live in a populated area like me ( I am near Boston) you should go with an HT, but if you really need the coverage go with a mobile radio. My HT1250 can reach the Boston repeater with a duck antenna and I can actually have a conversation.
 

ka4gfy

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jun 30, 2009
Messages
54
As some of the others have suggested, you might want to look at a mobile rather an HT. There are some single band (2 meter) mobiles for less than the cost of an HT. A little power makes alot of difference and cuts down on the frustration. HTs are great at the hamfest, but for the vehicle and at home, a mobile is the only way to go.

As for range with an HT and a rubber duck, it depends on your location, the repeater or other station's location, what's between you and so on. VHF/UHF is line of sight. The higher in frequency, the more critical it gets. Having said that, VHF and UHF have some really neat characteristics. Each band is unique. I live in an urban environment and find 70 cm works great. In most areas of the country, 2 meters is by far the most popular.

You can get a vanity callsign. But, the only type a Tech is eligible for is a1X3, and in some parts of the country, there are none left.

If you study the material, you should do fine. It is possible to not pass the Tech test, by not studying. There are ham radio websites with practice exams on them you can try. A good indicator you're ready is consistently scoring 90% on the practice tests.

Good luck on the test and report back with your callsign. Also, check out a local radio club or two. They are a GREAT source of information and mentoring.

73,
Rich, KA4GFY
 

reedeb

Member
Joined
Sep 14, 2006
Messages
818
Location
Dallas Texas
As some of the others have suggested, you might want to look at a mobile rather an HT. There are some single band (2 meter) mobiles for less than the cost of an HT. A little power makes alot of difference and cuts down on the frustration. HTs are great at the hamfest, but for the vehicle and at home, a mobile is the only way to go.

As for range with an HT and a rubber duck, it depends on your location, the repeater or other station's location, what's between you and so on. VHF/UHF is line of sight. The higher in frequency, the more critical it gets. Having said that, VHF and UHF have some really neat characteristics. Each band is unique. I live in an urban environment and find 70 cm works great. In most areas of the country, 2 meters is by far the most popular.

You can get a vanity callsign. But, the only type a Tech is eligible for is a1X3, and in some parts of the country, there are none left.

If you study the material, you should do fine. It is possible to not pass the Tech test, by not studying. There are ham radio websites with practice exams on them you can try. A good indicator you're ready is consistently scoring 90% on the practice tests.

Good luck on the test and report back with your callsign. Also, check out a local radio club or two. They are a GREAT source of information and mentoring.

73,
Rich, KA4GFY
I agree somewhat BUT wll also disagree. I have used HT's with both rubber AND metal telescopic antennas with excellent results. NO you won't get a repeater 50 miles away BUT I've hit em around 20 25 miles with a good signal. And is great when your hiking or our and about very versitile. I have and would go with an HT for a first radio and THEN save up for the mobile and other equipment that way if you get on ham and you find it's not for you it's easier to get rid of it.

I have seen newer hams spend all sorts of greenery only to decide shortly after they are not interested in it after all and then sell the stuff fo a lot less then they paid for it
 

prcguy

Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2006
Messages
8,083
Location
So Cal - Richardson, TX - Tewksbury, MA
The VX-3 puts out 1.5w with the supplied battery and the stock antenna is lousy on 2m but fine on UHF. With my VX-3 I can get into repeaters 50mi or more away standing outdoors but our "local" repeaters are mostly on 5,000ft and higher mountain tops. On flat land you will probably be disappointed, maybe a mile or so simplex with stock antenna in dense urban areas.
prcguy
 

reedeb

Member
Joined
Sep 14, 2006
Messages
818
Location
Dallas Texas
The VX-3 puts out 1.5w with the supplied battery and the stock antenna is lousy on 2m but fine on UHF. With my VX-3 I can get into repeaters 50mi or more away standing outdoors but our "local" repeaters are mostly on 5,000ft and higher mountain tops. On flat land you will probably be disappointed, maybe a mile or so simplex with stock antenna in dense urban areas.
prcguy
Would help to know your location In ways I agree tho. In Maine I found that I could get into repeaters a ways off. In So Carolina I could hit repeaters in the upstate very well as well as several in No Carolina as all the repeaters are located in the mountains. However here in Texas the repeaters are situated on tall buildings in the cities and towers or water towers in rural areas and range has dropped substantially I can hit repeaters in Dallas BUT can't raise a repeater in Ft Worth. And I occasionally talk with a ham HT to HT simplex around 2 miles away
 

N0IU

Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2009
Messages
800
Location
Wentzville, Missouri
If your budget is only about $150, you probably won't do much better than the VX-3R. The other option is to buy a used radio, but I generally do not recommend this for newbies unless you know the seller personally and he (or she) allows you to "test drive" the radio yourself.

Buying used can be a great way to get a "nicer" radio while you let someone else take the hit on the depreciation. Of course you are always taking a chance when you buy used. OTOH, what you do get with a brand new radio is a warranty and a dealer and manufacturer that will (hopefully) back you up in case you need it.
 

N8IAA

Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2002
Messages
6,775
Location
Fortunately, GA
Thanks for all of the replies. Can anyone suggest a better ht than the 3r? Budget: around $150.
I made the mistake of taking my VX-2R when visiting San Diego a few years ago. Even had a gain antenna. Worst mistake ever. Should have taken my FT-60R. 1 watt just ain't going to do it. Nothing wrong with getting a handheld. Ask at the testing group what is their favorite ht and mobile for your area. You will get more answers than you need:) These are the guys who have beens hams for quite a while.
Larry
 

burner50

The Third Variable
Moderator
Joined
Dec 24, 2004
Messages
2,096
Location
NW Iowa
FYI The VX3 only does 2 or 3 watts while plugged in.


1-1.5 on battery.
 

sfgiantsradio

Member
Joined
Dec 25, 2009
Messages
56
Thanks for all of the replies. I would also like to learn code. I have an MFJ-557. Should I wait til I get a cw capable radio and then use an iambic key? What's easy?
 

N0IU

Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2009
Messages
800
Location
Wentzville, Missouri
What's easy?
No one ever said that learning CW was easy! It does take time and a lot of practice to be good at it. For sending, my personal preference is iambic paddles.I know you already have the MFJ-557, but they also make the MFJ-442D which is an electronic keyer built onto a Bencher paddle set.

http://www.mfjenterprises.com/Product.php?productid=MFJ-422D

Compared to the 557, it isn't cheap at $180.00. Its actually not a bad deal since the Bencher paddle set by itself sells for $120.00 and the keyer sells for $90.00 by itself. MFJ also makes the 564

http://www.mfjenterprises.com/Product.php?productid=MFJ-564

and 564B

http://www.mfjenterprises.com/Product.php?productid=MFJ-564B

paddle sets for $70.00. I have never used these so I can't say how good they are. OTOH, I have used the Bencher BY-1 (the kind that comes with the 442D)

http://www.bencher.com/ham/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=1

and can recommend it with no reservations about its quality.

Think of it like buying golf clubs. You may be the next Tiger Woods (as a golfer, NOT as a husband or father!), but if you buy junk, you might never know. OTOH, if you buy decent quality up front, it will only enhance whatever natural ability you may have. If you don't send good CW with the Bencher, its not the fault of the hardware!

There are MANY other companies that make keys such as Kent, Begali, Schurr and of course Vibroplex but all of them cost more, in some cases, A LOT MORE than the Bencher.

The only real issue in buying a separate keyer is that almost every HF rig nowadays has a built-in keyer, even the entry level rigs like the IC-718, so you may not need the keyer down the road depending on what kind of radio you eventually buy.

I know I probably haven't made your decision making process any easier, but I hope this helps. If you are really bored and have nothing to do, you might want to take a look at the reviews of those brands I listed and a lot more over on eHam.

eHam.net Reviews - Keys & Paddles
 
Last edited:

nexus

Member
Joined
Aug 13, 2002
Messages
1,646
Location
Mississippi
If you haven't studied the questions/answers then you'll fail, and yes plenty of people have failed the technician test. If you study and are able to retain the answers then you'll likely pass without any problems.

I have an FT-60R which is a great little dual band HT. it's not quite 150, but 189.99 at univeral radio. I also have an Icom IC-91AD but that's way over your price range.

2 HT's trying to talk on simplex outside will probably have an effective range of about 1 1/2 miles to maybe 2 miles. If both are stationary and outside of any structures maybe a bit more than 2 miles but that's pushing it. If you don't have any nearby repeaters you won't be satisfied with the HT. You'll want a mobile installation with a mobile antenna. You can get lots of 2 meter mobiles for under 150 easy.

I would caution you to stay away from the VX3R. It's a great little radio for real up close work, like at a hamfest site, or for comms inside a building, or if you have a repeater in your town, but its very small and compact and doesn't put out much power, and the fact it doesn't have a keypad makes it difficult to program, and use for remote applications. It replaced the VX1R and VX2R. I have the VX1R and I think I used it 5 times since I bought it back in the 1990's, it collects dust in my drawer. That's how useful it is.
 

jhooten

Member
Joined
Mar 6, 2004
Messages
1,380
Location
Paige, Republic of Texas
The VX-3 is a great radio for when you cannot carry a bigger radio or as a back-up radio. As a First radio it is not the best choice. Since it does not have a key pad programming is a bear. You need to buy the programming software if you are going to load more than a few channels and that adds another $50.00 to the cost of the radio.

The Yaesu FT-60 new go for about $190.
Icom ICT7H Sport New is about $160

Both are full sized, full power units and would be easier to program than the VX-3.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking the VX-3. At home right now is a VX-1, two VX-2s and two VX-3s. I'm very fond of my tiny radios, but I know their limitations.
 

kc2rgw

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Dec 22, 2008
Messages
287
If your budget is that limited, join a local club and start asking around for any used gear or loaner gear.

The FT-60 is the one I recommend to most people looking for a solid, basic handheld. Covers 2m/440 which are the most common repeater bands in most areas, has 5W out and decent battery life.

The basic mobile I like best is the FT-7800/FT-7900, gives you dual-band with a simple interface to program it and good power out and reliability.

All the rest of the advice is good though. I rarely use my HT unless it's acting as a scanner or just to monitor the repeaters while watching TV. 99% of my TX time is on a mobile/base with a much better antenna.

VX3 is a neat little analog pocket scanner and great for 440 machines when you are in an inner city or other area with heavy 440 coverage. You will very likely be disappointed with it as a general use HT. It works best when repeaters can be reached DFQ on 500mW or less.

A _lot_ depends on your location. Join a club, it will save you a lot of time getting the basic questions answered. If there are multiple clubs, find the one that you feel is most welcoming to you.
 

sfgiantsradio

Member
Joined
Dec 25, 2009
Messages
56
I have sort of thrown away the idea of getting a 3r. I heard that the 60r is usually suggested to new hams and that it is easy to use and just works well. Once again, thanks for all the help.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top