First radio for newly licensed

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tdenfuny

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I didn't know if I should ask here or if I should ask in the New User forum (it seems like this forum is more for scanner questions, but please move it if it fits better there.)

I wanted to learn more about amateur radio and so I have been studying for the Technician license exam. Recently I then passed this exam. I have no equipment for this, and from learning about it, I would be interested in trying out communicating using a radio.

I am looking for some advice on what equipment would be good to get for someone like me. Again, besides passing the exam, I really know nothing about amateur radio. As suggested in my Technician study book, I would like to start by just listening to local hams communicating (how do I know what frequency I should listen to? Is there a way to scan a band for activity?). I would then like to try to talk with someone. I have also (just for fun) been learning international morse code and I would like a radio that is capable of doing this as well.

What are some specific radios that I could start with? Do I need to get anything besides just the radio (like antennas, power supplies, etc.) I guess I would prefer something that doesn't require me to build an outside antenna. Is a hand held radio a good option (what is the range on these?)

I do not have a huge budget, so I would be happy with something cheaper that works well but doesn't have all the bells as whistles.

Thanks.
 

teufler

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Well youi suggest scanning for ham activity, not sure where you are locatyed but vhf ham activity, remernbering the Tech exam, are in 144-148 range. If you are not what what woul be an exact, RR has databases that cover what you want, also a google search for your states amateur radio repeater council should bring up a listing by Frequency or location. As for radios, a local hmfest, you might find a good used radio, though new prices, $129-$170 would get most equipment. An Antenna, should be $30 including mount and coax. A trunk l;id mount, nmo design, should work. NMO design means a Motorola design, All of this covers a vhf radio for the car. If you want a cw radio, thats usually a hf radio. Older radio, they still do code, hasn't changed, can be found for $150 and up. The older radios do not have the automatic features the newer designs have. Automatic features such as Digital signal Processing or interferen ce reduction .Some older radios hf ones , are tube designs. Nothing wrong with them,alittle slower to swarm up and stabilize. So since you have passed the exam, you are now part of the ham radio legacy, look for a club in your area, go attend a meeting. That will help, also field day is coming, if you want to see radios in action, thats a good place.
 

KM4HOI

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I would suggest you check repeater book for your local area to see what frequencies are used in your area. In my area 70cm and 2m are very popular for local chat. I'm in the Appalachian mountains and the nearest repeaters are 12 and 17 miles away and can hit the 2m tower (12 mils away) with a baofeng uv-5r but only from out in the yard, while the 70cm repeater (17 Miles away) I can hit from inside. So if money is an issue less than $50 for a Baofeng HT works and is very inexpensive. Distance varys so much with antenna height that even buying a 50w 2m kenwood mobile mounted in a suv doesn't work much further distances from my driveway, but up at 6000ft I could hit every repater tower I tried even one at 82 miles away. As to specific radios get the best you can afford, with Kenwood, Icom, and Yaesu being better brands and Baofeng and Wouxun being cheaper. Dual band and quad bands are defiantly preferred over mono band radios.
 

cellphone

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tdenfuny

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Thanks for the replies. From https://www.repeaterbook.com I think I have a repeater located within 10 miles. So does that mean that I can pretty much get anything and just monitor that frequency?

If I would like to try morse code at some point, are most radios able to do this?

Will something like

Amazon.com : Yaesu FT-2900R 75 Watt 2 Meter VHF Mobile Transceiver Amateur Ham Radio : Automotive Cb Radios And Scanners : Car Electronics

work? What else would I need with this? Would I, for example, need to buy an antenna for this?

Thanks for the suggestion about the Baofeng UV5R. I have looked at that on Amazon.
 

GSPD

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You could get all kinds of suggestions on this site, but I would check and see if you have a local amateur radio club or group in your area. This would be a great way to see and touch actual radios and learn from those that have been in your position.

I know part of the fun is learning as you go and buying radios, but it sounds like you haven't really been exposed to ham radio. A lot of the China radios I'm hearing locally sound very good, but there are many different models available.

Sounds like you're on the right track checking for your local repeaters. If you have a scanner and can monitor those repeaters for activity and information all the better. Also, field days is coming up, so you might check and see if any amateurs in your area will be setting up a station nearby for a visit.

I don't know where you're located, but in my area...Rochester NY, we have a very active ham community offering classes in all sorts of topics. Sometimes an HT is offered to new Techs after successfully passing the test for $25. Several hams, including myself extend the offer to invite new hams over to show our stations and answer any questions they may have.

Good luck, have fun and hopefully enjoy the hobby!
 

N5TWB

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Thanks for the replies. From https://www.repeaterbook.com I think I have a repeater located within 10 miles. So does that mean that I can pretty much get anything and just monitor that frequency?

If I would like to try morse code at some point, are most radios able to do this?

Will something like

Amazon.com : Yaesu FT-2900R 75 Watt 2 Meter VHF Mobile Transceiver Amateur Ham Radio : Automotive Cb Radios And Scanners : Car Electronics

work? What else would I need with this? Would I, for example, need to buy an antenna for this?

Thanks for the suggestion about the Baofeng UV5R. I have looked at that on Amazon.
You really need to connect with a local ham club, like the one that probably sponsors that nearby repeater. You can get answers there for your specific locale that can only be generalized about in this forum. Also, you need to connect with an experienced ham, called an "Elmer" in ham-speak, that can assist you in filling in the blanks between what is needed to pass the licensing test and what is needed to be an effective ham radio operator that is able to get enjoyment from the hobby while working through the learning process. Think about connecting for Field Day, June 27-28, so you can get exposed to HF operations.

OK, now for some short, generalized answers to your questions:

1) Why just monitor? You have a license...Use it!! Monitor to hear how others are using the repeater and so you don't step on other operators but put your ID out there (KG#***, monitoring). You might find somebody to talk to and you'll find out how well you can get into the repeater.

2) Morse code, aka CW, is typically confined to HF operations, except for repeater IDs. For the most part, this will be part of your next phase of learning to get your General license so you can operate on HF frequencies across more bands. You have some privileges now in HF, both voice and CW, but your frequencies are fairly restricted so the General license will open up that world a bunch. Read back in your study materials so you can remind yourself of your privileges and frequencies. Start to consider what it's going to take to put together a station for now and into the future.

3) Your Amazon link takes you to a radio that is for VHF/2 meter band which will be great for repeater work and simplex work. It is for voice contacts via FM in that band. Another radio will be required to take you to the world of HF CW contacts.

4) You'll always need an antenna for a radio because that's the only way the signal goes out through the electromagnetic spectrum. The only radios that come with an antenna are hand-held radios. The one in your link is typically mounted in a vehicle, connected to the vehicle's power system, and connected to an external antenna. If used at home, you still need an antenna and a power supply that can provide 13.8 volts DC current to the radio.

5) Baofeng makes a good starter hand-held, just be sure to get a programming cable for it. It's easier to load all the local/regional frequencies with a computer rather than by hand.
 

tdenfuny

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You really need to connect with a local ham club, like the one that probably sponsors that nearby repeater. You can get answers there for your specific locale that can only be generalized about in this forum. Also, you need to connect with an experienced ham, called an "Elmer" in ham-speak, that can assist you in filling in the blanks between what is needed to pass the licensing test and what is needed to be an effective ham radio operator that is able to get enjoyment from the hobby while working through the learning process. Think about connecting for Field Day, June 27-28, so you can get exposed to HF operations.
....
Thank you for this. I have been invited to Field Day by a local club and I plan to go (even though I am a bit shy.)
 

k3ygc

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new guy

go to the field day! you will enjoy the company, and maybe be fed very well! a gret way to meet locals!
 

KM4LCB

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I'll second going for the Baofeng as a start. Just keep in mind that while the receiver side is quite sensitive, it has some issues with getting overloaded by strong signals on frequencies you aren't tuned to. At least, that is what other hams tell me on the local repeater. Right now I'm using borrowed equipment as I just got my license about a week ago. It's a good way to try out a radio before buying it if you can find someone that is willing to loan it to you.
 

KM4LCB

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I'm currently using borrowed equipment as I just got my license and don't own any radios yet. It is a good way to find out if you like a radio before you buy it. I'm using an ICOM IC-V80 right now, and just ordered the dual band IC-T70 since I liked the V80 so much.
 

teufler

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tdenfuny: few 2 mtr or dual band vhf\uhf do cw. In fact most identifiers are now voice id rather than cw. I compliment you in wanting to learn cw but you will probably have to get a hf radio. I have a Ranger dx50 that is 10,11,12 meters and it does have cw. But 10,12 are considered hf bands.
 

cmdrwill

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" I have been invited to Field Day by a local club and I plan to go (even though I am a bit shy.)

Yes make sure you get to a Field Day near you.

You will see all sorts of radio and antenna combinations.

Check ARRL's Field Day Locator.
 

PrimeNumber

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Thank you for this. I have been invited to Field Day by a local club and I plan to go (even though I am a bit shy.)
You will learn sooo much in one weekend this way, it'll put you way ahead. If there's one step to take in the next month, this is the one to take. And besides, field day is like Santa Claus: only comes around once a year. You don't want to miss out.

Also, have you seen the book "Ham Radio for Dummies"? No kiddin', it's the name of a real book, actually for smart people, that starts at the basics and will give you the big picture in a week's evenings of reading. I highly recommend it. (But go to field day too!) That one book helped me enormously when I was just getting interest in ham.
 

n5ims

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My vote would be to NOT get one of those cheap handheld radios as your first ham radio (second, by all means, but not as your first). Sure it's cheap and self-contained, but unless your repeater is very close or their hand-held range is very good in your specific area, you'll probably have lots of "you're not quite making it, can you increase your power or improve your location" contacts. Not something that's very encouraging for a brand new ham. Even a costly brand-name handheld will have limited range and grief.

Get one of those cheap mobile radios, a power supply, and a small base antenna that covers the band(s) your radio does. You'll spend a bit more, but have much more success and therefore much more fun.

Something like this (LEIXEN LX VV-898 Dual Band VHF/UHF 136-174/400-470MHz 10W Two Way Radio Mobile Transceiver - Main Trading Company) for a radio will give you the same dual-band coverage of those Baofengs but a bit more power. For an antenna, a good starter one may be a J-Pole. There are several threads on this type of antenna, but this (http://forums.radioreference.com/am...2m-70cm-dual-band-j-pole-antenna-project.html) would be a good one to start with (especially post 6 which has a link to plans to build one). Use some good coax though since that's one of the most important things as far as signal strength (and therefore range) goes. RG-8 (note the lack of an "X" there, 8x has much more loss on VHF/UHF than standard 8) or even LMR-400.
 

AK9R

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If you do go the handheld radio route, get a mag-mount antenna and stick it on a filing cabinet or refrigerator or get a J-pole antenna and hang it from a tack on the wall. The problem with handhelds is that their lousy antennas don't radiate very well. The result is moving just an inch might make all the difference between being solid into the local repeater or being noisy with a signal that fades in and out. By fixing the antenna in one location, hopefully one that works well, you can make a huge improvement in the handheld's signal.

While it's good to hear all the new hams checking into our local nets, way too many of them have nearly unreadable signals. I suspect they are trying to use handheld radios with rubber-duck antennas. The repeater sounds fine to them, but they sure don't make it back into the repeater very well.
 

MTS2000des

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My vote would be to NOT get one of those cheap handheld radios as your first ham radio (second, by all means, but not as your first). Sure it's cheap and self-contained, but unless your repeater is very close or their hand-held range is very good in your specific area, you'll probably have lots of "you're not quite making it, can you increase your power or improve your location" contacts. Not something that's very encouraging for a brand new ham. Even a costly brand-name handheld will have limited range and grief.
I second this. Unless the repeaters in your area are close by or are built out like a public safety system with remote receivers nearby, a handheld of any kind will product less than optimum results. Most ham repeaters are designed for radios with external antennas.

If you do go the HT route, it is imperative that some kind of external (non "rubber duck") antenna be procured. If your main operation will be at home, even a basic low cost J-Pole such as this can provide surprisingly good performance for not much money. As stated before, good feedline is just as important as your antenna, and of course antenna placement is also paramount.

If at all possible, an antenna should be OUTSIDE and as high above as possible. Height buys you better talk out and better receive, it also isolates the antenna from all the manmade RF noise makers in the typical home these days. Always play it safe, proper grounding is a must, and keep antennas and feedlines as far away from AC power lines as possible!

For mobile operation, a simple magnet mount is okay with an HT, higher gain mobile antennas do provide advantage over unity gain models. Just as with mounting an antenna at home, in the mobile environment a permanent mount is preferred, but the antenna should ideally be placed on the center of the roof. The trunk lid is a second choice. The LAST place would be near the engine compartment (front fenders).

if you can swing it, a mobile radio (even for fixed operation) with a good outside antenna will yield much more consistent results. Not just on repeaters, but in many areas, simplex operation and Echolink nodes are on the air and accessible.

Remember, ham radio is all about having fun! If you're not having FUN, you're doing it wrong LOL.
 

blastco2

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To the op
I was in your shoes last oct. I bought some uv5r's. Got mixed results, mostly not so good. Then bought a couple of moto gm300's uhf and vhf. Programmed by my elmer for the local repeaters. SO MUCH BETTER than the ht's! I had a 30a power supply, bought an open stub j-pole 50' of lmr400. Stuck it 20' in the air. Got into a repeater 88 miles out the other day with near full quieting. You will be much happier with a mobile type radio setup as a base or mobile. Really you will. If you happen to be in se idaho, Id let you borrow them till you can buy your own.......
If you dont know, it is perfectly legal to use commercial radios on the ham bands. But it is very illegal to use ham radios on the commercial bands, generally speaking. There are lots of older commercial radios that wont do narrow band and had to be replaced buy the commercial users. Those radios are nicely inexpesive. My total cost to be on the air with a dual band setup was....
Antenna. $35
2 radios. $150
Lmr400. $75
Mast. $45
Power supply. $100
Diplexer. $40
$450 ish
Imo dang cheap for a dual band 35/25 watt base.

Sent from my SCH-I535 using Tapatalk 2
 
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