Getting into HAM-newbie questions

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ScannaMan9

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Sep 27, 2006
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Well,

Tonight I decided to get back into HAM again. (As I first started around Christmas) I have some questions:

-When I do pass, how do I apply for a callsign? And how does my license come- "paper or plastic?!?!?!?!"

-To practice, I use: eHam.net Ham Radio Practice Exams but don't know of any sites to study on. (I'd like a FREE one)

-What is the best (cheapest) radio to have. I'd like to get a portable first- then a mobile.

-When you get a frequency, do you own it, or sort-of rent it? Obviously I realize that people can scan/ monitor it.
 

Trekker65

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Oct 25, 2008
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Location
Flower Mound, Texas
Well,

Tonight I decided to get back into HAM again. (As I first started around Christmas) I have some questions:

-When I do pass, how do I apply for a callsign? And how does my license come- "paper or plastic?!?!?!?!"

-To practice, I use: eHam.net Ham Radio Practice Exams but don't know of any sites to study on. (I'd like a FREE one)

-What is the best (cheapest) radio to have. I'd like to get a portable first- then a mobile.

-When you get a frequency, do you own it, or sort-of rent it? Obviously I realize that people can scan/ monitor it.
Keep at the practice. When you pass, the examiners will process all of your paperwork for you and in a few weeks you will receive a paper license with your new call sign, in the mail. I am assuming you are starting with the Tech License which allows some 10 meter coverage but mainly sounds like you want to start with a 2 meter handy talkie. There are numerous affordable handy talkies used or new just do some searching. You want one that will access local repeaters. Mobile units and antennas are quite resonable so start by googling retail outlets like Ham Radio Outlet and others and studying their features.
You will be using/sharing the frequencies with all other hams, that is what makes it so inviting. As always ask a fellow ham for more information.
Mark N5TTK
 

n5ims

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Jul 25, 2004
Messages
3,800
When I do pass, how do I apply for a callsign? And how does my license come- "paper or plastic?!?!?!?!"
When you pass all the required elements for a license, you're given a callsign from the standard callsign pool based on your license's mailing address. Once you receive your callsign, you may apply for an appropriate vanity callsign if desired.

To practice, I use: eHam.net Ham Radio Practice Exams but don't know of any sites to study on. (I'd like a FREE one)
Your local library probably has a copy of the ARRL or other group's study guide. Just make sure it's current since the question pool change every few years. What's nice about these types of study guides are instead of teaching you the test, they teach you the material so you'll have a better grip on the material. Instead of just learning that the answer to question 4 is "B", you'll be able to answer the same question even if they rearrange the answers to make the correct one "D" instead.

Another good way to study is to find a local ham radio club that has classes you can take. These are often free (although you may need to purchase the book they base their class on) if you join the club. Another advantage is you get to study with others and can bounce questions of eachother. These folks will make good on-air buddies as well when you get your license since they're new as well!

What is the best (cheapest) radio to have. I'd like to get a portable first- then a mobile.
In reality the cheapest radio is one you don't have to pay for (and a few are out there legally). One way is to join a local club and use their equipment. The downside is that you'll have to go to the clubhouse to operate. You may also find a local ham to "elmer" you (help you through the process of getting into ham radio) who may have an old radio you can borrow once you get your license.

There are also many used radios that may allow you to find a much better radio than you could afford new. The advantage is you get to learn how it works and sell it for about what you paid when you want to upgrade (making it nearly free to use).

When you get a frequency, do you own it, or sort-of rent it? Obviously I realize that people can scan/ monitor it.
Your ham license doesn't grant you a frequency, but allow you to use the many frequencies allowed by your ham license grade based on the approved bandplan. These frequencies are shared by all hams with rights to them. Some groups may have a bit more "rights" to specific frequencies, however this is very limited.

One example would be a repeater frequency assigned for an area by that area's assigned coordinator. While it may be legal to use either their input or output frequency for your simplex conversation, it wouldn't be well received by others that use that repeater.
 

celsasser

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Feb 14, 2012
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Location
IL
One of the great things about ham radio is that you can take it to whatever end you desire -- sorta like "whatever floats your boat". Along the way you'll keep learning more and more; and just starting out into ham radio is the same, you keep building on what you already know.

There are some sites that offer good exam preps and free info, you can google them to find them. Just remember that some might be dated. Here's a link to a pretty good list of resources a beginner might find helpful:
Study Guides

Don't be afraid to look for upcoming Hamfests in your local area, some will offer free seminars for those just getting started and they might even give the licensing exams (the bigger ones often do). It will also give you some exposure to used gear that you can look at, or pick-up. Don't be afraid to look for an "Elmer" as well; that's ham radio slang for a quasi-mentor; someone who will unofficially adopt you and help you get started.

I myself would start with a mobile that you can move from the shack into the vehicle when you travel. I feel it might offer a bit more flexibility for someone just starting out, but that's just my opinion based on little or no info on what/where/when you would intend to operate. I've had plenty of portables over the years, but seem to lean toward mobiles most of the time...

A caveat: I'm in no way associated with the link site provided above, I just stumbled across it a few days ago.
 
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