Ham versus Commercial?

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muskie999

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Interesting thread, I thought of going wirth a ham system. I know very little, my main occupation with communications is to be able to field communicate with the Ham operators who I recieve during my storm spotting. There are times I need to give instant info, and would rather not tie up 911, and siometimes my laptop is not near a signal for e-spotting. That being said, I am very curious about commercial radio and Ham not eactly sure I know the difference. I live in Evansville Wi. I use a pro 164 scanner and a older pro 79 as back-up. most everything so far, here is analog. So any thoughts would be great!
 
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muskie999

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evansville wi
Would a commercial type radio be allow me to communicate with the other weather spotter folks? The frequency the use most is 444.7500.
Thanks
Mike
 

w8jjr

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Would a commercial type radio be allow me to communicate with the other weather spotter folks? The frequency the use most is 444.7500.
Thanks
Mike
Yes and No

If you hold a valid Amateur Radio Service ticket of Tech or greater
you could use most commercial type radios in the right freq range to
transmit on amateur freqs

Can't use a Amateur Radio on commercial freqs.
 

muskie999

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evansville wi
That being said, it sounds like maetuer would be a better choice. Next question, handheld or mobile,? what are the good the bad or the ugly. Iknow everyone has a opinion, but like most things there are Cadillacs and Edsels. I'm looking at low to midrange.
 

nd5y

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Would a commercial type radio be allow me to communicate with the other weather spotter folks? The frequency the use most is 444.7500.
Thanks
Mike
I don't know how they run things in your area, but most likely you cannot just buy a radio and talk to the weather spotters.

444.75 is a ham radio frequency. You would need a ham radio license to use that frequency.

You may be reqired to be trained by the NWS and be a member of the local Skywarn or ARES group in order to give reports on ham radio. If your local skywarn group operates under RACES, Then you would also have to be a RACES member.

If you really are a weather spotter you should already know what the requirements are in your area.
 

JeremyB

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444.75 would be the amateur repeater in Janesville and the only way to legally transmit on an amateur frequency is by having an amateur license. Get in contact with someone on this site for info on how to get a license: http://www.rockhamradio.com/ares.html

In Wisconsin, just about anyone can be a weather spotter but most of them seem to be hams, police and volunteer firemen. I am fairly certain that they go to the NWS weather spotter training
 

muskie999

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I've alreday been to basic and advanced weather spotting, I never really rthought about involvement with amatuer radio until recently they have 800 #'s with extensions to use your cell. But where I live ATT is really bad out here. I never thought of taking the step to amatuer until now. So i am geting a feel, for what it is about. I have a background into radio and electrical, I know some protocol,a nd I thank you fot the information.
 

stevelton

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Almost all the radios I use on Ham frequencies are Commercial Part 90 radios. Its just easier in my 2-way radio business to use 1 radio for both my radio business and talking with my local buddies.

But the thought of having a multi band commercial radio is out of 99% of an individuals reac, due to the high cost. So if your local ham club is using the 440 ham band to do the ARES/ Skywarn stuff, is there enough commercial/ public safety stuff also using UHF business band (450-470mHz) that would justify spending $300-400 on a commercial mobile that can just do 1 ham band.

If not, then a dual band ham like the Icom ID880 or Yeasu FT7900 may be a better choice.

Dont get me wrong, Im not knocking the use of commercial radios for ham. I think they are a much better radio, and for the new person, all those MR/VFO and Tone, and Shift, and all sorts of other buttons on todays ham radio might be a recipe for disaster if you are trying to spot weather, and fiddle with buttons, and mis program a ham radio while driving down the road. Get a commercial radio, pre-program it for every simplex, talk around, and repeater for your entire state. Then you just pick up the mic and talk.
Good luck.
 

muskie999

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wow, now I'm confused. I just want somethiing simple to be able to give fast update. I really don't know who is in charge of the whole weather business here, but I am trying to find out. I just need a portable or mobile ham radio, that doesn't have to recieve/send too far.It seems the best choice, considering what you said about cost. Weather is my thing, I just finally , in my "later " years want to fulfil my wishes. So I am a member of different organizations, just want to fulfill that communication aspect and give the knowledge of my weathet expierence. Thank you for your response, all of you, keep it coming. Hey at 60 I'm not ready to pack it in. I have alot of different expirences that relate. I have knowledge that I learned ,whether I like it or not. LOL
Thanks
Mike
 

JeremyB

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wow, now I'm confused. I just want somethiing simple to be able to give fast update. I really don't know who is in charge of the whole weather business here, but I am trying to find out. I just need a portable or mobile ham radio, that doesn't have to recieve/send too far.It seems the best choice, considering what you said about cost. Weather is my thing, I just finally , in my "later " years want to fulfil my wishes. So I am a member of different organizations, just want to fulfill that communication aspect and give the knowledge of my weathet expierence. Thank you for your response, all of you, keep it coming. Hey at 60 I'm not ready to pack it in. I have alot of different expirences that relate. I have knowledge that I learned ,whether I like it or not. LOL
Thanks
Mike
Get in touch with someone on that rockham ares website, they probably have one of their hams that is the SkyWarn coordinator. They may also have classes and an exam that you can attend to get your license, the technician class license will allow you to transmit on most bands that are used for SkyWarn. Although you hear a lot of traffic on the 444.75 repeater, there are likely to be backup frequencies in case the repeater dies, it could be another 70cm(420-450MHz) band repeater or possibly a 2 meter(144-148) repeater or even a non repeater(simplex) frequency in one of those bands. The Rock County SkyWarn people know what frequency they go to in case one fails(repeater down).

Don't worry about what radio for now, go to one of the groups meetings, join if you want, but chances are, that the members have all sorts of different radios and most likely know the ups and downs of each model.

If you want to learn what is needed to get a technician license, do a search on Amazon.com for ARRL ham radio license manual, a bookstore in Janesville would probably have it(Barnes & Noble?). The large bookstore in Madison near Best Buy at West Towne Mall had it two years ago. There is an exam taking place at a church north of Janesville on 51 on July 17th and there are more if you are willing to drive to UW Space Place in Madison.

Good Luck
 

zz0468

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wow, now I'm confused. I just want somethiing simple to be able to give fast update.
Unconfuse yourself. Before you do anything, talk to as many of the other weather spotter people that you can, and find out what THEY use to communicate with. Not all weather spotters are hams, and not all hams are into weather spotting. Find out what's prevalent in your area.

Keep in mind that ham radio is a hobby unto itself, and although some people get licensed just so they can fulfill some other task, like weather spotting, it's not always a good fit amongst all the hams who are NOT weathers spotters, if you don't know what you're doing. If you chose that route, make sure you get guidance from the local hams so you don't step on each others toes.
 

dbsar

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Muskie999, in my area the amature radio folks have a close relationship with NWS and making your reports via Skywarn seems to be the best way to go. I just went through the amature radio training class which lasted 8 weeks, however you can study on your own and pass the test also. Then you can get a radio for $100-300 depending on what you need. In my case, a $100 hand held unit will work due to the extensive repeater system in my area. Amature radio can be quite complex (if you want), or simple. I think you should look into it by contacting your local Skywarn and they will help you make your decision. Good luck.
 

muskie999

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evansville wi
Thanks all of you who were positive. I know I do not have all the knowledge you do, otherwise I guess I would be the the one who knows and could make YOU feel small. I'm some what dissiapionted by some of the smug answers I have recieved. I'm just trying to help my community and learn something new.Sorry if I am so stupid that I will never be able to reach your high expectations, I think that some of you also started at the 1st step also, or maybe you were born to radio land. Guess I will just have to learn on my own without this helpful forum. Thank all of you, who at least had given me some benefit of a little knowledge. I never knew HAM was such an exclusive group, so I better not ask anymore stupid questions.
thanks
an old VET
 

zz0468

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I'm some what dissiapionted by some of the smug answers I have recieved. I'm just trying to help my community and learn something new.
I'm not sure what smug answers you're referring to. I checked the entire thread, and really didn't see any that fit that description. You came in knowing next to nothing about radio, asked a few good questions, and got a variety of good answers. Take it all in the helpful manner in which it was intended, and ask more questions. I haven't seen any dumb ones yet.
 

elk2370bruce

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I would agree with zz0468. No one is being smug or busting your gonads. What they are saying is that amateur radio is a valuable tool and is linked to NWS via the SKYWARN system and is used as an emergency communications resource in many communities . To use these established relationships requires you to hold an amateur radio license (Law) . Some of us even use commercial gear (Motorola etc) that have been programmed on the ham bands or less expensive equipment designed for the amateur market. If you don't want to go through the amateur radio route, what other (commercial) systems are used by your spotter groups and for what purpose? Are they used in a small area for inter-person communication or communication with NWS and emergency operating centers? What radio systems does your NSW office or EOC monitor that you can utilize without being a member of that organization? These are questions that have to be answered by you locally since resources, protocols, and systems vary around the nation. So, these comments are not meant to be smug. They are being raised to to better understand your environment so we provide you with a more complete answer and that will require some local research on your part to help us frame realistic responses. So lighten up and lower your frustration as well as ours.
 

muskie999

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evansville wi
Sorry didn't mean sound like I did. Just frustrating, it's hard to find out exactly who some of these folks rare. My knowledge, so far, is limited, but everybody has been helpful. I apologize just want to be more involved, and for 2 years I' ve listened to voices and call signs and am envious. I was at a great auction on Tuesday that had a variety of older ham equipment, but was never able to grab somebody who looked like they were looking so I could ask some questions. Oh well, got to keep trying. Sorry I got a little excitable. You folks have been great!
 

n5ims

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You may want to check out these folks (TARS) who appear to be close to you in Evansville, IN. They may be able to help you get some info, education, and possible have classes to get you licensed in Amateur Radio. According to the site, "TARS holds monthly meetings on the second Thursday of each month" which should help you meet local hams and get many of your questions ansered in person.
 
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