I Have a License Now What? A Rambling Series Of New HAM Questions

EastCoastSunrise

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jun 29, 2021
Messages
97
This morning I finally accomplished something that I have been meaning to do for a while, that being getting a HAM license. With a few months of on and off watching of videos from folks like HRCC, among others and about 2ish weeks of more intense direct study now that I had a test date on the calendar. I passed the both my Tech and General exams (gave Extra a shot, but given I had spent 0 time even looking at questions, the outcome was predictable. But given I wasn't even expecting to pass my General I was supper happy walking out of my test session!) Right now I am waiting for the FCC to get my license granted, given it the weekend, however now that I am here where should I go next? I feel like I have a ton to learn, and new toys to acquire and play with. That said, I feel a little lost as to where I should go from here. I like the FCC just about as much as the next person, which is in DC and not at my front door writing fines, so what other rules and regulations should I learn aside from what is in the question pool? Related question, aside from rules I feel I have some more book learning todo before I think I am ready to get on the air and start transmitting. What advice do people have for my "continuing education"? Following that, is getting equipment to get on the air, I live in Eastern MA, and often find my self on the road to New Hampshire, New York, and for family reasons out in CA on a fairly regular basis. Often trips out of Eastern MA are camping related, or some other form of outdoor activity, so a radio that works for travel and outdoors and will handle a day or two of time away from the wall would be great, if anyone has recommendations. While I haven't done it POTA seems like something up my alley and I am wondering what peoples suggestions are for getting started with that. As much I make it seem as if I am always traveling around, most of my time is spent at home or in surrounding communities. Where I feel most of my CQ time will be spent on VHF and UHF repeaters of which about half of the UHF are digital (mostly DMR, with a handful of other types). Plus I'm not really sure if I am ready to spend the amounts required for a good HF rig (unless their are options that are cheeper that I realized out there, and someone can convince me to grab one), might try to borrow one from someone first before I go and get one. I realize that I am asking for suggestions for two different types of radio, but given I bet Ill see use with both types fairly frequently, I thought Id ask for both. Off topic, however still some what related, getting a scanner was a taste of what getting into radio is, and listening to public safety and aviation is really fun. Sadly (for my wallet maybe) this means I am a bit of a sucker for Moto APX8000's and BK Technology's offerings. I 100% know they are not at all designed for HAM radio and have major downsides making them a bad option for HAM use, but they still just look so shiny and kinda cool that the closer a HAM radio looks to a public safety radio the more I like it. (Please someone break this cycle of thinking for me before I find a way to justify picking up one of these radios and using them for HAM operation. My wallet will thank you for eternity :) ) Anyway given I know just enough right now to tell the difference between a SDS100 and a HAM radio I am open suggestions of where I should go from here.

73
 

KI5NGG

Member
Joined
Apr 20, 2023
Messages
5
I’d suggest finding a local ham group and getting plugged in. I’m in the same boat experience wise, and there is a lot to learn which can seem overwhelming on your own. I’d also suggest ARRL- great organization with lots of resources.
 

mmckenna

I ♥ Ø
Joined
Jul 27, 2005
Messages
24,383
Location
I am a lineman for the county.
Congratulations on the license. Welcome to the hobby.

I'd agree, read and understand ALL of the Part 97 rules. Most hams seem to skip over this part.
Do keep in mind that your amateur radio license -only- permits transmitting on the assigned amateur radio bands, no where else.

If you want something to put you to sleep, read FCC Part 2 rules, as they have some sections that apply to amateur radio.

As for a radio, slow down and think about what you are really going to do. HF is fun, and can be done fairly inexpensively, but it'll take some work.
A hand held dual band radio is a good option. So is a mobile if you spend a lot of time on the road.
For your first radio, the "big 3" brands, Yaesu, Icom and Kenwood, are a great option as they are easier to learn, you'll get a lot more support, and they are going to be higher quality than the Chinese junk.

The Motorola's and BK's are nice, but I'd recommend not starting off with one of those. While they will work on 2 meters and 70 centimeter band, there are some challenges and drawbacks that need to be considered carefully:
You'll want wide band capability, most won't do that without some assistance from the manufacturer, especially on the 70cm band.
You can't transmit on 700/800MHz, so unless you just want to use that for listening, it's an expensive scanner.

A basic Yaesu/Icom/Kenwood will give you a lot of bang for your buck. Hand held radios are fun, but limited due to the antenna. A mobile was my second ham radio purchase when I got my license, and I used it WAY more than the portable.

Listen, listen, listen, get the feel for the repeaters in your area before jumping in too quickly. See if you can make some friends through local clubs direclty, they can assist.

Good luck and welcome to the hobby.
 

AB4BF

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Apr 13, 2008
Messages
545
Location
EM93cs
Welcome to amateur radio! Congratulations on your license!

Looking back to 2015 when I was first licensed, I have to think that if I had to do it again, I would have first bought a good used laptop. Later, I did, but more on that later. My first radio was a BaoFeng UV-82. I used that until I got my General and then AE. My first HF rig was a Kenwood TS-430S. I used my desktop to program the UV-82.

As I progressed into ham radio, I collected more and more radios, mostly HTs, which needed programming. I bought an HP laptop from a fellow ham, removed the worn out hard drive, cleaned the internals, and installed the max RAM it would accommodate and installed a 1 terabyte SSHD. It went from 4 minutes of maybe booting up to less than 15 seconds. I installed Windows 10 Pro, which seems to download the appropriate drivers as needed. Also on the laptop I have downloaded all the programs needed to program all my radios, from the Yaesu FT-991A to all the GMRS HTs that my grandsons use on the farm and I also have CHIRP and EchoLink installed on it, too.

I would say that getting a good laptop to handle all your radios should be the first usable item in your inventory, plus the different USB programming cables, too.

Good luck and most of all - Have Fun!
 

alcahuete

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jul 24, 2015
Messages
2,554
Location
Antelope Acres, California
Plus I'm not really sure if I am ready to spend the amounts required for a good HF rig (unless their are options that are cheeper that I realized out there, and someone can convince me to grab one), might try to borrow one from someone first before I go and get one.
Congrats on getting your license and welcome to the hobby!

Aside from HF being fun (at least IMO) If you want to do POTA, you definitely want an HF radio. While some POTA stuff takes place on VHF/UHF for sure, you likely aren't going to make a lot of contacts. The vast majority of the activity is on HF. Considering the bands are open these days due to the solar cycle, a nice portable antenna for the upper bands can be pretty small, relatively speaking.
 

ladn

Explorer of the Frequency Spectrum
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Oct 25, 2008
Messages
1,372
Location
Southern California and sometimes Owens Valley
Welcome to the hobby and congratulations on your persistence by taking (and passing) the General test in the same session as your Technician test. You had nothing to loose and everything to gain. Your General license will open up the full spectrum of ham radio for you and allow you to find your niche(s).

The hobby is a lot about learning and you'll probably find all that learning will make more sense when you can apply it to the real world. I agree with the suggestion that you find a local ham radio club and maybe a friendly "Elmer" to guide you along. This will give you priceless interaction with a more experienced hobbyist, and can allow you to "showroom" a variety of equipment and operating modes.

And speaking about equipment, I, too, recommend getting your starter radio from one of the Big Three manufacturers. If you're looking at VHF/UHF equipment, I'd eschew digital for the time being. Unlike plain vanilla FM, there's no single digital standard in amateur radio and dealing with the programming can be daunting for a new user.

73!
 

krokus

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jun 9, 2006
Messages
6,070
Location
Southeastern Michigan
There is a 4th brand that has a good reputation, Alinco. They are not quite as popular as the mentioned brands, but they have a following.

Certainly avoid the Chinese brands. Most have poor quality control, and violate spectral purity regulations. (There are many threads about them, even some YouTube videos.)
 

EastCoastSunrise

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jun 29, 2021
Messages
97
Now that I have had some time to read through all of this and make a little trip to HRO, I ended up with a Yaesu FT-70D. Seems like a good radio so far. I would've gotten a mobile but it was a smidge out of my price range for now. And given what I want to do with it, it will be advantageous to have an HT.

Thanks once again and 73
EastCoastSunrise
 

KJ5APR

Newbie
Joined
Jun 16, 2023
Messages
1
Location
Childress
East Coast Sunrise... I think you should be proud of your accomplishment as a new ham! I suggest you find the closest Amateur Radio Club in your area, and attend a meeting. You may just be surprised - and pleasantly - at how much you enjoy it. The majority of hams are a lot nicer, and easier to talk to than you might think.
I just got my Tech in April this year, (I was 82 back then :)), and passed my General in May (after I turned 83 (y)). I've been studying like crazy about antennas, and reading reviews on radios. I just got shamed into this by my Grandson, who, (after I suggested to my whole family that we should all get licensed) he said, "Grandpa, I already have my license, and am now studying Morse Code.":ROFLMAO: I've only got two little Baofeng HTs right now, but I'm looking to get into HF, somewhat. Want to be able to talk to him on 20 meters.
You go for it... you won't regret it! 73, KJ5APR
 

cptinsano918

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Aug 28, 2021
Messages
19
Location
Gloucester, VA
Take it slow and make sure you really know what you want before spending hundreds of dollars on equipment. I'd suggest buying an inexpensive dual band HT and trying to practice on some local repeaters. Echolink is also fun and completely free to download on PC.
 

W3RLW

Newbie
Joined
Nov 8, 2022
Messages
1
Location
Sarasota
I just entered the hobby at age 79 and now at 80 just got my General. Amazing since I have issues remembering my phone number. I did not have the advantage of this site until today, so rather than start out slow as I should have, I started by buying an ICOM 7300 and receiving the manual entirely in Japanese. Since I live in an HOA I have a 25 foot flagpole antenna with remote tuner suggested by my Elmer (who has since flown the sate). I, too, do not know what to do next. So far, I have made exactly no contacts and am looking for some groups to join. HELP!!
 

AK9R

Lead Wiki Manager and almost an Awesome Moderator
Super Moderator
Joined
Jul 18, 2004
Messages
9,613
Location
Central Indiana
If your Icom IC-7300 came with a Japanese manual, then you may have gotten a "gray market" radio intended for the Japanese market. Radios sold for the North American market come with English manuals. You can download a PDF of the manual from Icom America's website: IC-7300 Downloads - Icom America

You might try finding a club in your area and see if someone from the club can help you get your station working.
 
Joined
Jun 13, 2018
Messages
869
Without knowing your knowledge base it is difficult giving you advice, 3RLW-- at least for someone like me.
If you have specific questions. however, this is usually a great place to ask them--- many folks in here have plenty of experience and sincere interests in helping a newbie, so don't be afraid to ask away.

It can be intimidating getting started, but with a solid radio like your Icom you have a good platform to launch from ;) .

Lauri
 

pandel

Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2005
Messages
134
Congrat's on the new call! I've got a 7300, they're great radios. In fact, they are one of the most popular radios on the air. I shudder to say this but, Youtube has a lot of videos that may help you get started. Just be selective about what you watch.
Best of luck. '73
 

ladn

Explorer of the Frequency Spectrum
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Oct 25, 2008
Messages
1,372
Location
Southern California and sometimes Owens Valley
I shudder to say this but, Youtube has a lot of videos that may help you get started. Just be selective about what you watch.
I, and probably a number of other users here, can recommend Dave Casler's, KE0OG, Ham Radio Answers YouTube channel. Dave is an experienced ham and a columnist for QST Magazine whom I've known for most of my life. His reference station is a 7300.

Dave's channel has numerous videos dealing with a broad spectrum of ham radio subjects. He also does a weekly (Saturday mornings) livestream where viewers an respond to him in real time.
 

N1XDS

ÆS Ø
Joined
Nov 3, 2004
Messages
1,937
Welcome to the Amatuer Radio World scene. Find out where the ham radio clubs are located in your area always good to see what all frequencies are used around the area such as 2 meters (145 to 147mhz band), 1.25m (220mhz), 70cm (440-444mhz). In my experience in my travels around the states the frequencies that are popular is the 2 meter, 70cm and the 220mhz band but mostly 2 meter and 70cm's. Seldomly I would see the 220mhz being used but all depends the county and state where the repeater is located.

When I lived in Nashville for a period of time 2 meter, 220 mhz and 440 was used all the time.

What the age range of people that are using ham radios around the city, county and state? All depends for your area, Could be younger generation, mid age range or the older ham's. I have met a lot of nice ham's in my travels around the states and couple of them are repeater owners who enjoyed showing their radios and repeater sites and equipment they used.

- Jamie N1XDS
 

N1EXA

FT8 Huntin Mudd Duck on the deep end of the pond !
Joined
Mar 3, 2022
Messages
238
Location
Acushnet Heights New Bedford MA - GRID FN41 mp
Without knowing your knowledge base it is difficult giving you advice, 3RLW-- at least for someone like me.
If you have specific questions. however, this is usually a great place to ask them--- many folks in here have plenty of experience and sincere interests in helping a newbie, so don't be afraid to ask away.

It can be intimidating getting started, but with a solid radio like your Icom you have a good platform to launch from ;) .

Lauri
I have to agree you are going to have to walk that long road to find your way... For the price of that SDS100 that could buy lots of low end or used stuff.

Id say start a QRZ.com account for Logging QSLs and getting out in the Ham Community.

Peter N1EXA
 
Top