Trying to get into Amateur Radio, wondering about equipment

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19echo95

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Hey guys, I am thinking about getting into this little hobby and I'm wondering about equipment. What is the cheapest I would be able to get a little handheld transceiver? I don't have a ton of money to spend but I have a little. So, basically what I am wondering is what is a good (good working and good priced) piece of equipment you guys would recommend.
 

W9BU

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The 2 meter band (144-148 MHz) seems to be the most commonly used band for new hams. In most parts of the country, that's where you'll find active repeaters with people you can talk to. However, in some areas, you may want to have access to the 70 centimeter band (420-450 MHz). Repeater activity varies quite a bit, so it's hard to determine what conditions are like where you are.

If all you need is 2m, then my recommendation would be an Icom IC-V80 or IC-V82, Kenwood TH-K2, or Yaesu FT-250 or FT-270. These can all be had for less than $150 from most mail order amateur radio dealers.

If you need 2m and 70cm, then a dual band handheld is your best option. My recommendation would be an Icom IC-T70 or Yaesu FT-60. I have owned an FT-60 in the past and think pretty highly of it. For around $160, you can't go wrong with an FT-60.

Before you make a final decision, I highly recommend that you visit a ham radio store, if possible. Most stores will let you handle demo models of the popular radios so you can see what they are like. Have the sales person walk you through setting a frequency, setting a PL tone, and storing a memory. If the procedure seems intuitive to you, that radio is a good choice. Also look at the price of accessories: speaker-mic, carrying case, spare rechargeable battery pack, AA battery holder, quick charger, etc. Having the proper accessories can make a big difference in your enjoyment of the radio and the prices can sometimes be an issue. Finally, look at computer programming capabilities. Some of these radios have 1000 memories and you don't want to be entering a lot of memories by hand.
 
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W2NJS

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You can do a lot of shopping, checking, familiarization, info gathering, etc. etc. by checking the online sites of the ham stores, such as:
HRO
AES
Universal Radio
Texas Towers

and the manufacturers of ham equipment, such as:

Icom
Alinco
Yaesu
Kenwood

and if your local library has copies of QST magazine you will find tons and tons of data there as well.
 

19echo95

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Ok, thanks guys. I will look into these as well as my local Amateur Radio Club (Although, I wish there weren't so many older people there (no offense), there probably isn't anyone under 50 there and I am just 16.)
 

IowaGuy1603

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The 2 meter band (144-148 MHz) seems to be the most commonly used band for new hams. In most parts of the country, that's where you'll find active repeaters with people you can talk to. However, in some areas, you may want to have access to the 70 centimeter band (420-450 MHz). Repeater activity varies quite a bit, so it's hard to determine what conditions are like where you are.

If all you need is 2m, then my recommendation would be an Icom IC-V80 or IC-V82, Kenwood TH-K2, or Yaesu FT-250 or FT-270. These can all be had for less than $150 from most mail order amateur radio dealers.

If you need 2m and 70cm, then a dual band handheld is your best option. My recommendation would be an Icom IC-T70 or Yaesu FT-60. I have owned an FT-60 in the past and think pretty highly of it. For around $160, you can't go wrong with an FT-60.

Before you make a final decision, I highly recommend that you visit a ham radio store, if possible. Most stores will let you handle demo models of the popular radios so you can see what they are like. Have the sales person walk you through setting a frequency, setting a PL tone, and storing a memory. If the procedure seems intuitive to you, that radio is a good choice. Also look at the price of accessories: speaker-mic, carrying case, spare rechargeable battery pack, AA battery holder, quick charger, etc. Having the proper accessories can make a big difference in your enjoyment of the radio and the prices can sometimes be an issue. Finally, look at computer programming capabilities. Some of these radios have 1000 memories and you don't want to be entering a lot of memories by hand.


In addition to the above I would suggest contacting a ham club in your area. The members should be a good resource for you.
 

zz0468

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Ok, thanks guys. I will look into these as well as my local Amateur Radio Club (Although, I wish there weren't so many older people there (no offense), there probably isn't anyone under 50 there and I am just 16.)
And this is exactly why you're so desperately needed in the hobby! Join the clubs with the old guys. They have a lot to learn, and the clubs desperately need young people. Got any friends interested in the hobby? Have them join, too.
 

n5ims

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Ham clubs are a great way to start. They often have equipment you can use during your visit and mentors to help you start out. Don't forget that used equipment often are great deals (if you get them from the hams themselves, not from a third party like eBay) and you can easily get a much better radio than you might otherwise be able to afford.

If you're looking for a VHF/UHF radio, check out Wouxun (Wouxun KG-UVD1P - KG-UV2D - KG-UV920R Mobile Transceiver) in addition to the big names you've already been given. You can get a dual-band handheld for just over $100 new (with the normal accessories it's still under $150).
 

popnokick

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Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_5 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8L1 Safari/6533.18.5)

I got my first license in 1968, and it was all OM's then, too. Now I'm one of 'em. Stay with it. Pursue your interest in radio. My amateur radio experience has been one of the most valuable things in my life, positively affecting my career, friends, and family. Welcome!
Oh... I have a couple Wouxun handhelds, and they are best thing since sliced bread.
 

19echo95

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I really like that Wouxun. I especially like the price. The only thing is which one would I get?

136-174 & 216-280 or 136-174 & 420-520?
 

LtDoc

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Some good advice here. Just keep in mind that a hand-held radio is very short ranged, which is normal. They do work fine in most instances, but don't expect huge performance. A couple of accessories that come in handy are extra batteries and an 'after market' antenna as large as is possible for 'fixed' use. A lot of power isn't necessary on VHF/UHF but 'lots' of antenna is always useful.
After you get a 'taste' of the hobby, and get a little familiar with what's available, then you can make other choices in equipment.
Have fun.
- 'Doc
 

robschonk

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Ok, thanks guys. I will look into these as well as my local Amateur Radio Club (Although, I wish there weren't so many older people there (no offense), there probably isn't anyone under 50 there and I am just 16.)
My guess is that if you go to a meeting and state your interest and needs, someone will lend you a HT until you can get one of your own. Heck, I'm 60 and just lent one to a 70 year old newbie!
 

robschonk

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I really like that Wouxun. I especially like the price. The only thing is which one would I get?

136-174 & 216-280 or 136-174 & 420-520?
Based on the repeaters in your area, but my guess is the 420-520 is what you want. I bought a Wouxun just to keep in the glove compartment, and now my poor Yaesus are sitting unused, and the Wouxun is my primary handheld. Even used it to work thru amateur satellites with an Arrow Antenna.
 

mparker

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Given the age of the OP I would assume cash is tight. That being said I WOULD NOT START WITH A HT. HTs are cool and fun and I would certainly get one.. But not first! They are VERY limited, a PITA to program in the field and usually expensive.

I started with a VX7R and was quickly discouraged because of weak signal strength and I live in a large city with many great repeater systems.. When I first started out I pictured myself sitting on the couch making contacts... Turns out my HT would only work well on the north side of my house and I practically had to hold it out the window. I assume it has to do with my home having aluminum siding. Never the less I quickly learned how to make coat hanger ground plane antennas to hang outside the window.

I would look at 2 options for a brand new HAM.

Option 1. Get a single/dual band mobile radio and power supply. I use a Icom 2200h with a Jetstream power supply. It is ran to a JPole in my attic. I love this setup! First off the radio is bomb proof and has plenty of power, secondly if I ever get a second radio (ie HF) I can buy a Dstar card and have a dedicated Dstar radio. I think I have less than $200 in everything.

Option 2. With the growing popularity of Echolink I think it would be safe to say if you don't have the money to drop on any radio I would think Echolink would help you get your feet wet and learn the jargon and protocols. And best of all its FREE!

What ever you decide to do I think you'll have a good time.
 

19echo95

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Given the age of the OP I would assume cash is tight. That being said I WOULD NOT START WITH A HT. HTs are cool and fun and I would certainly get one.. But not first! They are VERY limited, a PITA to program in the field and usually expensive.

I started with a VX7R and was quickly discouraged because of weak signal strength and I live in a large city with many great repeater systems.. When I first started out I pictured myself sitting on the couch making contacts... Turns out my HT would only work well on the north side of my house and I practically had to hold it out the window. I assume it has to do with my home having aluminum siding. Never the less I quickly learned how to make coat hanger ground plane antennas to hang outside the window.

I would look at 2 options for a brand new HAM.

Option 1. Get a single/dual band mobile radio and power supply. I use a Icom 2200h with a Jetstream power supply. It is ran to a JPole in my attic. I love this setup! First off the radio is bomb proof and has plenty of power, secondly if I ever get a second radio (ie HF) I can buy a Dstar card and have a dedicated Dstar radio. I think I have less than $200 in everything.

Option 2. With the growing popularity of Echolink I think it would be safe to say if you don't have the money to drop on any radio I would think Echolink would help you get your feet wet and learn the jargon and protocols. And best of all its FREE!

What ever you decide to do I think you'll have a good time.
Thanks for the input. I don't know if you could tell me more about Echolink because I don't quite understand how it works and everything. I've had a few people explain it to me but it still didn't make any sense.
 

mparker

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Thanks for the input. I don't know if you could tell me more about Echolink because I don't quite understand how it works and everything. I've had a few people explain it to me but it still didn't make any sense.
Its pretty simple, but you HAVE to have your amateur call first to use it. I am not sure what PC system you use, but there is a version for PC, Mac, Android, and iOS, I am not to sure about Linux.

Anyhow you download the software install it and during setup you have to confirm yourself. If I remember right there are several ways to do so. I remember doing something with registering my home phone number and Echolink called me with a code or something.. its been awhile…

after that your ready to go… ;)

If you get to that step and if you have AIM or something I could walk you through the rest and we could have a QSO… ;)

As far as how Echolink works… Their site explains how the technical parts work… echolink.org

It pretty much works by repeaters that a "linked" together via the internet. Some if not most of the linked repeater are ALSO "real" repeaters in the sense that HAMs that are within radio distance can use them with the traditional HAM radio.

So for example, I live in Columbus Ohio, I have a Friend that lives in Toledo Ohio (roughly 120miles North of me) obviously that is out of range for a 2m radio. I am able via Echolink to use my buddies Toledo linked repeater from my computer in Columbus. So I talk to him from my computer and he replies to me with his radio gear because he is near by the repeater.

Hope that makes sense. And honestly that is ONLY one example of what you can do with Echolink… it will do many other cool things too.
 
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19echo95

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Oct 3, 2011
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Its pretty simple, but you HAVE to have your amateur call first to use it. I am not sure what PC system you use, but there is a version for PC, Mac, Android, and iOS, I am not to sure about Linux.

Anyhow you download the software install it and during setup you have to confirm yourself. If I remember right there are several ways to do so. I remember doing something with registering my home phone number and Echolink called me with a code or something.. its been awhile…

after that your ready to go… ;)

If you get to that step and if you have AIM or something I could walk you through the rest and we could have a QSO… ;)

As far as how Echolink works… Their site explains how the technical parts work… echolink.org

It pretty much works by repeaters that a "linked" together via the internet. Some if not most of the linked repeater are ALSO "real" repeaters in the sense that HAMs that are within radio distance can use them with the traditional HAM radio.

So for example, I live in Columbus Ohio, I have a Friend that lives in Toledo Ohio (roughly 120miles North of me) obviously that is out of range for a 2m radio. I am able via Echolink to use my buddies Toledo linked repeater from my computer in Columbus. So I talk to him from my computer and he replies to me with his radio gear because he is near by the repeater.

Hope that makes sense. And honestly that is ONLY one example of what you can do with Echolink… it will do many other cool things too.
Ok, thanks. I will look into that. So, obviously I would have to take my tech class and everything first so I can get my call sign right? Maybe whenever I look into it more I will get up with you on AIM.
 

mparker

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Ok, thanks. I will look into that. So, obviously I would have to take my tech class and everything first so I can get my call sign right? Maybe whenever I look into it more I will get up with you on AIM.
Yep you HAVE to have your license first. Tech class would work...
 

Raptor05121

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Ok, thanks. I will look into that. So, obviously I would have to take my tech class and everything first so I can get my call sign right? Maybe whenever I look into it more I will get up with you on AIM.
Check out QRZ.com and study the test and answers. I spent 4 hours (from knowing nothing to taking the test) and only missed 3. Passed the written on saturday, got my license by thursday.
 

Nap

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Option 1. Get a single/dual band mobile radio and power supply. I use a Icom 2200h with a Jetstream power supply. It is ran to a JPole in my attic. I love this setup! First off the radio is bomb proof and has plenty of power, secondly if I ever get a second radio (ie HF) I can buy a Dstar card and have a dedicated Dstar radio. I think I have less than $200 in everything.
Nice suggestion. Also to be mentioned that the icom 2200 is one of the preciously few >50W transceivers that are all heat sink with no (noisy) fan.
 
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