Just got my Tech license, kinda confused now...

Discussion in 'Discussions, Opinions & Editorials' started by N5WLF, May 31, 2011.

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  1. N5WLF

    N5WLF Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've been wanting to get a start in ham radio ever since one of my friend's dad showed my his radio and let me listen to it, now I've gone and got my Tech license and am trying to figure out what a decent starter radio would be, I've read through a bunch a information, and it is a little overwhelming and confusing...

    What bands can I transmit voice on, that what I'm interested in for now, I might look into the data mess sometime later...can anyone help me out here?

    Thanks in advance, Bo (KF5LDZ)
  2. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page


    10 meters 28.3 to 28.5 MHz SSB only.
    6 meters, 2 meters and all VHF-UHF-SHF-EHF bands above that (to "forever"), you have voice privileges on all of them, including SSB, FM and AM.

    Isn't this stuff part of the test? (Maybe not...haven't looked in a long time.)
  3. KD8OUR

    KD8OUR Ham Member QRZ Page

    2 meters and 440 are the most active( here anyways), but don't neglect 222mhz! those 3 are a good start. if i had to choose again i might have started with 440... but UHF is a bit more tricky as far as transmission line.
    2 meters is a good bet as is 6. i started with 2 meters. i used an htx-202 for a few months and saved up to buy the yaesu ft1900. i got a motorola gm300 for 440 recently.
    i also upgraded to general, but i have yet to get anything that will get me on the air.
    it will be unlikely that i will be on HF anytime soon as i don't have funds for a radio. some people have offered to loan out radios, but i am very very cautious about that.

    sure the band plan tells you what you have permission to do, but not where to start. best bet, get a good scanner that covers the bands and find the active areas.
  4. WA4OTD

    WA4OTD XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Print this out and then you will always know.

    THink about what you want to do with your license. Talk and meet people, work satellites, work all states (10M), EMCOM, etc.

    Just don't get an HT for your first radio! FOr me I would start out on 10M or 2M
  5. K4RKY

    K4RKY Ham Member QRZ Page

    I don't mean to be rude but you took and passed the tech and do not know this? At least you are asking questions. GL and keep reading and find a local club. They can be of good help to you.
  6. W4WXP

    W4WXP Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'd recommend getting a radio such as the Yaesu 857 or 897 as they have VHF, UHF, AND HF, that way you will have a HF rig already once you pass your general :)
  7. KF5FEI

    KF5FEI Ham Member QRZ Page

    The Plano TX hamfest is coming up on the 11th of June -- if you can make it into town it might be worth checking out. You can also talk face to face with many hams and find out what you need to know.


    There are many opportunities for techs to get on the air -- even with an HT. If a local club is doing something for ARRL Field Day you might look at going out and sitting in with some of the operators, and perhaps getting on the air.

    Looks like the closest field day site might be in Emory or Marshall -- here is the abbreviated contact info:

    109 Wood St.
    Emory, TX

    Marshall Amateur Radio Club
    N Fulton
    Marshall, TX
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2011
  8. N0BOX

    N0BOX Ham Member QRZ Page

    For those who want to jump on him for not 'knowing the band plan by heart':

    No one teaches anyone anything these days. I only knew one ham operator when I got my tech license 12(?) years ago, and I didn't like him. I worked with him at RadioShack. I had the benefit of being able to read the study guides in the store on slow summer days, but RadioShack no longer carries the study guides. So, where do new ham wannabes turn? The Internet, where the only study guides are the cram guides. Now he is looking for the info he *should* have had to begin with, and him being here asking questions is an opportunity for us to build a well-informed, considerate operator. If we are supportive and give him good information, then we won't have to worry about him becoming one of those people so many people here like to complain about.


    It's easy to get a cheap 2m/70cm handheld radio and chat a bit on the local repeaters, but it gets really boring really quick. That's what I did when I got my tech license. I gabbed a bit, participated in maybe 2 weekly nets, and my HT turned into a really expensive police scanner for 10 years. I just got back into the hobby, grabbed my general license, and have been spending my time listening where I can and planning on how to get a decent antenna up so I can talk to those people I hear out there. HF frequencies give you the opportunity to talk to people around the world, which is nice if you find that the people on your local repeater don't make particularly good company.

    Having a radio that will do Single SideBand (SSB) on the frequencies that you have access to as a technician will give you a huge head start on what you'll need to know as a general class licenseholder and above. This would also give you access to far more satellites if you decide you want to try your hand at that. Unfortunately, most radios that will do SSB are going to have a lot more features, and that drives up the price. You can probably find a relatively reasonably priced Yaesu FT-857D or Icom IC-706(mkII/mkIIG), which will give you all-mode access to 10m, 2m, and 70cm, which you have privileges on (and also gives you access to the full HF range, which you'll be interested in if you upgrade your license later... you'll be able to listen to those frequencies to get a taste of what upgrading could bring you).

    So, start out with this band permissions chart provided by the ARRL. It will lay out what frequencies are available to what licenses, and what modes are allowed on those frequencies: Color Band Chart

    You can usually find an old, outdated listing of repeaters in your area on the internet with a quick google search. Hopefully there is an amateur radio club in your area that has a website, and hopefully they put up a list of current repeaters. Otherwise, show up for a meeting and get them to fill you in on what is available. Generally there is a lot of support for 2m and 70cm. Some areas have a D-Star thing set up, some like 220, and there might even be a group of people using 23cm or 900MHz. Most of that stuff is better answered by the locals than by the internet.

    Welcome to the hobby, congratulations on passing the test, and ask any questions you need to ask! Keep in mind that QRZ isn't a great representation of ham radio. It is just another chunk of the internet where trolls hang out like anywhere else. This chunk just happens to have some decent radio information and myths. Don't let anyone here run you off from the hobby, because generally you don't run into those people on the air!

    -- Matt, N0BOX
  9. N0AZZ

    N0AZZ Ham Member QRZ Page

  10. 2E0OZI

    2E0OZI Ham Member QRZ Page

    I would say N0BOX AND Fred both have good points, from my outsiders point of view. If I had been limited in where I could operate when I got my Foundation licence I would have got one of those all band rigs too; as it was we have pretty much all the spectrum to play with right from the start, so being a former SWL and Utilities listener I wasn't really interested in much except HF so I snapped up an Icom 718 at the right price.

    As Fred says, don't set yourself on a course before you have fully sampled the delights of HF radio, and therefore to do that you need the General. HF is the "soul" of ham radio. :)

    As many of the guys have told me, talking into repeaters in the local area can get a bit dull. I have never tried it. If you can go for the all-mode rig and setup a nice antenna (BUILD a nice antenna I should say!) at home for 10m if things improve a bit you can talk a long way - to me in the UK for instance! 28.400 - 500 is where a lot of the SSB DX hangs out.

    all the best,

  11. W4AFB

    W4AFB Guest

    I made the bandplan the wall paper on my computer that i use for my radio stuff. This way its always in fornt of me.
  12. KK4AMP

    KK4AMP Ham Member QRZ Page

    OP, congrats on passing!

    Here is a pretty graph that will sum up all that you can and can't do as a tech. It's courtesy of the ARRL.

    Might want to print the PDF file and hang it up in your shack to add to your geek cred. I did. :)

    I'm fairly new also. I grabbed a used 2m handheld (Radio Shack HTX-202) first, quickly added a used 2m mobile with outdoor antenna for the shack (Kenwood TM-241a, Radio Shack Outdoor "Scanner" antenna for $29.95 makes a fine ground plane antenna for 2 meter!), and should be getting a used 10m mobile (Radio Shack HTX-10) for the shack. Somewhere in there I did upgrade the handheld to a used Icom IC-7TH, which covers both 2m and 440Mhz.

    Check local ham club web pages and see if they have their own "swapmeet" section. I picked up my HTX-202 for 30 bucks that way!

    Welcome to amateur radio!
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2011
  13. W1DLA

    W1DLA Ham Member QRZ Page


    Congrats on the ticket. My first advice is to get on the air...hams will be generally forgiving and helpful, ignore those that are not.

    Where to start depends on how long you plan to wait before you take the general exam.

    If you don't see yourself upgrading in the next year....
    1) buy a cheap 2 meter or dual band mobile rig and get on with local clubs. You can later mount it mobile as you upgrade things. Making contact on the local nets will give you a place to learn and ask.
    2) when that's going, get some HF experience on the 10 meter SSB segment...doesn't take much of an antenna and you can pick up an old radio shack 10 meter rig on ebay cheap. Again, not much investment and easy to unload when you do upgrade the ticket.

    2 meters is easy, busy and fun. 10 meter SSB is, with solar cycle down, catch as catch can and can be frustrating for a tech...but, when you make a few of those contacts on good days to other continents and far distant states, it will get your blood pumping.

    If you're going to upgrade soon and don't want to invest a bundle...pick up one of the small HF-6 plus 2 rigs and use it only on the legal tech bands until you up the ticket.
  14. KB9BVN

    KB9BVN Ham Member QRZ Page

    All mode, all band is a good advice. It will sit there on your desk and it will make you want to upgrade so you can use all the features. Upgrading is crucial to achieving full ham radio enjoyment. Guys around here are making a lot of contacts on 10m SSB lately...with 25 watts or less.
  15. M0TNC

    M0TNC Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've been on the air for about 6 months and if you can afford it I'd strongly recommend getting something future-proof if you're thinking about upgrading your license - something like the FT857, FT897 or TS-480SAT. The main reason I say this is that as soon as you've gained some new privileges you'll feel restricted by your old kit either in power, operating modes or bands.

    That said, at the beginning of a hobby it's hard to justify the expenditure if you're not sure you'll stick with it, in that case you could do what I did and get a lower-tier rig such as a 2m FT2900 (very well built but quite chunky) or a 2m/70cm FT8900 (much smaller and good for mobile). If you're not sure about that you could always pickup a handheld dual-bander, I have a Wouxun KG-UVD1P and it's a cracking piece of kit.

    HF and data can be very interesting but to me the heart of amateur radio is in local voice contacts, if you want my perspective on that please check out this blog post.
  16. AB1OD

    AB1OD Guest

    KF5LDZ --

    Congrats on your ticket.

    Speaking from personal experience, I'll agree with others that an HT isn't a wonderful choice for a first radio...but it's also not the end of the world. I started out with an HT, used it to start checking into the local VHF nets and as a means to get my foot in the door with some local clubs...and then very quickly found it limiting.

    However, you're asking this question at a wonderful time -- Field Day is the last weekend of this month, and many clubs are not only looking for new hams and non-hams to stop by, but they are also looking for additional manpower to help set up. Some clubs make a point to ensure that there will be a variety of rigs on site, and different modes being demonstrated. Field Day is a perfect opportunity to see what aspects of the hobby might be of particular interest, with plenty of control operators on site to help you experiment beyond what a Tech license alone lets you do.

    So, if I were in your shoes, this is what I would do (and in this order):

    1. Scout out study materials for General and take note of the schedule of local VE sessions. (Note that the question pool changes at the end of June.) Consider working towards an upgrade; you won't regret it. If you got in the habit of studying amateur radio exam material to get your Tech, it's easier to keep the habit going, than to get started again when you realize you want to upgrade.

    2. Find two or three local clubs -- the ARRL website has a search function -- and consider attending a meeting or two. I suggest looking at multiple clubs since different clubs appeal to different people. If the first one you visit doesn't feel right for you, you can try another. Even if you aren't a particularly social person (I'm not), participating in a club usually has fringe benefits, like folks willing to share knowledge, and having easier access to help when it comes time to get an antenna in the air. In my corner of the world, some clubs also will loan out HTs to new hams, to help them get on the air.

    2½. It is nice, but not essential, to find a club that has its own station. That will give you the opportunity to play a bit without having to invest in too much gear.

    3. If you feel like you have to have a radio of your right this instant, you might look for a cheap 2m/440 HT and invest in an aftermarket antenna for it. The new Chinese models may not be wonderful, but they are inexpensive enough that it won't be a great waste of money when you outgrow it / if you find it disappointing. HT's are not good "first rigs" or "only rigs", but they do have their uses and you will probably want at least one if you stay with the hobby. Just please, please don't let an HT be your only rig over the long term.

    4. Go to one or two Field Day sites during the last weekend of the month. Take the opportunity to talk to hams, look at the rigs and antennas, and learn. I wish I had spent more time playing with radios before I bought my first rig. I really enjoy my IC7000, but it has a few quirks that I didn't fully appreciate when I got it (menus can be annoying).

    My interests are such that I want a good general-use setup. My on-air time is about 40% phone, 40% CW, and 20% digital. I check into a few local nets, chase some DX, and do a little light contesting. I need decent filters, and decent ability to interface with my shack computer. I'm not interested in operating mobile, but I wouldn't mind having something a bit more potent in the Jeep than an HT if I'm helping provide communications for a local bike race.

    I'm not unhappy with my current gear (an IC7000 a VX7 HT), but I were to do it over again I'd probably have saved up a little more money and gotten a dedicated full-sized HF rig (TS590 or FT950) and an Icom VHF rig that could be upgraded to DStar and be put in the car when mobility was needed. (DStar is becoming active in this corner of the world and UHF is mostly dead here. Your region might be different.)

    I like my VX7, but it's overkill for my HT needs, and I could very easily have settled for a Woxun.

    If I were doing it over again, I might also consider a TS2000 -- a shack-in-the-box with some nice features that would offset some of the annoyance I have when trying to use one, and which might offset the age of its filtering technology.

    I'd be tempted by a Yaesu 8900 for VHF/UHF/10m work, since DStar upgradability is more "want" than "need". The 8900's are really nice for 10m-70cm duty once you get used to using them, but the price of an 8900 is high enough to remind me that it's more than what I really need for my limited VHF activity.

    But my 7000 is a good little all-purpose rig for my current interests (even in spite of its quirks), and I am content for now. In a year or two I'll probably upgrade to something on the order of a K3 or a 9100, and the 7000 will become my portable/mobile rig. I consider my 7000 to be my second-best recreational purchase ever.

    Any radio and any antenna are better than having none at all. The first step to having fun with amateur radio is getting on the air by whatever means are available to you. The "best" starter radio(s) will be determined by your interests, your operating style, and your budget...and the best way to gauge two of those three is to play with the gear, either at Field Day, in a club shack, or at a private shack that you've been invited to.

    5. Don't let a few curmudgeons on QRZ get you down. As with any group of people, there are a wide variety of characters in amateur radio. I will admit that I feel a bit of a stigma here on the 'zed because of a few individuals' bias against those of us who got our tickets without having to go through the process that existed 20+ years ago. However, there are plenty of other hams who welcome new guys, especially those that listen, ask questions, and want to learn.

    6. Since no one else has said it, I will: Take a shot at learning CW. :)

    (Does saying that make me a QRZ curmudgeon?)

    I originally thought I would not bother with CW because learning languages is not one of my strong points, and because phone and digital seemed more appealing when I got started. However, it didn't really feel right to me being an Extra without having at least tried code. The gripes of some hams about "no code Extras" must have gotten under my skin a little.

    I still have a long way to go, but I've reached a point where with assistance I can make contacts using CW. It has been very tedious getting to the minimal skill I have now...but it's now also getting to actual "fun" rather than "mental challenge". I enjoy chasing DX, and I can now appreciate just how much more efficient and less frustrating it can be to chase DX with CW than with SSB.

    CW may not interest you, and that's OK, no matter what some may say. But speaking from recent/ongoing experience, you won't really know unless you try it. Besides, even Techs have access to 15m, 40m, and 80m when they use CW. :D
  17. WM3O

    WM3O Ham Member QRZ Page

    i too have the bandplan as my wallpaper on the computer. i can't remember where the band edges for the modes are since they have moved sionce i took my test. i am just getting on the WARC bands and don't know them by heart, and that's why we have printed material, to be used to reference information when we can't recall it.

    the OP's query is common - i just passed the test and now i'm overwhelmed with information and it can be too much - it took me some time to sort out where a Tech can operate on HF with what mode, i can easily see where a new ham could get confused.
  18. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Welcome to the hobby. I'm not alarmed by the lack of knowledge about your privileges - but it's something you really need to know. Otherwise, you can do as I do and keep a copy of that ARRL chart handy! I'm an Extra so it's a little easier for me, but I like to know where the General and Advanced band edges are too, and I haven't kept up with the changes in recent years.

    If your friend's dad is in your area, it would be a good idea to talk to him about what's really on the air in your vicinity. It might prevent you from making a costly mistake when it comes to buying a rig. Particularly with VHF, it pays to talk to a local.

    I, too, would encourage you to consider a radio that will serve you well as a Tech, but also as a higher class licensee after you upgrade. The FT-857 will give you a decent amount of power on the most popular Tech bands - 10, 6, 2, and 430-450 MHz.. It also gives you 'all modes' there, in case you want to play with SSB, digital stuff or Morse Code.

    But, if you have checked into it and found that there is a lot of VHF/UHF activity in your area, you might want to start with a VHF/UHF FM rig. A handheld is usually not a great starting place - unless you live where there are tons of local repeaters, you will be very limited in what you can do with an HT. In general a 50 watt mobile rig is a good idea. I like the TM-V71A and FT-7900 as dualbanders.

    If all of these ideas sound too expensive for you, let's look more closely at your real situation and see if there are other options.
  19. KF5FEI

    KF5FEI Ham Member QRZ Page

    This is a good pocket tool for knowing the bands and what goes on in different parts:


    A nice, small, laminated flip-chart to keep next to your radio.

    A new ham has a steep learning curve at first, and it's best to learn from others before spending your own money. Hook up with locals or a local club and see what it's all about. I'm assuming your a younger person and may not have your own transportation, so you might want to get one of your parents interested so they can take you places and help you meet local hams.
  20. W5TTW

    W5TTW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Congratulations! You don't need a General ticket to work lots of HF. There's plenty of HF available if you choose to work CW. Even if you don't want to learn the code, you can still work it with a computer. (But learning it isn't hard and using it is an absolute blast!) I agree that the Yaesu 857 would be a great choice. You'll always find use for it. Good luck!
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