New To Hobby

Discussion in 'Becoming an Amateur Radio Operator/Upgrading Privi' started by KD5ZEN, Jan 5, 2018.

ad: L-HROutlet
ad: l-rl
ad: MessiPaoloni-1
ad: L-MFJ
ad: l-BCInc
ad: l-assoc
ad: Subscribe
  1. KD5ZEN

    KD5ZEN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I had been interested in amateur radio for some time, and am now taking the plunge. I was in the army as an “Electronic Warfare Voice Interceptor” and spent a lot of time searching frequencies and listening and transcribing what we heard. My favorite part of the role was the direction finding aspects.

    I’ll be taking both my Technician and General tests in the coming weeks. I have already ordered a handheld (FT-60R) after some recommendations seen here and elsewhere. This should allow me to listen in on the local group Nets until I’m licensed and then will give me a place to start before deciding the next steps.

    I’m looking forward to the advice of others on this site and sharing the journey in the hobby.
    K3RW and KB4QAA like this.
  2. N6QIC

    N6QIC Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    An HT is a nice starter but you should look into also getting a mobile radio it will work much better.
    There are a lot of nice mobile radios but a nice one that I have is the Kenwood TM-281A. You can use it in the house with a power supply or mount it in the car.


    You will also need an antenna. I recommend the Larsen antenna It can be used on the car or in the house.


    Welcome to ham radio and good luck on your exam.
    73, Lisa
  3. KD5ZEN

    KD5ZEN Ham Member QRZ Page

    My only concern with a mobile is that I don't spend a lot of time in my truck. I know I could use it as a base in the house, but then why not just get a decent base station, even if a good model from years back?
  4. KG5THG

    KG5THG Ham Member QRZ Page

    First, welcome to ham radio and good luck on the exam! Take a look at an ic-7100. Good radio for base and mobile. Lot of features and easy to use. Nice choice on the ft-60r (just watch out for the "0" key. It likes to turn on "WiRES"). I like mine for mobile and fox hunting. I strap it to my homemade tape measure antenna and enjoy hunting the fox.
  5. KD5ZEN

    KD5ZEN Ham Member QRZ Page

    My bank just sent me an account alert just for looking at that rig. lol
  6. W1XWX

    W1XWX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    The Kenwood 281a is a great base station radio. It outputs 65 watts on high power and when attached to a good antenna mounted up high over the house it really gets out! Mine has run reliably for the last 4 years. By the way the price is very reasonable at around $135.
  7. AG6QR

    AG6QR Subscriber QRZ Page

    The FT-60 is a fine place to start, and it has the advantage that it doesn't require installation. It's easy to take hiking to mountaintops where a bigger radio wouldn't be practical. But it has its limitations.

    VHF/UHF activity varies quite a bit from one area to another. Where I live, there's a lot of traffic, but some areas of the country are quite dead. The amount of use you get out of the FT-60 will depend in large part on how much activity there is in your area.

    In my area, a handheld will only reach a repeater well from great locations -- I'm guessing around 25% of this hilly county, if you are standing outdoors holding the HT. A mobile will reach a repeater from about 90% of the county. Take a mobile and attach an elevated antenna on a mast, and something like 98% of the county has good repeater coverage.

    Put an HT inside a moving vehicle, using its built-in antenna, and virtually no area of the county has good coverage. Attach it to a mag mount antenna on the roof of a vehicle, and it will work better than an outdoor handheld HT, but significantly worse than a mobile.

    Many people who are active in VHF/UHF end up getting at least three radios: a handheld, a mobile in their vehicle, and a base station at home (which is often a mobile radio with a DC power supply and simple external antenna). You could move a radio between home and a vehicle, but it's a lot more convenient to have a radio set up where you just have to flip a switch to use it.

    You're also getting your General, and this opens up the options of HF activity, which many people find more interesting than VHF. There's no rule that says you have to explore the full potential of VHF before jumping into HF -- it wasn't that long ago that everyone started with a Novice ticket on HF, and then moved to VHF if and when that bug big them. There are many modes in HF: voice, digital, CW. And there are different kinds of activities: nets, "rag chew" long conversations, contests, DXing awards, etc. Whatever you do on HF, realize that the antenna is what makes the station.

    Different people enjoy different aspects of the hobby. Some dive deeply into one area, others take in a little bit of everything. There is no prescribed course through this hobby; do whatever you find to be fun and interesting. If you can find a local club, you can probably meet some members who will be glad demonstrate their stations, and give you a taste of some of the different aspects of the hobby which might pique your interest.

    Have fun!
    K3RW likes this.
  8. KD5ZEN

    KD5ZEN Ham Member QRZ Page


    Thanks for your post.

    I've been using (receiving) the FT-60r and yes, I like it's mobility and see that it will serve its purpose well as a mobile. Despite my first observation as not being in my vehicle much, I'm learning a mobile would be a good thing to have next. I agree that I don't want to be moving and disconnecting radios - would rather have dedicated rigs.

    There is a lot of information out there, and a lot of different opinions. Trying to filter through it and digest it is the hard part.

    As for mobile, some say get HF/VHF/UHF, some say HF in mobile is limited. Mounting options - roof mount, magnetic, NMO, etc... LOL

    For now just listening and focusing on the tests next week.
  9. KD5ZEN

    KD5ZEN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I just took and passed my tests for Technician and General. One small step - the one that gives me the privileges to now learn this hobby beyond the questions and answers. I look forward to getting with a local club and embarking on the next steps. I also look forward to my first contact, no matter how small or simple it may be.
    KC5AKB, KG5THG, K3RW and 2 others like this.
  10. AG6QR

    AG6QR Subscriber QRZ Page

    Congratulations on passing the tests!

    As for what sort of mobile to get, you may want to listen to that FT-60 for a while to figure out how much VHF/UHF action there is in your area. It may be that a VHF-only radio is sufficient for you, or maybe not.

    Another consideration is what vehicle you drive, and how much space there is to install a radio. Some radios have detachable faces, so you can put the face on the dashboard, and the main unit under a seat, in the trunk or some other out-of-the-way place. The detachable face radios are typically not the bottom of the line, but still not necessarily top end.

    Or you might want to build an HF station at home, first, and let the VHF/UHF mobile wait a while. Or you might want an HF mobile. Personally, I think HF radio operation is too distracting for mobile use, and mobile HF antennas are a bit too much of a compromise. But maybe that's just sour grapes because I haven't gone to the effort to try out mobile HF yet. I'd probably enjoy it.

    And yes, find that club! Ask ten members for advice on acquiring radios, and get twenty opinions.

Share This Page