Not quite a HAM yet, but will be SOON!
Hello, first time poster here. I have been sucked into the HAM world and will be getting my ticket on the 30th. More or less, I'll be starting out with a Tech licence to learn the ropes. Anyways, I have been overloaded with all the various radios and opinions about which radio is good for newbies. I have read where HT's do not make good first radios due to lack of output power and possible front-end loading. The base stations are too expensive, except the IC-718. However, it does not operatie beyond 10m. So, mobile radios seem to be where I need to be. I have read about using internet repeaters to communicate globally, which interests me highly. I have mulled over the various brands and types and cannot decide on what I want. I do not want something that I will grow out of anytime soon, nor something that will take more time to learn than use. The more bands the radio can operate, the better.
Basically, I have settled on these models:
Aside from the radios, I am totally buffaloed on the antenna's. I live in a rental house and cannot mount anything permanent; so, the ant. needs to remain mobile. Especially if I want to use the radio at other locations. I have read about the "Magic Whip", "Wonder Whip", and "Buddistick" which all seem promising. I just don't have the real world experience with any of those to know what is what. So, I really need some good input on what antenna setup would work best any of the radios I listed. I understand that the FT-817D is popular for QRP'ing, but living near Wichita, KS will prolly prevent that kind of operation.
Based on what I have provided above, am I headed in the right direction? Please lemme know, thank you!
I started out with the FT-817ND and though I really like the FT-817ND ( and I use mine all time) it is NOT! the radio for a beginner. Better choice would be the FT-897D..
For a new Ham the challange of QRP can be just to great.
The antenna problem can be solved by sticking a few poles in the ground and attaching a vertical antenna or stringing up a G5RV dipole.
Use a window feedthur to get the wires into the shack.
Welcome to the world of Ham radio.
Welcome to a great hobby....... Think/planning before hand always a recommended course of action.
Your number 1 thought as listed the FT-817D is a fine rig....However, I'd never recommend it to a person new to Amateur Radio. Low power operation generally requires additional skills beyond that of a newly licensed individual. Most of the Operators that enjoy QRP (low power) operation have "cut their teeth" on QRO (high power) operation first.
The Yaesu FT-8900 includes FM on the ten meter band....which is not one of the privileges of a Technician licensed Operator.........
The 5 Watts of the VX-8DR is also in the QRP class.... Handhelds and local repeaters become boring fast.
Quick suggestion.... Take the General examination after you pass the Technician exam...cost no more and even if you do not pass ...you will have a better idea what to expect in the future. .....
HF operation is where the "meat" of Amateur Radio is......
73 Bill WJ5O/BCN 28.289 MHz
As others stated shy away from the 817. It's a great radio (I miss mine), but it isn't a great beginner rig. I'll add one to your list for you. Check out the Yaesu FT 8800R. In my opinin the 8800 is better than the 8900. You probably won't see much action on 6M or 10M FM to justify that radio. The 8800 had better memory management options. If you are looking for a all band all mode check out the Yaesu 857 or the Icom 7000. If you really need a handheld radio I suggest the cheap options that are available, the Wouxun, Quansheng, or Baofeng fit in that catagory. You will probably find that a HT will really limit your ability. This is why I suggest buy cheap on a HT, you will decide in time if it's worth buying a better one later. There are also a few other items needed to get on the air right away. You will need a power supply. Don't skimp on the supply, buy the biggest one you can afford. You will go through a lot of radios in your amateur career, but if you buy the right supply you may never have to buy another. Antennas and feedlines are another item needed to transmit. Since you stated you can't do a big install, look for a good mobile dual band with high gain. You can easily mount and move mobile antennas quickly. If you can go better Diamond, Comet, and other brand have small fiberglass base antennas up to large 3 section antennas. As a tech you would be able to operate 10M and 6M you can easily build a wire antenna for those bands. Just remember most of the 10M and 6M action is USB or CW, not so much FM.
It also doesn't hurt to find a local club to join up with. Clubs allow you to meet local hams and good elmers. Good luck and have fun!
Hello and welcome. What I am going to tell you is my situation, my choices, and why I made them. my situation may not work for you but hopefully you will get some insight.
First, why I became a ham. I saw this episode of Hak5 and became interested in APRS. So for now my main concern is APRS which means I don't really need to go outside of the 2m band. Here's what the ARRL handbook doesn't tell you. It mentions APRS but it doesn't tell you what bands it is mostly used on. Researching I find out mostly 2m and 70cm. But what if it was mostly used on a band I legally can't access, how would I know just using the handbook? This is why I think it is funny people say 2m and 70cm is boring, but they really don't follow that up with what is not boring. to me the APRs stuff is not boring
So I started researching APRS. You can add APRS to any radio, you just hook up an TNC and APRS hardware/software to the mic and speaker ports on the radio. The problem is that is dedicated. I didn't want a dedicated APRS setup. I wanted voice and APRS at the same time. So that means a dual channel radio where one of the channels can be setup for packet radio. There's not too many radios that support this. Most of them are expensive.
My main goal is to get APRS on my motorcycle and do GPS tracking. I don't need a powerful radio for that. But I also need something small as there isn't much room on a bike. I started looking more towards HTs. I also read that HTs aren't a great starter radio. Based on my experience now it depends on the situation.
So what were my choices?
Kenwood TM-D710A mobile
Kenwood TH-D72A HT
Yaesu FTM-350AR mobile
Yaesu VX-8DR, 8GR, 8R HTs
I thought about D-STAR units, but I don't think I can get the full APRS experience from them. it seems D-STAR is mainly designed for digital voice and data exists because, well, that's all digital voice is.
I happen find a D72A used on the swap meet forums here for a really good price so that is what I got. I decided an HT has more beneifits for me than a mobile. I live in St. Paul, MN and there are plenty of repeaters and APRS digipeaters in the area - a 5w HT is plenty. The portability of putting it in a cradle on my bike, cradle in my car, or just walking around with it is nice.
However, I do also see the issues with an HT as an everyday radio. You will want a better antenna and more power in certain situations. I have a plan to combat this though. I am going to make a collapsable copper tube j-pole antenna or dipole antenna with threaded rod and use PVC to make a stand. Something I could stick in a bag and velcro to the inside of one of my saddlebags. Also since I live in an apartment when I want to participate in a local net I can put the antenna on the balcony quick.
I am also going to get a Mirage BD-35 amp to increase the power to 45w. I will use this mainly in my car though I am thinking about making an ammo can go kit for the HT. It could normally sit in my car and have an external antenna hooked up to it and a coax running to the dash to hook up the HT to. When I am on my bike I can put the ammo box in a saddlebag, it will make it easy to setup once I get to where I was going.
As you see this is a situation that is specific to me. It will work for me. Though I am open to other alternatives as I may not have found all the possibilities. Like I was wondering can I use one antenna to do 144.390 for APRS on one radio and 146+ for repeaters on a different radio. If so then for my car I would get an Alinco DR135 with an OpenTracker TNC installed for APRS and something else for voice.
What would be perfect for me is if the Yaesu FTM-10R was dual band and I could hook up a TNC (or one built in) to one of the bands. I sent a letter ot Yaesu suggesting that. That would be the perfect APRS unit for motorcycling.
Last edited by KJ0NAS; 06-21-2012 at 07:26 PM.
Well, I went back and read the original question....Wichita Kansas....... Be sure to catch the field day operation this weekend.
Wichita Amateur Radio Club http://warc1.org/
Repeaters in that area http://www.artscipub.com/repeaters/l...s&city=Wichita
73 Bill WJ5O/BCN 28.289 MHz
I'd definitely join an active ham radio club (or two!) and get some local advice after attending a couple of meetings.
2 meter FM and repeaters aren't terribly interesting to me (and maybe to most) but they do afford one the opportunity to meet "locals" who you may never meet if you're only on HF. It's easy to live two miles away from someone who only operates HF and never know they existed, but on VHF-FM, you'll meet locals. Which is a good thing, because local ham friends are a good thing.
But there's a lot more to ham radio than that. HF is interesting to most because it affords the opportunity to meet (over the radio, anyway) and chat with people thousands of miles away, including in 300+ different entities, while learning a great deal about antennas, equipment, propagation, resolving interference and many other things hams should really know. You even get to personally meet some of the DX, sometimes. That doesn't happen every day, but it does happen and when it does, that's really rewarding.
It's unfortunate you have "antenna restrictions," but often those aren't nearly as bad as folks think they are. Innovation and experimentation often result in very usable "DX" antennas for HF that may violate regulations but no one can see -- and if nobody can see them, they officially don't exist! There are large textbooks published on just that subject.
Good luck and have fun.
A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.
-- George Bernard Shaw
Hi and congrats in the licence.
Exciting time I remember well and am revisiting now as I'm close to getting mine back after a long absence.
I know a couple of people who can't mount antennas at home, so they do all of their operating mobile. And as the others have said, don't go QRP as a beginner.
Virginia Fone Net #72
One of the nice things about joining a club is that one of the members might clue you in on a great used rig.
You don't necessarily have to buy a new radio, and you might just come across a decent used radio
with better performance/features than what you could otherwise afford.
I thought I could get rich in the stock market by investing in
Viagra, Geritol, And Ginseng but my stocks didn't rise to the occasion.
Hell, I figured that there was always somebody somewhere either trying to
Get it up
Get it going
Trying to remember what to do with it.
73 De Bubba
4 out of 5 Seniors prefer the taste of
ALPO over other leading National Brands
Time doesn't heal all wounds. It just makes them more bearable.