Frustrated New Ham...

Discussion in 'Becoming an Amateur Radio Operator/Upgrading Privi' started by K1POO, Apr 8, 2009.

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  1. K1POO

    K1POO Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have been listening (or trying to listen) to the local repeaters for traffic so I can learn. I passed my Tech test a few days ago and wanted to listen more as I wait for my callsign.

    The problem is that the repeater traffic on the 2 meter and 70 cm is dead. Once in awhile I get on a particular repeater on 70cm and it is IRLP linked to Denver and NoCal, and also some sporadic traffic on a local club repeater, but generally its almost nonexistant here in TX. I thought for sure that there would be more stuff to get excited about. :confused:

    I use a Yaesu VX-6 and when I do get occasional traffic from these repeaters, it is loud, clear and strong. So, I'm pretty sure that is my HT isn't the problem.

    I have been to a local club meeting, but wasn't able to talk to too many hams. They seemed to be a bit standoff-ish to the "new" guy. I will keep going though to show my interest. Next time, I will ask about the low traffic in the area on these bands.

    I guess I'll just have to study and get General without a lot of air time to get to the "fun" ham stuff like HF.

    Acer0001 (callsign coming soon)
    Yaesu VX-6R with an Ernie Special ("rubber duckie you're the one!...")
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2009
  2. KD8JFO

    KD8JFO Ham Member QRZ Page

    trust me its not the radio, same thing round here, i say my sign onthe repeaters round here for 2-3 hrs at a time every 15-20 mins before someone answers
  3. KC7YRA

    KC7YRA Ham Member Volunteer Moderator QRZ Page


    Let me start with a "Congrats" on your soon to be license.

    I don't know where you are in Texas but unless you are in a big metro area, don't expect much constant traffic. I went to college at Texas AandM for a while and noted that they had pretty frequent repeater traffic there. And I was able to hear almost constant chatter from Houston. Anywhere else that is small would most certainly have much less traffic.

    Here in Central Wyoming we only have occasional traffic.

    I would encourage you to NOT get discouraged. This is a very normal problem on 2 meters. What may help (if in your budget) is to get either a home radio or a better antenna for the VX-6 (which is a fine radio BTW) and try listening to repeaters that a further away as well as some common simplex frequencies. It may very well be that you are only hearing 1 or 2 of the very local repeaters and missing out on something that is a little more distant but active.

    You also hit the nail on the head about studying for general. HF is where the activity is at. Instead of being limited to the amount of local hams, You can have a shot at hams all over the world. Generally speaking, any time of day or night, there are hams that you can communicate with on HF.

    Until the general ticket is in your hands, try the echolink that you mentioned. You can use that and link to repeaters all over the world. IT is kind of fun.

    Good luck and keep your chin up,


    Ps. I have been a ham for 13 years and still occasionally get snubbed by hams in various clubs. Just keep going and making yourself known. They will soften up to you. And if they don't, just get your general and get on HF and don't worry about them :p
  4. K1POO

    K1POO Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks for the encouragement Brad. I just checked the FCC website and my new callsign is KF5AKN. Woohoo! :D

    I live about 35 miles from Austin, so there might be more traffic in that area. I have already been thinking of buying or making a portable J-pole antenna to extend my range. Maybe this is the key. Would this type of antenna get out that distance?

    I'm going to continue with the General as you've encouraged. I think the guys in the club all mostly do HF and have dropped VHF/UHF, because they all were mostly talking about distant contacts.

    I do live in an HOA area, so I'm not sure what options I need to consider for the larger antennas for sub-50Mhz bands. This might be a bit sticky regulations wise. I've always thought though... there are sat dishes up everywhere. How would a single pole antenna be worse looking?

    John, KF5AKN
  5. KB3RHV

    KB3RHV Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi and welcome!

    Don't get frustrated with the lack of people on the repeaters. I live 30 minutes from Philly and the local repeaters are the same way. Tho the ones in Philly can be busy at times.

    But hitting the local repeaters is just one of the many things you can do with your Technician license. You have full access to 6M and partial access to 10M SSB/CW, 15M CW, 40M CW, 80M CW.

    ARRL Band Chart:

    Another thing you can do, is work the birds (Satellites). If your VX-6 can do split band work, get your self an Arrow or Elk antenna and a tracking program, and your in business.

    PL-239 to SMA Interface Cable:

    Tracking Program: Google "Ham Satellite Tracking Program" There is quite a few good Free ones out there.

    As for Clubs, I would keep going and see how they are towards you, if they still seem iffy, I would do a search on the ARRL website and see what other clubs are around you and give them a try.

    Clubs can be a hit or miss, but you may fine some one that will Elmer you and show you the ropes. So it is worth looking into, even if you don't join a club.

    Well good luck and 73 :)
  6. N0LW

    N0LW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Congratulations on the new call sign John!!

    I live in Mid Missouri, and except for when there is a scheduled net, the repeaters are pretty quiet around here too. I suppose it is just the way things are on the VHF/UHF bands. We try to do our part, by monitoring the repeater when we are home so we don't perpetuate the silence if someone does want to talk.

    Don't give up. There are people out there. And now that you have your call sign, you can attempt to initiate some QSO's yourself!

    Good luck!
  7. KE6DON

    KE6DON Ham Member QRZ Page

    First of all, congrads on your call sign.
    Second, dont get discouraged with the clubs or groups.
    After I got my call, I visited a couple of local groups. They seemed to welcome a new ham.
    Im also using a VX6 and have had several QSO s with it on the local repeaters.
    Most of the local traffic has been in the morning or early evening with the locals on their way to or from work.
    Hope this helps.
    As a side note, I changed the stock antenna for a Comet HT224 replacement and it seems to get out better.
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2009
  8. KL7AJ

    KL7AJ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'm glad I was licensed LONG before I knew what VHF was. I can't imagine what it must feel like to ONLY have vhf "privileges." Trust me....VHF ain't no's a sentence.

  9. K0CMH

    K0CMH Ham Member QRZ Page

    I will add congrats and don't get discouraged.

    I also live in a HOA antenna subdivision. I have had good luck with a j-pole (homemade) in my attached garage attic. If you have a two story house, even better.

    As I remember the Austin area, it is basically flat, except for areas where rivers and creeks have made valleys. There should be no big hills to reduce the range of your VHF/UHF signals, unless you live in one of the valleys.

    Height is everything in VHF/UHF. Anything that is better than the factory antenna will only imporve things.

    Regarding Ham clubs: Yes, some clubs are clickish or standoffish, while others will overwhelm a new Ham with friendliness, and everything inbetween. If this club is cool, you may do what another has said here, search for another one.

    The receiver in your HT will do just fine with a better anenna. You may be happily suprised with the performance of the little radio with a good antenna. However, 5 watts is 5 watts. That will go a long way with a good antenna, but cannot compete with a 50 watt mobile radio, unless there is very good "line of sight" between you and the other station.

    Also, you may find simplex in your area with a good antenna. And there is also the possibilty of digital communications on VHF/UHF in your area, such as psk-31, sstv, packet, etc. I suggest you do a google search for the repeater coordinating group in your area (they may also be called a "frequency coordinator"). They will have a local "band plan" that will show what modes are assinged to what frequencies. That will give you a start where to listen.

    Also, the advice of checking the other bands available to you is good, if you have a budget for another radio. When I first got into Ham radio, I did nothing but CW on the HF bands allowed to Techs. Great fun. I had an old, used HW101 that only had the CW function working.

    If you have the money, the Yaesu FT857d is a great rig (about $700.00). It has all bands and all modes.

    If worse comes to worse, you could look into purchasing a mag mount antenna and placing it on the metal roof of a vehicle parked close enough to your house to get coax inside a window or in a garage. a google search for "2 meter mobile anenna" will find them anywhere from $15.00 to $200.00. I still use the dual band mag mount that I bought for about $20.00. This will be a marked imporvement over the factory rubber duck antenna on the ht. You could then also run the HT as a mobile unit, especially if you get a cig lighter plug adaptor for the unit. I do that with my HT often, even though I have an FT 8800 in the car. Great fun.

    Good luck and hope some of this helps you better enjoy the hobby right now.
  10. KE5YUM

    KE5YUM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Congratulations on your new license and call sign. Ham radio is an interesting and very fullfilling hobby with much diversity for the participant.

    The point was made in an earlier post about 40 meter CW. I got into ham radio a few months ago for the purpose of honing my CW skills. If you are up to the challenge, let me recommend CW. There are a lot of hams that encourage CW use and utilize only CW in the hobby. By doing this you are immediately on the HF bands making contacts. A 100 watt transceiver and a simple dipole will enable you to make contacts all over the country.

    Anyway, just some thoughts.

    Ada OK
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