New HAM with questions

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by KG4JYS, Jul 16, 2021.

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  1. KG4JYS

    KG4JYS Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hello, I'm a new(ish) ham looking to get on the air. I've got an electronics background and some radio gear that folks have given me over the years. I've not yet operated a ham radio. Used to play with CB's 30 years ago when I was about 15. Got an associates degree in electronics in 1998 and promptly got a good job writing computer programs for the phone company that same year so I only used the education for hobby stuff.

    I got a tech no code license in 2000, it expired before I ever used it. I recently got a new tech license as I was getting into RC toys and although all my gear has the fcc permit I thought it was prudent.

    As for gear that I've got, a Yaesu FT-101E (MID). I've not operated yet, but it seems to power up and the tubes heat up. I just got a dummy load today but it arrived damaged so I'll probably return it for a replacement. I also have a yaesu frg-7700 receiver. Both of these came from two different buddies that retired from the USAF. They brought them back from Japan but never used them I guess. The FT-101 was given to me about 18 years ago and has been in my garage collecting dust since then. The FRG-7700 about 10 years ago and it has been sitting next to the FT101 since then.

    Since I got the new license, I thought I'd actually give amateur radio a real try. I picked up a couple antennas, an autotuner, a dummy load, and I have an old swr-meter from my cb days that seems to still work with my old CB gear. I also lucked into a 1000' spool of LMR400 for a very low price so I snapped that up. I also have a bunch of electronics gear for workin' on stuff like a 100mhz oscilloscope, a nanoVNA and a tinySA. I believe I have the equipment I need to test and fix the FT-101 (except acutal parts for it, which I'll need to order).

    I think I need to make a decision on what to use for my first contact. Do I fix up the FT-101 and use that? The downside is that it will take some time to go through it all. I have no experience at all with vacuum tubes, so that may be interesting.

    The alternative is buying a modern radio, which I'd kind of like to do. Do I cheap out and get the $25 baofeng that people talk about on youtube? Should I pick up a more expensive 2m/70cm radio like a yaesu ft-3dr? Should I be looking at a completely different band for my first contact?

    Any input on where I should start would be welcome.
    KA4DPO likes this.
  2. WZ7U

    WZ7U Ham Member QRZ Page

    Do you have any particular things you know you want to do in amateur radio? That sounds flip, but I ask because everyone comes in either knowing what they want to do or have no clue. I came in having experience with cb as a kid and wanted to log dx legally, which in the days of wooden electricity you couldn't do.

    From your post, I would get a new/newer hf radio to start and bring the 101 back to life at your leisure. That way you can get on with being on the radio without waiting through a repair to do so. As for vhf and up, the shack in a box is a popular alternative but there is something to be said for having separate radios. I started out with an icom 211 and I still see those for sale on occasion. Many roads are possible... enjoy the ride!
    KO4ESA, KA4DPO, K8PG and 1 other person like this.
  3. KS2G

    KS2G Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Start by contacting/joining a local club to get hands-on, in-person help/advice.
    There are 19 ARRL affiliated clubs near you.
    You can find them here:
    W5ESE and W4NNF like this.
  4. KI5WW

    KI5WW Ham Member QRZ Page

    I’m so out of the circle I have no idea what a tech no code liscense is.
  5. WS9K

    WS9K Ham Member QRZ Page

    Back when CW was a requirement, they had the tech license, which was VHF/UHF, and the tech-plus, which had 10meter SSB, and CW on the other HF bands.

    The Tech-plus license required passing a 5wpm CW test.

    I started out as a tech-plus in 1993 and made my very first QSO on 10m SSB.
    KI5WW likes this.
  6. WG7X

    WG7X Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Well, let's start with the basics. With a Technician class license you are fairly limited on HF. Ten meters is your only HF voice band. You can do digital there also. the rest of your privileges on HF are all CW on 80, 40 & 15. If I was you, first thing I'd do would be to take another test or two and upgrade to at least General. That would give you more flexibility with regards to bands that you can use.

    If all you wanted to do was VHF and up, it would be a different story, but you did mention the old Yaesu rig, so I'm assuming that you want to get on HF?

    Next would be your physical space: can you put up a decent antenna where you live now? By decent, we would think about simple dipoles in a tree or something similar. Decent does not necessarily mean expensive or complicated.

    So, a bit more info is needed. Please let the assembled group what you are considering as your main interest in ham radio. I would agree with the fellows who mentioned getting a new rig. That would enable you to get on the air with minimum equipment related problems. An old boat anchor like the 101 series is a project that is most likely worth doing, if you have patience, time, parts and experience.
    N3FAA and KC7JNJ like this.
  7. KI5WW

    KI5WW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thank you om.
  8. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    The FT-101E was very popular and pretty easy to work on.

    After so long in storage, I'd expect the switches and potentiometers, and possibly relay contacts, have become dirty/oxidized and won't work this is likely to be a "restoration" job that might be fun but could be time consuming. Any "parts" you might need haven't been manufactured in a very long time but sometimes complete boards are available on eBay and such.

    It only has three tubes, and they don't go bad in storage so probably still work okay. Contact oxidation occurs from long periods in storage, especially in an uncontrolled environment, but unplugging the tubes and plugging them back in can often clear this problem and make the connections work.

    As a Tech licensee, the only voice band you can use on HF is ten meters; but with a good antenna, there are contacts to be made on 10 meters, and the band has been "open" fairly often recently.

    If you join a local radio club or three, you may find out more about local activity on VHF-UHF FM. If there are good and well-used repeaters local to you, a small handheld might be fun to use; but if there aren't, it can be very lonely. Florida is "flat" and VHF signals travel a long way, so it might be more fun there than for someone living in a canyon surrounded by mountains -- but it's all up to local activity.

    To upgrade to General class, there's only one test involved and now that the COVID threat has relaxed a bit, there should be local VE test sessions going on. Your local clubs will know.
  9. W7HV

    W7HV Ham Member QRZ Page

    For future reference. To stay out of the TLDRDK category, put the question first and then all the info you think might be relevant afterward. It's tough to know what to make of all the backstory without knowing where it's heading.
  10. W5ESE

    W5ESE Ham Member QRZ Page

    I would always recommend that you begin with a mobile rig; preferably dual band (2m/70cm) but at least 2m FM, in preference to a hand-held like the Baofeng

    They will provide you with a better receiver than you are likely to get with a Baofeng HT, and even better than more expensive HT's, as well as more transmit power. And no rechargeable batteries that go bad over time.

    Upgrading one's license is always great, but I think it's good to take the time to enjoy the privileges you have now

    I had a CB also, back in the day; a Realistic Navaho and later a Royce that had AM and SSB. Both were 23 channel.
    KA4DPO likes this.

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