Discussion in 'Becoming a Ham - Q&A' started by KO4EJB, May 24, 2020.
Thank you very informative
I'm not suggesting you do this as I did, but I have to admit it really helped me considerably when I became a ham; I was a short-wave listener (SWL) for 31 years before getting licensed! I started out dxing (listening for distant stations) the AM broadcast band, later got a short-wave receiver and discovered the ham bands shortly thereafter. It wasn't until 1996 that I learned the Morse Code requirement had been dropped that I decided to take the plunge and get on the air.
All the lingo and operating procedures were familiar to me by then and I had also been studying my old ARRL Antenna Book purchased in 1965 religiously---so I had lots of good ideas about antennas I would build and use, too.
So welcome to our world and enjoy the journey learning about and eventually participating in this great hobby. Thank you for calling it it's proper name (amateur radio) instead of the oft-used and unfortunately misconstrued acronym "HAM" as well; it's like hearing fingernails scratching a blackboard to most of us around here when someone writes "I'm getting into HAM..." instead of ham radio or amateur radio as it has long been known until recently.
If you already have an electrical background that is to your benefit as well; simple AC and DC circuits come into play in all the licensing tests as well as our everyday lives as bona fide hams, too.
Good luck and congratulations on making the decision to join us, too.
73 (old railroad telegrapher's term for Best Regards),
Thanks Jeff, I was hoping to find a group to join but with Covid 19 its become very hard to find a group. I assume I could go ahead and buy the equipment and just listen in until I get my license. I would like to purchase a nice setup to put into my office. don't mind spending my kids inheritance (lol) to get a nice setup
You're welcome. Getting geared up in advance might behoove you---it certainly can't hurt to listen, tune around the bands (most of which are quiet at this lowest point of the solar cycle) and get a feel for things albeit somewhat vicariously. 20 & 40 meters are more or less the day/night dx bands when there's propagation but remember that sporadic E propagation can stir up things (often only briefly) on the higher bands like 10 and 6 meters generally during the summer and mid-winter months, too.
If you can put up an antenna such as a 20/40 fan (parallel) dipole or vertical (the Hustler BTV series is popular for good reasons) you be ready to roll in a decent way once you get licensed, too. Don't be afraid to get a roll of wire and make insulators out of PVC or bits of a PE cutting board from Walmart, either. Learn by doing when it comes to antennas and you'll be rewarded in more ways than one.
Buying a brand new rig is fine but there are often plenty of good used older rigs that will serve you well and are easily found on the QRZ Swap Meet daily. Even though I have more rigs than I really need I enjoy perusing the Swap Meet several times a day and sometimes I find something like an antenna switch or accessory I can't live without.
Alinco, Icom, Elecraft, Yaesu, Kenwood, Drake, Hammarlund, Flex, Swan, Collins, Xiegu, Ten Tec, Hallicrafters, Heathkit, Anan, SGC, etc. etc. etc. are all brands old and new that will turn up for sale and choosing which one might be difficult at first. The good news is that hardly any would be a bad choice (provided it is in good working order) and remember that 90% of your station's effectiveness is down (or rather, up) to the antenna(s) you install. Install your antennas as high as you feasibly can and you will be a happier camper over the long run, too.
Feel free to field us questions and we will continue help and advise you along the way.
Right now I travel quite a bit for work. I have a 5th wheel that I stay in 5 days a week then head home for the weekend (such is my life) I would like to get a unit that I could move from the RV to the home. I have been looking at setting up a screwdriver antenna on my 5th wheel. (Ladder mounted) and where I am live I am looking into something I can mount outside. Thank you for your advice on used units. As I have said I am very new in this and would like a unit I can grow with. Once I get into this I would also like to get a unit for my Goldwing. (high expectations) lol.
I'll make a solid recommendation for a Scorpion SA-680 screwdriver, then. None finer being made; Scorpions have the highest Q coil of any (the Q of an inductor is a big factor in overall performance). There's a company in North Carolina called Breedlove that machines super-heavy duty fold-over mounts for this specific antenna, too---so you could mount it atop your 5th wheel and easily fold it over when needed.
Scorpions are not cheap but their construction is superb and the antenna comes with a lifetime warranty, too. Here's the websites to fill you in better:
(I've used my SA-680 at home atop a five foot post with several radials and a home-brewed "capacity hat" (to reduce ground coupling/loss) and it performed very well for chasing dx on 40 meters) I now use it mounted on my car while parked by the Gulf to take advantage of something known as "saltwater enhancement" that favors vertical radiation.
Here's a few pix to see ways of using one:
Camouflaging and adding a large (60") cap hat before installing on the backyard fence with radials going out into the jungle.
Hard to see (but that's the idea, of course) Scorpion in my backyard. Operation was dedicated for 40 meters since I already had another stealthy vertical for the higher bands in place.
Thank you very much for your input. I will look into these for sure. Now I have questions about repeaters. how do you find them and do you need to pay to use them?
The ARRL publishes an annual Repeater Directory but it's simple enough just to search for "Podunk Township repeaters" to find yours locally. One does not have to pay for using repeaters, either although some may be closed to those not in a specific club.
Thanks Jeff you have been very helpful
You can also check Repeaterbook.com. It's crowd sourced, so easier to update - if the crowd so chooses too. .
Some are members only, others are open.