total newbie question 2m & 70cm

Discussion in 'Becoming an Amateur Radio Operator/Upgrading Privi' started by KB3TZJ, Feb 27, 2010.

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  1. KB3TZJ

    KB3TZJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    just got into the great world of amature radio past the tech now studying for the General wanna get it by June. question is as a tech on 2 meters using voice what is the standard range and active freq's to use. also on 70cm what are the freqeuncies i can use voice on, what would be like active call freq's. and what type of equipment is needed to function properly in the mobile. thanks
  2. KB3TZK

    KB3TZK Ham Member QRZ Page

    KB3TZJ, I'm in similar situation to yours except that I passed tech and general both on the same day. Still, right now I'm using a HT to get on VHF/UHF. HF is going to come later... when I figure out how to set up a decent antenna in my attic.

    I can't answer the question about mobile equipment because I have not done that yet.

    But regarding the frequencies:

    1. Check the ARRL chart to see which frequencies are allocated to amateurs within the bands you want to get on:

    I've printed their color version and have it displayed in my "shack". I've also programmed my VX-6R to work within the bands it supports and which are also legal for amateurs.

    2. Check the ARRL band plans:

    These will tell you where to expect CW, SSB, FM, repeaters, digital modes, etc.

    3. As you can see in the band plans, repeaters are usually set to operate on certain frequency ranges but the actual frequencies on which you'll find repeaters changes from place to place. I know you are in MD (I looked up your call sign). You should check out TMARC's list of repeaters:

    The way I've been operating is to keep my VX-6R on scan within the bands I can operate on and see whether I could hear something. That way I found which repeaters I can hear. Also since repeaters often (or always??? I'm not sure) announce their call sign periodically, you can get an id and then google for it.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2010
  3. KB3TZJ

    KB3TZJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    thanks a bunch 73's
  4. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    The links provided by TZK should be helpful for you.

    "Range" is dependent on many factors. Chief among them is your location, and the mode you're using.

    VHF and UHF are considered 'line of sight' propagation. For 100% reliable communications, the range is usually about 10% beyond the visual horizon. So, if you are on top of a mountain and can see for 100 miles, you should be able to work 110 miles. If you are down in a hole, the visible horizon will be much closer.

    If there are mountaintop repeaters that you can see from where you are, you can use them to greatly extend your range. Otherwise, in flat country, most repeaters have a range of 25-30 miles for handhelds and mobiles, and 50-75 miles for home stations. That means you can work everybody in that 50-75 mile range of the repeater. Mountaintop repeaters often have much greater range.

    Now, for 'weak signal' modes, the situation is considerably different. An SSB station with 100 watts and a small beam should enjoy a range of 2-300 miles in flat country. There are no SSB repeaters. However, weak signal propagation is often enhanced through tropo scattering, allowing much longer paths at times.

    There are many other possibilities at VHF/UHF, including aurora, meteor scatter and moonbounce.
  5. KE7VLC

    KE7VLC Ham Member QRZ Page

    First glad to see you are going for General. Personally I think the fun really begins when you get into HF.

    As far as the standard range on 2m and 70cm (440), is as far as you can see. Repeaters help out because they take your signal and repeat it out typically at a higher power and a higher point. The first thing I recommend all newbies to do is google the repeaters in your area and getting these setup into your rig (HT, Mobile, or base). Remember to listen, listen, listen. After a few days listening in on some of the repeaters around your area you will get an idea of what a "standard" transmission sounds like and the distance (if the people tell you where they are) these repeaters cover. Both 2m and 70cm are line of sight. I think someone already posted this, but typically if you can see the location you can get in. There are some other factors like weather, knife edging, height, and of course the antenna. I personally believe that the Antenna is the most important part of the equation. A standard rubber duck inside the car is not going to do as well as a mag mount on the roof of the car. Also a dual band vertical mounted as high up on the roof is going to do better than the standard rubber duck.

    So for a person to say exactly how far you can get with 2m or 70cm is a little tough to answer since there are many different variables in it. I was standing on the edge of the Mogollon Rim in Arizona at roughly 7500ft and was able to make it into a repeater 175 miles or 200 miles south of me on South Mountain in Phoenix with my HT and a Diamond dual band 19" whip signal was readable but not full quieting....but I still made it on 5 watts. You can make the 5 watts hit a Satellite as it passes it's not about how much power your run either.

    Good luck!!
  6. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Actually, a 102 inch whip should be almost 5/4 waves - since it's an odd number, it might be close enough to present something of a workable SWR. If he was able to make a fairly long distance contact with it, chances are that the rig wasn't shutting down from high SWR. A 96" whip would be smack on 5/4 waves.

    However, I would not rely on that - a proper antenna will work a lot better for you.
  7. KE5KTU

    KE5KTU Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    So far, good advice.... Your question is asked often and just like they said, it depends... For a decent mobile station I would recomend staying away from a HT, get a 50 watt 2 meter 440 radio and an antenna with as much gain as you can afford. There will be times that the HT will not go anywhere and times where you can work hundreds of miles. Most people start on FM for clarity, but there is much more than FM out there. I have worked stations our to 460 miles on 2 meter SSB with a beam and a band opening with 100 watts at 80 foot. I have been in areas where I could not get into any repeaters. The best advice I can offer is to talk to some local hams, they will know more about what you need for the area you are in... again I urge you to stay away from a HT for you first radio !
    Good luck ! and looking forward to hearing you on the bands !
  8. KB3UDZ

    KB3UDZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    KE5KTU, is there any particular reason you recommend a rookie staying away from Handhelds? Everything I have read so far says to go for it as the first rig, and then get a flexible mobile/base unit as your second.

    I'm in the same boat as KB3TZK - passing tech & general in the same day. My real challenge now is learning all of the real nuts and bolts.

    I'm guessing if a new HAM is in a very rural area, 5W just won't do it and your advice is an excellent suggestion. I personally am within 15 miles of at least two repeaters and expect to be able to hit both of them fine sitting on the porch. In this situation, I can't see a reason to not go HT. Feel free to correct me. Thanks.
  9. W7HTA

    W7HTA Ham Member QRZ Page

    I don't think anyone mentioned it yet, but you might want to buy or borrow a current repeater directory. That makes it easier to find open repeaters in your area. If your lucky, you might find a couple active ones to get your feet wet on, so to speak. That's how I started, with an HT on a local repeater.
  10. AI3V

    AI3V Ham Member QRZ Page

    Asbestos suit-check
    Flame proof whitey-tighties,-check
    fire extinguisher at the ready-check


    My .02 FRN. RE: Starting out with a handheld.

    Disclaimer: I own half a dozen rigs that can operate VHF/UHF FM, But I haven't been on a repeater in a decade...

    IMHO, a handheld is the absolutely the worst way for a newcomer to enter Ham Radio.


    Technical- low power+ poor antenna = lousy range, your going to be stuck on a very few repeaters where you can be heard.

    Political- The repeater(s) you will be able to use are not owned by you, they are somebody else's station. You are in somebody else's dominion, who may, or may not care to talk to you on the equipment he/she paid for.

    Don't be surprised if nobody will answer your call.


    What I DO recommend, Get a ticket that allows 40M privileges. Buy a rig, either new with a warranty, or second hand IF you can see it demonstrated.

    Install a simple 40M dipole, OUTSIDE, as high as possible.

    Work the world.

    After you get some more experience, then maybe get the handheld as a toy-After you get a SSB/CW rig for 2M, and experience 10 times the simplex range as the "best" repeater in town.

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