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RedRiverII

Any Ham operators here?

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Taking the Technicians exam  11/1/20,  and never knew how involved and interesting this hobby could be.  I hate to admit what a dummy I feel like because I was an expert  50 yrs

. ago.

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I had a novice ticket years ago. I need to get a general ticket one of these days. They quit giving tests around here because of the China virus. I have been studying. Dad has radios I can have if I get my license again.

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Heard there is a decent online option for both study and testing. Have not looked into it, but heard at least two people mention the testing online recently. 

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There's an app I just found on line from some guy.  It only discusses the actual questions and correct answers only.  No confusion from the other three answers,  no sense filling your head with excess garbage.  I'll look it up and get back here.  The general ticket is now the Technician level I believe.

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I got licensed a bit less than five years ago. I remember the technician test having some rather cryptic questions; testing on things I still don't have any experience with years later. It's a hobby with broad range; and many interesting specialties. My activity on the air comes and goes; been very much inactive recently, but always have a few radios on my desk. Most everything I have runs on battery power charged by small solar panels; so I have something to do when the power goes out.

After my brother moved to Florida, I joined a club down there along with him. Talked to a lot of wonderful, and very well educated folks who could literally speak about any topic. The east coast of Florida was a lot more interesting than any of the ham groups near me in New York. I mostly use digital radios with hotspots that let me connect to repeaters worldwide. I also have no problem picking up HF traffic from Florida and far beyond (Alaska, California, and Germany notably come to mind); using nothing more than a simple wire antenna.

I used the practice tests on QRZ.com because they were good at helping point out where I needed to study more. It didn't take me all that much effort to be regularly scoring in the 90% range. With a few week left to study; you should do just fine. As other have mentioned; you are welcome to take the general and extra exams the same day, and there is typically no additional cost to do so after you paid for (and passed) the technician test. You'll have a lot more HF options with a general class license, so it's certainly worth a try if you can ace the technician test.

https://www.qrz.com/hamtest/

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Technician,  general,  and amateur extra.   Thanks Ravenworks gonna look it up.  HRE-TECH is the app I'm using as well as the ARRL Ham Radio License Radio 4th Edition.  HanRadioprep.com is another program I'm using.  I forgot what a PITA studying was but that HRE-TECH is a terrific app.  

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Thanks LANE,  I"m on the east coast of Florida and looking forward to enjoy a very broad subject.  I didn't realize how deep a subject it is.  One of my reasons for studying and passing the license exams is to assist during any emergencies.  It's my understanding that Hams can and do help when all other comms fail.  My Nextel phone services went dead during 9/11 and I felt helpless,  but luckily my wife worked nearby.  Going to check out the suggestions,  thank you all.

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I can't take three exams in one day brother.  My head is spinning right now and the thought of three exams is daunting.  Thanks for the info though.

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I have been a General for about 5 years now you will take the tech test first and then later the General and then if you want all the bands the extra... it makes for some good comes here as my wife is also a Ham we did it together and use handhelds for communication when i am in the mountains or out on the lake etc I also have a base station and a 2 meter rig for local communication.... you can do it ...take the tests at QRZ.com till you can pass them every time ..

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Thanks for the encouragement, @Magwa.  I'm learning more and more each day.  I just visited QRZ,  thanks again.  Good way to keep in touch while separated from the Mrs..  When they told me I had cancer the first thing that went through my mind was " Oh no I won't be with my honey no more."  It kicked me harder than anything that ever happened to me.  Then 9/11 we lost comms,  I scrambled over to her work place and got her.   Ham is another tool worth it's weight in gold at the right time.  When I get hooked up I'd like to try and get your call sign see if  I can reach you.  73

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56 minutes ago, RedRiverII said:

One of my reasons for studying and passing the license exams is to assist during any emergencies.  It's my understanding that Hams can and do help when all other comms fail.

Yes; that is the case. There are nets you can join for ARES and RACES which happen weekly as I recall (to keep people involved, and well versed in the procedures). You can even listen in before you get a license if you have a radio already (just don't broadcast until you get licensed). During actual emergencies, those groups provide assistance when other forms of communication are unavailable. 

Don't worry about trying to pass all three exams on the same day (almost nobody succeeds at that, not even myself). It certainly won't hurt to try the general in the same sitting; much of the knowledge required to pass that are things you'd be exposed to from studying for the technician test. I did pass both of those in the same day; but probably had a low score on the general. 

I felt the same way about studying up front (my head was spinning too). Once you have a license though; you can keep it for life (assuming you remember to renew every 10 years). A little pain now is likely to pay off later.

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Not sure which $22 baufang you are referring to. The UV-5R was one of my first radios. As long as it has UHF and VHF you'll do fine to start out. I use software called CHIRP to program it since it would be rotten from the front panel. Make sure you get a programming cable for a few dollars more. You can even disable transmit in the programming so you don't dumb thumb it before you get a license. Something like RepeaterBook is helpful to find out what repeaters are available in your area.

A lot of action happens on digital these days; but there is no one digital standard that's caught on (and they aren't technically cross compatible). The cheapest handheld radio for digital is about $90 (MD-380, single band UHF only, supports DMR). Digital radios also do analog on whatever bands are supported. Handhelds easily go on up to $500, and beyond; so it's best to wait and see what's popular in your area. You may have D-Star or Fusion repeaters closer to your location (instead of DMR); or one of those in particular may be considerably more active in your particular area.

Sounds like you're off to a great start. :thumbup: Looks like I see that UV-5R (EX) for $22.99 without much shopping around. Even has an FM receiver, and a built in flashlight!

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2 hours ago, Lane said:

Not sure which $22 baufang you are referring to. The UV-5R was one of my first radios. As long as it has UHF and VHF you'll do fine to start out. I use software called CHIRP to program it since it would be rotten from the front panel. Make sure you get a programming cable for a few dollars more.

I have a couple of those for point-to-point communication, plus the programming cable, and used CHIRP to program them both.  From my experience with the hardware, software, and the process - you are completely right, and I agree with you 100%.  That's the easiest way to go, right there.  I loaded up MURS, NOAA Weather, and FRS/GMRS freqs. That covers my VHF and UHF pretty well.  I haven't played with any HF and Directional Ground Wire antennas with these things yet, but I'd bet they would do pretty well like that.

Edited by 98Z5V

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Yeah; there's a ton of legal stuff you can do without a ham license at all using that radio... Just make sure you turn off transmit on other channels. I got police radio on the UV-5R up here for a long time; up until a few months ago. Well worth the investment. Bought a two pack; one for me, one for my brother. Probably about $35 at the time.

I got between 40-50 miles to a repeater from the top of a mountain with mine. Don't believe that 5 mile range... With line of sight, and the stock antenna; that radio goes a long way (repeaters help of course, sensitivity, antenna, etc.). You'll hear stations loud and clear that you can't transmit to, and that's a good thing too (nice sensitive receiver for cheap). It's really an SDR inside; but I don't think anybody's cracked the firmware yet... Haven't looked into that in years... Maybe they have?

Edited by Lane
sdr (Software Defined Radio) chip

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4 minutes ago, Lane said:

 

I got between 40-50 miles to a repeater from the top of a mountain with mine. Don't believe that 5 mile range... With line of sight, and the stock antenna; that radio goes a long way (repeaters help of course, sensitivity, antenna, etc.). You'll hear stations loud and clear that you can't transmit to, and that's a good thing.

Damn right - 5 watts of push will go a LONG way.  I'm Line Of Sight almost everywhere out here, unless a hill or mountain gets in my way. 

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I know there are better radios out there. But don't let those ham snobs keep you down. You can plug that into a car style whip antenna; and use that at home, or in the car. Very handy in either place; and the full size antenna will get you A LOT further still (both in Tx and Rx). You can usually find a two pack of radios for a similar cost; and bundle that programming cable too. I'm sure you have a friend; and anyone can use it as a receiver... Do it.

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I've always been thinking of adding a couple more small ones, and a larger base-station radio.  One day, I'll do it.  If I have a dedicated VHF freq that I'll stay on, I can make my own antennas, cut specifically to that freq.

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14 minutes ago, 98Z5V said:

If I have a dedicated VHF freq that I'll stay on

Beofeng has a BF-888 that's UHF only (Sad). Even cheaper in cost; with no buttons or screen. Same programming cable, and a channel click knob at the top. Antenna is removable. I wish it was a dual band.

Making antennas is fun and easy. Measure twice, cut twice; or thrice. 

Edited by Lane

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Ordered the Baofeng UV-5R just to listen for now and keep me in the loop.  

About this item

  • 128 Channels 50 CTCSS and 104 CDCSS Dual-Band Display, Dual Freq. Display, Dual-Standby, A/B band independent operation | High/Low TX power selectable: Busy channel lock-out(BCLO)
  • Keypad Lock: Channel Step: 2. 5/5/6. 25/10/12. 5/25KHz | Voice companding: 50 CTCSS/ 104DCS coder & tone searching
  • Tri-color background light selectable: 0-9 grades VOX selectable | FM Radio (65. 0MHz-108. 0MHz): Large LCD Display
  • Emergency Alert: 25KHz/12. 5KHz Switchable | LED Flashlight: Hight /Low RF Power Switchable
  • Support manually program. Easy to program via PC. Support CHIRP quick programming.

 

This one goes for $26.61,  I didn't know about the programming cable or CHIRP or the repeater book.  So a big Thank you, ( 73 ).  One of the guys that lives here told me about HAM.  There is a club near me that I haven't learned to join yet,  my neighbor lives here part time so I can't ask him who they are.  The exam is held in a local firehouse and I bet I'll get a lot of help from one of the volunteer exam guys.   I hope to get one of the Elmers helping me out soon.

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22 hours ago, RedRiverII said:

Ordered the Baofeng UV-5R just to listen for now and keep me in the loop.

That's the one.

One thing to consider moving forward; is that those cheaper radios use an antenna connector that's reverse polarity from many more expensive radios. Just make sure you double check before you order any kind of antenna for the UV-5R; otherwise you'll need a gender bender, or conversion adapter. On the other hand; you can buy any antenna you want; and just rely on using an adapter. PL-259 is quite popular as an antenna connector. While heavy; I still use adapters for male PL259 antenna connectors; that's a SO239 to female SMA adapter for the Baofeng to make those work. 

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