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Any Ham operators here?


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9 hours ago, RedRiverII said:

BTW,  Alaska has a club that has figured out how to do the test remotely.  It is a little complicated but they have the know how,  I may call them tomorrow. 

How about you what are you into these days radio wise?  Any DX'ing?  Local stuff?  Have you ever done a contest?  All States?  What kind of unit are you using,  what type of unit are you looking to get?  I talked earlier about the 7300 which is a good unit so they say in reviews, but so is Icom,  Elecraft,  Yaesu,  Kenwood and others. I'm ogling them all,  and Christmas is around the corner.  I may sell my LaRue and some other gear to have a nice chunk of cash for this radio hobby.  First the exam,  then the antenna education,  then a base unit,  power supply,  mic,  and stuff I don't even know I need yet.

I assume those remote tests area lot like remote learning forced on kids these days? Zoom; and maybe some computer lockdown/test-taking software? Not my cup of tea, but it's presumably helpful for people who can't travel for one reason or another (and makes plenty of sense in Alaska).

I haven't been doing much on the air lately. I posted a brief look at one of my current projects a little while back. Decoding the radio transmissions of a wireless power meter transmitter/receiver pair. In this case; I have a reasonably clear view of the decoded data, and the captured radio transmissions. Turns out the data is whitened; and I haven't cracked the keys for that yet. There are also transmitter serial numbers that are likely shoved into that keyspace as well. The receiver chip (and likely transmitter) are black blobs. While it may require monitoring the bus between the radio receiver chip, and the processor; I'm doing my best to avoid that, instead using math and pattern recognition to determine those variables best I'm able. I don't want to cheat if I don't have to; there is some level of pride in reverse engineering a black box from the outside alone.

Being on the air is something I find much more satisfying in the winter months up here. Short days, and cold weather makes it easy to light a fire and turn on the radios for a while. All that equipment you don't know you need yet... You should just see pictures of people's ham shacks. You might not have any idea what you're getting into... Those guys are hoarders.

I looked at the Icom 7100 long and hard. I have a vehicle mount style, ID-880 on my desk. It's almost exactly the size of a PC tower's CD ROM drive (so it's small), programs with CHIRP, and luckily runs off a standard computer power supply as well. While this one does not, many radios will require lead acid battery voltage to run; so 12v isn't enough, you need to go above 13.5v to power them on or use them. A 15v rail is not at all uncommon inside radio devices. My HF rig is a Patcomm (which requires 13.8v or so), and a super rare one at that. I was able to send it back to the designer for a tune up, and learned a whole lot more about it in the process. While the printed circuit boards were professionally made, this one guy hand soldered, and assembled each one on his bench; roughly at the speed orders were coming in for them. He only sold a few dozen.

That's where things get interesting though. At some point, another ham mentioned to me that getting an extra class license is basically a proof that you can build your own HF transceiver. Certainly make antennas, read a circuit board, schematics, etc.... I took that to heart and started amassing component parts for my own HF build. A lot of older build schematics require transistors and maybe filters that can be difficult to find these days. In some cases there may not even be modern substitutions; so hunting down vintage surplus is a must. 

That too is a process that sees more attention in the winter time. Huddling up over a desk covered in solder blobs, and scraps of wire. Maybe lighting up a butane powered soldering iron if the power goes out... I've finished the display module and basic input controls board adapters. It has a programmable oscillator; and I took some other shortcuts to see early results. The design is ultimately is distillation of numerous other builds; with some of my own preferred features rolled in. One of the main goals was to have something modular; like a synth that could be modified by patching things in and out or swapping modules.

Haven't been on the air in a while; but I guess my membership in a Florida based ham club might have recently been renewed. I'll probably start getting back on an extra class net that comes out of Florida since the weather just turned cold (20M HF); it's snowing right now up here actually... Also need to go "find" my digital hotspots; since their host gets a new IP after every power outage. I'm sure I have some software updates to do; and maybe there's some new features to explore in the digital world. I find that interesting because I can dial up any part of the world and sit in my cave with just an HT. No need to wait for the right atmospheric conditions. 

All that HF talk makes me want to go mess with my main antennas though. Wouldn't hurt to re-analyze everything and see what new gremlins have popped up since I've last been on the air. I do still turn on the HF from time to time to scan the bands while I'm cooking dinner. I may work towards remote control though, since the radio is in a good spot; but I spend a lot more time elsewhere. It would be rather trivial to remotely tune and operate (audio I/O, and PTT). Never done a contest yet; but I know about them. Going to a field day is a great introduction to that kind of mentality (though with COVID and all; it didn't happen here this year). Not to mention, really contesting requires serious dedication. If you're going for distance; you'll want almost every minute of the allotted time; which might be a whole weekend in front of the radio.

Edited by Lane
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@LaneI just asked the questions to become more knowledgeable of the actual practices you may be involved in.  This Ham Radio science is a deep and varied subject.  The second paragraph you wrote got me thinking about how a person could learn for a lifetime and still be challenged and intrigued.  I thought that you must be highly intelligent.  That alone is worthy of respect.  I did search " whitened data ",  and immediately found another difficult to read paragraph posted from Quora.  The info was beyond my comprehension though,  but words reflecting concepts of AI and some such models commands a fascination for sure.  Tip of the hat to you.  I'm looking to solve an antenna challenge and that's a tough nut for me to crack.

Most clubs have not solved the off site monitoring yet,  not because of their illiteracy but that of the test takers and computer skills.  You need two cameras,  one for viewing the test taker and one to prove a clean space.  That's a space where no hidden cheat sheets could be used.  Alaska has developed a system that works and they are best of show right now.

It is my understanding that with the advent of digital and computer work the field of Ham Radio is under tremendous forces to update.  I have found the resistance to change a powerful force.  That leads to guys that want to upgrade to find their equipment not as valuable as they think it is.  Rather that take a 'loss' they hold on to it.  I'm guilty of that as well in other areas.  Hoarding?  maybe.  I think it more like proud folks incapable of accepting change.  I'm in that camp as well at times.  I bought that xxx equipment at a thousand,  and it still performs well,  how on earth could it only be worth three hundred now?  I'll ask for a fair seven hundred and I'm sure an educated consumer will snap it up.  And they wait and wait and ...

"At some point, another ham mentioned to me that getting an extra class license is basically a proof that you can build your own HF transceiver" Quote yours.   I was reading on another site and a post stated "  ... that guy should have not complained just because he is too lazy to go back and learn the theory again.  He should just prepare and take the test again."  I think if folks really had to learn how to build a transceiver and know electrical theory there would be far less Extra licensees.  Assuming Extras can build XTs is a wonderful homage to non-existent people.  LOL  I will pass the exam mostly by rote and then learn theory.

I checked out the 7100 while writing this reply.  A good alternative for me to get other than a base model.  You know what,  I'm loving all these units.  I'm surprised I haven't bought something already,  well other than the UV5R.

I loved upstate NY.  We would drive there from the city.  I could actually feel that poisonous stress oozing out of my body once we arrived anywhere surrounded by trees.  Of course we did the weekend escapes to Wappinger Falls,  heck if I can't remember my favorite place right now.  Stars with a W.  Dang.  I went to school in Buffalo and survived those blizzards in 74?  I forget the exact dates but we got 12 feet of snow.  I loved it BTW.  Total disaster area.  NO school,  no police,  no Fire fighters,  no banks or supermarkets.  As students we had a ball.  Party time.  With all Buffalo shut down I'll alwys remember this guy and his sled.  Somehow,  someway he found a place to sell him two cases of beer. 

I need to solve the antenna challenge.  I removed all the Christmas gear from my attic today.  I have a 32" run,  one area is a 20' run but only 24-30" high.  The remainder is about 48" high.  The attic is a very difficult area to move in,  I'll need my nephew to do the install,  if indeed it makes sense even to attempt it.  I am thinking of a Comet H422.  I'm thinking long and hard as it's a $350 unit.  I need an Elmer.

This is getting to be a very long post,  so I'll just drop the ball now... Thanks Bud!




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I found a local testing center and will take the exam soon.  The Extra level ham manual is almost as thick as the Technician and General combined.  I'm going in to study mode.  I'm using one of those kitchen wind up clocks.  It is set for one hour,  and one hour of study a day is my goal.  Maybe two hours split would be better.  I'll report back.

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On 11/15/2020 at 6:42 PM, RedRiverII said:

I just asked the questions to become more knowledgeable of the actual practices you may be involved in.

I figured as much; and did my best to give you an overview. It's an ever evolving hobby; and there are many things I wish to do down the road that I'm still slowly preparing for.

These conversations have inspired me to re-visit my fan dipole installation upstairs. Some of the information in that stealth antenna document alone answered long standing questions I had about my indoor HF setup here. Also been considering larger loop antennas for a while too...

Digital sure is a touchy discussion in the ham world. Plenty of purists  just don't care. For myself, I found that many of the details were good practice for future planning. For example; digital hotspots are, for all intents and purposes; repeaters. Learning how to set one up, chose a local available frequency, determining their effective range, etc.; all apply to larger repeater installations as well. The learning curve was rather steep though; until everything is programmed correctly, that hardware is virtually useless.

Hard to say what radio would be ideal for you at this point. The 7100 is probably lacking features in comparison to the 7300; with a very similar price tag. About the only addition might be the D-Star. There are so many other radio options in that price class; it might pay to shop around. Not sure if you have ham radio stores down there still or not. If I could have shopped around, and tried things; I certainly would have. 

I'll measure my fan dipole when I get the other legs connected again. Sounds like you have a similar sized space. They can be run in an inverted V shape, draping down from the peak. From what I've read; it seems indoor antennas will almost always be shorter than ideal to function correctly. You mentioned similar in the story about Tim Allen (needed to use an analyzer). And the stealth document says the same. Other things that interact with indoor antennas, make them appear electrically longer than they physically are. Also means that moving them could change those properties; which is something I certainly ran into when I was setting mine up. I learned early on that they didn't like to be messed with... I think the idea here is; pick a location, install the antenna, and then make it work by trimming. Moving it around at all is basically starting the whole process over, and if you already trimmed it too far; it's less fun to fix. 

I always start by installing; and then just listening anyway. You don't have to worry about SWR if you aren't transmitting. Any old coat hanger wire can be used to receive. Once, I'm happy with reception, I begin to consider transmitting. Did the same setting up VHF and UHF antennas indoors; not much reason to believe antennas that don't pick up anything, will be of much use when transmitting. You should probably be able to simulate that in different parts of your house with the UV5R.

It's snowing again here. Maybe I should invest in a truck load of beer; for when that guy comes by with a sled.

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I'll give you the time frame for the blizzard I experienced.  Rocky was a new movie.  I attended U.B.  The Buffalo Bills were not doing well once more just a few years after the Super Bowl title.  The whole town was suffering an economic slowdown.  Beer sales were through the roof.

I think you should continue your pursuit of a balanced system. I'm retired so I find it rewarding for a retired guy to accept the challenge of stretching out my capacity to learn.  Especially this subject matter.  I've already been rewarded from picking up some knowledge regarding Ham Radio and some concepts.  This subject gets deep and wide quickly.  If I didn't know better I'd think C.S. Lewis was a HF operator.  Alice and her tumble is apropos here,  as proof of his confusion.

I was going to wait for later to post,  but that investing in beer comment made me smile.  I'm in the middle of a free session learning about the Extra ticket and it's interesting as well as adding mental ammo for the exam.  I'll be back.

I do appreciate your leads and comments,  and I do use them.  Thank you! 73

Edited by RedRiverII
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You don't absolutely need to spend a ton of money to get on HF and have a good time. This little gem costs only a few dollars as a do it yourself kit. Just solder all the included parts on the circuit board. I added a power switch, antenna connector, and socket for the crystal. By default they typically come with a crystal that requires an extra class license to transmit; but one can buy a whole pack of similar crystals, of which some are on the Generally accessable part of the band. With a simple long wire antenna, this fixed frequency transceiver can pick up dozens of discreet transmissions at once from far and wide. Not too difficult to distinguish from multiple transmissions in the pile up either, the tone frequencies vary enough that it possible to tune them in and out by ear.


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Very cool.  I see the controls and identified the power switch,  ant. conn.,  audio plug-in and assume the tuner in the upper left,  am I correct?

1976 attended UB,  and wildly drunk most days.  I had PTSD and was not aware of it.  I used radio's and ECM, ECCM,  equipment as a weapon many years ago.  I used million dollar equipment and was very good at listening and identifying enemy intelligence gathering equipment.  They were not play things at the time.  We used radio RF equipment to call in airstrikes and Naval Gunfire support.  AND S  H  I  T we don't talk about,  E  V  E  R.  Some of us have sworn to protect and defend the Constitution of America,  and have promised to keep our traps shut,  over.

But now it's time to play.  Other folks have continued where we left off.  Some guys here are still fighters and much respect to them.  I'm done.  I'm effin playing.  On this particular site they have taught me to build and use a well oiled 308.  It sits nearby,  and I'm glad to say it's gathering dust.

I am way older than you but,  you have made me aware of new info and have inspired me as well,  to continue learning more and more about our radio interests.  When I say I appreciate your supply of information I mean it.  It's an honest remark.  Some of the guys like playing cutie pie and leave snide and childish remarks.  That's OK,  they have some mental challenges and perhaps are not aware of them.  I started this thread to attract operators and I believe you are one of them.  Some other fellows became interested in getting their licenses and I hope they do.  

I gotta walk the pup,  he giving me the look.

Edited by RedRiverII
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Pretty much on point there. There is a key input, and headphone output. The tuner is only one sided; a RIT in this case, and it doesn't tune very much at all. Pretty well locked to the crystal frequency in this design. The reason I pulled this out was because I found one on my desk that I partially built to allow for digital tuning with a bunch of external components. Generally speaking though; it's locked to the rock, and you just swap them out for frequency changes.

Ended up pulling down all my antennas last night to start my indoor setup process all over again. Figured that I've learned quite a bit since I originally set up my HF equipment, and it's long past due for another run at the setup to see how much better I can do. Should have an idea in a few days as I get time to test each part of the reinstall. 

Glad to offer any help I can. I got my license because it seemed like a good idea given the terrain (living in the mountains). Strangely I had been buying up parts to build radios in the years leading up to getting a license, so I had some prior interest as well. I also do much better with hands on learning, and studied physics in college. Even then; I was buying electrical components to try to better understand the principals being presented in those classes. That way, I ended up with a more intuitive understanding of the fundamentals I was being tested on. In a pinch, I could relate those questions to my own experiments and experiences, instead of simply memorizing formulas, and punching the numbers into a calculator.

I have a great time here on this forum; and a great deal of respect for the members here. I too built a well oiled 308 (or a few); and learned quite a bit keeping up with other peoples builds, and asking questions when I wasn't sure. But indeed; all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy... So get out there and have your fun! You deserve it, and thank you for your service.

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Thank you as well.  Pretty cool little radio that you showed.  I like it a lot.  I should have said that sooner but was thinking of other things at the time. I think it awesome that you bought stuff to see what it looked like.  I'm doing the same.  I have to get a feel of each component,  it just makes it more familiar.  The teacher said,  " Whatever you do don't discharge these capacitors with a screwdriver. "  Teacher turns his back and 'snap crackle pop'.  That's learning.  I've collected many rifle 308 rifle parts while hanging out at 308ar.com.  If I find a HFham.com the parts bucket will be jammed up right quick.

I appreciate the offer of help,  I'm sure to take you up on it.  You definitely represent what I think they consider an Elmer.  I know,  I'll need some time to get used to the name,  Elmer.  Doesn't roll of the tongue too well.

I am looking forward to your project.  If I lived nearby I would offer some help.  That hand's on experience is worth ten times the book learning.  I'm not knocking the books,  to me that's straight up discipline.   Are the antennas roof mounted?  As an aside and the reason I asked is,  I was doing a plumbing job in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.  I had to vent a ceiling hung gas fired space heater.  I drilled a hole through the cement roof to run some smoke pipe.  I used a ladder to get on the roof,  a steep vertical roof.  I worked alone like an a hole,  I was new and wanted to impress the boss.  There was a quick freeze and the roof became an icicle.  Yonder ladder was about twenty feet away but seemed like a mile.  Buddy,  I was terrified and prayed each moment I inched my way back through God's good grace to safety.  Please don't work alone this winter on the roof.  I like the idea of an attic setup. 


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The little radio is known as a "Pixie Kit" or similar. There are a few variants out there with very minor upgrades, and perhaps a laser cut acrylic case. Amazon has some for around $10; but you can get them for half that from China if you have a patience. I've seen them designed for bands other than 40M too; though you'd have to hunt a bit more for those designs. 

When I first started trying to get my hands dirty in college, I was playing with "joule thief" circuits. It was a very simple and cheap design to mess with, but allowed me to experiment with a pretty wide array of inductors in the process. That of course evolved pretty quickly into things like coil guns, with stages triggered by SCRs as a quick way to dump high voltage capacitors into the coils. I was lucky enough to have a rock solid adjustable DC power supply as a child. Can't tell you how many things got blown up with that, but capacitors were some of the most fun. Charge them up good and full, and then rocket the voltage knob to the top and wait for the bang. Electrolytic capacitors would be the most spectacular, often leaving little more than the hookup leads to be found in any identifiable way. I thought it was a safety issue NOT to discharge big caps on CRTs with a screwdriver; that, or get the big bite when you brush against those terminals by accident?

I never actually found an elmer for myself to be honest. But that doesn't stop me from self-guiding when I find the inspiration. There were a few people that showed interest when I went to field day locally; but it has not yet panned out. These days the local club doesn't even meet; in part because of state restrictions. 

No outdoor antennas installed here, so nothing to worry about. I've been running attic antennas almost exclusively, for both the stealth factor; and because my outdoor installs never performed any better than a carefully tuned indoor setup. I do occasionally launch a rope, and pull something into a tree for the experience of the matter. Generally speaking though; I try not to show off in that regard. As opposed to some of these people (https://www.google.com/search?q=ham+shack) whom you can probably spot from miles around with the size and number of antennas they typically have outside. That was what I meant about contesting in a previous message... Going up against people with a dozen or more radios, who are watching every band all the time, makes it tough to seriously compete. Perhaps it's the cold winters; but people around here get overly serious about contesting. 

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Thank you for the reference to the small units.  I'm about to begin gathering tools for this hobby.  I was a tradesman so I have many hand tools as it is,  but I never did have a soldering iron.  That will be first,  followed by some solder and a wire nipper.  I've seen some pictures of homes with antenna complexes.  They look like Yamamoto's flag ship in dry dock.  BTW it's nice to know you won't be going the rooftop route.  That is encouraging as well because I must build an attic rig.  Although first I'm on the Extra license pursuit right now.  I'm taking a course on Youtube that ends in Feb,  I may not have the patience to wait and take the exam in early Dec.,  then continue viewing the YouTube course for education pursuits.  A guy I was looking to for an Elmer is a snowbird.  He is a neighbor but not in the area for now.  Won't he be surprised when he returns here and discovers I have my Extra.  He offered to help me get my Technician ticket.  I need to get some sleep,  talk to you soon,  thanks for the messages.

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There's some notes on the pixie kits. At the very end, he outlines the different filter components for other bands too.  Quick read; but a good reference as well. 

Been playing with the antenna analyzer here. Something I have run into, is a loose antenna connector; way too many times. Especially when the radio has a heat sink near the antenna connector. The twist on shield can become loose over time; and SWR goes through the roof. Today it was on a dummy load. But one can't blindly trust anything; a loose connector might feel plenty tight by hand.

I've read that an incandescent light bulb is a decent HF dummy load. It does transmit though; so don't be shocked if you make contacts that way. Trivially easy to assemble one with a ceramic light fixture and coax cable. I have long had one connected to my antenna switch for testing.

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@Lane  I got lost in the study mode for a bit.  I have had a few exam sites cancel because of covid fears so I let up on the fervor.  I bought the ARRL Extra Class License Manual and have been reading it.  I've just begun Chap. 4 Electrical Principles and the math that it entails.  Since I'll be waiting until Feb. for this next exam it allows me that much more time for study.

Best of luck setting the antennas up.  From what I've seen that's the most important component.  That's an art form in itself.  I've yet to handle any equipment other than the UV5R.  I'll need a local Elmer to begin to really 'Get' what these radios are all about.  I've joined a club recently and will attend the next meeting,  but I think with the Holidays upon us I'll have to wait for the new year.

I ordered a pixie and will get some gear together to begin experimenting.  Also I've become interested in Morse/CW,  how about you?  Any CW interest?  

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Can't hurt to relax a little. It's always an option to take the tests online with extra webcams as you mentioned. Not sure what their specific requirements are; but old (or new) cell phones can often be used as IP cameras, or sometimes even USB webcams if you absolutely need more that you don't want to purchase for a one time event. 

Honestly don't remember much about what they tested on in terms of electrical principals; that was one section I never had to study for. Nearly all of that is pretty basic physics. As I recall it's the second course in college physics sequence; Electromagnetism. You might consider supplementing your study that way for clarity. I can pass along a physics text if you are interested.

Decided to make some pretty substantial changes to my antenna setup, as well as recheck everything from the beginning. I started off trying to calibrate my antenna analyzer; which I believe I succeeded at. It takes 3 test resistors (dummy loads); tests are: open circuit, 50 ohm, 150 ohm, and 274 ohm. Then I started messing with my 15W dummy load. I briefly got a decent SWR on 7.000 MHz, but then it went up to >10 again. After messing around with it for a bit I realized that the adapter stack can't seem to make good contact. I also want to take the cap off but haven't been able to find an Allen wrench small enough for the tiny set screw.

Been reading about other indoor stealth antenna options while I work on re-designing the layout for my antenna farm upstairs. I'm interested to add on another long wire using CAT 5 cable; simply connecting all 8 wires together at the feed point. I've also seen other methods that fan out the wires, but it gets dicy because they are twisted together. The actual wire in those pairs are all different lengths because of that. Untwisting them is a nightmare, I just did close to 100 feet by hand over the last few days (a drill didn't work well for me at all, though I might be able to rig up a better system for that).

I'm curious if you think you need an Elmer for the UV-5R, or you need one to get what the broader spectrum of HF radios are all about? That is a key point of finding an Elmer actually; finding someone who can both show you other equipment and techniques, as well as loan you things you'll only need once or twice (like an antenna analyzer). Beyond that, they should have the ability to check the calibration on things for you as well. Let you know how your signal looks on the receiving end, test hardware for you (since you probably won't have 10 radios up front), and the list goes on... I've had to learn to test my own equipment the "hard" way; buying all the test equipment myself which can be a slow road for sure. 

If you're even slightly computer inclined; there are also some cheap SDR radio options. I've got quite a number of them laying around, and they come in handy for a lot of things here and there. In short though; they'll let you mess with a totally decent radio receiver without spending a lot of money. Buying something similar that transmits too isn't all that expensive, but you have a lot of other things to worry about if you wish to go that route (like and amp, and filters). Check out this link to a brief description of the technical detail: RTL-SDR I've included a look at one piece of software that uses them. While the base radio's don't dip into the HF band, a modified version is something like $35 which can tune between 100kHz - 1.7 GHz (all of HF, VHF, and usable UHF)

Definitely interested in CW. I "learned" it in about a week a few years back. There are smartphone apps that use various training methods which are a great help. Turns out the way I learned; I was fine at slow keying, but I was terrible at reading it. I could pick up a call sign by tone memory (a lot like paying the Simon game); and then slowly decode it in my head. But longer transmissions were a lost cause at normal keying speeds. And; since I haven't been using it, I've basically forgotten all I had learned. It's good to know though, and now I know that next time I dig into that; I'm going to need to train myself to read/copy harder than re-learn to key. Also; there are different types of keys, and perhaps one of them is better suited to my/your learning style; so that's something to consider as well. My HF rig actually has an auto decoder and PC keyboard for CW, though I don't cheat by sending that way (it can help me keep up with replies though).

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@Lane  Good Morning,

I am looking for an Elmer as a general guide to this hobby.  I think we discussed earlier about learning,  and how hands on experience trumped book learning.  Of course both are needed but that tactile experience is second to none.  Would I refuse help with the UV5R,  no.  While I am retired and might have much more time than an engaged professional,  this particular hobby is a whole new world to me.  While you say electrical principals is something you never had to study for,  I wonder was the subject not required or were you already well versed in it?  I don't need to study the subject,  I want to study it.  I had to go to work to support a family,  (break out the tiny violins),  so I never completed college.  I did try to complete it but never made it,  too much work and not enough time.  I find the exams a challenge and studying for them is invigorating.  This Extra exam is extra difficult.  The component nomenclature is worthy of a semester of study all by its lonesome. All in all I enjoy being challenged and engaged in learning. 

I sent in two applications for local radio clubs.  One is very deeply concerned with emergency assistance while the other is engaged in the scientific and experimental aspects.  

The ARRL is having a sale today offering 30% off Antenna books,  I'm waiting for them to update their daily code and will buy one or two books.  That's a fascinating subject as well.  It sounds as if you have your hands full with the new antenna farm.  I wish I could help but that's not going to be a reality any time soon.  Even in plumbing,  each and every twist and turn in a pipe run,  45's,  or 90's or a tee,  you lose some velocity.  I can see setting up an antenna that most of the challenges would be in the connections.  Any ill fitting connections must multiply the loss and maybe kill it altogether.  

Which physics text are you referring to?  I am interested.  What size Allen wrench do you need.  I have many extra tools and would gladly send a set to you.  I'll PM you in a moment.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.  I'm about to tackle the prep work for this 22lb turkey I get to cook for the family,  thank goodness there aren't any connections except for the dismantling of that carcass.

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Was most curious if a few curated youTube videos might help you along with certain areas (like the radio you have, or radios you're interested in)?

I personally had a decent introduction to electrical components and properties as a young child. I can't remember a time I didn't own a soldering iron, and used to strip junk equipment of usable components in my free time back then. The college level physics classes drove those concepts even deeper though. Electromagnetism was the second course in the sequence, Waves was the forth; then the fifth and sixth courses are a deeper look at electromagnetism again (mostly in terms of calculus regarding radiation of antenna shapes; flat plates, round wires, odd shapes, etc.). So; I had to learn that stuff at some point, but it wasn't while I was studying for the ham license exams.

The big challenge with antennas is likely to be absolute length of the elements (or perceived length in situations you have external coupling); generally, resonance at the frequency you wish you use it. Connectors and connections can still be an issue once in a while though, especially when things are outdoors (where wind and weather might be a factor), or in a place where heat cycles might loosen them.

Happy thanksgiving to you and yours as well. 

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When I was younger I knew everything,  now not so much.  Any help I can get understanding the whole subject of Ham Radio is much appreciated.  In directly answering your question all help with the UV5R is accepted.  

I can just picture a youngster handling a soldering iron and having at it akin to a Norman Rockwell painting.  My mother-in-law has replaced her pc,  I kept the unit and as soon as the Hakko soldering iron I ordered arrives I'm having at it.  While viewing my attic to see what kind of antenna setup I could fit there I found some left over cable vision parts.  They are going to be deconstructed right quick as well.  When being trained 50 years ago we had wall sized radios to work on.  Not doing any repair work just getting a feel for the controls.  A dial is a dial,  right?  Well after a very short time you would think we were safecrackers the way we delicately tuned in frequencies.  For now I'm missing the hands on part of training.  One club I applied for is the West Palm Beach Amateur Radio club.  They have meetings in the South Florida Science Center.  Lots of interesting ideas and experiments to be had there.  As a married family guy I have had enough shared conversations regarding coupons and Aunt Millie's bunions.  I need some intellectual stimulation that I'm not getting at home.

What did I read recently about tricking your antenna into thinking it was longer that it really was?  What component can you add to the antenna to achieve this?  What is that long lazy s shaped symbol in formulas which I think stands for length of material?  Once I saw a thought on how dents could affect antenna material I knew I had gone too far into the subject.  

Gotta walk the pup. @Lane

Edited by RedRiverII
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Guess it might have been a standard Norman Rockwell painting; seems to apply... My brother and I were both given pieces of plywood to contain our "mess", along with our own soldering irons. Originally we had to sit at the kitchen table to work, until we learned well enough not to pull the soldering iron by the cord onto our laps, and generally not be overly careless with the hot end. Those boards quickly became covered in burned spots, and wipes of solder mixed with burned flux. Later on, I found it more comfortable to work cross legged on the floor in my bedroom; often resting a circuit board on some part of my legs while I worked since I needed both hands too.

An interesting point you make about the radio dial. I was almost annoyed when I sent my HF rig back for a tune up. The guy replaced the original knob with a larger solid aluminum piece. That was; until I used it. It was trivial to "throw" the knob in one direction or the other. It would just keep spinning, and keep tuning for a few rotations... Extremely tactically satisfying. That's just hard to find these days in modern equipment. You might be keen to look out for some ~1970s vintage HF rigs. You might appreciate how simply laid out they are; with ONLY knobs and switches (no screens, or menus, or context sensitive options).

In terms of a way to shorten an antenna, and trick it into "thinking" it's longer; I believe you are referring to a loading coil. I have an antenna on my desk with one, and they are a pretty common sight. The reason it works is because of reactance; that coil in the middle is an inductor.  Something that didn't intuitively stick with me right away was impedance. I'd heard the term thrown around when referring to pro audio microphone cables and such; but it didn't mean all that much to me until really digging in to ham radio concepts. So while impedance is still measured in Ohms like a plain resistor; it's representative of electrical resistance, as well as resistances caused by inductance and capacitance. In DC circuits; this really doesn't matter much, but in AC and radio; it's almost the only thing that matters.

That lazy S you asked about; is the Integral Symbol. That requires calculus. But integrals really aren't that bad once you understand their purpose. There is software to do antenna calculations for you. Doing tons of calculus with a pencil and paper gets old real fast (ask me how I know this).

While it's rather long (30 min), this is a great video from the bell labs archive. It does touch on impedance matching; among other things. 



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Another 30 minute video. Daaaamn. It was a good one though; here's my notes as I watched it myself. 

Excellent points up front: Having multiple modes, and bands available; listening more than transmitting. Great notes on the advantages of digital radios. Love that they touched on the interoperability. That is a relatively new development (linking repeaters with different digital modes together). 

15 min mark: ARES and RACES. (SIRT is mentioned as an option later around the 20 minute mark).

National simplex frequency; make sure you add that to your CHIRP file. And don't forget, since it simplex, there is no offset on the transmit frequency.

The UV-5R also has the dual channel monitoring feature (the A/B button on the front accesses this). So you can leave something always receiving on the B channel, and set the A channel to scan, or to listen/transmit on some other frequency. 


General Purpose receivers... Not sure what's available standalone anymore. I found an old radio shack model that does shortwave, and also covers receiving on the HF ham bands (not all shortwave radios will do that). Certainly a worthwhile investment if you can find something like that. Practice (more); at some point you'll need to get acquainted with listening, hopefully before you decide on a much more expensive HF rig. Or; find a handheld that you like; one which also has general coverage receiver for HF. In either case, you can just throw a pile of wire on the floor (without transmitting, you don't need to worry about SWR, or fret about antenna design). You'll even receiver Ok with a single coat hanger wire. Obviously it's better if you can hang it on the wall; or from a ceiling fan or something.

Solar for the smaller battery powered stuff isn't a big deal at all. And a larger HF rig can be backed by a lead acid car battery (or battery bank) which aren't difficult to solar power either.

That should keep you busy for a few minutes...

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