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Old March 24th 07, 07:44 AM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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First recorded activity by RadioBanter: Mar 2007
Posts: 7
Default Rediscovering the hobby.

Hey there.

I got my Technician ticket the summer after I graduated from high
school, bought a little 2M handie-talkie and had a bit of fun with it,
but for any number of reasons, left the hobby behind shortly
thereafter. Now, I'm getting notices about my 10 year high school
reunion and I'm realizing that it's time to renew my ticket.

Last year when I realized that renewal time was around the corner, I
figured I'd start getting ready to upgrade to the General License, and
started learning the code. Once I'd gotten my sending down to a
pretty good clip, though my receiving still wasn't near to 5wpm, they
took that requirement away, and now I'm back to having to study for
the exam...

So, here's the point of my post: I'm trying to come back to the hobby
after a long absence. I have a limited (read hardly any) budget, and
an older handie-talkie. I think I'll need more than just local repeater
rag-chewing to get me into it the hobby all the way. Anybody have any
suggestions?

Also appreciated would be suggestions on beefing up my technical
knowledge. I'm afraid I'm probably not even close to having myself up
to the level I was at when I took my Technician test... So, I
probably have to start from close to a clean slate.

Thanks,
Paul
KC8IGJ


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Old March 24th 07, 12:10 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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First recorded activity by RadioBanter: Dec 2006
Posts: 169
Default Rediscovering the hobby.

Paul Huff wrote:

I got my Technician ticket the summer after I graduated from high
school, bought a little 2M handie-talkie and had a bit of fun with it,
but for any number of reasons, left the hobby behind shortly
thereafter. Now, I'm getting notices about my 10 year high school
reunion and I'm realizing that it's time to renew my ticket.


Whatever else you do, renew your ticket. It's easy and free. When
you're 90 days away from expiration, visit the FCC web site and request
a renewal. Don't put it off thinking that you're going to upgrade and
then end up with no license at all.

So, here's the point of my post: I'm trying to come back to the hobby
after a long absence. I have a limited (read hardly any) budget, and
an older handie-talkie. I think I'll need more than just local repeater
rag-chewing to get me into it the hobby all the way. Anybody have any
suggestions?


Ham radio is really many hobbies rolled into one. The aspects that
interest me may not interest you, and that's just fine. I agree that
there's much more out there in the hobby than the local repeater, and I
think you're on the right track exploring the other aspects of ham radio.

Go to the library and spend a little time reading the ham-radio
magazines. I'm not suggesting that you read every article carefully,
but more that you use the magazine as a way to see what is happening in
the hobby these days and what aspects pique your interest. You might
think that trying to work DX using low power is interesting, or digital
modes might catch your eye.

There's a lot of current information on the hobby available via the
Internet. This Usenet group is an example; as you read what others are
interested in you may see things that sound intriguing. There are many
other web sites on various topics. Of course, you want to employ the
same filters that you would use for any topic that you're researching on
the Internet; there's some garbage out there too.

As for low-budget equipment, one place to check is eBay. Usual
disclaimers apply, but there are some bargains there. (Just be sure
you're really getting a bargain; there are some ripoffs there, too.) I
recommend eHam for figuring out what all the model numbers really mean;
there's a valuable part of their site that you reach by clicking on
"Product Reviews" in the left navigation pane. There are other sources
for used equipment, including locals who have upgraded their gear.

Also appreciated would be suggestions on beefing up my technical
knowledge. I'm afraid I'm probably not even close to having myself up
to the level I was at when I took my Technician test... So, I
probably have to start from close to a clean slate.


Is there a local club in your area? If they have license classes,
that's a possible way to beef up your technical knowledge and have a
good time. It's always more fun to learn in a group. However, be aware
that some of these classes are geared more towards reviewing the
specific questions in the exam pools than in actually learning the
theory behind the questions.

If you want to actually learn something useful, I'd suggest that finding
a knowledgeable local and putting a station on the air would be a great
way to accomplish that. Studying the formula for the length of a dipole
is one thing; getting out there and building the antenna is an entirely
different experience. This may be the best use of that handheld -- if
there's an active repeater that you can hit, get on it and meet some of
the locals. If you're lucky you'll find someone who is willing to be
your elmer.

Good luck, and welcome back. I hope you find a niche in the hobby that
interests you; that's what makes the difference between someone who just
has a ticket and someone who is actually active in the hobby.

73, Steve KB9X

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Old March 24th 07, 02:47 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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First recorded activity by RadioBanter: Feb 2007
Posts: 19
Default Rediscovering the hobby.

Paul Huff wrote:
[snip] I'm trying to come back to the hobby
after a long absence. I have a limited (read hardly any) budget, and
an older handie-talkie. I think I'll need more than just local repeater
rag-chewing to get me into it the hobby all the way. Anybody have any
suggestions?

Also appreciated would be suggestions on beefing up my technical
knowledge. I'm afraid I'm probably not even close to having myself up
to the level I was at when I took my Technician test... So, I
probably have to start from close to a clean slate.


Paul,

Welcome back!

All hams are on a budget, although some have a _larger_ budget than
others ;-). Probably the best way to improve your technical skills while
building a station is to trade for or buy some older radio and spend the
time to get it on the air: there are many "boatanchor" rigs available
for reasonable money, provided you're not looking to start with a KWM-2,
and the experience and contacts you'll get in the process will also help
to get you up to speed.

First, join a local club and ask around about used rigs. Many hams have
equipment they used as novices still on a shelf, including receivers
such as Drake 2-A's or such, and although code may not be your mode of
choice, you can often add a modulator to a novice CW rig and join the AM
renaissance on 75 meters for very short money. If you prefer SSB, there
are many older rigs that can be had for reasonable cost, especially from
other club members, such as Swan 350's or Heathkit HW-101's.

Ebay is a good source for ideas, but I'd avoid it for purchases until
you're more familiar with the boatanchor world - parts availability,
rigs to avoid, etc.: for now, buy or trade with people you live next to,
and you'll do a lot better.

HTH.

Bill

--
73,

Bill W1AC

(Remove "73" and change top level domain for direct replies)

  #4   Report Post  
Old March 24th 07, 02:47 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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First recorded activity by RadioBanter: Dec 2006
Posts: 300
Default Rediscovering the hobby.

"Steve Bonine" wrote:

Is there a local club in your area? If they have license classes, that's
a possible way to beef up your technical knowledge and have a good time.
It's always more fun to learn in a group. However, be aware that some of
these classes are geared more towards reviewing the specific questions in
the exam pools than in actually learning the theory behind the questions.


I definitely 2nd the recommendation of the local club.

In fact, what you might want to do is visit a bunch of local clubs. Some
local clubs actually have "ham shacks" which you can operate out of. For
example, W1AQ in Rhodyland is one such club.

The nice thing about these types of organizations is you can get a feel for
what type of activities in ham radio interests you, without investing a
great deal of money in your own equipment, only to discover that aspect of
the hobby really isn't "for you". Think of it as a "try before you buy".

Plus, being able to operate out of the club shack gives you time to save up
for your own equipment, and not become discouraged over time because you're
not able to buy something of your own.

And yes, by all means, renew your license. While your activity in ham radio
may come and go over time depending on other demands in life, your ham
license is always a 'free' ticket to enjoyment at some point, when you
decide to pick it up again. Follow Steve's lead and renew through the FCC
web site -- it doesn't cost you anything!

Good luck!

73
kh6hz

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Old March 25th 07, 03:48 AM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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First recorded activity by RadioBanter: Aug 2006
Posts: 20
Default Rediscovering the hobby.

"Bill Horne, W1AC" wrote in news:eu3b3q$v2e$1
@victor.killfile.org:

All hams are on a budget, although some have a _larger_ budget than
others ;-).


PRECISELY why the power limit should be ERP, not 1.5KW into a $25,000, 8-
element, 20 meter yagi at 800'.

Rich hams should be using the same ERP as poor hams....easily measured at
monitoring stations in uV/meter.

Larry
--
Message for Comcrap Internet Customers:
http://tinyurl.com/3ayl9c
Unlimited Service my ass.....(d^
..



  #6   Report Post  
Old March 25th 07, 04:23 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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First recorded activity by RadioBanter: Jul 2006
Posts: 96
Default Rediscovering the hobby.

Amateur radio is an incredibly diverse hobby. The suggestion on reading up
is a good one, the suggestion on looking at clubs is a good one, but they
really won't give you a very complete view.

Most clubs have some area they gravitate toward. There are many areas of
amateur radio that aren't well served by local clubs, either because the
activity isn't amenable to the club model, or because a local area just
can't support enough amateurs interested in that particular niche.

Many amateurs on a budget are into QRP, and many QRPers are into building.
Now, don't get misled into thinking that building stuff is cheaper. Until
you have built up a good junk box, it tends to be more expensive. However,
the hours of enjoyment might well make it inexpensive on an hours of fun per
dollar basis. It won't be cheaper on a watts per dollar basis.

Some have suggested looking for a boatanchor. Personally, I don't enjoy
this, and like building, it isn't as cheap as it sounds. *BUT*, if you get
to thinking about buying used gear, go to ebay and study the "completed
auctions". While I feel a little uncomfortable about buying a used rig
sight unseen, the completed auctions section of eBay gives you a clue as to
what a particular rig is worth, and what affects its value. I should mention
that although I would rather put my hands on a rig before I buy it, I have
bought a few things on eBay and have never been burned. There are a few bad
actors out there, but generally hams are a likeable lot. Also, don't be
afraid to look at new rigs. Many decent used rigs sell for almost as much
as new. If there is a huge difference, there is probably a reason. Find
someone to talk to about the particular thing that interests you.

Many clubs are into public service. This is another area where you can get
a lot of fun for your buck. In this case, typically all you need is an HT.
Most clubs that do this are more than able to provide you with any necessary
training, and these activities can be a lot of fun.

Most amateurs feel that emergency response is part of their responsibility,
although most aren't willing to pay their dues. If you think emergency
response is part of your interest, you MUST find your local EC and get
involved with your local ARES or RACES group. In this day an age, you must
also pass some FEMA courses to be eligible. Hams who show up at a scene
with a rig and no training are part of the problem rather than the solution.

Speaking of ARES, your statewide amateur organization needs leaders --
doesn't matter what state you are in. Volunteering your time to make
amateur radio better is one of the more enjoyable aspects of the hobby to
some, and is also one of the less expensive. Every section has dozens of
positions that need to be filled. They range from emcomm positions to
public information, to technical coordination to observer. Lots and lots to
be done.

Of course, there are plenty of operating only activities ... rag chewing,
DXing, contesting, etc. your Tech license gives you full access to the
space above 50 MHz, and there is a lot of territory there for
experimentation, if that is what floats your boat.

A lot of hams (at least here locally) thinking of moving beyond VHF seem to
feel they need a DC to daylight rig. This is certainly the high priced
spread. The rig can often be a minor problem; getting an antenna up in the
air that can do a decent job across a wide range of bands can be a bit of a
challenge, too. And unless you get into contesting, the reality is that you
will only operate on a couple of bands. Single band rigs can be many times
less expensive than the fancy rice boxes. Try to understand what sorts of
things sound interesting and look at satisfying only those needs if you are
on a budget.

Most importantly, though, find some local folks to chat with. This is where
a club can be handy. Even if a club is very focused on some particular
niche, there will be a few folks with other interests. Find out who they
are and knock some talk out of them.

...

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Old March 26th 07, 02:39 AM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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First recorded activity by RadioBanter: Mar 2007
Posts: 7
Default Rediscovering the hobby.

Steve Bonine writes:

Whatever else you do, renew your ticket. It's easy and free. When
you're 90 days away from expiration, visit the FCC web site and
request a renewal. Don't put it off thinking that you're going to
upgrade and then end up with no license at all.


This is definitely on the agenda, regardless of what happens. Only a
couple of more months and I'll be in the 90 day window Here's a
quick novice question for you: if I renew and have moved, will they
change my call or do I get to keep it?

Ham radio is really many hobbies rolled into one. The aspects that
interest me may not interest you, and that's just fine. I agree that
there's much more out there in the hobby than the local repeater, and
I think you're on the right track exploring the other aspects of ham
radio.


That's a good point. I'd never really considered the fact that it was
several different hobbies rolled into one before. This point, and
some of the other followups have convinced me to start looking a
little deeper into some of the various aspects.

Go to the library and spend a little time reading the ham-radio
magazines. I'm not suggesting that you read every article carefully,
but more that you use the magazine as a way to see what is happening
in the hobby these days and what aspects pique your interest. You
might think that trying to work DX using low power is interesting, or
digital modes might catch your eye.

There's a lot of current information on the hobby available via the
Internet. This Usenet group is an example; as you read what others
are interested in you may see things that sound intriguing. There are
many other web sites on various topics. Of course, you want to employ
the same filters that you would use for any topic that you're
researching on the Internet; there's some garbage out there too.


Duly noted. I'm associated with a university currently, and I haven't
checked out their periodicals for amateur radio stuff yet, actually,
so that's a great idea I hadn't thought of. Thanks!


As for low-budget equipment, one place to check is eBay. Usual
disclaimers apply, but there are some bargains there. (Just be sure
you're really getting a bargain; there are some ripoffs there, too.)
I recommend eHam for figuring out what all the model numbers really
mean; there's a valuable part of their site that you reach by clicking
on "Product Reviews" in the left navigation pane. There are other
sources for used equipment, including locals who have upgraded their
gear.

Is there a local club in your area? If they have license classes,
that's a possible way to beef up your technical knowledge and have a
good time. It's always more fun to learn in a group. However, be
aware that some of these classes are geared more towards reviewing the
specific questions in the exam pools than in actually learning the
theory behind the questions.

If you want to actually learn something useful, I'd suggest that
finding a knowledgeable local and putting a station on the air would
be a great way to accomplish that. Studying the formula for the
length of a dipole is one thing; getting out there and building the
antenna is an entirely different experience. This may be the best use
of that handheld -- if there's an active repeater that you can hit,
get on it and meet some of the locals. If you're lucky you'll find
someone who is willing to be your elmer.


Yeah, I'm a little leary of buying anything used or new at this point,
because I just don't know enough about all of the different modes and
facets of amateur radio. There were a couple of good elmer type
figures available to me when I first got my license, but though at my
last job there was an excellent elmer available, I've never spent good
quality time with somebody one on one getting to know things about all
the various different things that I can do.


Good luck, and welcome back. I hope you find a niche in the hobby
that interests you; that's what makes the difference between someone
who just has a ticket and someone who is actually active in the hobby.


Thanks so much for all your advice.
Paul, KC8IGJ

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Old March 26th 07, 03:11 AM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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First recorded activity by RadioBanter: Mar 2007
Posts: 7
Default Rediscovering the hobby.

"KH6HZ" writes:

I definitely 2nd the recommendation of the local club.

In fact, what you might want to do is visit a bunch of local clubs. Some
local clubs actually have "ham shacks" which you can operate out of. For
example, W1AQ in Rhodyland is one such club.

The nice thing about these types of organizations is you can get a feel for
what type of activities in ham radio interests you, without investing a
great deal of money in your own equipment, only to discover that aspect of
the hobby really isn't "for you". Think of it as a "try before you buy".

Plus, being able to operate out of the club shack gives you time to save up
for your own equipment, and not become discouraged over time because you're
not able to buy something of your own.


Thanks for the advice. Yeah, the nearby university where I live has a
club. Dues are cheap, and they have a shack with interesting equipment
in it. It's definitely on my list of things to check into.

And yes, by all means, renew your license. While your activity in ham radio
may come and go over time depending on other demands in life, your ham
license is always a 'free' ticket to enjoyment at some point, when you
decide to pick it up again. Follow Steve's lead and renew through the FCC
web site -- it doesn't cost you anything!


Yep, definitely planning on renewing. Thanks again for the tips!

Good luck!


  #9   Report Post  
Old March 26th 07, 03:51 AM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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First recorded activity by RadioBanter: Mar 2007
Posts: 7
Default Rediscovering the hobby.

"xpyttl" writes:

Amateur radio is an incredibly diverse hobby. The suggestion on reading up
is a good one, the suggestion on looking at clubs is a good one, but they
really won't give you a very complete view.

Most clubs have some area they gravitate toward. There are many areas of
amateur radio that aren't well served by local clubs, either because the
activity isn't amenable to the club model, or because a local area just
can't support enough amateurs interested in that particular niche.

Many amateurs on a budget are into QRP, and many QRPers are into building.
Now, don't get misled into thinking that building stuff is cheaper. Until
you have built up a good junk box, it tends to be more expensive. However,
the hours of enjoyment might well make it inexpensive on an hours of fun per
dollar basis. It won't be cheaper on a watts per dollar basis.


Yeah, a couple of months back I was looking into buying an HF rig to
see if I could have some fun with that, and most of the rigs in my
price range looked like they were QRP oriented. Though I _do_ have a
great assortment of computer parts lying around, I'm not sure many of
them would be useful in building my own rig

Some have suggested looking for a boatanchor. Personally, I don't enjoy
this, and like building, it isn't as cheap as it sounds. *BUT*, if you get
to thinking about buying used gear, go to ebay and study the "completed
auctions". While I feel a little uncomfortable about buying a used rig
sight unseen, the completed auctions section of eBay gives you a clue as to
what a particular rig is worth, and what affects its value. I should mention
that although I would rather put my hands on a rig before I buy it, I have
bought a few things on eBay and have never been burned. There are a few bad
actors out there, but generally hams are a likeable lot. Also, don't be
afraid to look at new rigs. Many decent used rigs sell for almost as much
as new. If there is a huge difference, there is probably a reason. Find
someone to talk to about the particular thing that interests you.


Honestly, since I have no idea what I'm really interested in still,
I'm way leary of buying used equipment, particularly over e-bay. I'm
just not sure what I want/need/will use. So I hear you on this one.
"Try before you buy" sounds mighty nice.

Many clubs are into public service. This is another area where you can get
a lot of fun for your buck. In this case, typically all you need is an HT.
Most clubs that do this are more than able to provide you with any necessary
training, and these activities can be a lot of fun.

Most amateurs feel that emergency response is part of their responsibility,
although most aren't willing to pay their dues. If you think emergency
response is part of your interest, you MUST find your local EC and get
involved with your local ARES or RACES group. In this day an age, you must
also pass some FEMA courses to be eligible. Hams who show up at a scene
with a rig and no training are part of the problem rather than the solution.


Due to family circumstances, time is kind of a scarce commodity right
now, too. However, ARES and RACES have sounded appealing to me in the
past. Thanks for the tip on the FEMA courses. I'll have to check
into those, as well.

Speaking of ARES, your statewide amateur organization needs leaders --
doesn't matter what state you are in. Volunteering your time to make
amateur radio better is one of the more enjoyable aspects of the hobby to
some, and is also one of the less expensive. Every section has dozens of
positions that need to be filled. They range from emcomm positions to
public information, to technical coordination to observer. Lots and lots to
be done.

Of course, there are plenty of operating only activities ... rag chewing,
DXing, contesting, etc. your Tech license gives you full access to the
space above 50 MHz, and there is a lot of territory there for
experimentation, if that is what floats your boat.

A lot of hams (at least here locally) thinking of moving beyond VHF seem to
feel they need a DC to daylight rig. This is certainly the high priced
spread. The rig can often be a minor problem; getting an antenna up in the
air that can do a decent job across a wide range of bands can be a bit of a
challenge, too. And unless you get into contesting, the reality is that you
will only operate on a couple of bands. Single band rigs can be many times
less expensive than the fancy rice boxes. Try to understand what sorts of
things sound interesting and look at satisfying only those needs if you are
on a budget.

Most importantly, though, find some local folks to chat with. This is where
a club can be handy. Even if a club is very focused on some particular
niche, there will be a few folks with other interests. Find out who they
are and knock some talk out of them.

..



Thanks for the tips.

-Paul, KC8IGJ

  #10   Report Post  
Old March 26th 07, 03:51 AM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
external usenet poster
 
First recorded activity by RadioBanter: Mar 2007
Posts: 7
Default Rediscovering the hobby.

"Bill Horne, W1AC" writes:

Paul,

Welcome back!

All hams are on a budget, although some have a _larger_ budget than
others ;-). Probably the best way to improve your technical skills
while building a station is to trade for or buy some older radio and
spend the time to get it on the air: there are many "boatanchor" rigs
available for reasonable money, provided you're not looking to start
with a KWM-2, and the experience and contacts you'll get in the
process will also help to get you up to speed.

First, join a local club and ask around about used rigs. Many hams
have equipment they used as novices still on a shelf, including
receivers such as Drake 2-A's or such, and although code may not be
your mode of choice, you can often add a modulator to a novice CW rig
and join the AM renaissance on 75 meters for very short money. If you
prefer SSB, there are many older rigs that can be had for reasonable
cost, especially from other club members, such as Swan 350's or
Heathkit HW-101's.


Code actually _is_ one of the things that interests me, believe it or
not. And, honestly, like most of the other responses I've gotten have
noted, buying an older rig would probably be the best route for me to
go, in terms of learning my way around again. Thanks for the tip on
Drake 2-A, I'll have to look into those.

Ebay is a good source for ideas, but I'd avoid it for purchases until
you're more familiar with the boatanchor world - parts availability,
rigs to avoid, etc.: for now, buy or trade with people you live next
to, and you'll do a lot better.

HTH.

Bill


Thanks again for the tips.



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