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Advice for Beginners

from Joe Lalumia, W1XWX on April 4, 2014
View comments about this article!

Advice for Beginners

Hello, and 73! I am Joe Lalumia W1XWX and I recently got my General ticket in 2012. If you are a newbie like me I want to encourage you to get your Technician’s license and then immediately go for your General license while you are still in the STUDY mode.

In my case, I got my General license about 3 month’s after passing the Technician’s test. As an incentive to succeed I stepped out there and purchased an all band HF radio and tuner right BEFORE I passed the Tech test as an incentive to get the General ticket! I had to look at the equipment all setup and ready to go for about 2 months (and kept thinking about the money I had spent!). I did listen a lot to the various bands and the knowledge I gained by setting up the station and the long wire antenna helped me pass the General test.This really was not much of a gamble, as I knew I could sell the equipment for almost as much as I paid for it if I decided NOT to pursue the amateur radio hobby. Good used equipment tends to hold it's value for a LONG time.

What I would like to do now is give you some advice for your upcoming ham radio “adventure”. I made a lot of mistakes along the way until finally after about 1 year the station was up to a good standard of operation.You can see a picture of the current station on the QRZ web page here: http://www.qrz.com/db/W1XWX

Do’s and other opinions:

1. Do buy good used equipment. You can get good used equipment from the classified section on QTH.COM, local hamfests, on Eham, and from other amateur radio operators that you know; especially from members of your radio club.

2. Do join a local radio club or two or three of them! I belong to 4 radio clubs. Why? First, I feel an obligation to help reimburse the club operating the repeater(s) that I use on a frequent basis. Also you will meet many experienced hams and get to know them. They will help you if you ask with just about anything related to the hobby.

Hams are a pretty vocal group when it comes to equipment reviews and operating techniques. You will hear many “opinions”, just remember that each experienced ham has probably already tried what you are doing right now. Use their experience as a guide with your station setup, equipment purchases, antenna selection, and operating procedures. The club membership fee is a very small price to pay for immediate access to EXPERIENCE.

3. Do think ahead! For example, you may be operating at 100 watts right now. But what if you decide to buy an amplifier somewhere down the road. Plan ahead and setup the station so you will be able to operate “full bore”. This requires a little bit of thought when selecting the antenna, feed lines, and antenna tuner. A legal limit antenna tuner is not much more expensive than one rated for 200-300 watts; especially if you are buying good used equipment.

Also put up the best coax you can afford. My personal opinion is nothing under 213 for HF and LMR 400 for VHF-UHF. That RG8 might be OK for 100 watts HF but what about 1000 watts HF? Usually the total cost difference might be no more .40 cents more per foot between RG58 or RG8 and RG213. (cheaper if you buy on-line from reputable sources.

4. Do plan out your station for easy comfortable operation. An example would be a desk microphone or suspended boom microphone and a foot-switch. Much more comfortable, no hands, station operation; also put the most used equipment like the antenna tuner and radio(s) where they are very accessible. A shelf over a desk can make your station bigger, to accommodate more equipment, without actually being WIDER- GO UP higher with your equipment.

5. Do buy patch cables of the same quality as the main feed lines. Do not use RG58 patch cables from Ebay or of unknown quality; use the same ones as the main feed line ( LMR400, or RG213) made by yourself or from the same source as your main coax lines; and use good connectors. I did not do this originally and now I am replacing all the patch cables with better quality lines. It would have been cheaper to have done this originally.

6. If you have the room, Do buy the best highly rated antenna(s). In my case after several attempts, I am now using a Comet GP 9, and a commercial end fed long wire called the QSO King. A good J pole or Diamond vertical will also work just fine on VHF-UHF if you are not far away from the repeaters you want to work. Good recommendations can be found on-line at eham.com or from your local radio club members.

The QSO King I use can be installed nearly invisible in restricted HOA areas. The wire has worked very well up to now and has permitted me to make contacts as far away as Russia and New Zealand using 100 watts during band openings. It is also rated for legal limit so I have continued to use it with my ALS 600 amplifier. Recently I completed WAS on both LOTW and on Eqsl, using just this almost invisible wire antenna.

I also purchased an Alpha Delta 4 band dipole DXCC, which I intend to put up later this year. I have not decided just yet as it would also make a good portable antenna using my tripod light stand-mast and two trees. Again buy good highly rated equipment and you will be a happy ham. The antenna is just as important as the radio you use and some would say more important. I must say that I have a preference for long wire antenna designs; however I am now completing the ham shack equipment by installing a tower and Mosley 33 tri-band beam. Again, buy good highly rated equipment and you will be happy.

7. Do share! with other hams. That’s right you remember your mother told you this! Share your knowledge, loan your equipment, and offer to help, other hams. You will be rewarded with multiple friends and remembered long after you have disappeared from planet Earth.

8. Do use the internet as a resource for knowledge. There are great videos about all aspects of the hobby on YouTube.com. Just search for “ham radio”. Also I can recommend all of the weekly Ham Nation videos on Youtube. Again just search for “ham nation” on Youtube. This is a weekly video podcast AND you can listen in and check-in LIVE on HF radio.

The forums at eHam.net are also a good knowledge resource along with the forums on qrz.com.

9. Do jump into the 21st century. Use your computer and get setup on qrz.com, and Eqsl.com. Learn how to use the ARRL log book of the world LOTW. All of the contacts you list there can be backed up to your personal logbook on your computer. I have heard some ham’s say that they don’t use them because the logs can be lost if they go out of business. This is just not true. A complete copy of your log can be stored locally on your computer and backed-up so you will always have a copy. I do answer real QSL cards with a return real QSL card that I designed on my computer and print out as needed. This is the proper thing to do with hams that have sent you a real card. However I have a binder with over 150 Eqsl cards ( 4 of which are real) in only the last 12 months of operating on HF. On a monthly basis I upload my log to LOTW. This keeps me current on the ARRL logbook. Easy to do!

10. Embrace new technologies, the digital modes, Dstar, Echolink, SAT communications, a Raspberry pi; if you are getting to be a "bored" ham radio operator branch out into new modes of communication. The hobby has many ways to communicate long distance and has already merged the radio with a computer. This usually appeals to the "geek" inside most everyone in the amateur radio hobby.

I hope this article has helped you in someway. Wishing you 73, and clear skies on your amateur radio journey.

Joe Lalumia
Vice President of Rockwall Radio Club, and Sabine Valley Radio Club
Member of the Dallas Amateur Radio Club, and the K5TIT Texas Interconnect Team

W1XWX

Quinlan, Texas

w1xwx@arrl.net

www.telescopeman.org
www.telescopeman.us
www.telescopeman.info

http://www.youtube.com/user/jlalumia/videos on youtube.com

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
Advice for Beginners  
by K9MHZ on April 4, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Standard boilerplate sage advice, nothing new here. Some will pick it apart, I'm sure. For me, I'm not so sure about your J Pole remark.

Glad to see you're motivated though....thee hobby needs more of this. Welcome.

 
Advice for Beginners  
by W8NYK on April 4, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Good job, Joe and all good general advice. Of course, you can learn a lot by building antennas and other equipment yourself (and it's a lot of fun too) instead of purchasing. Glad to hear you are having fun and learning. Great to have you as a new ham! 73, Joe.

Doug
W8NYK
 
Advice for Beginners  
by K9ZF on April 4, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Very good advice. Every ham has their opinions, and many will disagree with you on a few points. However, I see nothing "wrong" with what you have shared.

Thank you for taking time to share your experience with new hams. Not enough of us do that, these days.

I would add, particularly with new hams on a tight budget, learning to build your own antennas is the way to go. With a little study, and practice, you can build VHF/UHF antennas and HF wire antennas as good, or better, than any commercially available antenna for a fraction of the cost. Spend some time with the ARRL Handbook, the ARRL Antenna book, or anything by W1FB. Plus, it's really fun!!

Ham radio is a hobby that is teaming with "sub-hobbies"... Find your niche and have some fun!!

73
Dan

--
K9ZF
Amateur Radio Emergency Service, Clark County Indiana. EM78el
The once and future K9ZF /R no budget Rover
***QRP-l #1269
Check out the Rover Resource Page at:
<http://www.qsl.net/n9rla>
List Administrator for: InHam+grid-loc+ham-books
Ask me how to join the Indiana Ham Mailing list!
 
Advice for Beginners  
by NY7Q on April 4, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
As a newbie, DO NOT CHANGE TRADITIONS or the way we have done it for 100 years. BUILD SOMETHING ELECTRONIC
and become a great CW OPERATOR.
 
Advice for Beginners  
by K1CJS on April 4, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Yawn.....
 
RE: Advice for Beginners  
by K8QV on April 4, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Some commercial antennas are actually cheaper than buying the same high quality components and building it yourself. That alone shouldn't discourage anyone from building and designing their own.

Some used equipment is priced virtually the same as new. Beware, lots of hams fancy themselves to be shrewd horse traders and haul around the same decrepit junk to every hamfest. Buy from trusted sources and test everything before parting with your money. Remember, a rig that cost $900 new in 2005 is not still worth $900 today, even with inflation figured in. Do some research before making any decisions.

 
? ! ? ! ?  
by K0CBA on April 4, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
....."commercial end fed long wire" ???

Is it better than a 'homebrew' end fed long wire, cheaper perhaps or, easier to toss up into a tree??
 
RE: ? ! ? ! ?  
by K1PJR on April 4, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
....."commercial end fed long wire" ???

Is it better than a 'homebrew' end fed long wire, cheaper perhaps or, easier to toss up into a tree??

I have the same LW and is it better than a homebrew?...don't know. It cost about $70 for the UNUN and wire. I suppose you could save a few bucks by buying the parts and buiding your own. Anyway even if were the same as a homebrew what's the difference. I've buit some antennas and purchased others. Depends what mood I'm in. I have to agree that it works amazingly well. I'm a casusal operator and I've logged 60 entities in less than a year. It's a hobby. Have fun :)
 
Advice for Beginners  
by AE7UT on April 4, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Great job Joe.

I don't care if it's been done before or if someone thinks your way isn't the "right" way. As a new ham these kind of articles and info are fantastic. Just seeing another guys views on things and how they did it are helpful. Even if they go in a different direction (home brew) there is something to glean from your article.

73
Stan AE7UT
 
Advice for Beginners  
by WA7SGS on April 4, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Hey Joe, where you going with that gun, er, radio in your hand? LOL! You're off to eham and thanks for sharing what you are up to and how you did it! This was an enjoyable read.

73,

Rick
 
Advice for Beginners  
by W3TTT on April 4, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
buy patch cables of the same quality...
buy the best highly rated antenna(s)...
Do jump into the 21st century. Use your computer and get setup...
Embrace new technologies, the digital modes, Dstar, Echolink...
etc, etc.

--- or ---

Just enjoy the hobby as you like! Personally, I have the one rig, two wire antennas and a good ground. I don't really enjoy linking up Ham Radio with the Internet, because if I wanted to be on the Internet, I would get off of the radio! I do as much as I like, and no more...catch me on the air.
 
RE: Advice for Beginners  
by KA4KOE on April 4, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Keep one hand in your pocket when poking around HV.

Never work on equipment when you are tired.

Treat HV equipment with the same respect as you would a firearm.

Big capacitors are as dangerous, if not more so, than hand grenades. These bad boys can kill as well.

The Amateur's Code is also a good starting point for keeping it betwixt the lines.

PAN
 
RE: Advice for Beginners  
by KI5WW on April 4, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Well, soon as he said hello and 73 i signed. Aparently he wasnt finished. Ill go back and read.
 
RE: Advice for Beginners  
by KF4HR on April 4, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Joe you definitely jump in with both feet. Congrats. Hello and 73 back to ya.
 
RE: Advice for Beginners  
by KI5WW on April 4, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
K5TIT is an awesome call. Especially if you live in Texas.

Remember to allow ample time for Filt Caps to discharge. The first time i allowed about 3 seconds. The next time i went to lunch, came back took a nap, and approached them with rubber gloves and a 6 foot fiberglass pole. That stuff will knock a lung of its hinges, and cause wax to shoot out of your ears.

73
 
Advice for Beginners  
by KB4LGM on April 4, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Also remember, this is a hobby. Have fun with it. You will get out of the hobby what you put into it. This has been my philosophy for 30 years.
 
Advice for Beginners  
by W0DLR on April 4, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Joe, I too share your enthusiasm for ham radio after almost 50 years in the hobby. I have seen a lot of changes, some I agreed with and some I don't.

I would only take exception with your No. 2 Point about clubs. I wouldn't join a club if they were handing out gold code keys or microphones.

But, so be it, its a good hobby, one to grow old with, one that use to be a mystery of how it worked. Now thanks to the cellphone and computer there is not many people interested in the mystery of the past.
Dave W0DLR
 
Advice for Beginners  
by W5TTW on April 4, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I was a tech for two years before upgrading. I spent the majority of that time having a ball with all of the great CW privileges available to that ticket, as well as some phone on 10 and 6m. I never felt constrained because there was so much available to learn and enjoy. Sadly, it seems that most techs live on the repeaters, never utilizing the full capabilities of their ticket. While I admire the author's enthusiasm, I recommend that newbs consider taking the time to learn and use what they have to the fullest before moving on. Just my two cents. Either way, have fun.
 
Advice for Beginners  
by KB4QAA on April 4, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
More advice for Beginners:

Don't take advice like the above from somebody who has been a ham for less than 24 months!

-RG58 jumpers of short length are perfectly fine for anything below UHF or +500 watts.

-No reason you must BUY accessories like jumpers, antennas etc. You can save much money, learn in the process and you are unlikely to blow up anything.

-Ignore all the suggested antennas!

Oh, the humanity of such awful suggestions.....(nothing personal). Why didn't some truly experienced and educated ham proof read and edit this article?
 
RE: Advice for Beginners  
by KB4QAA on April 4, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Correction: DX Engineering antennas are excellent, and Diamond makes excellent verticals. Just take some of the other suggested antennas with a grain of salt.

-An end fed antenna is just about as poor as you can get for HF. If you are going to use one, lay lots of verticals. Put up a dipole is at all possible as a major improvement.

-While low loss coax is well, really low loss, using 1/2 coax for short jumpers in the shack are stiff and often bothersome to mess with unless you can easily get behind your desk. The losses in a couple feet of RG58 are truly insignificant in most cases.

b.
 
RE: Advice for Beginners  
by KB4QAA on April 4, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
-"...Lay Radials.."

-"..1/2inch coax is stiff..."

darn fingers...mutter, mutter...
 
Advice for Beginners  
by N8TI on April 4, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Looking at it from a total Newbie's point of view, I think this advice is good and you really cannot argue with any of it. Once someone has a few years of experience, however, they WILL develop different opinions regarding literally everything about ham radio.
 
Advice for Beginners?  
by AI2IA on April 4, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Why is the "newbie" always the other guy?

Why does the "newbie' always need help?

Isn't the best way the Army way? Learn by doing.
 
Advice for Beginners  
by WA0NDN on April 4, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Back in the days of old, we had an Elmer who insisted the best way to guarantee license advancement was to purchase a complete Collins S-Line (no longer made) He guaranteed that was the perfect way to learn the Morse Code (required back then) and if you didn't pass...he'd take ownership of the Collins S-Line you just purchased! Incentive, yes!! Fortunately for me, Morse Code came easy!
 
RE: Advice for Beginners  
by WO7R on April 4, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
>>> Looking at it from a total Newbie's point of view, I think this advice is good and you really cannot argue with any of it. Once someone has a few years of experience, however, they WILL develop different opinions regarding literally everything about ham radio.

Yes. I think the newbie point of "don't use cheap coax" is a good one for someone starting out. Sure, _technically_, a few feet or RG58 between the transmitter and whatever amplifier or manual switch won't matter much.

UNLESS it really is low quality, the connector is poor, or some such.

We all change our tastes as we gain experience, but too many hams cheap out and leave who knows how much signal in crappy wire, connectors, and other things that just so happen to have enough reactance to cancel out. Hey the SWR is good isn't it? Well, so is a dummy load.

And, what if it is crap and shows up as such? Discouraging for the newcomer. Instead of "getting out" they start in problem solving mode.

Early success is really important. Get on the air and work someone, anyone! That's key.

Saving money can wait until experience and study (the kind that comes _after_ licensure) enables one to cheap out intelligently.

If you're just putting up wire antennas anyway, it's hard to overspend very much, but the key is to _get out_ and make contacts.

Any newbie who reads the first post will not go far wrong. If they have a really excellent Elmer, they can do something else, but if they are largely on their own, the advise is very good for the newcomer. Start simple, start workable. Start.
 
RE: Advice for Beginners  
by N0IU on April 5, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
>>> I think this advice is good and you really cannot argue with any of it.

Wanna bet?

>>> 1. Do buy good used equipment.

Why would you want to buy bad used equipment?

>>> 6. If you have the room, Do buy the best highly rated antenna(s).

What's wrong with BUILDING (or if you read the last article) MAKING your own antennas?

>>> 9. Do jump into the 21st century. On a monthly basis I upload my log to LOTW. This keeps me current on the ARRL logbook. Easy to do!

Obviously you have not even made the leap into the 20th century since apparently you don't have an electronic logbook program that has a utility to upload to LoTW. There are several programs out there that that have this feature that allow you to just click on an entry and upload it to LoTW. It only takes a few seconds and I do this after EVERY contact (unless I am in a contest) which means my backlog is ZERO whereas your backlog is a month or more.

>>> 10. Embrace new technologies, the digital modes, Dstar, Echolink, SAT communications, a Raspberry pi; if you are getting to be a "bored" ham radio operator branch out into new modes of communication.

What's wrong with embracing "old" technologies? While I do use RTTY and a handful of other digital modes, I primarily still use CW and phone. I have been licensed for over 20 years and I am still not bored with amateur radio.

>>> You can see a picture of the current station on the QRZ web page here: http://www.qrz.com/db/W1XWX

>>> A legal limit antenna tuner is not much more expensive than one rated for 200-300 watts.

>>> Usually the total cost difference might be no more .40 cents more per foot between RG58 or RG8 and RG213.

It is very easy to spend other people's money! While that is a very impressive station you have there, what about giving advice to new operators who do not have the money to assemble a station with multiple radios and amplifiers?

>>> Hello, and 73! I am Joe Lalumia W1XWX and I recently got my General ticket in 2012.

But hey, what do I know? I have only had my General (and Extra) since 1995.


 
RE: Advice for Beginners  
by N4OI on April 5, 2014 Mail this to a friend!

Interestingly, no reference to CW. As a compromised attic antenna ham who is trying to work more occasional SSB, I am constantly reminded and amazed at how superior CW is to phone for DX QSOs and just plain fun! BTW, go ahead and get your Extra ticket straightaway; there is a lot of activity on those incentivized portions of the HF bands!

Just sayin' 73
 
Advice for Beginners  
by JOHNZ on April 5, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Rarely, if ever, do these "advise to new guys" articles ever mention using correct on-the-air terminology.

Avoid using the following:

73 zzzzzz
SWR zzzzzz
Home 20
Base Station
Flat side
First Personal
What "channel" is he on?
How much "swing"?
He "walked" on me.
My "two way."

etc etc etc

 
Advice for Beginners  
by KH6JRM on April 5, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for sharing your amateur radio experience. Your advice is good for those just beginning to enjoy the hobby. As you get more experience, some of your views and interests may change. That all comes with time. As for antennas, I've found great satisfaction in building my own wire antennas--from delta loops to vee beams...lots of fun and fairly cheap. Lately, I've rediscovered the joys of QRP and portable operations. Digital modes are also enjoyable. Welcome aboard.

Aloha, Russ Roberts, KH6JRM.
 
Advice for Beginners  
by K7LA on April 5, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for the article.

The regular pieces of advice I give new HF operators is

1. A simple to operate HF rig, especially used gear, will help you build your confidence on phone and cw. Digital capabilities also help. As your skills grow you'll want to upgrade the gear.

2. Jump into contests like state QSO parties and CQWW and WPX. The latter allows you to work a lot of stations with modest gear. The big guns need you in their logs.

3. Network with highly successful groups of operators. If you socialize with the local repeater shack-on-a-belt crowd that's all you'll know and will tire of the hobby just as quickly. Attend gatherings like the Visalia International DX Convention where the top DXers gather and you will be able to tap into decades of technical skills and operating techniques and work parts of the globe you never thought possible.

GL and 73.
 
RE: Advice for Beginners  
by K6CS on April 5, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Don't forget 6 meters...FUN FUN FUN!
 
Advice for Beginners  
by NF6M on April 5, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Mostly good advice.

My only thought to add would be that if you have the space and freedom to invest time and effort (not necessarily money) in improving your antennas this will often serve you better than investing in an amplifier, as you'll reap the rewards in better reception too.

You may stay on better terms with your neighbors too, as a better antenna will also help cut down on potential interference problems often associated with random end fed wire antennas.
 
RE: Advice for Beginners  
by W5TTW on April 5, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
JOHNZ on April 5, 2014 said: "Rarely, if ever, do these "advise to new guys" articles ever mention using correct on-the-air terminology."

JOHNZ, do these articles motivate you to get an amateur radio license?
 
RE: Advice for Beginners  
by K9MHZ on April 5, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
>>>>by JOHNZ on April 5, 2014 Avoid using the following:<<<<

Most definitely.

Also:

"we" for me
"our" for my
"the XYL" for my XYL

And THE most low-class, trailer park CB, ridiculous thing to ever say...."the personal here is....."


 
Advice for Beginners  
by NU1O on April 5, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
A new ham is not going to be able to tell if a used piece of equipment is junk or in good shape and there are many people out there selling used junk on the internet.

A new ham should buy new equipment. There is enough to learn about this hobby without having to worry whether one's radio is working properly or if the problem is simply a control not set to the proper level.

Most new hams are not going to have extra equipment to lend out so I don't understand that point.

I simply do not believe doing this hobby on the cheap is the right way for a new ham, and I think we should be honest with new hams and tell them that if they get serious about this hobby it becomes an expensive hobby in short order.
 
Advice for Beginners  
by N4DSP on April 6, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
One important thing which was not mentioned in the article by Joe is Learn the Code. Without code it's only citizens band radio.

john
 
RE: Advice for Beginners  
by K9MHZ on April 6, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Good advice, NU1O. I've seen new people really getting taken advantage of because they've listened to the "you can get on the air very inexpensively" hype in their Technician classes. Some of the junk that gets carted away from hamfests by new people makes for a sad sight.

Everything's relative, though. The initial outlays aren't that bad compared to just about any other hobby, maybe with the exception of whittling. The really good news is that after the initial coin-drop, the ongoing, fixed costs are almost zero, which is something you can't say about any other pastime.
 
RE: Advice for Beginners  
by N0IU on April 6, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
>>> ...after the initial coin-drop, the ongoing, fixed costs are almost zero, which is something you can't say about any other pastime.

Digital photography! Your initial investment would be a camera body, lens (or lenses) and probably some editing software. You no longer have the expense of film and developing cost. Of course you can spend as much money as you want on accessories, but the same is true for amateur radio.
 
Advice for Beginners  
by KC9UNL on April 6, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Great article. Glad to see your enthusiasm for the hobby. Some of us have had the same experiences and it is great to share them. After all, we can all learn from each other. When I started in 1968 there was no internet. Now, the internet makes so much information available and hopefully the new "hams" will be able to use it to learn.
 
Advice for Beginners  
by JOHNZ on April 6, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
IMHO, do not buy any used equipment seen at hamfests. This is not your grandfather's hobby four decades ago, when hams were honorable gentlemen. Hamfest boneyards are populated by the same pot-bellied beer swilling guys who haul the same junk from hamfest to hamfest, waiting for the naive new guy to pay top dollar for malfunctioning burned up junk. The seller gets on 75 meters later that night and brags in his intoxicated state how he fleeced some new comer. Worse yet, there's a guy in this area who is a heavy cannabis user, and all his junk used equipment is covered with cannabis residue. Caveat Emptor!
 
Advice for Beginners  
by N7KFD on April 6, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I think some people could win the lottery ans still find a reason to complain. Joe - thanks for taking the time to give others some advice on things you've already discovered. Some folks obviously appreciate it and I'm sure other newbies will also appreciate it.

Good luck in the hobby no matter what direction you decide to go. Hopefully we'll meet up on the air some day.

73,
Jim
N7KFD
 
RE: Advice for Beginners  
by AA4PB on April 6, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Its nice that JOHNZ has such a high opinion of his fellow ham radio operators. No wonder he doesn't use his call sign.
 
RE: Advice for Beginners  
by K9MHZ on April 6, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
"Digital photography..."


That's true. I wish Nikon would quite making these lenses so darn cool, though. Many trips to the camera store to drool over the 1.4s, because after all, these 2.8s are just 2.8.

Lenses are the antennas of ham radio....get good glass and everything else will fall into place.

 
Advice for Beginners  
by W2UIS on April 7, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Don't purchase the first radio you have enough money to buy, save for the radio you want.
 
Advice for Beginners  
by K8QV on April 7, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Get on the radio and off the computer. I wish I could take my own advice, but I'm now addicted to watching the train wreck. Save yourself.
 
RE: Advice for Beginners  
by W5TTW on April 7, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
by AA4PB on April 6, 2014 "Its nice that JOHNZ has such a high opinion of his fellow ham radio operators. No wonder he doesn't use his call sign."

The reason that people post without callsigns is because they don't have one.
 
RE: Advice for Beginners  
by K8QV on April 7, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Unfortunately, there is some truth to the observations of JOHNZ, callsign or not.
 
RE: Advice for Beginners  
by K9MHZ on April 7, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I think I'm with QV/JOHNZ on this one. There are some very bizarre people in this hobby, on display and in full color at hamfests. My teen son accompanied me to Dayton just once, and after seeing some of the clientele, he wanted nothing to do with the hobby.

Yes lots of good people, and that's what keeps me going, but unfortunately also lots of freaks. To deny it is just kidding yourself.

 
RE: Advice for Beginners  
by W5TTW on April 7, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Just because many are obese, unwashed and obsessive compulsive, DOESN'T mean they a "freaks." No, wait...
 
RE: Advice for Beginners  
by AA4PB on April 7, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I can't imagine why anyone would want to be in a hobby that is populated by dishonorable old drunk men who are lying in wait to take advantage of newcomers. My experience has been that most hams are honorable and willing to help out newcomers to the hobby. I think JOHNZ must be hanging out with the wrong crowd.
 
RE: Advice for Beginners  
by N4JTE on April 7, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I always enjoy the perspectives of new hams be they 78 or 8 years old. Thank you for your experiences and willingness to put an article on EHAM.
I have yet to see a response from a "new" ham but these articles are forever, hi.
Bob
 
RE: Advice for Beginners  
by K0BG on April 7, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I'm with Brad on the J-Pole comment.

While lots of people swear by them, even more swear at them! The truth is, a properly constructed 1/4 wave vertical will out perform one!

A J-Pole is an unbalanced antenna, with a balanced feed point, fed with a unbalance feed line. As a result, common mode is a common virtue. Whether common mode causes you any problems depends on the installation.

The ONLY reason they have become popular is their apparent ease of manufacture from a variety of materials.

 
RE: Advice for Beginners  
by K9MHZ on April 7, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
>>>>Just because many are obese, unwashed and obsessive compulsive, DOESN'T mean they a "freaks." No, wait...<<<<<

<G> Yeah, and what's been ironic to me over the years is that the most intelligent, talented, and helpful people tend to also be the most well-adjusted and a pleasure to know and to call friends.

The oddballs and misfits have nothing to offer, especially to new folks.

 
Advice for Beginners  
by KD0PBO on April 7, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
From a young ham's perspective, the advice is overall, good. I disagree with some of it, but I've got my own opinions and ways of doing things. For example, I do not do LOTW or eQSL and have stuck with running a paper log only. Why? Cause that's just how I choose to do it and I really have no interest in making everything "official" so I can get a plaque or certificate to prove I worked "such'n'such" stations. Being able to look back through my log and see what stations I've worked is joy enough for me. Though I don't really collect them per-say, I do send QSL cards back to stations that take the time to send them to me however, and will send one out to a station if they specifically ask for it (like if they are missing Missouri for their collection).

Like all other hobby's, you get out what you put in, and you can put in as much or as little money as you care to.

Just my $.02
 
RE: Advice for Beginners  
by NI3S on April 7, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Although I've been in and out of Ham radio since the Tech Plus days, I'm pretty much a new guy as I seldom do more than listen.

This is Ok advice, except for the antenna part. For beginners, a dipole on a band or two will open to door to HF, and one can be built for nearly nothing.

That said, here is what many new people hear:

1) The tests are too easy, anyone can get a license.
- True, but this compromise was made to keep the hobby from dying. New people earned a license according to the current standards, period.

2) Anyone that didn't learn code isn't really a Ham.
- CW is one skill in this hobby. While it is very efficient, it's also very archaic. Learn it or don't. Just like digi modes or satellites, it's another mode of amateur radio.

3) New guys are all idiots on the air.
- Yep, make proper operating as popular a topic as who has the snazziest station. Advise and correct with the same tact you were afforded 300 years ago when you were first licensed.

4) You need a $5000 station to enjoy the hobby.
- Horse manure. Although steering new Techs away from buying a handheld as their first radio would be a good habit. At least buy a mobile rig that will someday be a great asset to a shack. Used HF rigs are out there if you avoid the E-scam site and wholesale places. Even $300 30 year old radios can get a new person working HF. Get help if you need it.

5) You need to earn your 'Worked-all-universe' ASAP.
- Do what you would like in the hobby, contest, become a great builder (or is it maker), or just ragchew at random and without purpose. Just be courteous and polite.

The good people of this chaotic obsession need ensure we welcome the new people. An open mind and encouragement are many times lost and this can be disheartening to rookies. In return, the new folks need to respect the history, and hopefully embrace it. Both sides need to adhere to the long tradition of camaraderie, technical innovation, and courtesy.

 
RE: Advice for Beginners  
by JOHNZ on April 8, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
@NI3S
Ref your #1 and #2:

Stupiding down the ham exams was neither a compromise or an effort to keep the hobby from dying. Government regulators were willing to listen to the ham community, and the American Radio Rip-off League had the biggest megaphone. Decreasing numbers of hams translated to less income for the League. To increase their income, the exams were dumbed down to produce numbers, which translated to increased income for the League. The result was gross loss of quality in the amateur community, but the league was unconcerned, as long as the new dumber hams were pumping money into league coffers.

Morse is archaic? In what way? The strictest definition of archaic would mean obsolete. Morse is NOT obsolete. It continues to be employed on a worldwide basis by many countries, including the United States. Just because hams are not required to pass Morse exams any longer does not mean Morse is archaic. Think outside the narrow world of ham radio, before making such a sweeping statement.
 
RE: Advice for Beginners  
by KY3F on April 9, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Ok, you have your license and you are a beginner.
Here's a little piece of advice that may not be of value right now, but might someday.

Never let your license expire.

Your situation in life may change, forcing you to quit Ham radio for the moment, or decades, but you can always go back if you keep your license current.
 
RE: Advice for Beginners  
by W9WQA on April 10, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
"Never let your license expire"!!! when you get it,,,keep it

i would never want to TRY to do it again!!
i dont keep up with all the stuff it took to get in since my focus is building,messing around, ragchew.
i sometimes need to look at the freq charts!!
 
Advice for Beginners  
by KK7COX on April 11, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Glad to see the write-up. Glad to see the remarks too though some folks seem to have strong enough opinions that perhaps they should write up their own article? ;)

I agree with the j-pole bit especially in the context of a newbie starting off with perhaps just a UHF and/or VHF HT. I got my Tech just over a month ago but have only made one contact (on a repeater :O ) so far. It was with a Baofeng UV-5R set to low power and a commercially built roll-up 'SlimJim' J-Pole. Other than getting a little closer to the mic the audio report was good. This was on a repeater about 34 miles away and I was inside my house with a roll up J-Pole hanging from a hook in my ceiling.

I'm sure I'm doing something wrong but I'm ok with that. :D
 
RE: Advice for Beginners  
by W7WQ on April 12, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Hello and 73? Hmmmmm
 
Advice for Beginners  
by KC9ZGR on April 19, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Thank you for sharing your thoughts here! I just wanted to chime in about getting one's General License while still in "study" mode...excellent advice!
 
Advice for Beginners  
by K3CFC on April 19, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I built this works just fine oops a j-pole of sorts.
http://nt1k.com/blog/2011/open-stub-j-pole-project-completed-many-times/

I built both of these works like a charm.
http://www.earchi.org/proj_homebrew.html
Look up David Tadlock on you tube and enjoy the hobby.
 
Advice for Beginners  
by DL1MEV on April 28, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Before buying high-grade radiostuff (used or new) it is more important to get a place suitable for ham-radio. It is no good idea buying a house in an area with antenna- restrictions when alternatives exist. Appartments are also critical in this aspect.

Sure there are tradeoffs to be accepted (commuting distance to work, etc.).

It is defintely worth to save the money to get a home suitable for ham-radio first instead of spending the money for gimmicks. For the first time, when antenna restrictions exist, stay with simple portable (qrp-)equipment. Operating this way is less frustrating, than having high-grade rigs without adequate antennas.
 
Advice for Beginners  
by N3MIR on May 9, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Al very good ideas one thing I found being a Ham over 20 plus years build stuff yourself coax cables, antennas , hey if you like HF maybe get a boat anchor AM rig and mod it for hi fi. You can also help build repeater RF gear for the local club.You may even surprise yourself at what you can do I did good luck Dave
 
Advice for Beginners  
by W3DCB on May 11, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Nice station...Good advice! Welcome to the hobby! We need folks like you! de W3DCB Daniel...
 
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