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Author Topic: Can someone help a newbie?  (Read 596 times)

Posts: 14

« on: June 29, 2004, 01:47:45 PM »

I passed my Basic test last week and can't wait to get both my license and my VX-150. Problem is that there are very few resources I am able to find to help me with figuring all this stuff out. A club is listed in my area, but this club has not existed for several years. I'm looking for a website to help with some of the more basic terms, such as elmer, HT, packet, how to use a repeater etc. Can someone suggest a site like this?

Thanks very much!


Posts: 437

« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2004, 02:33:23 PM »

Try  It has links to a lot of the topics you may have questions about.  Or, just send me an e-mail at and I will try to answer your questions or at least point you in the right direction.  I hope this helps.

Posts: 696


« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2004, 02:52:25 PM »

Welcome aboard!!

Here's a headstart:
elmer = a seasoned ham radio operator or mentor that enjoys helping and educating new hams.
HT = Handy-Talkie, shortcut name for handheld transciver or walkie-talkie.
packet = one form of digital communications over the air - computer-radio-airwaves-radio-computer.

Repeaters operate using two frequencies.  They receive on one frequency, and re-tranmit what they receive on a different frequency.  The difference between the transmit and receive frequency is called the "split".  Most VHF/UHF ground-based repeaters use FM.  You would set your transciever to transmit on the repeater's "input" frequency, and to receive on the repeater's "output" frequency.  The idea is that as long as you can reach the repeater, anyone within reception range of the repeater can hear you - usually a range much greater than your transceiver.

For 2-meter repeaters, the "standard" split is 600kHz, although you might run across some that use a non-standard split.  You'll see the term "positive" or "negative" offset.  This refers to where the input frequency is compared to the output frequency of the repeater.

In congested areas, repeaters may use a tone-encode system.  This is called a CTCSS (continuous tone coded squelch system).  It is also refered to as a PL (Motorola coined term for the same thing, they called it Private Line).  The idea is that the repeater will only receive and re-transmit your signal if you are also sending the appropriate PL tone.  Most all modern VHF/UHF transceivers have this capability built in.  There are a few dozen tone frequencies to chose from, and the repeater will only respond to one of them.  Not all repeaters use/require a PL.

Putting this all together...  There are several resources (online and in print) to obtain repeater frequencies for your area.  Once you locate one, you'll usually see the following information:
147.225 + 151.4
This means that the repeater transmits on 147.225MHz (set your receiver to this), and its receive frequency is "up" using the standard 600kHz offset for 2m, so it receives on 147.825MHz (set your transmitter to this).  It also requires a CTCSS or PL tone of 151.4Hz.

As with all things radio, it is a good idea to spend enough time listening to different people on the air to get a good feel for acceptable operating practices.

There are some really good, informative, basic books available to get you started.  One that used to be sold (maybe still is) at Radio Shack was called "Now You're Talking", a good introductory book.  The ARRL ( has several Operating Guide and tutorial style books - many of which you can pick up cheap on eBay.

As always, you can ask questions of the elmers here!

My YouTube channel...
...ham radio, basic electronics tutorials, etc.

Posts: 5

« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2004, 03:37:34 PM »

Lots of good comments on a new book just out called "Ham Radio for Dummies". I plan to purchase a copy. Also, the VX-150 is a good radio.  Yaesu has a new radio out that looks just like the VX-150(same case I think) that is a dual band radio.

Posts: 14

« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2004, 05:03:21 PM »

TKS for the answers guys! Another one for you:

How far can I actually reach with the VX-150? I know in a straight line, using no repeater it would be a few KM, using a erpeater would be more than that, but could I call long distance, say several hundred KM, by linking repeaters or something?

Posts: 60

« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2004, 06:57:29 PM »

I enjoyed the paperback book called "all about ham radio" its a HighText Publication. Mine was printed in 93 but I bet you can find a copy out there. The author is Harry Helms AA6FW.
It might be a bit dated now, but starts at the basics, and covers many/most of the topics you are looking for. Its a very easy to read book. Recomended!

Hope to make a QSO someday, I enjoy ham radio, bet you will too.

Posts: 52


« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2004, 08:11:22 PM »

Even though I have been in the communications business for 35 years and was a ham off and on a couple of times since age 11, I was totally confused by a simple HT last weekend.  I started out a complete VHF newbie not knowing how to hit any repeaters, and ended up not only able to cruise the repeaters, but to get on the satellite SO-50 with my own HT (+ a borrowed dualband yagi) and listen to V/U QSOs between Alaska and Hawaii through the bird.  It was all so easy with the right Elmer -- and so confusing without.

In my case it was Dan O'Barr, KL7DR who helped me along and made my field day a busy one even though I didn't have my new call yet.  I really hope you can find a similar Elmer at your QTH.  Some types of help are just better in person.

73 es gud luck!

Posts: 917

« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2004, 09:03:11 PM »

Welcome to the hobby.  For most of us, having someone or a club close by was a great assistance when getting started.  Sorry you don't have that advantage.

I strongly recommend that you join the ARRL.  You will receive QST magazine plus gain access to the members-only parts of their website  There you can get lots of info about bands, clubs, back issues of QST, technical reviews of equiment from their archives, etc.  At your library you might find some ARRL publications (Handbook, various antenna books, etc).  I have heard that the "for Dummies" book is well done.  And lacking anyone close by, you might strike up an email connection with a helpful ham (via these posts and others) with whom you can ask numerous questions, big and small.

Ham radio might seem somewhat overwelming in the earliest moments, but in not too long a time you won't feel so lost.    Best of luck.  John.

Posts: 1368

« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2004, 09:29:39 PM »

K0IZ wrote:
>I strongly recommend that you join the ARRL.

He might get more out of RAC.

Posts: 17353

« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2004, 03:51:03 PM »

How far can  you talk?

At 5 watts and a reasonable outside antenna I can hit
repeaters 100km away.  And occasionally someone will
check into our repeater from 400 km away.. but they
work at a fire lookout on top of a mountian!  Your
actual range will vary depending on the terrain:  the
higher the antenna at each end, the further you can

I know of  linked repeater systems in the SW and NW
USA that cover hundreds of km, and in some cases over
1000km.  And, with IRLP (Internet Radio Linking
Protocol) you can link your local repeater with one
in Hawaii, Australia, or many other locations around
the world.
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