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Author Topic: hello, all I'm new to this stuff  (Read 599 times)
FRANKM12
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Posts: 46




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« on: October 18, 2003, 01:13:35 AM »

Dear Forum,

I'm ready to buy some equipment soon and will be limited considerably.  Last year I bought an HT and it didn't do a thing for me.  I got rid of it.  I just passed the test a while back.

I'm in just about the worst situation for transmitting and receiving.  I'm in a holler down by the vast St. John's prarire in Florida.

My question is this:  If I get a mobile rig with 50 watts or so, will it work much better than the HT due to the increased wattage?  Do mobile antennaes have some groundwave characteristics that will allow me to transmitt and recieve better than the HT?

At this point I just want something that will work so I can get started and start ragchewing and worry about the rest later on.
Thanks in advance.
frank
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N8UZE
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Posts: 1524




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« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2003, 08:48:26 AM »

How far are you trying to communicate?  How much antenna are you going to put up?  Do you just want to chat via repeaters or operate simplex?  Are you interested in FM only or other modes?

Basically the most important piece of equipment is the antenna.  If you have a beam antenna that is 75 feet in the air, even a 5 watt HT can work impressive distances (50 or 60 miles).  If you just have a low antenna such as a vertical on your car roof, your distance, while better with 50 watts than an HT will not be particularly spectacular (maybe 20 miles if the receiving antenna is high enough).

If you want to work out beyond these ranges, you will need to get at least a General class license (or add code to your Technician) and operate HF.
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WB2WIK
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Posts: 20561




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« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2003, 11:50:27 AM »

I agree the antenna does all the work and is far more important than the equipment.

Having visited every county in Florida, there really aren't any bad locations in Florida!  The "holler" (hollow) locations aren't really any worse than anywhere else, since the highest spots in the entire state are barely high enough to keep from getting wet at high tide.

Put up a real antenna, and connect it to anything, and it will work fine.  Focus on the antenna, and getting it as high above ground as possible (in any case, higher than its surroundings in all directions -- this may take 30' - 40' - 50' -- who knows?), and fed with low-loss coaxial cable (not RG58/U or RG8X "mini-8" !!!), and you'll do very well.  Then, it won't matter much if you're running 5W or 50W.

WB2WIK/6
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FRANKM12
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Posts: 46




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« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2003, 12:47:10 AM »

WB2WIK,

Believe me, there's a tremendous difference in elevation where I'm at.  You don't see it very often here, you are correct about that.  What I have is a a 50 foot diifference or so between where I'm at and the gneral direction of the repeaters in the area.  If I aim towards KSC, I should be able to pick up something out there, but, as yet I don't know what's available there.
Thanks for the comments.
frank
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KD7KGX
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Posts: 92




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« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2003, 10:31:58 PM »

I live in pretty hilly terrain (Seattle metropolitan area).  

I have found that generally if 5 watts won't work a repeater within 20 miles, then 50 watts won't work it either.  The problem isn't caused by insufficient power... it's caused by obstructions between me and the repeater.  I have no problems working repeaters 10 miles away on half a watt with full quieting using an HT, and if you reduce the power output on your mobile to 10 or 15 watts it will last a lot longer, run a lot cooler, and generally work just as well for all practical purposes.  Using 50 watts comes in handy when I am in the back country and need to reach a repeater that is a LONG way away... but I generally operate my mobile at 5 watts and my HTs at 1/2 watt unless I can't get thru.

VHF/UHF terrestrial voice comms is mostly FM via repeaters.  Make or buy a decent antenna, get it up 20' and you should be able to work any repeater in your area very well indeed.

An observation: if you REALLY want to talk to other hams that you DON'T know, then you will quickly become bored with 2m (unless there's an IRLP/Echolink node nearby).  I find HF CW operating a LOT more fun, meet a LOT more interesting people from all over the world, and in general get a kick out of it.  HF digital mode ops, e.g., PSK31 or MFSK16, is a lot of fun, too.  You can spend $150, pick up a Wilderness SST or similar small CW QRP tranceiver, and work the entire United States using speaker wire for your antenna.

You'll have to pass the code test (not a big deal) and the General written test (not a big deal), but you'll have a lot more operating privileges.  VHF and above is enjoyable and useful, but generally limiting.  Earning your General will really open up the hobby for you.
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FRANKM12
Member

Posts: 46




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« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2003, 11:18:27 PM »

KD7KGX,

Thanks for the excellent info!  You answered many of my questions.  I appreciate it.  I understand that passing the 5WPM CW test allows one to use a certain range of HF, but I forgot which ones.  A friend I met here at AES in Orlando also told me to got for the 5WPM test ASAP as it will allow me to get out there better.  So, as everyone has stated emphatically, the wattage really doesn't mean all that much and most of this thing is in the antenna.  Well, I guess I will just have to try to make one and get a SWR meter as well.  Another disabled vet friend of mine has one he may sell me.  But, I think I have him persuaded to take the test as well, so he may want to keep it hahaha.

One more question:  Most mobiles will run at 5 watts, so if I run at this lower setting I shouldn't have to run more power, should I?  I really don't want to have to wire up for 30 amps or anything like that at this time.
Thanks in advance for the help.
73
KG4VLQ
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WB2WIK
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Posts: 20561




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« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2003, 04:34:52 PM »

Frank, keep up the good work, it sounds like you're on the right track.

I loved your comments about "a 50 foot hill" between you and the repeaters you want to work.  That was a good one!  I realize that in Florida that's a pretty big change in elevation, but in most places that's barely a dip in the road...

...here in the L.A. area, most of us consider ourselves very fortunate if we don't have to look directly into the side of a 10,000 foot mountain.  Many of us do.  The little bumps and dips in our average neighborhoods are 200-300 feet, often far more.

The way to combat these things, of course, is with effective antennas installed as high above ground as we can possibly get them.  My two meter antenna is at 62' above ground, and I wish it was far higher, but I have a small suburban lot and this is about as high as I can go without risking my tower someday falling in a neighbor's yard!

73 & good luck,

Steve WB2WIK/6

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FRANKM12
Member

Posts: 46




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« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2003, 11:44:35 PM »

Steve,
Thanks for the nice comments!  I'm trying to think about htis antenna situation before I make one.  I'm assuming that the waves are propagated outward in some kind of "bowl shaped" form so that the higher you get the antenna the further out the "bowl shaped" form will go.  From what I can gather it's geometrically better the higher you can get up there.  I'm going to have to decide on connectors as well.  I want to use as few types of connectors as neccesary, and keep with the most standardized ones available.  I want a flexible type coaxial cable, as flexible as there is.  Are there any "bad things" I need to know about hooking up an HT to an antenna?  Do Mobile rigs deal with being hooked up all the time better?  There's so much stuff to consider and I guess this is half the fun of all of it.

73
frank
KG4VLQ
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FRANKM12
Member

Posts: 46




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« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2003, 11:03:02 PM »

WB2WIK,

Well, I've got al lthe stuff to make the 1/2 vertical.  I bought 30 feet of EMT 1 inch with couplings and hose clamps.  All the connectors needed.  50 feet of coax (radio shack someone said it's bad) Pl259's etc.

I finally got my IC V8000 and I'm going to use it as a base station.  I don't intend to use it in my truck for right now.  I got the Samlex 1223 power supply based partially on reviews here.  A VANCO SWR meter.  As soon as I get it all together I should be able to get out there a little ways.

Today I had a QSO with a guy 55 miles away with my IC V8 HT with the rubber duck!  So you guys are probably right:  Where I'm at is not as bad as I previously thought.  There is an arguement for being out in the country, from what I can see now.  

Thanks all for your sage advice.  I have to take this building one step at a time due to physical limitations, but, I'm slowly getting there!  The EMT was cheaper than PVC would ever be.  I ran across the EMT rigid conduit ting on the web last nite.

73
frank
KG4VLQ
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