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Author Topic: is this ham?  (Read 3257 times)

Posts: 8

« on: October 19, 2004, 10:53:44 PM »

Last night I submitted the following post to the Elmers forum (  I received one response attacking me personally and questioning my portrayal of myself as an outdoorsman (with no radio related advice BTW) and 20+% of the other responses agreeing with this guy. Is this what ham radio is all about? I hope the elmers forum is just full of old grouches and not indicative of the hobby as a whole.

My post to the elmers' forum:
I am wondering if ham is for me. I am an outdoorsman that does not get to the outdoors as much as I'd like due to fear of something happening and not having a way to get help. I enjoy exploring the Ocala National forest which is not far outside the city of Ocala, yet lacks cell phone coverage in most areas. I have tried taking a handheld CB along, but rarely am able to pick anyone up or find conversation. Granted I am using a cheap handheld CB from Wal-Mart. I'd like to have something with a bit more range to increase my chances of reaching someone if in need. I am a pretty shy person and don't see myself really using the radio for rag chewing.

All that being said:
1) I am considering getting my ticket and buying a handheld radio like Kenwood's TH-F6A. Would that allow me to contact help from 10-30 miles in the woods outside the city?
2) Would I be better served investing in a decent handheld CB radio?
3) What should I consider when looking for an HT? Any recommendations? Band coverage, etc??
4) In the event of a hurricane, etc. where the repeaters may be down, what kind of simplex range can one expect from a radio like the Kenwood TH-F6A?

I checked out the "Now You're Talking" book from the local library and have been reading it. Lots of material that I did not expect to be covered for a radio license, but I am fairly confident I could pass the test with a bit of studying. The library copy is outdate (2nd edition), but I have ordered the newest copy from ARRL. [had acronym wrong in original post]

Bobby (aka Gilligan300)

Posts: 380


« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2004, 06:35:13 AM »

First of all Bobby, I'd like to extend my appology for all the BUTTHEADS... but you will find those in ANY hobby not just Amateur Radio... Try asking questions at an model R/C or railroad club  (IMHO they are worse!) but to answer your long post...

The best thing to do is this:

1. Study (look at) a Repeater MAP for the area. You should be able to find some type of COVERAGE MAP on the internet... if not, there are REPEATER ATLASes available that show coverage of area repeaters.  Look for one of the cicles from a repeater to encompass the area you are going to be "OUTDOORSing in"

2.  If #1 still yields no information that seems useful.. then "GET THEE TO A LOCAL HAM CLUB MEETING" or at least contact some one (LOCAL) via E-mail.  A local club should have it's own website, and if not usually E-mail addresses of officers is available through the ARRL's website, if you do a CLUB SEARCH there. They would be the best source of a useable answer to your question.

3.  In my opinion, (again) any handheld whose HI POWER setting (output) is less than 5 watts is pretty much useless (except for special use projects).  So if the handheld you mention is NOT capable of 5 watts power output... *** WITH A BATTERY PACK, not just connected to 13.8VDC**** select another radio.  

Hope this helps somewhat.

Posts: 14496

« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2004, 06:48:49 AM »

Actually you received a number of very good posts on the forum in response to your question. You just have to ignore the few negative responses. There seems to ba a lot more of that on the Internet than on the air for some reason.

Bob  AA4PB
Garrisonville, VA

Posts: 8

« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2004, 07:11:35 AM »

I'm going to bury the hatchet.  Gary's post caught me off guard and I let it get to me too much.  I do realize that this sort of thing is not limited to amateur radio.  

Posts: 21764

« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2004, 09:33:09 AM »

Replies both positive and encouraging, and negative and discouraging, are part of daily life.

I'm usually very encouraging of anyone wishing more information about ham radio or how to become licensed, but I always strongly *DISCOURAGE* anyone from shopping for equipment (including hand held transceivers) before they have their license in hand.

Why?  It's really a waste of time.

What can be done with ham radio is limitless and goes well beyond the scope of a 2m or multi-band VHF-UHF handheld transceiver.  With a good APRS setup, suitably equipped stations can "track" your location, and know your whereabouts all the time.  Using repeaters, and knowing exactly where they are and exactly how to use them, you'll find the entire Ocala area covered like a glove -- you don't need to rely on "simplex," it's silly to do that.  Repeaters are there for the common good, and your described application is a perfect fit.

If you have a good "remote base" cross-band VHF-UHF transceiver set up in your vehicle and go hiking from a fixed parking point, you can use a hand-held to "talk back" to your vehicular 2-way rig, which in turn can repeat your transmissions with more power so they can be heard farther, and vice-versa for receiving.

If you acquire a higher class license (General), you can use a battery-powered HF transceiver like an FT-817ND and make contacts, somewhere, 24 hours a day from virtually anywhere unless you fall down a deep mine shaft, until you run out of battery power.  (You can always pack spare batteries.)

The possibilities are limitless.  I would not restrict myself or anyone else to such a small shopping list as you proposed, but rather get the license, join a local ham radio club, meet people, get suggestions, and then start making decisions about suitable equipment.


Posts: 8

« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2004, 11:31:58 PM »

WB2WIK - Thanks for your reply.  Your poetic reply to my original post on the elmers forum was one of my favorites.  Creative and too the point!  

You make a very valid point about not shopping for equipment before being licensed.  I was not shopping as much as trying to get an idea if a rig that I could afford would do what I wanted.  I had not really set my mind to any one piece of equipment.

I have mixed feelings about amateur radio at the moment.  I had looked into it purely as an added safety feature while out in the woods, but the more I read "Now Your Talking", these forums and other stuff on the web, I am drawn to it.  I honestly thought last night would be my last time here, but here I am again.  I have never really been into electronics, radio, etc., but I have really enjoyed getting a better idea of how everyday electronics (that I have mostly taken for granted) work.


Posts: 17483

« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2004, 04:20:32 PM »

Bobby -

I also enjoyed Steve's poem - I don't often get
referenced in verse, especially on this site!

Unfortunatly it is true that there are all types of
people in this world, and ham radio has it's share of
oddballs.  (Some would say more than its share...)  But
as you also (finally) discovered there are also the
rest of the group who hopefully make up for it.

I'm glad to see that you haven't totally given up the
idea of ham radio, even if it may not be quite what
you were looking for in your specific application.  I
suggest you visit a local ham club and see what sort of
activities they have.  One big one is Field Day, an
annual emergency preparedness exercise in June that
involves setting up a temporary station (usually outdoors)
and operating it for 24 hours.  Of course, as on this
site, there are clubs of all types and pursuasions,
and some probably will be more enjoyable than others.
But by talking with some of the hams you meet you will
find out more about the different types of activities
that hams enjoy.

Meanwhile, I'll be glad to answer whatever questions I
can for you about my activities and experiences.

Good luck! - Dale WB6BYU

Posts: 176


« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2004, 02:09:53 PM »

Don't listen to those idiots.  There is no test or anything for being an outdoorsman, I think that you are one if you enjoy being outside or in the woods.  My favorite thing to do outside is cut wood, so I spend a good deal of time in the woods.

Posts: 3206


« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2004, 03:47:32 AM »

By the way, Ham is a Pork product.  An Amateur Radio Operator is also known as a Ham Radio Operator.  The former is edible and delicious.  The latter can be tough and hard to kill and cook.

Dennis / KG4RUL

Posts: 395

« Reply #9 on: November 28, 2004, 12:14:06 PM »

I'm members of whole bunch of internet forums.  For just about every topic I post, on virtually all technology/non-technology subject I get opinions from right, left, middle, up, and down.  Many of them are useful, many of them are not.

There are many who likes to throw curve ball and see if they can get a reaction out.  I guess they feel "safe" sitting behind the PC and they live out their fantacy of being revel.

Just ignore them, and pick the answer that you see credible.

By the way, if you want to see some flames, go to any automotive forum and ask about dyno oil and synthetic oil....  You'll never see the end of it.


Posts: 36

« Reply #10 on: November 28, 2004, 04:46:53 PM »

Gilligan300- I'm a hunter/outdoorsman that's about to get reinvolved in radio, not only as a hobby again, but for safety also.  I am well in range of several 2 meter repeaters here and CB is so heavily used, it's virtually unusable.  But, and only BUT, if I get in trouble, I know help's only a few minutes away and I like to have any advantage available.

Also, having been a licensed Paramedic in the past, I know minutes count, so whether it's me or someone else, I like to have that advantage.  GO FOR IT!  Bud

Posts: 61

« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2005, 07:51:22 PM »

  One thing that I have seen time and time again are
 people who come into the hobby and (EVERYONE is shy
 at first) and go on to make new friends. Next thing
 you know they are DXing on HF, go on to be leaders
 in their local Clubs, being Net Controls. Yes there
 are a few bad eggs in every basket but you would be
 surprised how even the hard core guys will warm up
 after a while. These are your fellow Hams you will
 be talking to,not strangers. After a while they will
 crowd around you to hear YOUR radio tales, the good
 and the bad. Suddenly you'll find your just not as
 shy as you think you are. Good Luck!..Get your code
 later they make some GREAT HF backpack rigs! Then
 the World and the Band is your coverage area...

Posts: 7

« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2005, 09:09:23 PM »

Hey Bobby, been there. I go to Ocala hunting and dirt bike riding. I generally bring a 2m HT with me (fair results) but in your case (an emergency) a satellite phone would do the job. Expensive? What is your life worth to you? Besides you can use it anywhere there is air to breathe. I'm glad you enjoy the outdoors. Best of luck to you in your adventures.

Dan (N1GXC)
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