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Author Topic: Assessment of Location Before Studying for General Exam  (Read 3220 times)
KE5TGG
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« on: October 20, 2010, 08:47:31 PM »

I guess my question is on the same order as someone who lives in an apartment and wonders if he could ever find a way to transmit on HF if he's not allowed to put up a big antenna.

I live in a small house in a typical neighborhood with houses on each side of me and across the street, too. The only room in my house that I could set up a radio faces the back yard (facing west) where there are two large trees right up close and blocking the line of sight. There is a small open area beyond those trees going out to the rest of the back yard, maybe about 75' X 100'. But city codes won't allow a high antenna to be erected on such a small lot in the middle of a neighborhood. We do have a UHF/VHF TV antenna standing next to the south side of the house going up to a height of probably no more than about 12' - 14'.

My question is --- in my situation, is it even worth the effort of getting the General license in hopes of transmitting on HF from where I live?
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AC5UP
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« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2010, 09:00:11 PM »

Are you going to live there for the rest of your life?

If not, consider upgrading before you have a place where you can do the HF thing. That way when the time comes you're good to go and your buds on the local repeater won't think of you as lacking ambition or incapable of memorizing Ohm's Law.

Even the local CB'ers will think you're really, really smart. Which isn't saying much, but it is better than perpetual techishness...  Grin

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KC6ZZT
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« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2010, 09:07:08 PM »

Absolutely! Go for the upgrade now!

a. As mentioned, you probably won't live there forever.

b. So many many hams live with less than "ideal" super-duper tower conditions. Stealth antennas, attic antennas, indoor antennas, portable antennas, mobile antennas, wires into the trees, mag loops, etc. Get the license now.

c. Get to a local club. Talk to the others. Not everyone has or even wants a tower. Once you make contacts at a club, some local elmer can potentially come over and offer plenty of suggestions.

d. Do some reseach online. Mr Google is your friend. Plenty of stealth and non-tower antennas. Take out your ARRL Antenna Handbook, and other books, and start plotting.

Don't talk yourself out of your future by today's  perceived hindrances.

73 and I'll see you on the HF bands,
Joe KC6ZZT.
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K2OWK
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« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2010, 09:17:26 PM »

Hello, I would say you should have no problems with antenna location or height. There are so many different types of antennas available for all situations that may arise. There are antennas that can be used in an attic. Antennas that can be mounted on the ground that go up just a few feet. Check the MFJ catalog for all the types of antennas that would work in your location. Remember an antenna does not have to be 100 feet high or very large to make contacts all over the world, I use a 10 meter inverted "V" dipole on my wood deck it is only 10 feet high and when the band is open I can work just about anyone I can hear. It is definitely Worth it to get that license. The fun of Ham radio is experimenting. Try different antennas and different frequency's, you will not be disappointed. I have been a Ham operator on and off for more then 50 years. I have lived in many places and never had a problem findind an antenna that would worked. Hope this helps. Also check the many antenna books for all the types of antennas that would work in your situation. I am sure you will find many. Good luck on your exam, and I hope to hear you on the air soon.

73s
K2OWK
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KE5TGG
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« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2010, 09:18:18 PM »

Sorry, guys... I'm a bit of an old timer (62) and will most likely be in this old house (I grew up in it) for the rest of my days. Of course, if I did ever move, I would try to find a place that was much more conducive to meeting my transmitting needs. I'm also on a low budget so I would have to get any equipment one piece at a time. Kind of painted myself into a corner, huh?
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AC5UP
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« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2010, 09:20:54 PM »

...you coulda' been a contendah!
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KE5TGG
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« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2010, 09:23:06 PM »

I can't thank you guys enough not only for the invaluable info. but also for your very encouraging spirit. Thanks to you guys, now I definitely WILL study for that General License exam!
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K6JEA
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« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2010, 09:50:47 PM »

Do it. I am 62 and just passed my General a week ago. Only using a wire antenna due to lot issues. I have made a bunch of contacts already and have had some great QSO's and worked some DX. Even received a couple of QSO cards. If you have 75' x100' to work with you will have no problem putting up a wire that will work.

Hope to hear you on the air soon.

Jim
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KJ4FUU
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« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2010, 05:31:01 AM »

I have a small lot. There are no covenants, but Fairfax County does have regulations about towers, having to do with where they would fall if they keeled over. When I put up another antenna, it will likely be a ground-mounted multiband vertical.

However, for the time being, I have a random wire connected through an MFJ feed-through panel out my 2nd story window (the ground wire goes through the panel, too). It runs from the back porch roof diagonally down to my wood fence, which is 6 feet tall, but at the top of the hill. The wire then runs the length of the wood fence.

I run QRP. I've made *VOICE* contacts to several countries. I think my farthest contact is Serbia. A lot of these are just signal report and call sign exchanges, but I've had QSOs with Spain, Florida, and Minnesota, to name a few. Your options are even better if you know Morse Code.

So, yes, definitely upgrade to General. Don't stop there, upgrade to Extra.

-- Tom
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KB3HG
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Posts: 404




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« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2010, 06:19:09 AM »

Chris,
You have 13 ARRL Cubs within 25 miles of your zip code. you could connect with several local Elmers to help you set up something.  A simple wire dipoles can get you on the air. Very low cost and effective. Many work all states and more on a wire.

Tom
Kb3hg
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NR4C
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« Reply #10 on: October 21, 2010, 06:21:32 AM »

Go for it.  I was 59 when I got my Tech, and General.  I live in a small, old neighborhood in town with not much of a yard.  I have a loop antenna strung through the trees with about 300 foot of wire.  It's all but invisible, except when it snows, and you can this line of white powder hanging between some trees on the front of the house.  But, it works.  I've never had so much fun as ham radio.  I spend more time on HF then VHF.

...bc  Williamsburg, VA
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N7NBB
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« Reply #11 on: October 21, 2010, 06:44:44 AM »

If you have an interest in Amateur Radio, then by all means "GO FOR IT". Don't let the NAYSAYERS and PURISTS tell you you can't.  ANY... repeat ANY antenna is better than NO antenna, and it will work to some degree... and give you enjoyment.  My first antenna was a wire dipole about 40 feet long and only 14 feet off the ground, and I have many confirmed contacts on several bands with several continents. Granted it won't be the "BEST", but it will be YOURS ! Heck even shopping carts, lawn chairs, and clothes lines have been successfully used.  A minimal antenna will be more dependent on propagation conditions than the antenna that is optimally cut, tuned, and erected to dizzying heights, but again I say. ANY antenna is better than none.  The other option would be to put your efforts into an HF MOBILE station.  Then, you could just DRIVE to an area where surroundings are more conducive to getting your signal out.
NEVER, NEVER give up on your goal (dream). Good luck with your studies, hope to work you some day. 
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N3OX
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« Reply #12 on: October 21, 2010, 06:59:49 AM »

The only room in my house that I could set up a radio faces the back yard (facing west) where there are two large trees right up close and blocking the line of sight.

Sounds perfect to me.  Even if you need a strictly invisible antenna, you could be good to go.... vertical wire into the trees, some radials on the ground below.

Quote
There is a small open area beyond those trees going out to the rest of the back yard, maybe about 75' X 100'. But city codes won't allow a high antenna to be erected on such a small lot in the middle of a neighborhood.

Do you know that for a fact?  I'm sure you can't get a permit for a 200 foot tower but there are lots of options, and it may be that many are allowed without any sort of formal permission. 

It looks to me from Google Street View like you live in kind of a normal  neighborhood that's not a brand new subdivision or something.  I would guess that people would mind their own darn business about what you put in your backyard within reason, and city codes would have little or nothing to do with it.  So something like a 25 foot high multiband trap vertical (Hustler 6BTV type of thing) in the backyard somewhere would go pretty much un-noticed and un-challenged.  None of my neighbors have complained about my backyard:  http://n3ox.net/pictures/backyard_lg.jpg though a few have asked what I'm doing with the antennas, just out of curiosity.

And 75x100 feet?  I wish I had that much space Grin  My backyard is about 50x50.  I've had a sixty foot vertical in the middle of it for several years now.  The thing is, it's a HUGE antenna for the backyard but it just doesn't take up much "visual space."

http://n3ox.net/projects/sixtyvert/overview_lg.jpg

The city is aware of it now, but I didn't really discuss it with them because it's not even really a permanent structure, just a quick-up fiberglass pole.   Maybe you've got some laws that actually limit the height of amateur radio antennas but even then you can stick wires in your trees.  My backyard doesn't have any trees to speak of... if I lived next door to myself, I wouldn't need a 60 foot vertical pole, I'd just string a wire into the big tree there Grin

Anyway, good luck on your General and there are plenty of antennas you can put up.  I bet you can put up ordinary antennas in your backyard without anyone complaining... just make them neat and well installed.  And if you really want to go "full stealth," wires in the trees will be very nearly invisible.  I doubt you'll need to do that though. 



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73,
Dan
http://www.n3ox.net

Monkey/silicon cyborg, beeping at rocks since 1995.
WA3SKN
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Posts: 5441




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« Reply #13 on: October 21, 2010, 07:39:34 AM »

Assuming you are interested in HF SSB operations, getting your general makes sense... In fact, I recommend going for the extra class!  Your biggest problem is budget, not antenna.  For cheap HF communications, consider CW.  There are plenty of kits out at a good price, and you already have privledges on 80, 40, 15, and 10 meters.  For SSB, check out your local clubs.  They will know of used eqpt that becomes available... usually at a good price.
But do go for the general license... it IS worth it!
73s.

-Mike.
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KE5TGG
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« Reply #14 on: October 21, 2010, 11:42:27 AM »

Many, many thanks to all of you guys for all of the ideas, information, and encouragment you've given me. I appreciate it more than I can say. I'll have to admit that studying for and passing the Gen. lic. exam seems daunting to me, but I'm going for it. In fact, my ARRL Gen. Lic. study book came just last night, so I've got my work cut out for me.

Again... many thanks to each and every one of you, and please don't hesitate to give me any more advice that comes to mind.

Is there a place anywhere on the forum where people can tell when and how they first came to love ham radio? I love to tell my own story about that. Also, just curious, did any of you guys see the movie, Frequency, with Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel?

God bless.

73,

Chris Fry
Fort Worth, TX
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