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Author Topic: Whats the point- No traffic and boring  (Read 13155 times)

Posts: 6755

« Reply #15 on: April 11, 2012, 08:51:19 AM »

Dave:  You're last couple posts are right on!  It looks like you do have a plan and that is to expand your horizons.  Totally admirable.  However, you're first post sounded like whining to me and I read quite a bit of than here on eHam in the various forums.  Especially the CW forum.  It seems that too many people are looking for a "magic bullet" for getting what they need when indeed there isn't any.

I too have "too many hobbies" and they kept me broke for decades.  Now I can no longer afford  much so I've settled down with ham radio because it is the one hobby that can provide endless hours of fun, with seemingly endless avenues. No other hobby can do the same.  IMHO.

Other than "good luck" I'd like to offer this.  Since you have a computer, please feel free to email me at will and I will do what I can to help you, rather it be encouragement or advice on a plan of action.  At one time we had a linkup with almost the whole state of WV on V/UHF.  I'm going to check and see if that system is still operational.  If it is, we can talk.  If not, the email will have to do. 

If you contact me via email I will supply a telephone number so that we can talk on the phone.  It costs me nothing to call country wide.


A Pessimist is Never Disappointed!

Posts: 546

« Reply #16 on: April 11, 2012, 09:49:43 AM »

I'm just curious as to where you were living when you got your ticket? 

Posts: 203

« Reply #17 on: April 11, 2012, 04:36:05 PM »

Dave: You have to ask yourself why you became a ham to begin with, and what you want from the hobby.
In many areas there is a decline in VHF/UHF activity. If you want to reach out to others on VHF/UHF, get an antenna as high as you can get it, and look for repeaters.
HF on the other hand has a lot of activity. You can listen to signals from other Amateurs from all over the world. There are plenty of good HF rigs that you can get used for under $500.

I was first licensed in 1994 as a no-code Tech. I came from the CB crowd, and I never look back. I had no elmer, no mentor. I had only my own interest in Radio. I read articles on the internet, on eham and on My main interest was building my own antennas and understanding radio wave propagation. I wanted HF badly so I started studying code. At that time the code requirement was 5 wpm, and that was soon to disappear, so I studied the code everyday. I wanted to get a "taste" of the code before the requirement was dropped.
I am not a "ragchew" guy. I listen much more than I transmit. Most of my contacts are very brief, and I collect QSL cards.

My point is that you have to determine what you want. Is ham radio for you? You are ready to thrown in the towel because you can't find someone to talk to? come on. Ham radio is so diverse, and is very rewarding. If ham radio is more work than play, then it isn't for you. To me, studying Amateur Radio IS play, everyday. I love the hobby.

Good luck,


Posts: 2243

« Reply #18 on: April 11, 2012, 08:22:00 PM »

My plan was to get a SW40 but they are out of production.  I will have to try to search for something else small and compact.

That's admirable Dave, but QRP can be daunting to
a newcomer as it takes a lot of patience. And, while
the SW40+ is a decent performer, the frequency coverage
is limited and it only puts out 2-3 watts, so you'd better
have a decent antenna. (Well tuned dipole hung well
off the ground, or a good wire vertical).

That being said, I can lend you my SW40+ if you seriously
want to take a run at it. (I'll have to scare up an enclosure
for it but that's no biggie). I finished it a couple weeks
ago and coincidentally have it setup in the section of the
40m band where you have CW privileges.

And don't feel you are alone with being put off by
the action on VHF/UHF FM, especially repeaters.

I used to work part time at a ham retail store for pocket
money. I can't tell you how many times I've sold a
2m or dual band HT to a new ham who "wanted to get his
feet wet and it was all he could afford" at the time. Many,
many times they either returned it and said "Ham Radio isn't for me",
or we never saw them again.

You can get an excellent used older 100w all band HF rig
like the Kenwood 430,440 or Yaesu 840 or Icom 735, 745
for $350 or $400. So start saving your nickels and dimes
and studying for the General Ticket. ANd of course you do
know you have HF phone (voice) privileges on 10m with
your current Tech ticket. Yes, there are some junk "10m Only"
rigs out there (i.e. RANGER!) and there are some good older
ones too, like the ones Radio Shack used to sell. It'svery
tempting for new Techs to get a 10m rig, but I would advise
saving that money towards a used all band HF rig.
But it's up to you....

And I don't see where K8AXW ever called you a "wannabe".
He said a couple things on his first post tht maybe you didn't
want to hear, but I read him as being VERY supportive.

Good luck in your quest.
Feel free to email me at any time with any questions.
I came up in this hobby 26 years ago, and never had an
"Elmer" or formal advisor. I just had a desire to learn,
and thought that  (and still do) that there is something "magic"
about radio. I still do. Smiley
73, Ken  AD6KA
« Last Edit: April 11, 2012, 08:25:11 PM by AD6KA » Logged

Posts: 442

« Reply #19 on: April 12, 2012, 03:42:22 AM »

How about becoming a leader and start your own club?  Surely you can find 4 or 5 folks at work or play that would be interested.  Start with just meeting once a month, no formal dues, no charter, no bylaws, just meet for a cup of coffee or dinner and talk about something you learned.  Make it a point to assign topics, they don't have to be fantastically complicated, just something to talk about.  Each person gets a topic, it might be as simple as how to test a fuse or what is a dipole antenna.  The key is that there is enthusiasm in numbers.  Get four or five people and pick a repeater and start talking.  Talk on the way to work and on the way home.  Check in a couple of times on weekends.  Have a short net each week (talk to the repeater trustee first).  Activity is what breeds interest.  Go to the park and try operating portable.  See if you can get a dipole up or try making a tape measure 2m yagi and try some foxhunting.  HF will expand the possibilities a great deal so get the General and then have fun.  I think you may be looking for the easy way in -- that is finding someone who is really excited about teaching you everything they know about radio.  Most hams will help those who help themselves but you have to make the effort.  Or go the other route and become the leader and teach yourself.  Once you get on HF it doesn't matter where you live.  A new friend is just a short skip away. There are so many resources out there that with a little effort you really don't need an elmer.  If you get stuck and have questions, you can get them answered here. The Internet is really a great resource and nobody should ever be lacking in getting questions answered.  Become a leader and get things going.  The hobby is fun but you can't look at it as an endless free supply of hand-holding.  Go out there and make it what you want it to be.  I enjoy learning by making mistakes and figuring out what I did wrong.  If you haven't blown up a couple of diodes and resistors you are missing a fun aspect of the hobby.
I would also agree that QRP is probably not the best place for a new person to start.  While it is cheap to get going, the frustration level can be very high.  If you want to get turned off to ham radio quickly, set down with a 3 watt rig that is stuck on one frequency and try to make contacts. 

Posts: 7

« Reply #20 on: April 12, 2012, 04:55:52 AM »

I have been tossing around the idea of getting a RockMite40, and adding a Texas Topper to get it up to 5W of transmitting power.  The idea was to use a EFHW antenna with an AA5TB coupler.  Any thoughts on that?

I appreciate it.


Dave, I think that would be an excellent combination.  I have a Yaesu FT-817, a home brew Buddipole, and a 7ah gel cell.  I have other antennas, a couple of tuners, and batteries to choose from  but the main combination is very effective for 20m and up.  It is kind of heavy.  Several of my friends swear by the Par End Fedz antennas.  The benefit of the end fed half wave, Buddipole, or other resonant antenna is of course that no tuner is needed.  One less thing to carry and hook up can be a big bonus. 

I have a friend who loves CW on 40m.  He uses a Red Hot 40 and a Par End Fedz with a smallish 3ah gel cell.  He can operate for days and it is very light.  I prefer 20m for a couple of reasons.  First, the antennas are much smaller.  Second, the propagation is usually on my side. 

Michael N4MJR

Posts: 7

« Reply #21 on: April 12, 2012, 05:17:23 AM »

I guess the weak-signal VHF/UHF guys aren't "real hams", because nothing fun happens up there.

I prefer HF too, but c'mon guys. Smiley

Exactly.  Just because I prefer HF QRP doesn't mean I'm more of a ham.  It just means that I prefer HF QRP.  And if someone is satisfied with they myriad of options available with a tech license why upgrade?  It isn't a stepping stone it is a Technician Class License and the license holder is every bit as much a ham as any other. It simply offers a specific set of privileges.  Yes, General and Extra require more knowledge and more testing.  In return someone gets more knowledge and more privileges. 

I have a friend that is an extra.  He only operates once a week on a local 2m repeater technical net.  The rest of the time he builds things.  It just means he prefers to build things.  Another guy only operates CW, another only digital, another only phone.  There are a lot of options but its all ham radio.

In a nutshell, character assassination based on license class or operating preference is WRONG and drives new hams away.  Period.

Michael N4MJR
« Last Edit: April 12, 2012, 05:24:19 AM by N4MJR » Logged

Posts: 6755

« Reply #22 on: April 12, 2012, 08:26:12 AM »

In a nutshell, character assassination based on license class or operating preference is WRONG and drives new hams away.  Period.

MJR:  I haven't seen any examples of "character assassination" on this thread yet.  Nor have I seen any examples of "character assassination" based on license class."  Several, including me, are simply citing examples of what to expect on V/UHF.  

I agree that a Tech license for some is all that is needed to satisfy their legal requirements  for V/UHF operation and or experimentation.  There isn't any reason for these to upgrade.  

However, they are few and far between and doesn't even enter into this discussion.  We're talking about new hams trying to get their feet wet in the hobby by starting out with an HT and confining their operation to V/UHF which in many cases is disastrous or in most cases is where they stay.  Say what you want but this isn't really ham radio!  In reality it's not much different than CB.

I have a friend that is an extra.  He only operates once a week on a local 2m repeater technical net.  The rest of the time he builds things.  It just means he prefers to build things.  Another guy only operates CW, another only digital, another only phone.  There are a lot of options but its all ham radio.

If this is a point, I don't understand it.  In this case this is the Extra's choice.  What we're discussing here is a new guy who is discouraged with his initial experience in ham radio.  It appears to me that most of us here are trying to offer suggestions and encouragement to Dave so he doesn't quit.  It's easy to quit in despair if you don't understand the game.

« Last Edit: April 12, 2012, 08:31:32 AM by K8AXW » Logged

A Pessimist is Never Disappointed!

Posts: 3541

« Reply #23 on: April 12, 2012, 10:25:46 AM »

Clannishness and a distrust of new people are traits common to just about all people in all societies. 

In 1959 when I was first licensed, I did have privileges on 2M "phone", but I had no access to equipment and didn't know enough about radio at that time to be able to grab some military surplus equipment and modify it.  So I used 40M and 15M CW and had a blast.  My first QSO was with a station in North Carolina, and at that time I was in Las Vegas NV, so right away my peer group was expanded by about 2800 miles.  I got the Worked all Continents award as a novice, and of course it was all CW because on HF, that was all we had.

I note that you're learning the code.  When you decide you're ready, get on the air and try it out.  I think you'll be pleased with the experience.  And upgrade to at least General.  There are a lot of other bands and modes than those you have as a Tech.

Ham radio is what YOU make it for yourself.


Posts: 129

« Reply #24 on: April 12, 2012, 10:48:23 AM »

If I find that I can enjoy the ham radio thing I plan to get my General.  Actually that was the plan in the beginning, but I wanted to see how it would be to try out local stuff on 6m/2m/ and 70cm.  However you know how that worked out.   So at this point like I said in my post above I think I will focus on learning CW and getting on 40meters and see how that goes.


My recommendation, free of cost and worth every penny of it, is to go for your General anyway. What do you have to lose other than a bit of time studying the question pool, and maybe $15 for the testing fee? You'd still have your Technician privileges but could explore a lot more options on the HF bands. You can still do CW. There are hams out there who will be happy to slow down a bit and help you with your code. And with a modest antenna you could get on 20 meters and, virtually for a few minutes at a time anyway, see the world. Maybe even get in touch with some of the folks back home in Alaska.

And if you decide ham radio still isn't for you after getting your General and playing some radio, just do a permanent QRT, sell your gear, and take up model railroading or something. But at least you will have given it a fair shake before deciding it isn't for you, and gotten more feedback than the admittedly frustrating situation you're in now.


Creede WA7KPK
Licensed for 43 years and still having fun playing radio

Posts: 9930

« Reply #25 on: April 12, 2012, 03:00:55 PM »

there are about a zillion things you can do in ham radio. You start with a 2 meter HT and talk on a local repeater, then you can get a small hand held beam ( like and arrow) and perhaps doe some satellite work, ( fm and not too tricky) and you can get on 10 meters and work SSB from 28.300 to 28. 500  .  you can work cw on 3 bands and have carte blanch on frequency's 6 meters and up. so you can use 1500 watts on 2 meters and bounce signals off the moon. there is a ton of stuff to do and  all you need is a radio, and a home brew antenna.  I would reccommend strongly that you do not start with qrp.  it is hard to make contacts on low power.  so I hope this gives you some ideas.   

An perhaps , ham radio is not for you.  not everyone  likes it.  but don't give up with out at least trying some of this stuff.  contact local hams.join a couple of clubs, go to other hams houses. 

Posts: 6755

« Reply #26 on: April 13, 2012, 05:36:18 PM »

I've only been at it a week, but it's pretty darned cool to be hearing the code and my fingers automatically hit the right keys

I'll be thinking..."How am I doing this?" And that's when I promptly lose 3 or 4 characters in a row, lol. But my completion percentages are going up, so I must be making progress somewhere

NEL:  You have no idea how much I enjoy reading reports like this!  There is a certain "magic" in listening to what most consider some kind of noise but you're able to hear letters, words and sentences. 

I've tried for a very long time to make guys here on eHam understand this "magic." 

While being able to talk to someone someplace else in the country or the world, using a microphone and your own gear is great fun, there is something special about being able to "talk" to someone somewhere in the country or the world with simple equipment, simple antennas and with a very weak signal using this "noise!" 

The "noise" becomes letters, words and sentences in your head and you know what this operator is saying.  When voice communication becomes common place, CW will always give you that special feeling no matter how many years you use it.

A Pessimist is Never Disappointed!

Posts: 884

« Reply #27 on: April 14, 2012, 06:18:56 PM »

Another thing you may want to try is Summits on The Air. A member of our club gave a presentation about it last week and it looks like it could be interesting. The idea is that you pick a mountain peak (200 ft above average elevation) and post on a web site that you will be on the mountain looking for contacts at X day and time, and operating on whatever bands you take with you. Given your proximity to Maryland and Virgina (the DC area is very active) you might be able to get some good contacts on VHF and 6 meters without a whole lot of effort (other than hiking in). Since you're publishing your schedule, there's a much higher likelihood of people listening for you.

And no one has mentioned satellites. While they aren't really open to rag chewing, working satellites can be quite a rush, and I'm sure there are people who would be happy to pick up a few West Virgina grid squares.

When I got into ham radio most people used the repeaters for the auto-patch and for the morning coffee clutch. These days the auto-patch is mostly gone and there's not much activity locally. But repeaters aren't all that exciting anymore either. There's so much more to do, even on VHF and locally. Something else you should check for if if there's any link networks that connect into the DC metro area... there used to be one in Pennsylvania back in the day, or an IRLP node.

Posts: 6755

« Reply #28 on: April 14, 2012, 09:24:24 PM »

Dave:  Today I worked GW100MGY near London on 20m CW commemorating the sinking of the Titanic 100 years ago!  (GW 100 years  MGY call sign of the Titanic)

I then worked GB100MWT in Chelmsford, England, another commemorative station on SSB.  Chelmsford is the home town of the Marconi Wireless factory.

Then later tonight I watched the old B&W movie, "A Night to Remember," which was one of the original Titanic movies.  To listen to the received signal from a spark transmitter and being able to copy it in my head was great fun!

Man, this is the greatest hobby in the world!!

A Pessimist is Never Disappointed!

Posts: 100


« Reply #29 on: April 15, 2012, 04:53:17 PM »

Around here VHF/UHF has really died off over the past 10 years. Years ago when the No Code license was introduced there was a lot of us who jumped on that. But a lot of those guys didn't bother to upgrade which involved learning code. Industry Canada finally "Grandfathered" anyone who had their No Code to allow them to operate HF when they eliminated the code testing. However by that time many of the newer hams had forgotten about the hobby and were long gone. Shame as they have missed out on a lot of fun.

After two years of operating on 2 meter FM, I learned code and it was the best thing I could have done at the time. I started out with full operating privileges on 80 and 160. I did not operate on 160 as I did not have the space for an antenna. But I loved 80, got my WAS SSB Endorsement, worked some DX and did a lot of rag chewing.

Then I upgraded to the next level which gave me all the bands to operate on and a whole new world opened up for me.

After awhile I sort of lost interest, but I always had my radios. I was working 10 hour shifts in an auto plant and had a young family.

 When I retired at the age of 51  Grin I became interested in the hobby again because I had a lot of spare time on my hands during the winter.

I started operating the digital modes in Sept. 2007 and had a blast. I still operate them today, mainly JT65 and have 1000's of contacts with the digital modes. I still enjoy a good SSB rag chew.

 During the winter I was NCS once a week on the ONTARS Net on 3.755. I did one hour a week from 7-8 AM on Thursday and I loved it. Kept in touch with many hams I had known for years and met a lot of guys and ladies I had not talked to.

So my recommendation is to upgrade to HF and get at it. The guy in Ohio won't know you were originally from Alaska until you tell him after he answers your CQ. Start operating the digital modes, PSK31, Olivia, JT65 etc and have some fun. You do not need big antennas to operate those modes. I do all of my operating on dipoles, a 40 meter loop and an old Antron 99 for 10 meters.

You are right, some hams can be stuck up snobs but over the years I have found that most hams are just easy going down to earth people who love to talk!

73, Rick VE3FMC
« Last Edit: April 15, 2012, 05:00:48 PM by VE3FMC » Logged
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