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  1. #1
    Expert Dorky_D's Avatar

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    HAM Radio for the ignorant...

    Hey, I am interested in getting started in HAM. I do not know the first thing. I know that the Baofeng's are some good and cheap radios. I know there is a test to take to be certified. Beyond that I am pretty stinking ignorant.

    I do not want to jump in and get all super geeky and stuff. I mainly want to be able to communicate with a group that is fairly close and possibly within 30 miles or less with a Beofeng UV-5R (or variant). Is that possible?

    I would also like to be able to know what is going on in the world if there is a huge disaster (possibly with larger antenna at home).

    Can anyone point me to a site geared to getting the uneducated started. I am not super interested in getting super deep, though I realize I may need to if I have to.
    Contact your elected officials. It takes a few seconds.

  2. #2
    Master spencer rifle's Avatar

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    Sailor here on INGO will be along shortly with a quality answer.
    Rights are only as secure as the ability to wield sufficient force to defend them. - J. Neil Schulman

    “There's nothing wrong with the country a bad recession couldn't fix.” - Irving Kristol

    "He's not a tame lion..."

    1 Samuel 13:19

    Psalm 149:6

  3. #3

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    ^^ that...

  4. #4
    Grandmaster LockStocksAndBarrel's Avatar

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    God bless America!

    Practicing traditional carry.

    Originally Posted by
    eric001YUP! It's the difference between using purple and being purple...

  5. #5
    Sharpshooter Hogwylde's Avatar

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    Unfortunately, there is no "easy" way to get into ham without getting somewhat geeky. There is a test you have to take to get a basic Tech class license. This requires basic electronics knowledge and memorization of the rules for the class. You can check the ARRL website for info. That little Baofeng will probably let you hit the nearest repeater if it's within a few miles.....and that will let you reach out to everyone in the area. BUT, if the repeater is taken out.....that little radio isn't going to do much more than receive whomever hasn't been wacked by a disaster.

    If you want a little more reliability and range, a radio designed for mobile (automobile) use will have more power AND be able to be run off of a 12 volt marine battery. A nice magnetic mount antenna or a base station antenna will also let you get out and touch someone. Those little HTs (handheld transceiver) just don't have the power to get out more than 2-3 miles.
    Last edited by Hogwylde; 04-21-2015 at 19:23.
    "Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet."

  6. #6
    Grandmaster CathyInBlue's Avatar

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    ^^^ THIS ^^^

    There are three classes of ham radio license in America right now. Technician, General, and Extra. Get a copy of a Tech class license exam prep manual published by the ARRL and dig in. If that seems too "geeky" for you, you definitely won't want to explore General or Extra territory.
    I failed the Voight-Kampff test.

  7. #7

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    There are a couple of online sites that feature Amateur practice tests... Home - Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) Community Site and Both utilize the current FCC question pools for Tech, General and Extra. I passed my tech and general by just going through the practice tests several times. Extra was a different story, but not difficult with study. Good luck, it's a great hobby.

  8. #8
    Expert Dorky_D's Avatar

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    I know I will need to get a little geeky with it. I am just not wanting to get sucked in too much. I have enough of those hobbies. Thanks for the above and any continued input. For the record, I do not consider 'geeky' a derogatory term. As a former band geek and a data geek full time, I am OK calling myself a geek.
    Contact your elected officials. It takes a few seconds.

  9. #9
    Expert Dorky_D's Avatar

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    If I can ask a relevant but different question too, I would appreciate it. I see the stuff out there to program the radios. Why is this? What is there to program? Is it pre-set channels and stuff? What does it do and why do you need it?
    Contact your elected officials. It takes a few seconds.

  10. #10

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    If you know anything about electronics, the Technician license is easy. Just brush up on the FCC rules and you have it. General and Extra used to require code (i.e. Morse Code) but they dropped that a while back. So you just have to pass more advanced electronics questions.

    If you don't know anything about it, there are good study materials and you just need to memorize some stuff. It's not all that hard even for the non-technical. The main difference between the different license classes is what you can do and where in the frequencies you can do it. Extra class HAMs have the most options. But if you're interest is in handheld/repeater operations (i.e "rag chewing") then the Tech license will get you on the air.

    Just a warning, you can buy a Baofeng without a license but DO NOT press the transmit button. You can listen all you want but operating without a license is serious business. The FCC can and does levy serious fines for people who operate illegally. And it's not that difficult to track down illegal transmitters. In fact some HAMs actually have "hidden transmitter hunts" as an operating exercise.

    I hope that didn't discourage you. HAM radio can be a lot of fun. I've been an Amateur Extra for 20 years or so. Yes, I did pass the code test but have never operated CW. Just not my thing. I've done the most with PSK31 on low-power (i.e under 1 Watt) on 20m.

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