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Hammer Time!

Discussion in 'Survival Communications' started by TheJackBull, Sep 29, 2015.

  1. TheJackBull

    TheJackBull Monkey+

    To start let me say that the idea of communicating with people from all over the country has been of increasing interest to me.
    I understand that there will be a certain level of expense in having the ability to do this and that is okay with me. I am one of those types that (within reason) likes to have the best possible equipment. If it turns out that I absolutely love Ham radio I don't want to constantly be upgrading or repairing parts. If it turns out that I cant stand it or unforeseen circumstances require me to cut the cord I like to be able to have good resale value. anyway....

    I do not have a license yet. I assume there is a fair bit of knowledge I will need to soak up before testing. Looking for pointers on books to read or vids to watch to help me more fully understand the concept and history of HAM.

    I also assume that someone out here in the Monkey tree has already been through the Hard Knocks Academy and is willing to impart some knowledge concerning where to start. ie mobile unit, home base, radio shack and so on. Remember my goal is long range comms. Maybe some links to products with reviews that are made by reliable manufactures.
    And some do or do not's.

    I am reading through the MonkeyNet White Paper from one of the sticky threads here and I can already tell I have a lot to learn and look forward to it.

    I welcome any comments,concerns or criticisms about my HAM adventure as that is one way I can learn.

    thank you
    Marck and DarkLight like this.
  2. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    I learned what I needed to pass the tech level (entry level) test from a free app for a smart phone. It is a ham radio study guide, that I am currently using to study for the next level. It is available for free at the play store.
    As to gear, I will let the pros guide you there, as I know very little about it.
    TheJackBull, KAS and DarkLight like this.
  3. DarkLight

    DarkLight I self identify as a Blackhawk Attack Helicopter! Site Supporter

    @TheJackBull - While you mention long-range comms, I would suggest that you don't dismiss short range.

    Yes, there are a lot of us with some experience in the long-range as well as studying for mutliple tests. There are at least 3 of us with our Extra licenses. A number of monkeys have their General and were able to pass both their Technician (First level) and General (Second level) in a single sitting.

    School of hard knocks suggestions:
    What kind of antenna can you erect? How big of an antenna can you deploy? Depending on where you are you might have some restrictions on size and height. HOAs are kind of murder on HAM radio antennas.

    Are you opposed to used equipment? If you don't have to have brand new shiny, take a look for used either through your local club (and I would suggest joining the local club) or on qrz.com.

    Where are you located (don't answer, but be aware) and how far are you looking to talk? Latitude can and usually is more affected by solar events and the bands can end up being "closed" due to atmospheric disturbances. Additionally, different bands are better for different distances.

    @kellory gave you a great suggestion for studying. I personally used the official ARRL study guides for all three of my tests but also paid for a General and Extra test simulator (iPhone) so I could practice my tests when/where ever. One other thing to keep in mind is that the test questions are updated every 4 years (on a rotating schedule). The current pool update schedule is:
    TECHNICIAN Class (Element 2) Pool is effective July 1, 2014 and is valid until June 30, 2018.
    GENERAL Class (Element 3) Pool is effective July 1, 2015 and is valid until June 30, 2019.
    EXTRA Class (Element 4) Pool is effective July 1, 2012 and is valid until June 30, 2016.

    Morse is no longer required (but my club actually offers the Element 1 test if you really want it).

    ALL of the questions (with correct answers) are available at ARRL.org (Question Pools) as well as here on the monkey in the resource section. I'll try to add links later.
    TheJackBull likes this.
  4. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    I also understand, that there is a stealth Antenna available inside a flagpole, if you have restrictions. Most places will allow for a flagpole. Expect to pay for it though, I don't think they are cheap.
    TheJackBull likes this.
  5. DarkLight

    DarkLight I self identify as a Blackhawk Attack Helicopter! Site Supporter

    Ganado and kellory like this.
  6. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

  7. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey++

    If you get your Technician ticket you should look into the short range stuff first, especially if you don't want to commit to a big financial outlay. HF gear can get pricey real fast.

    For 70 CM and 2 Meter, you can begin with a Cheap Charlie Baofeng UV 82 or UV 5R handhelds among others. There are some low end mobiles available too. Most local clubs have open repeaters to extend your range a bit. In my locale there are so many repeaters that most are seldom used. This applies to GMRS repeaters as well, but that's a slightly different ball game.

    Most HAMS are quite helpful, and are preppers at least to some degree. HAM radio was almost built around the need for emergency civilian communications and experimentation so the shoe kind of fits.
    TheJackBull likes this.
  8. TheJackBull

    TheJackBull Monkey+

    Thank you, I'll be looking into all of these links. I do not have a smart phone so the apps are out. I dont have any restrictions for antenna. I am not opposed to used equipment so long as it is a quality brand.
    I dont know maybe in the radio world a cheap radio is as good as the next top dollar one?

    I'm in the Northern Utah area if any one knows about the local clubs here.
    Ganado likes this.
  9. WA4STO

    WA4STO Digital Communications Monkey

    I take the whole "from all over the country" thing an SHTF step further.

    I have developed a cadre of well over 300 people at this point, from all over the world. Most are here in the States, but there's a couple dozen in the U.K. and EU.

    I have come to trust these people to answer my questions reliably. I have done that by sending them inquiries on a regular basis, on a number of topics, to see how they reply.

    None of the above is particularly noteworthy. Hams do it all the time, I would assume.

    But for the newcomer, there are a few things that might strike a chord or two.

    First, I don't use Morse, voice, or any of the other easy-to-intercept modes. I use 'digital' modes (we have a bunch of them; I use Winmor and Pactor). That way, my test messages don't worry people needlessly. For example, I have sent out 240 messages today with the following:
    10385 South Willow Creek Drive
    Oak Creek WI 53154


    Obvious, nosey neighbors (rival BOLs / gangs?) would go all ballistic if they could easily decipher this.

    Second: I use tiny amounts of power. Keeps the neighbors as well as the local gestapo from getting all uppity. The reason that low power works is because I use an on-the-air network that scans for my puny signals, allows me to connect, accept my messages, and then transmits them to their ultimate destinations.

    If any of this is of interest, post a reply right here and I'll walk you through the process. And if you have specific questions, I'm always delighted to answer them.


    Luck, WA4STO
    Stuck in the cornfields of Wilber Nebraska
    hitchcock4, techsar and kellory like this.
  10. whynot

    whynot Monkey++

    Northern Utah, fire up your Google fu and look for info on the inter mountain inertie. I have about $125 invested so far in a baofeng, a cheap mobile antenna, 2 books and test fees and can get to most of the inter mountain west. No it is not HF but it was cheap and let me get my feet wet. Well worth the minimal investment.

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