• If you enjoy the forum please consider supporting it by signing up for a NES Membership  The benefits pay for the membership many times over.

questions from an inquiring prospective ham operator

greencobra

NES Member
Rating - 100%
28   0   0
Joined
Jul 2, 2011
Messages
21,421
Likes
16,110
can't help but be intrigued with ham radio lurking here in this portion of nes. some serious questions, please. explain what exactly you all do with your radios besides waiting for a national disaster? do you really talk to people around the world? i have seen people get excited cause they had a signal ping back to them from somewhere or they just put up a better antenna. i've been seriously considering joining your ranks, taking the technicians test and buying and setting up the equipment. but bloody hell, that can be a steep investment to listen to pinging sonar blips.

talk to me, what do you all really do? do you talk to each other over the air? i gather there are social groups, right? are new people welcome or tolerated. there's a difference. what would one expect to pay for a basic set up...study classes for the ratings tests, entry level equipment, etc. at start up would one really need an extremely tall mast? i'm feeling around for anything that would really want me to make the investment and join you folks. thanks guys. oh, is there a nes group (besides this one here) out on the airwaves?
 

Uzi2

NES Member
Rating - 100%
6   0   0
Joined
Sep 5, 2017
Messages
7,821
Likes
11,790
You will need at least a general class license to get on the lower portions of the HF bands.
Depending on which band you operate in and band openings, you can work DX to many parts of the world.

You could start off as a " shortwave listener" and listen to the 20m and 40m band during the day then 80m and 160m during the night. Buy yourself an inexpensive receiver and put up a multiband dipole with a common feed point as high as you can get it and just listen to see if you even want to get involved.

Some frequencies are extreme retard magnets with idiots playing music, recordings of other hams, making noises, etc. Others are a bunch of old men talking about their medical ailments or the weather.

The few and far between frequencies where people just talk normally like sitting at a bar are just that.....few and far between.....and they are plagued by malicious interference from morons who cannot hold an educated conversation on any subject.

I highly suggest you listen a while before you jump in head first and spend a bunch of money and time.

Any terms I've used in the above text that you don't understand, look them up......it's part of your learning curve.
 

UJay

NES Member
Rating - 100%
3   0   0
Joined
Mar 28, 2017
Messages
528
Likes
1,065
Location
Right here
Hello G.C.-
To answer your question;
Yesterday the 6 Meter band (50 Mhz) was 'open' to all of the country and some South and Central America. I successfully worked another state (WA) towards the 'Worked All States' award for the 6 Meter band. I have another 8 states to go to complete that. This was done with a relatively new 'Digital Mode' called FT8.
It did not look open today.
What is cool about this, is that you can do this with the entry level tech license, a decent radio that interfaces with a PC and a pretty basic antenna.

For HF, there is the Worked All states award and another called DXCC where you would need to confirm the 2-way contact to more than 100 different countries.

Every weekend there are radio contests that are interesting and you can choose to participate for 5 minutes intermittently through the weekend or 48 hours straight..... There is increased activity through the contests.

There are 'hamfests' similar to gun shows... smell and hygiene similar, but get a chance to talk to the folks that you may have talked to on 'local' radio nets... etc...

There are weekly 'net's or meetings on the air for weather spotting etc.... If you have a local radio club, they sometimes sponsor a VHF repeater that you may be able to get on with the cheap handheld radios- that you have likely see one of the numerous threads on NES about.

The above does not even scratch the surface, though.

What I usually suggest is... Get in the technical studying mode and go through all of the license classes for your Amateur Extra.... then worry about what you can do with it ... in other words... focus on the tests, go through all 3 and you won't be distracted by the fun stuff yet. You will never need to do it again-
 

edmorseiii

Navy Veteran
NES Member
Rating - 100%
18   0   0
Joined
Mar 25, 2008
Messages
20,651
Likes
15,062
Location
NH
can't help but be intrigued with ham radio lurking here in this portion of nes. some serious questions, please. explain what exactly you all do with your radios besides waiting for a national disaster? do you really talk to people around the world? i have seen people get excited cause they had a signal ping back to them from somewhere or they just put up a better antenna. i've been seriously considering joining your ranks, taking the technicians test and buying and setting up the equipment. but bloody hell, that can be a steep investment to listen to pinging sonar blips.

talk to me, what do you all really do? do you talk to each other over the air? i gather there are social groups, right? are new people welcome or tolerated. there's a difference. what would one expect to pay for a basic set up...study classes for the ratings tests, entry level equipment, etc. at start up would one really need an extremely tall mast? i'm feeling around for anything that would really want me to make the investment and join you folks. thanks guys. oh, is there a nes group (besides this one here) out on the airwaves?

There used to be a NES net that @Martlet (I think) ran, but I don't think he comes around much anymore. I'd tune in and chat one a local net.

 

Len-2A Training

Instructor
Instructor
NES Life Member
NES Member
Rating - 98.6%
71   1   0
Joined
Feb 26, 2005
Messages
53,437
Likes
12,510
Location
90% in NH
There used to be a NES net that @Martlet (I think) ran, but I don't think he comes around much anymore. I'd tune in and chat one a local net.

He hasn't been on in 3 months. I still haven't figured out how to setup an antenna from where I want my rigs. Most likely I have to go thru the wall (not thrilled about that). I brought my ID-5100A up to my NH home and just programmed it for the NH area. Too much static to keep it on for more than a few minutes. Seems to be an atmosphere situation as my HTs lately show the same problem in both MA and NH.
 

JRT

NES Member
Rating - 100%
8   0   0
Joined
Sep 13, 2013
Messages
2,571
Likes
2,961
Location
Philadelphia, PA
You will need at least a general class license to get on the lower portions of the HF bands.
Depending on which band you operate in and band openings, you can work DX to many parts of the world.

You could start off as a " shortwave listener" and listen to the 20m and 40m band during the day then 80m and 160m during the night. Buy yourself an inexpensive receiver and put up a multiband dipole with a common feed point as high as you can get it and just listen to see if you even want to get involved.

Some frequencies are extreme retard magnets with idiots playing music, recordings of other hams, making noises, etc. Others are a bunch of old men talking about their medical ailments or the weather.

The few and far between frequencies where people just talk normally like sitting at a bar are just that.....few and far between.....and they are plagued by malicious interference from morons who cannot hold an educated conversation on any subject.

I highly suggest you listen a while before you jump in head first and spend a bunch of money and time.

Any terms I've used in the above text that you don't understand, look them up......it's part of your learning curve.

This was all I needed to hear, I come across enough retard in life on the daily. I don’t need to bring extra retard into my life.
 

Uzi2

NES Member
Rating - 100%
6   0   0
Joined
Sep 5, 2017
Messages
7,821
Likes
11,790
This was all I needed to hear, I come across enough retard in life on the daily. I don’t need to bring extra retard into my life.

Don't let that discourage you from getting at least a technician clas license to operate on the VHF and UHF bands. There is coast to coast coverage of existing repeaters that can come in handy. Jamming on uhf and vhf is encountered much less than on HF.
My main beef with the HF bands is the number of malicious unidentified stations that interfere with others and the FCC does absolutely nothing about them. Stations in Indiana, Tennessee, PA. and a recent number of Canadian stations jamming on the 40 and 80m bands, playing music for hours on end.
 

Uzi2

NES Member
Rating - 100%
6   0   0
Joined
Sep 5, 2017
Messages
7,821
Likes
11,790
why? what purpose does it serve other than being an ass hole?

It serves no constructive purpose. They do it because they are cowards who hide behind the anonymity of their microphone. If they acted in public the way they do on the air, someone would knock their teeth down their throat.
 

JRT

NES Member
Rating - 100%
8   0   0
Joined
Sep 13, 2013
Messages
2,571
Likes
2,961
Location
Philadelphia, PA
It serves no constructive purpose. They do it because they are cowards who hide behind the anonymity of their microphone. If they acted in public the way they do on the air, someone would knock their teeth down their throat.

This is probably a dumb question but since a user is licensed do you know who is being an a**h***.
 

UJay

NES Member
Rating - 100%
3   0   0
Joined
Mar 28, 2017
Messages
528
Likes
1,065
Location
Right here
They would have to identify... we call them LIDs. but... F them. no reason to even think about them here-- precisely the reason to avoid that if you hear it.
 
Rating - 98.5%
66   1   0
Joined
Jan 4, 2009
Messages
5,045
Likes
1,083
can't help but be intrigued with ham radio lurking here in this portion of nes. some serious questions, please. explain what exactly you all do with your radios besides waiting for a national disaster? do you really talk to people around the world? i have seen people get excited cause they had a signal ping back to them from somewhere or they just put up a better antenna. i've been seriously considering joining your ranks, taking the technicians test and buying and setting up the equipment. but bloody hell, that can be a steep investment to listen to pinging sonar blips.

talk to me, what do you all really do? do you talk to each other over the air? i gather there are social groups, right? are new people welcome or tolerated. there's a difference. what would one expect to pay for a basic set up...study classes for the ratings tests, entry level equipment, etc. at start up would one really need an extremely tall mast? i'm feeling around for anything that would really want me to make the investment and join you folks. thanks guys. oh, is there a nes group (besides this one here) out on the airwaves?

Im pretty new at this myself and dont have any experience with HF (yet) but Ham radio is no different than any other hobby:

You have guys that eat sleep and breathe the hobby

You have the guys that just buy gear and never use it as a hobby

You have guys that only have a hobby so they can be "better" than somebody else

No, you dont have to have a 200ft antenna at your house. You can get on the air as a technician an talk on local repeaters pretty easy and for not a lot of money. There are digital modes that allow you to talk to people all over the world by using the internet and a gateway. There are tons of big and small ways to get into HF, many of them in which im struggling with right now, all based on what you want radio to do for you.

Julian is one of my favorite, but he is waaaayyy more extreme than I want to go (many arent interested in this type of radio stuff as he primarily does low wattage digital communication)

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxpbuB-C3dg
 

Len-2A Training

Instructor
Instructor
NES Life Member
NES Member
Rating - 98.6%
71   1   0
Joined
Feb 26, 2005
Messages
53,437
Likes
12,510
Location
90% in NH
I only have VHF/UHF capability currently. My HF rig is "in the box" until I'm able to get a proper antenna and grounding system installed.

From my limited perspective (remember - VHF/UHF only):

- In MA: There are a few "coffee clatches" daily with the same group of guys. I find the discussions too boring to even think about joining in. Yup, one of the guys reports all his medical problems/appointments. There was a Logan Airport cab driver that also was on a lot of time. I heard Zappa on a couple of times. One guy works in broadcast radio and has had some very interesting/intelligent discussions about towers, repeaters, etc.
- In SE NH: The discussions seem a lot more interesting. More than a few discussions about firearms. Other general topics.

Many are into contesting, where you make extremely brief contacts to get awards. There are no discussions during the contests.

Some folks definitely set a schedule to talk with their friends on a set frequency.

ARfcom (AR15.com) has a Net on Friday nights that I can access via Echolink (Internet) from anywhere. They also have a DMR net, that if I ever find someone to program my HT, I'll be able to join them there as well. I know that they also have an HF net on another evening.
 
Rating - 98.5%
66   1   0
Joined
Jan 4, 2009
Messages
5,045
Likes
1,083
I only have VHF/UHF capability currently. My HF rig is "in the box" until I'm able to get a proper antenna and grounding system installed.

From my limited perspective (remember - VHF/UHF only):

- In MA: There are a few "coffee clatches" daily with the same group of guys. I find the discussions too boring to even think about joining in. Yup, one of the guys reports all his medical problems/appointments. There was a Logan Airport cab driver that also was on a lot of time. I heard Zappa on a couple of times. One guy works in broadcast radio and has had some very interesting/intelligent discussions about towers, repeaters, etc.
- In SE NH: The discussions seem a lot more interesting. More than a few discussions about firearms. Other general topics.

Many are into contesting, where you make extremely brief contacts to get awards. There are no discussions during the contests.

Some folks definitely set a schedule to talk with their friends on a set frequency.

ARfcom (AR15.com) has a Net on Friday nights that I can access via Echolink (Internet) from anywhere. They also have a DMR net, that if I ever find someone to program my HT, I'll be able to join them there as well. I know that they also have an HF net on another evening.
Interested in the DMR net

For souther NH you must be talking about the Derry NH repeater - same regulars I have been listening to for over a year now. Ive thought about jumping in, mainly when gun laws are discussed (as the advise is not always stellar) but I normally just have it on.

I have this weird thing where I cant remember people names when Im introduced - I've worked really hard on it, as its kinda required in my line of work.... But add in a call sign with a name and Im LOST and dont remember either. I often just listen.
 

Len-2A Training

Instructor
Instructor
NES Life Member
NES Member
Rating - 98.6%
71   1   0
Joined
Feb 26, 2005
Messages
53,437
Likes
12,510
Location
90% in NH
Interested in the DMR net

For souther NH you must be talking about the Derry NH repeater - same regulars I have been listening to for over a year now. Ive thought about jumping in, mainly when gun laws are discussed (as the advise is not always stellar) but I normally just have it on.

I have this weird thing where I cant remember people names when Im introduced - I've worked really hard on it, as its kinda required in my line of work.... But add in a call sign with a name and Im LOST and dont remember either. I often just listen.
I'm hearing too much static these days to keep the radio on for long. Even the police scanner (in NH) is running lots of static along with the local transmissions.

I usually have the radios set to scan, so whatever is active. Could be Derry, Hollis, Paxton, Westford, Wilmington, etc.

I use the Anytone 868 for DMR, bought them before the 878 was released. At least there is no static on DMR! The DMR Net is run by Bill Barber, NE1B, the DMR-MARC guru and a really nice guy. I can pick this net up on the Boston repeater when I'm in my MA home or one of the SE NH repeaters when I'm at my NH home. They regularly have check-ins from Canada down to NJ.

I've run into people that used to work for me 6 months after I switched jobs and couldn't remember their names. I'm terrible on names, but will recognize faces.
 

edmorseiii

Navy Veteran
NES Member
Rating - 100%
18   0   0
Joined
Mar 25, 2008
Messages
20,651
Likes
15,062
Location
NH
Don't let that discourage you from getting at least a technician clas license to operate on the VHF and UHF bands. There is coast to coast coverage of existing repeaters that can come in handy.

This, the tech test is super easy and you can dip your toe in ham for like $100. If you don't like it, not a big investment. If you do, upgrade and spend all your money.

I need to sit down and figure out these DMR radios I have. Seems like I am missing out on some cool shit.
 

Uzi2

NES Member
Rating - 100%
6   0   0
Joined
Sep 5, 2017
Messages
7,821
Likes
11,790
This is probably a dumb question but since a user is licensed do you know who is being an a**h***.

Some of them have been positively identified by people who have either driven right to their homes or heard those same a$$holes identify on other frequencies.
To name three chronic qrmers, K3AQ in PA. N2FUV in TN, and K9ZEP in IN. All three are mentally ill by any standard and should have their licenses revoked.
They all can be heard fairly regularly on 7200 daytimes and 3860 9pm to when ever.

The problem is, the FCC does nothing about them, no matter how many complaints are filed.......and it's been dozens on every one of them.
 

Len-2A Training

Instructor
Instructor
NES Life Member
NES Member
Rating - 98.6%
71   1   0
Joined
Feb 26, 2005
Messages
53,437
Likes
12,510
Location
90% in NH
This, the tech test is super easy and you can dip your toe in ham for like $100. If you don't like it, not a big investment. If you do, upgrade and spend all your money.

I need to sit down and figure out these DMR radios I have. Seems like I am missing out on some cool shit.
DMR programming is quite complicated. However the Anytone codeplugs for the area can be DL'd from here: Codeplugs – NEDECN

I bought my 868 at Nearfest a few years ago and the company selling it offered full East Coast programming for an additional fee. I paid the fee and no regrets!

I'm also sure that Nashua Area Radio Society folks either have codeplugs or can assist once we're all out of quarantine. You might check their forums to see if anything useful is up there.
 

greencobra

NES Member
Rating - 100%
28   0   0
Joined
Jul 2, 2011
Messages
21,421
Likes
16,110
To name three chronic qrmers, K3AQ in PA. N2FUV in TN, and K9ZEP in IN
you can google these call signs and snippets of their on air frivolity come up. i just skimmed a couple of pages but it looks like n2fuv had his license yanked a couple years ago. what amazed me was the "normal" guys, probably sitting behind thousands of dollars of equipment. that gloat him on. seriously, reminded me of nes on a dead night.
 

JDL

NES Member
Rating - 100%
1   0   0
Joined
Jan 16, 2015
Messages
1,559
Likes
1,120
Location
Wilbraham, MA
Don't let these comments discourage you. It can be a fun and rewarding hobby. The technician and general license exams are really not that difficult. The technician license is somewhat limited, however the general opens up the world. This hobby offers a wide range of options in communication that are really too numerus to go through in this limited space. I am not sure where you are located, however there is a great group of guys that use the Monson Repeater located on Wilbraham Mt. in Wilbraham MA. If you are really interested get a copy of Ham Radio for Dummies this book will explain a lot about ham radio and will get you researching the things you might not understand but are interested in. As mentioned earlier get a short wave radio and listen to the HF bands also get an inexpensive hand held VHF/UHF radio to listen to the repeaters in your area. You can purchase a used short wave radio for under $100.00 and a VHF/UHF hand held for as little as $25.00. If you have questions contact me via PM and I ill give you my phone number.
John N1HM
 

Rocco Mozz

NES Member
Rating - 100%
30   0   0
Joined
Dec 6, 2018
Messages
2,649
Likes
3,833
Location
Massachusetts
One time my Dad and I used our hand held transceiver to “monitor” around different repeaters while we were driving from Arlington to Belmont for a job. He’s a General. We eventually made contact with an older HAM from Belmont. We had a long 15-20 minute conversation and eventually the gentleman revealed that he was completely blind. We got to the job site and said our good-byes, but we couldn’t help feel a sense of satisfaction like we reached out to someone looking for a good old-fashioned conversation and companionship. In these times of instant-gratification media and people trying to be seen and look as cool as possible all the time, reaching out to older people and keeping traditions alive is really important. There’s a lot we can learn from other people of different backgrounds that can also teach us about ourselves.

That is what made me want to get my Technicians license and now I need to find out what Amazon did with my ARRL General License book so I can study for the Exam this summer!
 

citoriguy

NES Member
Rating - 100%
31   0   0
Joined
Dec 14, 2018
Messages
3,020
Likes
2,444
Location
PRM
I’m new to HAM, but it’s fascinating people “watching” in a time when you can’t really do it. As Len notes, there are a couple/few chats throughout the day, mostly on 2M, that are a bit repetitive, but there are some weird ones too. Today, there was a bunch of guys talking about hoarding meat just after I saw the thread in OT! I would guess there was at least one NESer.
 

Nick Leduc

NES Member
Rating - 100%
65   0   0
Joined
May 12, 2013
Messages
2,151
Likes
3,980
Location
Inman, SC
This thread got me intrigued. I watched a few Youtube videos on the benefits of HAM and purchased a cheap handheld to just listen/scan with today. So my noob question would be: how does the general HAM user population feel about licensing? Is it necessary (to prevent chaos? on the airwaves?) Does it provide a better community of HAM users?
Mentally, I'm just comparing it to gun licenses and cant wrap my head around need permission to communicate. But maybe there is way more that I'm not seeing because I'm uneducated. Educate me.
 

edmorseiii

Navy Veteran
NES Member
Rating - 100%
18   0   0
Joined
Mar 25, 2008
Messages
20,651
Likes
15,062
Location
NH
This thread got me intrigued. I watched a few Youtube videos on the benefits of HAM and purchased a cheap handheld to just listen/scan with today. So my noob question would be: how does the general HAM user population feel about licensing? Is it necessary (to prevent chaos? on the airwaves?) Does it provide a better community of HAM users?
Mentally, I'm just comparing it to gun licenses and cant wrap my head around need permission to communicate. But maybe there is way more that I'm not seeing because I'm uneducated. Educate me.

You can communicate around the world with more people using a computer and the internet without a license and nothing prohibits you from owning radios and listening so it isn't really same same.
 
Last edited:

Rye

NES Member
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
Joined
Feb 16, 2009
Messages
285
Likes
301
As I am learning from the class, you also are licensed to build and tinker with equipment, which can go sideways on you very quickly if you don't know what you're doing. A portion of the study is around electric schematics and antenna construction/tuning. I find that interesting, but I can say with certainty that I won't be competing to say I got in contact with New Zealand. I'm more interested in emergency comms when I'm hunting, etc.
 

Rocco Mozz

NES Member
Rating - 100%
30   0   0
Joined
Dec 6, 2018
Messages
2,649
Likes
3,833
Location
Massachusetts
As I am learning from the class, you also are licensed to build and tinker with equipment, which can go sideways on you very quickly if you don't know what you're doing. A portion of the study is around electric schematics and antenna construction/tuning. I find that interesting, but I can say with certainty that I won't be competing to say I got in contact with New Zealand. I'm more interested in emergency comms when I'm hunting, etc.
Well they have great masterclasses at a lot of HAM conventions where you can learn all of that stuff and they also have good techniques you can learn to get a better signal with your handheld transceiver when in a remote location away from civilization.
 
Last edited:
Top Bottom