Calling all Radio Hams .. advice please.

Discussion in 'Hobbies' started by scotjimland, Dec 22, 2008.

  1. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    I would like to learn more about amateur radio and hopefully take the foundation licence course in the near future .. I have been reading up on the subject in one or two forums but it's very difficult to know where to start.. you guys talk in a foreign language :Laughing:

    As I am full time in the RV what equipment would I need to get started, and just as important how much would it cost.. is there a lot of second hand kit around.. and do I need a whopping great antenna .. all advice gratefully received.:Smile:

    Many thanks in advance,,


    Jim
     
  2. bigfoot

    bigfoot Funster

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    Hi Jim,
    Took my licence in 1981 after 12 years in telecomms. I went to the local college ofr F.E.
    who were teaching it. I believe now that local radio clubs do it. There maybe a correspondence course available. Clubs can be found by contacting the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) rsgb.com.
    Many of the communication medium that were use to day were pioneered by amateurs especially texting and voice texting.
    The best set to use in the van IMHO is a 2M/70cms rig, which is VHF/UHF in whitemans language. These are good for local info and contacts,but also they have a network of repeaters which can boost your signal. don't worry about the jargon every hobby or occupation has its jargon,sometimes I think its a way of people displaying how clever they would like other people to think they are. Equipment can be bought from specialist dealers new or S/H and there are a number of rallies around the country similar to motorhome shows.
    When you get involved there are events like field days camping with radio, but be warned,my wife equates the cost of a piece of equipment to the price of some curtains etc.
    73's (best wishes) & 88 to your YL or XYL (Love and kisses to you girlfriend or wife)

    Will aka bigfoot
    G6FNF
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2008
  3. Bulletguy

    Bulletguy Read Only Funster

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    There are a few licenced 'hams' on the board Jim. I'm not myself though i've always had an interest in amateur radio and own a variety of HF receivers.

    It's like any other hobby in that it can be entered into pretty cheaply....or at the high end, extremely expensive (which you don't need). There are some HF receivers only which cost crazy money.....even more than transceiver sets.

    No you don't need a 'whopping great antenna' to send/rec radio signals but working on the principle of 'height is might' cannot be ignored. I made my own HF aerial from stranded copper wire which cost me nothing. Dipped in waxoyl it's a 20metre end fed longwire which is approx 20-25ft off the ground. Its withstood the elements now for the past twelve years and is still standing.

    Computers have undoubtedly had some effect on the licenced 'ham' folks as it's now so simple to communicate with things such as Skype to anyone almost worldwide.......and without need for a licence or exams.

    Back in the 60's/70's, 'ham radio' was a pretty exclusive kind of hobby mainly indulged by older 'geeky' folk who didn't want any young upstarts around. They won't like me saying this but had it not been for the arrival of illegal AM CB radio coming on the scene in the early 80's, 'ham radio' was fast becoming an obsolete hobby. It was precisely that which forced them to wake up to the real world. Most licenced 'hams' that i know of personally all came into the hobby via CB. Before that, the only radio they had ever been 'into' was listening to Pirate Radio stations and later Radio 1 on their tranny radios.
     
  4. Bulletguy

    Bulletguy Read Only Funster

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    Spot on!! :thumb:
     
  5. Jaws

    Jaws Funster Life Member

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    For some time I was a tutor, then got a bit lazy and taught what was then called the novice licence.
    It has always been difficult to get started if you are not in a club or somesuch, but as said elsewhere, start off with a call to the RSGB Radio Society of Great Britain ( the link above is not quite right :Smile: ).
    They will be able to tell you who your local training chap is and point you in the right direction re other issues.

    You can call them on 01234 832700.

    Antenna's.
    For the higher frequency's ( higher bands or channels ) the antenna's can be quite small ( actually smaller than a normal car antenna ! ) and even on the HF ( lower frequency ) bands you CAN get antenna's that will fit happily on your motorhome ( Though there is no beating physics and no real substitute for size, but you will pick all that guff up later and no need to worry about it yet :Smile: )

    In general you will find most hams are similar to motor home owners.
    Great people who are very willing to help out in any way they can ( which might explain why there are so many licensed operators who own motor homes )

    If you would like to chat about anything specific please feel free to ring me ( 01842 754415 0r 0781 8822887 ) any time any day from 9 am to 10:30 pm ( that is the hours I am working any way :Wink: )
     
  6. Wildman

    Wildman Read Only Funster

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    Amateur radio is a perfect hobby for a motorhomer. The different stages involved in getting a full licence are all documented. The RSGB provide all the information you require. Course books are available and the initial foundation course can be taken over the course of one weekend.(or according to some of the old timers licence can be found inside breakfast cereal packets, hee hee) Joking aside you will find it interesting and the bias these days is on practical exercises. A stumbling block for many used to be the Morse code. Whilst it is no longer mandatory it still has a place. Morse can get through when other modes cannot. you can reach the whole world with a few watts of power when conditions are right. A large portion of your learning will be to help you understand those conditions and how to improve your chances of a contact. So contact the RSGB and get an information pack, buy the book how to become a radio amateur. You will have a licence in no time.
    Good Luck Roger G0DIZ and also AG4JD (my USA licence):thumb::thumb::thumb:
    Voyager spacecraft has left our universe and is sending signals back using a 12Watt transmitter. Think on that.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2008
  7. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    Thanks for the replies and useful help,, I have already emailed the local RSGB club who run courses .. Foundation course is £55 including licence fee and books.

    Like many I was 'into' CB in the 80s, also had a ssb set and used to spend hours on it.. my interest was re kindled when I bought the RV which has a Midland 40ch CB with EU and UK frequencies but it's dead these days with only a few muppets still using it.. :RollEyes:

    Jim
     
  8. iceni

    iceni Read Only Funster

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    Hi Jim
    well its never been easier to get into ham radio than it is today. not less than 10 yrs ago you would have needed to study for a city and guilds exam before you coould use VHF (more than 30mhz) euipment (which is basically short to med distance comms up to say 50 miles - generally) and you couldnt use HF (less than 30 mhx at all unless you passed a morse test at 12 words per minute - not easy and both of these take about 6-12 months do do if you work during the day.

    Now there are several licences that allow you to use some type of radio (low power and restricted to a few bands). This allows you to get on the air without the frustration of waiting and so encourages people to get interested in the hobby sooner and not get discouraged.
    The main diference between ham radio and say CB is the freedom you have to build or construct your own equipmentn if you have the desire.
    There are many facets to the hobby such as
    EME (moonbounce - bouncing signals off the moon)
    Satallite (radio hams have their own sateilites allowing longer commimication distances.
    Amature TV (tramsmitting pictures
    and lots more

    Its an all conuming hobby. best bit is that the missus (if you have one) doent become a golfing type widow as most opertating takes place at home or on holidays when shes probally there.

    The licencing is done by ofcom who also produce a leaflet.

    Amateur Radio | Ofcom

    I hope you decide to take the plunge. Most people are just normal folks like everyone and like Mhers would help anyone in trouble - hey theres even raynet (radio amatures emergency network) who assist people like mountain resce, fire and ambulance in remote places where our experise is used widely when their own equipment fails.

    Pm or reply if you need any more help.

    Phill
     
  9. reader

    reader Deleted User

    When you pass the foundation the decision on what to do radio wise has to be made. It has been suggested that VHF/UHF would be a good place to start, this depends where you are.
    In many parts of the UK 2m/70cm is flat with little or no use, and if abroad can you speak the language?
    A relatively new development is coming along well in the world and in particular the UK "D-Star" the rigs at the moment are limited to Icom but you can work the world with decent quality audio without the need for a large HF aerial.
    These radios and aerials can also work standard 2m/70cm bands.
    When we are away in the van I tend to use HF and have had lots of fun using low power eqt to work both the uk and all over the world. I have what is in effect a home made vertical aerial that I clamp on the bike rack (last van the towbar) I dont run too high a power unless we are on mains so the 10w on the Foundation Licence would be ok. For years I used with success the Yaesu FT817 which has a max power of 5w.
    I wish you the best of luck, do have a go and enjoy - Roger (M0DWQ)
     
  10. camcondor

    camcondor Read Only Funster

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    Hi Jim

    The RSGB website is pretty comprehensive about current licencing requirements - you will need to attend courses for the Foundation and Intermediate Licences, plus practical assessments. Best purchase the books for all three licences together from the RSGB at a bit of a discount if you join the RSGB and if you buy all three at once. The Advanced does not require a practical and no course is required, although many attend one - I'm completing my Advanced end January 2009.

    You are limited to 10W transmitting power as a Foundation Licencee and I'd heartily recommend the little Yaesu 817 as being perfect for fulltimer-van use as it gives a bit of everything to dabble in and can be quite useful if you get into SOTA and QRP stuff later. Antenna - again, nothing special required - I've got a Maldol and a little quarterwave, both work well. No giant towers required. Intermediates can transmit up to 50w with Advanced the full 400w.

    Radcom (journal of the RSGB) had a special offer recently on a little handheld Alinco DJV17kit which I bought and which works well and was great value. Nice for long walks on the beach - its water proof as well - or just when out and about.

    The other journal worth buying is Practical Wireless - its a monthly.

    Excellent website for preparing for the exams is HamTests.co.uk

    Please PM or ask away if you want details or more info - welcome to the fold!!!! Look forward to finding you on the waves sometime soon!!!

    Laurie
     
  11. Douglas

    Douglas Read Only Funster

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    Hi Jim, you have all the info you need from previous responses but I would add, don't be worried about what gear to get, the world of amateur radio has many rooms and the are more ways to use the gear than you can imagen at the moment, find a local club is the first thing to do, then get too know something about what is avalable then after you have got your licience then think about what gear you will need.

    Good luck 73 Doug GW0UXX (when at home)
     
  12. Tiderus

    Tiderus Read Only Funster

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    Hi Jim, good idea to take the exam. If like me you find it hard going especially at first. Don't give up as there are a few short cuts which may help. In the early eighties I was surrounded by more experienced students which seemed to know it all, and a few had taken the exam for a few years with no success. Nerves don't help, but after a little fishing around, I tried a system and passed after ten weeks. (One pass and one credit which was all I needed). I thought if I take it early, I'll know what it's like the next time around. Six of us did the same and four passed. So if you have probs, Drop me an email. Shhh. :thumb:
    Rgd's Graham GW6 JDF.
     
  13. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    yep!
    but then no atmospherics, no skip and no obstructions.....think on that! :Rofl1::Rofl1::Rofl1:
     
  14. reader

    reader Deleted User

    When the ISS went over the UK the other night I was getting a good 5/8 signal for most of the time. (145.800 fm)
     
  15. iceni

    iceni Read Only Funster

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    I heard them too. Would be great to chat with them.

    Phill

    on 145.425 most mornings 7.10 - 7.20 am if anyones listening in the birmingham area...
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2009
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