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Amateur Radio
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bealers



Joined: 12 May 2009
Posts: 80
Location: Shropshire / Wrexham borders

PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 9:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tarrel wrote:
My best advice if anyone was interested, would be to find a local club (go to the RSGB website) and pop along for a couple of evenings. Most clubs offer foundation license training and assessment, and the members are usually very forthcoming at getting newcomers going and into the hobby. My son and I started as complete beginners. The local club organised a course for the scouts (he was a member, I was a leader), and they couldn't have been more helpful at getting us going - even lending us some equipment until we'd bought our own.


Tarrel thanks for the informative posts.

What would you say is a ballpark figure to get a starter, non-mobile, DODGY?
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Tarrel



Joined: 29 Nov 2011
Posts: 1994
Location: Ross-shire, Scotland

PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 10:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Depends what you want to do; just get "into" the hobby, or as a direct means of prepping.

Most people start with VHF DODGY; typically a hand-held. You can get them new for about 100, but a good solution would be to go to a radio fair (see RSGB website for a listing) and pick up an ex-police or utility company one that's been converted to amateur frequencies - less than 20. HOWEVER, in my experience, many people who go the VHF route end up disappointed. The volume of local traffic just isn't very high on VHF these days, although it depends where in the country you are. A lot of amateurs that use VHF DODGY have a mobile setup in their car, which can be a good option (even if you just go and sit in it on your drive!). A mag-mount antenna on the roof is cheap and will give you fantastically better reach than the little "rubber duck" aerial you get on a hand-held.

IMO, it will be more rewarding to go straight for HF DODGY, but this does tend to be more expensive. My IC730 100w dates from the 80's and cost me about 250 a few years ago, but it is in excellent condition. Amateur Radio DODGY keeps its value very well, and tends to be well looked after. If you buy from a dealer, you'll get a 3-6 month warranty, and I'd recommend this rather than fleabay.

Have a look at www.hamradio.co.uk. It's the website of Martin Lynch and Sons, my local dealer. If you're not familiar with the equipment, it won't make an awful lot of sense. This is where the local club is useful to point you in the right direction.

To cut a long story short, if you're going HF, you need the following:
-Transceiver (the pricey bit)
- Power source (this could be a mains power supply or batteries)
- Antenna (can be bought, but normally home-made)
- Antenna tuner (may or may not be necessary, depending on antenna. Some modern transceivers have them built in. Mine doesn't)

Antennas:
The simplest form of antenna is a "long wire" - which is exactly what it says. You take a length of pretty much any old wire, hang one end of it as high as you can, and connect the other end to your radio. This is known as an "unbalanced" antenna and needs a tuner to work with it.

Without going over the top on technical detail, any antenna has a natural resonant frequency. For best results, this frequency needs to match the frequency on which you are transmitting, so the power being sent to it by the radio is then propagated away into the atmosphere. If the antenna is not matched to the frequency your transmitting on, it won't resonate and there will be nowhere for the power to go. So it tries to go back into the radio, which can cause damage (plus nobody will hear you!). The antenna tuner modifies the characteristics of the antenna so this problem doesn't occur.

The other type of antenna is a balanced antenna. A simple example is a dipole; basically two lengths of wire connected by a feeder cable, in a sort of T formation. The lengths of the dipole are carefully trimmed to match the frequency you are transmitting on, meaning you don't need a tuner.

I decided to get a tuner, because setting up a simple long-wire antenna was cheaper and easier than organising something more sophisticated. So, in my case:

Transceiver and Power Supply (2nd hand) - 250.00
Tuner (new) - 75.00
Wire, etc - few quid.

Hope this helps, and not too rambly!

p.s some transceivers go for 5 - 6,000. You DO NOT need one of these! They are for the real head-bangers for whom AR is their life.
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clv101
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Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 6621
Location: Bristol

PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 9:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We both passed our Foundation exams today, with full marks. Cool

Off to a rally on Sunday to look at getting some DODGY.
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Tarrel



Joined: 29 Nov 2011
Posts: 1994
Location: Ross-shire, Scotland

PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 10:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congratulations and well done! Let me know what you get, and your call-signs once you get them. I guess you did your licenses through a local club. If so, hope they're offering plenty of advice. If I can be of any help, just ask.

Depending on the DODGY you get set up with, we might be able to arrange a "sked" (scheduled call) between you and us!

73s

Tarrel (2E0BBS)
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Catweazle



Joined: 17 Feb 2008
Posts: 1865
Location: Cardigan, South Wales

PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 12:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whilst I can see a benefit of a HAM radio licence now - the ability to contact other HAMs, who are usually smart people - I question the use post-crash when local contact is required. An old AM CB Radio has a decent range, (especially with a 150W bremi amp), is easily obtained, requires no repeaters and is reliable. Illegal to use at present, but that might not matter.
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clv101
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Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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Location: Bristol

PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 9:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Catweazle wrote:
...I question the use post-crash when local contact is required.
Amateur radio works perfectly well for local communications.
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SleeperService



Joined: 02 May 2011
Posts: 1097
Location: Nottingham UK

PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 10:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

clv101 wrote:
Catweazle wrote:
...I question the use post-crash when local contact is required.
Amateur radio works perfectly well for local communications.


An idea for the aerial.

Somewhere near a dual carriageway in Birmingham there is a house with one of those promotional balloons that look like little airships tethered in the garden.

Also running to ground level is a wire(?) that disappears into the roof. IIRC there's a winch arrangement to bring it down if the weather requires it.

Seems a lot easier than some of the mast arrangements I've seen attached to houses.
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Tarrel



Joined: 29 Nov 2011
Posts: 1994
Location: Ross-shire, Scotland

PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 11:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

clv101 wrote:
Catweazle wrote:
...I question the use post-crash when local contact is required.
Amateur radio works perfectly well for local communications.


+1. See my post above re. NVIS. However, I agree that CB represents a perfectly viable local communications medium. The beauty of amateur radio HF is that it also gives mid- and long-range communication if you want it.
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