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Any Ham radio guys? Looking for some input.

Discussion in 'Preparedness & Survival' started by Will_Power, Aug 6, 2013.

  1. Will_Power

    Will_Power OR via OK Active Member

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    Hi all,

    I am considering studying for my Ham licenses, but I've got a few questions that will help determine if Ham radio is a good fit for what I am looking for.

    I've two primary interests here:

    1. I enjoy backcountry road trips (hardly overlanding or expeditioning, but nonetheless...) and camping around the Pacific Northwest. Often enough on these jaunts I am far out of cell coverage and think having a radio connection would be wise.
    2. I've been impressed with what I've read about Ham operators staying in contact with each other and outside news in the event of a natural disaster. Having communications capability in the event of a disaster seems like a prudent decision.

    As such, I'm interested in (eventually) locating a handheld unit of some sort that would work for these two scenarios. With some manner of mobile antennae, too.

    Specifically what I'm looking for past that? Well, that's where I'm completely ignorant and looking for specific recommendations.

    I'm not particularly interested in contacting or listening in to the other side of the world, and since I'm a renter with no access to the roof, a large equipment setup with a giant antennae won't work in my situation (plus, I'm currently surrounded by hills on three sides).

    Is Ham radio a good fit for my needs here, or should I look at something else (i.e. stick with finding a FRS/GMRS setup)?
     
  2. closingresponse

    closingresponse Portland New Member

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    I've got a Yaesu vx-7r HT. 5watt transmit power will reach out much further than your normal walkies you buy in the store.
    Consider a nicer antenna or even a directional antenna and you have even more options!
    A mobile unit in your car will even give you more power and antenna options. Some units will let your mobile act as a repeater too. Pretty awesome to have a repeater on wheels!

    Being able to use repeaters while out in the bush is where amature radio really shines compared to other walkies. (Not that they ever really outshine amature radio, maybe cost but that's about it.)

    Study for the test and get your license, you'll be glad you did.

    Check out radioreference.com for info and lists of repeaters in the areas you kike to frequent while out and about!

    73's


    Sent from my ADR6400L using Tapatalk
     
    Riot and (deleted member) like this.
  3. pokerace

    pokerace Newberg Well-Known Member

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    [QUOTE Yaesu vx-7r HT. 5watt transmit power ][/QUOTE]

    what does this unit operate on 2 meter 10 or what... Does it use rechargeable batt.?
     
  4. closingresponse

    closingresponse Portland New Member

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    what does this unit operate on 2 meter 10 or what... Does it use rechargeable batt.?[/QUOTE]

    It's a triband, 50/144/430.
    Rechargable battery.


    Sent from my ADR6400L using Tapatalk
     
  5. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    There are a lot of different ham radio options out there. However most FM HT's really depend heavily on having repeater access to make good contact with the outside world. The VX-7R is a good radio with it's 6m coverage (~50mhz) however it's an expensive option, and 6m repeaters are not terribly popular in all locations. I've had a VX7 for a few years and I use it less and less as time goes on, the battery is too small, replacement batts are expensive.

    The radio I currently carry is the baofeng UV5R with the extended battery (3800mAh), it lasts for days, and is about $60. A very good price for a starter radio, and yes the usual admonition applies: buy an after-market antenna, every radio out there comes with the cheapest antenna they could stuff in the box.

    I definitely encourage people to get licensed, it offers a wider variety of activities to do with the radio, which will make you more competent at using it. If you're thinking about going mobile, if you get one which can do cross-band repeat, you can use your car (where your radio is mounted) as a range extender for your HT.

    I know having the radios has saved my butt on more than one occasion. One time my car broke down and I was able to contact someone to find a place that had spare parts, and was able to find someone willing to give me a ride the next day. I might not have had such a friendly reception if I was operating unlicensed.

    For the moment I think the cheap chinese import radios are the best way to get your feet wet with amateur radio, I'm hoping the fact that most of the japanese ham radio companies are losing business big time to these things will give them the swift kick in the rear they really need to offer radios with better features at better prices. Most amateur radios currently on the market have sacrificed battery capacity to stick in useless features and then retain odd form factor sizes. I like my VX7, but it's like like carrying around a cube with wires and antennas sticking out of it, the belt clip is useless, it's almost as wide as it is tall, and the battery life is horrible.
     
  6. parallax

    parallax eugene, or-gun Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    IMHO.. 2 meters (144-148 mhz). seems to have the most repeaters. there are hundreds of 2 meter repeaters in oregon. and has a system called winlink..,which interlinks repeaters up and down the west coast. repeaters are typically solar powered on mountain tops, so they are not affected by our infastructer power grid should there be a natural or man made disaster. a 2 meter hand held has good battery life and can be charged from a cigarette lighter, and is about the same size as a one of those frs radios.
     
  7. ZA_Survivalist

    ZA_Survivalist Oregon AK's all day.

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    To the OP, Me too!
    Ive been listening to a lot of the 100.7 station and they keep talking about armature radio.
    Thus Ive wanted to get out there and get into it, however Id like to talk to a few folks to lay it out first. Maybe answer a few questions.
     
  8. EZLivin

    EZLivin SW of PDX Well-Known Member

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    We got our licenses last year, strictly for emergency communication reasons. After getting a couple of Yaesu handhelds (with accessories) as our primary radios for home and work, we picked up an inexpensive Baofeng, along with car power pack and Alkaline battery adapter, to keep in each vehicle. The Baofengs were recommended by several experienced Ham folks we know (who also own them). If you are like us (emergency communication rather than hobby), you might want to look into Baofengs as an alternative to more expensive units (at least to begin with).

    Home page
     
  9. Ligito

    Ligito Oregon Active Member

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    FRS/GMRS have very little range.
     
  10. billyinfinity

    billyinfinity Portland All pie, all the time. 2015 Volunteer

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    Here's a question someone might be able to answer...

    If I lapsed on renewing my license and it's been years, can I still renew my old callsign?
     
  11. Sodbuster

    Sodbuster Beaverton, OR Chief Cook/Bottle Washer

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  12. CoastRange57

    CoastRange57 Western Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Correct me if I am wrong, but I am not aware of any solar powerd repeaters. It takes a tremendous amount of electricity to power the repeaters, and you simply cannot generate that amount with solar. Isolated as they are, most repeaters have huge underground electrical lines in to them. I spent the better part of 2 years plowing in electrical cable to these sites back in the mid nineties, when the cell towers were all being established.

    Most repeaters have generators that start when input electricity fails. They usually have about 3000 gallons or more fuel capacity, enough to run the towers for about 8 days. I spent a couple of years hauling diesel into these early sites back in the 80's.
     
  13. CoastRange57

    CoastRange57 Western Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    I have several radios. A Radio Shack HTX 212 mobile unit that I switch back and forth between my office, house and vehicle. E bay for $ 65.

    I have a Yaesu 50TR, HT unit, another E Bay find for $ 40, plus about another $ 20, and I just added a larger antenna. The larger antenna makes all the difference in the world. Good battery life. I am going to the top of MT Bachelor next month and I will take it and make some contacts with it. It opens the Mt. Hood repeater from my back yard.

    I travel to the coast a lot, up and down the Wilson River Canyon, other pretty isolated areas in my fly fishing pursuits. I have never been out of radio range or contact ability in any of these locations. You getting to the interlinked system, will put you in contact over the whole state and more pretty much. I called a tow truck for an elderly man deep in the canyon last week. No cell service, but my radio hit the Saddle Mt repeater and I got into contact with some one there who made the phone call for us.

    Most hams are of similar thinking. I can go anywhere in about 200 miles and know that someone will come help me if I get on the air with my problem.
     
  14. dmv9

    dmv9 Seattle, WA Member

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    Yes, I did it even after 10 yrs of inactivity. You file it as a custom call sign.

     
  15. drew

    drew OR Well-Known Member

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    I find 2m to be very good for talking to people locally. Lots of activity/infrastructure which is important. Having a lot of radios that work on frequencies is nice.


    Yes, if the call sign is available you can register it as a vanity call sign.
     
  16. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    This is highly variable, if you look at the ARRL repeater book, there is actually a column for "solar" in the repeater info field. However, many repeaters are co-located at commercial radio sites, which depending on configuration and set up may require a lot more juice than solar can provide.

    Most of the repeaters I've built in the past have been in the 15W range, and can be powered by solar, in fact most of them were solar powered as they were intended for temporary set-ups, and had to be small enough that you could back-pack them up to the top of a hill. As long as you didn't over do it with the duty cycle it would work just fine. Most of these systems would draw about 4A while transmitting, and we would hook them up with about 30W of solar panels and a 40Ah battery (which is total over-kill). Usually we would put these set-ups on a dominant hilltop that was both easy to get to, as well as had overwatch of the area we were in, set it up, plop it down, and go.

    Working from our HT's if we had good line of sight to the repeater a 20mi (to the repeater) shot was not difficult.
     
  17. CoastRange57

    CoastRange57 Western Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    That makes sense. My frame of reference was rather dated, so thank you for updating that knowledge.
     
  18. SB1027

    SB1027 Ycounty New Member

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    Regarding your call sign, I believe it goes up for grabs 2 years after it expires, generally it will only be chosen if someone is looking for a vanity call sign that relates to their initials or some specific meaning to them. you can check the FCC website to see if someone has claimed it, if not you can renew your license and possibly reclaim it. Good Luck!
     
  19. DeadEyeMcGoo

    DeadEyeMcGoo Seattle Active Member

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  20. Modeler

    Modeler Molalla, Oregon Soccer Fan

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    Do it!

    Probably the easiest and most effective way would be to get a good handheld dual band 2M/440 handheld (Yaesu, Icom, etc...) and a good mag-mount antenna for your car with appropriate adapters to connect to your handheld.

    You can buy 1/4 wave mag-mounts pretty cheap, but if it was me I'd get an NMO magnet mount without an antenna and put a Larsen 2/70NMO (just about the best mobile dual-band antenna out there) on top of it.

    You can also get relatively cheap, high-power single band mobile radios to install in your vehicles. One of them is the Yaesu FT-1900R (2M Mobile), 55 watts of power and a good radio. I have one up on E-Bay, I'm selling it to get a dual-bander.