Amateur Radio Operators, Beginners Advice?

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lostplanet

Full Member
Aug 18, 2005
1,917
146
50
Kent
Always wanted to get a licence as I use to mess with CB in the 80's and 90's

Just picked up a Baofeng GT-3TP Mark-III as I have had my eye on it for a while.

Now things are so much more accessible with online courses, I'm looking at taking the foundation course in May this year, I just got outlines from EssexHam
So ill be absorbing some information.

To the seasoned operators, Do you have any advice or tips on preparing for the foundation course?

What would you have done differently if you were just starting out?

Thanks for reading.
 
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stevec

Full Member
Oct 30, 2003
478
96
Sheffield
Get the book from the rsgb or Amazon. Read through it and make notes. Get a simple scientific calculator and practice using it. Google websdr you will find a bunch of online radio receiver, have a listen round see what can be heard and where. You will start to get a handle on skip zones etc. Allow that there has been a CME recently so that will affect HF propagation.
 

Damascus

Native
Dec 3, 2005
1,544
112
63
Norwich
As Stevec says, get the rsgb book, a must. it will cover everything you need to know, no affiliation to Essexham, they have a brilliant reputation for getting people through the exam, regardless to what level. Read the book, i don’t know you, I was ex royal signal radio telegraphist by trade and hadn’t studied for 20+ years and found it, “what have I let my self in for” stick with it, it will just click.
there are a few websites on line with mock exams, do as many as you can. In the foundation exam there are only so many questions you can ask, so by doing mocks, one, it preps you for the real thing and even if the question arent the same, the context is, if you understand what I mean.

good luck and when you get your licence try and call us on HF, if you have one by then, from a former resident of Ashford Kent, now residing in the highlands of Norfolk.

73(this will make sense when you take the course)
M0ZGN
 

lostplanet

Full Member
Aug 18, 2005
1,917
146
50
Kent
just checking this is the recommended book?

 

stevec

Full Member
Oct 30, 2003
478
96
Sheffield
just checking this is the recommended book?

Yep that's the one.
73 de M0USX
 

lostplanet

Full Member
Aug 18, 2005
1,917
146
50
Kent
Great, Got the Kindle version as I find it easier to read. signed up for course beginning 2 May, should have the book read by then.

Thanks All
 
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cipherdias

Settler
Jan 1, 2014
510
220
Wales
Following this with great interest as I have been wanting to do this for years! Had a CB back when the 27mhz band went legal (81 or 82?) and knew a few people who were HAMs


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

cipherdias

Settler
Jan 1, 2014
510
220
Wales
Always wanted to get a licence as I use to mess with CB in the 80's and 90's

Just picked up a Baofeng GT-3TP Mark-III as I have had my eye on it for a while.

Now things are so much more accessible with online courses, I'm looking at taking the foundation course in May this year, I just got outlines from EssexHam
So ill be absorbing some information.

To the seasoned operators, Do you have any advice or tips on preparing for the foundation course?

What would you have done differently if you were just starting out?

Thanks for reading.

By the way how do u guys rate those Baofeng radios? They seem very cheap considering they look to be quite high spec. Are they a good choice for a beginner?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

SaraR

Full Member
Mar 25, 2017
789
494
Ceredigion
Always wanted to get a licence as I use to mess with CB in the 80's and 90's

Just picked up a Baofeng GT-3TP Mark-III as I have had my eye on it for a while.

Now things are so much more accessible with online courses, I'm looking at taking the foundation course in May this year, I just got outlines from EssexHam
So ill be absorbing some information.

To the seasoned operators, Do you have any advice or tips on preparing for the foundation course?

What would you have done differently if you were just starting out?

Thanks for reading.
Hi and congratulations on taking the first step to becoming a radio amateur! :) The Essex Ham course is a great way of learning, that’s how I did it. I went through their course and then after each unit, I read the corresponding section in the handbook. It really helped to hear someone go through it first, so what I did was go through video, then go through the presentation and then read up on it in the book. They’ve also got a livestreamed help session every fortnight and that was very useful both to see things ”in real life” and to hear stuff being talked about and explained in different ways. If you give them some (any) money, you can get access to extra mocks and I found these really useful after the course had finished while I was waiting for my exam date.

I didn’t just want to pass the exam but also absorb the information covered by the Foundation licence, so I probably spent more time than needed on studying, but then again, you never know which questions you’ll get on the day, so the more ready you are the better.

My main piece of advice would be, don’t stress about what you haven’t learnt yet, just take it bit by bit and it will be easy and fun. Don’t get hung up on the maths (a lot of people did this, but not sure why). Do print the exam booklet early on! You will need this during the exam, so better get used to it early on. It is a bit daunting at first, but soon makes sense with EssexHam’s help.

There is a Discord group for EssexHam, which was new and very quiet, and an Online Amateur Radio Community group, which has been very good with answering questions and such after I got mine (you can join now if you like, no need to wait). This was the only reason I got onto Discord - well worth it! There’s also an RSGB facebook group for newbies.

Good luck! de MW7SRA
 
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SaraR

Full Member
Mar 25, 2017
789
494
Ceredigion
By the way how do u guys rate those Baofeng radios? They seem very cheap considering they look to be quite high spec. Are they a good choice for a beginner?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
I think so but they have their limitations. They are great for letting you dip your toes into the ham world. Until you’ve got your licence, you can listen to others on it (no sending though of course) and get a feel for how it works. You can get a better rubber duck antenna as well for not a lot of money, which will help.

Two drawbacks: quality control is not always that great, so sometimes some internal components are not lined up right etc, but often that can be sorted. Secondly, they will be overwhelmed by strong signals and they might ”go deaf”, that is you can’t hear anything and as a result risk annoying others by talking over them. Still, these things happen so don’t be too worried about it. Just listen and be sensible before you start transmitting.

Also, be careful with the settings. They are not limited to comply with UK conditions, so you need to make sure you are following the rules yourself. Not an issue now, but once you start transmitting, make sure you are on the permitted bands etc. No going calling on the marine VHF channels and so on! :)
 

Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
9,278
2,079
McBride, BC
Hindsight tells me to do exactly the same as I did in the first place:
Get a study buddy (mine finally admitted that he had been an unlicensed pirate for 10 years!). Cut up the curriculum and teach each other for a thorough understanding. We had to do CW 15 wpm TX/RX so we used the 40m sked from the ARRL. I'm quite proud of that. Still have both my straight key and a Bencher paddle. Yaesu FT901DM all mode has a keyer built in.
73
de
VE7APC

"There are 12 questions, each worth 10 marks. Attempt as many as you like in the 3 hours available. You must accumulate enough marks to pass @ 70."

Best 10 out of 12, I got 94%. I was really satisfied with our learning technique.
 

lostplanet

Full Member
Aug 18, 2005
1,917
146
50
Kent
Im on chapter 5 in the book and it is fascinating. A lot of the terms that you see everyday but have no clue what they actually mean are being explained. I will probably need to read it twice and although i am supercrap at maths I'm looking forwatd to learning more.
I got my baofeng from Amazon after reading some reviews in the different models. Initially this should be enough for me with maybe an antenna upgrade.
 
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SaraR

Full Member
Mar 25, 2017
789
494
Ceredigion
Im on chapter 5 in the book and it is fascinating. A lot of the terms that you see everyday but have no clue what they actually mean are being explained. I will probably need to read it twice and although i am supercrap at maths I'm looking forwatd to learning more.
I got my baofeng from Amazon after reading some reviews in the different models. Initially this should be enough for me with maybe an antenna upgrade.
Licence conditions are worth lots of points, so well worth knowing. The safety ones fairly easy if you apply some common sense. Questions based on the band plans etc are easy pickings IF you understand how to read them.

In my exam, all but one person was done with loads of time to spare. I had a lovely chat with the examiner in the chat box function and that’s how I found out about SOTA.
 

Fadcode

Full Member
Feb 13, 2016
2,707
739
Cornwall
Join a local club, they will guide you especially in these times when the RSGB are updating the questions, EMC, etc they will also advise you on what radio to buy, let you have a go etc, etc,
Also if you buy the Foundation Course handbook make sure it is the latest one.
you can find mock exam questions on quite a few sites, just keep reading, this site is quite good.

One other piece of information if I may, a lot will depend on where you live and what sort of aerial you can put up, many councils have rules about aerials, and you may need planning permission, if you cannot put up a decent antenna, then you will find it very frustrating, you could of course go mobile.

If all is ok, the when you choose a rig, get what is commonly called " a shack in a box" this means the radio covers all the common bands, HF, VHF, and UHF these radios are not cheap to buy, and you will probably need a power supply, and a ATU so quite a substantial investment

If you join a local club they will advise on all these things, before you sink a load of cash into the hobby.
 
Last edited:

lostplanet

Full Member
Aug 18, 2005
1,917
146
50
Kent
Join a local club, they will guide you especially in these times when the RSGB are updating the questions, EMC, etc they will also advise you on what radio to buy, let you have a go etc, etc,
Also if you buy the Foundation Course handbook make sure it is the latest one.
you can find mock exam questions on quite a few sites, just keep reading, this site is quite good.

One other piece of information if I may, a lot will depend on where you live and what sort of aerial you can put up, many councils have rules about aerials, and you may need planning permission, if you cannot put up a decent antenna, then you will find it very frustrating, you could of course go mobile.

If all is ok, the when you choose a rig, get what is commonly called " a shack in a box" this means the radio covers all the common bands, HF, VHF, and UHF these radios are not cheap to buy, and you will probably need a power supply, and a ATU so quite a substantial investment

If you join a local club they will advise on all these things, before you sink a load of cash into the hobby.
Thanks, yes the desire to go and spend on equipment is strong with this hobby. Fortunately i have learned to hold back and do more research.

I will mainly be mobile which is why i got the gt3 to start with.
 

Scottieoutdoors

Forager
Oct 22, 2020
202
119
Devon
Maybe it's not applicable, but I'll say it just in case (because it's applicable to VHF stuff), but do you know the phonetic alphabet to use it fluently, that's handy to know in general life, well.....unless the person down the phone says "oh I don't know all that stuff" and you have to resort to "B for banana"
 

lostplanet

Full Member
Aug 18, 2005
1,917
146
50
Kent
Yes phonetics very useful for ordering car parts, Index, etc and most of the trade use it.

it is quite embarrassing listening to someone using an non standard and having to repeat things 3 times or get it wrong.

I've read the book now and had a play with the GT, picked up a couple of convos today, would have loved to ask where they were. One guy was mobile, and it was interesting listening to the terms they used.

I bought a RTL-SDR USB dongle a few years back but never really got into it when I discovered Online SDR.
I'm wondering if the diapole antenna that came with the dongle will work with my GT but I need a SMA adapter to connect the cable to the GT. I guess that where the training comes in so I should know whether it will or not.

dOJ2tAal.jpg


NzFqcJ3l.jpg


JktwW76l.jpg
 

SaraR

Full Member
Mar 25, 2017
789
494
Ceredigion
If the antenna is for a wavelength that fits your radio, it should be ok, as long as the SWR isn’t off the scale, but not sure it would be with for instance a purpose built 2m dipole.

I got a set of adaptors for common radio connectors when I started and they have come in very handy.
Adaptor kit
Yes phonetics very useful for ordering car parts, Index, etc and most of the trade use it.

it is quite embarrassing listening to someone using an non standard and having to repeat things 3 times or get it wrong.

I've read the book now and had a play with the GT, picked up a couple of convos today, would have loved to ask where they were. One guy was mobile, and it was interesting listening to the terms they used.

I bought a RTL-SDR USB dongle a few years back but never really got into it when I discovered Online SDR.
I'm wondering if the diapole antenna that came with the dongle will work with my GT but I need a SMA adapter to connect the cable to the GT. I guess that where the training comes in so I should know whether it will or not.

dOJ2tAal.jpg


NzFqcJ3l.jpg


JktwW76l.jpg
 
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Duggie Bravo

Nomad
Jul 27, 2013
480
104
Dewsbury
I’m not a seasoned operator, by any stretch of the imagination. I do hold a full license as a result of spending every August bank holiday with the local club that my Father in Law founded and they decided that I had to join.
My claim to fame was getting to full licence without speaking to anyone on the radio, apart from the minimum bit required for the Intermediate.
Get the book, read it and it will reinforce the course for you.
Jing Tong hand helms were all the rage when I started, dirt cheap and once you had drilled a small hole over the microphone quote good for local chatting and listen to g to people.
I had the car Ariel, that I could swap out for the CB when off reading.


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