Amateur Radio Operators, Beginners Advice?

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SCOMAN

Full Member
Dec 31, 2005
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Perthshire
I see their point but it's a bit of a pain. I can browse and see if it's worthwhile. Still a very valuable resource.
 

Oliver G

Full Member
Sep 15, 2012
365
249
Melbourne, Derbyshire
Currently loaded onto the Essex Ham course for the 17th of October, looking forward to the exam. My only blank is the call signs and which prefixes are for which area.

As an aside would it be worth setting up a monthly forum call? If we could get something on the 145MHz band most people should be able to get onto that.
 
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cipherdias

Settler
Jan 1, 2014
528
231
Wales
I have been interested in this for a while so Today I signed up for the Essex HAM course starting in November. Jumped on Amazon and purchased the Foundation license manual to help with studies

Maybe we can start a new thread for anyone doing this so we can chat about it?

Dave


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SaraR

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Mar 25, 2017
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Ceredigion
Currently loaded onto the Essex Ham course for the 17th of October, looking forward to the exam. My only blank is the call signs and which prefixes are for which area.

As an aside would it be worth setting up a monthly forum call? If we could get something on the 145MHz band most people should be able to get onto that.
If that's all you're struggling with, you'll be fine! :D The secondary location identifiers aren't that difficult, once you've got some of them down, the rest will follow even if you have to think about it a little. Essex Ham explained it quite well I thought, so hopefully that will help you too.

Most people are probably able to get on 2m but it's much more limited in geographical reach, so depends on whether there are a lot of bushcraftUK members in your area, or within reach of whatever repeater is near you.
 
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cipherdias

Settler
Jan 1, 2014
528
231
Wales
Which Baofeng would you recommend guys? I noticed this evening that there is a UV-10r as well as a UV-5r but not much difference in price?


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Oliver G

Full Member
Sep 15, 2012
365
249
Melbourne, Derbyshire
Which Baofeng would you recommend guys? I noticed this evening that there is a UV-10r as well as a UV-5r but not much difference in price?


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I picked up a little GT-3TP and it seems to work well, From where I live (Melbourne) I've picked up Dudley on the other side of Birmingham, stations from the peak district, Nottingham, and Stoke on Trent. That's just with the little antenna that comes with the device. I'm picking up a Slim Jim Antenna today so I'll give that a shot over the weekend and see what I come away with.

In terms of transmission I've not transmitted yet as I've not picked up the licence, hopefully there is someone else here who's listened to the Baofeng and can tells us what the quality is like.
 
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Buckshot

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Mod
Jan 19, 2004
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Oxford
Bear in mind with the hand helds like the uv5r vs another, the uv5r has been around for so long most after market stuff is made with it in mind.
For instance the CHIRP software doesn't always work with newer models of Baofeng. Some do but not all.
 
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SCOMAN

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Dec 31, 2005
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The quality of the tx is pretty good. Not a £100's worth of mic but reasonable. Good video here on them and his channel has other great video's.

 

SaraR

Full Member
Mar 25, 2017
856
551
Ceredigion
I picked up a little GT-3TP and it seems to work well, From where I live (Melbourne) I've picked up Dudley on the other side of Birmingham, stations from the peak district, Nottingham, and Stoke on Trent. That's just with the little antenna that comes with the device. I'm picking up a Slim Jim Antenna today so I'll give that a shot over the weekend and see what I come away with.

In terms of transmission I've not transmitted yet as I've not picked up the licence, hopefully there is someone else here who's listened to the Baofeng and can tells us what the quality is like.
My experience is that RX is better than DX, *but* it has a tendency to go deaf (front end overload) if there are strong broadcast towers about (not necessarily right nearby). Using a 40 cm long whip antenna (Retevis RHD771; I've also got the shorter, 20 cm long Retevis RHD701) or a 300 ohm ladder-line Slim Jim antenna for the 2 m band, I can easily connect to a repeater 15-20 miles away, but I tend to hear them better than they hear me. On my first SOTA activation, I apparently could not hear quite a few people who heard me fine, probably thanks to a mast on a hill quite a way away. If you don't want to annoy people unnecessarily, it's a good idea to try to match your RX and DX radii so to speak

As with all things VHF, gaining elevation is going to help *a lot*, so get up somewhere high or hang your Slim Jim out an upstairs window (make sure it's not touching any metal). It's amazing how much difference getting up just 2-3 m higher will make to your range and signal strength.
 

SaraR

Full Member
Mar 25, 2017
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Ceredigion
Which Baofeng would you recommend guys? I noticed this evening that there is a UV-10r as well as a UV-5r but not much difference in price?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
I'd be tempted to say get the UV-5R and save your money towards a better antenna (see my previous post for suggestions) or another handheld. They are amazing for what they are, but keep their limitations in mind. QC can also be an issue, so be ready for that too.
 

SaraR

Full Member
Mar 25, 2017
856
551
Ceredigion
@Oliver G and @cipherdias It's great that you're going for your Foundation licence! :D If you have an idea of what you want to do with your amateur radio or if there was something specific that got you interested in the hobby, it's well worth trying to find a forum for that specific niche interest. I only really found out about SOTA during my Foundation exam, but I've learnt a lot from joining the SOTA forum, and obviously whatever is discussed there is going to be more relevant for what I want to do than say a Boat Anchor (vintage radio) forum. I've also joined a few CW groups and that's helpful for developing that side of things.

There are of course several general ham forums, but some are less helpful and friendly than others. E.g. On general American forums they basically all seem to say that newbies should avoid any base station not capable of pushing out hundreds of watts and avoid QRP like the plague, but for us in the UK that sort of advice is not going to be very helpful at all. Also keep in mind that their band plans are different to ours! :)

OARC is an online club that has a great community on their Discord server. Well worth joining (it's free)! They also run training courses for Intermediate and Full, but you can learn a lot from just the chats on the server. Or ask any question you might have, they even have a special channel for the newly licensed if you feel nervous about asking a potentially "stupid" question. They have been superfriendly and helpful to me and I tend to go there for my basic questions.
 
Apr 8, 2009
1,147
130
Ashdown Forest
This is possibly a silly question - but i have often wondered what people actually talk about when you make contacts over (HAM) radio? Is it mostly a fairly short exchange to identify where someone is relative to yourself and perhaps ask about their kit? With the point being principally to make the 'contact' in the first place out of technical curiosity (i'm not doing that down - it genuinely appeals to me); or are contacts frequently more conversational?
 

lostplanet

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Aug 18, 2005
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i haven't got my ticket yet but i have been scanning locally and listening to some convos. seem pretty much like a audible form of a forum. usual stuff, few moaners, tech chat, similar interests etc. interesting though.
 

SaraR

Full Member
Mar 25, 2017
856
551
Ceredigion
This is possibly a silly question - but i have often wondered what people actually talk about when you make contacts over (HAM) radio? Is it mostly a fairly short exchange to identify where someone is relative to yourself and perhaps ask about their kit? With the point being principally to make the 'contact' in the first place out of technical curiosity (i'm not doing that down - it genuinely appeals to me); or are contacts frequently more conversational?
It's very varied actually. Some people just chat ("rag chewing"), either with friends or with random people that they hear and strike up a conversation with; some look for contacts far away (DXing) and usually "collect" countries or regions, so are "hunting" for people from those areas for awards; some mainly build radios and antennnas and just want to confirm how well and how far their signal travels. There are also lots and lots of different contesting or point collecting schemes.

Contesters usually try to make as many contacts as possible within a set time period, so their contacts are brief in the extreme, but many of the point collecting schemes are ways of getting you out to interesting places - e.g. Islands on the Air, Beaches on the Air, Summits on the Air, Parks on the Air, Lighthouses on the Air, Railways on the Air, Churches and Chapels on the Air, and so on and so on.

I like Summits on the Air (SOTA) as it means I have a better chance of doing radio, since I'll be up high (better reach) and people will actively be chasing me to make a contact. If you get 4 contacts with any four people, you get the points for that summit. You also get points for chasing people on summits, so you can do it from home as well. Plus it's an excuse to go up hills that I normally wouldn't bother with.

Contacts (or QSOs) can be completely free-form (as an ordinary chat) or follow one of many set templates, or be a mix of the two. Contesters use quite set templates, whereas SOTA for instance starts out with a predictable exchange, because you have to exchange certain information for it to qualify for points, but then you can either have a chat about the weather or whatever or thank the other person and look for a new contact. I usually do a bit of chatting, but when I start out doing Morse code contacts, I'll probably feel a bit overwhelmed and just stick to the basic QSO template needed at first. It seems a bit daft perhaps to ask where people are and how well they receive you over and over again, but it's very useful to know how far you can be heard with your setup. Sometimes I just scan around and listen to conversations, trying to figure out where they are. I can hear people from Swansea to Caernarfon to SE Ireland from my garden, which is quite impressive for a little 5W handheld and a bit of wire up a pole.

The person who calls CQ (seek you = "I am looking for any contacts") "owns" that channel until they give it up, so he or she is calling the shots for the duration.
 
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Apr 8, 2009
1,147
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Ashdown Forest
Many thanks - that is some very useful information! I'm now rather interested! I loved the HF stuff that I did in the army, and always enjoyes the 'magic' of radio. I have memories of my grandfather (an ex Royal Navy WW2 radio operator) talking via morse at lightning speed to people all round the world (including frequently the Soviet Union - this was early 1980's) from his spare bedroom in Arundel - and i've found it all rather amazing ever since. In fact even then, he was needing to slow down his morse exchanges as there were rapidly reducing numbers of people about that could recieve and send morse at the speed that him and his peers could.

All his kit was WW2 vintage - I think most got donated to the Amberley Chalk Pits museum.
 

Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
5,363
4,719
Mid Wales
Many thanks - that is some very useful information! I'm now rather interested! I loved the HF stuff that I did in the army, and always enjoyes the 'magic' of radio. I have memories of my grandfather (an ex Royal Navy WW2 radio operator) talking via morse at lightning speed to people all round the world (including frequently the Soviet Union - this was early 1980's) from his spare bedroom in Arundel - and i've found it all rather amazing ever since. In fact even then, he was needing to slow down his morse exchanges as there were rapidly reducing numbers of people about that could recieve and send morse at the speed that him and his peers could.

All his kit was WW2 vintage - I think most got donated to the Amberley Chalk Pits museum.

My Dad was Signals Corp based out in Egypt towards the end of WWII - he never had kit at home and didn't keep it up later in life sadly. We did use to practice Morse but using torches :). I do have a set of his radio maintenance manuals hanging around somewhere - must find them.

It does feel slightly strange having a conversation with (usually) a total stranger on an open channel (i.e. no privacy, totally public) - a bit like shouting across a car park :) In a day and age when I can get an encrypted private video call between me and Australia on my mobile, it does all seem very antiquated but, strangely, satisfying and enjoyable.
 
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Fadcode

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Feb 13, 2016
2,748
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Cornwall
This is possibly a silly question - but i have often wondered what people actually talk about when you make contacts over (HAM) radio? Is it mostly a fairly short exchange to identify where someone is relative to yourself and perhaps ask about their kit? With the point being principally to make the 'contact' in the first place out of technical curiosity (i'm not doing that down - it genuinely appeals to me); or are contacts frequently more conversational?
Ham Radio is the only Hobby, were people use their Hobby to talk to other people about their Hobby.

When having a QSO (chat) with someone, we would exchange things like, Radio info, Antenna Info, Power info, QTH (where we are), we would be interested to know how we re received, can we be understood, etc, because the Hobby also is about the way you operate your antenna , we are interested in how far our signal gets out, we can the tweak our antenna to improve the signals etc.
We are restricted to some extent on what we can talk about, but this wouldn't stop you having a normal conservation with someone, like you would over the telephone.
There are digital modes such as FT8, which is a low power mode, yet you can reach Japan, USA, Australia it's all about how many QSO's you can have, (FT8 is not a verbal QSO)
You would be surprised to hear how busy the bands are over the weekend, lots of competitions going on.

To give you an insight to worldwide Ham Radio you could have a look at this site, which would allow you to listen to Ham enthusiasts around the world.
 
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ONE

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Nov 21, 2019
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Ham Radio is the only Hobby, were people use their Hobby to talk to other people about their Hobby.
Used to be said that by the letter of the 'law' in the UK, the only things you could talk about were your station and the weather.
 

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