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Author Topic: What good is a Ham radio anyway???  (Read 27969 times)

wpflum

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What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« on: August 05, 2008, 02:08:47 PM »
Ok, let me start out by saying I've had my ham license for 4 or 5 years now but I've never used it.   ???

Some background, for a while growing up I wanted to get my ham license, even bought an old Heath Kit receiver and got at least one confirmed station from Brazil or some other South American country.  I just never could learn code or more precisely, I never took the time to learn code. 

When I found out they dropped the code requirement a few years ago I decided, just as an experience, to take the test to see if I could pass. 

Well I did and got my license but I never had a real desire to cruise the airwaves so I just filed it under 'Things I've always wanted to do as a kid and now I have as an adult but never want to do it again'  meaning I was happy I finally had the license but I never really wanted to use it.

Now that I'm getting into RVing again, we had a class A when I was a kid, I've seen ham radio mentioned a few times in the forum so I'm asking, in all seriousness, what good is it??

Is it just mainly for the fun of chatting with people or is there a more useful aspect that would give me a reason to dust off the license and get a mobile rig.

Not that I'm putting down the chatting aspect but that's just not me  ;)

If I do decide to get a rig what should I go with as a basic system??

So many things so little money  ::)

Bill

kd8wdave

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2008, 03:07:35 PM »
I don't know if I can help you. You're one of the many new hams with a lic that didn't learn code. There are a lot of interesting amateur(ham) radio activities, and ratchet-jawing is just one of them. Rather than go into all aspects of the hobby, I'll just tell you what I have and do.
In my RV;
  a) Icom 706 attached to a screwdriver antenna mounted on the back, attached to a uhf/vhf buried in a wall. It works just fine. I monitor 14.3 mhz most of the time when traveling.
  b) Dual band icom 2m/440 also with appropriate antennas.
  Note: The faceplates on both radios are mounted on the dash or just above the doghouse panel.
  c) 2m stand alone (5w) rig for a 'Tiny Trak' APRS position tracking with GPS. This unit gives my position about every 5 minutes when I 'm traveling. My grandkids like to see where "Granpa n Granma" are.
  d) I carry a backup FT817 and portable fiber glass extension for a mono antenna when parked.

  I like to participate in CW contesting when I can

At my stick house;
 a) Have an older FT101 I am rebuilding for the 'fun' of it.
 b) Have an older icom745 I use for contesting
 c) Can move the icom746 or FT817 into the house if necessary
 c) Have an FT890 I use for contesting.

 There are many places in this country where a 'cell-phone' doesn't work, but my radios do all the time.
 I participate in ARES(Amateur Radio Emergency Service) occassionally, but not full time.
 I like to make contacts with hams in foreign countries. Many times they are better hams then we are.

 No  I don't like CB's.

 cheers

Pierat

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2008, 03:24:21 PM »
Good thread. I've also been interested in amateur radio since I was a kid. Next winter, my wife and I are going to start our RV adventures without benefit of house. I've heard that ham radio can provide emergency communications when other means aren't working, and also that it can be fun to chew the rag from time to time. I have a lot of the same questions as O.P. -- not to hijack his thread.

I am presently taking bare-bones classes for the technician class license. The test is later this week (no code; maybe later). If I pass, I want to buy a transceiver and work on being a basically qualified, confident ham by January, 2009. Suggestions on accomplishing those goals will be much appreciated. Are there internet sites that lay out operating procedures and customs? For RVing?

I'll be looking for a small, inexpensive rig. I've heard handhelds are the way to go. I'd love to get advice from experienced hams, not only how to further my education but what rig to buy. I don't know if inexpensive handhelds would be useful in an emergency, on the road or in the boondocks. For example, I've heard about Yaesu VX170, Kenwood THK2AT, IICOM ICV82 and Alinco DJV17T. Some appear more weatherproof that others, some have digital capability, PC programming, etc. But my basic need is reliable communications in out of the way places. All comments appreciated. Thanks!
We Have Hung Up The Keys!
Washington State

John From Detroit

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2008, 06:34:32 PM »
To fully explain all about ham radio would require I write not a book, but a small library.

The primary use of ham radio is chat.  I mean, Hi Joe, how's your wife and my kids kid of chat.  Since by law we basically can not be paid, it can not (normally) be used for business of any kind (My business was emergency services (police dispatcher) and that is one exception)

However there is so much more.. Marconi had to be a ham radio operator, you see, there were no professionals back then.

Hams also expierment with new tech, They try new things, they strive to get the most out of old thigs. they constantly work to improve both their skills and the hardware they use.  Along the way they form friendships, tell each other about things of interest (Example a closed road might get discussed on VHF) they often provide public service in the form of communications for storms (and storm watches) disasters, parades, races (Not to be confused with RACES) and other events.

I myself have done most of that on occasion, both professionally and as a ham.  I've baby sat a crashed plane, and dispatched troopers to baby sit a crashed plane,  I've provided communications for a fleet of transport vehicles ferrying governor's and their staffs around during the 1980 Republician national convention.. And I've sent Troopers to escort Ronald Regan and Gerald Ford at that same convention.

I've also radioed for the fire department when an off duty deputy sheriff had his personal car go up in flames.

And telephoned for the FD when my troopers radioed a car-b-que to me.

In short, Ham radio provides communications where and when needed.  When Disaster strikes the Red Cross is fond of saying they are the first to arrive,,, and so they are... You see.. The ham radio operator who talks them in did not arrive. he was already there.

But mostly.. We chat


We may chat by voice

We may chat by morse code

By Baudot or ASCII teletype

By assorted digital modes such as PSK MFSK and more

We may even send video (Both slow and "Fast" (normal) scan)

Fax

And more

IF it can be done by radio... We do it.. Likely first
« Last Edit: August 05, 2008, 06:36:41 PM by John In Detroit »
Nothing adds excitement like something that is none of your business
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PancakeBill

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2008, 07:16:14 PM »
Well, for someone looking for an exact usage that will be good for him, it probably isn't any good.  What good is a movie?  A sunset?  A kids smile?  Won't get you groceries or cheap fuel, but are they something that will do you a bnefit of feeling better?  Yes.  Ham radio will make you better at figuring things out.  Participate in something like Field Day and learn, have fun.  We can get comms going in the most bai of conditions, we can be elegant in setting up a nicely planned station, with goals, and priorities.

Will it let us call a cell phone in china? No, but we have a cel that will.  Will it let us learn of new places, expand our goegraphy knowledge, make friends on other continents randomly?  Sure will! 

There are so many facets of ham radio that it could keep you busy thru a couple lifetimes trying them all out, and getting proficient. 

Will it be good for you?  Might be.

As to radios, handhelds are OK for walking around a flea market, but if you want to get the total effect of the hobby, get a real radio.  The Icom 706 is a great one, under 1000 new, find a good used one for from about 500.  Make sure you get the Mk 2 G though, many improvements over the original.    Small, but good power, and all bands you can possibly use.  Couple with a screwdriver antenna and it is a great RV setup. 

Get help with antenna install so you have the right grounding system.

Bill & Jolene W & Koda

Old Faithful, Yellowstone Association Bookstore
1997 Southwind 35P
Toads: 1997 Honda Accord & 1986 Westfalia
FMCA F-401354
1995 OMI Dobro F-60
WA1RI

Luca1369

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2008, 07:24:57 PM »
Well said John and Bill! That's why we're hams. 

Steve
N4UJP
Steve
1990 Fleetwood Southwind 36'
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For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go.
I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move.
Robert Louis Stevenson

A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.
Lao Tsu (570-490 BC)

wpflum

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2008, 08:03:51 PM »
Sounds like my original impression was correct.  Ham radio would be a great hobby and I really ought to learn code, flea powered rigs sound like fun, but unless I'm willing to dedicate much more time to it it wont be of much use or value to me at the present time. 

Oh boy, another hobby to add my list of hobbies I'll have time for after I retire  ::)

I think what I should do is do some background learning of code to get my tech license so I can play around with the hardware end of the hobby when I get to my, cough cough, golden years in a couple of decades ;D

I guess I'll stick to putting a CB in the rig, not that I'm all that interested in CBing but since the majority of the truckers out there seem to be running CB rigs yet I figure it will be good source of info while on the road.  I just bought a CB with built in NOAA capibility so I'll even get weather info out of it.

Bill

John From Detroit

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2008, 02:48:49 PM »
I run a Kenwood TS-2000 with a KAT-1 auto tuner and random long wires, have chatted with several overseas hams using PSK (digital) modes. and a good part of the US on SSB (And Canada)

In addition for the low power VHF/UHF hand held crowd... here is now something called IRLP (and Echolink which is not the same thing) IRLP is the Internet Radio Linking Project (or Plan or Program, not sure of the "P")

I have sat in Las Vegas Thousand Trails and chatted with hams in Australia and North Ireland (Among other places) using a low power hand held  (Las Vegas is a central node, called a "Refelector" so there is a lot of traffic on Kent's machine)
Nothing adds excitement like something that is none of your business
My Home is where I park it.

joelmyer

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2008, 03:30:12 PM »
If I pass, I want to buy a transceiver and work on being a basically qualified, confident ham by January, 2009. Suggestions on accomplishing those goals will be much appreciated. Are there internet sites that lay out operating procedures and customs?

Pierat,

You're taking a class and then you will be taking a test administered by at least three Volunteer Examiners.   Who's teaching the class?  Those folks are a good, perhaps your best starting source of info.

Ask three Hams what the best radio is and you'll get 4 answers.

One of the clubs I belong to (NFARL) has a Yahoo Group.  There was a recent message thread Help for the New Guy? that might be interesting and helpful. 

You might have to join the Yahoo Group to access the messages.  It's expensive.  Almost twice as much as the RVForum.

If you're serious, you should join ARRL.  When I joined, they gave me an  Operating Manual. It would answer a lot of your questions about operating procedures and customs.

Joel
W4JNM
Joel (W4JNM) and Camille, GA

Pierat

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2008, 08:55:42 AM »
Thanks to each of you. I'm up for it!

Bill - Morse code is not required for any license anymore. Lots of changes since I was a kid such as no requirement for station logs, not to mention all the new technology! They even do satellites!

IRLP = Internet Radio Linking Project, according to our study guide. Really cool to send via radio to a computer gateway, it sends the signal to another computer anywhere on the planet, which transfers the signal to another radio to complete the communication. Even from a five watt handheld transceiver costing less than $100. And I thought repeaters were cool. Next, there's a digital internet linking project in process, including surfing and sending/receiving graphics by radio. Etc.

There's also Automatic Position Reporting System (APRS) which automatically adds your position to your transmission if you hook up a GPS to a properly equipped transmitter. Definitely not my grandfather's crystal set.

I'll check out the local ham club and probably visit a couple of ARES and RACES meetings to see what they're like. And join ARRL. Thanks again, all. - John
We Have Hung Up The Keys!
Washington State

wpflum

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2008, 08:57:38 AM »
I thought the tech license still required it  ???

Bill

Elgordo

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2008, 12:09:30 PM »
I am a VE (volunteer examiner) and we give tests once a month here in the Sacramento, CA area.
There is no longer any Morse Code requirements for any class of Ham Radio License.  There are now only three classes of license (Technician, General, and Extra) The old Advanced license is still active if you had it before the current changes and can be renewed.  I have been an active Ham for over 45 years and still find new things to try.  Our friends track us on the Internet when we are on the road. The secret to enjoying Ham Radio is to get past the entry level Technician license. It has become more of a "learner's permit" and one can lose interest very fast. 
Good luck to anyone studing for the test. 
Gordy WB6OVH

John From Detroit

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2008, 12:26:49 PM »
Regarding Mr. Morse's Code

Back in, as I recall, the 1960's the Military stopped requiring Radio Operators to know the code. The reason that the FCC required Hams to know it was so, in time of need, the Military could call upon us for a cadre of trained operators who knew the code.

Finally the FCC, amongst much "noise" from the ham community (Many of us wanted at least 5wpm code requirement and for good reason at least for Extra Class)  Dropped all requirements for Morse Code.

They do, however, require you know Rocket Science to pass the Extra Class test :)

I got my Extra 2 months before they dropped the code. (Tested 3 months before)
Nothing adds excitement like something that is none of your business
My Home is where I park it.

carson

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2008, 12:53:35 PM »
The hams that really enjoy this hobby for the long term have an advantage... it's in their GENES.

   If you have a passion for all the things that electricity, RF and associated circuitry can accomplish, you will be a good candidate for a very rewarding hobby. If not, don't waste your time and money. Chatting ala CB is a minor part for most of us.

carson FL
Carson, 
 West Central Florida
Ex RV'er. (1995 Winnebago Adventurer)
2007 Buick Rendezvous, SUV / CROSSOVER

...Logic works like a charm...

Ned

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2008, 01:09:47 PM »
Someday, over a campfire, ask me to tell you about ham radio in the 1950's when it took more than a credit card to get on the air.  Also about the beginnings of Amateur Electronics Supply, when it was just a small storefront in Milwaukee where I hung out on Saturdays.

KD5DRA formerly K9OQL
-- Ned -- Fulltimer 1997-2013
1997 Holiday Rambler Endeavor LE
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Phil

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #15 on: August 07, 2008, 01:52:14 PM »
Someday, over a campfire, ask me to tell you about ham radio in the 1950's when it took more than a credit card to get on the air.  Also about the beginnings of Amateur Electronics Supply, when it was just a small storefront in Milwaukee where I hung out on Saturdays.

Way back when Terry was King with that funny looking crown.  :)

Phil

Ned

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #16 on: August 07, 2008, 02:27:56 PM »
Terry wasn't around much during the day as he was going to MSOE at the time, but I did know Steve quite well.  Many of the local hams hung around the store on weekends.  We even spent money there sometimes :)
-- Ned -- Fulltimer 1997-2013
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Pierat

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #17 on: August 08, 2008, 02:14:11 PM »
Anyone have experience with ARES or RACES? Sounds like those activities might help one develop skills that might make one a fairly portable, useful volunteer.
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Washington State

John From Detroit

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #18 on: August 08, 2008, 03:54:09 PM »
I have done both ARES (I mentioned assisting with communications for parades and Marathons) and RACES (used to be card carrying 30 years ago) but am not currently involved due to Homeland Security rules for RACES members and the fact that I'm trying to be "Mobile" so don't wish to put my county to the expense of certifying me.
Nothing adds excitement like something that is none of your business
My Home is where I park it.

summerwinds48

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #19 on: August 10, 2008, 06:53:23 PM »
What good is a ham radio?  Ham radio has been a GOOD hobby for me since 1962, when I was first licensed as a novice at the age of 13.  Took all of my exams in the Tampa FCC office, including code up to 20 wpm for the extra class in 1981.  I've worked cw, am, fm, ssb, rtty, QRP, field day, DX contests, and what a thrill it still is.  Built receivers, transmitters, synthesizers, amplifiers, antennas, and fixed em all too.  Worked several hundred countries, heard the shuttle Columbia in the early days, the ISS, and worked the satellites. 

What good is it?  Well, the thrill must come from within, I suppose.  Just the other day we pushed the envelope on 40m on my regular morning sked.  Another ham is located about 100 miles away here in FL, so we usually can't hear each other at 8:30am local time.  So we utilized a remote SSB HF station using Echolink near Washington, DC and what a thrill that was.  Nashville, Clearwater, and Palmdale (in the swamp, FL) finding innovative ways to communicate.

So don't be square, get on the air!
Deen, W4ANR (ex KC4ZD, WA4JMJ, WN4JMJ)

Pierat

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #20 on: August 10, 2008, 10:15:27 PM »
Thanks to all for the info. Glad to hear more. John, good point about county expense and RACES.
We Have Hung Up The Keys!
Washington State

Will

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #21 on: August 10, 2008, 11:45:19 PM »
I used to ask the same question after I got my license.  I always justified it with the same old "when everything else fails" line hams kept feeding me, but it was never convincing enough to stop the questioning.  It just seemed like an antiquated form of communication.

In 2005, Katrina hit my home.  We lost power, water, cable, landline phones, and cellphones.  Most of the Broadcast radio stations had their towers knocked down and several of the TV stations as well.  Communication stopped completely.

It took the military 3 days to set up a communications network sufficient to run minimal operations around the coast, but before the winds had even settled the hams were already on the air.  We had operators stationed at every shelter relaying the needs such as water, ice and insulin.  Operators at emergency dispatches helped organize the local law enforcement.  Operators at Emergency Shelters like Salvation Army and Red Cross helped coordinate rescue efforts.  Perhaps most importantly, we had operators all over the world who helped us make phone communications, relay safety concerns and support needs who helped get the word out to the rest of the world.

Ham radio really did keep south Mississippi running after the storm.  Our "chaotic" operation style is perfectly suited for the kind of massive disaster that demolishes organized infrastructure in a way that no other form of communication has yet to match.  If it weren't for the everyday operators and hobbyists, then ham radio would have likely died out in the recent easy years and many more lives would have been lost to the storm.  Ham radio may seem to be a pointless hobby to many, but it really does come to form when it does become the last line of communication available.
Will - KD5CZF
1990 Champion EuroCoach DP

Luca1369

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #22 on: August 11, 2008, 08:00:46 AM »
I haven't used my rig in a while, so I'm not sure if there are any RV Nets, though I'd be willing to bet that there are, maybe someone here could fill us in on that one. 

Nets are controlled interactive transmissions between the hosting "net controller" (or controllers) and other hams who may be spread out over several large areas.  In the sailing world there are numerous nets covering a large part of every ocean on the face of the planet.

For me, the effort and expense of getting a license and buying a rig was all worth it when a net helped me while sailing in the Bahamas one year.  I was a good day and a half from the nearest community with a real doctor, and had a strong allergic reaction to an antibiotic.  I checked in on the morning ham net and chatted with a doctor who told me how to take care of my problem. 

Now this may not appear much to those of us not sailing in the Bahamas, but there are some of us boondocking in out-of-the-way places and if a quick response is needed, ham radio might be a Godsend (but then again, here we have marvelous devices called "cell-phones").

Steve
Steve
1990 Fleetwood Southwind 36'
http://seaworthy.com

For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go.
I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move.
Robert Louis Stevenson

A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.
Lao Tsu (570-490 BC)

Pierat

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #23 on: August 11, 2008, 06:10:53 PM »
Thanks for that, Steve. Boondocking is one reason I got into ham radio. I'd love to find an RVing net or two. I need to work on assembling a good, small, portable rig that will get through when LOS is insufficient. (And did I mention, inexpensive....)
We Have Hung Up The Keys!
Washington State

Pierat

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #24 on: August 16, 2008, 06:45:50 PM »
Got my technician license! Now, to learn what all that information Really means....
We Have Hung Up The Keys!
Washington State

Luca1369

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #25 on: August 16, 2008, 08:19:00 PM »
Congratulations!!   Now the fun begins...

Steve
Steve
1990 Fleetwood Southwind 36'
http://seaworthy.com

For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go.
I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move.
Robert Louis Stevenson

A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.
Lao Tsu (570-490 BC)

John From Detroit

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #26 on: August 17, 2008, 12:40:10 PM »
Got my technician license! Now, to learn what all that information Really means....

Well that's great.. Now all you need to do is get on the air, upgrade, get on more air, upgrade again and.. Well, there are now only two upgrades you can do.. I did 'em 2 years ago :)

Edited to correct typing erroorrs
Nothing adds excitement like something that is none of your business
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MtnHam

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #27 on: December 05, 2010, 07:53:15 PM »
The question of RV nets came up, but I am not sure if it was ever answered. Indeed there are several Ham Radio nets devoted to the RV'er. One that covers the western states is the Pacific RV Service Net at 9:00-10:00 AM Pacific Time weekdays at 7.268.5 mHz. They have 2 rallies each year, that are attended by many participants.
A fascinating ham event  happens each year at Quartzsite, Arizona, in late January during the RV Show which draws 1,000's of RV'ers, and a large number of Hams.
Ham radio is a wonderful addition to the RV experience!
2005 Chevy 2500HD/Duramax/Allison
2000 Komfort 28' 5'er

Smoky

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #28 on: December 06, 2010, 07:48:21 AM »
Ned and Carson have it right.  Ham Radio is in the genes.  If you need it explained, most likely a different pursuit will suity you more.  I was saddened when the morse code requirement was eliminated.

Smoky - W3PY
Smoky S  Ham radio - W3PY

The magic of a campfire
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tdst51

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #29 on: April 16, 2011, 11:29:25 PM »
To me, it's pretty useless. About 15 years ago I learned code and took the test to be a "Tech". I also took the General test and passed, but did not take the code part. Well, a few years ago I got a notice telling me that I've been upgraded to "Tech Plus". Okay, fine and dandy. Then I found out you could get your General without the code test. So naturally I wanted to get my General license. I don't really remember what happended, but I couldn't get my General. Then I got a letter telling me I was being downgraded to a "Tech". Well, guess what? I got tired of all the BS so I just didn't renew my license. Never used it; pretty much forgot all that I learned, but I kind of wish I would have kept it up. Oh well...
Dave & Theresa Stansbury
Lost in the Ozarks...
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2003 Silverado 1500 4DR Ext. Cab- just over 80,000miles

richard2003

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #30 on: May 08, 2011, 07:59:31 PM »
I have had my ham license for almost 20 years. The thrill of talking to someone my radio to his is still with me.  And I have never done it in an RV but i will be soon.  i remember one time i was talking to a guy in Russia while driving my kids to a soccer game. How cool is that??
Being on the road you can get bored quickly but listening to and talking to other hams is a lot of fun.

Molaker

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #31 on: May 08, 2011, 08:18:03 PM »
I got my "nervous novice" license in 1954 or 1955 (can't remember for sure).  My Jr. High shop teacher was a HAM and he got several of us interested.  My call sign was KN0GSS.  But, in those days we didn't have a pot to pee in and I was unable to get or even build my own rig (it took more than $1 even back then).  I managed to get on the air only a few times using some friends rigs.  But, my interest soon morphed to girls and what money I could scratch up went elsewhere.  If I recall, the Novice license was only good for a year then you had to get a General.  I didn't bother.  Sometimes I think about wadding in again, but I still have too many other irons in the fire.  Oh well...
Tom & Joyce and Ditto the "don't tell her she's a dog" Westie
U.S. Navy (Ret)
2014 Winnebago ERA 70X 24' class B Sprinter chassis

PancakeBill

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #32 on: May 08, 2011, 10:47:19 PM »
Ham radio is like any other pasttime.  Golf, tennis, fly fishing etc, it is for some, not fo others.  Not for others to decide for you.  I am not active right now, but itching to get back on the air, just need to save for a rig and antenna.  Have friends back in RI with my requests and budget. 

Mobile DX is a kick, many EU contacts over my years HF mobile.

Yes, novice back then was 1 year up or out.  My first license was 1964, I went out after a year, then went back about 15 years later, been licensed ever since.
Bill & Jolene W & Koda

Old Faithful, Yellowstone Association Bookstore
1997 Southwind 35P
Toads: 1997 Honda Accord & 1986 Westfalia
FMCA F-401354
1995 OMI Dobro F-60
WA1RI

donandmax

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #33 on: May 27, 2011, 08:09:23 AM »
Ok, let me start out by saying I've had my ham license for 4 or 5 years now but I've never used it.   ???

Some background, for a while growing up I wanted to get my ham license, even bought an old Heath Kit receiver and got at least one confirmed station from Brazil or some other South American country.  I just never could learn code or more precisely, I never took the time to learn code. 

When I found out they dropped the code requirement a few years ago I decided, just as an experience, to take the test to see if I could pass. 

Well I did and got my license but I never had a real desire to cruise the airwaves so I just filed it under 'Things I've always wanted to do as a kid and now I have as an adult but never want to do it again'  meaning I was happy I finally had the license but I never really wanted to use it.

Now that I'm getting into RVing again, we had a class A when I was a kid, I've seen ham radio mentioned a few times in the forum so I'm asking, in all seriousness, what good is it??

Is it just mainly for the fun of chatting with people or is there a more useful aspect that would give me a reason to dust off the license and get a mobile rig.

Not that I'm putting down the chatting aspect but that's just not me  ;)

If I do decide to get a rig what should I go with as a basic system??

So many things so little money  ::

Bill

Oh you can always talk about the weather like most do on their really expensive rigs thats all I ever heard. So I decided I didnt need ham radio. Yea I know they do a lot of good in broadcasting disasters but so do the tv networks. But if ham radio rings your bell then by all means go fer it.
Edit: Fixed quote.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2011, 06:52:12 PM by Tom »
Don and Maxine
1996 damon Intruder 33 ft class A
Amber the spoiled rotten Dachshund

PancakeBill

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #34 on: May 27, 2011, 08:23:08 AM »
What is the point of quoting a previous post and not commenting? 
Bill & Jolene W & Koda

Old Faithful, Yellowstone Association Bookstore
1997 Southwind 35P
Toads: 1997 Honda Accord & 1986 Westfalia
FMCA F-401354
1995 OMI Dobro F-60
WA1RI

John From Detroit

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #35 on: May 27, 2011, 10:20:56 AM »
Another thing about Ham Radio.. It is so varied it's amazing. You can talk to others on many modes, AM-FM-SSB, D-Star and at least one other digital mode.

You can TYPE to each other RTTY, PSK-31, Olivia, MFSK, and again a host of others.

You can send PICTURES to each other.. I have two different software packages that do that using different formats.

You can share Data.

you Can work Sattellite,  Repeaters,  IRLP/Echo-Link, and more

How about standing in Las Vegas with a low power hand held chatting with a ham in Austrulia, half away round the World.. Done that. (IRLP)

Typing to a ham in Spain with only 30 watts power.. Done that too.

Nothing adds excitement like something that is none of your business
My Home is where I park it.

donandmax

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #36 on: May 27, 2011, 10:25:16 AM »
What is the point of quoting a previous post and not commenting?
Read the bottom of the quote and the signature below that.
Don and Maxine
1996 damon Intruder 33 ft class A
Amber the spoiled rotten Dachshund

Jim Godward

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #37 on: May 27, 2011, 11:11:30 AM »
>>Now that I'm getting into RVing again, we had a class A when I was a kid, I've seen ham radio mentioned a few times in the forum so I'm asking, in all seriousness, what good is it??<<

Yes, there are fun aspects of the hobby but there is the serious side too.  Here we support the Search and Rescue people with auxiliary communications - we can communicate where the Law Enforcement and S&R radios do not work because we have additional knowledge and more versatile radios.  We provide supplemental weather information to the NOAA weather people in Billings or Great falls - Hams do this a lot in the mid west and east during tornado seasons.  Some of us provide emergency communications in the case of disasters, think Andrew, Katrina, the recent tornado's in the south and east.  There are groups of Hams that provide specialized emergency communication inside and between Hospitals during phone outages, earthquakes and other mass casualty incidents.  Check this URL for such group, the Hospital Disaster Support Communication system in Orange County CA
  http://www.hdscs.org/]http://www.hdscs.org/] http://www.hdscs.org/

On June 5, I will be part of a group of Hams that will provide emergency communications on a Marathon where no other communication service will work.  There are several other functions locally that will require the same type of support because of the terrain and distances, bike rides, iron man, etc.

The Rose Parade on New Years is supported by Hams for both parade coordination and emergencies, think people watching collapsing etc.  Next New Years, watch for people in white suits with radios in their hands although with the new radios it is harder to spot as they fit in pockets etc. 

There is a lot more to Ham radio that just talking about the weather, what radio you have or what new gadget you bought or made, there is real service too.

« Last Edit: May 27, 2011, 11:13:40 AM by Jim Godward »
Jim
Jim & Pat Godward
AC7PO & KD7ZDM
Hillsboro, Oregon

JayT

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #38 on: May 27, 2011, 04:00:19 PM »
Very well said Jim.

Quote
There are groups of Hams that provide specialized emergency communication inside and between Hospitals during phone outages, earthquakes and other mass casualty incidents.  Check this URL for such group, the Hospital Disaster Support Communication system in Orange County CA
  http://www.hdscs.org/]http://www.hdscs.org/] http://www.hdscs.org/

I am a former member of the HDSCS group in Orange County. My core hospital was Childrens Hospital of Orange County, where my wife works. I enjoyed my service to the group very much. I would like to say that being a ham operator is more than just talking endlessly about nothing, as Jim said we perform a service. We are not just radio guys, we make up the "Amateur Radio Service". We serve our country through our knowledge of communication equipment and our skill to communicate.

Become a ham operator, its not that hard. See web site below

http://www.hamradiolicenseexam.com/

73s

Jay T
K6ruv
We have been RV'ing for 20 years and much tent camping prior to our first RV.
2008 Holiday Rambler Arista 33'
1983 CJ7 Jeep
Amateur radio operator call sign K6RUV
Home is Southern California in the Coachella Valley

Jim Godward

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #39 on: May 27, 2011, 05:53:13 PM »
Jay,

I don't recognize your call as I left the HDSCS in the spring of 2000.  I responded to Either Los Alamitos or Westminster Pulmonary care.  Moved to MT in 2000 and am pretty much out of things we are gone so much of the time in normal years.  Kind of stuck here for a few more months as I work through a back problem.
Jim
Jim & Pat Godward
AC7PO & KD7ZDM
Hillsboro, Oregon

JayT

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #40 on: May 27, 2011, 06:03:58 PM »
Jim,

I first met April when she came in to my store in 2002 and immediately signed up. I was active with her group for about 3 years then life changed and had to put it on hold. Now that it is back on my mind I will see if there is a chapter out here in Palm Springs.

73s

Jay T
K6ruv
We have been RV'ing for 20 years and much tent camping prior to our first RV.
2008 Holiday Rambler Arista 33'
1983 CJ7 Jeep
Amateur radio operator call sign K6RUV
Home is Southern California in the Coachella Valley

Jim Godward

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #41 on: May 27, 2011, 06:14:25 PM »
Jay,

I got into the group about 1978 or 80 through a couple of guys in the Anaheim radio club, Ted Kramer and Ralph Swanson.  I still keep in touch with Ralph when we visit my son in OC.  Not much contact with Ted after he lost his wife a few years ago but usually see him while in OC too.  I have had dinner with April and Joe when ever we are there too.  Long time ago now and a lot of great people in that group.
Jim
Jim & Pat Godward
AC7PO & KD7ZDM
Hillsboro, Oregon

JayT

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #42 on: May 27, 2011, 06:32:13 PM »
I hang out on the Catalina Repeater when I am in town, give me a shout when your in to visit your son. I also monitor it a lot from out here and usually make the repeater in the morning hours. The HF rig is not up but will be installed in the RV in a few months.

Jay T
We have been RV'ing for 20 years and much tent camping prior to our first RV.
2008 Holiday Rambler Arista 33'
1983 CJ7 Jeep
Amateur radio operator call sign K6RUV
Home is Southern California in the Coachella Valley

Tom

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #43 on: May 27, 2011, 06:54:06 PM »
Quote from: PancakeBill
What is the point of quoting a previous post and not commenting?

I fixed the quote Bill; The original had the reply/comment inside the quote.
Tom.  Need help? Click the Help button in the toolbar above.

Jim Godward

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #44 on: May 27, 2011, 09:30:39 PM »
>>Oh you can always talk about the weather like most do on their really expensive rigs thats all I ever heard. So I decided I didnt need ham radio. Yea I know they do a lot of good in broadcasting disasters but so do the tv networks. But if ham radio rings your bell then by all means go fer it.

The TV networks are interested is stories, not real communication to help aid people.  Occasionally they do and the overhead pictures can and do help but coorination of actual relief and transfer of patients is either done by the Law enforcement or some other fixed communication or Hams, most usually Hams.  The Salvation Army and Red Cross both use Hams for coordination of their services.  A look at the ARRL web site, arrl.org will give a better view of the public service performed by Ham volunteers.
Jim
Jim & Pat Godward
AC7PO & KD7ZDM
Hillsboro, Oregon

PancakeBill

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #45 on: May 27, 2011, 11:19:12 PM »
Thanks Tom

Don Max, missed the extra sig in there...

Bill & Jolene W & Koda

Old Faithful, Yellowstone Association Bookstore
1997 Southwind 35P
Toads: 1997 Honda Accord & 1986 Westfalia
FMCA F-401354
1995 OMI Dobro F-60
WA1RI

VA6LM

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #46 on: March 30, 2014, 11:22:15 PM »
The day may come when you wish you had your license and a ham radio.
Be prepared!
Les M
2007 Winnebago Journey 34H
Edmonton Alberta Canada
Ham Radio VA6LM

NT5CC

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #47 on: August 07, 2016, 02:05:25 PM »
Based on what you wrote I would recommend against bothering with Ham Radio.  Unless you are a back country camper or go where there is no cell signal you will get very little use from it.  Even then it would only be in an emergency situation.  Honestly, unless one is willing to spend the time and money to become an accomplished operator the chances of making emergency contacts is pretty slim anyway.  To be quite honest, our hobby and avocation really doesn't need any more people who really don't want to participate.

PancakeBill

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Re: What good is a Ham radio anyway???
« Reply #48 on: August 17, 2016, 12:02:14 PM »
Just starting back up.  Bought an Icom 706 Mkll-G.  Found a bargain on a High Sierra screwdriver antenna. but I think I need to replace the contact ring based on testing.

Planning on getting the RV set up just in time for the low end of the sunspot cycle it looks like.

What good is it?  As the prev post says, none of you don't actually want to really get into it.  You don't just buy a radio and an antenna and expect plug n' play.  However if you are really interested in radio and communications, it is a very rewarding hobby.  Meet many interesting, (some more interesting than expected), and learn lots of things (if you have that particular aptitude and interest), and it is something you can do into your dotage.

Bill & Jolene W & Koda

Old Faithful, Yellowstone Association Bookstore
1997 Southwind 35P
Toads: 1997 Honda Accord & 1986 Westfalia
FMCA F-401354
1995 OMI Dobro F-60
WA1RI

 

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