Author Topic: $400 for new HAM  (Read 3917 times)

Offline cgraves

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$400 for new HAM
« on: October 09, 2013, 04:46:24 PM »
I've decided to go ahead and become a HAM operator, I don't have any experience with Hams, but have been using CBs for a year or so and have some experience with radios in my time in the Marines.  I have started doing some online study for my test, and plan on going to the local ham club meeting later this month.  However, I would like to go ahead and purchase a radio.  My main reason for wanting this is to be able to receive and distribute news, especially in an emergency situation.  Several folks on here have recommended the cheap BaoFengs as new radios, and I may pick up 2 of them as backup radios.  I would like y'alls advise on what to buy to get set up for local comms.  As I said in the subject, I have a budget of around $400.  We live on a few acres, so no restrictions on antenna size.

Thanks in advance,
               Cody from MS

Offline SCWolverine

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Re: $400 for new HAM
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2013, 08:31:44 PM »
Hey Cody,

First-Thanks for your Service!

 :)

When you say local...are you meaning "local" as in your town and surrounding counties? or Local as in the Gulf Coast?

if it's the first-then a 2m single band or dual-band mobile/base would suit your needs and budget!

I'm a Kenwood guy and these are the two I'd recommend (along with the seller!)

http://www.mtcradio.com/kenwood-tm-281a-144-mhz-mobile-with-free-shipping/
Kenwood 2m base/mobile

http://www.mtcradio.com/kenwood-tm-v71a-144-440-mhz-mobile-big-sale/
That one adds the 440 Mhz allowance that you'll receive when you pass the Technician.

of course you'd need a power supply if using in the house and some sort of antenna.

hope that helps! (a little)

SCW

Offline Bradbn4

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Re: $400 for new HAM
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2013, 09:27:02 PM »
There are 3 basic licenses, Tech, General, extra

the more basic the license; the higher the freq you are allowed to work on
the higher the freq - the shorter the distance they will work

you can go real cheap into hand held units that will work on Uhf Vhf freq
http://www.amazon.com/Baofeng-Newest-Walkie-Talkie-5-watt/dp/B00BLPCAZG
for an idea.  You can add on external antennas to extend the range but the h/w will be basic line of site +15% without hitting a repeater. 

It won't do the job of a real base station; but then it won't break the bank. 

Some light reading on helping out during bad times
http://www.arrl.org/chapter-4-ares-and-races

questions you want to ask yourself - mobile, hand held, base station.






Offline Meldrew

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Re: $400 for new HAM
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2013, 12:22:01 AM »
Do yourself a favor and don't forget that just because you plunked down $40 for the Baofeng doesn't mean you're through buying stuff for the HT.  It's wise, for example, to have an AA battery back or a second battery for the radio ($20-ish) as a backup.  You might want to carry it in dirty areas so you'll need a case ($20-ish).  You can use your HT in the car in which case you'll want an antenna ($15-$150 inc. mount) and a car power cord ($20-ish). A handheld speaker mic is helpful too ($15-ish).  The HT can also do some light base station duty too.  That'll require a nice J-pole (or something else) for $40-ish or more and some LMR-400 coax at 90 cents a foot.  Not great perhaps but it does work if you have repeaters close. 

My numbers are hardly absolute but I hope the point is made.  You can easily spend $200 getting the $40 HT to do what you need.  Get your Tech and learn what you need then study for your General and learn what HF can do for you.  Once you've done that THEN think about spending $400+ on a radio.  I think you'll be happier that way.  YMMV

Offline TexasGirl

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Re: $400 for new HAM
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2013, 12:40:58 AM »
Cody,

You may want to consider studying for the General class also, then sit for both exams.  A general ticket will allow you to use HF frequencies, which are long range compared the 2-meter band.

Then, get plugged in with a local group.  Put the word out that you are looking for gear.  Many guys have second or third rigs they might want to sell.  Much of my equipment came from a "silent key" (ham operator who passed away).  This opportunity came word-of-mouth in the group, and his wife made a deal that was pennies on the dollar.

~TG

Offline MaddoginMass

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Re: $400 for new HAM
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2013, 06:40:24 AM »
Cody,

TexasGirl nailed it.  Sit for both the Technical and General exams at the same time.  I very much regret not doing that when I got my Technical license 6 months ago.  I'm studying for my General exam now, which I have had to put off twice already due to conflicts.  I'm using HAMTestOnline to study.  You have to pay for it, but it is very much worth it and I highly recommend them.

Regarding radios, I have the Baofeng mentioned in the earlier posts and think it is an excellent starter radio, which will turn into my backup radio when I get more into it.  You really can't go wrong for $40.  I'm hitting repeaters that are about 15 miles away.


Offline armymars

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Re: $400 for new HAM
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2013, 12:22:23 PM »
   Check out lets talk NVIS here on the ham board. That may give you some more to think about. 73

Offline Canadian Prepper

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Re: $400 for new HAM
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2013, 11:32:04 AM »
I don't want to belittle the value of handhelds, but there's quite the selection of 2m mobile units that transmit from 50-75W for under $200 that with the addition of an antenna could be operated from a vehicle, or inside the home with the addition of a power supply. That would give farther reach to other 2m transceivers operating simplex and perhaps hit some farther away repeaters. If you budget everything right, you might still be able to purchase both the 2m mobile and a pair of Baofengs for added versatility. And if you could find some deals through the local HAM network, I'd suggest trying to get a VHF/UHF mobile with cross-band repeat capability. Then you'd be able to transmit from a Baofeng to your mobile, which would then etransmit you message at higher power on the alternate band.

I've only got a Yaesu handheld at the moment and am saving up for an HF rig (FT-897D), but a decent VHF/UHF mobile would probably be the most useful option in the event of a local emergency.

Offline cgraves

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Re: $400 for new HAM
« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2013, 03:19:43 PM »
Thanks for all the advice, sorry about not replying sooner, but its been a busy week for us as we decided to move our timetable on moving from the springtime to before the holidays. 

Still, I ordered two of the BaoFengs from amazon, and have the larger antennas on the way.  I also picked up an old Radio Shack desktop scanner at a garage sale for 10$ so I will be playing with that this weekend also.  As soon as the longer antennas come in I will see what repeaters/traffic I can pick up and go from there as far as sizing my antenna for the base station.

 

the more basic the license; the higher the freq you are allowed to work on
the higher the freq - the shorter the distance they will work




This simple breakdown here is worth its weight in gold.  It took alot of research and comparing to figure it all out in black and white.

Offline austinrob

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Re: $400 for new HAM
« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2013, 06:52:33 AM »
even after spending $80on a pair of HT's you can about meet your budget if you want to use HF bands.

find a used Kenwood TS-430 (they're going for about $350 on ebay, you might find one locally cheaper) and homebrew an antenna for it.  If you can find a manual tuner ($100ish on ebay -- again, look locally), you can use your transceiver on more bands.  The tuner will put you over budget, and you'll need a spool of wire (I use #12 insulated copper stranded) for an antenna build, but it's close.

Offline simpleguy

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Re: $400 for new HAM
« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2013, 04:25:55 PM »
I started with a Yaesu VX-6R, backup battery, replacement antenna, RT Systems programming software package, mobile charger and 'AA' battery backup unit for around the $400 mark.  Then I bought a mag mount antenna, and an 857D.......and a couple Baofeng's and I just finished purchasing the remainder of the Buddipole system......

It's kinda addictive.  That said, I think the General ticket will help you out a ton if you want to 'reach out'.  Maybe a Yeasu 817 would be a smart puchase, they are light, good quality and have a ton of features and if you get a good deal on a used one from qrz.com forums, you'll likely be around your goal.