Author Topic: How to Set-Up and Master Ham Radio Without Going Crazy, Part 1  (Read 12979 times)

Offline Cedar

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How to Set-Up and Master Ham Radio Without Going Crazy, Part 1
« on: December 18, 2015, 07:43:58 PM »
I just found this article and it looked interesting enough to pass on
How to Set-Up and Master Ham Radio Without Going Crazy, Part 1
http://www.backdoorsurvival.com/how-to-set-up-a-ham-radio/

Cedar

Offline PrepperJim

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Re: How to Set-Up and Master Ham Radio Without Going Crazy, Part 1
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2016, 01:10:20 PM »
Excellent. Thank you.

I want to get started with HAM's and have no idea where to start. These articles are just the right speed for me!

Offline DWSDVSE

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Re: How to Set-Up and Master Ham Radio Without Going Crazy, Part 1
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2016, 01:27:02 PM »
Thanks! I'm trying to motivate my wife to get involved so we can use our lovely new 2-meter Baofeng radios rather than just me having a lisc and thus her not being able to really use them to do any test runs... ::)




Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: How to Set-Up and Master Ham Radio Without Going Crazy, Part 1
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2016, 01:57:53 PM »
Deal alert.  The AK-47 of mobile radios, the Yaesu FT-2900r is ONLY $120 right now

http://www.hamradio.com/detail.cfm?pid=H0-010078

I happily paid $160 2 years ago.  A few of us on TSP have these.  BaoFengs are great, but this beast has 75 watts, is very simple to operate.
Was my first radio after earning my technician class.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: How to Set-Up and Master Ham Radio Without Going Crazy, Part 1
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2016, 05:32:26 PM »
The AK-47 of mobile radios, the Yaesu FT-2900r
That's about right.  It really is simple to program by hand, WAY easier than a Baofeng.  The Nifty guide booklet, about $15, is worth the money too.  $120, that is cheap.

I noticed that the Backdoor Survival article recommends Dan Romanchik's "No Nonsense Guide" to study for Tech.  Good advice, and the guides for General and Extra are major helps also.  They're all question, the correct answer (and only the correct answer), and a half-page of explanation to help it stick, wash rinse repeat for every single question in the test pool.

Offline xxdabroxx

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Re: How to Set-Up and Master Ham Radio Without Going Crazy, Part 1
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2016, 05:46:30 PM »
This is kinda off topic but very related, I think. 

Is there anywhere that I could go to find practical application of what HAM is all about?  I've always been interested in HAM radio but I don't know anyone personally who has a license.  I'm really not sure how I would use it or what it could be good for.  I used to play around with CB's when I was little but not much.  I used the PA function on the truck I drove during high school a bunch, but not usually for any good.  Scaring other kids out of the river one weekend nights was a great pastime, the tan stock Jimmy looked an awful lot like a forest service ranger.  LOL

I have had the idea that they may be great for longer range communication in the mountains but I'm not sure of the effective range when it comes to the Sierra Nevada's, a lot of up and down and thick tree cover.  Thinking of talking to camp while out on the fire roads exploring.  Which would also mean my dad or another in the party would need to be licensed too.  Anyways, any info on how HAM is useful/ what it is really like talking on it would be great. 

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: How to Set-Up and Master Ham Radio Without Going Crazy, Part 1
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2016, 06:04:20 PM »
This is kinda off topic but very related, I think. 

Is there anywhere that I could go to find practical application of what HAM is all about?  I've always been interested in HAM radio but I don't know anyone personally who has a license.  I'm really not sure how I would use it or what it could be good for.  I used to play around with CB's when I was little but not much.  I used the PA function on the truck I drove during high school a bunch, but not usually for any good.  Scaring other kids out of the river one weekend nights was a great pastime, the tan stock Jimmy looked an awful lot like a forest service ranger.  LOL

I have had the idea that they may be great for longer range communication in the mountains but I'm not sure of the effective range when it comes to the Sierra Nevada's, a lot of up and down and thick tree cover.  Thinking of talking to camp while out on the fire roads exploring.  Which would also mean my dad or another in the party would need to be licensed too.  Anyways, any info on how HAM is useful/ what it is really like talking on it would be great.

Oh my.  It's a huge hobby today with many facets.

There are local bands that bahve similarly to police radios.
These are limited to line of sight, and what walkie talkies and vehicle mounted radios usually do.

Then you get into long distance bands on lower frequencies.  These go over mountains, around the earth - depending on solar radiation and other natural factors.

Most every starts with local communications, and coincidentally the first level amateur license grants privilege on those bands.

Beyond talking, you can communicate with space craft, mountain climbers, yachters, aircraft pilots, etc.

Recently there's been a convergence of the maker movement, how often want to incorporate some radio aspect into their projects, and get a license to be legal.

Offline Chemsoldier

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Re: How to Set-Up and Master Ham Radio Without Going Crazy, Part 1
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2016, 06:08:42 PM »
Deal alert.  The AK-47 of mobile radios, the Yaesu FT-2900r is ONLY $120 right now

http://www.hamradio.com/detail.cfm?pid=H0-010078

I happily paid $160 2 years ago.  A few of us on TSP have these.  BaoFengs are great, but this beast has 75 watts, is very simple to operate.
Was my first radio after earning my technician class.
As one of those who owns a 2900 I have to give it a thumbs up.  Bone simple, easy to program (well everything is easy to program after a Baofeng) and powerful.

Offline jerseyboy

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Re: How to Set-Up and Master Ham Radio Without Going Crazy, Part 1
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2016, 09:07:09 PM »
This is kinda off topic but very related, I think. 

Is there anywhere that I could go to find practical application of what HAM is all about?  I've always been interested in HAM radio but I don't know anyone personally who has a license.  I'm really not sure how I would use it or what it could be good for.  I used to play around with CB's when I was little but not much.  I used the PA function on the truck I drove during high school a bunch, but not usually for any good.  Scaring other kids out of the river one weekend nights was a great pastime, the tan stock Jimmy looked an awful lot like a forest service ranger.  LOL

I have had the idea that they may be great for longer range communication in the mountains but I'm not sure of the effective range when it comes to the Sierra Nevada's, a lot of up and down and thick tree cover.  Thinking of talking to camp while out on the fire roads exploring.  Which would also mean my dad or another in the party would need to be licensed too.  Anyways, any info on how HAM is useful/ what it is really like talking on it would be great.

I like to think about it as frequency allocation and power.

CB uses 27MHz which is mostly local but can talk father with during the day if the sunspots are active but low power 5W
MURS uses 150MHz and is FM and local and low power
FRS is 460MHz and is local and very low power 0.5 W
GMRS is 460MHz and is local low to medium power 5-50W

Okay so Ham gets you all of these frequencies and way more and power up to 1500 watts which is 3000 times the power of FRS.

That said, a 1000 Watt amplifier for 144 MHz is $2000 and is not something you will be carrying into the mountains on your back.

After all of this fun equipment stuff, Ham radio is also about skill and learning how to communicate in an emergency and how to set up a makeshift antenna to get on the air when your other antenna is destroyed by the storm.

It really is what you make of it. Every Ham on this board has a different reason for doing it and a different focus on the hobby in general.

Good luck
Jerseyboy

Offline Cedar

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Re: How to Set-Up and Master Ham Radio Without Going Crazy, Part 1
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2016, 09:12:48 PM »
.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: How to Set-Up and Master Ham Radio Without Going Crazy, Part 1
« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2016, 09:14:45 PM »
Is there anywhere that I could go to find practical application of what HAM is all about?
...
Anyways, any info on how HAM is useful/ what it is really like talking on it would be great.
The book Ham Radio for Dummies gives a great mile-high view of the subject.  It won't do anything much to help you study for the tests, but it'll get you started on the bigger questions of "how do I reach across town?" or "how do I reach two states over?" or even "what's this ham stuff good for anyway?"  Lots of that kind of info.  Also, because it's a book, you won't hurt its feelings if halfway through you decide that ham isn't for you.

Offline Sailor

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Re: How to Set-Up and Master Ham Radio Without Going Crazy, Part 1
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2016, 04:50:34 AM »
Listening is just as if not more important than talking.  If you have a Baofeng at least program a local fm radio station and know how to get to it.  And get a scanner.

Offline SCWolverine

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Re: How to Set-Up and Master Ham Radio Without Going Crazy, Part 1
« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2016, 05:48:06 AM »
Excellent. Thank you.

I want to get started with HAM's and have no idea where to start. These articles are just the right speed for me!

http://amateurradio15.com/where-to-start/
  Linked from my Ham Radio Podcast site.  We cover the hobby from a new guys perspective...if you're into podcast.

Offline Hurricane

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Re: How to Set-Up and Master Ham Radio Without Going Crazy, Part 1
« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2016, 01:25:53 PM »
 :popcorn:

Offline armymars

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Re: How to Set-Up and Master Ham Radio Without Going Crazy, Part 1
« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2016, 01:58:26 PM »
Goggle your local ham club. Just type in your city or county and "ham radio club". Goggle will do the rest. Then go to one or two meetings and meet the people.Ask what they like about ham radio and you'll get many different answers. If any fit what you want you have your answer.

Offline PrepperJim

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Re: How to Set-Up and Master Ham Radio Without Going Crazy, Part 1
« Reply #15 on: February 18, 2016, 09:59:37 AM »

http://amateurradio15.com/where-to-start/
  Linked from my Ham Radio Podcast site.  We cover the hobby from a new guys perspective...if you're into podcast.

+1

Offline PrepperJim

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Re: How to Set-Up and Master Ham Radio Without Going Crazy, Part 1
« Reply #16 on: February 18, 2016, 11:24:39 AM »
I am upping my priority on communication gear and training above some other priorities.  While I have done some preliminary research, I am in a quandary about how to proceed to accomplish my goals within my constraints.  I probably have the same set of goals and questions as many people who want to jump into alternate communication methods. 
For reference, I live in a large urban area with mostly flat terrain with the exception of tall buildings, many repeaters.

Goals:

1)   Obtain training and gear necessary to communicate via radio during a power, cell phone and internet interruption. Philosophy of use: < 3 miles, neighborhood watch/protection, etc in an urban environment that is mostly flat. This would involve other people who would be unlikely to have a ham license.

2)   Obtain training and gear necessary to communicate via radio during a power, cell phone and internet interruption with my wife while she and I are either at home or work. She will be uninterested in a ham license. Distance approximately 7-10 miles. We may be able to get to a high point and potentially be line of sight. 

3)   Obtain training and gear necessary to communicate (non-cell phone) with and without use of repeater at a range of 30-50 miles. Philosophy of use: 30-50 mile emergency communication to outside the area of a regional emergency situation to access evacuation opportunities.

4)   Obtain training and gear necessary to communicate with or without the use of a repeater while mobile (evacuating) or otherwise mobile. Philosophy of use: mobile communication such that I can contact other assets ahead of me while evacuating (road conditions, gas availability, check points, etc)

Constraints:

1)   Time: I don’t have a huge amount of time. I am willing to read and learn, but I need ready to operate solutions out of the box. I have no doubt I can study and pass the technician level exam rather quickly, but getting involved with a local group, attending meetings, etc etc will be difficult given my work and family commitments. I am not saying it is impossible; I am saying it will be difficult.

2)   Space: I don’t have a space that I can dedicate to a “shack.” Preferred solutions will be setup, take down, and stow. Permanent external antennae installation will not be a reality, at least today.  Attic may be a possibility.  Permanent car antennae installation may be possible, but not preferred.

3)   Cash: I have far more cash than time. My resources are not unlimited, but I can exchange money for time, within reason.

I am thinking that the endpoint will be a mixture of FRS (Family Radio Service), MURS (Multiple Use Radio Service), some sort of handheld Ham, and some sort of car-portable base station Ham with setup/take down antennas. Of course, I’ve left off CB (Citizen Band) in favor of Ham. I’d also like to understand the advantages/disadvantages of MURS versus GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) operating in my environment. Would MURS reach out 10 miles (probably not). This link is good, but having more detail would be great.

https://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=7694.0

Offline armymars

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Re: How to Set-Up and Master Ham Radio Without Going Crazy, Part 1
« Reply #17 on: February 18, 2016, 07:33:45 PM »
  You would be surprised at what you can learn while talking to someone  on the local repeater while driving to and from work. People love to show off what they know.  Everything takes some time. There are books that cover most of what you want to know from the ARRL. Turn key systems for radios, antennas even Go Boxes are out there. A quick detach Hustler or trailer mount for a screw driver antenna would hide most set ups till you needed it. Pull the radio out of the bag, mount it on a portable mount that fits in a cup holder on your consul  and your good to go. Some radios will cover 160 meters to 6 meters plus 2m FM.
 

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: How to Set-Up and Master Ham Radio Without Going Crazy, Part 1
« Reply #18 on: February 18, 2016, 10:09:51 PM »
Jim, read through the content at this link, http://advancedsurvivalguide.com/2010/07/25/2-way-radio-options-for-the-non-ham/

It sounds like some combo of FRS/GMRS and CB radios will cover your needs, except for
Quote
3)   Obtain training and gear necessary to communicate (non-cell phone) with and without use of repeater at a range of 30-50 miles. Philosophy of use: 30-50 mile emergency communication to outside the area of a regional emergency situation to access evacuation opportunities.
For that, the options are either VHF and repeaters, VHF and simplex if you have conveniently placed mountains or tall buildings, or 80 & 40m ham using NVIS antennas. 

Offline Carl

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Re: How to Set-Up and Master Ham Radio Without Going Crazy, Part 1
« Reply #19 on: February 19, 2016, 04:46:17 AM »
HAM RADIO is a hobby and involves the operator learn how to use the radio in a more advanced than mechanical manner.
 The radio is NOT MORE CAPABLE THAN OTHER (FRS,GMRS,CB, MURS) radios...the operator learns how to take advantage
of terrain and what band conditions to an effective manner and achieve the long distances that the hobby is known to do.

A new operator is best equipped by a 50 to 75 watt radio and good home or mobile antenna as a first radio as low power
handy /portable radios are limited use without operator skill and often leads to operator FRUSTRATION as to why no one
seams to hear them.

 I have guided many and aided many here at TSP into Ham happiness and will answer any questions to the best of my capability.
I have been Ham active for 25 years and learned from many costly mistakes,not all will agree with me and my opinions on
what is best,I can only give advise on what has been best for many.

Ham radio can be magic...But not without a commitment to gaining SKILL.

Offline Chemsoldier

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Re: How to Set-Up and Master Ham Radio Without Going Crazy, Part 1
« Reply #20 on: February 19, 2016, 07:15:45 AM »
HAM RADIO is a hobby and involves the operator learn how to use the radio in a more advanced than mechanical manner.
 The radio is NOT MORE CAPABLE THAN OTHER (FRS,GMRS,CB, MURS) radios...the operator learns how to take advantage
of terrain and what band conditions to an effective manner and achieve the long distances that the hobby is known to do.
...
Ham radio can be magic...But not without a commitment to gaining SKILL.

Well said Carl.

Most communications technology has developed towards not requiring skill on the part of the operator.  Using a ham radio can take expertise to get the most from it.  Cell phones though, trade the versatility of the ham for ease of use.  Thousands of towers and maintenance personnel (and a lot of money) do the work so you don't have to, but if those things get interrupted...so do you. 

Likewise, a lot of unlicensed services takes most of the skill out of it by limiting the frequencies, power settings, antennas, etc that you can use.

Amateur radio though is an open form of competition.  The individual has a tremendous array of bands, antennas, radios, operating modes to best solve their particular communications challenge.  Unfortunately that means you need to learn about it and practice it.


Offline PrepperJim

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Re: How to Set-Up and Master Ham Radio Without Going Crazy, Part 1
« Reply #21 on: February 19, 2016, 07:57:44 AM »
Jim, read through the content at this link, http://advancedsurvivalguide.com/2010/07/25/2-way-radio-options-for-the-non-ham/

It sounds like some combo of FRS/GMRS and CB radios will cover your needs, except forFor that, the options are either VHF and repeaters, VHF and simplex if you have conveniently placed mountains or tall buildings, or 80 & 40m ham using NVIS antennas.
+1

Offline PrepperJim

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Re: How to Set-Up and Master Ham Radio Without Going Crazy, Part 1
« Reply #22 on: February 19, 2016, 07:58:44 AM »
HAM RADIO is a hobby and involves the operator learn how to use the radio in a more advanced than mechanical manner.
 The radio is NOT MORE CAPABLE THAN OTHER (FRS,GMRS,CB, MURS) radios...the operator learns how to take advantage
of terrain and what band conditions to an effective manner and achieve the long distances that the hobby is known to do.

A new operator is best equipped by a 50 to 75 watt radio and good home or mobile antenna as a first radio as low power
handy /portable radios are limited use without operator skill and often leads to operator FRUSTRATION as to why no one
seams to hear them.

 I have guided many and aided many here at TSP into Ham happiness and will answer any questions to the best of my capability.
I have been Ham active for 25 years and learned from many costly mistakes,not all will agree with me and my opinions on
what is best,I can only give advise on what has been best for many.

Ham radio can be magic...But not without a commitment to gaining SKILL.
+1

Offline PrepperJim

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Re: How to Set-Up and Master Ham Radio Without Going Crazy, Part 1
« Reply #23 on: February 19, 2016, 08:42:23 AM »
HAM RADIO is a hobby and involves the operator learn how to use the radio in a more advanced than mechanical manner.
Ham radio can be magic...But not without a commitment to gaining SKILL.

I am listening and hear you. I realize it is going to take more than "plug and play" to meet my objectives. As much as I would like to get something out of the box plug it into the wall outlet and be talking with someone in a far away place, that is just not going to happen.

I also had a revelation. I thought I might be able to put an antenna in my attic. Nope. We installed radiant barrier insulation last year on the rafters. So, once again another constraint on what I can do.   :(

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: How to Set-Up and Master Ham Radio Without Going Crazy, Part 1
« Reply #24 on: February 19, 2016, 09:15:24 AM »
I also had a revelation. I thought I might be able to put an antenna in my attic. Nope. We installed radiant barrier insulation last year on the rafters. So, once again another constraint on what I can do.   :(

Hmm - while that won't help, you still might be able to route feedline THROUGH your attic and discretely exit out a vent under your roofline, etc.
For receiving a simple 14-16awg wire laying across your roof shingles may work surprisingly well.

Offline Carl

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Re: How to Set-Up and Master Ham Radio Without Going Crazy, Part 1
« Reply #25 on: February 19, 2016, 09:31:15 AM »
I am listening and hear you. I realize it is going to take more than "plug and play" to meet my objectives. As much as I would like to get something out of the box plug it into the wall outlet and be talking with someone in a far away place, that is just not going to happen.

I also had a revelation. I thought I might be able to put an antenna in my attic. Nope. We installed radiant barrier insulation last year on the rafters. So, once again another constraint on what I can do.   :(

The typical home antenna can be a simple ground plane and at 19 inches tall will detract little from the neighborhood view.
Hint: I used burglar alarm foil tape to make an antenna  on window glass of a business office...was 2 years before anyone noticed.
A big stick antenna may serve well too,but commercial antennas are easy as most will not require tuning with an SWR meter before use.

Also a wire HF antenna ,if not within 2 feet of vapor barrier WILL WORK,with slight efficiency loss as the vapor barrier,while conductive...is not grounded and can act as a sympathetic radiator...if it is you only choice, go with it.

Offline PrepperJim

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Re: How to Set-Up and Master Ham Radio Without Going Crazy, Part 1
« Reply #26 on: February 19, 2016, 10:33:05 AM »
Hmm - while that won't help, you still might be able to route feedline THROUGH your attic and discretely exit out a vent under your roofline, etc.
For receiving a simple 14-16awg wire laying across your roof shingles may work surprisingly well.

Interesting. Thanks. I have a lot to learn. Guess I will read up on antennas and formulate questions intelligent enough to ask.

Offline PrepperJim

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Re: How to Set-Up and Master Ham Radio Without Going Crazy, Part 1
« Reply #27 on: February 19, 2016, 11:00:55 AM »
Also a wire HF antenna ,if not within 2 feet of vapor barrier WILL WORK,with slight efficiency loss as the vapor barrier,while conductive...is not grounded and can act as a sympathetic radiator...if it is you only choice, go with it.

Could you give me an idea of dimensions, mounting, etc or even a commercially available solution that could be mounted? My Google-fu is weak today and the Interwebs are not cooperating.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: How to Set-Up and Master Ham Radio Without Going Crazy, Part 1
« Reply #28 on: February 19, 2016, 11:51:10 AM »
Could you give me an idea of dimensions, mounting, etc or even a commercially available solution that could be mounted? My Google-fu is weak today and the Interwebs are not cooperating.

What band(s) do you want to work?  I will happily share some choices.

You'll find that a bunch of us TSP hams are big fans of wire antennas.  If you can accurately measure and cut a wire to length, add a $30 balun and you've got a resonant di-pole antenna.

We're digressing a bit into theory, but the HIGHER the frequency, the shorter the wave, thus the smaller the antenna. 

So a 1/2 wave antenna for 14.250mhz (20 meter band) is:

Code: [Select]
300 / (frequency in mhz) = wavelength in meters

300 / 14.250 = 21.05 meters
1/2 wave  = 10.5 meters total wire length
each side gets a 1/4 wave, so divide in half again: 5.25 meters of wire on each side of the feed point (balun).

That's a long way of saying that you need about 1/2 the length of wire relative to the wavelength for any given frequency.

So if you have ~$30 and 30 linear feet to spare, you can setup a 20 meter band antenna.

Offline PrepperJim

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Re: How to Set-Up and Master Ham Radio Without Going Crazy, Part 1
« Reply #29 on: February 19, 2016, 12:23:50 PM »
Just for the sake of discussion, suppose I want to buy the above "AK-47" and operate in the 145 Mhz range which is the 2 meter band. If a half wave is one meter, that is 39 inches. I am also considering the Yaesu FT-60R which is 144-148Mhz & 430-470Mhz, the later is the 70 cm.

That is what I am considering at this point, subject to change as I learn more.

I cracked open my book and see that for Technician-levels can mostly operate above 50 Mhz. That would preclude me from putting up 10 meters of wire in my attic unless I took the General licence test.