Author Topic: PrepperJim Ham Update  (Read 22586 times)

Offline PrepperJim

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PrepperJim Ham Update
« on: March 01, 2016, 08:48:49 PM »
Since I am starting the Amateur Radio journey, I thought that I would start a new thread. It may or may not be of interest to anyone other than me, but here it is.

Item 1: I have been studying for my Technician's licence exam. The No-Nonsense Guide has been instrumental to my preparation as has the iPad Amateur Radio Exam Prep. app. I was supposed to take the test last Saturday, but there was a conflict on the ARRL website and the local group's schedule such that the test did not take place. This is partially on me because I did not call and only emailed. Lesson learned: communication redundancy is important. I will take the test instead on March 5th. After I take and pass the test, I will opine on the preparation and testing process. I have this feeling that I have been tricked and manipulated by the testing organization. ARRL and HAMS in general. Manipulated in a good way. ;-)

Item 2: I ordered and received my Baofeng UV-82L today . I will confess to eagerly awaiting the Amazon box today and compulsively checking the USPS website for delivery confirmation throughout the day. Yep. It was pathetic. Of course I know that the battery must be charged for certain period of time which will preclude even listening today. It is currently plugged in and waiting for the battery to charge. (hmm..5 hours after 7 pm is midnight...right. Sure, I will wake up at midnight to program the radio. NOT) . I read the minimal documentation word for word. I understood about 60% of it. The rest I will learn "on the job" or when I mess up.

Item 3: I ordered a data cable and driver which also arrived. Sheesh. What a pain in the hindquarters to configure. The mini-DVD was not helpful even to a computer savvy person like me. It has been a long time since I read an installation guide. ;-) I am a Mac guy, but the software was intended for Windows. Thankfully, I have an old Windows laptop hanging around. But good gracious, installing the cable driver then downloading CHIRP for Windows was harder than it had to be. Part of it was the age and speed of the old laptop, but it could have been easier. The bottom line is that I am ready to load the CHIRP data file (hat tip to Cedar for posting an article from http://www.backdoorsurvival.com/how-to-set-up-a-ham-radio/regarding CHIRP or I would not have known about it).

Next step: Loading the CHIRP file onto the BaoFeng and listening. Tomorrow is another day. How early it starts is a matter of how early my mind starts in the morning. ;-) 


Offline Cedar

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2016, 09:05:35 PM »
Looking forward to hearing about your progress.

Cedar

Offline Carl

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2016, 04:42:46 AM »
Check at this page for info and you will prefer CHIRP for programing the critter.

http://www.miklor.com/UV82/

Ham radio is fun,just like Rubics Cube.

Offline Chemsoldier

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2016, 05:33:21 AM »
Glad to hear you are joining the merry bands.

Offline Cedar

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2016, 06:08:14 AM »
Ham radio is fun,just like Rubics Cube.

Funner I think..I cheated on the Cube

Cedar

Offline PrepperJim

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2016, 08:11:06 AM »
After some minor issues, I have programmed the UV-82L with all the local repeaters.

In scan mode, I hear some activity on the local repeaters. I received some transmissions on the WIN network. There were some operators from California, Minnesota and a guy from Japan. A couple of local rednecks talking about their breakfast. 

I will go mobile in a little bit and see how the HT works in the car.

Offline Canadian Prepper

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2016, 06:12:39 PM »
Funner I think..I cheated on the Cube

Cedar

Yes, it all came down to carefully peeling the stickers.  ;)

Offline PrepperJim

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2016, 05:10:49 PM »
I used the UV-82 in my car yesterday and today. I could receive very clearly off the local repeaters. Of course, I did not transmit as I don't have my license.

I found the cable driver for Mac and now have CHIRP up and running on my Macbook.

But question: when I am scanning for traffic, there is a repeater that is broadcasting nothing but static. According Repeaterbook, it is only about 5 miles from me and it has a 20 mile radius.  It is an echolink repeater. Does that have anything to do with it? Should I contact the club that owns it?

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2016, 05:13:35 PM »

But question: when I am scanning for traffic, there is a repeater that is broadcasting nothing but static.

Try adjusting your squelch.

Offline PrepperJim

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2016, 06:37:44 PM »
Try adjusting your squelch.

I had the squelch set to the manual-suggested (yes, I RTFM) 5. I upped it to 7 and then 8 and still hear the static. I think there is something wrong. That is my Day 2, pre-Tech (surely I am an expert, right?) analysis. 

Offline jerseyboy

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2016, 09:40:43 PM »
I used the UV-82 in my car yesterday and today. I could receive very clearly off the local repeaters. Of course, I did not transmit as I don't have my license.

I found the cable driver for Mac and now have CHIRP up and running on my Macbook.

But question: when I am scanning for traffic, there is a repeater that is broadcasting nothing but static. According Repeaterbook, it is only about 5 miles from me and it has a 20 mile radius.  It is an echolink repeater. Does that have anything to do with it? Should I contact the club that owns it?

Is it a digital repeater? Like dstar or system fusion?  Also is the "static" constant or intermittent ? How about a nearby high power transmitters on some other frequency whose harmonic sits on that frequency?

Jerseyboy

Offline Carl

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #11 on: March 04, 2016, 04:52:05 AM »
I had the squelch set to the manual-suggested (yes, I RTFM) 5. I upped it to 7 and then 8 and still hear the static. I think there is something wrong. That is my Day 2, pre-Tech (surely I am an expert, right?) analysis.

Often cash registers and or gas pumps that use credit cards (and many other of todays devices) put out RF and cause localized (250 foot) problems ...but most likely you found a D STAR or other digital repeater in use.  OR a stuck repeater as it sometimes happens due to a loose squelch setting on the repeater.

Offline PrepperJim

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #12 on: March 04, 2016, 06:07:05 AM »
I've never made a secret I am in Houston. This is the repeater.

https://www.repeaterbook.com/repeaters/details.php?state_id=48&ID=995

Offline scoob

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #13 on: March 04, 2016, 08:13:02 AM »
I have a couple of freqs that hang up my scans too.  I just check the "skip" box in CHIRP for that freq, and it excludes it from my scans.  I need to figure out how to do that manually though.

Offline PrepperJim

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2016, 09:31:08 AM »
Passed the technician's licence exam this morning. Much to my surprise, I got 35/35. I attribute that score to the dozens of practice tests I took plus successfully guessing on 2 or 3 questions.

So, the wait for my call sign to hit the FCC database. The testing guys thought it would be two weeks. On the upside, this gives me time to acquire and install a mobile or base station. Time to go shopping!

Oh, since I had to wait an extra week to take the exam, I started to read the material for the general exam. I will opine later on this licensing process.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #15 on: March 05, 2016, 02:06:42 PM »
 :clap:  Allright PJ!

Offline Canadian Prepper

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #16 on: March 05, 2016, 05:21:10 PM »
Congratulations and welcome to the fraternity! :)

Offline Ms. Albatross

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #17 on: March 05, 2016, 06:08:27 PM »
Passed the technician's licence exam this morning. Much to my surprise, I got 35/35.

 :clap:

Offline scoob

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #18 on: March 05, 2016, 07:45:19 PM »
WTG Jim!
Do the same thing for the general, and it'll be pie. =)

Offline machinisttx

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #19 on: March 05, 2016, 08:40:00 PM »
As others have mentioned, it's entirely possible that you're picking up RF interference from another source, possibly from your own vehicle. There are several spots around the local towns I drive through that cause all sorts of RFI on my rig, no matter what frequency I'm on. I either turn the radio off or hit the mute button. A problem with the repeater wouldn't be unheard of either.....one of the local repeaters seems to have a multitude of recurring issues that the owner has been unable to track down.

My one complaint with the Baofengs I own is that the squelch function seems to have little or no effect. Noisy frequencies that do not break squelch on my FT60 will break the max squelch setting on the Baofengs.

Offline PrepperJim

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #20 on: March 05, 2016, 09:16:07 PM »

Offline PrepperJim

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #21 on: March 05, 2016, 09:17:45 PM »
Congratulations and welcome to the fraternity! :)

Thank you. +1

Offline PrepperJim

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #22 on: March 05, 2016, 09:19:26 PM »

Offline PrepperJim

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #23 on: March 05, 2016, 09:21:09 PM »
WTG Jim!
Do the same thing for the general, and it'll be pie. =)

Thank you very much.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #24 on: March 07, 2016, 10:10:27 AM »
Congrats!  When you get your call, to whatever extent you are comfortable, PM me and others your callsign and we can get established in the amateur community.

Offline PrepperJim

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #25 on: March 07, 2016, 03:31:17 PM »
Congrats!  When you get your call, to whatever extent you are comfortable, PM me and others your callsign and we can get established in the amateur community.

I would be happy to. I have no problem with other Survival Podcast hams knowing who I am and where I live. I am not going to "broadcast" it widely, but people on this board have better things to do than show up at my house to acquire my Baofeng.

It is going to be probably two weeks before the call sign hits the database. I am using this time to listen instead of speak. There are some active repeaters in the area and some local guys having regular drive-time discussions. They are helping each other out on all sorts of ham topics. The local IRLP or WIN network (I am confused which one controls the repeater) is quite active with a bunch of nets each week. I've stumbled upon quite a few just listening. Of course, it is a lot of weather checks and personal comments between old friends. But, if someone has a technical question, people jump in to help. Then again, there are the guys that time out the repeater going on and on. But, I am just listening so it does not matter to me. It is a learning experience in Ham etiquette.

Offline PrepperJim

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #26 on: March 10, 2016, 06:31:49 PM »
So, I have been thinking all week long while waiting for my license to hit the FCC database. These are the things I am thinking about:

1) About a month ago, I downloaded a Survival Comm PDF from Sparks31. I thought it was on his blog, but the blog appears to have gone dark a long time ago. Despite my best efforts, I cannot find the link to the PDF which I thought was excellent. If I find it again, I will post it.

This is the Amazon link. After I downloaded the PDF, read some of it, I donated to the guy via the web.

http://www.amazon.com/Communications-For-3-ers-Survivalists-Sparks31/dp/1329097572

From that PDF and defunct blog, he made an excellent point regarding having a good scanner and antenna array just to listen.  I felt like spending some money today, so I purchased a Uniden Bearcat BCD 436HP. Yeah, a little pricey, but it was either that or the Home Pro II. So now I am looking at scanner antenna installation options. ;-)


2) As soon as I can legally transmit, I will spend some time testing my current equipment (UV-82L), stock rubber, Nagoya, and Tram antenna both in the office and in the attic. I am really curious if I can reliably hit the local repeaters with a variety of setups and locations. I am really curious if I can transmit with the antenna in my attic since I have radiant barrier insulation. Before I jump into a mobile rig, I would like to hit the local repeaters at 5W first and verify if an attic antenna is viable. Then, I can figure out my next step with regards to scanner antenna configurations.

3) If the attic does not work, I am mulling over some external installations (subject to wifey approval). 

3) I am leaning heavily to an Icom 888H D*Star radio as my first mobile/base station. If I like it in the office, I can get it installed in my tactical sedan.

4) While I have been waiting for my call sign, I have been reading up for the General test.  Lots of memorization coming!

 

Offline Carl

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #27 on: March 10, 2016, 08:14:42 PM »
Make sure to include a pizza pan size metal to use as a ground plane for the mobile antenna in the attic (I use a side plate from an old PC) And I would not over shop for a scanner antenna...most work well enough with the built in antenna

Offline machinisttx

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #28 on: March 10, 2016, 08:25:54 PM »
If you don't already have one, you should consider picking up a SWR meter for the 2m band since you plan on a different antenna. Lots of them out there for HF, but not so many for 2m.

Offline PrepperJim

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #29 on: March 10, 2016, 08:48:56 PM »
Make sure to include a pizza pan size metal to use as a ground plane for the mobile antenna in the attic (I use a side plate from an old PC) And I would not over shop for a scanner antenna...most work well enough with the built in antenna

I stole a cookie sheet from the kitchen and my wife said, "we need that." I told her we would buy a new one that was not so stained.

As I know, receiving is really not such a trick; I am receiving on both VHF and UHF off the repeaters very clearly. Although I am within 5 miles of many of the local repeaters, I am concerned with <5 watts from the HT. I hear some painful transmissions from people on HT. Granted, I am probably better off just because of the short distance and topography of the area.

So, my first HT contact better be forgiving. :-)