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I Got Some Used Ham Equipment This Weekend

This weekend, my uncle lent me some of his currently unused ham equipment. So now I'm in possession of a good dual-band mobile, a mag-mount antenna, and a very nice HF rig. Driving back yesterday, I tried to get on some repeaters and it seems that the mobile set-up works good on 70cm, but I have difficulty getting into a 2m repeater. This afternoon, I drove out towards the repeater in town and determined that if I am within about a mile of the repeater, transmitting on high power, I can get into it. Otherwise, I'm out of luck.

I don't know much about how to troubleshoot this sort of thing. At this point, I'm guessing it might be the antenna. There are a couple of places where the coax is cracked -- I wonder if the line is sound. Perhaps after the holidays I'll have some time to find a local ham who has some time to help me troubleshoot it -- swapping out my antenna for a known good one, trying my antenna on a known good transceiver, etc.

In the mean time, I can listen to my hearts content on 2m and 70cm. If I'm feeling adventurous, I can try to get someone to talk with me on 70cm. I managed to do that yesterday afternoon as we drove into town and I identified myself like this: "KJ4AED, mobile. Driving through Burlington without 2m capabilities." Someone answered immediately saying that with an identification like that, he couldn't resist a short chat. It was pretty funny.

I found the manuals for both of the loaner radios I have now. I've read through the one for the mobile radio, but had already figured out most of how it operates. I've briefly scanned through the one for the HF radio. Getting that radio working is going to be another candidate for finding a local ham to help -- before I start trying to get an HF antenna around here, I'd like to take this radio to a known good antenna and see how it operates.

Anyway, there are definitely fun times ahead as I continue to get more involved in ham.

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( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
wxgeek
Dec. 21st, 2007 12:26 am (UTC)
Perhaps after the holidays I'll have some time to find a local ham who has some time to help me troubleshoot it -- swapping out my antenna for a known good one, trying my antenna on a known good transceiver, etc.

You need an SWR meter / power meter for Christmas
drmellow
Dec. 21st, 2007 12:29 am (UTC)
I actually have an SWR meter, I think, from years ago when I had a CB radio. I need to go dig in the basement and find it....

I also have a digital multimeter that I used to verify that the battery was providing power, etc.

What I *really* need is a buddy who actually knows how to use this stuff to help me learn. :-D
wxgeek
Dec. 21st, 2007 02:00 am (UTC)
Well, if you guys would just put your life into upheaval and move to NW Florida, I could help y'all out! :D

Make sure that SWR meter is okay to use on the VHF bands; lots of those SWR meters from the CB days are meant just to poke around at about 27MHz.
wxgeek
Dec. 21st, 2007 12:35 am (UTC)
Sorry; I got a call right as I was writing, and submitted too soon. :D

But yes, you need an SWR meter. They're not too expensive, and they're a great little diagnostic tool for the money. What kind of HF radio have you got?
drmellow
Dec. 21st, 2007 12:38 am (UTC)
It's a Kenwood TS-820S. My uncle said it's a mix of tube and solid state technology. It was his main workhorse for a lot of years. I think he said the last time he turned it on was a couple of years ago. I'm really looking forward to trying my hand on some HF work.
wxgeek
Dec. 21st, 2007 02:32 am (UTC)
Oh, that's a nice radio! I love Kenwood products. My current VHF rig is a Kenwood TM-271. It's literally been through rain, wind, lightning and flood, and it's got...eh, maybe a scratch. =)
christtrekker
Dec. 21st, 2007 10:17 pm (UTC)
How much does it cost to get into ham? I've always thought amateur radio was a great geek hobby.
drmellow
Dec. 21st, 2007 11:37 pm (UTC)
It is a great geek hobby. Join us.

You can spend lots and lots of money in the hobby, or you can get in for very little money. So far, e.g., I've bought 2 study guides (~$25/each) and paid 2 test fees ($12/each) to get my Technician license, then upgrade to General. I've used EchoLink with my existing hardware (a computer and microphone) to talk with hams around the world. It's possible to get licensed without buying a study guide and just get the Technician license, for just the price of the exam fee ($12).

Of course, once you get into it, you're going to want an actual radio. It seems to me that popular starter radios are either a dual-band handheld or a dual-band mobile. Again, you can spend lots and lots of money, or you can find stuff very affordable -- less than $200 for a decent radio, maybe.

Once you start looking at HF radios, the price starts climbing. Same for once you start looking at any radio with fancy options and stuff.

There's also a huge market for used equipment, if you want to go that route.

If it interests you at all, you should at least get your license. You can always acquire equipment later. ;-) That's what I'm doing.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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