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  #11  
Old 07-02-2013
CoryHolmes CoryHolmes is offline
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Default Re: Why you should get a HAM radio now and then get your license
Originally Posted by theksmith View Post
Amateur radios, or HAM radios work much like CB or FRS/GMRS (walkie-talkie) radios, but require a license to operate. I'll get into that more later, but first let me explain why I think anyone who travels to remote areas should just go ahead and purchase a HAM radio.





5 Reasons you should get a HAM radio right now:

1. HAM radio just works better than CB.
There are many technical reasons that it's better, but let me simply assure you that the sound quality and communication distance using even an inexpensive hand-held 2-meter HAM radio is vastly superior to CB radio. First consider that CB is AM whereas 2-meter HAM is FM for local use. Just think how much better FM radio usually sounds than those old AM stations. ALso, even the entry-level HAM license allows you to use far greater power than a CB radio can legally put out. Finally, one of the most important factors is that there are a plethora of repeaters in the united states. A repeater is a special type of radio that relays communications. Repeaters greatly increase the distance and reliability of radio communications since they are usually placed on the highest available mountain/building/tower. To keep it simple, think of a repeater as a guy on top of a mountain that relays what people down below on different sides of the mountain are showting up to him... as long as 2 people can reach the same repeater, they can communicate even if their radios can't directly reach each other.

2. You may legally transmit on a HAM radio without a license in an emergency situation.
We all know that cell phone signal can be non-existant in remote places, and if you've ever run with a large group you know CB radio doesn't reach far either. Having an alternate way to communicate in the event of an emergency could be priceless. If the situation is truly a life threatening emergency and no other option exists, it's completely legal for a non-licensed person to transmit on amateur radio frequencies to summon help. Read sections 97.403 and 97.405 of the FCC regulations to see for yourself. Keep in mind - if you don't know how to use the radio (what frequencies are commonly monitored, how to program in a repeater, etc), then it won't be of any help. So if you are going to get one for emergencies, you should learn about it, and then you might as well take the test and get your license.

3. Listening to a HAM radio without a license is 100% legal.
Listening in on HAM frequencies does not require any license. Some emergency/government services use amateur radio frequencies, which can be useful to listen to (though a dedicated "scanner" is often better for this purpose). Beyond that, it's simply fun to listen in to local repeater chat so you can get a feel for how people use HAM and learn the lingo.

4. Having an actual radio in front of you drives you to learn and makes learning easier.
There's no better prompt to learn and get a license like having an actual device in your hands. This is the main reason I think people should just get one right away - without a radio it's easy to put off learning and getting the license, but once you hear for yourself you'll be hooked. I'm sure that this post will upset some HAM users as the general consensus seems to be to discourage people from getting a radio until they have a license. I do understand the concern, but I don't agree.

5. A 2-meter handheld radio can currently be had for less than $50.
Though Yaesu and Kenwood mobile or hand-held units are considered the standard, there are a couple of decent Chinese/Korean brands with hand-held units for around $50. I recently purchased a Baofeng UV-5R+ from Amazon for $43 and I'm actually quite impressed with it. A small magnetic mount antenna from Diamond or Comet will run you another $35 - $45. Just as with CB, an external antenna greatly improves the experience (your vehicle is a giant metal shield that blocks signals from getting in or out well).


3 Reasons why you should then get your license:

1. It's nearly free!
The entry-level "Technician" license is free. It lasts for 10 years and can then be renewed online. The fee for the test is usually around $15, depending on where you take it. Many places offer free classes and then hold a testing session at the end.

2. It's not that hard after all.
To get a license you likely need to learn some new information about radios and electronics. If you are good at memorizing things, then just do so to get the license ASAP and then let the knowledge sink in as you use it. The test is only 35 questions, but they are pulled from a pool of nearly 400. All the questions and correct answers are available here for you to memorize: http://www.ncvec.org/page.php?id=349. You can also take practice tests online for free to see when you are ready to take the real test: http://aa9pw.com/radio/technician/. Many places offer free classes, and most use this book: http://www.amazon.com/Ham-Radio-Lice...dp/0872590976/ Note: if you looked into getting a license in the past, rejoice that you no longer need to learn morse code to get a Technician license.

3. You'll be tempted to start transmitting, and there are fines and/or jail time if you get caught doing so without a license.
The HAM radio community is self-policing for the post part. The majority of HAMs I've talked to are pretty darn anal about following all the rules, and having a license is rule #1. Finding someone that is illegally transmitting is not hard for an experienced HAM (many clubs even have contests where they practice finding a signal using specialized equipment). Once you piss of a couple local HAM users by not following the rules, you can expect to hear from the FCC. Check out the "warning letters" section here: http://transition.fcc.gov/eb/Amateur...s/Welcome.html





I'm selling HAM pretty hard here, but any from of communication is going to have strengths and weaknesses. CB radio's strength is that it's ubiquitous. No radio is going to help you if there's not someone else with the same type of radio listening. You should certainly still get a CB radio first if you're doing 4x4 runs with groups. HAM may not be the end-all silver bullet for communications, but it is an important tool to consider for your arsenal along with a mobile phone, satellite messenger, PLB, and that scratchy old CB radio.

This post has been
led lighting on technical details, so if you have any questions just ask! Also be sure to check out our sister club, http://www.4x4ham.com. They are a good bunch of folks also based out of Arizona. Several of their members are also members here.


Yes you are absolutely right.. These radios seems to be very effective and I am glad to have the information. I will get them very soon so thanks again

Last edited by CoryHolmes; 07-03-2013 at 10:40 AM.
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  #12  
Old 07-11-2013
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dzJeepChic dzJeepChic is offline
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Default Re: Why you should get a HAM radio now and then get your license
After visiting the practice test website links above I found another website to be extremely helpful. I had finally decided to buy the book and study in my spare time for the Technician Class License, but then for the same amount of money, I found https://www.hamradiolicenseexam.com/ where you study and answer practice exam questions at the same time, making it easier to understand. So far I'm making fast progress working through the topics, and their software is keeping track of what I missed and what I've mastered, thus randomly quizzing me appropriately. I finally feel like I'm making progress toward getting this done this summer.
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  #13  
Old 07-11-2013
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Default Re: Why you should get a HAM radio now and then get your license
cool!
Originally Posted by dzJeepChic View Post
After visiting the practice test website links above I found another website to be extremely helpful. I had finally decided to buy the book and study in my spare time for the Technician Class License, but then for the same amount of money, I found https://www.hamradiolicenseexam.com/ where you study and answer practice exam questions at the same time, making it easier to understand. So far I'm making fast progress working through the topics, and their software is keeping track of what I missed and what I've mastered, thus randomly quizzing me appropriately. I finally feel like I'm making progress toward getting this done this summer.
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  #14  
Old 07-12-2013
ob1jeeper ob1jeeper is offline
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Default Re: Why you should get a HAM radio now and then get your license
Thanks for that link D... I signed up and studied most of last evening, and am at the point that I hope to take the test on Aug 2nd...
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  #15  
Old 12-20-2013
reybie reybie is offline
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Default Re: Why you should get a HAM radio now and then get your license
Made an impulse buy yesterday of this radio for ~$30. Now I have no excuse to not take the test.
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  #16  
Old 12-20-2013
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Number7 Number7 is offline
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Default Re: Why you should get a HAM radio now and then get your license
Originally Posted by reybie View Post
Made an impulse buy yesterday of this radio for ~$30. Now I have no excuse to not take the test.
Same one we have, it works good short distance. George
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  #17  
Old 12-20-2013
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Maddogjeeper Maddogjeeper is offline
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Default Re: Why you should get a HAM radio now and then get your license
If you buy a magnetic base, external antenna for your handheld you can greatly increase your range. I have a 12 inch magnetic antenna and had it mounted in the center of my F350 roof and talked to theksmith more than 20 miles away and over a low ridge at Hole in the Rock, UT.
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