Thursday, February 28, 2013

Stack Exchange

So, another one of my hobbies for a long time has been a web site called Stack Exchange, and I need to put in a plug for a future site dedicated to my new favorite hobby, Amateur Radio.

First of all, Stack Exchange is a website devoted to asking questions around a particular topic, and answering them. By asking and answering questions, you win reputation points, privileges on the site, and cool badges. There is a ton of Stack Exchange sites, I will refer you to this complete list for them all, but there are some which Hams in particular will be interested in.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Lesson 1- Radio Waves

Today's world is full of radio waves. Just looking at where I am sitting, I see a tablet, smart phone, printer, wireless router,  laptop, coordless phone, GPS receiver, key fob, and bluetooth adapter, all of which are radios. How do these radios work?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Optimizing equipment

So, as mentioned in my previous blog entry, I have a magnetic mount antenna. I've been trying to figure out how to best use it. I thought I'd share what I figured out.

My first attempts were to just give my call sign. I was able to make contact some of the time, but usually only with a very powerful signal, usually in the 30W range. To make a contact with a repeater less than 10 miles away, that's just too much, especially without any major obstacles in the way...

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Benifits of Amateur Radio

So, I've been asked a few times, what's the point of Amateur Radio? Why does the FCC (And virtually every other country) give a portion of their valuable frequency for use with Amateur Radio? There's a few things which I've been able to decode so far, that I thought I would share.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Finding a Good Indoor Antenna

As previously mentioned, I am currently running a small antenna indoors that is really meant to be a car antenna. It has some serious limitations. People assure me that I should be able to make contact with a good antenna with only a few watts, I find myself having to go up to as much as 30 for what should only take 5 sometimes...

Monday, February 18, 2013

Studying the attic

Amateur Radio has the opportunity to take me places I've never been before. Today, I managed to visit one such of these places. That place was my attic.

I should state before I even begin that this is still very much a work in progress. I've been wanting to put antennas up in my attic for a while, with the goal of improving my range, plus it would seem to be a convenient place to place an HF antenna. I poked my head up there for the first time to see what I had to work with, and I took a few pictures to show to everyone. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Radio Nets

Attended my first nets tonight, where I was actually transmitting, instead of just listening. I've decided that my radio is working just fine for listening, but I'm having some issues getting a good signal to the outside world. I'm going to really have to come up with a good way to fix that...

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


It took me a while (Two days), but I was finally able to actually talk to someone though my radio, using a local repeater. Not just a short conversation, but actually a fair bit lengthy. I'm starting to see how propagation matters. When I tried to get on the nets, I needed 30W of power to communicate. Today, I was able to communicate with only 10W, just fine, using essentially the same set up.

Monday, February 11, 2013

My first radio, and future goals

There are two bands which I have the most interest in talking on. This greatly shaped what equipment I decided to buy. The two bands are 2m, and 75m. For the time being, I'm located only on the 2m, but I have my eye opened for the 75m some day. How did I pick these two? Let me take it one at a time.

Two meter seems to be the single best band to start with. No doubt I'll have people dispute that, but let me explain a bit. First of all, there are a multitude of 2m repeaters out there. Repeaters have a couple of nice effects. First of all, they allow you to talk with people further away than you normally could. If you can make the connection to a repeater, then anyone who can connect to that repeater can talk to you. This tends to allow you to talk to anyone in a metropolitan area. From my brief exposure thus far, I have heard people from as far as 30 miles away, and I'm barely started! The other nice thing about repeaters is they give a single frequency that you can go to and meet people. Put in a few key near-by repeaters, and you'll never lack people to talk to!

75m is a bit harder to explain, but I'll give it a shot. This frequency allows you to talk distance occasionally, but more than that, it allows you to talk well to people who you could actually drive to in a few hours, if you really wanted to. 75/80m seems to be a very common frequency for use in disaster relief, because of this characteristic.

I'm also interested in 20m, and a few others. But I really just don't have a lot of knowledge of high frequency, so I'm starting out slow and working my way into it. Besides, the cost for a HF transceiver is much higher than a 2m rig, and there's really no big hurry.

So, what did I end up getting? Well, I decided to just start out with 2m, with an eye towards the future. I bought a Yeasu FT2900R transceiver, a C*MET M-24M magnetic mount 2m/70cm antenna, and an Alinco DM-330MV power supply. The power supply was somewhat more than I really need now, but it will last me for some time to come. The radio seems to work well for me for now, I've been able to do fine. Having an indoor antenna is definitely causing me some issues, but it seems to work well enough for me for now. I have all the power I will ever really need on the 2m band, so I'm content for the time being. I can recommend this setup, most especially the transceiver, to whomever might be interested in buying their own gear.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


My name is Ben, call sign KD7UIY. I have had my amateur radio license for 10 years, at the technician level, but haven't used it much for the last 6 years. I got it because I was involved with the building of a student satellite at the University of Arizona. The only terrestrial contacts that I made during that time were with people involved with the program, although I did make a fair number of satellite contacts, via which satellites escapes me now.