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Old 25-01-2013, 15:24   #16
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Re: Ham License

I'm not understanding the 'chat bots' part and my Google search just confused me more....Please elaborate....LL
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Old 25-01-2013, 16:14   #17
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Re: Ham License

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Anyone have any helpful hints? Recommended reading?
I studied www.HamStudy.org for two weeks and passed the General on the first try. Good luck and its worth the effort.
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Old 25-01-2013, 16:24   #18
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Re: Ham License

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The other nice thing about PSK31 is that you don't need a TNC or fancy equipment, to listen in just a headphone cable to plug into your laptop or device. And making a cable for the computer to transmit is usually not that much harder.

If someone wasn't intersted in making cables and wanted to buy a simple interface, the SignaLink is pretty good interface between the computer and radio. Not much more that $100 bucks for the interface and a cable for the radio and you're open to other sound card modes as well.
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Old 25-01-2013, 22:47   #19
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Re: Ham License

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I'm not understanding the 'chat bots' part and my Google search just confused me more....Please elaborate....LL
Just software that checks into the net every couple hours with a short human (and computer) readable report with something like position, heading, wind direction, wind speed, barometer, callsign -- 37.77N 123.00W H270@5 W120@15 B01 KJ1BLC-- or whatever.

The important part is to make the format standard. Then it's easy for the software to make a little map of nearby folks that it heard, and what their weather is. A sort of continuous cruisers net and chat system with a couple thousand mile range.

Would be fun on longer trips, like on Galapagos - Marquessas we setup an informal net with people who left around the same time and ... I don't know, there was just something fun about playing chess over the radio, getting taught how to bake bread, and hearing what the experience was for other boats, sharing it with them. There's something compelling about hearing their voices, too, over SSB, some people just smile when they talk.
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Old 25-01-2013, 22:59   #20
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Re: Ham License

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I looked through the license materials and it doesn't look daunting. I think I might just try to pass the technician license in February when I'm in Boston. I know that gives me very limited rights in the radio spectrum, but if that goes ok then I'll follow up with a general exam soon.

Anyone have any helpful hints? Recommended reading?
As I'm sure you know, the complete test question pool is available. I found the Gordon West books to be the easiest way to study and qrz.com the best place to take practice tests. With only 300some questions, it is easier (for many people) to just learn the questions and answers than to tackle the substance. I suggest you take the test cold and see where you score. If you can score in the 50-60% range without study, a day or two of concerted effort (focused simply on learning the correct answers) will put you well into the pass range.

Of course, none of that teaches you much if anything about the substance of the material (except what little works its way into your consciousness despite your indifference) but I have met many committed HAMs who viewed the test as an obstacle and the substantive learning as a lifelong endeavor.

Luck
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Old 26-01-2013, 10:06   #21
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Re: Ham License

Dockhead, you don't say if you are a US or presumably UK citizen, or dual?

An FCC license from the US is intended for US citizens. No reason to come to the US for that though, it is probably offered a couple of times a year at the local US Embassy. (ARRL can find that out with you.)

Either way, a technician's license is mainly VHF and UHF, if you want to work SSB you'll need a General Class license.
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Old 26-01-2013, 11:42   #22
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Re: Ham License

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Dockhead, you don't say if you are a US or presumably UK citizen, or dual?

An FCC license from the US is intended for US citizens. No reason to come to the US for that though, it is probably offered a couple of times a year at the local US Embassy. (ARRL can find that out with you.)

Either way, a technician's license is mainly VHF and UHF, if you want to work SSB you'll need a General Class license.
I'm a U.S. citizen (unfortunately, from the point of view of taxes) and will be in the U.S. anyway.

I'm convinced about the general class license and will start studying tomorrow!
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Old 26-01-2013, 12:25   #23
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Re: Ham License

I took one of the General Class practice exams on qrz.com. I got 54% right, but only by dint of good guessing. I passed a bar exam once with a high score without studying at all, but I had been to law school

I see that I could learn these questions by rote without too much trouble, but I don't want to do that. The questions are interesting and demand specific knowledge. Is there one book I can study to get the foundations of the knowledge required?
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Old 26-01-2013, 12:29   #24
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Re: Ham License

I have a general question, not about the test but about email.

What is available for email, is it a private server that is accessed via HF SSB to a particular email service or can one use his/her gmail or other accounts? What are the fees if any?

Thanks--

Foggy
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Old 26-01-2013, 12:39   #25
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Re: Ham License

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Originally Posted by foggysail View Post
I have a general question, not about the test but about email.

What is available for email, is it a private server that is accessed via HF SSB to a particular email service or can one use his/her gmail or other accounts? What are the fees if any?

Thanks--

Foggy
Ha, even I know the answer to that!

For marine SSB you have Sailmail, a special (brilliantly conceived) ultralow bandwidth mail system that lets you send and receive plain text messages. Yiu connect to their servers through a Pactor modem. You pay $240 a year and you are severely limited on connection time (not data sent and received) to their server. You also have the totally ingenious saildocs which let's you getvweather exports, grib files, and even web pages sent to you by robots.

If you have a ham license you can use winlink with no limitations on connect time, but you are not allowed to have any kind of business correspondence.
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Old 26-01-2013, 12:45   #26
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Re: Ham License

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Originally Posted by msponer View Post
I've been hoping to setup a PSK31 sailors chat frequency, and then try to evolve it to a cruisers net that I don't have to wake up for -- just let my laptop check in for me and read the transcript later.

I'd also want a map of other people who've checked in, with wind roses for their weather reports, overlaid with the current forecast.

The overall vibe is you just leave your radio on, with a connected laptop or tablet, and there's an n thousand mile chat room with other cruising sailors. Add paging -- so that if someone wants to talk to us, they can type our callsign and the computer will beep.

The next step would be to try and make some kind of mesh network out of it, and to allow other connectivity to the network for satellite, cellular, or wifi sailors, though I think the third party traffic rules would mean that only folks with ham licenses could participate on these networks.
Absolutely fantastic idea!

Most of what you need to say to other people can be said in 140 bytes or so at a time.
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Old 26-01-2013, 12:54   #27
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Re: Ham License

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Is there one book I can study to get the foundations of the knowledge required?
For ham radio, The Radio Amateur's Handbook is sort of the Bible and Bowditch combined. It's really good, really thick, and it covers way more than you need for the license. It's not a study guide -- more of an encyclopedia -- so it's probably not what you are looking for. But, you really should get it anyway.
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Old 26-01-2013, 13:09   #28
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Re: Ham License

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Ha, even I know the answer to that!

For marine SSB you have Sailmail, a special (brilliantly conceived) ultralow bandwidth mail system that lets you send and receive plain text messages. Yiu connect to their servers through a Pactor modem. You pay $240 a year and you are severely limited on connection time (not data sent and received) to their server. You also have the totally ingenious saildocs which let's you getvweather exports, grib files, and even web pages sent to you by robots.

If you have a ham license you can use winlink with no limitations on connect time, but you are not allowed to have any kind of business correspondence.

Thanks Dockhead-- and I wish you the best with your upcoming ham exam. Many, make that too many years ago I tried to learn the code to take the exam. Got up to just around 10 wpm and gave up with it. I wish I stuck with it even although I believe there will be few and few users as time passes. I did get the commercial 1st class radio operator's license with the radar endorsement. Not even sure if those licenses are needed today.

At one time every radio station was required to have a station technician (called then a station engineer) on site at their transmitter. Even that is long gone today with high reliability equipment available.

Foggy
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Old 26-01-2013, 13:10   #29
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Re: Ham License

You guys have inspired me. Got til March to study. Should be a breeze, already got a 74 on technician, not so much on general...
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Old 26-01-2013, 13:52   #30
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Re: Ham License

1. The US Amateur licenses are available to anyone with a US mailing address. You don't have to be a US citizen. You may even be able to take the exam outside the US (at, say, a local club) but you will still need somebody in the US to forward you mail from the FCC.
2. You must take and pass the technician's license exam before you can take the general class exam. Ditto for general to amateur extra. But you can take them all at the same exam session for the same cost as only one.
3. The Gordon West books are highly thought of but I used the ARRL License manuals. Read it through once or twice then -
4. Go to <RadioExam.org> and start taking sample exams. An hour a day for a week or two and you should be passing both the technician and general exams every time.
5. Go to the ARRL web site and click on exams. They will find exam sessions near you. They will even guide you to an exam session outside the US. While you're on the ARRL website, click on clubs, find the clubs near you and join one.
6. You can get a small HT (for handy-talky) that operates on UHF and VHF ham bands for anywhere from $50.00 (I have three Chinese made Baofeng UV5Rs) to $500 or so.
7. You can operate your own HF radio once you get your general class license. Good used ones run around $500 to $750 but be careful about returning faulty rigs. You can get a new Yaesu-857D for just over $800 which has all the amateur bands from 440 MHz to 160 meters.
8. I highly recommend the Tigertronics Signalink USB computer-radio interface to run digital modes. RTTY and PSK31 are probably the most common digital modes in use today.
9. Download and run a program called Fldigi from <http://www.w1hkj.com/download.html> which will let you use an large number of HF digital modes.
10. Don't get a PACTOR modem!! They cost around $1500 and aren't worth the extraordinary price. A SignalLink USB only costs $100 with cable.
11. To send e-mail have a look at PSKmail. They seem to operate mostly on 30 meters.

Your first step in ham radio is to Listen, Listen, Listen.

73 Tashtego AK4NA
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