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Old 27-01-2013, 18:52   #46
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Re: Ham License

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Originally Posted by familycruisers View Post
I'm finding that even though I'm passing the tests, I will still have no clue wth I'm doing.
I can pass the test also but, I dont understand alot of what I am passing! I just want to communicate with other folks(talk) and get emails and WX,patch phone calls etc...Do I really need to know all that tech stuff?..I have a coach and he is 85 yrs old and been doing this for many yrs. but he is way over my head most of the time,its like he forgot what it was like starting out and cant "come down " to a beginners level,he sure does have patience!
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Old 27-01-2013, 19:06   #47
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Re: Ham License

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A little story about the extremely high value of ultra low bandwidth (in the Internet, not radio sense) digital comms. When they were developing the GSM standard, which is now the backbone of world mobile telephony, the idea of Short Messaging Services was debated, and was intensely ridiculed, and got included almost by accident. Everyone was surprised when the exchange of ridiculously tiny - 128 bytes!! Not megabytes! Not kilobytes! Just bytes! -- messages would surpass voice in use of the mobile telephone system.

Why not the same on HF radio? What would the challenges be to handle such tiny scraps of data over HF? Wouldn't it be cool?!
Now that's a helluva good idea!
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Old 27-01-2013, 19:09   #48
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Re: Ham License

The truth to the matter is...you really do not need to know all the technical electronics stuff. Having said that, every time you have a radio/nav/electronics issue you will need to have an expensive pro to take a look and solve your problems. You need to know some communications protocols, as marine communication is not like CB communication. Today's boats are loaded with electronic gear. It is necessary to have a basic understanding of Power Consumption and Generation. You are not expected to be an EE, but it would help if you know how to isolate a problem so as not affect the entire boat. Mauritz
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Old 27-01-2013, 19:19   #49
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Re: Ham License

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Originally Posted by Teknav View Post
The truth to the matter is...you really do not need to know all the technical electronics stuff. Having said that, every time you have a radio/nav/electronics issue you will need to have an expensive pro to take a look and solve your problems. You need to know some communications protocols, as marine communication is not like CB communication. Today's boats are loaded with electronic gear. It is necessary to have a basic understanding of Power Consumption and Generation. You are not expected to be an EE, but it would help if you know how to isolate a problem so as not affect the entire boat. Mauritz
Good insite! thanks
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Old 27-01-2013, 19:28   #50
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Re: Ham License

[QUOTE=Musicians reportedly learn Morse more quickly, so you may have a head start!
Chip[/QUOTE]

I knew there was a reason I couldn't get past 7wpm back in the bad old code needed license days. I'm tone deaf, can't even play a radio.

You don't need to know much about electrickery to use an HF radio. You do need to have an understanding of propagation to figure out which Frequencies will work for you and when. That's a matter of a little study and experience using the radio.
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Old 27-01-2013, 20:05   #51
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Re: Ham License

Being a long time HAM, I'm glad they dropped the code requirement. Most old timers don't feel the same. I learned code as a 10 year old, and got used to the sound each character made. Then in my 40's for my USCG license I needed to pass code via flashing light. That was hard, as my mind had to change what I saw into the sounds it would have been.

Welcome to HAM radio Dockhead, between lithium batteries and this, our paths are crossing a lot. When I cruised, it was HAM radio only, no Internet, Iridium, cell, wifi, and I enjoyed the social aspect so much I went to the trouble of having an amp for the radio. So easy to stay in touch with other cruisers that you are buddy boating with but have different boat performance. Never out of range like VHF, not to mention having warm welcomes by local land based HAMs in a new anchorage. HAMs are very friendly and trusting of other HAMs, doing vacation exchanges of homes and cars. When I did break bulk to Easter Island, a local HAM picked me up at the dock, gave me a tour of the island and showed his home and station to me. Also got to check out the power company for the island.
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Old 28-01-2013, 09:37   #52
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Re: Ham License

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I see that I could learn these questions by rote without too much trouble, but I don't want to do that.
Most hams will tell you that you absolutely should NOT do that. I will, however, take the contrary view and suggest that there is nothing wrong with doing it that way.

What I discovered is that I learned WAAAAAAY more after I had my license, and was able to start immediately using anything new that I learned. As a result, I would have learned more, quicker, if I had just got the answers by rote, gotten my license as soon as possible, and then started using my radio as a tool to learn even more.

I guess what I'm saying is that I don't believe there is anything wrong with getting your license just by learning the answers by rote. If you want to learn more after that (and you almost certainly will) then already having the license makes the learning much easier.

However you go about it, good luck.
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Old 28-01-2013, 09:46   #53
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Re: Ham License

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You really need to understand the functions of electronic components that make a circuit work; resistors, capacitors, inductors, transistors among other components.
I don't want to sound argumentative, but no, you really do NOT need to understand any of this to make basic use of your ham license.

Sure, if you want your transmission and reception to be the absolutely best that they can be, then you need to know that stuff. If you want to build your own radio, tuner, or parts for it, then you need to know that stuff. If you want to be able to troubleshoot issues with your radio or antenna for yourself, then you probably need to know that stuff. In fact, it's a lot of fun to learn that stuff, so I encourage people to dig into it. But it is definitely NOT any sort of a requirement, and you'll probably learn a lot of it over time just as part of using your radio.

You can buy a radio, a tuner, a TNC, and an antenna, and be up on the air, communicating quite effectively with other hams without understanding anything at all about resistors, capacitors, or inductors. For those who are new to ham radio, or who are just thinking about getting into it, please don't let yourself be scared off by thinking that you have to understand electronics to this level before you can get anything useful out of it. A lot of hams derive a lifetime of enjoyment and use from it without ever having even the least clue what an inductor is.
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Old 28-01-2013, 10:12   #54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teknav View Post
You really need to understand the functions of electronic components that make a circuit work; resistors, capacitors, inductors, transistors among other components. You also need a basic understanding of radio circuits. Radio Shack has hobby electronics books and simple projects to build, that will teach you the very basic of electronics. Most people just want to start communicating without taking the time to understand what is inside a transceiver, how a wave propagate or why antennas have different lengths and designs. You don't need an EE degree to understand the basics. Mauritz
I don't Agee with this either....

I think the FCC license testing is antiquated and should be revised, testing more on actual use of the radio, than technical repair or workings. Unfortunately, the Old Guard of Ham Radio believe that this is the way they had to do it, so why shouldn't everyone.

This is one of the reasons there a less and less young HAMs out there. Removing the morse code requirement was a start, but now they need to realize a large percentage of people don't want to work on their own radios, but do want to participate in the HAM world and all it has to offer.
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Old 28-01-2013, 12:16   #55
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Re: Ham License

I built a crystal controlled, one-transistor 40M transmitter and with that, an inverted vee, a homemade key from a hacksaw blade, drawer knob and old relay contacts, and a $99 radio shack reciever, made my first QSO with the R/O on my ship before I even got my first ham ticket. So yeah, to me, the technical side of radio is radio itself. However, I figure there is nothing wrong with just jumping through the hoops, memorizing the questions, getting your license and putting a shack together, and getting on the air and having some fun. You can learn to build and fix things later. BUT, I do urge you to get involved with homebrewing, troubleshooting, etc early on. You can start by building an antenna. Your homebrew antlers, carefully adjusted, will perform quite well and make you feel like you really did something when you work a station halfway around the world with it. A tuner isn't hard to make. A transmitter is pretty simple, actually, though a good receiver is pretty involved. I have seen some homebrew keys that were works of art. I have made "bugs", semiautomatic keys, that were quite as functional as a storebought Vibroplex. A paddle and electronic keyer are pretty simple projects. A simple serial port modem for digital modes and for fax/SSTV can be made with 7 parts.

So, for now, no need to worry about truly understanding much of anything outside of how to set up your station and operate safely, courteously, and legally. But if you don't eventually get your hands inside the boxes, you are missing out on a lot.
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Old 28-01-2013, 12:49   #56
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Re: Ham License

Hmm. Well, I do happen to know what capacitors, resistors, inductors, and transistors are, and what they do. But that's about eleventeen light years away from what they expect you to know, and I couldn't build a radio without step-by-step instructions.

I will try to find the right reading material; meanwhile start cramming.
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Old 28-01-2013, 12:53   #57
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Re: Ham License

I like Rum Ham. It is very good.
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Old 28-01-2013, 13:24   #58
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Re: Ham License

1) First off, I'd like to extend my hearty "Welcome to Ham Radio" to Dockhead!!!!
From everything I've read of your postings, I think you'll make a fine ham!!!
If there is anything I can do to help/advise/"Elmer", please let me know...


2) Secondly, while I was/am one of those "old-timers" who originally opposed the elimination of the morse proficiency requirement for all amateur radio licenses, I do not feel this change has caused major harm to the amateur service, and as such I accept this as our "new norm"...
{However, I still do believe that the FCC made a serious error in eliminating this requirement for the Extra Class license...just my opinion here, and I accept that others feel differently!!! Heck I've been an advocate for making the Extra Class written test even more difficult, as I personally believe that it has been seriously "dumbed-down"....but I digress....}



3) Thirdly, with the amateur radio population worldwide of approx. 3 million licensed operators (approx. 750,000 in US and 1,300,000 in Japan, and entire rest of the world making up the final million...), this represents less than 1/20 of one percent (< 0.05%) of the world's population....
And, this means that we are a VERY small part of the world, BUT have a very large impact on the world!!! (and the responsibility of this wide impact should be remembered by all ham operators!!!)

I suspect that the percentage of offshore sailors/cruisers that are licensed hams is lower today than in the past, it is still a much higher percentage than the population in whole....(many reasons for this have been discussed in the past.....and "sailing" and "ham radio" do seem to go well together!!!)

And, if you think that the small number of offshore sailors/cruisers-ham operators, is so small to not matter....you would be wrong!!!
Ham radio in general has made, and continues to make, significant impact on societies worldwide...especially those in developing countries (and 3rd-World countries).....and all ham operators are "good will ambassadors" to the whole world.....and ham operators with direct contact to others (hams or non-hams) in other countries / other cultures, have even more significant impact!!!
Also, stories like "deckofficer's" are actually quite common.....even today with all the "connectivity" of the modern world, ham radio DOES make significant impacts, and should be understood for the wonderful service it is....
A hobby for many, yes.....but, it is a SERVICE to/for all that must not be forgotten, nor diluted by/with the trivial....

I have always believed and always stated that there is room in ham radio for everyone!!!! (check out my qrz profile for proof of this... KA4WJA - Callsign Lookup by QRZ.COM )
No matter what your particular interest, as long as you believe, understand, and stand-up/stand-behind the basic purposes/principles of the amateur radio service, there is a place for you and I will welcome you with pleasant words and a helpful attitude!!!!

But, those whose primary goal is to use the amateur radio service in order to circumvent other communications services, and/or as a "cheap"/"free" means to handle traffic that could be better handled using other services/means, etc. I would ask them to consider whether they would actually be better served by other services/means....
{An example would be someone that just wishes for "free e-mail", gets a ham license, and uses winlink....without any consideration for what the amateur radio service is for.....would they not find Sailmail to be a better choice??? With a more robust network, and P4 now being supported, Sailmail is certainly a better choice.....
Or, even use of a satphone or satellite communications terminal, would serve the user better....
Yes, I DO understand the issue of cost ($$), but I hear/read many discuss iPhones/Smart Phones, iPads/Tablets, etc. etc.....and those who can afford iPhones and/or Ipads, etc. can certainly afford the $250/yr for sailmail....}

Please understand that I'm NOT trying to discourage anyone from joining the ranks of ham radio....
NOT AT ALL!!!
I'm just trying to point out that there are very specific purposes/reasons for the amateur radio service and there are requirements / expectations of/for those that aspire to become a licensed ham operator.....and if you are unwilling/unable to live up to these expectations and/or unwilling or unable to even attempt to fulfill these purposes, then perhaps ham radio is not for you.....

Those that are not clear about what I am referring to (US Federal regulations)....here are the 5 basic purposes of the Amateur Radio Service in the United States (and these are also used by the UN/ITU to establish the basis and purpose of the Amateur Radio Service internationally)....

US FCC Part 97.1
Quote:
§97.1 Basis and purpose.
The rules and regulations in this part are designed to provide an amateur radio service having a fundamental purpose as expressed in the following principles:
(a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications.
(b) Continuation and extension of the amateur’s proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art.
(c) Encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through rules which provide for advancing skills in both the communication and technical phases of the art.
(d) Expansion of the existing reservoir within the amateur radio service of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts.
(e) Continuation and extension of the amateur’s unique ability to enhance international goodwill.





If you keep the above 5 basic purposes for the Amateur Radio Service in mind, then you should be able to see that there ARE reasons and purposes that prospective ham operators need to learn "the basics" (basic electronic theory, basic radiowave propagation, basic radio operating techniques, etc. etc..) even for an "entry-level" license ( such as the "Technician Class").....and these prospect hams should learn more than just "the basics" for a normal-level license (such as the "General Class")...
Those that advocate that there is no reason to learn these things may not fully understand the Amateur Radio Service???

{Further, I do understand that some advocate "learning while on the air"....and while this does work to some extent, it is not consistent (works for some and not for others)....and has one significant drawback....
This drawback is "human nature"....you know that old attitude of once you've got the license, what else do I "need" to know!!!
I'm not saying that the "learn while on the air" idea is bad (it is actually one of the best ways to learn advanced radio theory and advanced radio propagation), but rather that it isn't the best way to learn "the basics"!!!}









4) Unfortunately, denverdon, I must disagree with you here completely....and, in my opinion this is a very short-sighted approach and advice such as this promote poor operators....
Further, the fact is that since most ham radios have multiple adjustments and it is the complete responsibility of the operator to make sure his/her signal is clean/clear, and does not cause interference to others, it IS VERY IMPORTANT for the ham radio operator to understand the basics of electronics and radio communications....
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Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post
I don't want to sound argumentative, but no, you really do NOT need to understand any of this
Quote:
You really need to understand the functions of electronic components
to make basic use of your ham license.

Sure, if you want your transmission and reception to be the absolutely best that they can be, then you need to know that stuff. If you want to build your own radio, tuner, or parts for it, then you need to know that stuff. If you want to be able to troubleshoot issues with your radio or antenna for yourself, then you probably need to know that stuff. In fact, it's a lot of fun to learn that stuff, so I encourage people to dig into it. But it is definitely NOT any sort of a requirement, and you'll probably learn a lot of it over time just as part of using your radio.
Saying that if you want your transmission and reception to be "the absolute best", is one of the only reasons for learning about basic electronics / radio communications, is seriously flawed!!!
The FACTS are that if a ham operator desires to transmit any signal at all, they MUST know the basics of radio communications...it IS a "requirement"!!!
And, in my opinion, giving advice to the contrary does a disservice to both the Amateur Radio Service AND the "sailing/cruising community"!!!







While this is technically possible, it is NOT advisable for "ham radio"....but rather this is what the commercial radio services are for, such as the Maritime Radio Service (as well as the "Fixed" or "Land Mobile" services)....
Quote:
Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post
You can buy a radio, a tuner, a TNC, and an antenna, and be up on the air, communicating quite effectively with other hams without understanding anything at all about resistors, capacitors, or inductors.
For those who are new to ham radio, or who are just thinking about getting into it, please don't let yourself be scared off by thinking that you have to understand electronics to this level before you can get anything useful out of it. A lot of hams derive a lifetime of enjoyment and use from it without ever having even the least clue what an inductor is.
In addition to not even trying to live up to the 5 basic purposes of the Amateur Radio Service, those taking this tack are usually the ones who unintentionally cause interference to others, all the while thinking all is well.....
And even further, in my experience, these are usually the ones who produce some of the worst sounding and poorest quality signals when trying to communicate on SSB-Voice (whether on the ham radio bands or on the marine bands)...

Again, in my opinion, giving advice to prospective or new ham operators that there is no need to learn about electronics / radio communications and encouraging them to just "buy some equipment" and "be up on the air" is seriously flawed, and just plain WRONG!!!

I am NOT wishing to scare-off any prospective hams, nor do I wish to discourage anyone....
NOT AT ALL!!!
But, I am trying to provide real factual information.....

Some of this information comes from my personal experiences from approx. 40 years of radio communications experience....Ham and Maritime....spanning from low-band dx'ing, to vhf/uhf/microwave communications and experimenting, to moonboune, to QRP work, to expeditions, to maritime-mobile ops, etc....to rag-chewing, etc....much radiosport/contesting events, net operations/traffic handling, etc....
And, some of this information comes from US Federal Regulations.....

Bottom line:
Ham Radio is a fantastic Service and it is an honor and a privilege to be a part of it.....and yes, many hams (like me) get great enjoyment out it, (some great more enjoyment out of it as just a "hobby", but still take the "purposes" seriously!!)
But, realistically I understand that there are few around the world (0.05% of the world) that desire to be a part of such a wonderful and fulfilling service, so while I wish there were more of us, I accept Amateur Radio for what it is, and I Love It!!!!

BTW, when I was a teenager studying for my ham license, my favorite aunt was visiting and she asked me what "ham radio" was....after I explained things to her, she TAUGHT ME something about "ham radio"...
She asked me if I knew why they called it "amateur radio", and I replied that it was because we weren't "professionals" and didn't get paid...
She then taught me the REAL reason....
She taught me that the word "amateur" comes from the Latin root-word "ama", meaning "love"....and an "amateur" is someone doing something "for the LOVE of it"....so, an "amateur radio operator" was someone who operated a radio because of their "love" of radio communications.....
That "lesson" from my aunt was about 40 years ago, but I have never forgotten it!!!

So, from a proud "amateur radio operator", I wish you all Fair Winds!!!

John, KA4WJA
s/v Annie Laurie, WDB6927
MMSI# 366933110





Quote:
Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post
For those who are new to ham radio, or who are just thinking about getting into it, please don't let yourself be scared off by thinking that you have to understand electronics to this level before you can get anything useful out of it. A lot of hams derive a lifetime of enjoyment and use from it without ever having even the least clue what an inductor is.
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Old 28-01-2013, 13:29   #59
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Re: Ham License

Finding the formula for meters to frequency in one of the questions was handy to start answering all the others, what was that again?? lol
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Old 28-01-2013, 13:40   #60
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Re: Ham License

ka4wja, that was quite a post. About the only thing I could add was in the very beginning (long before my time of 50 years as a HAM) all frequencies were HAM frequencies. The early HAMs would prove a certain frequency range viable and our governments would step in and take those frequencies from us. Don't feel bad for us HAMs, as today we still have more frequencies than all other services combined. Something to think about.
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