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Old 10-08-2013, 23:39   #1
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Lost My Ham Radio Virginity at Last

I'm in Portland, Oregon, visiting my parents, and finally got around to trying to get on the air, after getting my Extra Class license last March.

I bought an Icom IC-92AD handheld to play around with.

This is a very cool little radio -- much smaller than any marine VHF and with incredible capabilities compared to our marine radios. It is a transceiver on VHF (2 meters) and UHF, and is a receiver all the way down from 500 khz up to the edge of the UHF band. It won't receive SSB mode, but will receive AM, FM, broadcast FM, so you can listen to AM or FM broadcast radio, television, air band, police bands, CB, shortwave broadcast, etc, etc, etc. All in a package the size of a large cell phone. It has two entirely separate receivers, which means you can monitor (actually even listen to) two different frequencies, even on different bands, at the same time. Cool. The receivers are very good, and I spent a couple of days listening, to all kinds of things, before I tried to transmit anything.

Being a ham radio, it has a large multitude of buttons and is infinitely configurable and tweakable (Apple could never make a ham radio) and so is quite complicated to use. The owner's manual is a pretty thick piece of work. Never mind; an amateur radio license is a license to play with radios, so the more complex the better, I guess. It took me some time to figure out how to configure the offset and tone to use repeaters, but now that I have, I'm delighted at how well it works. There are dozens of active repeaters in Portland so it took me quite some time to find a reasonably active one and finally make a contact. When I bought the handheld, I went in with open eyes understanding that the range would be limited, but I am hitting repeaters at about 10 miles away -- and from indoors! -- without any trouble which seems pretty good to me.

Coming from a marine radio background, the difference in operating procedure and style on ham radio is really striking. Marine radio comms are very formal, brief, and terse -- "pass your message". You are not allowed to "call CQ" to just see if anyone is out there who wants to chatter. On ham radio, it's completely the opposite -- calling CQ (or on VHF/UHF just calling "W1XYZ listening") is the norm, as is chattering endlessly about absolutely nothing in particular, something we wouldn't dream about on marine radio, at least, not on VHF. I heard two guys who had never met each other before talk about nothing but the weather, and various philosophical implications of the weather, for 30 minutes today.

As luck would have it, the repeater I finally got some response from turned out to be linked by VOIP to all kinds of other repeaters via the IRLP system. So my first QRO was with a guy named Dave who runs an IRLP node in Anchorage, Alaska. Sign of the times, I guess.


Radios go with the sea like cookies and cream -- out there, where mobile phones and Internet don't work, radio is all we have to connect to our fellow man. I'm looking forward to operating from the boat.
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Old 11-08-2013, 00:22   #2
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Re: Lost My Ham Radio Virginity at Last

correction: apple would never make a ham radio

anyway, I thought this was interesting while we're on this topic
HackRF, an open source SDR platform by Michael Ossmann — Kickstarter
I think because of this open source hardware movement, there will be/are many new developments in electronics. And with this project in particular, I think the same is true for radio. So far, radio has been application specific (bluetooth, wifi, GSM, etc.) on the hardware level. If we get developers to play with radio via software, radio could progress exponentially. The reason is that developing software is a much faster development cycle than hardware. It could render today's radios obsolete in the same way computers have with many other things. It will be highly configurable and cheaper.
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Old 11-08-2013, 01:08   #3
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Re: Lost My Ham Radio Virginity at Last

Quote:
Originally Posted by o_q View Post
correction: apple would never make a ham radio

anyway, I thought this was interesting while we're on this topic
HackRF, an open source SDR platform by Michael Ossmann — Kickstarter
I think because of this open source hardware movement, there will be/are many new developments in electronics. And with this project in particular, I think the same is true for radio. So far, radio has been application specific (bluetooth, wifi, GSM, etc.) on the hardware level. If we get developers to play with radio via software, radio could progress exponentially. The reason is that developing software is a much faster development cycle than hardware. It could render today's radios obsolete in the same way computers have with many other things. It will be highly configurable and cheaper.
Software defined radio has been around for a long time in amateur radio, and it's probably the way I would go if I were setting up a station at home. Flexradio is just one maker. SDR is already pretty popular.
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Old 11-08-2013, 01:36   #4
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Which repeater are you on? I have an echolink app on a nexus 7, just found a repeater in Portland - ad7ny-r on 146.7. That the one? I'll have a listen out for you and might even manage a QSL, with the marvels of technology from the middle of China

Wonder how the CEPT rules work over the internet?

MM0PDD
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Old 11-08-2013, 09:20   #5
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Re: Lost My Ham Radio Virginity at Last

VHF/UHF ham radios are nice to have when you are traveling. I made contact with a guy in Prince Rupert once to get recommendations and directions to a great sea food restaurant as I was pulling in to town. Later he came down to the ferry line up and took me up to his home for a beer and ham chat. Nice way to make contact with real people.
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Old 11-08-2013, 10:31   #6
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Re: Lost My Ham Radio Virginity at Last

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VHF/UHF ham radios are nice to have when you are traveling. I made contact with a guy in Prince Rupert once to get recommendations and directions to a great sea food restaurant as I was pulling in to town. Later he came down to the ferry line up and took me up to his home for a beer and ham chat. Nice way to make contact with real people.
Yes! Try that on your sat-phone!

We've often arrived in a new anchorage and had fellow hams there to greet us, offering the kind of land based support that is so very welcome to the sailor in a strange port.

Enjoy yourself, Dockhead... it doesn't matter much what form of gear you choose, there are folks out there who will talk to you.

73 de Jim, N9GFT/VK4GFT
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Old 11-08-2013, 10:38   #7
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Re: Lost My Ham Radio Virginity at Last

I've been a ham radio operater since middle of high school living in the Marshall Islands with a V73 callsign. It was great being DX.

18yrs later, still going and doing radio stuff in the military.

Keep it up. There's a lot out there you could get into, new technologies and equipment and always something new to learn.

de W4ABN
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Old 11-08-2013, 11:52   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by conachair
Which repeater are you on? I have an echolink app on a nexus 7, just found a repeater in Portland - ad7ny-r on 146.7. That the one? I'll have a listen out for you and might even manage a QSL, with the marvels of technology from the middle of China

Wonder how the CEPT rules work over the internet?

MM0PDD
I'm monitoring 146.7 now. Give a shout if you're still up. I'm flying to the UK later this afternoon.
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Old 11-08-2013, 17:12   #9
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I'm monitoring 146.7 now. Give a shout if you're still up. I'm flying to the UK later this afternoon.
That's annoying, net is a bit flakey at the moment so keep getting timed out. Maybe next time, safe flight.
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Old 11-08-2013, 17:32   #10
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Interesting Dockhead , doesn't that mean with a US callsign, don't you have to apply in the Uk for a visitors permit for amateur use.

Is the US license CEPT compatible or cross recognised ?

Dave
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Old 11-08-2013, 18:43   #11
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Re: Lost My Ham Radio Virginity at Last

congrats Dockhead!
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Old 11-08-2013, 18:52   #12
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Re: Lost My Ham Radio Virginity at Last

"(Apple could never make a ham radio) "
Sure they could. Think of a FisherPrice walkie-talkie for six year olds. One channel, one big ON button, one volume knob to play with. And of course a custom charging cable, no access to the batteries and an internal fixed antenna.
Now make it slick and shiny and stick on a $500 price tag. Voila, apple ham radio, one channel, not user programmable, not serviceable except at the factory.

It could be a whole new market for them!

I wonder, if the ownership of iStuff by ham operators is higher or lower than it is in the general population. I'm suspecting, way lower.
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Old 11-08-2013, 18:56   #13
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Re: Lost My Ham Radio Virginity at Last

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"(Apple could never make a ham radio) "
Sure they could. Think of a FisherPrice walkie-talkie for six year olds. One channel, one big ON button, one volume knob to play with. And of course a custom charging cable, no access to the batteries and an internal fixed antenna.
Now make it slick and shiny and stick on a $500 price tag. Voila, apple ham radio, one channel, not user programmable, not serviceable except at the factory.

It could be a whole new market for them!

I wonder, if the ownership of iStuff by ham operators is higher or lower than it is in the general population. I'm suspecting, way lower.
You can make fun of Apple for catering to people who value simplicity while the average person asks you why you're playing with a radio at all?

As an experienced developer, I'll have you know that tools with lots of knobs and switches are magnitudes times easier to develop than those with a simpler interface with design and user experience considered. Because a complex tool simply defers all decisions to the user.
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Old 11-08-2013, 19:30   #14
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Re: Lost My Ham Radio Virginity at Last

Yes you could write cqApps for it and sell them on the online iHam store.
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Old 11-08-2013, 19:34   #15
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Re: Lost My Ham Radio Virginity at Last

I'd say there's a difference between valuing simplicity, and paternal mandates. I don't have to know anything about batteries to use my phone, but within two years the battery will need replacing. Apple's paradigm is why not replace the entire phone? Which is really great for them, but some of us aren't in such a rush to replace things.

I had a neighbor ask "Could you change the batteries in my remote control for me?" because she knows that she just doesn't know which way they go in. But if Apple had made that remote control, she would have had to bring it in for repairs, or buy a while new TV.

I think that kind of paternalism is a gross insult to the intelligence of the customer. Or, perhaps, it simply proves the intended customer is rich and dumb. It is one thing to not care about technical things, quite another when the maker actually uses security screws to ensure the average person cannot access the battery even in the need to.

Case in point, someone drops their phone in a puddle, or uses it in the rain, and now they need to remove the battery RIGHT NOW in order to prevent more damage. Ooops, Apple has ensured that you can't do that, and as a result the phone will need to be replaced. What's the point in that? Ensuring damage and expense?

They've had some nice ideas. But like the one-button mouse (with no choices or options) they really insult their customer base. And fortunately, most of the customers they want really do have money to throw away on things they don't understand.

PTBarnum would have enjoyed working there.
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