The Unofficial iPad Amateur Radio Club

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by twerppoet, Mar 19, 2017.

  1. twerppoet

    twerppoet
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    I've noticed that there are at least three HAMs on the forum, so I decided to create a thread for amateur radio enthusiasts, and anyone else who cares to learn a bit about amateur radio. While there are plenty of iPad releated things we can talk about, I did not want to limit the thread's scope, so it's in the Off Topic area.

    If you want to participate, go ahead and introduce yourself with your licence class, interests, and a brief history of your amateur radio past.

    Or if not licenced, what you would like to learn about amateur radio.

    Given how easy it is to pull address information from a call sign, sharing your call is optional. Feel free to PM it to those who you want to contact outside the forum.

    So, lets see where this goes.

    Note: This is an international forum, so keep in mind that the not everyone is subject to the same rules and terminology. Think of it as another learning opportunity.
     
    #1 twerppoet, Mar 19, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2017
  2. twerppoet

    twerppoet
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    I got my Technician license in 1992 (or there abouts). My primary interest was in Packet Radio. I played with it a lot to begin with, but little by little, move after move, I drifted away from the hobby.

    A couple of months ago I noticed how cheap Handhelds had gotten, and decided to pick one up; a BTECH UV-5x3. That led to some remedial reading and which led to a re-kindling of my interest in amateur radio.

    Now I'm working on upgrading my licence. I want to get back into packet and digital modes, but some of the more interesting stuff seems to have moved to 20 Meters, so I need a General licence at the least. I plan on going for the Extra, since it's just more studying. No more code, which is what stopped me from getting the General licence the first time around (I passed the written portion).

    So, my current interests (all un-equipped and unfunded) are HF digital, VHF/UHF digital, and SDR (Software Defined Radio). I'm also feeling my way around the local repeater networks, EchoLink, and maybe D-Star. There is only one D-Star repeater in my area, so I'm not likely to play with it unless I can find a super cheap D-Star radio.

    I'll also be joining the local ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service), mostly to act as a contact point for the local Red Cross volunteers. My first meeting is this coming Monday.

    Well, enough for a first post. I'll share some of the iOS apps and resources I'm using to study for my licence upgrade later.

    73's KB7POT
     
    #2 twerppoet, Mar 19, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2017
  3. PatS

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    Looks like we were studying about the same time. I received my tech license in 1992 in Washington State. I used it for mobile and marine , mostly 2 meter, use for several years. I have been pretty much inactive the last few years, mostly due to the convenience of smart phones. We have quite a bit of equipment as my husband is an advanced licensee. Keep thinking I should get involved again but need to do some serious review re frequency privileges. The current radios have so many more features but more of a learning curve than those I used to use. Still have a 2meter/440 in my wrangler but don't think I would want to count on it.

    N7ZYD
     
  4. twerppoet

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    Hi Pat.

    As a Technician you have access to all privilages 6 Meteres and higher, and some limited privilages in the HF bands. Here is a link to the ARRL's band chart.

    Graphical Frequency Allocations.

    I keep a copy on my iPad for quick reference.

    FM repeaters are still the most common mode on VHF/UHF. There are bound to be at least a few in range of your wrangler's (mobile?) radio. Also, as I've mentioned, the price on handhelds has come down tremendously. Do some research on the Chinese made models before purchasing. The BTECH UV-5x3 I have seems to be ok (from what I've read), but some of the other models and manufactureres are not 100% FCC compliant; out of band harmonics are high. Also, these radios can be a bit wierd to program.

    They aren't the best radios, but they make a good cheap beginner radio, and/or a good backup radio.

    If you search in the App Store for RepeaterBook, you'll find an app that's similar to the ARRL Repeater Book you may remember. I like the RFinder app a bit better, but it requires a subscription (though cheap). The RepeaterBook is free, if not quite as up-to-date and flexible as RFinder.

    Another activity to look into is EchoLink. You can find this app in the store as well. It's a network of internet linked repeaters you can use to talk all over the world. When following their athenticaton process don't try using Safari on the iPad. For some reason it does not play well with this part of the FCC site.

    73 KB7POT
     
    #4 twerppoet, Mar 19, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2017
  5. twerppoet

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    My study apps and resources.

    First, the books. While it is possible to get your license by rote memorization of the question pool, all you are doing is putting off the time you'll actually need to understand the material. The rules and practices if nothing else. So I got the ARRL books for each class. I'm not big on paper these days (not enough bookshelves). I would have prefered iBooks versions, since it's easier to copy/paste and multitask for studying, but I could only find Kindle versions.

    The ARRL Ham Radio Licence Manual (for review, because I needed it)
    The ARRL General Class Licence Manual
    The ARRL Extra Class Licence Manual

    In the U.S. licence exams are created from a public pool of questions. This means you can easily study all the questoins you might encounter on the test, and even generate practice exams to see how likely you are to pass.

    The ARRL has an app for each licence level. While there are free alternatives (including the ARRL's free version), I chose to purchase the apps for each level. Not because the ARRL apps are great, but because I wanted to support them a bit. These apps let you study the question pool and/or take sample tests. Not pretty, but very effective.

    Amateur Radio Exam Prep: Technician on the App Store
    Amateur Radio Exam Prep: General on the App Store
    Amateur Radio Exam Prep: Extra on the App Store

    Another way to study the queston pool, and other related subjects, is flash cards. There are a lot of choices here, and many of them have up-to-date question pool decks. I settled on two apps. One for the official question pool, and one where I made my own decks.

    For the question pool, I ended up choosing Brainscape. While you have to subscribe for some of the decks, the Amature Radio decks are availble with a free account. This is a beautiful flash card app that can also be accessed via a web browser.

    Brainscape - Smart Flashcards on the App Store

    My DYI choice is Tinycards by Duolingo. Many of the flash card creation apps are complicated. This one is simple, while still letting you create some fairly good deck. It also does a good job of identifying weak cards and bringing them up more often. I've created several decks, some better than others. You should be able to find them if you search for HAM, Amatuer Radio, or twerppoet.

    Tinycards - Learn with Fun, Free Flashcards on the App Store

    73 KB7POT
     
  6. Tuttle

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    Just noticed that you started this thread TP. Good going---or, in ham lexicon---fine business.

    I got my first ham ticket in the late 1950's, was active for many years, then for some reason let it lapse. Then, just a few months ago took the tech exam on a lark and passed it. Then I discovered that I could restore all my old general priveleges by merely applying! So here I am up and running again. Lots of new things and modes to get acquainted with.

    I purchased a Yaesu hand held dual band transceiver, but have been disappointed about the lack of activity on local repeaters.

    Echolink is fascinating, but again the lack of activity is apparent. Strikes me that an echolink scanner would be extremely useful, but haven't been able to find one.

    Guess I am going to have to invest a bit of cash in an hf rig!
     
  7. twerppoet

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    Awesome. As far as the repeaters go, poke around and see if you can find a repeater network. On this side of the cascades we have KBARA, which covers most of Eastern and Central Washington, and bits of Idaho and Oregon. I'd be very surprised if you didn't have a similar network near you. Since they cover a much wider area, there is usually a bit more traffic to listen too.

    I did a little resarch and found several scheduled nets I listen to, and occationally check into.

    Of course, you can also use Echolink to get into one of these networks. There is usually as least on Echolink repeater site in the KBARA network.

    I'm also interested in a bit of HF gear, but it's on the back burner until I get my ARES related gear settle. I joined last month, and don't feel comfortable about having only the one HT. I need at least one moble station. I also want a VHF/UHF 50W amp so I can use the HT as a backup mobile rig. All that's probalby going to take a few more months to square away.

    In the mean time I'm reserecting my Realistic HT-202, and 2M HT I picked up from Radio Shack in the early 90's. A little remedial soldering and an expertnal power supply have it working, more or less, but not to the point I can consider it a backup for the BTECH UV-5x3.

    The mobile radio (Kenwood 732A) needs some fusees (purchased) and a new antenna (oredered) before I'll know if it has survive years of non-use.

    Afer that I'll probalby get a moderately priced SDR receiver box/dongle to play with. Something to get me familiar with the bands while I save up enough money for a decent HF tranciever. Though were I'm going to put an HF antenna(s) is a troublesome questions.

    The SDR I'm considering an SDRPlay RSP2. What I want for the HF transiever is one of those pretty Icom 7300's, but I don't expect to save up enough for one of those anytime soon.
     
    #7 twerppoet, Apr 5, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2017
  8. twerppoet

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    This looks promissing for the Portland, OR area. Besides checking out the frequencies I'd hunt down the organization's mentioned. There's probalby more info on their sites, and you might meed a few people to chat with. I find I'm better off joining at least one club or repeater association as an incentige to stay active. One of the main reason's I lapsed is that when I moved (several times) I didn't have any activities, clubs, or people reminding me to turn on the radios.

    ARRG Amateur Radio Relay Group
     
  9. Wing rider

    Wing rider
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    How timely that I saw this thread as I just submitted my license renewal. I was an Army radio guy so after discharge I started working on my Tech license and advancing my license class. Kinda embarrassed to admit I don't do much with it these days but I've been giving some thought to changing that.

    Thanks for starting the thread!

    Cheers, K3VE
     
  10. twerppoet

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    Thanks for joining the thread.

    Getting active again is tough, which is why I joined the local club. Knowing a few people and having some activities helps a lot. For me, the main interest in Amateur Radio isn't rag chewing, but the gear and the interesting activities I can use it for.

    Besides the club, I joined the local ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service), so instead of persuing the SDR gadgets that caugh my interest I've been trying to get what radios I already have ready for service.

    I got the antenna and fuses for the Kenwood 732A, and it is working fine, though it took me a good chunk of a day to read the manual ang get it programed for the local repeaters. I want to get another antenna, a few cables, and other bits and pieces together so I can quickly take it out of the truck and use it as a base station.

    I'm also on the look out for an affordable 50 Watt UHF/VHF amplifier for the handhelds, so they can be converted to a field station as well. Next month maybe.
     

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