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To: Kartographer
(Long Post Warning!)

First, a little history. Last year I rode my motorcycle a thousand miles to Washington DC for the Sept. 11 "2 million bikers to DC" ride. COMMS were a hot topic among the group that I rode with and many of the new friends I made on this trip. So, when I returned to Florida, I dug out my old CB radios that had been stored for 30 years and set up a mobile and base. The mobile has SSB (single side band) and because of the solar cycle, every morning on the way to work, I could hear traffic from Europe and every evening I could hear traffic from the west coast and when conditions were very good, I could hear Hawaii. That was usually channel 38 lower side band.

Next, I talked with some close friends that have an audio/video repair business about my antennas and all of them were hams. They showed me a dual band, hand held (HT) Boafeng UV-5R that cost about $35 delivered, gave me a Technician class study manual and showed me the online study guides and self testing programs. I ordered the Boafeng as they don't require a license to listen, only to transmit and began my studies. The local ham club has repeaters and gives the license tests for free once a month. By the first of December, I had my Tech license and was on the air with the local hams and by Jan of this year I earned my General license and bought a 30 year old HF radio for $400 and put up a $50 antenna and have been making world wide contacts.

So, a year ago, I rode my bike a couple days with thousands of patriotic Americans and discussed this topic and after some study, a little effort and maybe $800 investment, I have local and world wide COMMS.

Last night, I attended our county ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) monthly meeting. I live in the center of Florida in a huge county and if our repeater towers go down we have to make contacts long distance on the VHF/UHF bands. The typical cheap hand held radio is reliable only for a few miles (3 to 5 miles on simplex). The HF bands skip over local contacts in the daylight hours and we have found through exercises that 2 meter SSB (single side band) simplex gets the best results but requires a more expensive radio. Contacts were made 17 to 20 miles consistently. As you can drive 75 miles and still be in our county, relays are a must so we can pass messages. Our desire is to have hand held radio coverage of this huge county, but without enough relays, it won't be possible.

So, the article listed has some great info, but without some study, practice and investment, COMMS are going to be very limited.

Here are a few links for someone interested in Amateur Radio:

Amateur Radio Relay League ARRL

Note: The ARRL is celebrating it's 100th Anniversary this year. Also, I found many of the study guides I needed to pass my exams at local libraries by a simple search on ARRL.

Find a Local Club

Repeater Book Directory of thousands of repeaters by location, frequencies and tones

Online Ham selftest You will have to create a free account to practice the Ham test so it can tract your individual results in areas you need to work on so you can pass your exam easily. (I used this one.)

Becoming a Ham This page has other online study info and a lot of great links. (Some of the links are broken and some of the study guides require payment while others you don't even need to create an account.)

No Nonsense Study Guides

Want to see who is logging world-wide contacts at this very instant? Mash Here to see DX Maps HF

Well, I warned you this would be a long post but I feel it is needed with our current world events. Before I get the "I'm going to stay off the grid" comments... I think you should know that most hams, (local and world-wide, think and talk like we do. If you get mail and have a driver's license, you are not "off the grid". My advice is to stay legal, get your license before you every key the mic on a ham frequency and get in a local club.

Last bit of advice. A cheap, dual band hand held (HT) is the Baofeng UV-5R as noted in a post up-thread. The newer versions of the UV-5R use different accessories (batteries, programing cables, etc...), so stick with the older UV-5R which has a proven track record.

And my last word on the subject...You don't have to learn Morse Code anymore!

22 posted on 09/26/2014 6:19:01 AM PDT by DocRock (All they that TAKE the sword shall perish with the sword. Matthew 26:52 Gun grabbers beware.)
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To: DocRock

Bump to an ancient but great post for later!

24 posted on 01/16/2015 6:21:58 AM PST by Old Sarge (Its the Sixties all over again, but with crappy music...)
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