AmPart: Radio Gear Quick Start Guide


48 responses to “AmPart: Radio Gear Quick Start Guide

  1. Insurance Agent

    This is useful. Thank you.

    Comms has seemed less important than stocking more food, tools, wood, or medical supplies. So for this guy, it’s been farther down the list of priorities for me and my family.

    • same here. But it’s now moving up the list fast. I’ll get a good quality transceiver….and just listen for awhile.

      • not the least because I’ve had lot of trouble with the internet the past couple of days….heard it may be overloading from time to time. Anybody else?

        • Haxo,

          No trouble with my internet up here in the South Carolina Upcountry. Then again, I don’t have access to cable internet, only ATT Uverse. Not bad speed, but nowhere near what my brother gets on his cable internet down in Lilburn, Georgia.

        • My job is still essential so I work all night and sleep all day but when I’m online I too have noticed some stuttering so to speak. And I’m on a 200 meg line.

    • Same here.

  2. Insurance Agent

    I’ve also never understood the licensing thing for radios.

    No one wants to have to register a firearm. I totally get that argument.

    But somehow when it comes to radio and speech, at least some of the radio guys are ok with that.

    Explain this dichotomy to me. I will read and consider those responses over a beer later tonight.

    • Grenadier1

      Guns can be owned and carried and no one has to know that you are doing that. There is anonymity as long as you tell no one.

      Radios can be purchased and owned and you can listen to them with no licensing required. When you begin to transmit and talk…..well you don’t have anonymity anymore and the people you are talking to will need to hear your call sign, otherwise a lot of them are old school law and order types and think doing things without permission is going to be complete chaos so they will turn you in.

      • The amateur operators license is not permission, it’s a symbol of training and expertise. That’s why they don’t really expire, they’re renewed every ten years, for ever. My original 1991 Tech license was still good in 2012 when I upgraded to Extra (took the General and Extra exams during the same exam session).

        Believe me, a non-licensee that operates on the ham bands is almost instantly recognized by their total ineptness.

        • OK, so like the illegal beamer driver versus the old-school trucker.

          Or the Illinois FOID/CWP cardholder versus the “constitutional” carrier.

          Or the urbanites that saws his thumb off with his new Skil Saw versus the guy that grew up doing everything himself.

          Got it.

          • No, nothing like that at all. When you go to the gun range and only one lane is open, you don’t crowd out the shooter that’s first in line because you want to shoot. When you go to an indoor range, you pay to use the range, which may or may not have caliber limitations.

            Clearly, those opposed to licensure are those who need it the most.

            Last, you want to use the amateur bands, you WILL be licensed, or you WILL be denied access.

    • The same question was asked, and answered at length by several people, on the previous comms-only thread posted on this site a couple days ago.

      Just scroll down the site and you’ll find it easily.

    • The Amateur radio operator licensing is set up and controlled by licensed amateur radio operators that hold an Extra license and are trained, by the ARRL to administer the exams. The FCC only issues the licenses, it has no other involvement. There may be more than one million licensees now.

      There are those who are reluctant to get their license, they shouldn’t be. My first station was in my rust bucket of a ’75 Chevy Blazer, that in 1991. I’d go out and sit in it to check into the 2 meter net run by a club in Raleigh, NC, RARS. While, technically the FCC can inspect your station, your station can literally be in your vehicle, or any other location. I’ve never heard of the FCC inspecting a station of a licensed ham unless it was being operated outside the amateur bands. After all, we can legally use up to 1500 watts of output power, power at that level is very expensive.

    • There needs to be some sense of order when it comes to using the radio frequency spectrum.
      All TV and radio stations commercial, .gov, .mil, amateur, worldwide operate on an allocated frequency and transmitting power. Otherwise no one would be able to hear and enjoy any broadcasts since the transmitted signals would be all over the place and you end up with listening to several stations at once on any given frequency. So the limited bandwidth is distributed equitably.
      This effect happens anyway when stations around the world are close to the same frequency and/or power and you get interference
      This allows for communication. The same principle applies for cell phones, satellite, Wifi and any service that relies on any part of the radio spectrum frequencies to operate. All that is just one reason for licensing.
      Understanding the physics and electrical aspects of the radio frequencies (RF) is the neXt factor in operating. This enable users the ability to communicate and play well with others as well as safety (as in getting RF burns or electrocuted for yourself and others or getting) or causing interference to your neighbors or anyone else’s radio or TV reception.
      Finally, there is a manner, protocol, or gentleman’s agreement as to how one transmits and courtesy shown to other operators.
      That’s it in a very simplified nutshell. There is a plethora of information available as I’m sure other amateur radio operators will chime in.
      As in everything you will get your nazis, fudds, jerks, and everyone else.

  3. Bonaventure

    For the past five years, I’ve been urging my acquaintances, both near and far, to at least get a Tech license and learn the ins and outs of VHF/UHF radios. To date, the number who listened to my advice: -Zero- I think one or two picked up a pack of Baofengs, but I don’t think they’ve even attempted to learn how to program them.

    In that past week or so, however, several have contacted me with radio inquiries. I help them the best I can, but the hard reality is, this is not necessarily plug-n-play. Especially when you throw HF into the mix. Now, testing has come to standstill, so other than listening (which has its merits), none of them can get on the air to Tx and learn how to use their radios.

    • mistermisfit01

      FRS/GMRS (25 Mike radios at sportsman’s, home Depot)and CB can do the same thing, building skills.

      • Bonaventure

        True. And I’ve recommended those radios as well. But, there seem to be far less repeaters (at least around here) for GMRS.

        That being said, I still believe that for family/small groups, GMRS is the way to go, especially if you can get a decent repeater set up in your AO. Far less licensing requirements and Midland/Cobra make some affordable mobile units. However, note that most (if not all) GMRS handhelds are not repeater capable. But the cheaper Baofengs (at least the older ones) will do the trick.

      • For <1 mile in your neighborhood, line-of-sight, FRS/GMRS are fair. Some have repeater capability, but you have to practically be right next to the repeater. IMO FRS/GMRS are toys, but better than nothing. MURS is a bit better and CB better still IMO since you can attach a decent antenna.

        You can have a $10K transceiver with a crap antenna and all you send out is heat. You can have a tin can transceiver but with a good antenna – yeah baby!

        But the important thing first is to learn….and listen from others transmissions. The tech ticket is not hard. Even Joe Biden could do it.

    • Indeed, getting licensed is a must. Latest word is that remote testing is being set up, should be ready no later than 30 April.

  4. mistermisfit01

    Very good starter set for local comms. Build this antenna or the J pole in the AP link with the radio pzost and YAGTG.

  5. This is the current cutting edge scanning radio. I just bought one a week ago, it’s almost too much to learn in less than a week. It comes with the frequencies already in memory.

    The Uniden SDS200 mobile/base receiver.

    • I’ve been using a Uniden APCO P25 Phase I scanner and haven’t purchased that excellent Uniden Phase II radio. Phase III is already planned, so I figured I’d hold out for an APCO P25 Phase III capable scanner, but it looks like the collapse may prevent us from ever seeing Phase III.

      • You know, the usual rule applies, you want some tech, you take your pick among what’s available NOW. Tech is always on the move.

        I recenly acquired a 4th generation iPad, a big improvement over my 1st generation unit. I wanted to wait until Apple offered a OLED display, but that isn’t on the schedule as far as I know. If you want an OLED TV, they’re available, not not for a tablet.

        I’m not sure that P25 isn’t covered by the SDS200, but it’s working well now.

  6. Right now the IC-718 is selling for $585 on

    For $880 you can get the IC-7300:

    The “waterfall” display on the 7300 makes it child’s play to see the band activity and find contacts. I think it is well worth the extra cost, but YMMV.

    The AT100-PRO II tuner is a great match for either radio, add $200:

    If you have ever manually tuned antennas for a frequency (especially a high-gain antenna) and then have to re-tune for each subsequent frequency, you know that an autotuner is worth every penny. If you use an amplifier, you’ll need to step-up to the AT1000-PRO II.

    For mobile comms, I like the Buddipole antenna system:
    A basic package is about $500. If you buy the low band coils and extra pieces to build Yagis instead of dipoles, you can spend $1000+.

  7. Looking at Eton Grundig Satellit 750 Ultimate in another window, do want!
    But at $800 ouch. C. Crane, Panasonic have some entry level ones that will do the job for a beginner.
    Some of the C. Crane versions have portable HAM for a nice price.
    A Russophile bud had one of those hand cranked ones but it was spotty reception and East German quality control, more of a relic.

  8. My old station, in a rack that one of my hospitals was going to throw away. The power supply can handle up to 50 amps.

  9. willy kanos

    I am a licensed Amateur radio operator. I have VHF and HF transceivers. I think there is an option for uinlicensed people to allow VHF operation at relatively low cost. That is marine VHF. Typically they transmit a twenty watt signal that can be heard at twenty or more miles. There are many available for aroung a hundred bucks. That’s about a fouth of the cost of a 2-Meter VHF.

  10. Like the man said, Shoot, Move and Communicate

  11. I will start TX of 15 minute repeating call on 14.085 using Contestia 4/250 with 1000 off-set from 1730Z to 0000Z Please respond on frequency or here if you copy.

    It seems we have negative contact with voice anywhere. IMO digital is the way to go. Establish some contacts to make certain we can communicate and go from there.

  12. Do yourself a favor and make all of your connections with Anderson Power poles. This kit is worth its weight in gold and don’t skip the crimper.

  13. Bonaventure

    Well, if you’re going to be stuck inside for awhile, might as well put it to good use.

    KB6NU’s No Nonsense Study Guides.
    Tech: Free
    General: $10
    AmExtra: $10

    ^— These are what I used to pass the Tech and General tests.

    Also, as with any standardized test, best to take as many practice exams as you can. There are many free online:

  14. Novice ham here. Moved AOs and not really able to use my old antenna system (fan dipole strung up along a line of trees). No trees here, but plenty of space. I’ve come up with a few solutions. Please comment critically. I’ve been dragging my feet but recent events have lit a fire.

    – HF vertical placed above my metal roof (seems iffy whether roof will act as a ground plane)
    – some sort of sloping end-fed attached from apex of roof-line down to a semi-permanent fencepost (up ~10′)
    – HF vertical mounted on a 10′ pole several dozen feet away from house.

    Bonus Q – any issue with mounting a DBJ-1 to apex roof line on the far end of house given the metal roof?

    • Your metal roof will either act as a reflector or a capacitor. Try what you have to see what it works like. Make sure you use an antenna analyzer or have a friend with one that can test your antenna.

  15. My good fortune is that the Wireman is located less than 15 miles from my bunker. He’ll cut exactly the length I want and has the connectors in stock. I think he’ll install the connectors for a reasonable price. I’ve been to his location a number of times. There’s a huge amount of coax there, including semi-rigid types.

  16. I suggest you try what you ask. Experimentation is the beauty of amateur radio. What doesn’t work for the other guy may work for you. A long piece of 12 or 14 gauge insulated THHN wire can work the world. Try it… may be kinky and she’ll like it……..
    Either a dipole or better yet a horizontal loop. Higher than 22 feet.
    There are hundreds of examples on-line. For your maximum usable frequency/468 = feet length of wire. Run coax or ladder line from center to matching unit (some folks call it a “tuner” but that is not correct) for dipole.
    For horizontal loop frequency/1005 = length of wire. Cover as wide an area as possible. Again, coax or ladder line feedline.
    An end-fed Zep line works well too. You can even roll out a long piece of wire on the ground. Do you have a metal fence ? with a matching unit you can make contacts ! So many options !
    VERY helpful to have a matching unit. Personally I prefer manual, but I use auto “tuners” also.
    Try to keep some distance away from metal roof if you can. That being said you can have a coax cable as close as 6 inches.
    I am not a fan of verticals except for VHF/UHF because – radials are a PITA.
    I know nothing to comment on a DJB-1.

    Just get any antenna up and give it a shot.

  17. Sound As A Pound

    I took and passed the exams for Technician and General about a month ago. My callsign has still not been issued in the FCC database. I don’t know if they are even still issuing them during all this. I have a couple Baofengs and am looking at getting an FT-991a this month. I would like to ask for recommendations on solar setups/battery banks to use if/when the power goes out to be able to keep radios up and running.

  18. Alfred E. Neuman

    Reblogged this on FOR GOD AND COUNTRY.

  19. BTW……the AmRRON nets are on TONIGHT April 2, 2020

  20. Ok, i know you guys are talking Ham radios, but i would like to find just a Good CB rig.
    ANY Suggestions ?

  21. Whipoorwill

    I have some pretty good gear and a Technicians license. I am struggling with antenna concerns. Is there anyone here willing to provide some “elmer” advice? Please…I think most of my issues are from a lack of confidence and experience.

    I am fine on the 2meter/60cm band. Also on the 10 meter band. I have specific (mobile) antennas for these. Better than none. I also have a discone but have no clue about what applications/wave lengths to use it for.

    I have a Yaesu 897D. The unit has two antenna connections. I also have an inexpensive antenna tuner.

    If you are willing help, please contact me at…

    Thank you.