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Shiawassee Amateur Radio Association [SARA]

Established: January, 1958 an ARRL Affiliated Club since 1961

"Whiskey 8 Quack Quack Quack"

Meets at: James P. Capitan Center, Lower Level; 149 E. Corunna Ave.; Corunna, MI 48817 Monthly: 2nd Tuesday @ 7:00 PM

Club station located in the James P. Capitan Center - Lower Level.
Grid Square EN72wx   Latitude: 42.9819 N   Longitude: -84.1164 W   Alitude: 760 ft.

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Beginning with a License

You have a license! Now what is your action plan? May we suggest you get and read a 34 page free e-booklet Licensed Quickstart Guide from the ARRL. Read the information and the advertisements carefully, you will start learning something new. You need learn about various radio characteristics and terminology. All technical hobbies have a 'language' filled with terms and acronisms that are used to communicated on the topic. As you start to add to the language knowledge, you will start to form a library of sorts on your topic. You should start to consider what items you want to add into your personal ham reference library. In today's world, I would recommend considering an electronic library version of the many of books and magazines being placed in your 'library'. SARA has a web page that discuss's the topic of a library for hams with many thoughts to help get you started. Look over the ARRL web site for books and such. Search around the web - there is an almost endless amount of information available. Carefully consider what books and magazines you actually purchase (especially at the start). One book that should be very highly considered is the ARRL Handbook. It is full of electronic basic knowledge, reference information, useful electronic construction articles, and commercial advertisements and the material cover's almost the entire breadth of the amateur radio hobby. It contains all basic knowledge you need (and more) to get you your Extra Class license and setting and expanding up your first station.

It can not be over emphasized that one of the best things you can do is operate your radios. Each contact you make will add to your operating skills and you will develop your own interests and station interests (these are called "hamshack"(s)). You should be able to put some detailed thoughts into making your 'HF ham shack'. High frequency [HF] and Very High Frequency [VHF] and Ultra High Frequency [UHF] operating plans for your station is an important part of hamshack development. Investigate SARA's ham library and an electronic workbench web pages. Each contains important hints and decisions that need careful choices to reflect your needs and desires ~ that is what makes it 'YOUR HAM SHACK' and it shouild be uniquely different compared to anyone elses.

Starting with a Technician class license the begining ham will usually initially purchase a VHF/UHF radio and then add in HF operations. VHF/UHF provides a means to communicate with local hams and with the internet on a world wide basis. Handhelds start in the sub $100 class and go to nearly $1000, study carefully and fully understand what you want from your first radio(s) ~ whatever your choice(s) you will want to use your radio soon and often. When your HF operation begins, adding direct world-wide coverage, the desired choices become more varied. Simple QRP (low power) transciever kits starting in $50 range up to $10,000 for a full 'state of the art' transceiver are available. Then add the additional elements as needed and you will have a sizable investment. One of the most popular HF radios (currently ~ 2019) is the ICOM IC-7300 at about $1,100.00 for begining hams - but if that is 'too costly' then consider a low cost kit, just build the shack as you go. When you want (need?) an antenna and supporting system, a computer with rig interfacing equipment, microphones, keys, antenna tuners, coax, etc. I suggest start "small' and expand as you figure out what you wish to get into. The goal is to start getting on the air and making contacts on a regular basis. Your local ham club members are great sources of information on how to expand your knowledge and station direction. Learn to use all your resources wisely. The costs can be spread out over many years, so it is not as bad as you might think. Like most hobbies, you decide at what level you wish to participate and then plan accordingly. {Easy for me to say as I have been at it for over 50 years.}

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Podcasts and Blogs

Podcasts and blogs are methods of spreading information via the internet. You should utilize them to add to your ham knowledge and gain further insight into the hobby. Here is a list of favorites:

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The Ham Shack

Usually the first radio a Technician will purchase will be a two meter transceiver [VHF/UHF] and today most have 'dual band' coverage 144 / 440 MHz. This radio can be used for local communication and you will want to 'talk to someone'. Finding someone to connect you with your local radio club(s) can be a great benefit. You should go to a few club meetings and meet the people on the other end of those local repeater contacts. Most club's welcome visitors and do not expect you to join at the first meeting you attend. If in our area, lookover the SARA meeting schedule and make an effort to attend. SARA offers a 'first year free' to new hams. Volunteer to assist the club during it's activities and you will quickly make friends and improve your operating skills. These personal contacts can answer a lot of questions and save you a large amount of time and effort. Discuss your radio thoughts and gain other's opinions on how to proceed. You may want to expand to a VHF/UHF home station and antenna system.

Next, building your "HF station" will probably be in order. Many find the best path is to purchase a used HF transceiver, build a simple antenna system (wires), add a few accessories, and get listening and operating on the HF ham bands. Allow time and effort to operate these bands as your license dictates. Those new friends found at the club can assist in making equipment and shack layout choices and help in finding the equipment to get you started. Decide on a space and location for your HF station. As you learn and operate your station you will make new choices and change your desires, that is a normal path that eases the financial side of the hobby. The digital modes usually dictate a computer for operation and an internet connection is useful (necessary) in the ham shack. The list of what you may initially desire may include:

Basic HF Station Equipment List:

  • Transceiver
  • Power Supply
  • Power Distribution System
  • Microphone(s)
  • Morse Key(s)
  • Coaxial Cable(s) and other equipment Interconnecting Cables
  • Antenna(s)
  • SWR Meter
  • Shack Computer w/ Monitor, Keyboard, etc.

Additional HF Station Equipment List:

  • Antenna Tuner
  • Receive Audio Processor / DSP Filter
  • Antenna Switch
  • Computer for the Radio Shack with a soundcard and speakers
  • Printer, Accessories and Internet Connection for the computer
  • Radio to Computer Interface(s)
  • Antenna Analyzer and a Field Strength Meter
  • Antenna Tower(s)
  • Antenna Rotor Controller and Control Cables
  • Beam Antenna (Gain)
  • Power Amplifier

This can add up to a very large cash outlay and probably will take some time to assimilate. For most people, the path will have some looping through the list with equipment upgrades and changes as your experience and operating desires are developed. Do not get in a hurry and enjoy the journey as you grow into the hobby. There is contesting, Slow Scan Television [SSTV], Radio Telegraphy [RTTY], Digital Operating Modes, equipment building, low power operation [QRP], CW and other mode contesting, and many other aspects that may change your basic station hardware design decisions. Then there are the decisions on what your actually going to do with the station. Public Service, long distance contacts [DXing], QSL card collecting, general rag chewing, digital modes, satellite operation, etc. There is "no single list of equipment" and/or "type of operation" that fits every amateur radio operator. Usually it is a blend of what the operator (you) finds interesting. Also, operators change direction as they learn and understand the different facets of the hobby. Change should be expected and shows you are growing with your new knowledge... it is a good thing!

One activity you may enjoy listening and/or participating in is "Net Operations". A "Net" is an on-air group talking about 'something 'of common interest. They are on almost all amateur bands and cover almost any radio topic you can think of! If you can think of a topic, I suggest you use your web browser page search and start on AC6V's Net Page. Some 'standard' net frequencies to start listening on are: {80M} 3.745, 3.835, 3.865, 3.885 MHz; {40M} 7.225; 7.240, 7.280; 7.290, 7.299 MHz; {20M} 14.250~1, 14.293, 14.300, 14.317, 14.325 MHz. Nets are on at various times and days. There are many other bands and frequencies, look at the AC6V site to get a feel for what is out there and you will become amazed at what you can hear. Search various ham web sites for more net operation details. Listen and take notes on what you are hearing. Using today' radios a wide spectrum is usually available for you to listen to. Shortwave listening [SWL] can lead to hobby of its own. Then there are various marine and aircraft communications, military, commercial types of communications, etc. An inexpensive SDR unit (USB thumb style) added to you computer can add "zero" to "daylight" frequency coverage for you reception enjoyment.

The above web site, AC6V, is from a silent key. His son took over his Dad's mission to provide a huge set of internet links for hams. I am uncertain how long this resource will continue, but it is one of my favorites! Please drop a note and let him know if you like it.

A nice Ham Band chart for understanding various license class versus frequencies is the ARRL US Amateur Radio Band chart.

On the social side, there is usually a few local groups doing coffee/restaurant meetings with open discussions. Hamfests (swaps/flea market style) provide another opportunity to meet and greet like minded people. Get 'social' and expand your ham friendships ... it is amazing how much knowledge they can add to your knowledge. Get phone numbers and email address's for these. It is not a time to be shy, open up and talk to strangers. Hams seem to be very friendly.

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Technician Class Frequency Privileges in Ham Radio

A Technician licensee has free access to all amateur frequencies above 50 MHz, but on the HF bands here is what you use. A Technician licensee can use up to 200 watts on the HF bands. A Technician license frequency chart and operating aid is available from the ARRL at ARRL Technician Band Chart.. Or a band-by-band plan for use by all license classes is available from the American Radio Relay League Band Plan (All License Classes) (Web Page at the ARRL).

Technician Class Frequencies

Band Frequencies (In MHz) Modes You Can Use
80 meters 3.525 – 3.600 CW
40 meters 7.025 – 7.125 CW
15 meters 21.025 – 21.200 CW
10 meters 28.000 – 28.300
28.300 – 28.500
CW, RTTY/data, 200 watts PEP maximum power
CW, phone, 200 watts PEP maximum power
Above 50 MHz All amateur privileges

CW = Morse code; PEP = peak envelope power; RTTY = radioteletype.

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It will not be long and you’ll be thinking about upgrading. As a "General Class" you have many more frequencies to use on the high-frequency bands (HF). See the following table. A complete chart of the U.S. frequency and mode privileges for all of the license classes is available from the American Radio Relay League Frequency Band Charts (ARRL).

General Class Frequencies

Band Frequencies (in MHz) Mode
160, 60, 30 meters All amateur privileges  
80 meters 3.525 – 3.600
3.800 – 4.000
CW, RTTY, data
CW, phone, image
40 meters 7.025 – 7.125
7.175 – 7.300
CW, RTTY, data
CW, phone, image
20 meters 14.025 – 14.150
14.225 – 14.350
CW, RTTY, data

CW, phone, image
15 meters 21.025 – 21.200
21.275 – 21.450
CW, RTTY, data
CW, phone, image
17, 12, 10 meters All amateur privileges  
Above 50 MHz All amateur privileges  

CW = Morse code; RTTY = radioteletype; data and image are now mostly computer types.

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Get on-the-air and practice using the different modes to which you have authorized priviledges. It will help you learn proper procedures and make social contact with similar minded people. They can assist you, as both operators learn by actual practice. Operating experience is the quickest and easiest path to improving your knowledge and skills.

The ARRL 'Ham Review' app can be used for all license classes. Use the review app method at ARRL EXAM REVIEW app site. You need to establish an account and respond to an email, but then your review is just a click away from all those exam study units.

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