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If GMRS, Then Why VHF/UHF Amateur?


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#41 kidphc

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Posted 22 May 2020 - 07:33 AM

Hearing a short burst of static (called the squelch tail) after un-keying the transmitter is normal, and a sign you have keyed up the repeater. 

 

The bold section is the key point. You are probably opening the repeater. 

 

1. Re-verify tones and offsets. (which sound like they are set right)

https://repeaterbook...features=&use=%

 

2. Get a second radio,to monitor or a cheap SDR receiver setup (monitor repeater output)

 OR

 

The simplest, throw your call sign out with a short message on the repeaters every so often. If someone answers you have your answer.

 

Another thing to think about if you are going to use CW a lot is to get a CW weighted vanity call sign. It will allow you to choose a call sign to apply for that is easier when using CW. https://fistsna.org/callweight.php There is also an option in the FCC ULS when applying for vanities to apply a CW weight to selections.

 

You actually are in hotbed of potential HAM activity due to all the parks. You actually have quite a few repeaters, try programming them and just set the radio to scan. BTW, there is a big difference with an HT (even with a 42" Abree antenna), a 1/4 mag mount attached to a car roof connected to your HT, and a base station antenna llike a Diamond X300. A lot of it has to do with height but the ground plane also makes a big difference.

 

Here is a fun project, make a tape measure yagi, connect it to the HT. Start pointing it at the repeater general locations and try again from the roof. Chances are the repeaters are on top of the mountains, Worst case you spent $10 and now have a yagi you can use for Fox hunts and satellite work (Which I think you'll need a new HT since the downlink is 70cm, might be able to repurpose some GMRS gear for receive only for that ).



#42 SeldomSeen

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Posted 22 May 2020 - 01:44 PM

I spent some time studying the manual for my HT last night and discovered that I wasn't enabling the repeater tone encoder for some of the saved frequencies. Remember, I'm brand spanking new at this. :unsure: Today I found the sweet spot on the roof and made my first QSOs on three different 2m repeaters. They said I was a good 4 1/2 with just 7W and a (no need ground plane) mobile antenna. That was a total surprise! I'm pretty sure I could also nail some 70cm repeaters. There are a lot of them out there. Now, that do it all FT-991a ain't lookin' too bad.


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#43 kidphc

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Posted 22 May 2020 - 02:21 PM

I spent some time studying the manual for my HT last night and discovered that I wasn't enabling the repeater tone encoder for some of the saved frequencies. Remember, I'm brand spanking new at this. :unsure: Today I found the sweet spot on the roof and made my first QSOs on three different 2m repeaters. They said I was a good 4 1/2 with just 7W and a (no need ground plane) mobile antenna. That was a total surprise! I'm pretty sure I could also nail some 70cm repeaters. There are a lot of them out there. Now, that do it all FT-991a ain't lookin' too bad.

Try lowering the wattage on the HT and make some repeater contacts. The repeater is doing most of the work, so that is awesome for you. For simplex,  communication a good base antenna and a radio with about 50 watts opens things up.

 

The IC7300 is an awesome HF rig. If you plan on dwelling in the land of HF it will be a better rig. It's a bit more sensitive the the FT991a. Comes down to superhet versus SDR radio. Remember, jack of all trades master of none adage it applies here also. If you plan on doing 2m simplex as well as SSB (with a different antenna setup) the IC 7300 can do it. You'll need a transverter to accomplish this. Which isn't really simple as buy this and plug it in. It's close but can be rough depending on the route you go.

 

Added: CONGRATS ON THE CONTACTS!!!! :lol: 


Edited by kidphc, 22 May 2020 - 02:26 PM.


#44 n4gix

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Posted 29 May 2020 - 07:07 PM

Regarding the IC7300, I've owned one for the past two years. Recently I bought a Xeigu G90 and much to my astonishment it actually sounds better than the IC7300!

 

Granted, it is only a 20 watt radio, but on the same antenna as the IC7300 I've made contacts and switched between 20 watts and 100 watts. Everyone I contacted could not tell the difference between the two radios. :huh:

 

$498 versus ~$1000... sheesh!

 

That's not to say the IC7300 is a dog, as it certainly is not.



#45 DOCSGMRS

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Posted 16 June 2020 - 12:43 AM

This reply is in response to the OP question ... Here’s another perspective  ... I tested and passed my Tech license in Nov 2017. Prior to that, I went to a local Ham club meetings in hopes of meeting and interacting with other Hams. After an introduction to the group, there was little interaction and discussion, I felt invisible.  I attended meetings for three months and finally just stopped going.  I had a BaoFung radio which was a pain to figure out but I finally got it working.  The local repeater was silent ... I’d sign on as monitoring and listen to the repeater call sign.  Crickets.  I got the big C, retired, and put the radio in a box for two years because I had other priorities.  It was like starting over but I did a lot of reading and decided to give it a try again.  I ditched the BF and got a Yaesu FT-70 and found a much more useable handheld.  I was in Arizona now and again attempted to get things going. Current situation did not allow face to face meetings, and I did get logged into a club net meeting ... much better response, actually had my first conversation with another Ham while I switchEd antennas and checked the response.  After that, crickets on the local repeater, so I scanned the spectrum and listened to the local aircraft traffic pattern and other freqs with activity.  I blundered on to the the local GMRS repeater by accident.  I found an active group of users and just listened ... after a month or so of listening, I decided to get my GMRS license and do what I wanted to do on the radio in the first place - communicate with people and family in my area.  I didn’t have an interest in building or tweeking or exploring technical opportunities ... I wanted to turn it on and talk.  I wanted to communicate and my experience was limited or no communication on the amateur bands.  GMRS did that for me.  Ham was just a no show ... my face to face interactions with my first Ham club didn’t help.  So, this is another perspective on Amateur vs. GMRS ... BTW, I’m still an ARRL member but not sure why at this point.


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#46 kidphc

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Posted 16 June 2020 - 11:28 AM

This reply is in response to the OP question ... Here’s another perspective ... I tested and passed my Tech license in Nov 2017. Prior to that, I went to a local Ham club meetings in hopes of meeting and interacting with other Hams. After an introduction to the group, there was little interaction and discussion, I felt invisible. I attended meetings for three months and finally just stopped going. I had a BaoFung radio which was a pain to figure out but I finally got it working. The local repeater was silent ... I’d sign on as monitoring and listen to the repeater call sign. Crickets. I got the big C, retired, and put the radio in a box for two years because I had other priorities. It was like starting over but I did a lot of reading and decided to give it a try again. I ditched the BF and got a Yaesu FT-70 and found a much more useable handheld. I was in Arizona now and again attempted to get things going. Current situation did not allow face to face meetings, and I did get logged into a club net meeting ... much better response, actually had my first conversation with another Ham while I switchEd antennas and checked the response. After that, crickets on the local repeater, so I scanned the spectrum and listened to the local aircraft traffic pattern and other freqs with activity. I blundered on to the the local GMRS repeater by accident. I found an active group of users and just listened ... after a month or so of listening, I decided to get my GMRS license and do what I wanted to do on the radio in the first place - communicate with people and family in my area. I didn’t have an interest in building or tweeking or exploring technical opportunities ... I wanted to turn it on and talk. I wanted to communicate and my experience was limited or no communication on the amateur bands. GMRS did that for me. Ham was just a no show ... my face to face interactions with my first Ham club didn’t help. So, this is another perspective on Amateur vs. GMRS ... BTW, I’m still an ARRL member but not sure why at this point.

Have you looked at digital via hotspots or echolink which you can run on your phone or pc. Sure they aren't Rf but they may tickle the reason you got your amateur or dwevle in to hf. Not every ham is a dick. It socks your local enclave are so elitist.

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#47 DOCSGMRS

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Posted 17 June 2020 - 01:36 PM

I apologize if I left the impression every Ham is a d***.  It really was about a lack of interest in engaging with a new guy to the club.  I suspected there was a lack of interest in addressing all those new guy questions and I didn’t do myself a favor by getting a BF with scanty documentation.  Also, I couldn’t buy a contact on our local repeater for some reason. That being said, I found an alternative in GMRS that gets you on the air with minimal technical impacts and I found other operators who use their equipment.  Additionally, my wife can use GMRS and as I discovered, in short order, she was never going to get a HAM license.  So, it was more about the communication, rather than technical ... I have had plenty of technical experience being a former EW, so I understand the concepts and terms.  Perhaps, there will be a time when the digital capabilities will be of interest but not now.  Again, I meant no offense to Hams in general, I was just providing my perspective on why GMRS works for me and the 140/440 range didn’t.



#48 kidphc

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Posted 17 June 2020 - 01:41 PM

No offense. Just sad you went through the troubles and kinda got outed.

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#49 wayoverthere

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Posted 17 June 2020 - 03:25 PM

You have my empathy Doc...I've had somewhat similar experiences in more than one interest area, not sure if elitism or apathy.

Trying to get ham licensed currently. Local amateur radio club has cancelled all test sessions til late in the year, so I was looking at another group further out. There's still a session on calendar, and I've tried reaching out to see if it's still on before I make a 3 hour round trip drive, but I've gotten zero response either on their forum or by emailing the VE contact.

Similarly, I was looking into joining a classic car club some years ago, but many of their activities, maybe 5% of the club showed. One run was only 3 cars including mine, and the club president just popped in to see who showed, then ducked out to go troll the junkyard instead. Kind of felt like what's the point.

Kind of discouraging, I know.

#50 Lscott

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Posted 18 June 2020 - 06:27 PM

This reply is in response to the OP question ... Here’s another perspective  ... I tested and passed my Tech license in Nov 2017. Prior to that, I went to a local Ham club meetings in hopes of meeting and interacting with other Hams. After an introduction to the group, there was little interaction and discussion, I felt invisible.  I attended meetings for three months and finally just stopped going.  I had a BaoFung radio which was a pain to figure out but I finally got it working.  The local repeater was silent ... I’d sign on as monitoring and listen to the repeater call sign.  Crickets.  I got the big C, retired, and put the radio in a box for two years because I had other priorities.  It was like starting over but I did a lot of reading and decided to give it a try again.  I ditched the BF and got a Yaesu FT-70 and found a much more useable handheld.  I was in Arizona now and again attempted to get things going. Current situation did not allow face to face meetings, and I did get logged into a club net meeting ... much better response, actually had my first conversation with another Ham while I switchEd antennas and checked the response.  After that, crickets on the local repeater, so I scanned the spectrum and listened to the local aircraft traffic pattern and other freqs with activity.  I blundered on to the the local GMRS repeater by accident.  I found an active group of users and just listened ... after a month or so of listening, I decided to get my GMRS license and do what I wanted to do on the radio in the first place - communicate with people and family in my area.  I didn’t have an interest in building or tweeking or exploring technical opportunities ... I wanted to turn it on and talk.  I wanted to communicate and my experience was limited or no communication on the amateur bands.  GMRS did that for me.  Ham was just a no show ... my face to face interactions with my first Ham club didn’t help.  So, this is another perspective on Amateur vs. GMRS ... BTW, I’m still an ARRL member but not sure why at this point.

Yeah, I can see your point. Many of the older Hams hangout on HF. They might have a VHF/UHF radio but likely don’t use it much except on the morning or evening commute. The other times the portable radio gets used at the Ham Radio flea markets then goes home to sit around until the next one. Alas there are those few Hams that just have an elitist attitude and won’t talk to people with a Tech Class license. Sometimes you can tell by the call sign format the license class. Certain formats are reserved for higher license classes.

 

I’ve kept my original Tech call sign just to surprise those that look me up on the FCC database or on QRZ. 



#51 n4gix

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Posted 18 June 2020 - 06:56 PM

Trying to get ham licensed currently. Local amateur radio club has cancelled all test sessions til late in the year, so I was looking at another group further out.

There are several VEC groups who are currently offering remote on-line exams for Tech and General licensing. Many hams have taken advantage of this.

Our club uses the ARRL VEC and are not currently offering VE testing remotely, but are planning an outdoor VE session on the third Saturday of July, but NW Indiana might just be a tiny bit too far... biggrin.png

Ham Radio Online Testing Updates:


#52 wayoverthere

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Posted 18 June 2020 - 09:07 PM

There are several VEC groups who are currently offering remote on-line exams for Tech and General licensing. Many hams have taken advantage of this.

Our club uses the ARRL VEC and are not currently offering VE testing remotely, but are planning an outdoor VE session on the third Saturday of July, but NW Indiana might just be a tiny bit too far... biggrin.png

Ham Radio Online Testing Updates:


Yeah, I was eyeing the remote option, and I think I will have to go that route..., I got my hopes up on the semi local ones still having sessions listed.
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#53 tweiss3

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Posted 19 June 2020 - 07:42 AM

I had to email 6 different groups, 2 are testing, 3 are not yet and one never responded. Luckily the closest one is a Laurel sponsored and I was able to get signed up. But, I know the struggle, some are sacared, others are just having trouble finding a place to hold the test. I was told I'm going to have to take the test in my car, but it's happening.
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#54 SeldomSeen

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Posted 24 June 2020 - 12:02 AM

Update:

 

Now my base radio is a fine simple analog dual-band IC-2730A with a Diamond X-50A antenna. Six repeaters and a few simplex folks can be reached despite being in a valley. I joined a local club and have participated in their interesting twice weekly nets. They are a nice bunch of folks. The rest of the time their repeater is almost totally unused. Other repeaters have the occasional mobile during the day and a couple of small groups that talk daily.  Ninety some percent of the talk is about radio equipment. I consider myself to be eclectic and would like to converse about various other topics. Like Hamlet said: "There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreampt of in your philosophy." That doesn't seem very likely though. I like DOCSGMRS's idea of more involvement with GMRS. It's certainly worth another look. I may have to get something more powerful than my Wouxin KG-805G though. And there's always HF and the general ticket down the road. Possibly. Maybe. I can't say for sure.


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#55 fra1

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Posted 29 June 2020 - 09:41 AM

If you are only interested in VHF,  GMRS is just fine.  But the Tech license also gives you other bands besides 2 meters.  Although GMRS is growing very fast, right now there are way more 2 meter and 440 repeaters you can access while traveling.  But if you are only interested in local VHF communications, I would not bother with a ham license.

 



#56 JJM

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Posted 29 June 2020 - 09:53 AM

If you are only interested in VHF, GMRS is just fine. But the Tech license also gives you other bands besides 2 meters. Although GMRS is growing very fast, right now there are way more 2 meter and 440 repeaters you can access while traveling. But if you are only interested in local VHF communications, I would not bother with a ham license.


Except that GMRS is UHF but we understood you (hopefully).


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#57 kidphc

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 08:58 AM

Update:

 

Now my base radio is a fine simple analog dual-band IC-2730A with a Diamond X-50A antenna. Six repeaters and a few simplex folks can be reached despite being in a valley. I joined a local club and have participated in their interesting twice weekly nets. They are a nice bunch of folks. The rest of the time their repeater is almost totally unused. Other repeaters have the occasional mobile during the day and a couple of small groups that talk daily.  Ninety some percent of the talk is about radio equipment. I consider myself to be eclectic and would like to converse about various other topics. Like Hamlet said: "There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreampt of in your philosophy." That doesn't seem very likely though. I like DOCSGMRS's idea of more involvement with GMRS. It's certainly worth another look. I may have to get something more powerful than my Wouxin KG-805G though. And there's always HF and the general ticket down the road. Possibly. Maybe. I can't say for sure.

 

If you like rag chewing about weird topics. Then HF or using a digital hot spot (old ham operator calls it fake amateur radio) may be the way to go. We had a 30 minute conversation over WiresX. He brought up a valid point, "i should just call you". :)



#58 marcspaz

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 11:32 AM

If you like rag chewing about weird topics. Then HF or using a digital hot spot (old ham operator calls it fake amateur radio) may be the way to go. We had a 30 minute conversation over WiresX. He brought up a valid point, "i should just call you". :)

 

I'm not an old Ham... but if you're talking to someone over the internet, that isn't radio, in my opinion.  The whole point is to use airways to talk.  If you are using the internet, you may as well be on a computer or smartphone.  I especially feel this way about people using their smart phone to get into a group and they aren't even on a radio. 

 

If 2 people are using their smartphone to talk to each other though a Fusion or WiresX web app, how the heck is that Ham radio?  If that counts, anyone who talks on a cell phone may as well consider themselves a Ham.  LOL


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#59 JJM

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 11:33 AM

I'm not an old Ham... but if you're talking to someone over the internet, that isn't radio, in my opinion. The whole point is to use airways to talk. If you are using the internet, you may as well be on a computer or smartphone. I especially feel this way about people using their smart phone to get into a group and they aren't even on a radio.

If 2 people are using their smartphone to talk to each other though a Fusion or WiresX web app, how the heck is that Ham radio? If that counts, anyone who talks on a cell phone may as well consider themselves a Ham. LOL


Technically it’s still over the air when you do radio to hotspot, que no?


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#60 marcspaz

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 11:46 AM

Technically it’s still over the air when you do radio to hotspot, que no?


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For a small part of the path to the repeater... that's it.  That's not real contact.

 

I had someone bragging to me about a 2m C4FM contact to an operator in Japan over a digital group and he logged it as a JP contact in his log.  I told him to give me a break.  If using my radio to go 2.5 miles to an internet-linked repeater and digital chatroom counts as a JP contact, I may as well just call a random person in Japan on the phone and count that as a JP contact, too.


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