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I live in Southern Indiana and after the rollover will want to communicate with family in a 60 or 70 mile radius, and some friends down south. Ham seems to be the logical alternative but I don't know anything about it.We have a small solar system so power won't be a problem. I read somewhere that Radio Shack sells a handheld portable unit that is good, is it? How hard is the test? Can you really communicate from out here in the booney's to anywhere in the world? Is this interconnected system going to make it through the rollover? Or is this a waste of money? Thanks in advance!
-- Server too busy (toomuch@of the time.org), August 25, 1999
Start with Steve Heller
-- bw (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 25, 1999.
Contact local ham radio operators or a local ham club. You may be able to do this by talking to the folks at Radio Shack, a local electronics store or by asking the local emergency coordinator.
You can also go to the ARRL website listed below, do a search on Ham radio exams in your state and find one being held in your area (or at least nearby. The info will include a contact phone number and/or email address you can contact for more info and reach your local club (bingo). There were a bunch listed in Indianna...
After contacting the hams they can likely answer your questions about signal propogation in your area. They may also offer free or low cost classes. I would have doubts that handhelds will make the cut over 60- 70 miles without being hooked to at least a 5/8th wave external antenna. I have done comms at that range with a handheld but it's getting iffy. The Radio Shack radios aren't too bad.
If I wanted reliable comm at that range I'd prefer to use a mobile type unit (like would be mounted in a car and powered by 12 volts) with more power and a larger/higher performance antenna.
-- Don Kulha (email@example.com), August 25, 1999.
I bought a portable police scanner.I called a neighbor to get the frequencys for the police, sheriff etc. She gave me the frequency to listen to the ham radio operators. This will really be good to have if there are emergencys due to y2k.I would guess alot of them would have a back up power source in which to still operate.
-- maggie (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 25, 1999.
The problem with communicating in Southern Indiana is the danged hills -- been there -- it can be hard to hit the local 2 M repeater when you are in a valley or rock cut -- better find the crest of a nice hill. For 60-70 mile range, get your technican ticket ( yes, you can pass the test) and use the 6 or 10 meter bands on the assumption that the 2M repeaters will be down, plus it would be unusual for 2 m to get that far. If the solar cycle gets really wierd, CB will work for that range, but won't get you across the road, locally.
Icom has a nice and pricey little handheld that transmits on 4 bands -- 6m, 2m, 440 and 223 mhz ( I think) but it did just awful on the 6 m stuff when tested on 6 m last week while in parking orbit near the dorms in Bloomington. Not a whole lot of power either. Can't cite model and stats as it wasn't my toy.
Rad Shack 2 meter HT is ok as long as you get one that has the power to transmit beyond your left nostril - try to get something that transmits on 5 watts instead of 2 watts.
The fall hamfest season is starting -- Bedford usually has one in October, there are ones in Indy at the State Fairgrounds at various times in the year, Louisville should have some too. Go check out the ARRL website as referenced above.
-- urth (email@example.com), August 25, 1999.
This is the handheld unit I looked at
HTX 200 200mW output 138-174 MHZ $179.00
Then they have this portable repeater you can plug into it. Is that any good?
-- Server too busy (toomuch@of the time.org), August 25, 1999.
1 It isn't a portable repeater. it's a linear amp. Perfectly legal for Hams. 2 A repeater is where a receiver receives your signal on one freq and transmits on another freq at a HUGE increase in power.
3 thew HTX 200 is not a BAD unit, and is probably the best bang for the buck.
-- Chuck, a night driver (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 25, 1999.
There are canned hams at sams.
-- I am Sam I am I am (email@example.com), August 25, 1999.
Hi Server TB,
For 60-70 miles, you'll probably need something about 50 to 100 watts transmitter power and a good (probably directional) antenna in the low VHF bands (2 meters, 6 meters or 10 meters) -- for both ends of the conversation. This means a Technician license.
A General class license will allow you to use less power and cheaper antennas on the 40 meter band (or 80/75 meter band), but the tranceiver is normally more expensive.
I'm afraid a 200 milliwatt, 2 meter handheld won't come close to doing the job (and you can get an Alinco 300 milliwatt transceiver for around $90 -- I have 3 of them for local use).
For Urth: You're thinking of the Icom T8A, which is my main handheld. It's very flexible, has a sensitive receiver -- and it will receive broadcast FM, weather bands and lots of other stuff up to about 1 GHz (and puts out a good sounding 5 watt signal, too).
Dean -- KB0ZDF
-- Dean -- from (almost) Duh Moines (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 26, 1999.
We use 6m EXTENSIVELY in NEOhio for Skywarn, and trust me, 100-150 watts is ENTRY level for that band, for reliability. (How extensively, you ask?? We have a single repeater which covers the full 32 county area we're responsible for with about 6 remote inputs and one output. the transmitter is actually rated at 1500 watts continuous duty and covers pretty well, with a few minor holes in teh Sandusky/toledo areas. THis is our backbone for our network, the local county-wide 2m repeaters are liaised with this)
-- Chuck, a night driver (email@example.com), August 26, 1999.
Don't forget that with a technician license you can NOT use 10m. 10m is about useless in this distance anyhow especially during the solar maximum where a 100mW station from Brazil or Japan will be stronget then a 100W station 5 miles away. The same for 6m. Reliable communication can be done on 2m up to 0-50miles with a modest setup ( 4 element antenna as high up as possible, Ratshack rotor and Ratshack 25w mobil rig and using a good quality cable such as the LMR-400 or larger (do NOT use RG213 or 9913)).For omni directional communications get a high gain vertical antenna such as the biggest Diamond (TM) about $ 2-300 antenna and put it up as high as possible. The best band to use for this type of communication would be 160m or 80m during day and night. But this would mean a Generals class license. Now you could say hey there will be no FCC so who cares. DON"T count on it :-)
-- justme (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 26, 1999.