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 Post subject: Amateur or Ham Radio...
PostPosted: July 10th, 2018, 10:23 pm 
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Any Ham radio users here?

I take my tiny HF radio, a Yeasu FT-817, with me on most trips. A bit old school, but, I prefer this to something like the SPOT messenger (though I do have an emergency beacon - a ResQlink).

With my radio I can be deep in the woods and talk to people all over Ontario using the ONTARS network. I can talk to people all over the U.S. The emergency network called the Maritime Mobile Net on 14.300 almost always has an operator listening and there are almost no instances where I have not been able to send a signal to them as well. I can send signals to Europe, South America. I have even spoken to the science station in Antarctica from my camp and to radio operators in South Africa. I can also attach my android phone to the radio and transmit position beacons using something called APRS. I can send email and download email using something called Winlink.

There are satellite services like the SPOT messenger for example - these require subscriptions; the radio does not. I tend to set up the radio in the camp and listen to the shortwave stations and talk to my friend back home. The radio can also provide emergency communications too.

I posted some videos of my station and camp here:

ve3efq.org

One time my friend was camping on Vancouver island and I was camping near Owen Sound, Ontario and we were able to speak to each other directly. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3Ni2x2BNHk.

Anyway, the radio is not heavy and provides a great deal of advanced functionality. It is also a good way to pass the time in the camp at night listening to shortwave stations, weather stations, and pirate radio stations. The last time I was out in March I could even pick up the North Koreans, who broadcast to North America every morning. Also, if one sets up a base camp and others in the party go out for a day trip, with the addition of a handheld radio, the base camp and the day party can speak to each other locally too.

There is a bit of skill required but it is not so hard to get a station set up that will be able to speak with someone somewhere pretty much all the time.

MT


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PostPosted: July 11th, 2018, 1:31 pm 
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Joined: October 19th, 2013, 6:30 am
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Thanks for this.Im going to look into it right away.


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PostPosted: July 11th, 2018, 8:12 pm 
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I have a few friends who are big hams and would like to get my license I just don't have time to study for it.


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PostPosted: July 11th, 2018, 9:17 pm 
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Yes, there is a test to pass to get a license.

Unlike years ago, there is no mandatory morse code requirement for licensing. That make it very easy compared to say, 20 years ago. I tried learning morse code but have not stuck with it; but, I wish I did know it for morse code signals propagate very well, far better than signals containing voices. Radios for morse code use very little power and are small enough to fit in a shirt pocket.

To use HF frequencies - the only ones with the range for use on a deep-woods canoe route, one must pass the basic exam with honours, meaning, a score higher than 80 percent.

It is possible to use 2 metre or 70 cm signals to bounce the radio waves off satellites designed for repeating Ham radio signals (even the ISS has such radio on it); but, this is far more difficult to achieve than simply putting up a wire antenna for an 80m signal (the frequency used for short-range or province wide coverage using voice).

There was not much technical information or calculations on the exam I took. Most examiners, who are volunteers associated with a local radio club, choose which questions to put on the test themselves and make it pretty easy to pass. Most won't even charge a fee. Many local radio clubs have free courses too.

Questions about the law, rules, and safety were over-represented compared to the inner workings of the radio (it is not as if many people are building their radios nowadays anyway, especially novices). There were a few technical questions about resistance and voltage - basic electronics; but, it is not as if one was expected to calculated the intermodulation frequency of three superheterodyne, full-duplex transceivers.

My friend passed the basic exam, with honours, without even reading a book or taking a class. I read a book and did a few practice exams. I also wrote and passed the advanced exam; but, that would not have been possible for me to pass without reading a text on it.

To that end, I thought I would add some information about the licensing given that it is a requirement for using a radio (save for in an emergency - very few rules apply in this case) in case someone wants to follow up:

I bought a study guide from this company:

Coax Publications.

They also have a website with the exam questions; the questions' answers have detailed explanations with references back to the book for more explanation. There are also loads of websites with all this information too.

The Canadian government's online exam generator is here:

Amateur Radio Exam Generator

All possible questions are online with the answers and one can practice easily. Though, as I said above, many of the examiners from the local club will choose a set of questions skewed away from complex formulas or diagrams that may pop up randomly using this generator.

This app:

Canadian Amateur Radio Quiz

will put all the questions on your phone making it easy to practice for the exam pretty much anywhere.

Anyway, it will take a bit of work and some money to get something set up. But nothing extravagant. There is a fairly robust community of people who use radios like this in the woods or outdoors, so, equipment and antenna requirements are well-documented. e.g.:

SOTA; a group for people who climb mountains
POTA; Parks on the Air;
WWFF; an international group for parks and outdoor areas;
IOTA; Islands on the Air.

This company:

SOTABeams

produces and sells equipment specially designed for portable radios used in the bush.

If anyone has any questions I'd be happy to help.

MT


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PostPosted: July 12th, 2018, 5:09 am 
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Joined: October 19th, 2013, 6:30 am
Posts: 53
Thanks for all the detailed information.I have checked out the sites you referred and am watching utube videos.Im starting from the bottom as all I know about these radios is what I saw while watching Hogan’s Hereos a lifetime ago.


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PostPosted: July 13th, 2018, 7:40 am 
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What sort of costs are involved in getting a fully functional ham radio set up? I had talked to someone about it a few months ago and he was saying that it was fairly expensive to get into.


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PostPosted: July 13th, 2018, 7:47 am 
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What sort of costs are involved in getting a fully functional canoeing set up? I had talked to someone about it a few months ago and he was saying that it was fairly expensive to get into.


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PostPosted: July 13th, 2018, 6:11 pm 
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Joined: October 28th, 2011, 8:51 pm
Posts: 101
Hey modustollens, you might be interested in this device.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/so ... munication

When it is finished and available, ham operators with licences will be able to order a special version that will operate at ham frequencies. My ham relatives are quite excited by the possibilities, which go right over my head.

For non-ham canoeing applications, a group carrying a number of these devices could stay in contact with each other without sat phones.

_________________
 


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PostPosted: July 13th, 2018, 8:23 pm 
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Joined: August 11th, 2015, 7:49 am
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The price can vary a great deal. As with other things, a lot depends on how many fancy options you want to have. Some radios are all band, all mode, so, they cost more; other radios, say, with 3 bands and 2 modes, will be less. There are also single band, single mode radios too. These can be very inexpensive. There are also kits that one can buy; a lot is saved if one builds the radio, or, at least, assembles the parts.


The KX3 - the way I would want it set up - would more than 2000. This is considered the most modern and advanced radio in this class of ultra-portable HF transceivers.

The Yeasu 817 or 818, probably the best value for money given that is all bands, all modes, and proven to be robust. This is the most popular model given that it can do everything - morse code, FM, AM, all the digital modes (and these are very useful), USB, LSB. A new one is 900-1000 CAN; used ones, in good shape, will be 700 or so. The design has not changed for 15 years, for good reason. And there are loads of parts for repairing it too.

Chinese versions of this class of radio are cheaper:

https://www.amazon.com/Xiegu-X-108G-Tra ... B01IF13GZG
https://www.amazon.com/Xiegu-0-5-30MHz- ... B0751BXG65

Still, more than 400; I hear there are a lot of quality problems with these and almost little aftermarket service, but some people like them; less to buy, but they may not be good value for money.

Radios with less features, especially radios for only morse code, are way cheaper, smaller, lighter; or, radios with only 3 bands and 2 modes; this company's radios:

https://www.lnrprecision.com/store/MTR3 ... -p45010523

Are very popular and have a good reputation. Far cheaper than an 817 or KX3.

Kits like this:

http://www.hfsignals.com/index.php/ubitx/

Are the cheapest option if one can solder or connect up the tiny parts.

I have not used a KX3; so, I don't know if it is worth the money; but, on paper, the specs are top notch and it is a pound lighter than the 817.

The 817 is good value for money and I think a perfect radio for a canoe/bush radio, though I did buy an external amp to allow me to beef up the power. 5 watts will work, a bit too inconsistently for my tastes; sometimes 50 is required; so, the amp, which I can turn off and save power, is a nice addition. I don't think I would need 100 watts; but, I would not want to be without 50, even if I don't always need to use that much power.

It is nice to have a radio that can at least receive AM/FM/and the shortwave stations; for transmitting, 20m/40m/80m SSB (single side band - a type of AM mode) are the three most common.

80m is important for this is the band that will give you the ability to talk within relatively short ranges - province wide, for example, even across town. 40 metres can go short range or long range, depending on the antenna design and time of day. 40m will not usually go less distance than 80m though. 20 metres won't work well for short range at all; but, 20m signals go all over the world.

This is another model that can be had for less than 200:

https://qrpver.com/transceivers/qrpver_1_v_3.html

But, this is a mono-band radio.

I think 20/40/80 SSB and digital modes covers about 90% of my transmissions. But, 30m is being used for APRS - automatic packet reporting - for sending position beacons that will post your location to an online map.

If I could only choose one band, perhaps 40m would be the best all around mono-band - it will go +10000km or less than 100 (but not reliably), depending on the antenna design; and there is a 40m Ontario Network, the Trans-provincial net -

http://www.tpn7055.com/

So, there is a way to get short range messages bounced around Ontario via this net on 40m.

For short ranges, 80m is the most reliable band.

I was once in the Bruce Peninsula park near Tobermory. My friend and camping buddy was in Owen Sound. On 40m, we could not hear each other; but, a guy in Northern Michigan could hear us both and he relayed a message to my friend. After this, we made antennas for 80m; and, now I can talk to my friend without any problems over such short distances at very low power levels. The first time I came to this website was to get info on the QE2. The first time I took a trip to the woods with an 80m antenna was to the QE2 - indeed, I made a special trip in there just to see if 80m would work for the short range to my friend (for 40m signals were bouncing overhead and he was in what is called the Skip Zone). One can control the size and distance of the skip zone by carefully choosing the right antenna shape and transmit frequency; in this case, using a technique known as NVIS - Near Vertical Incident Skywave and a dipole antenna set up like an upside down or inverted 'V'. I had no trouble talking to my friend in Owen Sound when I was just past Orillia using 80m NVIS and an inverted 'V'. See https://youtu.be/UmBL5_-tQRQ?t=1m35s ; I bet a few people here will recognize this spot.

Anyway, a mono-band, 5 watt, 40m radio can be had for less than 250. So, that would be a good place to start if price was a big barrier to entry.

MT


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PostPosted: July 15th, 2018, 8:50 pm 
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Joined: June 14th, 2018, 1:37 pm
Posts: 8
What would you recommend doing if one was interested in getting started in this hobby?

modustollens wrote:
The price can vary a great deal. As with other things, a lot depends on how many fancy options you want to have. Some radios are all band, all mode, so, they cost more; other radios, say, with 3 bands and 2 modes, will be less. There are also single band, single mode radios too. These can be very inexpensive. There are also kits that one can buy; a lot is saved if one builds the radio, or, at least, assembles the parts.


The KX3 - the way I would want it set up - would more than 2000. This is considered the most modern and advanced radio in this class of ultra-portable HF transceivers.

The Yeasu 817 or 818, probably the best value for money given that is all bands, all modes, and proven to be robust. This is the most popular model given that it can do everything - morse code, FM, AM, all the digital modes (and these are very useful), USB, LSB. A new one is 900-1000 CAN; used ones, in good shape, will be 700 or so. The design has not changed for 15 years, for good reason. And there are loads of parts for repairing it too.

Chinese versions of this class of radio are cheaper:

https://www.amazon.com/Xiegu-X-108G-Tra ... B01IF13GZG
https://www.amazon.com/Xiegu-0-5-30MHz- ... B0751BXG65

Still, more than 400; I hear there are a lot of quality problems with these and almost little aftermarket service, but some people like them; less to buy, but they may not be good value for money.

Radios with less features, especially radios for only morse code, are way cheaper, smaller, lighter; or, radios with only 3 bands and 2 modes; this company's radios:

https://www.lnrprecision.com/store/MTR3 ... -p45010523

Are very popular and have a good reputation. Far cheaper than an 817 or KX3.

Kits like this:

http://www.hfsignals.com/index.php/ubitx/

Are the cheapest option if one can solder or connect up the tiny parts.

I have not used a KX3; so, I don't know if it is worth the money; but, on paper, the specs are top notch and it is a pound lighter than the 817.

The 817 is good value for money and I think a perfect radio for a canoe/bush radio, though I did buy an external amp to allow me to beef up the power. 5 watts will work, a bit too inconsistently for my tastes; sometimes 50 is required; so, the amp, which I can turn off and save power, is a nice addition. I don't think I would need 100 watts; but, I would not want to be without 50, even if I don't always need to use that much power.

It is nice to have a radio that can at least receive AM/FM/and the shortwave stations; for transmitting, 20m/40m/80m SSB (single side band - a type of AM mode) are the three most common.

80m is important for this is the band that will give you the ability to talk within relatively short ranges - province wide, for example, even across town. 40 metres can go short range or long range, depending on the antenna design and time of day. 40m will not usually go less distance than 80m though. 20 metres won't work well for short range at all; but, 20m signals go all over the world.

This is another model that can be had for less than 200:

https://qrpver.com/transceivers/qrpver_1_v_3.html

But, this is a mono-band radio.

I think 20/40/80 SSB and digital modes covers about 90% of my transmissions. But, 30m is being used for APRS - automatic packet reporting - for sending position beacons that will post your location to an online map.

If I could only choose one band, perhaps 40m would be the best all around mono-band - it will go +10000km or less than 100 (but not reliably), depending on the antenna design; and there is a 40m Ontario Network, the Trans-provincial net -

http://www.tpn7055.com/

So, there is a way to get short range messages bounced around Ontario via this net on 40m.

For short ranges, 80m is the most reliable band.

I was once in the Bruce Peninsula park near Tobermory. My friend and camping buddy was in Owen Sound. On 40m, we could not hear each other; but, a guy in Northern Michigan could hear us both and he relayed a message to my friend. After this, we made antennas for 80m; and, now I can talk to my friend without any problems over such short distances at very low power levels. The first time I came to this website was to get info on the QE2. The first time I took a trip to the woods with an 80m antenna was to the QE2 - indeed, I made a special trip in there just to see if 80m would work for the short range to my friend (for 40m signals were bouncing overhead and he was in what is called the Skip Zone). One can control the size and distance of the skip zone by carefully choosing the right antenna shape and transmit frequency; in this case, using a technique known as NVIS - Near Vertical Incident Skywave and a dipole antenna set up like an upside down or inverted 'V'. I had no trouble talking to my friend in Owen Sound when I was just past Orillia using 80m NVIS and an inverted 'V'. See https://youtu.be/UmBL5_-tQRQ?t=1m35s ; I bet a few people here will recognize this spot.

Anyway, a mono-band, 5 watt, 40m radio can be had for less than 250. So, that would be a good place to start if price was a big barrier to entry.

MT


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PostPosted: Yesterday, 4:00 am 
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Joined: August 11th, 2015, 7:49 am
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You coukd watch a few of the videos I made to give you an idea of what's possible to do in a camp setting; you can find those here: http://ve3efq.org/radio.adventures.html

There should be a radio club near you somewhere. They will likely have monthly meetings and if you went to one they would help you out. This is the site for my local club,

https://gbarc.ca

for example.

Otherwise you coukd follow the link to coax publications, the company that sells the study guide I mentioned above; that site will have the information about how to get a license.

There are also many youtube videos. My friend Julian from Norway has a site with loads of information about portable field stations too albeit one focusing on digital communications via the radio. See:

http://oh8stn.org


You have any specific questions? I could help with those too I suspect.

MT


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