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Old 04-07-2017, 04:07 PM   #1
KD2NEI Steve
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Unhappy New Tech Licensee >> SSOO confused

Hello, my name is Steve KD2NEI. Been RV full-timing 2 years, just got my Technician License 3 weeks ago. Bought a Yaesu handheld.
My intentions of getting into ham are:
1. connecting with folks as I come into new area, asking for suggestions about places to visit, RV service, etc
2. 'emergency' connection to outside world if I am out of cell range
3. I can imagine myself getting more involved in emergency response, as I am now becoming involved in Habitat for Humanity Care-A-Vaners.
4. I like EchoLink and IRLP.
Note to self: I am not as much drawn to casual conversations.
So, in upstate NY where I took my test, the Yaesu handheld worked great. There were several repeaters being used.
HOWEVER, here near Santee SC where I am spending a few months, I cannot connect to anyone. The repeaters listed are over 7 miles away, and I hear nothing. I double checked with IRRL rep in SC, and he confirmed that repeaters are not used much.
I also reached out to a blogger who responded "The repeaters are not used much these days across the country. I have two meter mobile in my rig and have had no more than two or three QSOs in five years of traveling more than 150,000."
So I am confused, and do not have an Elmer familiar with RV ham radios. Do I need to get my General License then migrate to something like a Yaesu 817 that I can bring into field and operate mobile in RV? Do I go to Yaesu 857, then not have communication in the field when on my bike or walking in woods?
Your reactions and suggestions greatly appreciated.
- Steve,KD2NEI
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Old 04-07-2017, 07:53 PM   #2
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Welcome aboard.

In a rural area, a handheld isn't going to do a whole lot with repeaters 7 miles away. You need a good dual band mobile rig with a decent antenna. I'm running up to 50 watts out into a 5/8 wave magmount in the middle of the truck roof. Perhaps a better antenna would be the next step, in preparation for the mobile rig and just run the HT into that for a while. HT antennas are poor performers.

And it's sadly true that a lot of casual everyday conversations that used to keep repeaters so busy they were almost useless, are now gone to other media, so the repeaters are nearly useless for lack of participation. The chatter on all my local ARES and club machines is not what it was years ago.

You might look to see if there are any local nets you could check into. Perhaps the locals would be more likely to respond to someone they've already spoken to.

As far as upgrading to general and getting a nifty HF rig? Yes. You should definitely do both. Just because the opportunity is there, if for no other reason.

Some of the other guys will be along to help. Knowing what your RV set up is like would help us help.
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Old 04-07-2017, 08:58 PM   #3
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A handheld with an external antenna such as a dual band on your ladder should let you reach local and sometime not so local repeaters. I have reached repeaters well over 25 miles away with a 5w handheld and a mag mount antenna. I operated that way for the two yearsides before I upgraded my mobile radio.

When I travel, I program in a few local repeaters then scan for a while to see what I can hear. Eventually I'll pick up a net of some kind and check in. When I'm on the road, I listen to 146.520 and occasionally make a conract.

I see VHF/UHF mobile radios advertised for under $200 that would give you a bit more power.

I'm thinking that you shouldn't get a radio like the 857 unless you are serious about general, which I have found to be well worth the effort (I just acquired an FT897 that will be my camping radio once I get the antenna for it).

73
W7DAF
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Old 04-07-2017, 10:14 PM   #4
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Welcome to the forum, I'm Marv KT4W. Like "Radio" I live in the Atlanta metro area where there is probably over 5,000 licensed amateurs in a 50 mile radius. There is only 5 licensed hams in Santee (which has less than 1,000 residents) and in Orangeburg County there are 115 licenses issued. Not a lot of people and obviously not a lot of activity. I didn't find any clubs near where you are so that pretty much puts you on your one while you are located there. I can understand your discouragement.
Yes, as Radio said you may want to invest in a dual band (VHF/UHF) mobile rig with more power matched with a decent antenna. I also have a mag mount Larsen 5/8 dual band antenna on the roof of my truck. With that I can easily reach repeaters over 30 miles away. Since you are in an area with few hams the repeater(s) most likely will have very little activity during the day. As suggested check for any net activity in the area. Here is what I have found. http://www.scssb.net/SC%20Nets.pdf Echolink can be fun, I've talked to people in Germany and other countries using it.
Certainly work on getting an upgrade to your license, you won't regret it. I am a VE and assist with license classes in the local area. As far as an Elmer, do a search on QRZ to find a ham in your local area and go knock on his door and get to know him and pick his brain.
Hang in there, this is a great hobby and will be a lot of fun for you.
Marv
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Old 04-08-2017, 10:59 AM   #5
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I am not that familiar with the area you are in (The city name does not ring any bells) But I often spend time near Seneca, SC let me look you up. Hold on.. Alas that's a long way from Seneca.. Check for Radio Nets.. Often if there is an active repeater near you there will be a Net at least one night a week,, That's the repeater to user.

7 miles is a "Back yard" distance... You should be able to hit repeaters 20 miles away with that hand held. and if you use a decent external antenna.. 40-50 miles
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Old 04-11-2017, 12:26 PM   #6
KD2NEI Steve
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Thank you all for your responses :-) I have been studying them, and came up with this strategy:
- get my General License (I am studying now)
- get Yaesu FT857D for HF (100w) and UHF/VHF (50w). This should allow me to get out further to repeaters, and connect via HF when there are no repeaters
- get 2 Lawson antennas for 2m communications for traveling, 1 for RV window, 1 for Honda Fit car window or roof
- use ATAS 120 antenna and Lithium battery for stationary HF, UHF/VHF communications

What do you think?
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Old 04-12-2017, 09:18 AM   #7
N3LYT
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KD2NEI Steve View Post
Thank you all for your responses :-) I have been studying them, and came up with this strategy:
- get my General License (I am studying now)
- get Yaesu FT857D for HF (100w) and UHF/VHF (50w). This should allow me to get out further to repeaters, and connect via HF when there are no repeaters
- get 2 Lawson antennas for 2m communications for traveling, 1 for RV window, 1 for Honda Fit car window or roof
- use ATAS 120 antenna and Lithium battery for stationary HF, UHF/VHF communications

What do you think?
That works. At a 100 watts you are sucking up a great deal of battery power figure on a good 20 amps so you will need a battery with a lot of amp hours if you expect to stay on the air very long and a way to recharge it.
A lot depends on the repeater and it's location. I can use the repeater on top of Mt Washington from my house with a hand held and 1/2 watt it is over 30 miles away. I can use our repeater in Conway NH with a couple of watts it's 15 miles away. Location location location, can you hear a squelch tail from the repeater or an ID? if you can't your not making it, either too far or a wrong PL.
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Old 04-12-2017, 07:08 PM   #8
KD2NEI Steve
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Thanks :-)
No squelch tail or ID. I have tried several repeaters, and have scanned for miles while riding a bike and nothing. South Carolina ARRL rep not surprised that I can't reach anyone from my location.
I appreciate your comment on the 20 amp battery required, and way to charge it.

- Steve
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Old 04-12-2017, 09:10 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KD2NEI Steve View Post
Thanks :-)

I appreciate your comment on the 20 amp battery required, and way to charge it.
I've done an entire field day with a car battery running my Kenwood TS570 without needing to recharge. I did some island hopping with a deep cycle marine battery and charged it up in a few minutes with jumper cables from the truck. (same radio)

Batteries are heavy and might make a mess if tipped over. If not boon docking or otherwise isolated from shore power, a little power supply may be in order.

I lug around an Astron 35M in the trailer. Somebody gave it to me and I'm too cheap to get something lighter/smaller. But it seems every PS out there now is lighter and smaller than an old school Astron!
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Old 04-13-2017, 09:30 AM   #10
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In days of old when I was bold my first 2 Meter Rig was a heathkit lunchbox.. Skip forward to my 2nd, a Regency 10 watt rock bound rig...

I made a simple "Twin lead" J-Pole (Described in QST and other ARRL publications) and tied a string to it, Alley OPP over a tree limb and hosted it perhaps 10 feet..

The "Local" repeater was over 15 miles away and signal was solid..
That was the repeater I was responsible for founding..
Another repeater was a good 20 miles and that too was hittable with hand helds.

Many hand held radios today have very poor antennas. A better antenna makes a BIG improvement.
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