What is HAM radio used for?

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JonoMathew
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What is HAM radio used for?

Post by JonoMathew » Wed Sep 20, 2017 12:40 pm

I know sweet sod all about radio and comms - is ham the way to go and if so where do I start? I have used two way radios before but that is a far as it goes. Thanks Jono

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JBird
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Re: What is HAM radio used for?

Post by JBird » Wed Sep 20, 2017 1:26 pm

From what I've learnt (may not be 100% correct):

HAM radio runs special frequencies outside of the range of normal off-the-shelf 2 way radios, which you need a licence to use. There are clubs which will help you take and pass the test.

https://www.ofcom.org.uk/manage-your-li ... teur-radio

http://www.hamtests.co.uk/

One of the main benefits is increased range and less "idiots on the spectrum". Nothing worse than people talking over others in a crisis... Whereas HAM radio users are trained what to do in an emergency situation (generally shut-up and listen). HAM Radios can be huge, with 50 foot antennas and 1000 watt transmitters.

HTH

Toddie
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Re: What is HAM radio used for?

Post by Toddie » Wed Sep 20, 2017 1:43 pm

Not versed in HAM radios at all.

However a user on this forum "Hamradioop" is the go to guy for getting started out, so i'll keep my mouth closed and let the veteran take this one if he sees fit.
Area 8.

"Better to have and not need, than to need and not have"

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Jamesey1981
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Re: What is HAM radio used for?

Post by Jamesey1981 » Wed Sep 20, 2017 2:24 pm

The standard licence free PMR446 radios that you can buy everywhere are handy, I have a set that I use while hunting, they're limited to half a watt of output, but anyone can use them.
They're very good for communicating between opposite sides of a field without yelling and scaring everything off.

They don't have a great deal of range, Ithink it's about a mile in ideal conditions, but ideal conditions are rare in the real world so expect much less. If you need more for emergency communication then ham is the way to go, unless you're on a boat in which case you need marine vhf, you need a licence for ham and you also need a licence for marine vhf, and in the case of marine the boat needs to be licensed too, but that does give you the option of using handhelds for backup use and other marine based uses, such as communication with a tender, that's most likely irrelevant though as if you had a boat you'd likely know that already.

There a various different levels of ham license, the higher you go the more power you can use and the more frequencies you can operate on.

Foundation is the first level, that allows you to use up to 10 watts as far as I know, I haven't done it yet, I'm getting it organised now.

That would give you the ability to use the various handheld ham radios, some of which are very cheap, and they have a much greater range than pmr446 as they're generally from 4 to 8 watts from what I've seen, you'll also get access to the repeater network which will rebroadcast your signal at a much higher power giving you even more range.

Best bet is to have a search for your local club, they'll help you out and give you more info than I can, you'd need to get in touch with them if you want to do your licence anyway.

The other option is cb, but not many people use it these days, the off roaders use them a lot but that's about it, so you're much less likely to be in range of someone that's in a position to relay your emergency message and you can't use the repeaters.

You could buy a cheap handheld and listen in on the ham bands, and you could use it in an emergency without a licence without getting in trouble, but you won't be able to test it or practice legally without a licence so I would say that's the way to go, they're pretty complicated.

Google Essex hams, they offer a free online course for the theory and lots of info on their website, but you will have to do your practicals and exam at an approved club, so see if you have a local one and if you can do the full course with them then do, personally I would find it difficult as my local club does it over a weekend, it's rare I have a full weekend free, so I'm waiting for their trainers to get back to me to see if I can just do the parts that can't be done online with them and the rest online, but if not I'll just have to make the time to do the full course.

The licence used to be a lot more difficult to obtain than it is now, they've made it a lot more accessible in recent years so now is the time to do it, I'm actually quite close to a pass mark on the exam without having had the training yet, I am a licensed marine operator though so I have more knowledge about the general principles than most, but I don't know many of the specifics. My local place does the full course from a standing start in two days so unless you're doing it a little bit at a time it will take days rather than weeks.

Just as an aside that I find amusing, ham isn't an acronym so you don't have to capitalise it, it started out as a pejorative term used by professional radio opererators to mock the "ham fisted" amateur morse users and was eventually adopted by the amateurs!
It survives as an insult in other things, such as actors hamming it up.

Hopefully most of that is accurate, I'm not an expert but I've been researching it lately.

JonoMathew
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Re: What is HAM radio used for?

Post by JonoMathew » Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:06 pm

JBird wrote:From what I've learnt (may not be 100% correct):

HAM radio runs special frequencies outside of the range of normal off-the-shelf 2 way radios, which you need a licence to use. There are clubs which will help you take and pass the test.

https://www.ofcom.org.uk/manage-your-li ... teur-radio

http://www.hamtests.co.uk/

One of the main benefits is increased range and less "idiots on the spectrum". Nothing worse than people talking over others in a crisis... Whereas HAM radio users are trained what to do in an emergency situation (generally shut-up and listen). HAM Radios can be huge, with 50 foot antennas and 1000 watt transmitters.

HTH
Thanks mate. I appreciate the help and apologies of I sound like a t*t but not an area I know.

What would the range be for a handheld HAM radio? I see some are reasonable money online. Thanks again

JonoMathew
Posts: 15
Joined: Tue Sep 19, 2017 11:06 am

Re: What is HAM radio used for?

Post by JonoMathew » Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:13 pm

Jamesey1981 wrote:The standard licence free PMR446 radios that you can buy everywhere are handy, I have a set that I use while hunting, they're limited to half a watt of output, but anyone can use them.
They're very good for communicating between opposite sides of a field without yelling and scaring everything off.

They don't have a great deal of range, Ithink it's about a mile in ideal conditions, but ideal conditions are rare in the real world so expect much less. If you need more for emergency communication then ham is the way to go, unless you're on a boat in which case you need marine vhf, you need a licence for ham and you also need a licence for marine vhf, and in the case of marine the boat needs to be licensed too, but that does give you the option of using handhelds for backup use and other marine based uses, such as communication with a tender, that's most likely irrelevant though as if you had a boat you'd likely know that already.

There a various different levels of ham license, the higher you go the more power you can use and the more frequencies you can operate on.

Foundation is the first level, that allows you to use up to 10 watts as far as I know, I haven't done it yet, I'm getting it organised now.

That would give you the ability to use the various handheld ham radios, some of which are very cheap, and they have a much greater range than pmr446 as they're generally from 4 to 8 watts from what I've seen, you'll also get access to the repeater network which will rebroadcast your signal at a much higher power giving you even more range.

Best bet is to have a search for your local club, they'll help you out and give you more info than I can, you'd need to get in touch with them if you want to do your licence anyway.

The other option is cb, but not many people use it these days, the off roaders use them a lot but that's about it, so you're much less likely to be in range of someone that's in a position to relay your emergency message and you can't use the repeaters.

You could buy a cheap handheld and listen in on the ham bands, and you could use it in an emergency without a licence without getting in trouble, but you won't be able to test it or practice legally without a licence so I would say that's the way to go, they're pretty complicated.

Google Essex hams, they offer a free online course for the theory and lots of info on their website, but you will have to do your practicals and exam at an approved club, so see if you have a local one and if you can do the full course with them then do, personally I would find it difficult as my local club does it over a weekend, it's rare I have a full weekend free, so I'm waiting for their trainers to get back to me to see if I can just do the parts that can't be done online with them and the rest online, but if not I'll just have to make the time to do the full course.

The licence used to be a lot more difficult to obtain than it is now, they've made it a lot more accessible in recent years so now is the time to do it, I'm actually quite close to a pass mark on the exam without having had the training yet, I am a licensed marine operator though so I have more knowledge about the general principles than most, but I don't know many of the specifics. My local place does the full course from a standing start in two days so unless you're doing it a little bit at a time it will take days rather than weeks.

Just as an aside that I find amusing, ham isn't an acronym so you don't have to capitalise it, it started out as a pejorative term used by professional radio opererators to mock the "ham fisted" amateur morse users and was eventually adopted by the amateurs!
It survives as an insult in other things, such as actors hamming it up.

Hopefully most of that is accurate, I'm not an expert but I've been researching it lately.
That is a great help. I will dig into it further.

Lol, I have one or two areas I am good at such as water treatment but give me a radio and I am stuffed.

Maybe ham isn't the only way to go. What I am looking for is something to transmit two ways a distance of about 25 miles. I am guessing off the shelf two way radios wouldn't have a hoping hell.

Will definitely keep looking into the help you have given me.

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Chunk
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Re: What is HAM radio used for?

Post by Chunk » Sun Dec 23, 2018 3:47 pm

Ham radio frequency's are far more superior to most others such as CB and PMR etc. I once had 96 miles from a cheap hand held! ps that was simplex!
simplex = straight from one to one! (no repeater).
handy hobby to have ;)

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