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Amateur (Ham) Radio Classes and Testing.

#1
For those of you that wish to make the glorious change to Amateur Radio, there will be free classes at the SCETV building next to Williams-Brice Stadium. The classes will be the evenings of March 11th - 15th and the exam will be held on Saturday, March 16th. The classes are free and the exam will be $10.

http://w4cae.com/get-licensed/

Advantages of Amateur Radio over CB are:

1. Installation is easier. An unloaded 1/4 wave CB antenna is 8.6 feet whereas a VHF is 1.6 feet and UHF is just over 6 inches. There are many VHF/UHF radios available that have remote heads so You can mount the bulky radio out of sight and only have to deal with a much smaller head unit to mount on the dash or windshield.

2. Sound quality is better. CB is AM and VHF is FM. Think of AM radio vs FM radio stations.

3. The classes are not too difficult, but they do teach you a lot so that if you have comm issues you will have a deeper knowledge base to troubleshoot problems.

4. Cost and convenience. If all you really want to do is trail comms for a short distance, you can get a cheap Chinese radio for only $25.

5. Having an Amateur Radio license grants you access to thousands of repeaters which can increase your range from only a few miles to a radius of up to 20-50 miles, depending on terrain and elevation. I was once halfway between Abbeville and McCormick making full-quieting contact with a repeater on Sassafras Mountain. That is just over 70 miles. Granted I had to crank my power up to 50 watts, but I got in there crystal clear.

Here is an interesting idea I once had for a completely stealth (and not thief attracting) install idea for Jeep Wrangler. The fiberglass & composites in the hard tops and the canvas & vinyl in the soft tops are effectively invisible to radio waves. A Jeeper could easily mount a center loaded 1/2 wave dual band antenna that is around 19" tall in the rear cargo area. A 1/2 wave antenna will not have ground-plane issues like a 1/4 wave antenna and your antenna will be completely enclosed preventing trail damage and being less noticeable to "prying eyes."

It's fun, you'll like it. Tripp can back me up here.
 
#2
I totally forgot about this class, but thanks for bringing it back up! Thats the weekend of my daughters BDay, and we will be camping at dreher island. Can you repost the available dates for the other classes and exams?
 
#3
I totally forgot about this class, but thanks for bringing it back up! Thats the weekend of my daughters BDay, and we will be camping at dreher island. Can you repost the available dates for the other classes and exams?
Even if you cant make the test on Saturday, still try and take the course after work. Its going to be very easy, Greenwood Radio Club holds testing sessions regularly (Monthly) and the Dutch Fork (Chapin) group is going to start hosting them as well. Get educated and then we will find you a way to take the test. Tech. is a really easy test to pass, not a lot of technical knowledge required.
 
#7
So your telling me theoretically I could take the test without the class?
Yes. I took my first test with a 30 min study session just taking the practice tests online... but ive been exposed to it my entire life. But the class is still a great idea if anyone is interested in getting involved.
 
#8
You don't need the class to take the exam. I used to deal with a lot of radio stuff when I was still in the Marines and I just studied the Q/A pool and took the exam. It all depends on the individual's current knowledge. I imagine the class is a pretty comprehensive and is planned to take the common person whose knowledge is limited to explain theory to them.

Another useful piece of information: You can take all three exams at ones, presuming you passed the previous one during the same testing session for one fee. i.e if you pass the Technician exam, you can continue and take the General exam. If you pass the General Exam, you can take the Extra exam. If you fail the General exam, you stop there and go home with a Technician license. I recommend studying for the Tech and the General at first, they are both 35 questions long and not too bad. The Extra license exam is a bit more, involved. There is as significantly larger amount of electronics questions.

Here is the ARRL website where you can see the entire question pool and take practice exams.
http://www.arrl.org/exam-practice

Also, you can download free apps out there that have the question pools and do practice exams. Just type in "Ham Test Prep" in the app store and they come up.
 
#9
Since I know I am going to get asked about range, myself and another mobile user did a side-by-side test of VHF and UHF in Augusta, GA. I had a Kenwood TM-V71A with a Pulse-Larsen NMO2/70SH antenna (1/4 wave on VHF, 3/4 wave on UHF) and he had an ICOM ID-5100A with a Diamond R73BNMO (1/2 wave on VHF, 5/8 over 5/8 collinear on UHF). On VHF we could have solid comms at 7-8 miles and UHF got us 4-5 miles. It was the hills that broke that up for us. My mother-in-law and I tested out a pair of $25 Baofengs and got about two miles out of them.

When using repeaters, it all depends on how high above the terrain the repeater is. I have had a solid conversation on a VHF repeater on Sassafras Mountain 70 miles away (N4AW). The W4DV repeater near Trenton has about 40-50 miles of reach. Sometimes there are repeaters in a network that can link together, such as the SCHEART system https://scheart.us/ that covers the entire state. I showed that to Bill Collins once where I dialed up the Conway repeater from the Columbia repeater and talked to a guy in Myrtle Beach.

If you get a General license and get on the HF bands you can have a range of hundreds, if not thousands, of miles. However antenna size at those frequencies make it a bit impractical for use on an off-road vehicle.
 
#10
For those of you that wish to make the glorious change to Amateur Radio, there will be free classes at the SCETV building next to Williams-Brice Stadium. The classes will be the evenings of March 11th - 15th and the exam will be held on Saturday, March 16th. The classes are free and the exam will be $10.

http://w4cae.com/get-licensed/

Advantages of Amateur Radio over CB are:

1. Installation is easier. An unloaded 1/4 wave CB antenna is 8.6 feet whereas a VHF is 1.6 feet and UHF is just over 6 inches. There are many VHF/UHF radios available that have remote heads so You can mount the bulky radio out of sight and only have to deal with a much smaller head unit to mount on the dash or windshield.

2. Sound quality is better. CB is AM and VHF is FM. Think of AM radio vs FM radio stations.

3. The classes are not too difficult, but they do teach you a lot so that if you have comm issues you will have a deeper knowledge base to troubleshoot problems.

4. Cost and convenience. If all you really want to do is trail comms for a short distance, you can get a cheap Chinese radio for only $25.

5. Having an Amateur Radio license grants you access to thousands of repeaters which can increase your range from only a few miles to a radius of up to 20-50 miles, depending on terrain and elevation. I was once halfway between Abbeville and McCormick making full-quieting contact with a repeater on Sassafras Mountain. That is just over 70 miles. Granted I had to crank my power up to 50 watts, but I got in there crystal clear.

Here is an interesting idea I once had for a completely stealth (and not thief attracting) install idea for Jeep Wrangler. The fiberglass & composites in the hard tops and the canvas & vinyl in the soft tops are effectively invisible to radio waves. A Jeeper could easily mount a center loaded 1/2 wave dual band antenna that is around 19" tall in the rear cargo area. A 1/2 wave antenna will not have ground-plane issues like a 1/4 wave antenna and your antenna will be completely enclosed preventing trail damage and being less noticeable to "prying eyes."

It's fun, you'll like it. Tripp can back me up here.
Can you legally use the Baofeng radios without a liscense on the FRS/MURS/GMRS? There is discussion in the Jeep Addicts group on facebook and a number of their members have gotten radios. Is this something we can use without the licenses?
 
#11
I think this answered my question, first Q&A on Amazon.

Question:

Can this be used as a FRS 2-way radio? I am wondering how suitable this is for using as a walkie talkie/2-way radio. You know, similar to the Motorola Talkabout. My main usage is when I go skiing or hiking, camping, etc. A few questions: 1) I know very little about HAM/repeater, etc. How complicated is it to setup …

Answer:

Short answer is - Yes but not legally.
Long answer is that the radio is not FCC certified to operate on the GMRS/FRS frequencies (even though it can). It is also over the legal power limit for FRS. GMRS requires a license to legally operate (even the GMRS radios you buy at the big box stores - just read the manual). The license is $85, last for 5 years I believe and covers your entire family. No test involved - just an application and fee. Even with a license, this radio cant be used legally for FRS/GMRS as it is not FCC certified for that purpose. Look up FCC Part 95 to learn more.
1. There are many videos on the internet that show you how to program. It has a few steps to it but its not difficult. You just need to know the frequencies and tones and make sure 2 of them are setup with the same settings.
2. This will give you better range (not legally) on FRS due to having 10x the legal transmit power. On GMRS, it will be about the same however you can change the antenna which is not something you can do with normal GMRS radios (another reason they are not FCC licensed for FRS/GMRS).
3. Yes and no. It can hear and talk to normal FRS/GMRS radios - its just a matter of setting up the frequency and tones/codes. No - not legally.
4. When you transmit, it has a limited range. A repeater is something you talk to, it hears you and re-transmits your transmission to increase your range. Its also a frequency that most local area amateur radio operators tune to so you have the best chances of making contact.
5. In a situation where life is in danger, you are legally allowed to transmit on any frequency per the FCC to save life when there are no other ways to communicate. This radio operators on public safety frequencies such as EMS / Police / Fire which is also illegal however in a real life or death situation, this radio has the ability to transmit on those frequencies. The consequences are another matter - whether they decide to fine you or not. Asking for help when lost probably would not be a life or death situation - unless you were there for days and out of food/water. Bottom line - you wont want to transmit on any frequency that you are not licensed for or that the radio is not FCC compliant on - unless its your last resort - and you may expect a fine. Understand that you can interrupt their communication with this radio - possible endangering the lives of other people - when you transmit on unlicensed frequencies. You would have to find the frequencies and program them in. There are plenty of online resources for finding repeaters and public safety frequencies for any place you may travel. You can also just scan through the frequencies hoping to catch someone talking but most of the time in order to transmit, you must have the correct tone to trigger the repeater or other 2-way radio, etc.
Some would say this is a decent radio for backup and for emergency purposes. Others would argue that its not of the quality you would want if its your only means of communication in an emergency situation
 
#12
I've provided the verbiage from the United States Code of Federal Regulations and the Federal Communications Commission website to clear up any confusion. This answer applies to those who live in the United States.
GMRS/FRS/MURS:
"Each [GMRS/FRS/MURS] transmitter...must be [certificated/certified for use]." (CFR Title 47, Part 95, Section 95.603)
This radio is not certified for GMRS/FRS/MURS use.
GMRS:
"Before any station transmits on any channel authorized in the GMRS from any point...the responsible party must obtain a license..." (CFR Title 47, Part 95, Section 95.3)
You can't use GMRS without a license.
FRS:
"You may not attach any antenna...to an FRS unit that has not been FCC certified as part of that FRS unit..." (CFR Title 47, Part 95, Section 95.194-c)
You can't use FRS with a detachable antenna. This radio has a detachable antenna.
"FRS devices have a maximum power of ½ watt." (http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/family-radio-service-frs)
You can't use FRS with more than ½ watt. This radio has a low power setting of 1 watt.
MURS:
"A certified MURS device has an identifying label placed on it by the manufacturer." (http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/multi-use-radio-service-murs-0)
This radio does not have such a label because it is not certified for MURS use.
Marine:
"...maritime station transmitters...must provide for selection of only maritime channels for which the maritime station is authorized. Such transmitters must not be capable of being programmed by station operators using external controls to transmit on channels other than those programmed by the manufacturer..." (CFR Title 47, Part 80, Section 80.203-b)
A marine radio must be pre-programmed with only the marine frequencies and can't have the ability to be programmed to transmit on other frequencies, as the UV-5R can.
Summary:
The only frequencies with which this radio can legally transmit are the business and amateur radio frequencies. Business use requires a license that includes a detailed application that entails the types and number of stations that will be used for the business (CFR Title 47, Part 90, Subpart G). Amateur radio operation requires a license. "The station apparatus must be under the physical control of a person named in an amateur station license grant." (CFR Title 47, Part 97, Section 97.5-a)
TL;DR: This radio can only legally transmit in the business and amateur radio frequency bands, and both of those require a license.
Basically, just realize that this radio has the capacity to do way more than it legally can, and you should take care not to put yourself at risk for FCC enforcement actions.
 
#13
FYI, the GMRS license is now $70 for 10 years.

The UV-5R can transmit way out of band. FRS is completely illegal on it. GMRS is a gray area. My UV-5Rs all have an FCC Part 90 sticker on it. (Please note that this conversation is not about the legitimacy of that sticker.) Although 47 CFR Part 95 states that GMRS can only be used on Part 95 approved radios, it is common for GMRS license holders to program GMRS channels on Part 90 (Private Land Mobile Radio Services) approved radios. As a matter of fact, pretty much every licensed GMRS repeater out there is operating on Part 90 gear. Operating GMRS frequencies, for some reason, is frowned upon on Part 97 (Amateur Radio Service) by the same people that (technically) operate GMRS illegally on Part 90 radios.
 
#14
Can you legally use the Baofeng radios without a liscense on the FRS/MURS/GMRS? There is discussion in the Jeep Addicts group on facebook and a number of their members have gotten radios. Is this something we can use without the licenses?
TL:DR - Avoid Baofengs anyway, they are junk. For $50 more you can get a real ham radio made by a company with QC....
This is a very complex legal question with lots of different situations. But here is a short rundown.

FRS/Murs - Can only be legally used on blister pack radios - Free, no test no fee Part95B/Part95D
GMRS - Can be used on blister pack radio and part 95A Radios (requires paid license)
Ham - Technically anything is legal. You can build a radio from scrap parts. Part 15
Commercial Radio - Requires Paid License and Frequency Coordination. Part 90 radios (Can be used for Ham/GMRS)

But Radio certification aside, If you do not hold a Ham Licences or Commercial Liscence and you transmit on ANY requency besided the following you are operating a transmitter unlawfully.
CB 26.965 - 27.405
FRS/GMRS - 462.5625 462.7250 *
MURS - 151.820, 151.880, 154.570, 154.600
*FRS is limited to 0.5 Watts 467.5625 - 467.7125 2 Watts on the rest of the range ; GMRS is limited to 5 watts on the 2 watt FRS cannels and 462.550-462.7250 is max 50.

All of this brings up a different point that all the stuff Rugged Radio sells is being illegally opperated...especially the racers running 110 watt radios, but they arent liable, it is the person pushing the TX button. Hints this message on their website. "

FCC Licensing Information:
This device complies with Part 15 of the FCC Rules. Operation is subject to the condition that this device does not cause harmful interference. This two-way radio operates on radio frequencies that are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). To transmit on these frequencies, you are required to have a license issued by the FCC. For questions regarding FCC licensing please visit the FCC online or call for information. FCC | Phone: 888-225-5322 | http://www.fcc.gov
 
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#17
Yeah, i want to do my license, I just need to take the time and study.
Just take the practice tests...you'd be surprised how easy the test is. .... Hum.... I has a idea... I could start a class on here... breakdown 5-10 questions a day... wonder if anyone would find that useful?
 

LBarr2002

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#18
Just take the practice tests...you'd be surprised how easy the test is. .... Hum.... I has a idea... I could start a class on here... breakdown 5-10 questions a day... wonder if anyone would find that useful?
I bet you could. Probably could share it around and be a way to attract some new users also...
 
#19
Tripp, are you a VE? I was thinking about becoming a VE, but I am a General license holder so I could only test for Technician.

Anyway, I don't think it would take too much effort to get a hold of the Gordon West training materials, I think he gives the Technician level materials out for free now to instructors and elmers.
 
#20
Tripp, are you a VE? I was thinking about becoming a VE, but I am a General license holder so I could only test for Technician.

Anyway, I don't think it would take too much effort to get a hold of the Gordon West training materials, I think he gives the Technician level materials out for free now to instructors and elmers.
No, I'm not a VE, Not really worth it yet, still a General Ticket. Dad is, helps with Greenwoods VE sessions regularly. I'm sure i could get something from Stan, but i could also probably make up/borrow what we would need for this "Virtual Class"
 
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