Things about Ham Radio it would be good to know
( How to fake it 'til you make it! )



This radio ham is operating on 2 meters. Why is her hair so funny? Why is her ham shack so cluttered? Why all the cameras?
She is an Astronaut on the International Space Station talking on 2 meters with hams on Earth. Hair goes wild in Zero gravity.

Can I talk with the ISS? Well... Yes. Kind of.
How do you do that? We have a local expert here in Melbourne, Florida.
Does the ISS have a heavy braided copper strap connecting everything to earth ground? Huh?

Are there ham transponders in the sky? Yes, they're called satellites.
Hams have been bouncing RF off our first satellite for many years. It's known as "the moon."
Other bouncing modes include meteor scatter and aurora scatter. Fun stuff.

Where can I transmit? This LINK shows where you may transmit as a Technician, General, and Extra.
Always be alert to where the band edges are for your license, and stay back 3 or more KHz.
On HF, the trick is to learn which bands will work at what times of the day.

When you call another station, you use "from" (or "de" on CW). W4XYZ this is (or from) W4GAL.
That order is correct. Many other communications services are in the reverse order of that.
If you put these things into practice, you will sound like you've been licensed a long time.

Repeater use: don't call CQ. It's a dead giveaway you got your call yesterday. Just say your call.
There are a lot of people listening who may not say anything. The repeater puts you front and center.
Some repeaters are linked to others and your transmission may get wide-area coverage. Be aware.
If you want to chat, see if you can "go direct" and move off the repeater. "QSY to 146.55 simplex."

In order to get an insider's understanding about ham radio, listen to the bands and the repeaters!
There is nothing quite so valuable as hearing a lot of levels of experience in daily QSOs.
Listen to how they interact. Notice the breaks before the other station comes back, leaving room.
There is a constant flow of contests. Contests are set up for various reasons, and are a lot of fun.
We operate contests at the PCARS club station for new people to experience them and learn.
Our club station is also open on Wednesdays starting at 5 PM. We are always open for questions!

If you are criticized and are told you have done something wrong, you just met a bully.
We have a fellow in Melbourne who apparently finds it enjoyable to be nasty to newcomers.
Most everyone on our repeaters will try to be helpful to new folks. Not this guy, unfortunately.
In a recent gathering of local long-time hams, all present knew who it was without naming him.
If you are criticized for using the "wrong procedure, or words," Just thank him and sign off. QRT.
Don't give up on ham radio just because of a bad apple. Talk with your mentor (or me) about it.

As I was re-reading the preceeding paragraph, I thought about something else you need to know.
It's the word, "Lid." I've been licensed a very long time and I have no idea where this came from.
If you call a ham, a Lid, it's worse than a swear word! A long-time ham will drop right into a funk.
On the positive side is FB or Fine Business. That means I'm doing very well, or copied it all fine.

Do I need an antenna tuner? If you have full sized antennas, cut to the bands you are on, no.
Many rigs have tuners built-in. That will work fine with antennas that aren't too far from tuned.
If you are using a compromised or strange antenna, or a shortened version, maybe yes.
Antenna tuners don't tune antennas. They fool the transmitter into thinking it's a perfect match.



Can I get a Vanity call with my initials, like you? Yes, if one is available. Ask K8RAR or N4JGR.
How about a cool call? KO4VVV, KO4XXX, KO4YYY, KO4ZZZ? Yes. Grab it before it's issued!
My guess is after KO4, the FCC will skip over KP (VI, PR) and go to KQ4 like KQ4AAA.
You can also go back through the Ws, Ks, Ns, AAs, as long as you qualify with license class.
Hint: your call is like your name. Once you get used to it you may not want to change.
Is it free? Yes, BUT that is changing. Don't wait. The FCC will SOON be charging $35.
Here is the
Process to apply for a Vanity call. Meanwhile, check out KO4OOO and VK6GAL.

How about a cool email address? Your call letters without additions @ gmail.com will be available.
If you join ARRL, you can have your call @ ARRL.net. That's a nice and well recognized address.
You can also forward either of those to your regularly email address.

Finding out about another ham - location - etc. www.QRZ.com. Put your own call in. Top left.
Then try mine: W4GAL. Then try my Puerto Rico club call: KP4MM, or enter my AU call VK6GAL.
Active hams use this constantly. I'm always surprised when someone is not taking advantage of it.
You can see how many times people are looking for information about you: Lookups: _____.
If you click on the picture in the upper-right corner, the picture may get a lot larger.
Can I edit my own QRZ page? Yes. Is it fun to build your page? Yes. Is it free? Yes.
QRZ.com is free... but if you pay for the service like I do, there is no advertising. Ha.

Help. I was listening to a repeater and couldn't understand what they were saying.
Yes, your ear will become more accustomed to the sounds, but mics can be lousy, or....
Hams can be careless with enunciation. Speak clearly so you could understand yourself.
I listened to a net control station recently and I never did get his call. Nothing made sense.

Is it a good time to upgrade to the next license? Yes. Now, before the FCC charges $35.
Go to www.W4GAL.net

Do we have a lot of camaraderie within the amateur radio community? Yes. On and off the air.
W7DMM is my longest ham-friend. We met in 8th grade study-hall in Iowa. We were both 13.
We discovered our mutual interest because we were reading the same ham radio catalog!
I was a Novice, he was ready to pass his Novice exam, and now we're both 80 :-)
To build camaraderie, attend ham gatherings, and get involved. Help others. That's a hint!

Should I know more Q signals? Yes, the Technician license only tests for three.
QRP or QRO? It's your choice (power level). QRX (hang on a minute, I'll be right back).
Here's a list of common Q Signals on an ARRL page. Actual usage can be slightly different.
How do I learn the proper or accepted way of communicating and identifying? Listen. A lot.

What are QSLs? Paper postcards used for the last 100+ years to confirm a QSO. Examples.
Would you like to get some QSLs for your new call? Cheap QSLs. Or KB3IFH QSLs.
Are there other ways of QSLing? Yes, eQSL and LoTW at ARRL to name two.

Do I have to log my QSOs? No, but you might wish you had, later. At least logging early days.
When first on, I thought that I needed to log everything. Pages of CQs with no one coming back.
I still have all my old logs. Now I use a logging program: N3FJP.com. There are others.

Should I make my own antennas? Yes. It's more fun and it's cheaper.
Is a dipole a good antenna? A properly cut dipole can be an excellent antenna.
A multi-element beam (Yagi) is really a dipole with helpers. It's named after Mr. Yagi in Japan.
How about a full sized flexible whip to extend the range of my hand-held 2 meter transceiver? Yes!
How about putting a home-brew antenna in the attic and connecting it to my hand-held? Sure!

What are the frequency bands and names?
MF Medium Frequency .3 MHz to 3 MHz. Includes the AM Broadcast Band and 160 meters.
HF High Frequency 3 MHz to 30 MHz. 80 60 40 30 20 17 15 12 10 meters.
VHF Very High Frequency 30 MHz to 300 MHz. 6, 2, and 1 meters.
UHF Ultra High Frequency 300 MHz to 3 GHz. 440 MHz (70 cm), 902 MHz (33 cm) + 3 more.
SHF Super High Frequency 3 GHz to 30 GHz. 4 more ham bands.
EHF Extra High Frequency 30 GHz to 300 GHz. 6 more ham bands.
Then come the Infrared and Visual Spectrum, Ultraviolet, X-Rays, Gamma Rays, etc.

What's a Grid? Am I in a Grid square? Yes, it's an international system for locating ham stations.
Mine is EL98qb in Melbourne, FL. When I'm operating remote from Croatia, it's JN85gv.
When I am on the VK6SR remote in Perth, Western Australia, I'm transmitting from OF87bt.
Want to find yours? HERE.

When I was licensed as a 13 year old, I was told to never talk about three subjects on the air:
Politics, Religion, and Sexual Innuendos. I still don't today. Much better left unsaid.
If it happens, I find another QSO. I don't stick around. Or I move the power switch to off. QRT.
At a recent hamfest, there was a large political display at a set of tables. I skipped those tables.
If you create a QRZ page, I highly recommend you avoid politics/religion/sex subjects completely.

Should I buy lots of equipment? You can if you want. It's an enjoyable part of ham radio.
Are there ways around that? Yes. Or you can buy used gear. Make sure it works first.
A number of companies make kits. They take time, but the pleasure is greater when used.
Do ham clubs have stations set up that I could use? Some do: PCARS & HARG.
If you are at a military installation like Patrick, see if there is a MARS station.

Can I operate a remote station? Yes. And you can remotely control your own station.
You can also operate remotely through www.RemoteHams.com to many stations for free.
You can also operate remotely through www.RemoteHamRadio.com. It's not free.

Are you a teen or pre-teen? To a teen, ham radio can often sound like a bunch of old men.
That's a little misleading, but it's a common perception because many old-timers are on the air.
This also applies if you are helping a son, daughter, or a young friend learn about ham radio.
Check out a quick look at the teen side of the story:
Teen

Should I learn morse code? Yes - from a few letters to competence. You're part of history.
Many of the how-to-learn CW examples on YouTube use visual memory. That's totally WRONG.
With any of those methods, you will max out at 5 wpm, if you're lucky.
Would you like to learn CW? A
LINK.

What is DX? Distant stations.
How far away is that? It depends somewhat on the frequency/band.
On HF, It could be Europe, Central and South America, Africa, Asia, or Australia.
On SHF, it could be a mountain top you can see from the mountain top where you are.

Would you like to say 73 at the end of a QSO? Then say 73, not 73s.
73 is Best Regards. 73s is effectively saying Best Regardses.

Can I interface my computer with my station? Oh, yes. In so many ways.

Who is the control operator at my station? Raise your right hand...

Are there mentors available to help me? Yes.
A good place to start is the PCARS club station, 1980 Hughes Road, Melbourne, 5 PM Wednesdays.
Also, the PCARS monthly club meeting, VFW on Dairy Road, 7 PM on the 2nd Monday of the month.
That one is in Melbourne, Florida. Many cities all over the world have similar clubs.




W4GAL