Frustrated over my new "hobby" of ham radio



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pezar
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30 Sep 2013, 6:40 pm

Well, last year, after deciding that there was nothing to listen to on shortwave radio, I decided to try to pass the USA amateur radio tests. By October I was a level two, called General. (For non-Americans, there are three levels, Technician, General, and Extra.) I quickly learned that nobody uses the upper (above 50 Mhz) frequencies anymore, a fact that's widely commented on by hams online. So I focused my efforts on the shortwave freqs. Problem is, I don't know anybody to talk to. Breaking in to a conversation between two hams is considered rude, just like in real life. I tune across the bands and hear people talking, and it just makes me depressed. I hear people calling CQ (meaning they are looking for any ham to reply) but I have too much anxiety to answer, and when I try, they don't hear me. Most of the on air clubs (called "nets") are pretty exclusive. I've taken apart my radio a couple times thinking that there was something wrong with it since few people were hearing me, but there's not. Since I'm autistic, I don't make acquaintances/friends easily. It seems that all the hams already know each other, and I'm yet again on the outside looking in. Story of my life. :cry:



auntblabby
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30 Sep 2013, 6:50 pm

do you mean the FCC got rid of advanced class? there was such a class back in the 70s when I briefly considered getting involved in the hobby. I have long been fascinated by using the MUF in the 6 meter band, I like the idea of working on the edge of things, as it were. If I had money i'd like to get involved in dx'ing in 6 meter, using a portable beam antenna and mast. that would be a nice hobby for an old fart like me. it would get me out of the house at least. since I live on the coast, I [at least in theory] could do a trans-pacific dx and talk to somebody way out west [or is it east] 'cross the ocean, or at least way south of the border as close to the equator as possible.



Toy_Soldier
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30 Sep 2013, 9:34 pm

I was never into radio, but know general electronics fairly well. As a rough guess it sounds like your reciever is ok, but your transmitter is either not working or of insufficent power to reach far enough.



auntblabby
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30 Sep 2013, 9:45 pm

I am sure that as a licensed radio amateur, he knows all the ins and outs of transmitter power, signal propagation, SWR and such.



RandyG
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30 Sep 2013, 11:02 pm

A sort-of-relative of mine was a serious ham enthusiast. He had a wall full of equipment and a big antenna tower next to his house. When I visited he fired it up, established contact with some stranger halfway around the world, turned the mike to me and told me to talk to the guy. I was pretty much struck dumb. What to say? Uh, hi, how are you? It was worse than talking on the phone, because who knows how many people might be listening. I suppose he was disappointed in me.



auntblabby
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30 Sep 2013, 11:03 pm

he mighta been secretly relieved that you didn't shout obscenities into the mike. [big fines over such].



pezar
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01 Oct 2013, 12:11 pm

Toy_Soldier wrote:
I was never into radio, but know general electronics fairly well. As a rough guess it sounds like your reciever is ok, but your transmitter is either not working or of insufficent power to reach far enough.


I have an RF meter and it shows that I'm putting out a signal.



Toy_Soldier
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01 Oct 2013, 12:24 pm

At what point? At the output of the radio unit or at the antenna?



thewhitrbbit
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01 Oct 2013, 1:03 pm

Have you ever tried calling CQ?



pezar
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01 Oct 2013, 1:30 pm

thewhitrbbit wrote:
Have you ever tried calling CQ?


I have too much anxiety to actually call CQ. Whenever I try, I can only manage a few calls before quitting. I found a general purpose net a while back and called in to them today, and they heard me. So I am getting out. I keep worrying that I'm gonna call CQ on an occupied frequency that I didn't know was such, and get in trouble with the radio cops (not FCC, the Official Observers are a corps of volunteers who basically police the bands).



stratman4u
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03 Oct 2013, 10:45 pm

Hi Pezar,

Welcome to the hobby. Don't be afraid to join in. It may sound like all hams know each other, but they don't, they're just a nice group of guys that are very friendly. Most new hams are "mic shy". The only way to get over it, is to get on the air. Don't be scared to call CQ. Just ask first if the frequency is in use. If nobody comes back, start your CQ. If you have "stepped on" someones QSO, the worse that will happen is that they will come back and say "the frequencies in use" You then just say you're sorry, ID your station and more to another spot. If someone does come back to your CQ call, you can just stick to the simplest form of a contact where you exchange callsigns, your names, QTH's and signal reports. After that if you don't want to keep talking, just say, "thanks for the contact, 73 and sign off with your station ID. Or if you want, talk about the weather, or explain how your new to ham radio and just wanted to make a contact.

The nets are another good way to get your feet wet. Try the 3905 Century Club Net. They are a bunch of nice guys that just exchange QSl cards for different awards such as worked all states. check into the net and tell them you are new. You'll get lots of calls. The exchange is just each others call sign and RST report. You don't carry on a long conversation, just a quick exchange. There is a net control and he will go down the list and tell each operator when it's his turn to make a call. The meet every night at 7.188 mhz at 23:30 UTC. which is the early net and again and 04:00 UTC, the late net. Google "3905 Net and you will find their website with lots of info. Listen in a few night sand you will get the idea of what's going on so that you will be prepared to join in.

If you are really, really shy about talking, another option is PSK31. This digital mode is a lot of fun and it's basically sending real time text messages most of which are just pre-programmed macro message that you send with a click of your mouse.. No talking per se. It will require a computer and interface to your radio, but most already have a computer and a signalink usb interface is about a $100. If your even shy about exchanging text messages, look into JT65, another digital mode, it's a very simple way to make contacts all over the world by just sending call signs and signal reports with alternating 13 character messages. Sort of a twitter for hams.

Also, if there is anyway you can find a local amateur radio club, You will find lots of guys willing to help you. Whatever route you take, I hope you join in and have fun with us.



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