• Stormtrack's forum runs on Xenforo forum software, which will be undergoing a major update the evening of Wednesday, Feb 28th. The site may be down for a period while that update takes place.

Ham Radio & Chasing

Shane Adams

I was on the phone before the tornado ended but as usual when I'm 10 feet from an interstate I have no signal. I guess a HAM radio would come in handy, but I can't jusitfy studying 1000 possible answers hoping I remember the 35 I actually get asked on the test. I wish there was a "chase experience" clause for HAM radio. I don't know crap about electronics or technology, but I know what I'm seeing in the field and how to key a mic. Be cool if experience and potential contribution was enough merit to get a HAM.

But I'll keep trying via cell phone. Sooner or later one of my calls won't get dropped :)
 
I split this off of the DISC thread as it was more of a ham radio discussion rather than a discussion about the storms of that day.

For those that had replied, feel free to reply again here. I decided to split this out as an afterthought of cleaning up the DISC thread.
 
Shane,

Getting your HAM license is actually quite easy. I didn't know anything about electronics and my time was very limited. I borrowed a couple books, one of which has questions from the question pool and read them for a couple of evenings before the test. My score wasn't perfect but I passed. I don't think you would have any trouble. And if you didn't pass the first time, the test can be taken again at another session.

By luck, I have always had a decent signal on my cell phone when I was ready to call in a report but it is nice to have the HAM as a back up. I use the HAM more for my own safety (navigating around a storm), enjoyment and increasing my information. I like to hear what other chasers in the area are also seeing.

I only use the HAM radio while chasing as I have not gotten into other aspects of the hobby. I definitely recommend giving it a try.

Bill Hark
 
Shane, all you need to study is the "Now You're Talking!" book. I think I got mine at a local Barnes and Nobles for $25. It has everything you need to know plus the question pool in the back. I just spent a few weeks going over it and passed just fine (think I missed one or two). A lot of the questions are easy once you just read the material once, you don't really have to "study" much. A lot is also common sense to make sure you understand the basics of HAM radio so you don't get yourself into trouble with the FCC.

I find my HAM very useful when I'm chasing, as I can talk to others in my chase group without the need to make a call. CB's are okay for close chase groups, but with the HAM I can hit a repeater and tune in to other groups reports to EOCs, NWS, etc. Oklahoma has a unique repeater link system setup to where you can usually get in contact directly with the NWS office. Eastern OK has the TARC Super-link which covers almost the entire east side of OK and parts of N Texas and NW Arkansas. There's another system on the western side that doesn't have quite the converage, but when they have the system linked, you can get the NWS in a lot of the chase area. It also makes it nice if you don't have radar or if you might have a question about something you don't have access to. They usually air updates quite often and at least the TARC system will broadcast warnings, which in some area's where your NWR can't pick up, you'll still get the warning.
 
Shane,

If you feel like trying practice exams for the tech license, go to www.aa9pw.com . It's a very nice website for taking practice exams.

Also, even though there are lots of questions in the pool, most are just reworded and test you over the same topic. I recommend you just learn what the topic covers, and then you can answer all of the questions. The exam is really quite simple.

I would definitely not feel comfortable chasing without HAM radio. Cell phones have a long way to go before becomming completely reliable. It's fun, too!
 
Also,

QRZ.com has a lot of helpful info as well as practice exams and study guides for sale. A helpful hint is to study only the correct answers in the study books. This way you'll recognize the correct answers on the exam right away. Good luck.

Pete-KC2LVU
 
I was the same way, but I realized if I want to be able to talk to other chasers and spotters in the field, this is the best way. I went through the book and passed the test the first time, and I'm the type of person that will blow something up messing with electronics! It's that easy. I would really encourage you to take the test Shane, it's a lot easier than you think.
 
I have recently decided I am going to attempt to get a ham license and have been doing the online practice exams. I have made it to the point were I get at least 80% of the 35 every time, I was wondering for those who have taken the exam are the practice ?'s the same as the ?'s on the exam, and do they use the same wording? I worry that I am able to pass the practice tests only because I recognize the ?'s and if they were worded differently I might struggle.
 
I have recently decided I am going to attempt to get a ham license and have been doing the online practice exams. I have made it to the point were I get at least 80% of the 35 every time, I was wondering for those who have taken the exam are the practice ?'s the same as the ?'s on the exam, and do they use the same wording? I worry that I am able to pass the practice tests only because I recognize the ?'s and if they were worded differently I might struggle.
[/b]


Usually the practice exams pull questions right out of the current question pool. So to answer your question, yes. Just make sure which ever testing site you are using is getting the newest question pool.

Edit: I just checked www.aa9pw.com and sure enough it says: "The questions used here are from the current official question pools provided by the FCC and are selected from the same subelements as would be used for an official examination."
 
Usually the practice exams pull questions right out of the current question pool. So to answer your question, yes. Just make sure which ever testing site you are using is getting the newest question pool.

Edit: I just checked www.aa9pw.com and sure enough it says: "The questions used here are from the current official question pools provided by the FCC and are selected from the same subelements as would be used for an official examination."
[/b]

Hey Shane. I took my test and passed April 3rd and passed. I read the book and also used a disk for the PC that came with it that gives you practice tests. I took the tests over and over and over and over. Basically taking the sampletests till I never failed them. If i did fail one Id take it till I passed it every evening. The place I took the test even offered a chance tot ake the test a second time if you failed the quiz when you took it the same night.
If you will send me an envelope with paid postage Ill send ya the book and CD and you can mail it back to me when you pass your test.
i went without HAM till this season and I have been chasing since I was 16 and am 29 now. I always put it off and put it off but I am really glad and proud that I took the test and got the liscense. Of course you will then need to get a radio but you can usually find a radio for what you need at your local pawn shop or ebay pretty easy. If your jsut using it for chasing you dont need anything fancy. You will need a mobile and not a handheld tho. Handhelds dont reah repeaters as well and you are only using about 5 watts. Mobile can use about 50 watts max Again send me an envelope big enough to hold a book and a CD and ill loan ya them till ya pass the test. Its also fun to chat with other local chasers and spotters and the trips back and get other perspectives from other chsers in the field around you. If ya pring for a radio that uses APRS you can .Sfind chasers around you and plot their location on a map via GPS. There are a to of things you can dow tih HAM. Send text messages, smake autopatch phone calls, use it for remote control aircraft and cars and boats, use slow scan Televsion, Talk to the International Space Station if you wish and know your stuff and if ya really get into it with al the base antennas and etc Talk to folks thousands of miles away. You can even bounce signals off the Ionasphere and the moon. It can be a bit tedious as far as all the Electronics but I recommned taking it slow and jsut be repetitive with taking the example tests over and over and over and over.
Im not a HAM genious by any means but I think you will find it more interesiting that ya thought. You can go to tons of online websites to find local HAM test sin your areaa nd find others willing to help you in the hobby.
Its a shame more people arent Hams because in times of serious emegencies they can be your onlysource of getting and sending info in natural disasters. They re also good for emegencies other than natural disasters.
aNYWAYS ENOUGH RANT.
Send me an email if you are interested at [email protected] and Ill send ya my address and you can send me an envelope for the book and CD. I can jsut mail it to you as well and you can by me a Coca-Cola Black if we met on the plaisn sometime. I think I actualy saw you on 4/24/06 near Guthrie OK. You were sitting on I-35 on the off ramp next to the Best Western. I was in the parking lot about 50 yards away in a while ford F-150 flareside 4x4 extended cab with an Amber light )which wasnt on and have the tall 67 inch ham antenna and a cell phone and scanner antenns and Boomarang TV antennna. i was using WXWORX.

Jasoj Brcok
KE5HZA :p

For thsoe who asked the exams are EXACTLY the same as the practice ones. The ony thing they might change is the order of the answers but thats it.
If Math isnt your subject id take a very basic calculator. IT SEEMS THEY LIKE TO ASK ABOUT THE CONVERSION QUESTION ON WHO LONG TO MAKE YOUR ANTENNA.
 
I have recently decided I am going to attempt to get a ham license and have been doing the online practice exams. I have made it to the point were I get at least 80% of the 35 every time, I was wondering for those who have taken the exam are the practice ?'s the same as the ?'s on the exam, and do they use the same wording? I worry that I am able to pass the practice tests only because I recognize the ?'s and if they were worded differently I might struggle.
[/b]


Yeah you should be ready to go Dustin. They don't switch up the wording too much...you should be able to easily recognise the theme's on the actual exam just like you do on the test exam. At the end of the practise exam's they should give you a break down on which area you were struggeling in. Brushing up a tad in those areas will help you even more, but if you are getting 80% now you will probably pass it no problem.
 
Shane, Dustin,

I only studied by taking the practice exams on the web, I didn’t get into the books because of time. Anyway after about a week of doing the practice exams, I took the test and passed with 2 wrong answers to spare! I’ve had my license for over a year now and still don’t have a radio.
 
I couldnt believe how easy it was to pass the test once they dropped the morse code requirement. I studied for about 2 weks taking a few practice tests then took the test. It took me a whole 10 minutes to complete and I scored a 100! Except for a few technical questions most of it is actually common sense questions about safety etc..


Shane it really is quite simple and well worth a few night of reading and practice test and once you have your Ham you have it for life. No more tests to keep it. All you have to do is pay your fee every 10 year. Cant beat a deal like that.
 
If you want your HAM license bad enough - the miniscule amount of studying you have to do for it would appear negligible in the big picture.

I got my HAM license in early 2005 (KE5DUZ). Before then I had had no inclination to obtain a HAM license, nor had I ever learnt ANYTHING about operating a HAM radio/associated technology or electronics. I learned-up over a period of about 3 or 4 weeks and then went and sat my exam and passed first time.

It's so easy it's laughable. Approximately 60% of the multiple-choice questions have completely obvious answers if you just employ a small amount of common sense and know NOTHING about HAM radios, etiquette or technology. The other 30-40% can be memorized from a small amount of studying (this comes from someone with *no* memory).

You should start here for all your HAM needs.

ACTUAL practice tests contianing most of the questions you will be asked in the exam can be found here.

K.
 
I would also recommend the "Now You're Talking!" book. I also bought the tapes by that guy "Gordo" and listened to them in the car. I was totally ready when I went to take the test. I was the first one done, and knew I had nailed it. I'm just one of those people who does well with tests(wish I did so well with tornadoes). The monitor waved me over to him, and when I went over asked me, "You did so well on that one, how would you like to take another one?" I thought to myself, "That son of a b$$$$ thinks I cheated!" Actually, he was offering me a chance to take the exam for the next level as well. I passed on that, as I wasn't ready and have no Morse capability, let alone 5 words a minute.
I think it's great that so many people are offering help to Shane to get his license. Be aware, though, that Shane didn't post this message here; it was part of a post of his from a Disc thread that was split off to form a new topic in Weather and Chasing. I don't know if he's even aware that it's here, or if he actually has any interest in getting a Ham license.

Keep the faith
Sean
KC2JKS
 
Of course you will then need to get a radio but you can usually find a radio for what you need at your local pawn shop or ebay pretty easy. If your jsut using it for chasing you dont need anything fancy. You will need a mobile and not a handheld tho. Handhelds dont reah repeaters as well and you are only using about 5 watts. Mobile can use about 50 watts max
[/b]
Just to clarify, although higher power mobiles are nice, a handheld still works well while chasing, as long as it's hooked up to an antenna on your vehicle. I use a $10 magmount antenna on the roof with my handheld and I reach repeaters 30+ miles away. And with that antenna I can receive even farther than I transmit.. 50+ miles is not uncommon. It's useful for hearing the nearest NOAA wx radio when you're in an isolated area, for example.

I agree with the comments that passing the ham exams is quite easy, especially for chasers who are mostly technically and scientifically inclined anyway. If there's any doubt, just try the online exams and you'll probably find you can just about pass it without studying.

Ken
 
And of course, its nice to have a radio not only for spotting purposes... but those long drives back home in the middle of the night where radio is great for chatting with someone who will help keep you awake!
 
It's so easy it's laughable. Approximately 60% of the multiple-choice questions have completely obvious answers if you just employ a small amount of common sense and know NOTHING about HAM radios, etiquette or technology. The other 30-40% can be memorized from a small amount of studying (this comes from someone with *no* memory).

K.
[/b]

I guess the Industry Canada exam is similar to the FCC exam then, because many questions on it have real simple answers. Example:

What identification, if any, is required when two amateur stations begin communication?
A. No identification is required.
B. Each station must transmit its own call sign.
C. Both stations must transmit both call signs.
D. One of the stations must give both stations' call signs.

I wrote my exam just recently, and scored high enough to get HF privileges without learning Morse Code. I've gone out and picked up a mobile Icom 2 meter, and have been having a blast with it. There's so much cool s**t you can do with them, it's amazing! With only 65 watts, I was talking to a guy in Salt Lake City last night, because I was using IRLP (Internet Radio Linking Project) that enables hams to use repeaters that are hooked up to VoIP networks.

Dude, get your license; it's so worth it! You'll be surprised at how easy it is, and even more surprised by the world of possibilities it will open up for you.

John
VE4 JTH
 
Just took the Test tonight and passed pretty easily!! Now I go shopping for a radio and sit and wait to recieve my "call sign"
[/b]

Congratulations Dustin! Let us know what your call sign is when you get it.
 
Back
Top