Ham Radio For Dummies, 3rd Edition (1119454840) cover image

Ham Radio For Dummies, 3rd Edition

ISBN: 978-1-119-45484-7
Paperback
432 pages
March 2018
US $24.99 Add to Cart

Introduction 1

About This Book 1

My Assumptions about You 2

Icons Used in This Book 3

Beyond the Book 3

Where to Go from Here 4

Part 1: Getting Started with Ham Radio 5

Chapter 1: Getting Acquainted with Ham Radio 7

Tuning into Ham Radio Today 8

Using electronics and technology 8

Joining the ham radio community 10

Making contacts 12

Roaming the World of Ham Radio 14

Communicating with Ham Radio 15

Participating in Citizen Science 16

Building a Ham Radio Station 17

Chapter 2: Getting a Handle on Ham Radio Technology 21

Getting to Know Basic Ham Radio Gear 21

Basic station 22

Miscellaneous gadgets 24

Communication technologies 26

Exploring the Fundamentals of Radio Waves 27

Frequency and wavelength 27

The radio spectrum 29

Dealing with Mother Nature 31

Seeing how nature affects radio waves 31

Dealing with noise 32

Chapter 3: Finding Other Hams: Your Support Group 35

Finding and Being a Mentor 35

Interacting in Online Communities 37

Social media and blogs 37

Videos, podcasts, and webinars 38

Email reflectors 39

Web portals 39

Joining Radio Clubs 40

Finding and choosing a club 41

Participating in meetings 42

Getting more involved 43

Exploring ARRL 45

ARRL’s benefits to you 46

ARRL’s benefits to the hobby 47

ARRL’s benefits to the public 48

Taking Part in Specialty Groups 48

Competitive clubs 49

Handiham 50

AMSAT 51

TAPR 52

YLRL 52

QRP clubs 53

IOTA, SOTA, and NPOTA 54

Attending Hamfests and Conventions 55

Finding and preparing for hamfests 55

Buying equipment at hamfests 56

Finding conventions and conferences 57

Part 2: Wading Through the Licensing Process 59

Chapter 4: Figuring Out the Licensing System 61

Getting Acquainted with the Amateur Service 62

FCC rules 62

Frequency allocations 63

Learning about Types of Licenses 65

Technician class 65

General class 66

Amateur Extra class 66

Grandfathered classes 66

Getting Licensed 67

Studying the exam questions 67

Taking your license exam 68

Receiving Your New Call Sign 69

Call-sign prefixes and suffixes 70

Class and call sign 70

Chapter 5: Studying for Your License 71

Demystifying the Exam 71

Finding Study Resources 72

Licensing classes 73

Books and websites 74

Online practice exams 75

Locating Your Mentor 75

Chapter 6: Taking the Exam 77

Finding an Exam Session 77

Signing Up for a Session 78

Public exams 78

Exams at events 79

Exam sessions in homes and online 79

Getting to Exam Day 79

What to bring with you 80

What to expect 81

What to do after the exam 81

Chapter 7: Obtaining Your License and Call Sign 83

Completing Your Licensing Paperwork 83

Finding Your Call Sign 85

Searching the ULS database 86

Searching other call sign databases 88

Identifying with your new privileges 89

Registering with the FCC Online 90

Registering in CORES 90

Associating your call sign with your ID 91

Picking Your Own Call Sign 92

Searching for available call signs 92

Finding call signs available to you 92

Applying for a vanity call sign 93

Maintaining Your License 94

Part 3: Hamming It Up 95

Chapter 8: Making Contact 97

Listen, Listen, Listen! 97

Finding out where to listen 98

Understanding how bands are organized 99

Listening on VHF and UHF 100

Listening on HF 101

Receiving Signals 105

Receiving FM 106

Receiving SSB 108

Receiving digital voice 111

Receiving digital or data modes 112

Receiving Morse code 114

Understanding Contacts (QSOs) 115

Chewing the rag 116

Meeting other hams on nets 117

Contesting and DXing 117

Making Your Own Contacts 120

Starting a repeater contact 120

Starting an HF contact 121

Starting or CW digital mode contacts 122

Failing to make contact 123

Breaking into an ongoing contact 125

Conducting your QSO 126

Learning the FM style 128

Calling CQ on HF 130

The long goodbye 131

Chapter 9: Casual Operating 133

Operating FM — Repeaters and Simplex 134

Understanding repeater basics 134

Using access control tones 138

Miscellaneous repeater features 140

Setting up your radio 141

Using simplex 144

Digital Voice Systems 145

HF digital voice 146

VHF/UHF digital voice 147

Digital repeater networks 148

Chewing the Rag 154

Knowing where to chew 154

Knowing when to chew 157

Identifying a ragchewer 159

Ragchewing by keyboard and Morse 160

Chapter 10: Public Service Operating 165

Joining a Public Service Organization 166

Finding a public service group 166

Volunteering your services 168

Preparing for Emergencies and Disasters 170

Knowing who 170

Knowing where 171

Knowing what 171

Knowing how 173

Operating in Emergencies and Disasters 174

Reporting an accident or other incident 174

Making and responding to distress calls 175

Public service communications outside your area 177

Providing Public Service 178

Weather monitoring and SKYWARN 178

Parades and charity events 179

Participating in Nets 180

Checking in and out 180

Exchanging information 181

Tactical call signs 183

Radio discipline 183

Digital Message Networks 184

Winlink — email by radio 184

AREDN 186

Chapter 11: Operating Specialties 189

Getting Digital 190

Digital definitions 192

PSK31 192

Radioteletype (RTTY) and FSK 194

MFSK modes 196

Automatic link establishment (ALE) 197

PACTOR and WINMOR 197

WSJT modes — fast and slow 198

Packet radio, APRS, and tracking 199

APRS and tracking 200

Broadband-Hamnet and spread spectrum 202

DXing — Chasing Distant Stations 203

DXing on the shortwave (HF) bands 204

DXing on the VHF and UHF bands 211

Taking Part in Radio Contests 216

Choosing a contest 217

Operating in a contest 218

Taking tips from winners 221

Chasing Awards 224

Finding awards and special events 225

Recording (logging) contacts 226

Applying for awards 227

Mastering Morse Code (CW) 227

Starting with Farnsworth 228

Sharpening your skills 228

Copying the code 230

Pounding Brass — Sending Morse 230

Making code contacts 232

Operating with Low Power (QRP) and Portable 234

Getting started with QRP 235

Getting deeper into QRP 235

Portable QRP operating 236

Direction-finding (ARDF) 237

Operating via Satellites 238

Getting grounded in satellite basics 239

Accessing satellites 240

Seeing Things: Image Communication 240

Slow-scan television and facsimile 241

Fast-scan television 242

Part 4: Building and Operating A Station That Works 243

Chapter 12: Getting on the Air 245

What Is a Station? 245

Setting Goals for Your Station 246

Deciding what you want to do 246

Deciding how to operate 247

Allocating your resources 249

Choosing a Radio 250

Radios for the HF bands 251

VHF and UHF radios 253

Software-defined radio 258

Filtering and noise 259

Choosing an Antenna 260

VHF/UHF antennas 260

HF antennas 262

Feed line and connectors 267

Supporting Your Antenna 271

Antennas and trees 271

Masts and tripods 272

Towers 273

Rotators 275

Radio accessories 276

Choosing a Computer for the Station 279

PC or Mac or .? 279

Digital modes 280

Radio control 280

Hardware considerations 280

Remote Control Stations 281

Remote control rules 281

Accessing a remote control station 282

Buying New or Used Equipment 283

Upgrading Your Station 284

Chapter 13: Organizing Your Station 285

Designing Your Ham Station 285

Keeping a station notebook 285

Building in ergonomics 286

Viewing some examples 290

Building in RF and Electrical Safety 293

Electrical safety 293

Lightning 294

RF exposure 294

First aid 294

Grounding and Bonding 295

AC and DC power 295

RF management 296

Keeping a Log of Your Contacts 298

Logging by computer 299

Submitting a contest log 301

Understanding QSL Cards 303

Sending and Receiving QSLs 304

QSLing electronically 304

Direct QSLing 305

Using QSL managers 305

Bureaus and QSL services 306

Applying for awards 307

Chapter 14: Operating Away from Home 309

Mobile Stations 309

HF mobile radios 309

Mobile antennas 314

Portable Operating 317

Portable Antennas 319

Portable Power 321

Field Day 322

Chapter 15: Hands-On Radio 325

Acquiring Tools and Components 326

Maintenance tools 326

Repair and building tools 331

Components for repairs and building 333

Maintaining Your Station 334

Overall Troubleshooting 336

Troubleshooting Your Station 337

Power problems 337

RF problems 338

Operational problems 339

Troubleshooting Your Home and Neighborhood 341

Dealing with interference to other equipment 342

Dealing with interference to your equipment 344

Building Equipment from a Kit 347

Building Equipment from Scratch 348

Part 5: The Part of Tens 349

Chapter 16: Ham Radio Jargon — Say What? 351

Spoken Q-signals 351

Contesting or Radiosport 352

Antenna Varieties 352

Feed Lines 353

Antenna Tuners 353

Repeater Operating 354

Grid Squares 355

Interference and Noise 355

Connector Parts 356

Solar and Geomagnetic Activity 357

Chapter 17: Station Equipment Tips 359

Be Flexible 359

Study Other Stations 360

Learn about Those Extra Functions 360

Shop for Used-Equipment Bargains 361

Build Something Yourself 361

Optimize Your Signal 361

Save Cash by Building Your Own Cables 362

Build Step by Step 362

Find the Weakest Link 362

Make Yourself Comfortable 362

Chapter 18: Technical Fundamentals 363

Electrical Units and Symbols 363

Ohm’s Law 364

Power 364

Attenuation, Loss, and Gain 365

Bandwidth 365

Filters 366

Antenna Patterns 367

Standing Wave Ratio (SWR) 368

Battery Characteristics 369

Satellite Tracking 369

Chapter 19: Tips for Masters 371

Listening to Everything 371

Learning How It Works 372

Following the Protocol 372

Keeping Your Axe Sharp 372

Practice to Make Perfect 372

Paying Attention to Detail 373

Knowing What You Don’t Know 373

Maintaining Radio Discipline 373

Make Small Improvements Continuously 374

Help Others and Accept Help from Others 374

Part 6: Appendixes 375

Appendix A: Glossary 377

Appendix B: Radio Math 387

The Metric System 387

Scientific Notation 389

Decibels (dB) 389

Decibels and percentage 391

Miscellaneous Tutorials 392

Basic numbers and formulas 392

Metric system and conversion of units 392

Fractions 392

Graphs 393

Algebra and trigonometry 393

Complex numbers 393

Handy Items 394

Values of e and pi 394

Frequency-wavelength conversion 394

Length conversion 394

Trigonometry and angles 394

Index 397