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Ham Radio for Dummies
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Table of Contents

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

About the Author

H. Ward Silver earned his Novice radio license in 1972, and his ham radio experiences led to a 20-year engineering career designing microprocessor-based products and medical devices. He is the lead editor of two amateur radio technical guides from the American Radio Relay League and author of Two-Way Radios and Scanners For Dummies, published by Wiley.

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