A few of you have asked me how
to buy a used radio now that you are hams.
Locally, Gene LaRue sells equipment that family
members have asked him to sell equipment that belonged to a deceased
ham. He does not make any money on it and has very reasonable
prices. His number is 344-0439.
The Scranton Pocono Amateur Radio Club also has
some equipment from Estates. Check with Ray WX3A at Hampilot@aol. com.
Now on buying a radio.
First, in our area there are both two meter and 440 MHz repeaters. There
are also a few six meter repeaters. All the area repeaters are FM and
most use PL tones (sub audioable tones).
You do not need a new radio
which will usually run you between $200 and $300, and up to $200 for dual band
units. Any of the major companies: Icom, Kenwood, Yaesu and Alinco have
fine units. Alinco usually has fewer bells and whistles and is cheaper,
but all will do the job and I own some of each company.
Since two meters is the most
popular frequency in the region I would encourage anyone wishing to save some
money to buy a single band (2 meters) radio. Just make sure it has
independent PL tones for all channels. (Some like the Icom 28 only give
you three PL tones and has 20+ channels.)
Any power level of 10 watts or
more is going to do the job. You do not need 70
If it is a used radio you will
see prices around $50 and assuming it works and has a microphone, it could be
a great deal. Check at Eham.net for Product review and check to see what
others have to say about the unit.
The antenna is always a hard
decision, and dependent on how much you value your pristine vehicle. An
antenna drilled into the center of the roof would be the best, but even then
you have the question of how large of an antenna. A quarter wave antenna
is under 20 inches and will do a good job, IF you are within 20 miles of the
A half wave antenna mounted on
the window will do a better job, but may only work on one
Magnetic antennas do an
excellent job, but sometimes you will need a wire attached to the base and
then to a good car ground, to see the best performance. You can always
experiment at home to see if it makes a difference. If you
do not see one on receive, it probably will not make a difference on
transmit. A number of hams have SWR meters and MFJ-259 systems and can
help you adjust the antenna. (I am one who has both.)
In the Northeast the 5/8
antenna seems to be the antenna of choice, but it is almost 3 1/2 feet
high. Mounting it on the center of your roof could be a problem with the
garage door and especially parking lots.
At home a simple cheap antenna
can be quickly made using the formula 468 divided by the frequency. For
two meters that means 57 inches of wire, attached to a two by four, and that
wire attaches to the center wire of the coax. Four radials, each 19
inches, at a 90 degree angle to the vertical 57 piece wire (and not touching,
will connect to the coax shield. This will work as well as an expensive
You can also make many other kinds of high gain
antennas. Use good coax, in the car the thin 58 coax is ok, but for the
home use 9913 or LMR cable. The loss could exceed 50% of the output
power with the cheaper coax and a 100 foot run.
If you are installing
equipment at a commercial establishment such as a hospital, check to see what
bands and types of systems are used in the area. Locally we have digital
packet systems and would bring the local hospitals into it, and directly to
each other, at 9600 baud and on 430 Mhz. This would also bring them into
both Lackawanna and Luzerne County EMAs.
Six meters might be used, but requires a separate
antenna. Two and 440 of course, and what else?
So check with various people who are directly
involved in EMA and SKYWARN weather spotting.
Hope this helps and remember the area hams have
the experience and are usually willing to help you, even to the point of
helping to install the antenna system.