Talk summary – Amateur (Ham) Radio – What’s it all about?

Format: Slide deck from a laptop standing next to a pillar in the open area. 10 attendees.


Video: None

Slot: Day 2 (Sunday) Slot 4 12:30-12:55

Notes: Very quick summary of what you can do with Amateur Radio. Trying to encourage people to take up Amateur Radio from an Open Source mind set. Followed up with two attendees, one who was licensed, another who might get a license. Felt good :)

Need advice to get on-air

Before I changed jobs at the beginning of the year, I’d commute around 1hr each way each day to the office, and every month or so, I’d get about 3 or 4 days where I’d try to get on my local repeater. When I changed jobs, I suddenly realised that I don’t have any way to get that repeater access from here, as I live in a significant bowl in the landscape.

It’s a bit annoying really, I’ve got a Baofeng UV5R for mobile use, a lovely ICOM-IC2725 and an Alinco DR-605, all of which do 2m and 70cm, and I have a magmount antenna that isn’t mounted on my car any more… So, in theory, if I can get a ground plane up, somewhere that the kids won’t trip over, I could use that with either of those radios.

I’ve seen some suggestions about joining one of the VOIP systems for connected radios, e.g. DSTAR, and hooking up the antenna to a dummy load, then using my Baofeng to join calls over the internet via that network connected radio… Which would probably work, as I have a couple of raspberry pi boards I could dedicate to radio interfaces… But how easy is that too get started?

I can’t really afford to spend much more than £30-£50 on this (the ICOM and Alinco radios were part of a silent-key estate I inherited, all I’ve been able to justify spending on were the Baofeng and the magmount), so my other option was to make an antenna. In the past I built a ladder line J-pole but I really don’t trust my building skills any more, and I can’t really afford to replace the radios if I blow them up with a badly measured antenna.

So… If you were in my boat, fellow radio amateur, what would you do?