HAM Radio – deciding on the first radio

Unsteady Journal of Jolty Notions

a couple weeks ago I decied that all my radio activity needs a HAM licence. I have been playing around with listening devices for the last 15+ Years. Beginning with an analouge scanner in the mid 90’s. That left it’s place to a digital scanner (some uniden XLT60 thingie) that I must’ve bought somewhere around ’97. I mainly tried to decode pocsag pages and NOAA imagery. Then somehow this hobby of me went into a long hibernation period. I can remeber owning a CB-Radio, but can’t remeber when.

A while ago I rediscovered Radio as a hobby, beginning with the dedected project, that caused me to buy some DECT hardware. And it was followed by Osmocomm for GSM, I have several Motorola C123 phones lying around. Then the time of Tetra begun and one of the first things I got was a Funcube Dongle. That also opened some possibilities of more general listening to the air. Including air traffic bands. I really loved it. Then, out of the blue, I found out that one of my DVB-T dongles (that I had bought for DAB+ mainly) could do pretty much the same as the FCDP. WOW! Again I listened to all those weirdities that I could hear with my PC.

Well from there it was not a long way to decide that only listening is not enough. I want to transmit and talk to the ppl. I begun with reading the stuff that I have to learn to get through the exam and I am sure that I will be doing CW at some time.

Albeit postponing the preparations for the HAM-exams, since I should be working on my master thesis, every now and then I was looking into Transceivers. Imagining which one I should buy first. Of course since I am a techie I will most probably be building some of my own rig, after all that’s the most funny part. But just to start with, just to get going, I want something that works and I want something that works well, very well. So I was looking into Transceivers like the Icom IC-7800 or Yaesu FT-5000. Really nice rigs but also, wohoo you have to pay them. But that’s another story.

A couple of days into this I realized, even more important than the transceiver is the antenna and with that, I’m fucked! Let me explain. I am living in an apartment on ground level, with windows only in one direction and a pretty limited view since the building bends like a snake. Maybe I should add a picture here.

Locator: JO62QM24xo
Source: Google Earth

Additional to that germany has some weird laws. One of them says that I need the permission of the landlord if I want to make changes to the exterior of a building if the landlord requires me to do so, and in my contract it says that I need to get a permission to install an antenna. I’ll try to go through the process of applying for a permission and installation of an antenna nontheless. I’ll report here on what happens.

So what sense makes it to buy a really expensive radio if you can not put up an adequate antenna ?
Right, it makes no sense at all!
So what will I do ?
I will simply buy some handheld 2m/70cm Radio with allmode allband reception and try to put up at least a receiving antenna. Then, and only then, when I succeed to recieve clean HF, I will pump money into some nice rig. Also maybe until then I will already be building my own transceivers and will not need to buy anything.

So this leaves me with the choice for mentioned Allband-Allmode receiving VHF/UHF Handheld. There are a couple of devices out there that seemed interesting: Kenwood TH-F7E, a bunch of Yaesu devices (VX-7R, VX-6E, VX-3E) and the Icom IC-E7.

Well, got bored, to cut this short, my first radio will most probably be the TH-F7E from Kenwood.