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Operating Your Handheld Away From Home

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  1. Operating Your Handheld Away From Home • Having a handheld with you while camping or hiking can be loads of fun. Your handheld is also extremely valuable for emergencies. However, when operating a hand-held transceiver away from home, it is always a good idea to have one or more fully charged spare battery packs.

  2. Emergency Operations Kits • Many hams assemble basic supplies they need for communications in an emergency. Some items that would probably be very useful to include in an emergency response kit are: • An external antenna and several feet of connecting cable – This will greatly increase the range of your handheld. • A cable and clips for connecting your transceiver to an external battery – This will allow you to remove a mobile transceiver and hook it up to batteries in an emergency center. • A listing of repeater frequencies and nets in your area – Having a radio to communicate is no good if you don’t know who is available to communicate!

  3. Boosting Your Handheld’s Signal • Sometimes your handheld may be the only radio available in the field. You can make the signal from your hand-held radio stronger when operating in the field by using an external antenna instead of the rubber-duck antenna. External antennas are easy to build and great to throw into a backpack or emergency kit. Imagine being able to check into the local nets from your tent!

  4. Dealing With Crowd Noise • Many times hams are called to provide assistance at public events such as fairs, sporting events, and marathons where conditions are noisy. A good thing to have with your handheld when operating from a location that includes lots of crowd noise is a combination headset and microphone.

  5. Locating Interference or Jamming • Noise sources can appear on the ham bands from a variety of sources. These may be accidental or they may be the product of intentional jamming. One method used to locate sources of noise interference or jamming is radio direction finding. This is done by two or more mobile or portable stations equipped with direction finding antennas. Hams working together can often isolate the source of the interference by a process called “triangulation.”

  6. Fox Hunts – Find the Hidden Transmitter • Some hams enjoy “fox hunts.” The object of a fox hunt is to locate a hidden transmitter that transmits a signal from time to time. Fox hunting may be done almost anywhere. The most useful item for a hidden transmitter hunt is a good directional antenna to help you determine the direction of the signal coming from the “fox.”

  7. Contesting • A popular operating activity that involves contacting as many stations as possible during a specified period of time is called “contesting.” Contesting takes many forms and may be done at home or from remote locations. One contest many hams participate in is the ARRL Field Day, held each year in June.

  8. Grid Locator • One type of contesting requires a station to contact as many “grids” as possible. Using a map projection called the Maidenhead grid, the earth is divided into Maidenhead squares or simply grid squares. These grids are based on latitude and longitude. • A “grid locator” is a letter-number designator assigned to a geographic location or grid. Some stations you talk to may ask for your grid locator information.

  9. Special Event Stations • A special event station is a temporary station that operates in conjunction with an activity of special significance. • Special event stations may be operated in conjunction with fairs or festivals, or from unique sites such as lighthouses, museum ships or historical sites.

  10. Radio Controlled (RC) Models • Many hams combine their interest in radio with an interest in operating radio controlled (RC) aircraft, ships or cars by using amateur radio to control their craft. Amateur frequencies authorized for this purpose are often less crowded than frequencies available to the public. • The maximum power allowed when transmitting telecommand signals to radio controlled models via amateur radio is 1 watt. (See §97.215(c))

  11. Station ID Requirements for RC Models • To comply with the station identification requirement when sending commands to a radio control model using amateur frequencies, the FCC says you must affix a label indicating your call sign and address to the transmitter. (See §97.215(a))

  12. Check-Up Time! Now let’s try the questions from this group. You should make a note of any that you miss for later review.

  13. T7A01 • What is a good thing to have when operating a hand-held transceiver away from home? • A. A selection of spare parts • B. A programming cable to load new channels • C. One or more fully charged spare battery packs • D. A dummy load

  14. T7A01 Answer - C • Go with the obvious answer here. When the batteries are low you don't want to have to stop operating. Pop in a freshly charged pack and you won't have to!

  15. T7A02 • Which of these items would probably not be very useful to include in an emergency response kit? • A. An external antenna and several feet of connecting cable • B. A 1500 watt output linear amplifier • C. A cable and clips for connecting your transceiver to an external battery • D. A listing of repeater frequencies and nets in your area

  16. T7A02 Answer - B • Note that the question asks which item would probably NOT be useful to include. A 1500 watt linear might be nice to have, if you need to communicate over a long distance, but if you carry that, you'd better bring along a generator and a supply of fuel as well. The other items listed would be much more helpful!

  17. T7A03 • How can you make the signal from a hand-held radio stronger when operating in the field? • A. Switch to VFO mode • B. Use an external antenna instead of the rubber-duck antenna • C. Stand so there is a metal building between you and other stations • D. Speak as loudly as you can

  18. T7A03 Answer - B • "Rubber-duck" antennas, those short antennas that come with your handheld, are OK for work close to the repeater, but when you need to transmit farther, there is no substitute for a good external antenna.

  19. T7A04 • What would be a good thing to have when operating from a location that includes lots of crowd noise? • A. A portable bullhorn • B. An encrypted radio • C. A combination headset and microphone • D. A pulse noise blanker

  20. T7A04 Answer - C • If there is a lot of noise around your location, a good headset will help you hear received signals, and having the microphone near your mouth will probably help you to stand out against the background noise when you transmit.

  21. T7A05 • What is a method used to locate sources of noise interference or jamming? • A. Echolocation • B. Doppler radar • C. Radio direction finding • D. Phase locking

  22. T7A05 Answer - C • Radio direction finding is a technique that uses special antennas to determine the direction of a transmitted signal. When two stations at different locations are able to determine the direction from their location, they can usually locate the originating station by triangulation.

  23. T7A06 • Which of these items would be the most useful for a hidden transmitter hunt? • A. Binoculars and a compass • B. A directional antenna • C. A calibrated noise bridge • D. Calibrated SWR meter

  24. T7A06 Answer - B • A directional antenna is needed so you can determine the direction from which the signal is being broadcast. By sweeping an area with this antenna and listening for the strongest reading, you can determine the direction from which the signal is coming.

  25. T7A07 • What is a popular operating activity that involves contacting as many stations as possible during a specified period of time? • A. Contesting • B. Net operations • C. Public service events • D. Simulated emergency exercises

  26. T7A07 Answer - A • Contests are very popular with many amateurs. There are many kinds of contests. Sometimes the focus is the mode such as CW or SSB. Other contests look for contacts with hams from a certain state or region, or operating a particular type of station. However, they all share the same basic idea - work as many other amateurs as you can during the contest period.

  27. T7A09 • What is a grid locator? • A. A letter-number designator assigned to a geographic location • B. Your azimuth and elevation • C. Your UTC location • D. The 4 digits that follow your ZIP code

  28. T7A09 Answer - A • The grid locator system is a letter number designator that represents a small grid on the map. By giving your grid locator, you are giving the other station a very good idea of your location.

  29. T7A10 • What is a special event station? • A. A station that sends out birthday greetings • B. A station that operates only on holidays • C. A temporary station that operates in conjunction with an activity of special significance • D. A station that broadcasts special events

  30. T7A10 Answer - C • There are all kinds of special event stations. These stations often operate in conjunction with a special celebration or event. In addition, the operators often provide fancy QSL cards or certificates to those stations that work the special event station. Special event stations are listed every month in QST and CQ magazines.

  31. T7A11 • What is the maximum power allowed when transmitting telecommand signals to radio controlled models? • A. 500 milliwatts • B. 1 watt • C. 25 watts • D. 1500 watts

  32. T7A11 Answer - B • §97.215(c) • An amateur station transmitting signals to control a model craft may be operated as follows: • *** • (c) The transmitter power must not exceed 1 W. • Some amateurs use ham radio to control radio controlled model aircraft, boats or cars. You don't need to use amateur frequencies to do this, but where lots of models are being operated, it helps to have a clear channel on amateur radio. If you use ham radio for RC models, 1 watt is the most power you can use to communicate with your craft.

  33. T7A12 • What is the station identification requirement when sending commands to a radio control model using amateur frequencies? • A. Voice identification must be transmitted every 10 minutes • B. Morse code ID must be sent once per hour • C. A label indicating the licensee's call sign and address must be affixed to the transmitter • D. There is no station identification requirement for this service

  34. T7A12 Answer - C • §97.215(a) • An amateur station transmitting signals to control a model craft may be operated as follows: • (a) The station identification procedure is not required for transmissions directed only to the model craft, provided that a label indicating the station call sign and the station licensee's name and address is affixed to the station transmitter.

  35. Group T7B Group T7B covers satellite operations and theory, including Doppler shift, satellite sub bands, low earth orbit (LEO), orbit calculation, split frequency operation, operating protocols, amateur satellites (AMSAT), and International Space Station (ISS) communications.

  36. Amateur Satellites • One of the most interesting aspects of amateur radio is operating through amateur satellites. A group of dedicated hams have managed to get a number of amateur satellites launched into orbit. Amateur satellites are like the world’s highest repeaters. Using amateur radio satellite you can talk to amateur radio operators in other countries. • So what class of license is required to use amateur satellites? Any amateur whose license allows them to transmit on the satellite uplink frequency can access an amateur satellite.

  37. AMSAT • The group that coordinates the building and/or launch of the largest number of amateur radio satellites is called AMSAT (short for “amateur satellite”). • AMSAT is a nonprofit corporation that coordinates the design and building of these birds, finding a space for them on a rocket, and raising the large sums of money needed to get them built and launched into orbit.

  38. Working the Satellite – Finding the Bird • The first thing you need to determine whether you can access an amateur satellite is a good satellite tracking program. There are a number of good programs out there, including many that are free. You’ll need to plug in orbital coordinates for all the satellites you want to track, and the software will tell you when the satellite will be over your location, as well as the direction it will be traveling.

  39. Working the Satellite – How Much Power? • How much power should you use to transmit when using an amateur satellite? As with any other communications, the FCC says you must use only the minimum amount of power needed to complete the contact.

  40. Working the Satellite – Dealing With Doppler Shift • “Doppler shift” is a change in signal frequency caused by motion through space. You may have noticed that the pitch of a motor in a moving car appears to be higher as it comes toward you and just a bit lower as it moves away from you. As the car approaches, the sound waves from the motor appear to be “sped up” by the speed of the car, raising the frequency. As the car goes by, the sound waves appear to be slowed down in the same way. This is also due to Doppler shift. • The same thing happens to radio frequencies as a satellite moves in orbit at a speed of over 17,000 miles per hour. This causes the frequency of the satellite’s transmitter to shift slightly as it moves over your location.

  41. Satellite Beacons • A satellite beacon is a signal coming from the satellite that contains information about the satellite. If you can hear the beacon on your station, you can probably work the satellite.

  42. Satellite Sub-bands • A satellite sub-band is a portion of an amateur band where satellite operations are permitted. If you want to work amateur satellites, you’ll need to know where the sub-bands are. For example, the satellite sub-band on 70-CM is 435 to 438 MHz.

  43. Amateur Satellites – Low Earth Orbit • Most commercial satellites are in geosynchronous orbit, meaning that their orbit keeps them at the same spot over the surface of the earth all the time. These satellites are in orbit at about 22,241 miles over the earth. On the other hand, amateur satellites are in low earth orbit (LEO), usually less than a couple of hundred miles high. Because of the LEO, the orbits are usually around ninety minutes and the time you have to use a satellite on each pass is usually only a few minutes.

  44. Working Astronaut Hams • Almost every International Space Station (ISS) crew has at least one astronaut onboard who is a licensed amateur. Many of these astronaut hams spend a lot of their spare time on amateur radio. Any amateur with a Technician or higher class license may make contact with an astronaut on the International Space Station using amateur radio frequencies.

  45. Check-Up Time! Now let’s try the questions from this group. You should make a note of any that you miss for later review.

  46. T7B01 • What class of license is required to use amateur satellites? • A. Only Extra class licensees can use amateur radio satellites • B. General or higher class licensees who have a satellite operator certification • C. Only persons who are AMSAT members and who have paid their dues • D. Any amateur whose license allows them to transmit on the satellite uplink frequency

  47. T7B01 Answer - D • If you can lawfully transmit on the uplink frequency (the frequency used to transmit to the satellite), you can use that satellite. As a Technician licensee, that means you can use most amateur satellites currently in orbit.

  48. T7B02 • How much power should you use to transmit when using an amateur satellite? • A. The maximum power of your transmitter • B. The minimum amount of power needed to complete the contact • C. No more than half the rating of your linear amplifier • D. Never more than 1 watt

  49. T7B02 Answer - B • Under FCC rules, you should ALWAYS use the minimum power necessary to complete a contact.

  50. T7B03 • What is something you can do when using an amateur radio satellite? • A. Listen to the Space Shuttle • B. Get global positioning information • C. Make autopatch calls • D. Talk to amateur radio operators in other countries