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Vintage Amateur and Military Radio Amateur/military receivers and transmitters, morse, and any other related vintage comms equipment.

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Old 14th Jan 2021, 11:06 am   #1
HECTOR63
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Default Looking to become Ham listener

Anyone any advice on good receivers and or scanners for indoor use with indoor antenna as currently living in flat so no outside aerials allowed? I'm guessing initially for 2 metre as quite keen to study for exam but due to Covid are there any books or papers with mock exams that can help toward a licence at some stage for TX?
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Old 14th Jan 2021, 11:13 am   #2
merlinmaxwell
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Default Re: Looking to become Ham listener

I would go for something like the RSP1A https://www.sdrplay.com/rsp1a/ , super SDR at about £100. They are really very good, as is the free propitiatory software.
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Old 14th Jan 2021, 11:20 am   #3
Restoration73
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Default Re: Looking to become Ham listener

https://rsgb.org/main/get-started-in...o/first-steps/
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Old 14th Jan 2021, 11:25 am   #4
SiriusHardware
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Default Re: Looking to become Ham listener

Nowadays progress through the three levels of the radio amateur licence has a framework which you work your way up through: Foundation, Intermediate, Full. The good news is that it is much easier to get a foot on the ladder than it used to be in the old days of the City And Guilds R.A.E. exam.

These are essentially the 'book of the exam' for each level.

https://www.rsgbshop.org/acatalog/On...aining_19.html
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Old 14th Jan 2021, 11:44 am   #5
Bazz4CQJ
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Default Re: Looking to become Ham listener

Over a long period of time, the level of activity on 2m has waxed and waned. At the current time, activity seems to be quite regional, so depending on where you live, could be good or bad. The other issue with where you live that makes a big difference is height; it's best to be on high ground.

Where I am, things are totally dead!

Is there any chance that you could borrow a rig before buying?.

B
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Old 14th Jan 2021, 12:04 pm   #6
HECTOR63
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Default Re: Looking to become Ham listener

Hello Bazz unfortunately not! But have used in the past many years ago and its an old interest reawakened whilst in Covid lockdowns etc
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Old 14th Jan 2021, 12:04 pm   #7
Jon_G4MDC
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Default Re: Looking to become Ham listener

Why pay so much to get started?

Much better advised to get the Version 3 RTL-SDR stick which can do HF and VHF/UHF from a single antenna port. About £25 I believe.

Not perfect but amazing value.
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Old 14th Jan 2021, 12:05 pm   #8
HECTOR63
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Default Re: Looking to become Ham listener

Many thanks to all for the great replies Very much appreciated and shall follow up and see what happens.Cheers
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Old 14th Jan 2021, 12:13 pm   #9
Jon_G4MDC
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Default Re: Looking to become Ham listener

Good luck, a little more about the RTL-SDR V3.

It will cover CB through 6,4,2&70cm very well using the TV tuner front end fed by a suitable antenna. Unless you happen to live under the Sandy Heath TV transmitter maybe!

It has a switch for use at HF which is a direct sampling mode. This really needs an external filter to work well. It's of some use fed broadband but it gets a lot of distress from Medium Wave broadcast signals. Also there is an image issue where you see 0-14.4 and 14.4-28.8 MHz folded back on themselves.

HF is confusing until you have a preselector but these are easily built from readily available parts.
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Old 14th Jan 2021, 12:25 pm   #10
eaglework
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Default Re: Looking to become Ham listener

Hi,
I had loitered around SWl'ing and decided to go for my license in 2020. Used a couple of RSGB books for revision and sample questions. The remotely invigilated exam process worked well and you get your result within minutes of finishing the exam.
I am studying for the Intermediate level with an exam booked for end Feb using RSGB materials again. Its also worth looking at some of the online courses which combine tutorials with sample questions - I signed up for a GM6DX course and I believe there are others as well.
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Old 14th Jan 2021, 1:06 pm   #11
Bazz4CQJ
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Default Re: Looking to become Ham listener

Just looking at Version 3 RTL-SDR sticks on ebay, prices seem to range for £18-34, most cheap ones are in a gold-coloured box, but the more expensive are in a white metal box.

Is it likely that not all these products are the exact same item and not all equally good?

For different frequencies, do you just attach somethings that's 'broadly appropriate', in the absence of something better?
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Old 14th Jan 2021, 1:12 pm   #12
John M0GLN
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Default Re: Looking to become Ham listener

Have you been to this site and had a listen to the bands?

http://hackgreensdr.org:8901/

John
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Old 14th Jan 2021, 2:42 pm   #13
SiriusHardware
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Default Re: Looking to become Ham listener

It's also worth noting that for the price of a cheap SDR you can get a Chinese made freely programmable UHF / VHF handheld transceiver, like a Baofeng or Wouxun, for around £15-£40 depending on model. Unless you have one or more repeaters in the vicinity you would need to connect an external aerial to that to be able to listen to signals coming in from any distance. Transmitting on it would be verboten until you have your licence of course: I owned a 2m transceiver for many months before I gained my licence, having the radio already gave me a great incentive to pass so I could actually transmit with it.
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Old 14th Jan 2021, 5:07 pm   #14
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Default Re: Looking to become Ham listener

If you want to study for the Amateur Radio Foundation course have a look at the website for. Essex Ham. Pete M0PSX runs a free training course.

Dave
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Old 14th Jan 2021, 6:00 pm   #15
Sparky67
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Default Re: Looking to become Ham listener

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bazz4CQJ View Post
Just looking at Version 3 RTL-SDR sticks on ebay, prices seem to range for £18-34, most cheap ones are in a gold-coloured box, but the more expensive are in a white metal box.
Yes, there are 'fake' RTL-SDRs, I bought one which said RTL-SDR V3 on the case. It worked but I discovered it didn't have the same component count as the genuine item and turned out to be a 'fake'. I was reimbursed . Haven't tried it on HF yet.

To answer HECTOR63's question. I think there is a big user difference between a hands-on 'traditional' receiver and an SDR. The latter can do a lot more (act as a basic spectrum analyser and decode digital transmissions, for example) on the same PC that the control software runs on, but installing, configuring and receiving via software won't be for everyone.

Martin
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Old 15th Jan 2021, 9:14 am   #16
HECTOR63
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Default Re: Looking to become Ham listener

Brilliant advices ongoing Folks really appreciated-yes I'm not a big software fan i prefer the old school hardware. Its not that software's too techy or anything its just you lose the traditional functionality and hands on with a real radio. Back in the 80s did tons of CB with AM and although frowned on by many had an absolute ball But as it fizzled out I so missed the opportunity to take up what i should have done then and that was Ham Radio. Always admired many a rig etc so looking to get back on the airwaves at sometime but shall be perusing the links for info and training that have been so kindly supplied Cheers
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Old 15th Jan 2021, 9:44 am   #17
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Default Re: Looking to become Ham listener

Hector, how much money are you thinking of spending??

When I was getting started, back in the 1960's, the usual strategy was to find some kind of shortwave receiver (often army surplus) and then construct a "converter" unit which would receive signals on 2m and feed them out at a much lower frequency, which could be detected by the receiver. But in those days, that was an relatively inexpensive route and 2m was incredibly active and you knew that your efforts would be rewarded.

But with 2m activity a small fraction of what it was, regional, and with your limitation of an indoor aerial, it's hard to suggest a good way forward for you.

Like you, I have mixed feelings about SDR devices, but buying an SDR does look like an easy, cheap and fast way of making "a" start, even if you discard it after it's done its job of being a pathfinder? I don't think you'll find a real receiver (that's worth having) for anything remotely like the price of the SDR.

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Old 15th Jan 2021, 10:16 am   #18
HECTOR63
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Default Re: Looking to become Ham listener

Hello Bazz many thanks for the advices-yes price is something I'm looking into and likewise with the indoor issue I can go mobile although during the Covid lockdown rules that's on hold until more practical times become usIs there any link as form of demo of SDR that I can take a look at as I'm running on windows 10 and have an iPad aswell but prefer to use either as opposed to mobile phone as for me a Phone is still a phone. Although I'm still a Blackberry Fan and enjoying my time with my Key One and so many people enquire 'What is that with a Keyboard'! LOL I thought mainly after 2m as this is what the Exam study would cater for but I'm guessing there may be a wealth of other frequencies that can be studied prior to seeking a licence to get started.

Thanks
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Old 15th Jan 2021, 1:20 pm   #19
Bazz4CQJ
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Default Re: Looking to become Ham listener

Cannot help you with the SDR; it is only the discussion on this thread that has made me glance at them.

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Old 15th Jan 2021, 4:48 pm   #20
Sparky67
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Default Re: Looking to become Ham listener

While you are considering the hardware you are welcome to borrow my SDR to give it a go and see how you get on with it, if you would like to. Itís VHF and UHF only at the moment, control software and the drivers, and other advice is freely downloadable. It might give you an idea of activity in your area on 4m, 2m and 70cms? Drop me a pm if interested.

One issue you may have with HF listening with an indoor antenna is interference. Even with an outdoor HF antenna many people are plagued by it. There are many, many potential sources and often it makes hearing anything but strong signals difficult. My laptop power adaptor is the biggest culprit in our house!

I find using a web SDR can be very useful when signals are difficult to receive on HF. There is a list of them HERE. Try some of those in Ireland - they can have a very low noise floor.

All the best,

Martin
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