I've always been fascinated by how radio works and have always wanted to get my license. However, before starting in this hobby, I would like to know some more information to get started.
Firstly, for the license test, how hard, or easy is it to understand the material? I've looked the materials and the first few lessons seems to be very physics based, and I just bearly scrapped through my 'O' Levels physics.
Second, how much space is required for a HAM setup? I was at a Maker Faire sometime back and I saw a QSO with a pretty large setup. (It looked almost like my camp's radio equipment.)
Third, if I listened in to HAM frequencies, is it illegal? I would like to get a quick understanding of how busy the lines are.
Lastly, cost wise, is it very expensive? As a current NSF, it is going to be hard to convince me to part my money for somethings that are in the high hundreds range.
Thanks in advance for helping me out and I hope to hear from you soon. -Darren
Welcome, and glad to hear your interest in Amateur Radio! I'll let others fill in the details of what's required to get licensed, and give some comments on your questions instead.
Understanding the materials - it shouldn't be all that difficult imo, and do keep in mind if you've completed your 'O's and are currently NSF, your ability to pick stuff up and learn can easily change (for the better!) as you age - and especially if it's something that perks your interest, instead of 'having to do it' There are several resources online such as youtube that can give you a general feel of what's involved (eg, while catering to the US, look up KE0OG's license training videos at the bottom of his playlist here www.youtube.com/user/davecasler/playlists)
If you're looking at world-wide direct contact, you're looking at the HF bands ('Shortwave', up to 30MHz). The physics of it, unfortunately requires a rather large antenna setup. There are compromises that can be used (eg, indoor magloop), but those are best suited for digital modes - which is something you'll probably get the most out of (it's amazing when things line up right, you will make direct contacts 1,000's km away with no more power than it takes to charge an iPhone).
fyi you can listen in on HF right now, on you browser, with a streaming receiver(an SDR) which you can control websdr.org/ For Ham frequencies, start out in the 14.1-14.35Mhz range when it's daytime where the receiver is located (best is sunrise/sunset of the local time there) Make sure to set mode to USB, zoom into the spectrum display, and tune around! tbh though, it can be quite difficult to receive HF traffic locally, with all the electrical noise we have.
Another mode which hasn't taken off here is voip and digital voice modes on VHF/UHF, you can connect all around the world, although some don't see it as 'ham radio'.
All the best with your endeavors, hope you decide to peruse the hobby.
Thanks Peter, can I also ask, what's the licensing process like?
From my understanding, I have to register for the test (fee of $40, unless I'm a student), after passing, I have to apply for a license with the IMDA (Which has two classes, General and Restricted - which I'm not too sure which I should be looking to get) and finally, joing the SARTS as a member to get more updates on local events and stuff like that (I'm guessing it's strongly advised but not mandatory?)
Also, based from the application guidelines, the station has to be registed with IMDA, with all the equipment and S/N of the equipment. Is the process simple or you'll have to jump from site to site?
My main concerns are getting on the wrong side of the law, and the costs needed to set up and maintain a station.
P.S. I've watched some of KE0OG's videos while looking up about HAMs, and while confusing, I think I get the gist of it.
Last Edit: Apr 16, 2017 23:56:21 GMT 8 by onenonly
You will be going for a General Class License. The IMDA simplified the license classification so there is only one class, but the Restricted class still exists for odd, special, unusual cases as determined by the authority.
Here are the steps to getting a ham license:
1. Study for the RAE 2. Apply and sit for the RAE
After passing, 3. Apply to the IMDA for your Ham License
After getting the license 4. Acquire your Transceiver 5. Set up your station 6. Have fun
Step 3 is a bit clunky. IMDA is current undergoing restructuring and teething. It a online application but somehow, there will be some human intervention - emails & phone calls to the IMDA.
The license is now $100 and is valid for 5 years. It used to be $50 per annum.
SARTS membership is optional. You don't have to be a SARTS member to be a ham but it's nice to support the society. SARTS represents Hams locally and we are a member of the IARU (International Amateur Radio Union). Without Ham Societies, spectrum rights and privileges will eventually be taken away. Ham Radio occupies resources that do not generate significant revenue to the State.
The main cost of the hobby is in the initial equipment and subsequent upgrades. License renewal is the only major recurrent expenditure. Other minor costs includes printing of QSL cards especially if you are big on HF and collecting QSL cards. 12 years ago, I printed 2000 cards for about $200.
Check out this site for Ham equipment sold in the USA. Prices in Singapore is usually cost more.
A simple basic station will consists of 1. transceiver, (at least $800 or you can consider a used one) 2. dc power supply ($150) 3. Coaxial Cables 4. Antenna Tuner (optional, if item 5 is 'perfect') 5. Antenna
Depending on where you are putting up the antenna, the cost will depend on the type. If you have easy and legal access (forget HDB) to your roof, you may want to erect a multibeam yagi (10 meter turning radius). The simplest antenna you can use is a wire antenna strung out your window on a bamboo pole or fishing rod. Just don't attract the attention from your neighbours or the town council.
It will be nice if you can make make it to this months SARTS meeting. We can answer more questions there.
Last Edit: Apr 18, 2017 18:24:38 GMT 8 by 9v1de: 4 minute sketch added
The meetings run for about 90 minutes. You can come and go as you please.
The first part of the meeting is formal, having to go through the Agenda and matters arising. This takes about 15 - 30 minutes. After a short break, we usually have a show and tell presentation on ham stuff. Go HERE to have a look at what we did in the past meetings.
Hi! I am Joyce, I was part of the team that set-up the station at the Maker Faire in both 2015 and 2016. Yes, our setup was large because we didn't want people at the Faire to get to close to the antenna and risk getting RF burns and the like.
But if you're operating at home, you don't need such a large area to work with. In fact, Darren and Darryl have covered most of what I should mentioned. If you'd like to know, I use this as my antenna:
Yes. This is the same antenna used at the Maker Faire. And I'm operating out of a HDB apartment.
FYI: I plan to do this again for MF 2017. And also we can keep in contact if you'd like to know more about ham radio and such. I could take you out to see how operations are like, if you want. =)
Last Edit: Feb 16, 2018 21:47:47 GMT 8 by Joyce Ng
I just registered (a total newbie on hams), and just read this post. It basically answered pretty much of my questions/concerns. So, thanks very much for all this information it really helped a lot .
I may probably start hitting on the educational materials very soon for the license so I can get registered. Its been really a long while since I started contemplating on this thought (for years) so I guess its time for action. By the way, I have one more question to add. I am pretty much interested in the HF side, so... is there an antenna that can be installed internally? I have read the information shared by Royce (thanks Royce) for the antenna by the window, and I just wanted to explore the possibility of internal antennas.
I have started scouting HF rigs and I just saw the icom 7300, I am aware that this is new (and since $ is also a restricting matter), would anyone kindly help to recommend a respectable performance rig that wouldn't really hit the price range of a 7300? Many thanks in advance guys.
Post by Roland Turner 9V1RT on Aug 4, 2017 14:56:37 GMT 8
Various HF digital modes should be workable inside, with loop antennas (or ferrite antennas for receive-only). I've yet to check this.
An IC-7300 is probably overkill to get started on HF. I have an FT-817ND on order as my first HF rig, although I'd point out that backpack use on mountaintops in Australia is amongst my first intended uses which means that 5W and internal batteries are an attractive option. The 857 an 897 are in the same ballpark, but their higher output power may be more appealing (give or take that establishing an outdoor antenna first would be worthwhile).
Post by Roland Turner 9V1RT on Feb 9, 2018 10:16:43 GMT 8
There does not appear to be RAE information specifically on the IMDA website. The current (October 2016) license application guidelines on IMDA's website are at www.imda.gov.sg/-/media/imda/files/regulation-licensing-and-consultations/licensing/licenses/guideamateur.pdf and include email details for a contact within IMDA (Amy Cheng). I'd suggest (a) studying those instructions to understand some of the context and then (b) emailing Amy for information about how to sit the RAE. My recollection is that it's handled in a somewhat unoptimised fashion and that you'll just have to have the conversation in order to progress.
Incidentally: I was given the option to pay by account transfer or by turning up at their counter at Mapletree. If at all possible, I'd suggest that you do the latter. For the IMDA regulatory people to find out what transactions have hit the IMDA bank account turns out to be slow (several days) and difficult.