Amateur Radio: One Year In…

I took my Technician and General tests together, last July (2019). I had started with a Yaesu FT-60R handheld, but really started to learn things last October (2019) when I bought a Yaesu FT-991A and started working on HF. Looking back over my first year+ in amateur radio, here are some things that I have learned: It’s all about the Antenna — It’s easy to focus on the radio, with knobs, buttons, and flashing lights. Probably the biggest factor to one’s overall success/performance is not the radio, but the antenna! The “best” antenna is the one that you can put up (given any location, size, HOA restrictions), but an antenna that is resonant in the frequency band you are using is going to be the most effective. Higher off of the ground is generally better if possible. Antenna tuners, loading coils, traps, etc. are compromises in performance for size, and flexibility. A compromise antenna can work for you, but may not be ideal. You can find lots of information and ideas in the ARRL book on “Small Antennas for Small Spaces.” Antenna performance is important with handhelds as well. The typical “rubber ducky” antenna is optimized for size/cost, not for performance. An aftermarket 1/4 wave antenna that is 14-16” will generally perform much better than the stock antenna. With the original antenna on my handheld, I could barely hit the repeaters from outside — with the aftermarket antenna I can reach them from my basement! You can also use a …

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