the hard facts of life. for the new guys                     Written with  SE Idaho NEW Hams in mind                         

This page is here for one purpose, to enlighten you , not to run you off.

This page is written by KØIP and reviewed by other PARC hams.   Many guys say I am toooo hard on the new guys, COULD BE ?
Sorry, I call it the way I see it.    99% of the old hams are willing to help you. HOWEVER  BE advised 'not all hams are created equal'.  
and quite honest, many are somewhat clueless.   
I dare you to read and watch all links on this page.  I dare you to join one of the clubs in Pocatello,   PARC  (Pocatello Amateur Radio Club)  or PV-ARES.   
You need to attend more than one club meeting to feel your part of a group, so start coming to meetings, 
Start mingling with the guys at the meeting ,  start learning about Ham Radio. We really want you to be part of our club.
Watch the video 4th below,  overcoming Frustration,  He discusses the same things,   you probably won't be 100% accepted into the group on your first visit .


WHY IS 2 meters DEAD ??

This question seems to be ask by lots of people,  the answer is simple,   NO ONE LEAVES THEIR RADIOS ON !
YES,  if your radio is OFF, the band is dead  !    in the olden days of 2 meter FM, that being Plus/minus  20 to 40 years ago,  all the
local guys left their base radios ON all the time,  some even all night,   if you were upside down in a ditch,  someone
would probably help you   ( life before cell phones)   and for sure if you wanted  a QSO in the daylight hours someone would
be willing to chat..
NOW remember everyone left their radios ON.          Most of those old guys are now dead. its up to you "new guys" to fill the gap.   if your life is FM,
then heres the Solution:  turn your radios on, monitor the local repeater, answer calls,  don't just set there with your thumb inserted .. 
Note: I didn't say where.



Heres four pages you should  look at. 

New Ham - what do I do now  (ask dave #12)  a must watch Video
       I think this video just about sums it up,  join a club, join the ARRL,  get on HF radio,  life on two meters is limited.

New Hams - GET AN Elmer - Join a club

New Hams - How to fit in with the grumpy old guys
       and why their grumpy, how to make that first 2 meter contact, and what to do with your old CB radios,   & Oh yes   C l i c k y   C l i c k y on 2 meters.

New Hams -  Overcoming 'new ham' Frustration  (ask dave #43) 


Watching that first video listed above, (ask dave #12)  and reading that stuff, it looks like the old guys are stuck in a rut
Joining a CLUB and the ARRL.  By joining ARRL, you get  QST magazine which  is one of the best ways to learn things, 
unlike Playboy magazine, where everyone just 'read the articles'   in QST just looking at the pictures  and reading the
advertising can add to your knowledge base.  and if you happen to read an article all the better, ,
                                                                                                                                                           ARRL membership/renewal Link

In Pocatello there are two amateur radio groups 
One being the page your on now, the Pocatello Amateur Radio Club (PARC Home Page),  and

The Portneuf Valley Amateur Radio Emergency Services group  PV ARES

PARC is a general interest club, and PV ARES is mostly interested in emergency communications and parade, race, local event communications. 
If Emergency preparedness is why you got a Amateur License you should investigate them.
However if you got a license to explore all the aspects of HAM radio like DXing,  weak signal vhf , contests, building projects,  Just learning new things. 
Then PARC is for you,    Think about this,  Join both groups,  get the best of both worlds.

If you don't live in Pocatello see this   Other Ham Clubs in our area                   

Repeaters: and programming your 2 meter radio.

It seems like most new hams get on 2 meters,  this is OK and you can do many things using only 2 meter FM, but its limited..

you've got a license but your lost in a world of confusing terms and strange sounding do-dads? nothing makes any sense .
and programming that new HT makes even less sense ??

probably the best thing to do is come to our meeting, get an ELMER,  he can help* you.

Try  Watching these three videos , they might give you some insight about  programmed your HT.  part one               part two              part three           Repeater list for Pocatello,     Repeater list for Idaho              

*one thing that needs mentioned,  just because I've been a ham for 50+ years, doesn't mean I can figure out how to program your  Chinese radio.
IF you need a computer and software to program your radio,  I think you probably have the WRONG RADIO, 
you need to be able to change frequencies and program  it on the front panel of the radio, on the fly, any time, any place, night or day, with or without AC power .

Handy Talky (HT) buyers guide:  This is my advice to you as an Elmer:
DONT spend a small fortune on a two meter radio, however, I DON'T recommend
those really cheap Chinese radios,  they are hard (almost impossible) to program without a computer
I DO recommend a single band 2 meter radio, that has a BNC antenna connector, like mentioned in those videos, 
forgot all the "bells and whistles" . most of that "stuff"  IS USELESS. 
Your a beginner,  buy a simple radio, who knows 6 months from now you might not even be interested in 2 meters anymore.

There's got to be some FM only ,  plain Jane,  FM HT for say less than $100.  Kenwood, Yaesu, Icom, Alinco pick one.
simple and cheap,  not Chinese, with a BNC jack if possible and a double A battery pack. 
 forget D-Star or Fusion, GPS, APRS , etc etc ,
The radio manufactures what to sell you the most expensive thing they can grind out
TOOO many options,  TOOO much memory, TOOO much BS.    simple is better.
See this joke link about how much memory is too much   Ozzy Osburne   it might be a joke but its mostly true.

There are NO  D-Star, or  Fusion repeaters in SE Idaho,  so forget expensive radios than include these digital modes. Their useless here in SE Idaho
There's almost NO activity on the existing FM repeaters, DEAD AIR, so be warned. (do you want to fix this problem, see the heading " why is 2 meters dead" (above)

heres some examples  (as of 2017) ,  alinco DJ-100T  DJ-500T  Kenwood TH-K20A,  Yaesu FT65R, &
the ICOM  V80 sport,  which is the best cheap radio  in my opinion, it has a BNC, and a AA battery pack,
which means you can run it on Standard AA batteries in an emergency.   this also means for daily use you will
need to buy some rechargeable batteries and the correct charger for your batteries,   I still use NiCad's in my HT.  

UPDATE Sept 2018,  I guess the Twin Falls club has fallen head over heals for FUSION,  they have 3 repeaters and more are planed.
I guess there is a D-star out there , somewher,  in the Twin area too.  and a DMR radio in Idaho Falls area.
ONCE again, I don't see any reason to go to these digital things,  except if they are on the internet, you can link to other digital repeaters around the world.
This makes a interesting toy,  ..  I have looked up radios with Fusion,  typical HT's with fusion $400+  , D-star $350  and DMR (hey) way less expensive.
Is it really a good investment,    you will have to be the judge ?

Technicians ON TEN meters   , GREAT IDEA, but this being written in 2017 the hard truth is ?? 
you had better set down for this, because its not what you want to hear.
its going to be a lonely world,  more lonely than 2 meter FM.
am I lying , some might say I full of Bull,   BUT the sunspot cycle is headed to the bottom, 
NO sun spots equals  NO propagation on the higher HF bands,   Not to say it won't happen some times, 
Sporadic E skip is the main driving force for skip on 6 meters..  That same Sporadic E makes for some great contacts on 10 meters..
The Question is , What Day, What hour, maybe What year  ???
you better keep the radio on all the time, those occurrences will be far and few in-between.

Whats the answer, a general or extra license.,,  FULL stop, .                  giving you more HF privileges

2018 update:  Surprise, this spring and summer was full of 10 meter openings,  even on the clubs .36 repeater's 10 meter link, lots of activity
SO,,,  I was somewhat wrong about conditions and the possibility of making a contact,    HOWEVER, you needed to keep your radio on,
and have been attentive to band conditions.  as of mid Aug,  the sporadic E  has mostly faded away  ..  maybe more to come during the
winter (much weaker) e season  ,,   coming late fall.. 
lets hope 2019 will be as active ,,,,  

Things to watch and listen to

There's so many different people making all sorts of Ham Radio videos, so much of it is TOTAL  BS, be careful who's giving the advice. 
Dave and K7AGE seem to have their facts in order,

ASK-  DAVE  videos see this      Watch the ones you think pertain to you ,   or watch them all,   they will broaden your horizons

The same goes for K7AGE videos on  
since episodes don't appear to come up in any order, scan for ones that might interest you.
This guy did one on installing  Power Poles connectors,  it was great..
I highly recommend using them on all your radios. PARC stocks these in our "company store"

Now between you and me,  K7AGE has joined with the "Ham Nation" video group, which includes
many "semi" famous hams and some that are only famous in their own minds (???) ,   
SORRY I think most of these guys are a bunch of sappy idiots, again sorry,    and K7AGE does spew a bunch of BS ,  don't believe everything !!
in particular,  I watched  Randy K7AGE Ham Shack Build Part 1: Ham Nation 226  it was all Blabber & Blabber  BLAB BLAB BLAB,  
He said NOTHING. Talking about himself and his shack,  really didn't say anything worth hearing ..   .
However ASK Dave had one on setting up a SHACK and it was very informative .
  Ask Dave Episode 3

AUDIO ONLY Podcasts , this is great stuff, the ARRL's   "The Doctors IN",     Link to index of  audio podcasts 

Outside antennas,  
OK  you want to be heard, then you need an outside antenna,  for 2 meters a cheap J-Pole will do the trick,  but its got to be outside your house, connected
with good coax, Like RG8U or RG213 type coax. the Higher you can mount the antenna the better ,  up on your roof somewhere.   if you ever need to talk
simplex, ( a novel idea)  your rubber duck isn't going to work very well.

HF antennas for the beginner,  A  DIPOLE   or a  one Band Vertical.  You don't have to invest a fortune on an antenna,  prices on new Trapped Verticals
are ridicules. As are multi band Store Bought dipoles,  MAKE YOUR OWN ANTENNA  it will be almost free...  and you don't need a PhD to install them. 
Which Band,  Well ????  in actual fact 10, 12, 15 meter  bands are almost USELESS for the next 4 or 5 years,  No SunSpots.  So  my 2 cents worth
is either 20 or 40 meters. maybe 80 meters.  dipoles are really easy to build and the club can help you get one up if you need or want the help. 
See the Q&A button for measurements.  resonant dipole
Vertical Antenna, a 20 meter antenna is only 16 feet tall,  if you can mount it on your roof you will only need a few radials, four are more than enough..
On the ground you need a lot more,  not impossible,  but a bit more work.     40 Meters is 32 feet tall,  harder to put on your roof, 

If you check 'the Doctors IN' topics,  ( see above)   they have discussed all sorts of antennas ,  the Plusses and minuses of all different types 

HI FI AUDIO..    (fools are easily separated from their money)
I ask WHY.    There are several manufactures that sell audio enhancement devices,  my question why ?  
ANSWER:   if you make it,  some fool will eventually buy it, and tell you how great it is. 
(Like those guys on TV selling  magnets you put around your cars gas line which would double your gas mileage) "10-4"  RIGHT !!

if you tune around 14.188mHz  and listen, eventually you will hear a bunch of these HIFI audio guys all discussing how great they all sound,  
now , just tune slightly off their signal a bit and hear the strange artifact, kind of a "wow wow" sound.  Its terrible.

Generally  their bandwidth is wider than a normal SSB signal, all the extra "base" might sound a bit better, but its totally stupid.

SO  just don’t get sucked into the stupidity.   Just say NO.

MICROPHONES (fools are easily separated from their money)
 YOU Ask ,  Do I need a special microphone  ??   answer  NO

The microphone supplied with your radio was made for your radio. 

if you really want to improve your operating position, buy a fairly good HEADSET, like Heil or Radio Sport, 
you’ll need a foot switch too.   DON’T buy the Heil  foot switch,  a total rip off.  Too thick , too hard to press down, TOO expensive... 
EBAY footswitch, see what pops up. buy something FLAT to get your foot on.  I use a foot switch off a old Dictaphone machine.

I almost always use headphones,  I can hear better,  the boom mike is attached, I don’t need to lean up to the desk to talk, 
I can use my hands to do my electronic logging, 

I also say PHOOEY to that Rush Limbaugh golden microphone suspended with springs on a boom device,   PHOOEY 
Heil sells a lot of this "stuff" , its not worth a penny,,  

What not to do:  SPEND a king ransom on a microphone.

Lets see, most manufactures, especially Yaesu, make WAY EXPENSIVE microphones.    
The top Yaesu  mike, the “M-1 special addition”  priced at $690, WHAT,  CRAZY  (do you have money to burn ??) 
Heil sells a lot of mikes and boom and other “stuff” that only extracts money from your pocket. and doesn't improve your signal !

So what did I ask,    do you really think you need a FOUR HUNDRED DOLLAR microphone ???   NO
Those dollars are WAY better spend that on an Antenna,  or a headset....   The mike supplied with your radio should work just fine,
other than it's a HAND mike and it ties up one of your hands.

LOGGING your contacts
OK guys,  way back in the olden' days,   not so many years ago, it was an FCC rule that every transmission  
should be logged,  Test transmissions where no one was even contacted, yes every transmission.  Lucky we
don't need to do that any more, however, keeping a log is important,   (ok OK !!   not so important for 2 meter FM)..
Some day , you might decide to get some "wall paper"  , like the ARRL's
Worked All States WAS award. without a log it "ain't" going to happen !!   
Ok it isn't going to happen.   Paper logs are OK, BUT, not really , 
hey its the 21 Century and we have computers,   FYI your shack computer
doesn't need to be a I 7 processor with 16g's of memory, I use XP on an older,
but not cold machine and things work really well in my shack.  There
are many verity's of logging software for not too much money,  Without plugging
his product the N3FJP software is relatively inexpensive , and for me does a great job. 
Some software is just TOOOOO complex, If your spending $100+  its probably "bloat ware".
I don't need a wall covered with 21 inch monitors to keep track of the "gray line"..   Guaranteed most of the time  "simple is better" !!

LOG ALL YOUR HF Contacts  as well as your Weak Signal VHF contacts,  is there a VUCC in your future ??  
it's NOT going to happen without a LOG.. 
Log on your computer and then use LoTW,  for awards,   you might want to have some QSL cards on hand too....  
Log even if you have NO intention of getting a VUCC or WAS ,  WHY ?,  because the other guy REALLY needed
IDAHO on 6 METERS,  and you were that important contact,,  he's depending on you to CONFIRM  that "hard to get contact" ..
Heres a screen shot of what I have uploaded to LoTW,  to decode this, I have uploaded 52595 QSO's   and have CONFIRMED (QSL) 19,377
Confirmed means  both my log and the other fellows log Match ,  time , date, call sign,  ETC.. 

Yes,  a time tested way to confirm a contact,  IF YOUR active on HF,  you need some printed QSL card, 
If your working DX the cards will arrive at the BURO.  
PARC gets cards all the time via the BURO...

Get a few QSL cards printed, or print your own,  100 should be more than enough to start. 
     sign up for LoTW   the ARRL electronic awards database.   Don't get fooled by eQSL and
     QRZ's Logbook or similar internet sites. ARRL and CQ magazine awards are where it's at.

    QSL cards should be 'post card' size  5... by 3 1/2 inches,  card stock,
    Learn about SASE's ,,  check out your incoming QSL buro,  you need to have envelopes at the buro.    will have contact info.

    To use the outgoing buro, you must be an ARRL member.


Don' t hide in your closet:
Something I think is important, thats being able to Email people and have others be able to contact me,  for ham radio folks, that means, 
It's a defact STANDARD in call sign lookups

Now don't send them any money
The guy's probably a multi millionaire, without your help.  QRZ is a great ham asset  for looking up contacts. However
lots of  the "BLOG stuff" is total BS,  There is absolutely NO reason to send him money.  I've used the site for years, (free)   there is a limited amount of lookups you
can do every 24 hours,  like 25 or so,  why would I want to look up more ??? 

That being said its a great web.  Now what do  I think is stupid, several years ago , the owner made it mandatory to LOG IN,   to get most of info about a station.

I don't like it, BUT,  I have never suspected him of mis-useing email address...  SO   get signed up, post  a picture of yourself,  not  your radio,  I know
what a Yaesu looks like !!
  I don't know what you look like !!   OK ..   maybe put up some kind of BIO about yourself,   and your EMAIL info
Remember ITS FREE       


Be ready for an emergency,  if you want, join in with the ""emergency boys"",  like PVARES

what exactly is the  " big one" ??  floods, tornados, earthquakes ???,
a 2 meter HT's is great for "parade duty" or bicycle race's , maybe at the  local shelter during a snow storm (?), 
However, if the lines (internet/phone's)  are down for hundreds of miles you probably need HF, or maybe better yet,  a satellite phone. 

So,  if your the guy with the Bad'est mean'est HF station in town,  You might need to communicate with guys around town with HT's
The repeaters maybe down too.  maybe a two meter base radio, with a good antenna. (see outside antennas) above.. would be in order.
if you have a good base installation,   you will probably be able to communicate with other, similar equipped , stations in adjoining towns.  ? that might be useful ??
if the emergency last more than a day or two,  if the power is out, most repeaters are going to be dead. (mostly)...
your base radio won't run on water, so what are you going to do?  eventually your car will be out of gas,  no juice (electricity) 

How are you going to power your radio, that HT battery won't run forever,  have backup power for your radios, 
BE READY, get savvy enough to repair things,  antennas , cables, replace bad equipment on the fly,  otherwise,   you maybe the emergency ??
Think,  without some planning, and more than a "chairman Mao" HT with attached rubber duck.  your probably  almost useless.


OK you guys, want to express your ideas, 

do you have any ideas, think I'm too harsh,  or want to tell me to drop dead,  email jcwilson(at)

so far no one has sent anything to me