A quick Reminder of the Practical’s covered on this Page :-
1) Demonstrate using a VHF/UHF transmitter / receiver to find a F.M voice signal and a Data Signal. Read the Signal Strength correctly ( if a meter is fitted )
2) Demonstrate making a contact with a VHF/UHF transceiver. Showing use of the Squelch, Volume ( Audio Gain ) and changing the Frequency.
3) Explain the meaning of signal reports used while in a contact.
4) Make a Simplex ( 1 – 1 ) VHF/UHF contact demonstrating the use of signal reports.
8 ) Demonstrate a CQ Call on VHF / UHF, starting on the calling channel and QSY’ing ( changing frequency. to complete the contact.
This practical requires you to go on air. For some people this may be the first time they have ever used a Radio. For others they may have some experience. When I do this practical with candidates. I like to use handheld transceivers, like the one in the picture. This may at first seem a little pointless but I have found it can be a lot of help for people new to Amateur Radio. They get comfort from knowing the person they will talk to, will be an instructor. Leaving them free to relax and learn the process, instead of worrying who will answer them and what they will say. It is also good because a lot of new amateurs start of with a cheap handheld.
So what do we do ?
The first part is listening ! its always best to listen first. Get to know how things work and the way they are done. If you don’t have equipment to listen in. You can hear some online. A lot of the UK Repeaters have a live internet feed. An example is www.GB3EK.co.uk. You can also listen to Radio on a website called web SDR. www.websdr.org
To start your practical’s, you need to find an F.M voice conversation and a Data QSO. Your instructor will talk you through this procedure but they should be fairly easy to find. The bands follow a pattern. Narrow modes like CW and Data are at the start of the band. Wide modes such as A.M and F.M are at the end of the band. Hopefully tuning around you will be able to find what you need easily.
Now we need to get on air, for the first time !
We start by going through a CQ Call. A CQ call is something we use to let other Amateurs know we want to talk. They can be a very individual thing, everyone does it slightly different. An example might be :-
CQ CQ CQ M6PKU calling CQ on 2 Meters and standing by.
This is a quick and simple CQ call. Its good for handhelds that use FM ( Frequency Modulation ) The quality is high and you will only get replies from local amateurs.
we start our call with CQ CQ CQ, letting people know we are calling for anyone who might be listening.
Next we give our Call sign M6PKU.
Then we give the people listening some information.” Calling CQ on 2 Meters and standing by ” This tells them where they can find us. That might seem a strange thing to do but you have to realise, modern Amateur Radio equipment can have hundreds of memories, cover all the Radio Bands and could be scanning through them.
For this practical we will use the 2 Meter band ( 144 – 146 MHz). Which is split into sections for different modes. As we are using FM, we will use 145.500, which is the calling frequency.
Once the radio is on 145.500 MHz we need to listen for 30 seconds to make sure its free. Then we can call CQ.
When an Amateur replies to a CQ call they will probably just give their callsign. You will need to take a note of their call sign and call them back.
e.g. you call : CQ CQ CQ M6PKU calling CQ on 2 Meter and standing by.
they reply : M0ZPK ( or M6PKU this is M0ZPK.)
your reply : M0ZPK thank you for coming back to me.
Now you have made contact with another Amateur. You will now need to move away from the calling frequency. This is called QSY’ing. This enables other amateurs to call CQ.
You must now ask the other amateur to change frequency.” M0ZPK, can we QSY to 145.475 MHz ” They will acknowledge your request. Now change your frequency to 145.475 Mhz. Again we must listen for 30 seconds to make sure its clear. One you think its clear, give a short call to make sure. ” M6PKU, is this frequency in use please ” No reply ? now its time to bring the other amateur in. so you can call them. ” M0ZPK this is M6PKU ”
So you have called CQ, changed frequency and got someone to talk to, what now ?
You will need to have a brief chat, this is called a QSO. Here is a script you may like to follow :-
YOU : M0ZPK, thank you for coming back, my name is *name* and my QTH ( location ) is Kent, UK.
THEM : M6PKU from M0ZPK. That’s fine, its nice to meet you *name*
YOU : your signal report is 5 and 9. Thanks again for the call. I am going to go off air.
THEM : Thank you for the report, yours is 5 and 9. Hope to talk to you again soon.
YOU : M6PKU from M0ZPK, I am going Clear.73.
THEM : M0ZPK from M6PKU, Going Clear.
That was very simple but it gives you a taste of how things go. Its best to do several of these contacts with slightly different content. Start slow and work your way up to a normal style conversation. This will be much more useful for you, when you come to use your new Foundation Licence alone.
There are some things you may not be familiar with. The first one is the order of call signs. You should give the other persons call sign first. Then yours.
QSY, Change frequency.
QSO, an on air conversation.
QTH, where you live.
73, best regards. A popular Amateur greeting.
Going Clear, Shutting down your radio and not answering any more calls.
The above is a good way to introduce candidates to amateur radio. It gives them time to get used to the syntax and etiquette without being rushed by other people. There is no shame is repeating the process until you are confident !