Don’t Get Stuck On 2 Meters

When I first got started in amateur radio (many years ago), one of the engineers that I was working with at a summer job told me “Don’t get stuck on 2 Meter FM”. At the time I was a college student and felt lucky enough to have 1) found time to pass my Novice exam, including Morse Code test, 2) found time to travel 150 miles to the regional FCC office and pass my Technician exam, and 3) scraped up enough money to buy a basic 2 Meter FM mobile rig. I was in Technician ham heaven, playing around on 2 Meter FM, both simplex and repeaters. Oh, and we had this cool thing called autopatch that let you make actual phone calls from your car. I really wasn’t worried about getting “stuck on two”.

Even though my discussions with this Old Fart Experienced Radio Amateur revealed that he didn’t see 2 Meter FM as Real Ham Radio, I could see that he had a point. Two meter FM is only small part of the ham radio universe and it would be easy to just hang out there and miss out on a lot of other things. I was reminded of this recently by K3NG’s post: Things I Wish I Knew When I Was A Young Radio Artisan. I agree with most of his comments with the exception of this one:

Don’t get your start on 2 meter repeaters.

This took me back to the comments from the Experienced Radio Amateur from years ago. I get the point — starting out on 2 Meter FM and Repeaters can give you a limited view of ham radio — but I see it as the perfect platform for getting started. Here’s what is working in my area with new Techs: get them started with a dualband FM rig (usually an HT) so they have some on-the-air success. This also puts them in touch with the local ham community, where we not-so-subtlely expose them to other bands, modes and activities. They hear the other guys talking on the repeater about working DX on 10 Meters and start thinking about how to pursue that as a Tech. From there, it just expands out to all kinds of bands and modes.

Just for the record, I guess I did follow the advice of the Experienced Radio Amateur and managed to not “get stuck on two” (i.e., I’ve worked all of the bands from 80M to 10 GHz, earning WAS, WAC, DXCC and VUCC.)

73, Bob K0NR

One Reply to “Don’t Get Stuck On 2 Meters”

  1. I agree with you Bob. One component of ham radio is that it’s an investment. Most hams will eventually buy some VHF/UHF gear for local communication. Making it a first or very early purchase allows the newcomer to get their feet wet and meet some of the locals before buying more expensive HF equipment.

    There’s no guarantee that will always be a pleasant experience but more often than not it’s the beginning of a few on-air friendships and maybe even an invite for a cup of coffee that leads to more contact with the local hams.

    And if a person lives in an area where it just so happens that there are no friendly locals within repeater range, the equipment is still a good investment.

    73, Jeff