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Author Topic: Need help in choosing band ( NEW HAM!)  (Read 593 times)
KI4HSK
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Posts: 67




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« on: July 27, 2008, 07:08:23 AM »

Hi all

I am a fairly new ham I got my tech 4yrs ago. I dropped out of ham radio for about 3yrs and am getting back into it again. I am studying for my general but I don't know what bands to plan on trying when I get my upgrade. I have been looking at purchasing a an hf rig but I don't know what bands I should be looking at to start out with. I am sorry if this is a dumb question but I could really use some help getting this figured out. Thanks.

KI4HSK
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K2NRC
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« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2008, 07:49:15 AM »

first thing you need to do is convince yourself you will upgrade to general ASAP, then get a radio to grow with you! while a radio like the ic718 is a pretty good, fairly inexpensive rig, for not much more, or about the same cost used, a rig like the ic 706, yaesu ft 857/897 or alinco dx70 series radios will give you at least 6 meters, and at least 1 more band to play on.  if you're feeling flush, maybe something on the line of a kenwood 480 or icom 746pro.  there are even some good buys on older equipment, if that's what the bank account dictates, like 20 year old 'big 3' radios.  until the sun starts performing its magic on a regular basis, 12(even 15 somewhat) through 6 meters are seasonal(spring & winter) bands with some tropo activity before & after. 20 & 40 will be able to occupy some spare time most of the rest of the year.

how I did it may or may not make sense for you, but....there was the 20+ year old cb antenna on the roof. 10 & 12 meters worked fairly well with an ic735 & no tuner. of course, e skip allowed contacts only for a few months out of the year. what to do the rest of the time? i found that 3:1 swr on 20m was the only other band i could even remotely get close to with that antenna. i had loads of fun making even a few 'DX' contacts with it, so i invested a few dollars on a par 20m endfed. i upgraded the 735 to a 706mk2g, and with ku4ab loops for 6 & 2 meter SSB, i added a bit more fun. finally an upgrade to a 746pro & the addition of a 40 meter par endfed, and the AT in the pro with the old cb antenna & i can cover 2-40m, effectively enough to have fun at almost any given time. i am not into fm or repeaters, and am a general. as a tech, you're limited to 10m SSB & then 6m & up. still enough room to have fun with e skip & vhf/uhf contesting & some tropo. especially being in FL.
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KI4HSK
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Posts: 67




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« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2008, 09:03:09 AM »

Thanks K2NRC.

I was thinking about looking for a used IC-735. Is not having 6m going mess things up? I guess with propagation being what it is today I am not sure which bands I should be looking for. Thanks.


KI4HSK
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N3OX
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« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2008, 09:04:26 AM »

When you get your general the first thing I'd do is put up a simple 20m dipole as high as you can get it and trim it for good SWR across the band.

It's probably the best band for propagation without too much noise, good to hear and be heard, and it gives a good cross section of what goes on .. you can do some DX, you can talk with guys around the U.S., etc, you can do voice and digital (and CW if you feel like trying that out)

The only reason why I'd start with a band other than 20m at this point in the sunspot cycle is if I had to work and/or had family obligations until pretty late every evening.  These days, if you can't get on 20m within a couple of hours after sunset, it'll close down.  In that case, 40m would be a better bet.  The problem with 40m SSB is that you have to deal with the loud interfering broadcast stations.

But, 40m will be open to *somewhere* all night even in the current sunspot trough.  Eventually 20m will do that too, but right now it does eventually close down almost completely each night.

73,
Dan
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73,
Dan
http://www.n3ox.net

Monkey/silicon cyborg, beeping at rocks since 1995.
N3OX
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« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2008, 09:13:15 AM »

"Is not having 6m going mess things up?"

6m is fun but opens sporadically and mostly only in the summer.  If you had a radio with 6m right now, today I'd tell you to spend your Sunday afternoon putting up a good high 6m dipole and trying it out just because there's a shot the band would open somewhere and you're already allowed to use it.

But, the exact same thing can be said for 10m, that it opens sporadically in the summer, and can be a lot of fun for a tech. The 10m openings are actually longer duration and stronger than the 6m ones.

A band like 20m will open regularly and fairly predictably every day.  You can tune the bands looking for new cool stuff to work without worrying that you won't be able to work anything at all like on 6m ;-)

I started in 1995 with a Kenwood TS-440 HF only rig and a Tech Plus license (fewer privileges than you have now, if I recall correctly).

I started in the summer and spent the first six months just working Sporadic E on 10m SSB because that's where  my privileges let me use voice on HF, then I got my General and started more regular DXing, mostly on 20m and 17m (I would say once you're running well on 20m, go ahead and add antennas for 17m and 40m as your next project).

I didn't start working 6m until 2006 ;-)  Did I miss out?  I don't think so.  One of the reasons I love 6m right now is because openings are very rare and I have very few countries or grid squares worked on that band; that makes it exciting.... but ten years ago when I was working all sorts of far away DX I'd never heard on the HF bands, I doubt I would have had much patience to listen to static on 6m ;-)

73,
Dan

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73,
Dan
http://www.n3ox.net

Monkey/silicon cyborg, beeping at rocks since 1995.
KB9CRY
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« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2008, 12:59:33 PM »

but I don't know what bands to plan on trying when I get my upgrade.

I'd try all that your radio or antenna(s) will allow you to.  You can try all that you're licensed to operate on.  No need to preselect; there is no application to use a band beyond your license.


I have been looking at purchasing a an hf rig but I don't know what bands I should be looking at to start out with.

All of them.


 
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2008, 08:28:11 PM »

The bands that have good propagation as of "today" are 17m and "lower" bands (20-30-40-60-80-160m).  The  "higher" bands (15-12-10m) can be open occasionally but can't be relied on for daily propagation.

17m is mostly a daytime band right now.  20m is pretty good day and night.  30m is better evenings and nighttime.  40 has  round-the-clock activity, local stuff during daylight hours and DX at night.  75 is mostly an evening and nighttime band.  160 is mostly a nighttime and "winter" time band, to avoid all the horrible lightning static of the summer.

20 and 40 are probably the two most reliable bands at this time.

I wouldn't put effort into stuff for 15m and "above" for another couple of years.

WB2WIK/6
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K9KJM
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« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2008, 11:54:21 PM »

Yes, The HF bands are indeed in the "doldrums" right now. But it is a good time to upgrade and start getting equipment ready for the future upswing in conditions!

The Icom IC-735 IS a good low cost starter HF radio, Selling now for around 300 or so bucks.

the IC-718 at around 500 dollars brand new is also a good starter radio.

Up the ladder could be a good used Icom 756 PRO,(A top quality HF only radio that also has 6 meters) Seen selling good used for 900-1100 dollars, But the best "Do it ALL" radio to shoot for would have to be the Kenwood TS-2000.  Around 1450 brand new, 1100 dollar range good used. The TS 2K actually does it ALL, Including cross band repeat between HF and UHF!!!!  

Dont forget good antennas!  No radio is any good without decent antenna systems, Which can be all homebrew if needed.
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