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Author Topic: Getting Started in HF  (Read 456 times)
KJ4WBT
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« on: November 26, 2014, 04:14:21 PM »

Hey guys. Long time lurker here with a general license. Ive done plenty of searching but can't find a good opinion that may fit what I'm looking for. Ive had my ticket for a while now and am really wanting to move into the HF world. My situation is somewhat limiting as I live in a condo. I currently use an FT-7900 with a diamond vertical in my attic. I live in a multi unit building but lucked out with attic access. I'm looking at getting something like a Yaesu 897/857, or something like an Icom 7000. My issue is what antenna could I use in my situation, and which transceiver may be the best investment. I'm concerned about another attic antenna only due to the fact that ALL of my buildings cable lines run through it. Ive also got a small screen porch as an optional location. I'm not entirely against putting up something in the attic but I honestly don't know which antenna to choose. I know that I won't have awesome capability due to these limiting factors, but I'd really at least like to take a step into HF. I'm not allowed to place an antenna outside either. Any ideas would really be appreciated, as my wife would like to get my setup as a Christmas gift. Operating on 2m and 70cm have been great, and I have no trouble hitting pretty much any repeater in the area. I'm really looking forward to being able to make some longer distance contacts, and learning more about HF operation for when I am able to buy a home where I can place any antenna I'd like. There is a local ham club here but due to my working hours, I've not been able to get involved. Thanks in advance for any advice.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2014, 04:16:25 PM by KJ4WBT » Logged
N2LXM
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« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2014, 04:43:14 PM »

People have had Good luck with Mobil HF antennas mounted in large flower pots and covered with artificial greens. You just need to provide a good ground plan. Since you live on a higher floor a small loop on the porch with a remote tuner may be a way to go.
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W2BLC
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« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2014, 04:50:16 PM »

You might want to consider the MFJ loop antennas. Dicey on tuning, but they do work. If not that, then inexpensive Ham Stick types or an expensive screwdriver type. I would lean towards the Ham Sticks. Other options include the Isotron.

Bill W2BLC
 
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ND6P
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« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2014, 07:29:33 PM »

Don't know if this would work for you or not, but if I was in your situation I would think about going Internet remote with something like the Kenwood TS-590.  There are plenty of these coming around in the used market at attractive prices lately.

The idea is that you find a friend or relative in a good location that will let you set up your Kenwood in their garage or someplace.  You would need to attach the Kenwood to a laptop (USB) and the laptop to their Internet service (wirelessly perhaps) and attach a good antenna to the Kenwood.  You could spice up the deal by offering to pay for half of their Internet cost.  Then put the appropriate Kenwood-supplied (it's free) software on the laptop and on your PC at home to make the link.  An off-center-fed dipole and the 590's built-in antenna tuner would give you multiband coverage with one antenna.

Jim/ND6P
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KJ4WBT
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« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2014, 09:27:52 PM »

Would something lik Alpha Deltas attic antenna work well for this situation? Also have been taking a look at the suggested loops. That isotron also looks interesting. What tuners etc would you all recommend for this idea? Really appreciating the replies. This forum will be as good as I can get in place of an Elmer to help me out.
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KJ4WBT
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« Reply #5 on: Yesterday at 04:18:18 PM »

I guess one of the things that is making this hard for me is ALL the options. I'm a very hands on learner, and know that once I get a setup that "works", the learning process will begin, and I'll know how to make better decisions about future purchases. I've been reading for months but just can't decide what route to take.  I almost wish I could hand a good Elmer or mentor a blank check and say "buy what I need, and I'll take it from there." If you were me in this situation, what would you guys go out and pick up to get going?  I'm looking at the loops, hamsticks, etc that you guys have suggested above. I've got about a $1100 budget if that helps. I must say that the knowledge on this board is priceless.
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AA4PB
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« Reply #6 on: Yesterday at 05:03:19 PM »

How long is the attic (i.e. how long of a wire can you run inside it)?  My suggestion (depending on the attic) would be to start with a single band wire antenna like a 20M or 15M dipole. That will give you an idea on what you can expect in terms of performance, noise levels, and cable interference before you invest a large amount of money in an antenna. There are so many variables that it's nearly impossible for anyone to predict, especially without actually inspecting the attic. If you stick to building your own simple wire antennas then the most you've got to loose is a few dollars worth of wire. Single band antennas are the easiest to understand, build, and install. Once you get one band working correctly you can start to think about adding another band. IMHO the biggest mistake you can make is to part with a bunch of dollars to purchase an advertised "wiz-bang" all band antenna that often doesn't do any of them very well. The Isotron is an example. It has a lot of radiation from the feed line. If that feed line happens to be suspended outside well above ground then it works acceptable. If it's inside your attic and walls then not so good. End-fed and off-center-fed antennas often have the same issues. Stick with a basic center fed dipole with a balun.

I once lived in a situation where my apartment had the only access to the attic. It was a one-story building but the attic was about 80 feet long and my apartment was in the center. I started with a 20M dipole, then added a 40M dipole, then added a center loaded 75M dipole. It all worked fine and I had no complaints - although I worked nights and did most of my operating during the day when most other residents were at work. My only request from the building owner was not to be climbing through the attic at night or weekends while residents were at home.
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KJ4WBT
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« Reply #7 on: Yesterday at 05:25:47 PM »

It's probably a decent 40ft or so. That's why I started off looking at the alpha delta dx-EE. What kind of tuner would you prefer for something like this if I were to go to a single wire? And if you had to pick one band to start with which might I see the most activity? Again I can't say how much I appreciate the help.
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PA1ZP
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« Reply #8 on: Today at 10:01:24 AM »

Hi

It will be difficult to put an antenna in the attic.
Certainly if the roof is isolated.

Is the roof having any metal structure or aluminium foil covered isolation?
If it has aluminium foil coated insulation or chicken wire fence or so to put up the insulation, indoor antennas will not work at all.

Isotron and all other small wonder antennas do not work properly.

RX will be the greatest problem in your attic due to QRM of all kind of household QRM makers and your TX could cause RFI, BCI or TVI at your neighbours.

With only 40 feet of length it will be very difficult to put something up for 40 and 80 mtrs band.
But 10 - 20 mtrs would be possible.

Magnetic loops can work, but the little MFJ's are only good up to 20 mtrs for TX.
They work on 40 mtrs but the efficiency is very low on 40 mtrs.
I have build a few magnetic loops and to work on 40 mtrs decently it should be about 6 feet in diameter.

The rig is the least important in all of this.
Location and antennas are far more important.
I do have a FT857D now for 11 yrs it still is OK and only used for holliday and field work.
For use only on HF I would prefer the TS480SAT over both the Yaesu and the Icom any time.

Maybe a fast set-up portable antenna could be a good idea, so you can have some fun in the weekends out in the field, I build several of those that took less then 15 miutes to install, some of them only took 5 minutes to install.

In all HF use i did there were 3 things far more important as the rig:
1 Location
2 Antennas
3 Operator.

Keep the antennas hounest and simple.
Things like a simple dipole or ground-plane antenna are realy simple and hounost antennas, they work.

73 Jos
 
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AA4PB
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« Reply #9 on: Today at 11:47:42 AM »

If you use a resonant 1/2 wave center fed dipole antenna you actually may not need a tuner at all and certainly you could get by with a rig with an internal tuner. Given the size of your attic, 20M would be a good band to choose. At 33-feet, it fits and its a good day time DX band. If, for example, your primary interest is SSB then trim your dipole for minimum SWR in the center of the phone band. The SWR will rise as you move away from that frequency but you'll likely be able to cover the whole phone band without a tuner and the whole 20M band with an internal tuner.

Jos makes an important point about the attic construction materials. If the roof is wood and shingles you probably good to go. If the roof is metal you will have problems. However, you said that you are hitting repeaters okay with a 2M/70CM antenna in the attic so I'm assuming that the construction materials will not be a major issue on HF either.

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