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Author Topic: absolute cheapest way to CW  (Read 730 times)
KF7AKD
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Posts: 26




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« on: December 04, 2009, 09:34:10 PM »

I found the rose 80, are there any other cheap ways to put together a CW transceiver?
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K5LXP
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Posts: 4506


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« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2009, 08:01:09 AM »

How much are you willing to buy, and how much are you willing to make?

I know a guy that built a transceiver out of nothing but scrounged parts.  I'd be surprised if he had $10 in it.  If he bought all the parts from DigiKey or Mouser or whatever, it probably would've cost over $100.

The more resourceful you are, the fewer dollars you'll have to spend.


Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM
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K3STX
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Posts: 994




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« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2009, 08:47:34 PM »

You mean like the Small Wonder Labs SW80+, a kit for $55? Or do you want to homebrew it?

QRP on 80 can be tough sledding, are you sure you don't want to do this on 40?

paul
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KF7AKD
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Posts: 26




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« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2009, 12:14:37 AM »

I think 40m would probably be better.

this is a project to keep me focused on CW.

I'll have to browse kits and take an estimation.
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VA7CPC
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Posts: 2392




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« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2009, 09:21:20 AM »

I was thinking about a kit a few years ago.  For a CW-only operation, on one band, a kit made sense.

But I suspected I wouldn't be happy with such limited operation.  While _one_ single-band kit would be cheap, _several_ single-band kits would not.

I ended up buying an FT-817 -- all bands (HF+VHF+70cm), all modes (CW/SSB/FM/digital).  They're available for about $400 used.  That's not cheap.

I've used that rig for portable HF operation (CW/SSB/digital), home-based operation, public-service work on VHF, demos for a ham-study course at my club.  

I have a friend who's operated exclusively CW, and mostly with home-brew rigs -- "Tuna Tin" transmitters, and so on.  He has lots of fun too.  It's a "big-tent" hobby.

              Charles
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N2EY
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Posts: 3894




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« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2009, 11:13:42 AM »

It all depends on what you have for an antenna.

The best bands for the new-to-CW ham are 40 and 80 meters. Good ragchew antennas for those bands aren't small, and they need to be up in the air 35 feet or more.

If you are just getting started with CW, QRP is OK IF you have a good antenna - say a fullsize, coax-fed, cut-for-the-low-end 80/40 parallel dipole up 50 feet or so.

But if you have a compromise antenna, more power is a good idea. 50 watts is 10 dB more than QRP, and can make a big difference if you don't have a really good antenna.

There are lots of good used rigs out there which will do the job for you on 80/40 CW, but they need to have the following features:

1) Sharp IF crystal filter (400-500 Hz). An audio filter alone doesn't cut it.

2) Defeatable AGC or no AGC, and a good RF gain control. AGC can be more of a problem than a help on CW.

3) RIT so you can copy stations that don't zerobeat that well.

4) Slow tuning rate and tuning mechanism that feels good.

You don't need digital readout, DSP, bandpass tuning, an S-meter, all-band coverage, or many of the other bells and whistles common on newer rigs.

73 es GL de Jim N2EY
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VE3WMB
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Posts: 289




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« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2009, 08:11:32 AM »

I recommend the SW40+ from Small Wonder Labs (www.smallwonderlabs.com). I have built a couple of these rigs and
they are amazing performers for the size/cost ($US 55 for the board kit).
If you want the custom enclosure and hardware (knobs, jacks etc) it will cost you another $45.

IMHO 40m is the best all around band at the moment as it is open both day and night.  It is not too difficult to squeeze a 40m dipole into most
city lots and if you can get it 20 to 30 feet in the air you should not have a lot of trouble making contacts.

Michael VE3WMB
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KE7WAV
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Posts: 128




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« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2009, 12:15:29 PM »

Well I have searched for an answer to this question for a while.  I have found several small kits for dirt cheap, that work quite well.  I have built a small rockbound transceivers, but I like the frequency agilty of a slightly larger rig.  If you look around you can pick up an HW-8 for around $100-125. Or newer qrp for a similar price.  Homebrew a key and a dipole or two, and away you go.

If you are savy enough you could homebrew a decent little rig from leftover parts for next to nothing, but really $100 is not a bad price to get into code.

GL
KE7WAV
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K9PU
Member

Posts: 67




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« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2009, 05:33:45 PM »

Cheapest is to buy (or borrwo) some ones old used rig, say an HW 16, a CW only rig on 80,40,15 meters.  Full QSK too.  Some can be had for under $100, check eHam's reviews, then Ebay, QTH.com, local swapfest, ham clubs, on-air swap nets.  

QRP is QRP, you have to be into that, it's a sunspot minimum you know.  

Build your own, you have to be into that too, parts, solder, test equipment, tiny parts.  Magnify lens, bright lights, bench space, soldering.  Circuit confidence, no fear.  Typically costs more than used to buy parts now days, shipping and sales tax, otherwise scrounge parts, test them, try them.  

What do you want to do?  CW.  Buy used.  

Good luck,

Scott
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