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Author Topic: Parent and Budget Restrictions...HELP!  (Read 14039 times)
KX8W
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Posts: 7




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« on: June 22, 2011, 02:10:39 PM »

Currently I am an upcoming junior in high school and I live with about two acres of yard that I have to share with the rest of my family. Currently I have an Icom IC-718 connected by alligator clips to 130 feet of wire going out of my window. I have tried to transmit but the SWR comes back as around over 9:1 or infinite. I guess this means it is not resonant, and I have made no contacts yet with it. I have asked them about an building an actual dipole for 1-30 MHZ but our yard is only about 300 feet long and they have issues with ladder line dangling in the air. I have also talked to them about a ground mounted vertical but the radials would prevent my dad from mowing. 10 meters and up seems like a better choice for me since I have a very limited budget. I was wondering if anyone had any recommendations about a rig that is capable of 10 and up or 6 and up, all modes. I would also prefer that it has a really good receiver and can do digital if possible. As I already mentioned, I'm also very budget limited also. If anyone had any antenna and rotor suggestions, that would be great too.

Thanks and 73s,

KD8QGJ, William Schaffer
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W8JX
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Posts: 6671




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« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2011, 02:36:51 PM »

So close yet so far. Wire idea is not all bad but I see no mention of a external tuner. You need one with a long wire antenna. It is not surprising that you have made not contacts. What is surprising is if you have not blown finals in radio.  Tuners are not expensive.
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You can embrace new computer/tablet technology and change with it or cling to old fall far behind....
K3ANG
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Posts: 186




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« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2011, 07:39:59 PM »

Currently I am an upcoming junior in high school and I live with about two acres of yard that I have to share with the rest of my family. Currently I have an Icom IC-718 connected by alligator clips to 130 feet of wire going out of my window. I have tried to transmit but the SWR comes back as around over 9:1 or infinite. I guess this means it is not resonant, and I have made no contacts yet with it. I have asked them about an building an actual dipole for 1-30 MHZ but our yard is only about 300 feet long and they have issues with ladder line dangling in the air. I have also talked to them about a ground mounted vertical but the radials would prevent my dad from mowing. 10 meters and up seems like a better choice for me since I have a very limited budget. I was wondering if anyone had any recommendations about a rig that is capable of 10 and up or 6 and up, all modes. I would also prefer that it has a really good receiver and can do digital if possible. As I already mentioned, I'm also very budget limited also. If anyone had any antenna and rotor suggestions, that would be great too.

Thanks and 73s,

KD8QGJ, William Schaffer

Hi, Bill.

Welcome to amateur radio.
I wish I had a 300 foot deep yard to hang antennas in.
Most of us don't.
And the '718 is a nice rig and will serve you well for a long time.

If you don't already have one, get another well-schooled local ham to help you.  I recommend visiting any of the ham clubs near you to find someone who is willing and able to help.  Also, when it comes to amateur radio, the Internet is your friend.  There are many good sites (eham included) where you can read and learn before taking your next step. In addition to eham, I recommend you join a couple of antenna-focused groups in Yahoo.  And they are free to join.

They are:
http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/Antenna_Builders/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ham-antennas/

These groups have TONS of easy and simple antenna projects for the newbie and old-timer.

Also, in Antenna_Builders, are a couple of books you can read on-line in the LINKS section. 
They are The Practical Antenna Handbook by Joe Carr and the ARRL Antenna Book (21st Edition).
For the Antenna Book link, after the initial download, look on the LHS of the PDF for a paper clip.
Click on the icon above if (looks like a ribbon) to get to the individual chapters.

There are other antenna groups, but these, IMO, would be the most approachable for you at this stage of your licensing.
And get some local help.

73,
Greg, K3ANG.



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K8AC
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Posts: 1478




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« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2011, 02:18:43 PM »

When I got started and was in high school, all my ham friends and I used an antenna similar to yours and for the same reasons.  All you needed was an L network tuner, which you could buy quite cheaply or construct yourself.  The commercial versions used a rotary switch connected to taps on the L network coil and a variable capacitor that looked as if it came from an old AM radio.  The homebrew tuners were usually built on a piece of wooden board and an alligator clip provided a manual means of changing coil taps.  No one had an SWR bridge - but all the tuners had a neon bulb connected to the tuner output.  You tuned the tuner elements for maximum glow of the bulb and that was it.  Of course, we tended to get "bit" by RF on everything metal in the shack when transmitting.  A wire dangling out the window and connected to the ground terminal on the tuner would likely have solved that, at least on some bands.  We were able to work quite a bit of DX on 20M cw with those random-length wires and simple tuners.  Check out the ARRL handbook for simple L network tuner designs.

73, K8AC
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K1CJS
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Posts: 6061




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« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2011, 09:36:37 AM »

A suggestion--talk to your father and see if he would sit still for putting a slit in the lawn to bury one radial wire, and if he would also let you hang one wire over the general area that radial wire is buried at.  It wouldn't be a super efficient antenna by any means, but it would allow you to get some sort of signal out there.
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AA4PB
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Posts: 13032




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« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2011, 04:03:19 PM »

Give on your requirements a little. Instead of 80 thru 10M with ladder line and a tuner, pick one or maybe two bands. You can use a simple coax fed dipole on 40M and 15M for example, or put up a trapped dipole for 40M and 20M. Even start out with a 33 foot center fed dipole for 20M. If you trim the dipole for the part of the bands where you want to operate you won't even need a tuner.

You can probably build a 20M wire dipole for $10 plus the coax cable (RG58 is fine).
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W8JX
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Posts: 6671




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« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2011, 05:05:55 PM »

I still maintain that being his rig does not have a built in antenna tuner to deal with a even moderate mismatch, which will throttle output power, a 100 watt+ rated external tuner is not only just a wise investment but it also opens doors to a lot of future antenna options.
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You can embrace new computer/tablet technology and change with it or cling to old fall far behind....
KC9UKH
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Posts: 15


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« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2011, 06:42:58 PM »

A suggestion--talk to your father and see if he would sit still for putting a slit in the lawn to bury one radial wire, and if he would also let you hang one wire over the general area that radial wire is buried at.  It wouldn't be a super efficient antenna by any means, but it would allow you to get some sort of signal out there.

I concur with this.

Do you think your Dad would allow a single slit in the lawn to bury just one radial would work?  I think this may be your best option.  I don't know the ins & outs of antennas as I'm still a newbie myself but judging from your circumstance, I'm leaning towards this.

As others have mentioned, have you checked out a local amateur radio club?  Just found one myself and joined before I even got my callsign in the database!  =)  Great group of people who have taken the time to answer my questions.

Best of luck!!
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KC9UKH, Scott.
CLEBOT
Member

Posts: 100




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« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2011, 11:13:04 PM »

You can also have a lot of fun with a random wire tuner.  It's easy to use, inexpensive (about $70) and you can use the SWR meter on the '718 to tune to lowest SWR.  I used that exact setup and made all kinds of contacts at 50 watts from Texas all throughout the northeast.
I used a 90' length of wire (as suggested by many posters the eHam reviews of this product), with a banana connector on one end.  I found that length to perform well, but did not experiment much with other lengths.

Here is a link to the the eHam reviews:
http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/2379?page=1

...and a link for the tuner:
http://www.mfjenterprises.com/Product.php?productid=MFJ-16010

Good luck and have fun!

Gerrit, KE5HVM
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AA4PB
Member

Posts: 13032




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« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2011, 07:30:35 AM »

I agree that a tuner is a good investment. However, he said he is on a very limited budget. He can build a 20M dipole for a few dollars, trim it to the part of the band he wants to operate in, learn a little about antennas in the process, and get on the air instead of waiting until he saves up enough for a tuner and/or convinces his dad to let him bury radials in the lawn.
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W8JX
Member

Posts: 6671




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« Reply #10 on: July 01, 2011, 07:40:18 AM »

Well I still think budget aside that he should bit bullet and by a tuner since radio has no built in tuner and even moderate SWR that would pose no problem with a rig with a built in tuner is going to cause 718 to throttle back output.
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You can embrace new computer/tablet technology and change with it or cling to old fall far behind....
CLEBOT
Member

Posts: 100




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« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2011, 02:27:23 AM »

I don't know why I didn't remember this earlier...
How about the building the Buddipole antenna? 
Go to: www.qsl.net/w3ff/
Then, click on 'Building the Buddipole Dipole'

As stated, it should cost around 30 bucks to build and, adjusting the whip antennas, can be brought into resonance on the
following 5 bands: 10, 12, 15, 17 and 20.

I built this a few years ago and have had a lot of fun with it.  I made contact on 20 meters to Honolulu, HI from Conroe, TX with 75 watts and an Icom IC-718.
Plus, building the antenna was a lot of fun.  I stuck it on a piece of conduit and placed it in the umbrella hole in my patio table and had a great afternoon making contacts on it.

Anyway, just another thought. 

Enjoy!

Gerrit, KE5HVM
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K8GU
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Posts: 719


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« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2011, 12:08:01 PM »

Yes, if you want to use that kind of antenna, you need a matching network.  MFJ-949E is an inexpensive choice that is flexible, too.  Don't be fooled by the idea that life gets any easier with antennas above 10 meters.  Stick with what you have for now---it will be a lot of fun once you get it setup.  A 130-ft wire fed through an appropriate matching network will net you lots of QSOs.
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AG6WT
Member

Posts: 477




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« Reply #13 on: July 09, 2011, 07:18:19 PM »

William,

What exactly is your budget? $20? $50? $100? $500?

I think need to invest in a used but good manual tuner, like a MFJ-949E, and a used copy of the ARRL Antenna Book. The book is particularly important because it covers a variety of wire antennas that you can try as well as the fundamentals of matching networks. The two will cost you $100 or so.

Putting radials on the grass is not a problem. Water the lawn heavily. Lay out the wire(s) where you want them. Cut slits in the grass with an old chef's knife. Push the wire in the slit with your fingers. You're dad and his lawnmower will never know they're there.
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AD6KA
Member

Posts: 2238




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« Reply #14 on: July 12, 2011, 08:38:41 PM »

I think it's a shame that your folks are giving you grief
over a couple of simple wire antennas.  You'd think they would
love to have their teenage son to have a hobby where:
They always know where he is.
They always know WHO he is with.
They always know what he is doing.
It's a learning hobby that can lead to a future in
a well paying field.
It's a learning hobby and not sitting on the couch playing video games.
Etc, etc, I think you know what I mean.

(Maybe point these facts out to them?)

Hang in there young man, and welcome to ham radio.
73, Ken  AD6KA
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