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Author Topic: Newbie with questions!  (Read 3017 times)
CLV101
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Posts: 6




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« on: October 05, 2012, 01:53:37 PM »

Hello, I did my Foundation exam (UK) a few months ago, and will be taking the Intermediate next month.  I've been playing around with a UV-5R for a few months but just week bought an FT-857D to use as a base station.  I don't yet have a PSU, ATU or any antennas though!  This is where I'd like some advice:

1) Regarding the PSU I've seen this product at Maplins:
http://www.maplin.co.uk/30a-13.8v-switching-power-supply-509268
Which looks like what I need, but at £90 is a bit more than I'd like to pay. Can anyone suggest a cheaper alternative?

For the antennas:
2) Firstly I have just bought the Watson W-50 for the roof (or more likely just place in the loft at first).  Will be feeding it with ~10m of RG-213.

3) Secondly, an HF antenna.  I'm tempted by the simplicity of a long wire such as M0CVO's LW-20 for £44.  I have room to run this from the house roof line down to the end of the garden, or to throw it over the roof.  Any comments or other recommendations?

Which raises the question of the ATU:
4) The LDG Z-11 Pro seems to fit the bill, but at well over £100 is more than I'd like to spend.
I don't know much about choosing a tuner at all, are there any cheap but reasonable manual tuners I should be looking at?  I'm happy to lean the manual operation before getting an automatic tuner sometime in the future.

Thanks for any advice, looking forward to getting this set up!
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N4CR
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Posts: 1691




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« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2012, 02:56:00 PM »

Build your own antenna. Put some money back in your pocket.

Build your antenna to be resonant on the bands you want to work. Put some more money back in your pocket because you don't need a tuner. (Consider building a fan dipole)

Brag to your new friends that you built your own fan dipole antenna. Get praise and adoration.

It's all good.
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73 de N4CR, Phil

Never believe an atom. They make up everything.
VA7CPC
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Posts: 2403




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« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2012, 03:13:55 PM »



1) Regarding the PSU I've seen this product at Maplins:
http://www.maplin.co.uk/30a-13.8v-switching-power-supply-509268
Which looks like what I need, but at £90 is a bit more than I'd like to pay. Can anyone suggest a cheaper alternative?

For the antennas:
2) Firstly I have just bought the Watson W-50 for the roof (or more likely just place in the loft at first).  Will be feeding it with ~10m of RG-213.

3) Secondly, an HF antenna.  I'm tempted by the simplicity of a long wire such as M0CVO's LW-20 for £44.  I have room to run this from the house roof line down to the end of the garden, or to throw it over the roof.  Any comments or other recommendations?

Which raises the question of the ATU:
4) The LDG Z-11 Pro seems to fit the bill, but at well over £100 is more than I'd like to spend.
I don't know much about choosing a tuner at all, are there any cheap but reasonable manual tuners I should be looking at?  I'm happy to lean the manual operation before getting an automatic tuner sometime in the future.

Thanks for any advice, looking forward to getting this set up!

1.  Strictly speaking, for the FT-897 you need a 22-amp power supply.  If you can lay hands on a Samlex 1223 (I don't know if they're available in the UK), that's a good, inexpensive unit.

2.  Any long-wire antenna needs a ground system to work against.  What are you going to use?

3.  You should not transmit 100 watts on a long-wire antenna lying on a roof.  That's enough power to generate high voltages, scorch the roof, and maybe start a fire.   And the roofing material will introduce losses.   If you can get the antenna away from the roof -- even by a few inches -- you should be OK.

3.  The LDG Z-11Pro is excellent, and (if you can protect it from rain) you can mount it at the antenna feedpoint to minimize coax losses.   For a good low-cost manual tuner, consider an MFJ 901B.  [Mine only became "good" after I fixed an arcing problem inside the case.   It was second-hand, from eBay.]

. .        Charles
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K8AG
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Posts: 352




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« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2012, 08:09:32 AM »

Build your own antenna. Put some money back in your pocket.

Build your antenna to be resonant on the bands you want to work. Put some more money back in your pocket because you don't need a tuner. (Consider building a fan dipole)

Brag to your new friends that you built your own fan dipole antenna. Get praise and adoration.

It's all good.
I second this.  Figuring out the optimum antenna for a situation and building it is a real source of pride.

73, JP, K8AG
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AC4RD
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Posts: 1235




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« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2012, 09:01:29 AM »

One more vote for making an HF antenna as a first step!  Wire antennas are cheap, they work great, they're easy to build (especially with a bit of help from one of the local hams from your club), and they are FUN to experiment with!   And as N4CR said, you'll feel a bit of pride at using something you created yourself.

Also, if you start with a couple of resonant dipoles for the bands you want to work, you won't need an antenna tuner at all--save that money for later!  Tuners can be very useful, no doubt about it, but you don't need one for an antenna that's already resonant where you want it. 

Hope this helps; GL!  You're in for a WORLD of fun, OM!  73!
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K8AXW
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Posts: 3958




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« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2012, 09:30:22 AM »

101:  After some quick math, by building both the V/UHF and HF antennas you will have saved enough to buy the nice power supply "that you can't afford."  As for the ATU, you won't need this if you build resonant antennas, as others here have pointed out.

I've learned that it's always best to buy what you can't build, like the power supply you need and build the antennas.  While it would be a major undertaking to replicate, say my TH7DX beam, I've never considered more than 5 minutes buying a wire antenna! 

Building V/UHF and HF antennas is rather a simple and inexpensive process plus you get immense satisfaction out of building it yourself.  This is what ham radio is all about.....not lining the pockets of vendors.
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G3RZP
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Posts: 4833




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« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2012, 09:25:15 AM »

I built a tuner with some parts from delving through the skip at work (piece of floor board) - this what is called 'dumpster diving' in the US. I got the other parts at a radio club junk sale - i.e. a capacitor and a coil and with a couple of insulators, I had a tuner that matched my 80 foot length of wire (fed against a water pipe and in an upstairs flat!) and cost, at today's prices, under 50p (or 80 cents).

Wasn't pretty, but it covered 80 through 10, and with an extra capacitor clipped on, did 160m as well.

I've never bought a tuner or a wire antenna.........and have been licenced for 49 years. But keep wire antennas as much in the clear as you can.
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WX7G
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Posts: 6197




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« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2012, 09:39:55 AM »

The antennas you have selected look good. The LDG antenna tuner may or may not have the tuning range though. I recommend the MFJ-901B for an inexpensive yet good antenna tuner.
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CLV101
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Posts: 6




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« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2012, 11:43:04 AM »

Thanks all for your replies.  You're right, I should be building my own antennas, especially fo HF.  Can anyone recommend a good book (or website) on designing and building for HF, antennas and tuners?
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AC4RD
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Posts: 1235




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« Reply #9 on: October 07, 2012, 03:24:19 PM »

recommend a good book (or website) on designing and building for HF, antennas and tuners?

There are many many resources--the website of AC6V (SK but the website was still up the last time I looked) is a good starting place!   Will you have privileges on 10meters?  Two pieces of copper wire, almost any size, each 2.6meters in length, each connected (one to shield and one to center lead) to a piece of coaxial cable, will get you on ten meters almost immediately!  Even hanging it 3-4 meters above ground with 10 watts will get you BUNCHES of contacts on 10m when the band is open!  (Ten meters is GREAT for low power and simple antennas, when it is open.)   I am on the eastern coast of the USA, and the other week I worked VK (Oz) on 10 meters with five watts, sitting in a chair in my garden. :-)  Even with that "foundation" license, you can work the world!  73 GL!  --ken ac4rd
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G3RZP
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« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2012, 01:39:41 AM »

RSGB HF Antenna Compendium is a good one. There was another RSGB one called Practical Wire Antennas or something similar - IIRC, by G3BDQ.
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M6GOM
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Posts: 988




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« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2012, 05:54:52 AM »


3) Secondly, an HF antenna.  I'm tempted by the simplicity of a long wire such as M0CVO's LW-20 for £44.  I have room to run this from the house roof line down to the end of the garden, or to throw it over the roof.  Any comments or other recommendations?



Terrible antenna. Most of your power is lost in the matching section. Also you'll have a ton of common mode issues.

To get you started, just build a simple dipole for the 20m band.
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CLV101
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Posts: 6




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« Reply #12 on: October 08, 2012, 06:26:59 AM »

To get you started, just build a simple dipole for the 20m band.
Agreed, that's exactly what I'm thinking to do now.
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K8AXW
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Posts: 3958




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« Reply #13 on: October 08, 2012, 09:11:24 PM »

101:  Books and eventually your own electronics library should be one of your goals.  However, since your have a computer, I suggest using Google to find out how to build about any kind of antenna your heart desires!

I'm still in the "save a pound" mode for you, with the idea of getting you on the air as soon as possible with the smallest cash outlay. 

Once you start enjoying the hobby then you can add whatever you need the most.
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N8CMQ
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Posts: 386




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« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2012, 09:33:30 PM »

Chris, when building horizontal dipoles, height above ground is important.
Orientation is also important, very little is heard off the ends.
Some people make dipoles that can be rotated.
Vertical antennas are easier to use in my book, and the ground mounted vertical is my favorite.
You can also use the 'fan' style to have more than one band, or use a trap vertical, or a combination of both.
Experiment, have fun! Find what you enjoy doing, learn more about what confuses you, and never be afraid to ask questions!
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