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Author Topic: The absolute basic questions  (Read 1273 times)
KC9QEB
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Posts: 17




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« Reply #15 on: August 14, 2009, 12:36:14 PM »

OOPS - should have read better. Will try ARRL addy.
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N9JVA
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Posts: 11




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« Reply #16 on: August 14, 2009, 01:25:53 PM »

Hi Kerry,

Interesting that you would make this thread.  I am somewhat in the same boat right now as you, except have been licensed for a long time (Tech Plus) but not on the air for years.  Working right now on re-learning code and contemplating what equipment/etc. Maybe we'll QSO someday..

Thanks for the thread, and thanks to all for the responses, they've helped me as well.


Ron - N9JVA
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W7ETA
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Posts: 2527




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« Reply #17 on: August 14, 2009, 02:50:16 PM »

Its easy to down load a free morse practice program to learn code.

My first ticket was CW only.  SO, my first rig was a beginning HF rig with a 500 cycle CW filter, SWR meter, some coax, a straight key and a home made inverted Vee that got me on 40 and 15.  I added a trap so that I could get on 80 also.

I had a lot of FUN with that simple set-up.

Best wishes from Tucson

Bob
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VA7CPC
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Posts: 2386




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« Reply #18 on: August 17, 2009, 12:01:58 AM »

FWIW --

A current-generation "beginning HF rig" -- say, an Icom IC-718 or Yaesu FT-450 -- will give access to CW _and_ SSB _and_ digital modes.  

It will be all-solid-state, smaller and lighter than older rigs, and more reliable.  It will perform on the air just as well, and maybe better, than most older rigs.

And it won't cost much more.  It may be your _last_ rig (at least for a while), as well as your first.

I don't see why a ham, starting up, shouldn't take advantage of the latest electronic / solid-state  / manufacturing technology.  

The new rigs aren't as easy to work on, when they break, as the older rigs.  But they break much less often.

So I'd reverse some of the advice in this thread:

. . . Get a new-generation, "all-mode" rig as your first one;

. . . Get older gear when you _know_ that you'll be happy with its limitations.

I think joining a local club is a great idea.  You might be able to borrow somebody's old rig, and find out what you enjoy doing.

             Charles
           Charles
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K5END
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Posts: 1309




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« Reply #19 on: August 17, 2009, 04:59:15 AM »

Charles,

I agree with you on the ease of use with the modern rigs.

Kerry said he was looking to fit a budget, and to me he seems sufficiently intelligent and motivated to learn a 5 second tuning procedure.

But I think the location issue is more important. In the proximity of apartment living, 100 W of RF can have some undesirable effects on the neighbor's electronics, and it will be more difficult to remain stealthy.

That's why my first suggestion of QRP still stands.

73
LK
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VA7CPC
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Posts: 2386




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« Reply #20 on: August 17, 2009, 08:28:45 AM »

Oops -- I missed the "apartment" limitation.  Here's my QRP story:

I've operated with 5 watts from an apartment, with an FT-817 (another "HF/VHF, all-mode" rig).  I started out using a Hamstick on the balcony railing.  I was operating successfully from local parks with a 31' windsock pole and vertical 20m dipole, but results from home were abysmal.

Then I tied up a 16' "flagpole" sticking out from my balcony.  With that, I started getting regular QSO's from home, and my mood improved.

It improved even more when I borrowed a TS-570D (100 watts).  The improvement over the FT-817 was substantial; I could call weak stations, as well as strong stations, and they could hear me.

The building had a stucco wall with metal backing.  So my signal from the antenna on the balcony didn't get into other people's electronics.  

With really severe apartment problems, an IC-706, or an FT-857, could be mounted in a car with a good mobile (or portable) antenna, and become the "main shack".

Each situation is different; no rig and antenna is right for everyone.  

           Charles
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KC9QEB
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Posts: 17




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« Reply #21 on: August 17, 2009, 09:44:24 AM »

Thanks again, everyone. This is great food for thought. BTW - I'm a "she."
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K5END
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Posts: 1309




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« Reply #22 on: August 17, 2009, 06:22:05 PM »

>>>"BTW - I'm a 'she.'"


OK, I am embarrassed.

Actually, I did wonder at first if "Kerry" was a "he" or a "she."

But I was afraid to ask, because right or wrong it is still a faux pas.

So, I played the odds, thinking there are more males than females in the hobby, statistically.

That's why I NEVER go to Las Vegas.

Years ago I knew a married couple whose names were both "Kerry," and even spelled identically. Can you imagine the legal problems with wills, etc.?

Again, sorry!!

LDK
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KC9QEB
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Posts: 17




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« Reply #23 on: August 18, 2009, 11:37:13 AM »

Thanks. I quit being worried about the he/she thing years ago - with this first name - it isn't worth being bothered about. That is why it took so long for me to say anything here. Just didn't want to mislead anyone. I'm a proud new female ham op!

I have to operate stealth as I'm in an apartment building on the 3rd floor. That is, in part, why the Kenwood unit wouldn't work for me (thanks Larry for saving me there). I don't think my neighbors want everything screwed up due to RF. Everything here has been really helpful - thank you all.
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KB2FCV
Member

Posts: 1182


WWW

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« Reply #24 on: August 19, 2009, 08:09:51 AM »

Kerry,
If your third floor apartment has access to trees, you may be able to get a long wire. One of my old apartments had decent access to woods in the back. I had a long wire antenna ran with small enameled wire and fishing line - invisible to anyone not knowing it's there. 5 watts I was able to work plenty.

Glad to hear you are learning CW! It's a fun mode.
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KC9QEB
Member

Posts: 17




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« Reply #25 on: August 19, 2009, 09:57:45 AM »

Not a tree anywhere close.
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K5END
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Posts: 1309




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« Reply #26 on: August 19, 2009, 10:21:04 PM »

Kerry, do you have a balcony, and if so, does it have a metal railing?

Is your third floor the top floor of the building?

Aside from a stealth antenna on the building you may eventually consider going mobile--but obviously not doing code while at the wheel.

One great thing about CW is that watt for watt, it is very efficient use of the radiated power. This helps when the antenna efficiency is compromised, as when physically smaller or stealthy antennas are used.

When it comes to stealth there is another benefit to code/CW. You won't have to be concerned with an audio signal showing up in your neighbor's phone or stereo, as happens frequently with "phone" sideband or AM mode. If any signal shows up in audio equipment it will sound like rhythmic hissing.

I would recommend developing your code skills now and give time a chance to help decide some of the equipment options. FWIW, "they say," that if you have a musical background you will probably learn code faster than if not. Some people seem to pick it up quickly, and others not so quickly.

73
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KC9QEB
Member

Posts: 17




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« Reply #27 on: August 20, 2009, 06:46:30 AM »

My balcony is wood, but I am on the top floor of a building. However, my landlord is super picky about things as many of the lessees are college students (I not though). I have a strong music background (a BA and MA in music comp) so I'm already seeing the value there in learning letters. Had a blast learning last night. Plan to do that for now and go from there. Thanks!
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KC9QEB
Member

Posts: 17




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« Reply #28 on: August 20, 2009, 06:50:39 AM »

While I'm getting all this great help, I have a somewhat related question - on interference.

I've been without a lower neighbor for a little while, but yesterday someone moved in to the apartment just below mine. Is it coincidental that I had all sorts of interference on my little FT-60 on the 2m/70cm bands? (I don't have any interference with my own tv, computer, etc.)
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K5END
Member

Posts: 1309




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« Reply #29 on: August 20, 2009, 01:40:25 PM »

"...yesterday someone moved in to the apartment just below mine. Is it coincidental that I had all sorts of interference on my little FT-60 on the 2m/70cm bands?"


What does the interference sound like?

In most interference cases, you will want to locate the interference first.

If the interference is constant, I'd use some earplugs with the HT in my pocket and just walk around until you find the location where the signal is strongest. No one will think anything about seeing earplugs, so you won't have to wave the radio around for everyone to see.

You can use this method to find out where the interference is strongest.

(In my day job I have chased interference with our licensed 900 MHz stuff many, many times. So far I have 100% success rate, including cases where the other guys just gave up, finally.)

Also, see if there are any daily patterns, stronger at night, etc.

Once confirmed, the next problem is what to do about it. I'd suspect you will not announce you are getting interference on you Amateur radio frequencies (unless there are no restrictions on having a hand-held transceiver.)



On the other topic, there may be a way to set up an antenna on your balcony. If you keep operations limited to after dark and plan your activities to not arouse attention you can probably get away with it.

My neighborhood is restricted, but I have an 80 meter dipole in the pine trees, a 26' multiband vertical and a 2m/70cm verical yagi mounted 20' above ground.

For the purposes of ever getting questioned, the yagi will be a "TV" antenna. The dipole is all but invisible and the vertical is camouflaged to blend in with the trees. I lay the vertical down and stow it on an old, faded, wooden 6' privacy fence when not in use. It vanishes in plain sight.

Antenna? What antenna?
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