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Author Topic: A new ham's station  (Read 8246 times)

Posts: 110

« on: October 01, 2013, 02:39:58 AM »

I have been meaning to get my ticket for years (23 or so years!) and finally got round to it and got my UK foundation class license about 3 weeks ago.    I was sat by the door like a rabid dog waiting for the postman to drop the pass certificate through the letterbox so I could apply for my call and all I needed then was a radio.

I have since been building a station that interests me whilst staying on a relatively modest budget.

I thought I would share my experience so that other new hams may get some ideas about what is out there without breaking the bank (or upsetting the XYL).

My main fear was being able to an HF set-up for a sensible price.  I had already bought the obligatory Baofeng UV5 but my interest in ham was the thought of being able to communicate with people thousands of miles away and not just on a local repeater (we'll leave aside IRLP etc for now!).

Luckily on the night I passed my exam I was chatting to a club member and he pointed out a gentleman with a setup for sale.  For the princley sum of around £280 ($400 or so) I scored a Kenwood TS-430S with all the filters, an MC 60, the SP 430 and to complete the deal a Vectronics VM300M ATU.  To cap it off it turned out the guy lived around 300 yards from my house so I got to go round and see it all in action before I parted with my hard earned.  Deal done.

Then a Samlex 1223 PSU and a Moonraker offset dipole were acquired off ebay and I was on the air.

I could have stopped there and had a really nice HF set-up for around $600 but another club member cut me a deal on a Kenwood TM-V7E for £100 + a spare external hard drive I had kicking around ($150ish) so I now had a complete HF and 2/70 set up.

About to call it a day I was falling in love with the TS-430S - so simple to use, real knobs and switches etc and a nice natural unprocessed sound to it.  I started investigating vintage Kenwood gear and started reading about the hybrids - big mistake!!

A bit more ebaying later and I had struck a deal on a really nice TS-830S for just over $320 (£220 or so).  I also managed to get a great price on an MC 50 to go with

Then to finish things off for now I have the mysterious Kenwood Datamitter DR 100 and an MFJ 781 DSP on its way also.

My plan is to use the 430S, Datamitter (if it works I think it should) and the MFJ 781 for data modes and the TS-830S for everything else.

So for around £800 ($1200) I have the following:

Kenwood TS-430S with MC 60 and SP 430
Kennwod TS-830S with MC 50
Kenwood TM-V7E
Samlex 1223
Vectronics 300M
MFJ 781
Kenwood Datamitter DR 100 (no idea about this but cost me around $2)
Antenna + all the other little bits and bobs (DVM, dummy load, solder kit etc).

I am on the lookout for a good deal on an oscilloscope but for now I have a great station that didn't cost the earth, is really interesting and engaging to use (subjective I appreciate) and will be more that enough for me to learn on and progress my skills as a ham.

One day I might go for a 'modern' rig but having drooled over the ads in various magazines and then having fondled the TS-430S and in particular the 830S they just don't quite excite me as they should.

IMHO (and I appreciate I am new to the hobby and may just be a bit overexcited!) these older rigs are great for learning on as the switches and dials control what is happening and not menus and CPU's and win hands down for value.

Now I just need to find a Yaesu FT-902 (just because I love the way it looks!).


Theory is when you know everything but nothing works.
Practice is when everything works but you to not know why.
Quite often these two things happen together; nothing works and you do not know why - Arihato

Posts: 160

« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2013, 07:59:57 PM »

You have a great station. Good shopping!

Posts: 36

« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2013, 02:55:17 PM »

Great station. I would use what you have awhile and see where your interests are. Then by equipment that will help in the weak areas. That way you won't spend needless money on equipment you really do not want or need. 73

Posts: 5081

« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2013, 02:58:09 PM »

Great station for a really good price.  You should use it for a few months or a year before going further.
BTW don't knock the New stuff. Once you use a Modern Rig with Bandscopes, DSP and other little niceties you will not want to go back.   I think every ham goes through an equipment evolution, that's whats great about the Hobby, you can start small and expand as you go along, each new piece of gear adds to your knowledge base and makes you more adept when conversing on the Radio about gear.  Probably the hardest lesson for a new ham to truly learn is that it's mostly about Antennas!  You hear it a lot, you think to yourself yeah it's probably true but you never realize just how important it is until you put up a really good antenna and switch back and forth between your old and your new Antenna.

I use to think my G5RV  (by Kerry) was a pretty dam good Antenna.  After all I got into the EU almost everyday, I could talk to ZL and VK's at nights and I got a lot of JA's and even the south pole.  All the experienced hams laughed at my G5RV but for me it could do just almost anything.  Then I got a Steppir and now when I switch between the G5RV and the Steppir it's like night and day.   Station in India = 34 on G5RV goes to 57 on Steppir.  Most stations that are 52 on the G5RV end up being 59+ on the steppir.  Then you have all the stations that you hear nothing from on the G5RV yet are as clear as a bell on the Steppir.   

It's that kind of thing that really makes you believe that it's Antenna, Antenna, Antenna.

“A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”  (Mark Twain)
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