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Author Topic: Entering HF on Zero Budget  (Read 1852 times)
M0JHA
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Posts: 646




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« Reply #15 on: August 30, 2008, 10:21:22 AM »

 I dont mean to be harsh but what sort of post is this?

I want to get on hf but hav'nt got any money. The simple answer is you dont. Unless you can make a tranciever you are going to have to buy one which costs money unfortunantly.

billy

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WB2WIK
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Posts: 20595




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« Reply #16 on: August 30, 2008, 10:30:42 AM »

I didn't see anyone comment on the "MF" mention in the original post.  The only MF band we have, really, is 160m and most transceivers do cover that.   The antenna is the challenge on 160, not the "rig."

As for a cheap rig, definitely make friends with those better off than you are in local ham clubs.  A "loan" or "donation" is very likely to occur.  You might volunteer to do some work for someone who has extra gear in exchange for the gear.  When  I was a kid (no money) I used to install antennas for older hams who couldn't climb.  I ended up with all sorts of gear that way, and some of it was very good.

WB2WIK/6
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WILLIATY
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Posts: 80




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« Reply #17 on: August 30, 2008, 10:42:18 AM »

Thanks for all of the advice! So it sounds mostly like:

1) Antenna- easy to make from scrounged or cheap parts
2) Antenna tuner- I hadn't even thought about this, I'm glad it was mentioned. Is it better to try to find a non-working one for cheap and repair it, or try to build one from scratch?
3) Transceiver- try to find a easily repairable non-working one or an unused one and make an offer.

Are there any other major components I'm going to want to keep my eyes peeled for?



BTW, to the couple of people who didn't quite get the spirit of the post, I'm not literally asking how to do the entire rig for free. What I'm saying is that I have no money specifically to put towards this. I have to find absolutely the cheapest way to make it happen and then pay for it using money that's supposed to be going to other places. Like I said, this is nothing new or dramatic to me. I got into astronomy this way, I got into rally racing this way, I got into chainmaille this way, it's just how I do things. Don't sweat it.
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ZS6AA
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Posts: 55




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« Reply #18 on: August 30, 2008, 11:39:01 AM »

You can avoid having to get an antenna tuner by simply using resonant dipoles (or a fan dipole) as your antennas. Given your budget, I definitely wouldn't try to get an antenna tuner at this stage - rather spend a little more on the radio, you can always add an ATU later if you decide you need one.

I disagree with those who say it's a rich man's hobby. It's difficult to get started on a very restricted budget, but not impossible - I think $100-200 and some time invested in fixing an old rig should get you up and going, including wire, coax and a connector for the antenna. And once you are on HF, you can have hours and hours of fun for no cost at all.

I would caution you against a low power (QRP) rig if you can possibly get a high power (100 W or better) rig instead. While I have nothing against QRP operating (I own an Elecraft K-1 QRP rig myself), it's quite likely to put you off HF if you start there rather than graduating to it when you feel the need for more of a challenge.

The only other component you may require is a 13.8V power supply, if your radio doesn't work off mains. For emergency use you can probably run it off a car battery; but note that some rigs don't like the lower voltage you get from a car battery, and also be careful not to completely dischare the battery as (a) it will damage the battery and (b) the car won't start! If you are happy with mains only operation then I would look for an older valve rig that runs off mains, and save the cost of the power supply.

Good luck and 73
Andrew ZS6AA
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ZS6AA
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Posts: 55




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« Reply #19 on: August 30, 2008, 12:01:57 PM »

Oh, and good knowledge and advice is the key to successfully buying a second-hand radio, whether in working condition or for repair. So join your local club, find an Elmer (a real live one not just our group) and ask him to come and look over any radio you are thinking of getting, put it on air and check it out for you before you spend any money. (If you're not sure how to find an Elmer, I would just go the the club chairman or secretary and say "hi, I'm new, I'm looking for an Elmer, could you help me find one?") I'm sure you will find many members of your local club who will be more than happy to assist.

- Andrew
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ZS6AA
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Posts: 55




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« Reply #20 on: August 30, 2008, 12:14:47 PM »

Oh, and you'll need a microphone for SSB (obvious, but perhaps worth mentioning). The rig should come with a microphone (the original microphone supplied with that radio is preferred) and power cord, confirm this is the case before you buy. A hand microphone is fine, don't spend money on a desk mic at this stage.

A user manual is also necessary, and a service manual would be great if you have to make any repairs. You can get these on the Internet for most of the more popular rigs - again I would check that either they are supplied, or you can get them free on the Internet, before buying.

Sorry for the many posts, I just keep on thinking of things...

73
Andrew
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N6AJR
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Posts: 9908




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« Reply #21 on: August 30, 2008, 04:34:30 PM »

go to  ARRL.ORG and in the upper left click on exams, type in your zip code and hit enter. this will bring up a list of ham tests in your local area.  most of these are sponsered by a ham club. they all have a contact person and phone number. call and ask about  the next meeting, for an elmer , how do I ....
 
some one will take you under their wing.

I have given away several radios in the pas and have loand out several also. I also haf folks come over and use my station too.  There are lots of folks in this hobby who are amazing.


Also sometimes you can help an old  disabled guy like me, say helping dig a hole for a tower or assisting several others in putting up an antenna, and so on.  and you learn stuff and have fun too.  get to know your local hams.

some one may loan you a rig, sell you one cheap, sellyou one on payments oe even give you one.


good luck
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N6AJR
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Posts: 9908




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« Reply #22 on: August 30, 2008, 04:36:21 PM »

here is a pic of my shack

http://hometown.aol.com/catfishtwo/N6AJR.html

and my friends helping.

 good luck
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W5DWH
Member

Posts: 43




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« Reply #23 on: September 01, 2008, 08:41:07 AM »

Sell some of your other hobby equipment on Ebay. Get a part time job.

Your post sounds like you want us to feel sorry for you and give you equipment (i.e. - having to give up food for a radio, why even mention that if that wasn't the point).

As far as being a part of ARES on HF goes:
1. Worry about food, shelter and clothing for the family first.
2. Most emcomm work is on VHF anyway.
3. It  might be a year or many years before you are needed for emcomm work anyway. Get on VHF first and get some experience.
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NT4G
Member

Posts: 5




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« Reply #24 on: September 02, 2008, 09:16:22 PM »

You disgusting ass.. If Ham radio was so important you might consider losing your racing or some other of your "FREE" hobbies. Keep eating peanut butter sandwiches
and forget ham radio we dont want anymore of your ilk....
73 SK.....
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WILLIATY
Member

Posts: 80




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« Reply #25 on: September 02, 2008, 09:33:43 PM »

Man, I have to say, of all the communities, online and in real life, that I participate in, the amateur radio community has been by far the most vitriolic and rudest. Considering some of the other communities in which I'm involved, that's a fairly damning statement. While many people contributed to this thread in a very useful manner, for which I am extraordinarily grateful, I just don't get some of the people who have replied to it. I left the realms of CB because I had heard good things about the amateur radio community and then decided to pursue amateur radio further when I found out how interesting and useful it is. However, many of the operators I've met, online or in person (thankfully, none directed towards me in person), have been as bad or worse than the truckers on CB. Amateur radio is going to need as many tickets in circulation as possible to keep the bands out of commercial hands. Being rude and insulting to new licensees, no matter how misguided you may think they are, is not a way to bolster the ranks. If you disapprove, just walk on by without hitting send.

Again, most of the respondants to my question have been extremely helpful and really got into the spirit of the thing and for that I am grateful. But, man, talk about rotten apples...
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K0RGR
Member

Posts: 106




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« Reply #26 on: September 04, 2008, 09:08:57 PM »

Yes, there are still folks who build their own gear, and some of it works very well. There's a ham here who builds all of his own gear, including test equipment!

Earlier, somebody mentioned PSK31. Small Wonder Labs sells single-band PSK31 transceiver kits for $105. You will need to borrow an RF power meter and a working HF receiver would be helpful when tuning up the kit after you build it. Hopefully, someone at your local radio club will be able to help you out with this.

20 meters is the most active band for PSK-31. However, at this point in the sunspot cycle, the band shuts down at night. But, with a few watts of PSK-31 and a simple dipole, you can easily work all over North America, and some DX< too. You apparently already have a computer - if it has a soundcard, you're ready to go.

Small Wonder Labs also has a $29 QRP CW transceiver kit, if you've decided to learn the code.
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MAZZ1232002
Member

Posts: 205




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« Reply #27 on: September 11, 2008, 09:06:15 AM »

Man, I have to say, of all the communities, online and in real life, that I participate in, the amateur radio community has been by far the most vitriolic and rudest


        This is only speculation but I am guessing that some of the posts you considered less than pleasant were based on the fact that there are enough cheapskates in amateur radio now and here is someone who wants to join the hobby without spending any money. You are just going to rub some people the wrong way with this kind of post. I may be wrong but it has been my observation that everything in this world costs money. Every time I go grocery shopping I have to wonder how a lot of folks survive.
  This is just my personal philosophy but if you cannot afford it you do not have it. The people in amateur radio are not any different than the rest of society. I would bet if you made a similar post in another type of hobby group you would get similar reactions.

  Pete
  WB4CGA
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