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Author Topic: Discouraged  (Read 2000 times)

Posts: 34

« Reply #15 on: December 04, 2008, 07:52:02 AM »

Hey, Steve!  I started off with a wire 40m dipole, later turning it into a 5-wire fan dipole.  It took me two weekends of tuning, but that was made easy by using a rope and pulley system, one on each end and one in the middle at the support/connector.  I used 14-gauge insulated, stranded house primary wire, which has held up well for years.  My separators are made from small-diameter PVC pipe, sprayed with flat "earth colors" so they'd blend in and make the wife, keep curious onlookers out of my yard wondering why those white tubes were floating in the air!

I had the wire on-hand, through trading/swapping/etc., so the original outlay was for the center support/connector (NOT a balun) and the rope & pulleys and coax and connectors.  I used an existing support (20' of tower and a stand-off) in the center, and advantagously-grown trees (compliments of our Maker!)on the ends.  At the most, cash outlay was maybe $30 and I can work 6 bands without a tuner, seven (10m) if I don't mind the rig going crazy from SWR, but I have a separate antenna for that band.

That fan dipole, along with a 535-foot loop, have been my only base HF antennas.  No tuners, everything has matched up, fortunately!  I'm about to put out another random longwire, just for the SW rig, to free up the others.

Have fun!

Posts: 24

« Reply #16 on: December 04, 2008, 09:25:40 AM »

Hello.  Hendricks QRP kits have a lot of good starter kits (  The ARRL has the MFJ 40m cub transceiver along with a book on qrp/low power communications ($100 for the whole  MFJ would just have the transceiver kit alone.  Small Wonder Labs (www.smallwonderlabs) has cw and digital kits (may have to wait many months, though).


Posts: 550


« Reply #17 on: December 09, 2008, 06:06:47 AM »

> To get on HF, you need a rig, power supply,
> antenna tuner, SWR meter and plenty of wire and
> cable to get a decent antenna up. That's a lot.
> And if you add proper grounding it get's even
> more complicated and expensive. How did people
> do this in the past?

Often by constructing our own. As a 14 year old
Novice, I bought a second hand receiver for $75
(a Heathkit Mohawk), and built a homebrew

> What about kits? Radios are so complicated
> now that it seems nobody can build one
> inexpensively any more.

They are only complicated if you choose to
make it so. They can also be relatively simple.

> How do you overcome the expense of getting on
> the air in the HF realm?

Try a direct conversion receiver, coupled with
a simple crystal-controlled transmitter.

For a receiver, I like the Ten-Tec TKIT 1056
for $32.

I built one for 40 meters, and it works very

For a transmitter, Dan's Small Parts and Kits
has a deal on the Cubic Incher kit (40m or 80m)
for $12:

You'll need a few crystals, which are available
inexpensively here:

and there you go; you can be on the air


Posts: 372

« Reply #18 on: December 11, 2008, 11:58:50 AM »

Re: kits:

I have had no electronic training at all.  The last time I soldered anything was in jr high shop class (MANY years ago, back when they still called it junior high).

I went to a meeting of our local QRP and kit builders group and tried to assemble a Picokeyer kit.

Within the 2 hours of the meeting, I not only put it together, debugged two cold solder joints, and got it to work, but had time for pizza and a soda.

This would be a great starter and is not very expensive.  Once assembled, they will key up to a 100 watt radio and store 2-3 messages, so you can store a CQ or a station ID in the memory.  It also has speaker, so it makes a good CW trainer.

The pixie radio is not too  bad to assemble, but has some functional limits.  There are other kits that have better function but are more complicated.

Ebay has QRP CW monoband rigs for sale fairly often that you could get for not much money.  Attach a resonant wire to the monoband radio, and you have an antenna for a few bucks.   Attach a key and a keyer and you have a station that a boy scout troop could easily assemble, carry, operate, and most importantly pay for.

Posts: 372

« Reply #19 on: December 11, 2008, 12:03:40 PM »

An even cheaper way to get kids into HF is sweat equity.

Do area clubs have club stations?  Does the local ARES or SATERN group have a station that the kids could help keep up in exchange for some operating time?

There seems to be a never ending "to do" list for these stations, the owners might just be receptive to having some extra hands to help with the station logs and the QSLs as well as repairs.

Posts: 3273

« Reply #20 on: December 13, 2008, 02:12:48 PM »

The real question you asked was:

"How did people do this in the past?"

And the answer is:

We used to have a Novice exam.  This exam was given by a peer, not an anonymous VE team.  The test was easy, and had two parts, 5 WPM Morse, and a straightforward nad basic written test.

There were only a few narrow frequency ranges available, a useful power limit, and of course CW only.  The narrow frequency range on limited bands available made it super simple to have an effective antenna, and the huge signal-noise advantage of CW let all Novices have decent signals.  What was more, in the Novice bands, even Extras had to observe the power limit.  Elmers knew where to go to help the newbies out, and took great delight in doing so.

If you wonder where the ham radio you've heard about went, that's where it went.  People who think they are smarter than they really are came and improved it.


Posts: 2415

« Reply #21 on: December 13, 2008, 11:53:02 PM »

High price of radios?    Fill in the time you are saving up for a nice HF rig with ECHOLINK, A FREE download.

Connect via Echolink to distant repeaters or stations and have some fun.   My own node K9KJM-R is connected to local repeaters, So when you connect to it, You ARE out over the air in this area.   Connect Sunday evenings at 6PM CST for the "youth net" held on this repeater.

Don't listen to a few old pfarts who poo poo Echolink. It is a GREAT new mode!


Posts: 2415

« Reply #22 on: December 16, 2008, 02:31:24 AM »

They just changed the youth net from Sunday evenings to Saturday mornings, 11:00AM CST, Echolink node 44407.

The reason for the change was so they could communicate with the youth group in South Africa at a time that was reasonable over there.

20 some check ins Saturday!   Give it a try!

Younger kids just seem to love how Echolink operates, Combining the internet with the magic of radio!

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