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Author Topic: Best Starter HF Band -- Not Rig  (Read 6622 times)

Posts: 60


« on: January 24, 2002, 04:56:49 AM »

I moved from a fourth-floor apartment with a balcony and very nice GPS and 2M reception to a basement room with zero GPS and very little 2M reception.  However, I do have easy access to a tiny backyard (25ft x 9.5ft) and permission to place an antenna or two providing the neighbors can't see it and it doesn't interfere with the clothesline.

I was pondering a mobile antenna with a tripod or a folded dipole when I came across the Isotron advertisement in the latest AES catalog.  The Isotron antennas have gotten good reviews on the net (especially here at eHam) so I'm willing to try one -- which means I have my choice of bands from 80m to 6m, and that brings us to the subject of this topic.

I live in Martinez, CA, (grid square CM88wa) and I'm primarily interested in reaching folks on the US East Coast.  I'm not passionately excited about DX but I haven't had any experience with it, either, so there's no reason to stop there.  Unfortunately, I have a rather sizable hill directly (200m) to the west and there's a decently-sized hill a bit (1000m) to the east which is a bit of a minus, I suspect.

What bands are easiest for me to work consistently and make interesting contacts, given my physical restrictions and my preferences?  I'd like to work CW, SSB, and perhaps packet or FAX if that's reasonable to try as a beginner.

Any help you guys can give would be greatly appreciated.  This site is the best when it comes to finding out answers to interesting questions.

Posts: 242

« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2002, 11:00:27 AM »

I've wondered about those Isotron antennas myself.  My first thought would be to get something like a screwdriver mobile antenna, or one of those Outbacker verticals and put up, that way you could work several bands.  I think you'd be surprised what you could do even snaking a wire loop up somewhere so it wouldn't be seen.  I am always amazed at what you can do with a simple wire dipole and a tuner.  I would make sure to use a 1:1 balun, whatever you do, and choose something like 15 or 20 meters if you want to work back into the East, but there are folks here who know tons more about this stuff than I do. Good luck!

Posts: 21764

« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2002, 04:32:39 PM »

I'd try 17m first.  It's a great band that is not dominated by DX contests every other weekend during the winter, as 15 and 20 meters can be.  I also find more activity on 17 than 15, and, although a bit less than 20 meters, the average station on 17m seems to be running less power and smaller antennas than you find on 20, so it's easier to "compete."

Also: The band that's the "most open" at any given moment is the band that's closest to the m.u.f.  Currently, the m.u.f. is running around 30-40 MHz during the day, which would favor 10 meters, but settles down to around 20 MHz for several hours in the evenings, which would favor 17 meters, exactly.  Which probably explains why, when I tune around from 10 meters through 40 meters (and all bands between) when I get home from work at about 0100 UTC, the strongest signals are on 17m, and it remains that way for hours.

If this is the time of day you like to operate, and you want to be as competitive as possible with a small antenna, I think 17m would be the band.  For low-power CW/digital only, and nighttime operations only, I'd recommend 30m instead; however you mentioned SSB, and that's not allowed on 30m.

73 de Steve, WB2WIK/6

Posts: 60


« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2002, 06:24:13 PM »

17m is what I was hoping, because I can mount a dipole on the clothesline poles -- they're 25ft apart, and the dipole's 23ft.  Now to shop rigs. :-)

Thanks for the suggestions!

Posts: 70

« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2002, 04:20:20 PM »

I'm hitting CA from MA on 10, 15 and 20 with a wire dipole strung in the attic of my townhouse. You should be able to hit this coast quite well on any of those bands, especially with an outdoor antenna.
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