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Author Topic: First Station for a Starter  (Read 609 times)
WC253
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Posts: 3




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« on: July 18, 2005, 03:02:06 PM »

Hello all,

Right now I'm studying up to get my Tech. class license and hope to have them by the end of the month. As I'm studying, I'm also in the process of choosing what I want my station equipment to be. I want my first setup as a 2-Meter base station. There's lots of Repeters around here.

For the radio, I think I've chosen the Yaesu FT-2800M. I'll run that off of a Pyramid PS14KX Power Supply (it's rated to run up to a 100watt radio). Neither of these have been ordered yet.

For my antenna, I'm in the process of purchasing a 30ft. tower from a friend.  

From there, I'm lost. I know Yaesu, Icom, and Kenwood are good radio brands, but I don't know what a good antenna brand is. Just starting off, I'm figuring it would be best to start with an Omnidirectional antenna, but I'm not sure about what quality, type, and brands I need to look into (and specifically which models). If someone could give some recommendations for an Omni under $100 is what I'm looking for. Also, I'm not sure about what type of coax I'll need (RG213? LMR240?).

I know I will also need some form of antenna SWR tester/watt meter. Would like to snag one of these good on 2M for under $50 if someone could give some brand and model recommendations there (if that's possible).

If there are any other recommendations, pointers, or things I need to know, please post that as well!

I'm not exactly new to radio, just to Ham. I've operated a CB base station for nearly 5 years. I've pretty much lost interest in that now that I've started my persuit of Ham.

Thanks ahead of time for all answers or replies!
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WB2WIK
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Posts: 20540




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« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2005, 03:58:30 PM »

A good 2 meter omnidirectional vertical can be had for $100 or less.  A couple of good ones are the Hustler G6 and the Diamond F22.  They are about equivalent in terms of performance and cost, although they look quite different.

How critical the "coax" (feedline) is depends upon how long it must be to reach from station to antenna.  If the run is "short," like 75 feet or less, I'd probably just use good quality RG213/U.  It will only have ~2 dB loss at 75' length.  If I have to go over 100 feet in length, I'd switch to LMR400, 9913 or one of the other low-loss lines which cost just a bit more and indeed have less loss.

To "set up" a home station with the primary intention of working repeaters is a bit silly, though.  The reason repeaters exist is to extend the range of mobile and portable equipment users; that's why they are justified in the amateur radio service, and that's why they were invented for commercial use in the first place.  Home stations can work simplex.

You might find 2 meter SSB a bit more interesting, as most eventually do.  With 50 Watts PEP and a good horizontally polarized two meter beam, making contacts out to 200-300 miles daily is commonplace and normal; almost nobody can do that on FM unless they run very big equipment or live atop a mountain.

Good luck with the exam!

WB2WIK/6
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WILLY
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Posts: 286




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« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2005, 04:07:06 PM »

Here is something that you might like to read:
http://www.eham.net/articles/11299
I'll leave it to you to seperate the wheat from the chaff.  Smiley    

In a nutshell:  If possible, do not limit yourself to just VHF FM.  Either with the equipment or the license.
Aim for obtaining your General class license or higher, as soon as you can.   Then, if you can get the equipment, experiment with some HF operation too.

There are lots of message threads here on this - if I'd taken time to search further, I'd direct you to them.
Play around with the search function here, and you should find them.   I think you'll find the theme running through them all to be similar to my nutshell description that I just gave.
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WC253
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« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2005, 02:07:20 PM »

I see what you mean, and after reading the link WILLY posted, I understand completely where both of you are coming from. The problem is, there's no way I will be able to spend the money to get any form of rig that operates SSB on 2M, or even a simple 6M FM rig. With the setup I'd be going with on 2M FM, that will cost me nearly $400 in itself.

Now I'm worried that I need to spend $500+ on just the radio itself in order to have any reasonable excitment in ham. Generally what I'm assuming is that if I go 2M FM that I'll be jumping right back into something very similar to what I'm coming from (CB). Simply that would be great because ham is so much more organized than CB, but part of what I loved the most was DXing and just from what I'm reading now I won't be able to do that.

In general are my assumptions right? Or is there an affordable SSB radio out there that's available for purchase for under $300?

Thanks!
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WILLY
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Posts: 286




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« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2005, 03:37:24 PM »

I certainly don't want to discourage you.  I hope I didn't.

It is important that you get a perspective on it though.
From your last post, it appears that you are.  Smiley

The main thing is that we seem to find that newcomers that get on the air with 2M FM quickly get over the 'new toy' syndrome and develop a 'is that all there is?' attitude, then they fade away.  We don't want you, or any more newcomers to fade away.

2M FM is great - as long as you keep it in perspective. Don't expect more from it than it is, and you can have a very good time with it.  Many do.

I can fully understand that the cost of equipment can be daunting.  Again, if you don't expect too much when you first start out, you'll be fine.  Buy what you can, wait until you can obtain more, and you'll get there -wherever you want to be -  eventually.

I feel some others here can better answer your questions about costs for certain kinds of rigs.  You should get some answers soon.    One source to consider is the used market.   Avoid eBay unless you are experienced.   But - here's a positive thing about 2M FM ! -  you might meet a friendly local ham on 2M that can advise you on buying used.   Maybe even sell you a rig!   That's the best - a local seller.
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WB2WIK
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Posts: 20540




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« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2005, 03:54:56 PM »

 
>RE: First Station for a Starter  Reply  
by WC253 on July 19, 2005  Mail this to a friend!  
I see what you mean, and after reading the link WILLY posted, I understand completely where both of you are coming from. The problem is, there's no way I will be able to spend the money to get any form of rig that operates SSB on 2M, or even a simple 6M FM rig. With the setup I'd be going with on 2M FM, that will cost me nearly $400 in itself.
Now I'm worried that I need to spend $500+ on just the radio itself in order to have any reasonable excitment in ham. Generally what I'm assuming is that if I go 2M FM that I'll be jumping right back into something very similar to what I'm coming from (CB). Simply that would be great because ham is so much more organized than CB, but part of what I loved the most was DXing and just from what I'm reading now I won't be able to do that.<

::"DXing" is something not so easily done with a Technician class license, because the only "DX" band you have access to is six meters (50 MHz), and the "DX" opportunities there are very limited compared with the eleven meter (CB) band, frankly.  The difference is, DXing is perfectly legal using ham radio and is not using CB.  Most DX opportunities come with the General class license (or higher), providing access to all the HF bands, which is where most of the DX actually is.

>In general are my assumptions right? Or is there an affordable SSB radio out there that's available for purchase for under $300?<

::I'd say "yes."  I've bought and sold 2m SSB gear for $300, and pretty recently.  But I'd strongly recommend AVOIDING AT ALL COSTS the "eBay" route, because you never know what you're getting and it's not worth the risk.  To me, eBay is a bit like casino gambling: Never bet more than you can afford to completely lose.  Instead, find a "local deal" by searching the ads here on eHam, and on QRZ.com, QTH.com, ARRL.org and anywhere else you choose.  When you find someone selling a 2m SSB rig who also lives close enough for you to visit him and check (and try!!) it out, THAT's the time to plunk down your $300.  But indeed, there are such deals available.  

::One more thing to consider, though: SSB "DXing" on two meters is *ALL* done using horizontal polarization, not vertical -- and for good reasons.  So, if you're going to get on 2m SSB, be prepared to install at least a small horizontally polarized beam on a rotator, supported by something strong enough to hold them.  This stuff needn't be expensive, and the beam can be "homebrewed."  A homebrew rotor's not so easy.  I'd plan to buy one, but of course it can be used.

WB2WIK/6
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WC253
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Posts: 3




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« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2005, 07:36:34 PM »

I'm going to go ahead and get my foot in the door with 2M FM. If nothing else the BEST thing it will do will be to allow me to meet local HAMs and get started with the learning process. So, with that in mind I'm going to continue the aspect of setting up the base for now.
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KA3RFE
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Posts: 185




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« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2005, 01:10:03 PM »

Sure, 2 meter FM operations will get your "feet wet." But it will bore the living daylights out of you after a while. There's certainly a lot of things you can play with on 2 meter FM at first, but you're limiting yourself to only one single, very restricted, option.

While band openings sometimes happen on 2 meters, its not a good prospect. You are more likely to have 6 meter DX openings then anywhere and there's lots of SSB activity on 6 when the band opens. You have many opportunities for DX on 6.

I suggest an all-mode, all-band radio. A radio of this type lets you do every legal thing you wish to do, and will give you a chance to DX on 6 meters, give you satillite coverage, give you AM FM CW SSB and data. Used rigs are available that can do this. New rigs can be had that cover this stuff at varying prices. Check ham dealer catalogs.

I'm familiar with Yaesu rigs. I have an FT-847 that covers all modes and all bands. It's sort of a "satillite" rig for people who like to work the hamsats, but works any sort of setup. I also have an FT-897 all band all mode. It's designed as a portable but will work great as a fixed station with a power supply. This is one of the less expensive new rigs. The fT-857 is the same radio but set up for mobile work. Don't bother getting an FT-817. For a first rig, it;s gonna frustrate you with its low power but its fine for repeater work. A used FT-100D mobile all mode all band rig is good, too. They all have HF operation, and when you upgrade from Tech to General, you're all set to go.

73
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