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Author Topic: New station for a new ham  (Read 867 times)
VK2MMM
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Posts: 11




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« on: November 29, 2007, 08:31:32 PM »

Well almost a new ham - I'm about to sit my exams in a weeks, and am looking for some gear to set up a shack.

First of all I went antenna hunting. Being in a small ground floor apartment thingy with a small backyard, I only really have room for a vertical or inverted v (like a half GR5V). My main interest is hf, and chatting on the 2 metre repeaters. I have borrowed a commercial programmed up on the local repeaters, and put up a dualband vertical to listen in until I get my ticket in a few weeks. Its so tempting to push the mike and talk, but I do not have my ticket or call yet so have resisted.

So really all I can think of regarding antenna's (which must be neighbour friendly) is a High Sierra 1800pro, or something along the lines of a ground mounted hustler 6btv in the middle of my back yard. Since these are single floor apartments in a row, the taller hustler wont be in a second story's view from their balcony - there are none. Buddipole (we call it an ozipole here) for field ops.

Power supply: Johnson special 30 amper (built it myself - had all the bits including a big fat transformer to use. Uses LM741 for regulation, and 4 2n3055's in a common emitter config. I only had to buy some resistors and diodes.

Transmission line:
VHF/UHF: RG213 terminated in PL259's - these are what the radio and antenna had.
HF: Probably the same, may swap transmission lines over, giving the HF side the 213, and use LDF4/50 for the vhf/uhf side. They are short runs though, tops 15m each. Present length is 10M and I have plenty of excess but the antenna isnt on the roof yet, just attached to the hills hoist (clothes line). Its one of those pull out lines with the steel pole with the line winder on it, so it makes a good antenna mast.

Tranciever: Ahhh the lolly shop!

I've come to several conclusions:
HF Base: Kenwood TS480HX
All bander choice 1: ICOM 706MKIIG w/7AH gel cell
All bander choice 2: Yaesu 897D with optional add in batteries (slightly neater than the gel cell).
All bander choice 3: ICOM 7000. I think its a bit expensive for what it is.  

Portable: Yaesu VX7R

Any opinions on this setup?
Of course I need to choose between the 3 DC to daylight rigs, I cannot afford to buy one of each. I am leaning to the 706mk2G as it seems very popular.

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VK2MMM
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Posts: 11




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« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2007, 08:34:00 PM »

Forgot to mention, I will also buy an SWR meter with peak, as I am going for a standard license, I will need to monitor my power (30FM, 100PEP SSB).

Once I upgrade the license to advance, I can use the full 200 watts of the 480HX
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K9KJM
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« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2007, 11:40:10 PM »

Take a good long look at the Kenwood TS-2000 for a radio.
There is one for sale on the classifieds here on Eham right now for 1250.

The TS-2000 is the best "do it all" radio on the market right now, AND it will cross band repeat! A really neat feature. Monitor HF, 6 meters, etc from a little shirt pocket hand held, AND talk back from that same little shirt pocket radio!
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VK2MMM
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« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2007, 02:45:18 PM »

K9KJM, The TS 2000 is a nice radio, but it is outside my price range. For my first radio, I would prefer to buy new so I can take advantage of the warranty that comes with the equipment. I am sure once I have been a ham for a while I will be able to troubleshoot and repair the gear but at the moment, it would be better for me to buy something new. If I were to buy something second hand, it would be from another VK, in person, so I could see, touch and test the equipment before I hand over the cash. I also have other things I need to buy, like a HF antenna or 2, feedlines, an SWR meter, and other sundries. A desk mike would be nice. Like most hams suggest, the radio may be the centre of the station, but its not the most important bit. Not having the worlds biggest income makes this station setup business a slow process. I've seen both the FT897D and IC-7000 in person. The 7000 wins hands down at the moment. Its selectivity is much better, and the noise floor much lower (the 897 has a screen thats too small as well!)

Cheers
Ben
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K9KJM
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« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2007, 11:25:56 PM »

The Icom 718 is the best "Bang for the buck" NEW HF radio on the market right now.
(Lots cheaper good used is a good old Icom IC-735, Now selling in the 300 dollar range)
IF you are thinking IC-7000 you are not far away from the TS-2000 that will do a LOT more than the IC 7000.

RG-213 IS a good coax choice for HF for any reasonable length, But NO good for VHF for any more than a few feet.  For VHF/UHF get some Times LMR-400
(Only .69 cents a foot from Texas Towers last time I checked) LMR-400 is good up to 70 or so feet at UHF.

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K9KJM
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« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2007, 11:33:06 PM »

And you are sure on the right track thinking 1/2" Heliax for VHF/UHF! (But if the run is fairly short, LMR-400 would be cheaper and easier to do) If the run would turn out to be longer, Dont count out some 7/8" Heliax.
The Icom 706 series IS a good proven radio, HOWEVER it is mostly menu driven. More computer than radio. NOT at all like operating a more "normal" radio with more buttons and knobs!
I had one for a while, And never did get that used to working it.
I suggest downloading it's owners manual first and reading about how to operate one before you buy......
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VK2MMM
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« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2007, 04:56:27 AM »

K9KJM Thanks for all the ideas - the 718 is a nice set - I've considered it, but then it will mean I will need to buy a 2m/70cm/23cm radio. 23cm is NOT important at the moment. Since I am just "taxxing onto the runway" for the first time I want to have a setup where I can get a taste for everything, and not just be limited to guns, or missiles so to speak (sorry 'highway to the danger zone' came up on my ipod, so it warranted the "jet" analagy.

7/8th in cable? I have a hard enough time getting 3/8th in (guess) RG213 out to the dualbander. I reckon I will need a 1/4 block of C-4 and a few hammer drills to get 7/8th in cable outside. I am on a rental property, and before I leave I will need to replace the screen as I have cut a hole in it to let the RG213 out!

The IC-7000 is yes, a set almost the price of a TS 2000. YES!!!! crossband repeat would be cool, but I travel a lot (mostly on public transport) so a VX7R and a IC 7000 in the luggage will do for my uses. My home base will eventually be a 746PRO or a 756PROIII if I get enough willpower to save the pennies. I am not earning much so purchasing something like a VX7R is like buying a house, let alone a 7000.

As far as antenna's go, I want to get myself setup on HF with a good vertical so I can monitor the stations around me, and later on put up something no bigger than a 10m beam to swing around and catch the DX. 20m and bigger will simply NOT make the neighbours happy.

A power supply wasnt budgeted in, as I have already built one. Stripped a u'wave oven transformer of its hv secondary, wound on a 20volt sec, and made a psu out of that (first post). It has a thermo fan so the tranny wont overheat. I gathered with the duty cycle, it will last a while, and I have loaded it up with 15R 100W resistor in a water bath. Pull was 23 amps, and the supply kept throwing 13.6 volts at it, so it works ok. Pass transistors got pretty warm though, I wonder why!!! Fan was running like a nest of angry wasps!

Wasnt hard to build up the supply - just took hints from my AR-KR+ ion laser supply and stepped it down a little Smiley

I have also considered a battery + charger supply, but it would be a bank of SLA's with a cpu controlled balance charger.

Another idea re radios, is to get an IC 718 or a Yaesu FT-450 as home base, and a DC to Daylight rig as the 2m/take with me rig.
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K9KJM
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« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2007, 11:24:03 PM »

Large size heliax like 7/8" is only needed if your VHF/UHF coax run is longer than 70 or so feet.... AND then you would only use the 7/8" outdoors for the majority of the length, And have little short jumpers of LMR-400 at each end to go to the antenna and to the radio.
The more you tell us about the proposed type of operations, The more convinced I am that the Kenwood TS-2000 is the best radio option for you.  Ask others who have one.
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K9KJM
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« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2007, 11:34:09 PM »

If you go with a battery type power supply, Do some more research before you do the "bank" of batteries...
I have been operating my entire hamshack on a battery for well over 25 years now with good results.
A few of the things I have learned along the way:
ONLY use ONE battery!  To attempt a "bank" of batteries (At least without some of the isolation devices") will not work out too well. Even with matched, or equal batteries, The "weakest" battery in the "bank" WILL sooner or later, PULL all the other batteries down to it's level of poor performance, And shorten the lifespan of the others.
ONLY ONE good deep cycle type battery is needed to operate the average hamshack for at least a full day with any normal T/R duty cycle.
The "secret" I learned many years ago was to get a FULLY AUTOMATIC type charger of 10 amps. The 10 amps is enough power to keep the battery from discharging during normal T/R cycles, AND the "fully automatic" feature is needed to keep from overcharging the battery.
I get between 5 to 6 years of use from a normal Marine type deep cycle battery. Even longer from some good AGM types. (50 or so bucks for a marine deep cycle type battery, Around 38 bucks for a Schumacher 10 amp fully automatic charger)
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VK2MMM
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« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2007, 12:13:36 AM »

K9KJM: the TS2000 is $1000 more expensive than the IC7000. Thats not "for not that much more".

Yes I will be using LDF4/50 for the vhf/uhf run.

The battery idea was just a thought - a backup if you will for the power supply in case it let out its magic smoke when I first turned it on. It didnt, and works well.

Kenwood TS2000 may be thought of as the base rig once I have my DC to daylight all rounder for base and portable operation. As I have no rig at the moment, and need to get one, the IC7000 (I have decided on that one) will be my first purchase. This will let me do a lot with the one rig, until I can purchase a base rig.
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KI4WAF
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« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2007, 02:38:08 PM »

"K9KJM Thanks for all the ideas - the 718 is a nice set - I've considered it, but then it will mean I will need to buy a 2m/70cm/23cm radio."

If it were me, I would focus on getting a nice "fixed HF" setup and go cheap on the VHF/UHF side of the house.  Most of the radios on your list are mobiles.  I prefer to have a larger screen and more buttons/knobs so you don't have to fish through menus.  A "fixed rig" may perform better as well.

If all you want to do on VHF/UHF is work repeaters, the handheld you have may be all you need, depending on how far away from the repeaters you are.

Also, you don't have to buy everything at once.  You can go for a "phased" approach which may give you more time to learn each band/mode.

The TS-2000 is $1600 BTW, so it's only $400 more than the IC-7000.
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VK2MMM
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Posts: 11




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« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2007, 09:03:41 PM »

Ok guys.

Present setup:

Yaesu Ft8800R VhF/UHF on 20 metres of RG213 to a Diamond X50 vertical 15 metres in the air. (8 metres above the roof line.). I got my buddy around whos licensed, and if I can hear it, I can work it. Good set up on that part. SWR is 1:1.2 on UHF, and not much worse on VHF. I took great care in attaching my PL259 and N connectors, and taking the meter out of circuit should improve the swr.

I worked all the stations on 30W, the legal limit of my license class.

VHF is next. Taking some advice, I'll be doing the following:

End fed wire with autotunder for 40 metres, RG213 to an Yaesu FT450 Base rig.

The rig is inexpensive, and I'll probably pick it up next year at the Wyong Field day.

There is a cold water tap nearby for grounding the HF rig.

Looking forward to recieving my callsign and working the airwaves. Right now listening to air traffic on the 8800R - makes a great scanner when the local frequencies and repeaters are quiet.
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VK2MMM
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Posts: 11




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« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2007, 09:05:38 PM »

previous post: "VHF is next" should read "HF is next.."
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