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Author Topic: Building my First station.  (Read 749 times)
K2FR
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« on: February 16, 2009, 10:28:48 AM »

This weekend, I was lucky enough to have my brother come visit and bring his HF radio a TS-2000.  I absolutely loved being on the HF, I was able to speak all over, Italy, Portugal, K5D, Texas, las vegas.. Quite a weekend id say.

Now its time for me to build my own station.

My antenna is a Simple Di-pole, 60 feet of 14 gauge wire on each side, up about 50 feet horizontal. Its feed by 450 ohm ladder line.

Now onto what im after.

The Ts-2000 had an auto tuner, but Couldn't get this antenna into tune on 40 and 80 meters.  His maunual one he brought did no problem. as well as a smaller Autotuner for a mobile.


I have no intentions of pushing big watts, 100 will be just fine for me.

I'm looking for an entry level HF radio.  With an auto tuner would be nice, but I'm really after a separate auto tuner that can handle 100 or so watts.

Also, Id like recommendations on a Balun? As We used the manual tuner to simply bring the ladder line into a coax in bypass mode to use the auto tuner on the radio.

My Ideal setup.

Ladder line, to balun, to auto tuner, to radio.  Simple is good here.  


I have no real Preference in radios at this point.


I was looking at the  Icom IC-718.  Seems well rounded enough to be a first radio.  What accessories would I need/want?

Power supplies , different mic's, speakers?

whats necessary?
whats nice to have?



I also like the Yaesu FT-450AT with the auto tuner, All id really need is a Power supply with it and im good to go.

but with the auto tuner, there is a possibility that it might not tune my wire for 40 and 80 like the TS-2000 and id then have to spend more on a tuner.

Maybe it would be safer to simply get the FT-450 and an external tuner, so I can always have that tuner on hand for other radios as well.

Sorry for the long winded post, I just wanted to get my thoughts and ideas out there for some brain storming/ideas back.

Thanks!

Ps. my brother tells me the hard part is over, making the antenna as well as you can and getting it in a good spot makes all the difference in this hobby, and that the radios are just tools to use that antenna and they all can get the job done pretty similarly.

Check out my Youtube videos from this weekend! MAN was I excited/nervous

http://www.youtube.com/user/KC2UOO
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K7STO
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« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2009, 12:09:09 PM »

Andrew, The FT-450AT with the auto tuner would be a better choice in my opinion. You can always turn the auto tuner off and use an external turner if you need one.  You might consider using a set of the Unadilla 20m and a set of the Unadilla 40m traps and making your own 20/40/80m trap dipole. The FT-450AT would work without needing an external tuner on these bands. I have used several different dipole designs. I use and like this one the best.

73
Mike
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2009, 07:44:46 PM »

Your 120' long dipole fed with ladder line should work great on 80 meters (even without any tuner) if the ladder line is an interval of one-half wavelength long on 80 meters; however, then it would do very poorly on 40 meters.

On 40 meters, it would work better if the ladder line is an odd interval of 1/4-wavelength (that is, *never* use 1/2-wavelength, or 1 wavelength, or 1.5 wavelengths).

Problem is it's impossible to have "one length" of ladder line that will work on both 40m and 80m (and 20m, for that matter) without putting quite a strain on the tuner.  To that end, you can use a patch panel to "change" the length of the ladder line when you change bands, and if you do it right, you won't even need a tuner at all!

If that's impossible for some reason, consider a wide range balanced "manual" (not automatic) tuner.  Manual tuners usually have three adjustable elements arranged in a T-network and have wider matching range than the automatic tuners, which are usually only L-networks having two adjustable elements.  Most manual tuners (if they're any good) have a built-in high-powered ferrite core balun to provide "balanced line" connections right at the tuner rear panel.  The smaller auto tuners don't have this, so if you buy one of those, you'd still need an "outboard balun" of some sort.

WB2WIK/6
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K9KJM
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« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2009, 11:31:35 PM »

Good entry level radios include the good old proven Icom IC 735, Selling good used around 300 dollars,  The Icom 718 around 500 bucks, But why not just save up a little bit longer and get yourself a Kenwood TS 2000?   Selling good used right here on Eham in the 1000-1100 dollar range, And brand new in the 1300 dollar area with discounts!

The TS 2000 is a true "do it all" radio that includes cross band repeat no other radio on the market can do.

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K2FR
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« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2009, 07:01:59 AM »

Oh I absolutely Loved the TS-2000 I was using this past weekend.  its not about the money really, id just rather not drop that much cash for a little hobby.

I guess my price range/goal is to stay under 1200 for an entire setup.

radio/tuner/powersupply/accessories.

Saving for a house right now, so spending much more then that is going to hurt the savings that Im using for a much bigger goal =).

going to spend some quality time with the reviews here on Eham and think up some more stuff.

Its a bit of a pet peve, but I like to buy stuff new, cars, bikes, computers etc etc. Im sure I could get a quality item used, but I prefer having it brand new and being the only owner.  So im pretty much limiting my search to new radios at this point.
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WA7NCL
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« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2009, 08:03:31 AM »

Balun recommendation.  Make your own 1:1 balun.  If you make the simple choke balun, you just need to use a couple of wires wound bifilar around a ferrite toroid.  I've even made solenoidal baluns using the ferrite bar from an old BC radio and well.  Something on the order of 5 to 10 turns depending on the core used.  You can test it out before using it by running it into a dummy load.  You can make a low power dummy load by paralleling 10 each 510 ohm 2W resistors which you should be able to scrounge.

The tuner.  If you buy a manual tuner intended to work with ladder line, you won't need the balun.  You could buy one of the MFJ units.  Just don't buy their very cheapest models.  Also just expect you're going to have to maybe make a few mods and such to fix some of their fit and finish QC issues (it is ham radio after all).  The manual tuner will more likely match pretty much what ever you throw at it.

An auto tuner.  You can get some that have a balanced output.  I think MFJ has some.  Also, I have used a marine type weatherized unit (something like the SGC smart tuners).  I added the 1:1 balun at the output between the ground lug and the random wire output.  This converts it to a sort of balanced output.

Another post pointed out that in cases where you have trouble tuning open wire fed antennas, you just need to change the feed line length.  This is good advice and a little experimentation and dinking around can be required.

Should you decide to increase your budget a little or if you decide you really like antenna experimentation or you like to know more about what your antenna is doing, I would highly recommend buying an antenna impedance meter.  If you learn to use it, it takes a lot of the mystery out of tuning and matching antennas.  Also one of the basic books on antennas from ARRL or the like, are great to have as well.  When I was a new ham, I wore out the covers reading them.

Finally, expect to buy a few things over your ham career that just don't work like you expected.  Just plan to fiddle and leave a little extra in the budget for it.
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VE3VID
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« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2009, 10:13:12 PM »

Hey Andrew......check out a G5RV for an antenna. Very similar to what your describing.  102ft wire flat top, 30 odd ft of twinlead into a balun, then coax to your tuner.  I used one for years when I first got into HF, and my Kenwood autotuner had no probs with it.  Except 160m, G5RV wont do 160.

Cheers man!

David
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