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Author Topic: Looking to get into HF cheaply.  (Read 7889 times)
KF5BKW
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Posts: 16




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« on: February 07, 2010, 07:08:33 PM »

I am on an extremely tight budget. I am 11 years old. I have been working to get my General. Their is only a very small chance that I will ever be able to afford a rig in the nearish future. But in case I do ever manage to scrape up enough money, I want to know the what the good stuff is. So for my first rig I was thinking about getting an IC-718. For an antenna I would probably use a Buddistick clamped onto my deck. As far as antenna tuners go, I was thinking an LDG Z-11 Pro. And for power supply, I was thinking an Alinco DM-330MVT Switching Power Supply. And lastly, for an SWR/Wattmeter, I was thinking a Palstar WM150. AS far as feedline goes, I'm fairly clueless, but I know I probably will be running around 100-150ft. I would like any and all reccomendations as to changes in these products or additional equipment that would be useful. Also, I would like some information on how to ground the Buddistick and the rest of the equipment.

73
KF5BKW
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NI3S
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Posts: 67




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« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2010, 07:33:39 PM »

I've seen lots of good used radios for $200-300. Not super-duper, feature packed do alls, but solid state workhorse rigs.  

$100 or so should get you into a power supply.  

$50 worth of coax and $20 worth of wire you can build a multiband dipole, or half of that will build you a single band.  

With a SWR meter you can tune it and skip the autotuner all together.  

If you don't have a computer (I suspect you do as a bright 11 year old kid) you might look into a used or free one.  

Talk to some of your local Hams, I'm sure they'd be willing to help a new guy. Good luck on your General test.  You have a bright future in amateur radio.
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WX7G
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Posts: 6038




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« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2010, 05:31:02 AM »

The Buddistick antenna will work but so will a simple wire dipole if you have the room. No tuner is needed for either one. Any power supply will do. A cheap Astron power supply will work as well as anything else. You don't have to have an SWR/Wattmeter. The transceiver has an SWR meter built in. The coax can be RG-213 is you have the money and don't mind routing a 1/2" cable. Otherwise RG-58 or RG-8X will do.

So what you need to start is the IC-718 (or any HF transceiver), a power supply, and an antenna. 80, 40, 20, and 17 meters are the bands to use at this part of the sunspot cycle.
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WA7NCL
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Posts: 625




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« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2010, 07:41:57 AM »

Find a local ham club.  You should be able to find guys who would be able to loan you an old rig and help you with antennas, especially if you are a youngster.

I used to have an old SB102 that I loaned out to new interested hams.  I showed them how to build a simple antenna and they were on the air.

At your age, I remember it was hard to scrape any money together.

Try the Elmer loaner route, you might be surprised.
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WX7G
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« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2010, 09:48:46 AM »

Grounding the equipment and the Budipole: no grounding other than that provided by the AC power cord is needed.
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WX7G
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« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2010, 09:48:48 AM »

Grounding the equipment and the Budipole: no grounding other than that provided by the AC power cord is needed.
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NA0AA
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Posts: 1042




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« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2010, 07:51:10 PM »

The Buddistick is kind of an expensive antenna for a guy who's pinching pennies - perhaps an antenna book and save some bucks on that.

If you can find an old Icom IC-730 or better, IC-735, those are both good all solid-state 100 watt radios that will set you back around $300.

If your dad has a car battery charger and you can scrouge up an old car battery, you have a power supply that will get you running for a while for free.

Are you a member of your local Amateur Radio club?  Perhaps there are some members who could Elmer you and maybe even loan you a radio whilst you save your pennies for your own rig.
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K9KJM
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Posts: 2415




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« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2010, 10:35:01 PM »

The good old Icom IC735 IS a great starter rig!  Seen selling good used in the 300 dollar range. The Icom 718 is also a great starter rig, But in the 500 dollar range. If shopping used, I would stick to local hams or swapfests and the classifieds right here on Eham, Or QRZ. Best to avoid Ebay..........  Before you get your license, Just some type of general coverage short wave receiver would be really good for you to play with. If you check around, Maybe someone would loan you one for a while.
For coax on a low budget, Check with your friendly local cable TV installers. Ask for "spool ends" of coax. (When the rolls of coax get down under one hundred or so feet, They toss them right into the dumpster)

If you can string any wires in trees, etc  A whole roll (1320 feet) of electric fence wire, Along with some electric fence insulators can be had in the 20 some dollar range at your local farm supply store.
We always used to say "get some good antenna books", But now lots of that research can be done online for free.
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KZ1X
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Posts: 3228




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« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2010, 07:04:25 AM »

You are in luck.  You live very close to several of the absolute #1 amateur radio clubs in the whole country.

Go to this web site:

http://www.k5sld.com/

and you will find contact information for MANY people who will help you out, quickly, and who live near by.  Have your parent or whomever make the initial contacts for you, but after that, you're an OM, OM.
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K0RGR
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Posts: 106




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« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2010, 03:26:43 PM »

Let's pinch pennies.

The two most important things for your station are a good antenna and a good receiver.

A good antenna will make a so-so radio into a top performer. A great radio WILL NOT make a poor antenna into a good performer.

You may live in a place where a full sized antenna is impossible. If so, the Buddipole might not be a bad choice, but it would not be my first choice.

Let's first save some money by not trying to do everything at once. Let's pick a couple good bands to operate on. 40 should be your first choice. A 40 meter dipole will probably also work for you on 15 meters.
So that's two good bands. I'd add 20 and or 17 meters.
You can build a dipole that will do all that for very little money. Put up the kind of mast people use for TV antennas on the roof, and suspend your dipole from there.

A good, cheap manual antenna tuner might even work better than the autotuner. Get one with a built in SWR meter, or make sure the rig you buy has one. There are lots of designs out there for simple antenna tuners, too, that you could build.

I'd invest in a quality power supply like the Astron RM or RS-35. These will last forever, and power the whole shack.

Now, there are tons of used radios out there. I often advise people to look for older Ten Tec rigs, like older OMNI's or TRITONS. These can be had cheaply in some cases. And, Ten Tec will still fix it if it needs it. The company is in Tennessee. Be sure you know what you're buying. The rigs often come without a mike so be sure to ask about that.
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KF5BKW
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Posts: 16




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« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2010, 06:12:48 PM »

Oh, sorry for not mentioning that I live in a neighborhood that barely allows you to have a satellite TV dish, much less a full-wave or even half-wave 40m dipole. And also, I would like to avoid any thing homebrew as much as possible and also to keep the operation simple. I am not aware as to how much more effort it requires to manually tune as opposed to auto-tune, so I may look into that. And also I would like information on the recommended grounding of the station with the Buddistick.
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K9PU
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Posts: 67




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« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2010, 04:15:55 PM »

You need to join a club.  Check around town.  Maybe at your school.  They might be able to loan you a rig for a while and get you on the air.  This worked for me.  

Good luck,

Scott
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KF5BKW
Member

Posts: 16




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« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2010, 02:38:08 PM »

So now I've been thinking that I could probably suspend a dipole in between the two columns on my deck and then coil the extra wire around the two columns. If this would work then please tell me of a manufactured dipole that would work on as many bands as possible, as I would like to stay away from homebrew, as I stated before. And I've decided to go used for the transceiver. Please reccomend good rigs to look for used at the Plano Hamfest in June. And again I want solutions to go about grounding my rig. Thanks.
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KE4DRN
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Posts: 3722




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« Reply #13 on: February 25, 2010, 05:58:59 PM »

hi Zack,

since money is tight, skip the tuner and build a few dipoles.

very easy to do, all you need is a tape measure and some
#12 or #14 copper wire.  No soldering iron, no problem,
use common wire nuts found in electrical dept. in home depot, lowes, etc.

the info below courtesy of another Eham member

AN DIPOLE OR MULTIPLE BAND DIPOLE SPECS:
(Each leg is shown in length so you will need two legs.)

10 METERS = 8'4"
12 METERS = 9'5"
15 METERS = 11'1"
17 METERS = 12'10"
20 METERS = 16'8"
30 METERS = 23'2"
40 METERS = 32'9"
60 METERS = 43'7"
75 METERS = 60'9"
80 METERS = 65'6"
160 METERS = 123'5"


73 james
« Last Edit: February 25, 2010, 08:07:34 PM by James » Logged
KF5BKW
Member

Posts: 16




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« Reply #14 on: February 25, 2010, 07:52:00 PM »

Like I stated earlier, I want to staw away from anything homebrew. For the manufactured G5RVs out there, do they require a tuner? And would it be possible to coil each leg around a brick column? And how would I go about grounding the setup?



Thanks, KF5BKW
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