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Author Topic: Putting it all together  (Read 7123 times)
KK4AXX
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« on: December 03, 2010, 02:47:23 PM »

I'll admit it.

I am a Newb.  When it comes to HAM radio, I can't find my own rear with both hands and radar. 

Now that that is out of the way, here's what's going on.  I'm determined to get into this hobby.  My father-in-law gave m some old equipment that needs some work & if I can get it all together - and running - I'll save a ton of cash.  (That means a lot when you are a disabled Vet with four kids at home, medical issues, & limited funds.)

One question that WILL be asked is "Why not have your father-in-law come over & set it up for you?"  Well, his schedule is very different from mine and between that & distance, it just isn't feasible.

Here is what I have now:
 - A Heathkit SB 104A Transceiver
 - A Heathkit SB 604 Speaker w/ a power supply
 - A Heathkit SB 644 Remote VFO
 - An Electro-Voice Mic (Model #638)
 - An Electro-Voice Mic Stand(Model #423A)
 - A handful of manuals & schematics

No antenna yet, I'll build one when I've got a clue which way to go.  For that matter, I'll need to make my leads there as well due to the Heathkit using an RCA connector for the antenna-to-radio connection.

OK.  Where do I start?  Connect what to where, and what is each bit used for?  When I said "newb", I meant for you to imagine yanking some random guy off the street, slamming him into a chair in front of a pile of unknown equipment, and turning him into an operational HAM.

Consider me a project of sorts.  Grin

Meanwhile, I'll be studying for my license, too...

Looking forward to your replies,
Logged

George U. Potter Lodge, #912, F. & A. M. of Alabama
A.A.S.R., S.J. - Valley of Mobile, Orient of Alabama
Dave Langham Chapter, #536, Order of the Eastern Star
Order of DeMolay, Mobile Chapter, Adult Advisory Council
KE4DRN
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Posts: 3734




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« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2010, 05:25:58 PM »

Hi Mark,

Take a look at this club in Mobile,
I am sure you will find several experienced members
who can help you setup the station and check the gear.

http://www.w4iax.net/

they have tech class in Jan 2011 and General Feb 2011.

http://www.w4iax.net/classes.htm

73 james
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WX7G
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Posts: 6197




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« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2010, 05:46:02 PM »

I would sell the old gear, as is, here on eham and use the money to buy something brand new. $400 is an asking price seen here at eham.
A new Icom IC-718 costs $599 at HRO.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2010, 06:49:08 PM by DAVE CUTHBERT » Logged
W8VZM
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Posts: 67




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« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2010, 06:01:00 PM »

Welcome!

Here are a few ideas.

       1. Definitely find a club. Best way to get started.
       2. Buy an ARRL handbook. New one older one it doesn't matter. Read it the readit again.
           It's full of ideas and info on every question you ask.
       3. Put the VFO and Mic in the closet. Follow the instructions in the 104 manual to hook it up.
       4. Hook about 50 feet of wire (size doesn't matter) to the center pin of an rca connector and plug it in to the 104.
           DO NOT DO NOT DO NOT! transmit. Listen Listen Listen! it's the best motivator to get your license and get in on the
           action.
       5. Don't listen to the nay sayers, old equip can and does work well. It might need a little care but that's part of the fun!
           I love my 30+ year old HW-101. Yes it still works well and works DX.
       6. Ask more specific questions one at a time. You will get more answers than you know how to shake a stick at.

Again Welcome!
Ron
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K1CJS
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Posts: 6055




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« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2010, 05:53:17 AM »

Welcome to the hobby, Mark!  You'll more than likely have many hours of enjoyment and discovery with ham radio.

Depending on your level of experience with electronics, you may find that the old equipment may serve you just fine, but newer equipment may be easier for you to operate.  The reason?  Older equipment has to be tuned and adjusted to operate properly and not destroy itself over time.  Newer solid state equipment does not have that liability--it is more forgiving.  That is why the 'buy newer equipment' comment was made.  

But, if you're comfortable with working with the older rigs, they will serve you just fine.  I have a Yaesu FT101 hybrid rig (both tubes and solid state) that I wouldn't part with for all the tea in China!

One thing you may have to do, if those rigs haven't been used in a long time is to 'recondition' them electrically.  That involves getting a variac and limiting the voltage fed to them to slowly recondition the old capacitors and tubes in them instead of just dumping full voltage to them and risking failure of some components.  You may have to replace some of the electrolytic capacitors in them if you've got any sort of 60 cycle hum that is interfering with useage.

The suggestion to find a local ham club is a good one, and you can probably get help there in what you're trying to do.  VZM's suggestion of going slowly and asking one or two questions at a time here is a good one too, and I second his suggestion of getting an ARRL handbook.  That is one thing that ALWAYS comes in handy.

In any case, you're getting into a hobby that can be fun, rewarding--and educational too.  Good luck!
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KK4AXX
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« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2010, 02:15:32 PM »

Thanks for the info.  I have some reasonable electronic experience from back in the 1980's called the US Navy.  Haven't used it much since then though.  I think I'll try out the old equipment as it will add some spice to the game.  (I'm also fascinated by the idea of low power radio, so NO massive amps for me!) 

Never fear about the transmitting business.  I wouldn't dare without a license!  No one reputable would talk to me anyways.

I have made contact with the local club mentioned and will attend a meeting ASAP.  Somehow I doubt I'll make the testing in January, but I'm sure there will be other opportunities.

I was wrong about one thing.  The antenna connection is NOT a RCA, but something that looks sort of like a BNC.  I'll figure something out, even if I replace the entire thing.

Guys, seriously, keep the info coming in.  I need everything, but information most of all!

Fraternally,
M.T. "Bull" Jones
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George U. Potter Lodge, #912, F. & A. M. of Alabama
A.A.S.R., S.J. - Valley of Mobile, Orient of Alabama
Dave Langham Chapter, #536, Order of the Eastern Star
Order of DeMolay, Mobile Chapter, Adult Advisory Council
KE4DRN
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Posts: 3734




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« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2010, 08:10:40 PM »

hi Mark

take a look http://www.qsl.net/k5bcq/sb104/sb104.html

73 james

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KK4AXX
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« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2010, 08:22:15 AM »

Thanks for the link!

BTW:  I did find the proper antenna connector for this unit, attached 50 ft. of connector wire, and then ran the wire roughly 15 ft high in a north-south pattern (using convenient trees).  Son-of-a-gun if my sons & I aren't listening in on all kinds of stuff!  Coast-to-coast in the US is no issue & if we hold our mouths just right I can hear one particular guy in Wales!  With a cheap spool of wire!  Shocked

Oh man...  We're all hooked now!

This is gonna hurt the wallet, isn't it?  Cry
Logged

George U. Potter Lodge, #912, F. & A. M. of Alabama
A.A.S.R., S.J. - Valley of Mobile, Orient of Alabama
Dave Langham Chapter, #536, Order of the Eastern Star
Order of DeMolay, Mobile Chapter, Adult Advisory Council
VE3FMC
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Posts: 1000


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« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2010, 04:03:41 PM »

Thanks for the link!

BTW:  I did find the proper antenna connector for this unit, attached 50 ft. of connector wire, and then ran the wire roughly 15 ft high in a north-south pattern (using convenient trees).  Son-of-a-gun if my sons & I aren't listening in on all kinds of stuff!  Coast-to-coast in the US is no issue & if we hold our mouths just right I can hear one particular guy in Wales!  With a cheap spool of wire!  Shocked

Oh man...  We're all hooked now!

This is gonna hurt the wallet, isn't it?  Cry

Yes Bull it will eventually hurt the wallet  Grin  If you are like most of us then one HF setup will not be enough to quench your thirst.

However you do not have to start dropping cash until you advance through the ranks of your license levels.

As for the old gear. If it is in good shape and works as it should then there is no problem using it to get on the air when you get your ticket.

However you may want to think about buying a new technology rig for your main operating radio. It's like driving a car with the old Three On The Tree and manual steering with an AM one speaker radio. Or you can drive a modern vehicle with all the luxuries installed.

I have 2 modern rigs in the shack. A Yaesu FT-950 and an Icom 7000.

Then I have the older gear. A TS-830S, FT-101E and a Drake TR-4C. All fun rigs to operate. However the FT-950 is the rig which is on in the shack the majority of the time.

Study study study and get your ticket and get on the air and have some fun.

73, Rick VE3FMC
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WB4TJH
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Posts: 193




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« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2010, 04:09:33 PM »

Sell the old Heath and get a new FT-450 Yaesu for the same money as the Icom; no filters to buy and 15 years later technology than that outdated old Icom 718 which requires expensive filters.
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WX7G
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« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2010, 02:58:52 PM »

TJH, I was originally going to suggest that but the FT-450 is no longer made. It has been replaced by the FT-450D at $930 (HRO price). The IC-718 is $600 and now includes the UT-106 audio DSP module.
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VE3FMC
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« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2010, 07:25:41 PM »

Sell the old Heath and get a new FT-450 Yaesu for the same money as the Icom; no filters to buy and 15 years later technology than that outdated old Icom 718 which requires expensive filters.

The Icom 718 is a much easier radio for a beginner to operate. Not menu driven. Plus the tuning dial is built for big fingers not baby fingers  Smiley
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KK4AXX
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« Reply #12 on: December 22, 2010, 08:19:39 AM »

I really hope that I'll be able to:
a) be able to get the old radio fully operational,
b) get a decent antenna of some sort built, and
c) finally get a handle on the proper operation of the old girl.

The idea of operating on this old radio is rather novel.  Wink  No doubt I could find a better radio, and most certainly one easier to work with, but had I not been given the gift of this old stuff I would never have been able to consider HAM with our fixed income. 

Seriously, please do keep the info coming!

Bull J.
Logged

George U. Potter Lodge, #912, F. & A. M. of Alabama
A.A.S.R., S.J. - Valley of Mobile, Orient of Alabama
Dave Langham Chapter, #536, Order of the Eastern Star
Order of DeMolay, Mobile Chapter, Adult Advisory Council
KE4DRN
Member

Posts: 3734




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« Reply #13 on: December 28, 2010, 03:04:57 PM »

Hi Mark,

take a look at this antenna site,
wealth of info including how to build them.

http://cebik.com/

Just need to register, no cost, keeps out the
riff raff and the mass site downloaders.

73 james
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W5LZ
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Posts: 477




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« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2010, 07:36:06 AM »

You already have some very informative material, so read those manuals.  That's helpful in several ways, they tell you about the equipment you have, and even if you don't understand something, it also tells you what areas you could use some more studying about.  I think I would limit  the information you 'absorb' to reputable sources.  (Unfortunately, that's a really good 'trick' all by it's self!  There's am amazing amount of B.S. floating around on the internet.)
The licensing study guides are a fair starting point, but they certainly do not tell you everything, or even a lot, of what you should know.  That 'studying' never ends...
Paul
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