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Author Topic: Where to start in HF  (Read 3073 times)
K9KJM
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Posts: 2416




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« Reply #15 on: July 31, 2011, 10:06:44 PM »

I agree that QRP low power is not a good way to start out.   Find a good used HF 100 watt radio.  One of the very best deals remains the good old proven Icom IC 735.   Sells good used in the 300 dollar range.

For HF, Not much is needed for feedline, Smaller size like RG8X, Or even "free" surplus cable TV RG6 will work fine.

About the best deal for antennas is a simple home made  dipole for each band you want to work. For stealth, Just use really fine wire, And something like clear plexiglass for insulators.
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KJ4FUU
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Posts: 162




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« Reply #16 on: August 01, 2011, 05:25:27 AM »

I am a QRPer. I, too, recommend that you don't go with a QRP rig to start with, unless you do a lot of research and fully understand what you are getting into, especially with your restricted antenna situation!

I am still learning the code, and I have not tried to set up my PSK31 stuff yet, but when I do, I will probably be able to make more contacts. I have been doing HF for about a year, and only have 25 DX entities (counting my own, the US). I have occasional QSOs with distant stations, but I'll never get as many as the 100w crowd, because I depend a lot on the band conditions. This past weekend, I only got one island in the IOTA contest, because 20m was just too noisy for stations to pull me out. I did move up to 15m, and in the space of 7 minutes, made contact with Hungary, Italy, and Serbia (none of them were islands, but Hungary and Italy were new on my DX list).

QRP can be fun, and I intend to try and go portable with my radio more often, but it requires a lot of patience.

73,

-- Tom
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KC8KTN
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Posts: 461


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« Reply #17 on: August 01, 2011, 05:40:53 AM »

A nice new beginner rig is the Icom 718. I am a beginner also in thr general area . I have had my ticket since 1998 but only been on general for a little over a year.Also I use a g5rv. I know you are going to go with stealth mode... Take Care. I am also into psk31{signalink usb} with laptop interfaced into 718 also I use ham radio deluxe to control radio from time to time..Did not think I would enjoy ham radio deluxe but it is the best...Anyway hope this helps.. 73s
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KC9TNH
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Posts: 304




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« Reply #18 on: August 01, 2011, 07:30:58 AM »

Welcome to HF.
I just wanted to say that at this point in your ham career I would
definitely NOT limit myself to a QRP radio, or a one band 25 watt
radio (like one of those cheesy 10m only rigs). Sure, Yaesu FT-817's
are great, but QRP can be frustrating & disappointing to new hams.

Save up the money for a used 10m-150m 100w rig.
Decent used ones can be had for $300 to $500.

It may take longer to get on the air this way but you'll
be glad you did. Monoband rigs and QRP rigs are often a frustrating
match for new hams with antenna limitations.

Hope to hear you on the air.
73, Ken  AD6KA
I didn't really have antenna limitations, but will absolutely second this advice. I went with an 817 that I still have and love for a VERY specific reason only, that it would become a piece of the overall toolkit in its QRP mode. I had a purcha$ing plan and eventually the 817 was followed by a THP 45w companion amp (QSOs and learning curve from home QTH went up dramatically); all eventually followed by a modern 100w base. I can use the QRP for sprints, put it in the ruck with some speaker wire & tiny tuner and operate from the bluffs, setup for a vacation somewhere w/power supply and the THP amp quite comfortably for an extended period, etc. I operated alot initially with 5w and Craig's Dollar-Store speaker wire antenna out the room into the maple tree out front for quite awhile. But there were times it was walking thru swamp-muck with snowshoes in terms of learning by doing.

Had I not had an eventual target approach, I'd have been a very frustrated new-to-HF user.
HF is a blast and there are many decent rigs that will well-enable to embark on your HF journey; barefoot QRP isn't one of them by itself in my view. Others seem to echo that sentiment.

One lesson-learned is that, if you are interested at all in learning CW, consider that you will give yourself a chance for more success if you allow for a CW filter (included or add-on) and balance that against the overall cost of the rig you're contemplating. Just so you're comparing apples to apples. If you're pretty much voice-oriented you can do that later, though. Don't let it stop you from (intelligently) diving in.

If you can find someone locally to walk you through some of these things, as questions pop into your mind, you will learn much & make more intelligent purchasing decisions.

Hope to hear you.
 Smiley
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73
Wes -KC9TNH
"Don't get treed by a chihuahua." - Pete
KI4YIK
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Posts: 23




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« Reply #19 on: August 01, 2011, 08:30:13 AM »

I found someone selling a TS-450, that is a pretty reliable rig?  I saw it had great reviews on this site.
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AK7V
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Posts: 249




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« Reply #20 on: August 01, 2011, 08:38:59 AM »

Regarding starting with QRP -- I did that.  (Well, re-started after several years of inactivity)  I was also in an apartment with limited antenna options.  I ended up stringing about 35 feet of wire out the window into a tree (it zig-zagged a bit in the tree) and another 15 or so feet as a "counterpoise" run inside the apartment along the baseboards. 

I made a few contacts every time I operated, and lots more during contests.  Why?  Because I operated CW.  Forget SSB or even PSK31.  I tried those and had no luck.  But CW gets through.  I've got a stack of DX QSLs to prove it.

Now since CW isn't the "first mode" of new hams getting on HF, and they probably don't know Morse when starting, I assume most will want to begin with phone or digital.  In that case, don't bother with QRP -- go straight for a 100W rig.  But be prepared for more RFI problems with lousy antennas, more money to spend, etc.

QRP is not a bad way to start when you know code.  It's cheap, easy on the neighbors when you have a bad antenna, and rewarding.
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K8GU
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Posts: 716


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« Reply #21 on: August 01, 2011, 09:07:01 AM »

You've been given good advice mostly.  TS-450S is a good radio.  Also, consider the Kenwood "hybrids."  String up a monoband wire or two and have at it.  40/30/20 meters are good choices for getting started.  Random wire would be OK, too.  You will make the most QSOs on CW with a small 100-watt setup like that, but other modes will be possible.

Like AK7V said, QRP CW works well on the cheap.  But, you have to go into it with the expectation that some of your QSOs will be challenging (this is true of a lot of operating activities, but it may not be a good way for you to learn).  I don't recommend it to anyone unless they are really passionate about doing QRP.
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KI4YIK
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Posts: 23




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« Reply #22 on: August 01, 2011, 10:48:51 AM »

I am definitely looking to learn CW.  That is actually my next learning piece in Ham Radio. That is kind of my motivation to get on HF is to learn CW and make harder to reach contacts eventually.

What are some good methods or programs to learn code?
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KJ4FUU
Member

Posts: 162




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« Reply #23 on: August 01, 2011, 11:33:51 AM »

I'm using G4FON's training program, and I've been doing OK with it.

-- Tom
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KK4CPH
Member

Posts: 154




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« Reply #24 on: August 01, 2011, 11:58:34 AM »

If there's an upcoming hamfest in your area, see what they have.  I went to one on Saturday and picked up a Kenwood TS-440 with antenna tuner, original packaging and owners manual for $375.  On the advice of others, I have stayed away from ebay.  Better to find a rig from a fellow ham and see it working.

Eric
KK4CPH
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N6AJR
Member

Posts: 9891




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« Reply #25 on: August 01, 2011, 01:23:48 PM »

I agree, use the G4FON progrsam to learn the code. You end up learning it once, at 20 wpm or so and have no speed up transitions.

I learned it  several times as a cub scout, boy scout and my initial  start with ham radio at a bare 5 wpm, I learned wron and still ( I am now in my 60's) and still double convert. 

the G4FON uses the koch meathod and you learn at a usable speed, so when you complete the alphabet, numbers, and "prosigns"  you can get on and  work folks

 in a cw contest, like WPX, and get worked all states, and DXCC in a single weekend.  good luck.
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W8JX
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Posts: 5474




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« Reply #26 on: August 01, 2011, 03:28:17 PM »

I found someone selling a TS-450, that is a pretty reliable rig?  I saw it had great reviews on this site.

A good clean TS-450 is a very good rig. Be advised they came with a built in antenna tuner and without it too. Tuner was a option. You can add one to it easily but if it does not have one price should reflect this and be 150 to 200 less.
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