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Author Topic: New Ham Seeking Advice  (Read 6917 times)
KD0LQM
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Posts: 2




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« on: October 03, 2011, 02:41:37 PM »

Hello everyone,

I'm brand new to amateur radio. I got my license over a year ago and haven't done a single thing with it since. The reason is that I don't know what equipment to get, and I don't even know where to begin. I don't even know whether to go HF or VHF/UHF. I don't know anything. What questions do I need to ask myself before getting the equipment I need?

At this time I think I have a price range of up to $1000 or so, for everything.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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LA5RT
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Posts: 10




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« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2011, 03:28:35 PM »

hi there nice to meet another returner  Smiley

With HF (high frequency) You will be able to do communications with people all around the world.
Using VHF/UHF you will reach just within sight of horizon at UHF, a short path.

I dont know anything about satelite/moon/planet workout but thats another option.

There are several types of activities within frequency bands too.

There are contests, both locally and international within the frequency bands.

I would buy me some used ham equipments (tranceiver,antenna, and others specific for the frequency band(s) You preferre to work within.

Myself returned to hamwork due to interests in weatherbaloon and measurments using microcontroller. That involves some tracking and gps equipment beside of that Ill be mainly at HF-work.

Good luck further on

73's  de LA5RT

Hello everyone,

I'm brand new to amateur radio. I got my license over a year ago and haven't done a single thing with it since. The reason is that I don't know what equipment to get, and I don't even know where to begin. I don't even know whether to go HF or VHF/UHF. I don't know anything. What questions do I need to ask myself before getting the equipment I need?

At this time I think I have a price range of up to $1000 or so, for everything.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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KD0LQM
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Posts: 2




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« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2011, 03:36:18 PM »

So... eBay? I'm nervous about buying used equipment, frankly.

The HF range definitely sounds more appealing at this point.
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KG4NEL
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Posts: 373




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« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2011, 03:51:02 PM »

Well, something must have gotten you into this!

Just to give you an idea what's possible, I have a 100W transceiver on HF and an indoor wire antenna, and in the last week I've had contacts in Argentina, Bulgaria, Russia, and coast to coast in the US. But, most of that was on the lower HF bands - as a Tech, your only HF phone privileges are between 28.3 MHz and 28.5 MHz in the 10 meter band. So, unless you're active on CW, upgrading to General class or above is highly recommended to truly experience HF Wink

The easiest way to start out on VHF/UHF is with an FM transceiver that will let you access FM repeaters. If you're a member of a local club, repeaters can be an easy way to keep in touch and shoot the bull.

A $1000 budget is very doable with used equipment. A tube-solid state hybrid rig like a Kenwood TS-520s/820s, antenna tuner, and parts to build a wire doublet could easily come in under that. If you're worried about buying used stuff online (a very valid concern with older gear that may not have been restored correctly), maybe check out what people have locally? I'm sure there's a local club near you that may have members who want to get rid of some stuff that would make a fine starter station.

Having local contacts is also very helpful when it comes time to put up an antenna - stringing wires in trees is always easier with more hands on the ground.

The General test is only 35 more questions... Wink
« Last Edit: October 03, 2011, 03:58:36 PM by KG4NEL » Logged
LA5RT
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Posts: 10




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« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2011, 04:09:19 PM »

So... eBay? I'm nervous about buying used equipment, frankly.

The HF range definitely sounds more appealing at this point.

hia, I was thinking of buying from other hams (they are normally very reliable  Grin) at least in my country, advertising on several local clubs. Some suppliers of equipment also sells used equipment.

73
« Last Edit: October 04, 2011, 02:58:44 AM by LA5RT » Logged
K9KJM
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Posts: 2415




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« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2011, 10:09:14 PM »

I suggest starting with at least a few receivers and just listen for a while to get the feel of what goes on various frequencies, Both VHF/UHF simplex and repeaters in your area, And HF bands like 75 meters, etc.
Finding a few local hams and maybe joining a local club might help a lot too.

I feel that Ebay is the deep water where the sharks swim for buying used....   Sometimes good deals can be had there, But there are also rip offs.......   I feel lots more comfortable buying used from the classified ads right here on Eham. You are buying directly from a fellow ham.

Maybe a good used programmable scanner to listen to the VHF/UHF, And some kind of general short wave receiver (That includes SSB) for listening to the lower bands.

Or you might jump right in and get a good used Kenwood TS2000 radio.  That is the best "do it all" radio on the market today, A real jack of all trades.  They sell good used in the 900 dollar area, Brand new for less than 1500.
Just stretching out a wire will work fine for a listen only lower band antenna. 
You can build your own antennas pretty easily as needed with just some wire. 
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KQ6Q
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« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2011, 12:17:50 PM »

I second K9KJM's motion - find a local club, see what the hams in your area are using. Someone may even have more radios than they need, might lend you a rig to get started with. There's a club locator on www.arrl.org - give it your zip code, it'll list clubs within a radius you specify. How about the group that sponsored your License Exam session ? Be sure to visit several club Field Day sites next June - meet more local hams, experience various operating styles.
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WX7G
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Posts: 6072




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« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2011, 02:33:14 PM »

I suggest getting an all band radio and getting on the air. And I suggest getting a brand new radio so you have no problems with something old and possibly broken.

The Yaesu FT-857 is $820 at Ham Radio Outlet and covers 1.8 MHz to 450 MHz. The Yaesu FT-450D is $900 and covers 1.8 MHz to 54 MHz. You will need a 20 amp 12 volt power supply. The Astron RS-20A is $96.

You will need an antenna. The Hustler 5BTV covers 80, 40, 20, 15, and 10 meters. DX Engineering has the best price on this. Or put up a G5RV and use an antenna tuner. I recommend the MFJ-901B tuner for under $100. MFJ sells a G5RV antenna and this and the tuner are stocked at Ham Radio Outlet.
« Last Edit: October 06, 2011, 11:47:23 AM by WX7G » Logged
AE5VH
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Posts: 4




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« Reply #8 on: October 05, 2011, 10:37:23 AM »

The FT-450D only goes to 6m, it does not do 2m!

One option for used equipment is to buy from one of the ham radio stores (HRO, AES, Ham Station, Associated Radio, etc.).  They usually give a 30 or 60 day warrantee period, enough time to try the radio and see if anything seems wrong.  And you don't need to worry that they will take your money and not send you a radio (unlike ebay or private parties).  You can look for a newish radio and get a pretty good deal.  I saw a used ft-450 for $500 a couple of weeks ago.

If you are looking at buying new, the least expensive HF rig will be the icom ic-718.  It will do 160m-10m.  The next two, both yaesus, are really meant for going mobile (although you can use them at home, but be aware that they are small): the ft-857D and the ft-817nd.  Both will do 160m-70cm, but the 817 only puts out 5w.  The next one up (by price) is the yaesu ft-450D, which does 160m-6m.  It is more of a stay at home radio, not really meant for use in a car (although you could).

Along with the radio, you will need a powersupply - figure another $100ish.  You will also need an antenna or antennas.  This can range from $30-$40 for some wire, insulators, rope, etc.  up to hundreds of dollars.  What kind of antenna you use depends on where you can put it - trees, yard space, etc. 

The most important thing to remember is that this is a hobby and it is supposed to be fun.  Don't stress out over it too much.  You can always buy a different radio or put up a different antenna.  Enjoy the process of building (and dreaming) about your station, and then enjoy using it.
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ONAIR
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« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2011, 04:12:03 PM »

  You cannot go wrong with the IC-718.  You can keep it for years, and then sell it for a large percentage of what you paid.  With a power supply for around $100, you will still have $ left over for a nice 2M/400 rig.  Antennas you can build yourself for only a few bucks! (a big part of the fun of ham radio)
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K7UNZ
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Posts: 691




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« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2011, 11:31:36 AM »

I think KG4NEL mentioned the real first question you need to ask yourself prior to buying ANY gear.

What was it that caught your fancy about ham radio?  There must have been something that made you think, Boy, that's neat to be able to do, and that's where we need to start before anyone can tell you what equipment you will need.

73, Jim/k7unz
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K1JK
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Posts: 207




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« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2011, 09:08:46 PM »

hey
i started out with icom 718/dsp $525.00 @HRO,,,dentron super tuner on e.bay $90.00..
swr/watt meter $100.00 
antenna  80m loop /ladder line  $100.00..//SM-20 desk mic 150.00 new HRO
ran tha for 3 yrs...last month AL 80B amp $1300.00  @ HRO..
TOTAL---$2265.00  OVER 4 YRS...
didnt really need amp..but nice on 80m-40m dx

good luck

jeff k
« Last Edit: October 11, 2011, 09:10:22 PM by K1JK » Logged
KM0U
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Posts: 9




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« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2011, 07:08:32 AM »

Hi Daniel, I just visited your website - pretty impressive! I see you live in Andover, MN. My suggestion is for you to hook-up with the Anoka County Radio Club. They meet monthly just down the road from you in Blaine. You could meet other Hams, describe what you're looking for out of ham radio, and ask questions before plunking down $$$ for gear. Amateur radio is a great hobby with many opportunities across braod spectrum - check out Anoka County Radio Club.
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KK4CPH
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Posts: 154




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« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2011, 03:45:54 PM »

Search arrl.org for an upcoming hamfest in your area.  Meet some hams and ask questions (preferably in the tail-gating section as some vendors will try to sell you all the bells and whistles.)  Here's a rundown of my setup for getting into HF:
Kenwood TS-440 with auto tuner ($350)
Regulated power supply ($65)
Eagle One 31' Vertical Antenna ($180)
Heathkit uMatic Keyer ($90) (bought here on eham)
Total: $685
You don't need the keyer unless you want to do CW.... but you can definitely get on HF for under $1k.
And as KG4NEL said, upgrade to General!!  Smiley  I just did yesterday.  The bands are open and it's a great time to jump in!
Hope to hear you on the air soon.
73

Eric
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W5LZ
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Posts: 477




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« Reply #14 on: October 27, 2011, 02:09:36 AM »

There's no 'simple' answer.  It depends on what you want to do, and how you want to do it, and then fitting that into your budget.  Everyone makes decisions/choices that may not be the 'best' in the world, so don't worry about it too much.  Start somewhere, then 'fix' it if it needs fixing.  (You don't always wear the same shirt all the time, so radios are about like that.  Sort of.)
One good idea is to talk to a bunch of hams, see what they like or don't like (and why), and get your hands on equipment (theirs!) to see how it 'fits' you.  Then make up your own mind.  The biggy is to have fun doing it.  So...
Have fun.
 - 'Doc
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