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Author Topic: YL wonders if she needs an amp. Seriously.  (Read 8377 times)
KC9URR
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Posts: 2




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« on: January 02, 2012, 06:40:45 PM »

Greetings. I'm a new Ham with a General ticket. I have a Kenwood TS-590 and am using a Gap Titan DX
antenna. I'm also using the Mic that came with the rig. I can pull in signals pretty well but few can hear me when they do my signal is weak.  What am I doing wrong? Do I need an amplifier, a new Mic or both? I just love this stuff- but am pretty Elmerless (i can only harass the few living hams I know so much).
Thanks so much. Carolyn KC9URR
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KF7IPW
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Posts: 47




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« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2012, 06:52:53 PM »

I'm a pretty new ham too and was really adverse
to using an amplifier... at first.

Most of my radio time is late at night SSB on160, 80, 40 mtrs.
After struggling for months I turned to the dark side and
bought an amp.  I love it.  People can actually hear me.
It really makes it more enjoyable.

I still run barefoot CW, PSK31, on 160, 80, 40 and other bands.

My very new 2 cents.

Stan
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M0HCN
Member

Posts: 473




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« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2012, 07:00:15 PM »

I would suspect an aerial or feedline 'issue'. On HF the major limit on receiving is usually sky noise, and a poor aerial will drop the sky noise just as much as it does the wanted signal, so it doesn't hurt you all that much.

On transmit however, that effect does not help  because it is the other guys aerial that is picking up both the sky noise and the wanted signal, so a poor or incorrectly performing aerial will be a far bigger problem.

Do you have a power meter, and if so what does it have to say about both forward and reflected power?

Daft thought, but you do have the mic gain (and RF power) turned up to a reasonable level, see the manual for how to set this.
What does the power meter show when transmitting?

Regards, Dan.
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NA0AA
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Posts: 1042




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« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2012, 09:10:43 PM »

You know, usually being a YL is good for at least a couple of S units!  Sorry to be sexist but it's true.

But, as to your problem, I wonder is perhaps you have a naturally demure voice?  If so, I then wonder if you have used the ALC setting on your radios meter in order to properly adjust the mic gain and possibly add a bit of compression?  A bit of on the air play with those might save you some money.

On the other hand, if you are one of the "Loud Family", as I and my wife are, and you are getting good ALC action, and you have checked antennas as mentioned by others, then maybe an amp is for you.

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W8JI
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Posts: 9296


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« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2012, 07:25:28 AM »

Greetings. I'm a new Ham with a General ticket. I have a Kenwood TS-590 and am using a Gap Titan DX
antenna. I'm also using the Mic that came with the rig. I can pull in signals pretty well but few can hear me when they do my signal is weak.  What am I doing wrong? Do I need an amplifier, a new Mic or both? I just love this stuff- but am pretty Elmerless (i can only harass the few living hams I know so much).
Thanks so much. Carolyn KC9URR

Hi Carolyn,

The Gap antenna is pretty poor on some bands. It has terrible efficiency on 80 meters especially, losing about 90% or more of your power as heat. It is not a good design at all.

Since external noise limits receiving on HF, you can still hear very well with poor transmitting antennas. But the poor efficiency will hurt the other people trying to hear you.

If you can, you really should look at a different antenna. If you are stuck with that antenna then an amplifier can offset the poor antenna efficiency. Be real careful trusting any antenna advertisement or antenna review. The biggest liars in the world are found writing antenna ad copy, and Ham reviews are about worthless. Some of the poorest antennas made get excellent opinion reviews, because the users are often happy if anyone at all hears them. Some very poor systems get good review, so be careful.

73 Tom
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WB2WIK
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Posts: 20635




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« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2012, 08:51:13 AM »

I don't have a TS-590S to try this, but have read a lot of reports of people being disappointed with its "talk power" (so to speak), which is the result of whatever DSP program they're using to modulate the transmitter.  If this is a "software" problem, and it probably is, Kenwood may have a fix for it either now or soon, because I've heard a number of owners complain about this.

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W7VO
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Posts: 198


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« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2012, 11:36:31 AM »

I am fully with W8JI on this one. By far the biggest bang one can get for their hard earned bucks is a better antenna.


73;

Mike, W7VO
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AF6LJ
Member

Posts: 63




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« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2012, 11:45:14 AM »

I don't have a TS-590S to try this, but have read a lot of reports of people being disappointed with its "talk power" (so to speak), which is the result of whatever DSP program they're using to modulate the transmitter.  If this is a "software" problem, and it probably is, Kenwood may have a fix for it either now or soon, because I've heard a number of owners complain about this.



Steve has a good point; I have a little trouble driving my radio and I have found a little bit of speech processing helps.

Whatever audio processing the 590 has I would first take advantage of that feature and if it's still not enough look into a firmware upgrade.
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Take Care
Sue,
AF6LJ
When it's time it's time, and it may be sooner than you think.
W8GP
Member

Posts: 222




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« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2012, 11:58:10 AM »

A dipole at least 1/2 wave long can me a very effective antenna depending on height. A 130' dipole will (sort of) cover all bands if fed through ladder line and a tuner.As an experiment,just  put one up for your favorite band as high as you can get it and I think you will be pleasantly suprised how it will perform compared to your vertical.You don't need to be fancy with it, you can fashion a center insulator out of almost anything and just tie some nylon rope to the ends and string it up.Once you have proven that it works, you can always make a "good one" later.This is basically a "field day" type antenna and can be built for minimal cost with whatever wire and coax you can scrounge. Not to discourage you from an amp, but at this point an antenna will give you the most bang for the buck. Good luck and I hope to see you on the bands.
                                              73, Greg
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KD8MJR
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Posts: 2679




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« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2012, 12:25:29 PM »

I don't really agree with some of the responses to your question.
I think the 590 is an excellent radio, it has fantastic receive and the transmit is just about the same as most other radio's so IOW it's good Smiley  The Gap titan is an ok antenna, and the fact that you can hear them means its working well.

To answer your question I would first suggest a better Mic, maybe a desk Mic or a heil headset, whatever you prefer, and as for the Amp, I agree with the others, that the Antenna is everything, but in many cases a really nice Antenna is not an option, if that is your situation then I highly suggest that you invest in an Amp.  Since you can already hear them an Amp will really improve your chances of working them.

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WB4AUW
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Posts: 42




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« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2012, 12:37:56 PM »

I would suggest a different antenna before I bought an amplifier.
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KE3WD
Member

Posts: 5689




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« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2012, 12:58:56 PM »

You're first problem is the Gap antenna. 

If you can put up a good wire antenna, by all means do so. 

A dipole with antenna tuner will likely blow the performance of that Gap away. 


73
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WB6BYU
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Posts: 13479




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« Reply #12 on: January 03, 2012, 01:18:38 PM »

Quote from: KD8MJR

....and the fact that you can hear them means its working well.



No, it doesn't.  I can hear lots of signals on a 8" diameter loop antenna on 80m, but
that doesn't mean it is very efficient for transmitting.

As was explained earlier on this thread, the ability to hear a station is set by the signal
to noise ratio:  how much stronger the signal is than the background noise.  On HF the
background noise is also picked up by the antenna, so if you put, say, a 20dB attenuator
in line the signal to noise ratio stays the same (pretty much, for most modern rigs) but
the S-meter reads lower because the total received signal strength is less.  You can still
hear the same stations.

But if you try to transmit, the 20dB attenuator reduces your signal strength to 1% of what
it should be.  It doesn't, however, reduce the received noise level at the distant station
by the same amount, so the signal to noise ratio at the other end is much worse.  That's
what happens with an inefficient antenna (for whatever reason) - you can still hear lots
of stations, but it is more difficult for them to hear you.
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N5MOA
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Posts: 1112




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« Reply #13 on: January 03, 2012, 07:04:05 PM »



A dipole with antenna tuner will likely blow the performance of that Gap away. 


73

I have both. There is no "likely" to it. 

The Titan stinks on 80m, so-so on 40m and 30m. Nothing to write home about on the other bands. Receive is ok, it's just not very efficient if you want to talk to those you hear.

The only reason it is still up is I've been too lazy to take it down.

An inverted L for 80m, inverted L for 40m and 1/4 wire vertical for 30m is way more better. All that takes is wire and a tree.

Carolyn, my suggestion would be to try a dipole, or a better vertical w/ground radials, before buying an amp.

Max out your antenna options first.
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W8JI
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Posts: 9296


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« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2012, 05:10:05 PM »

The Gap titan is an ok antenna, and the fact that you can hear them means its working well.

That is absolutely untrue.

"Receiving well" often has very little to do with how well an antenna work for transmitting, and is not an indicator of a good transmitting antenna.
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