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Author Topic: New Prospective General License Ham Needs Advice  (Read 2446 times)
KC8QOY
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Posts: 2




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« on: February 24, 2012, 10:47:04 PM »

Hello all,

 I have decided after being a Tech for 10 years, its time to upgrade my license to a General class. I had very little interest in HF because I was a neighborhood terror when I was a teenager with the CB. I used to get into everyone's TV, cordless phone and radios. This was around 1990-1995. I was pushing 4 watts (I swear!)

Now that I am grown up, I want to try it again. I do have some questions though.

1) Will HF still create chaos in the neighborhood? Technology has marched on and people's lives have changed. I want to make sure that my hobby doesn't cause problems with the people around me. I don't plan on running lots of power, just whatever the radio puts out (50-100W?). I plan on using a wire antenna with a tuner.

2) Is a TS-830 too much radio for me right now? I know its older, but I hear the recieve is fantastic. I am looking at one for sale on a forum for less then $500.00. It comes with the external VFO. There are many other options out there such as a Kenwood TS-430-440-450 out there as well. There is also a Yaesu FT-840 for sale for $300.00 on that same forum. I realize that the TS-830 is a hybrid radio, but the guy claims it to be in good condition and ready for use.

I appreciate any advice you can give,

73's  - James KC8QOY
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VA7CPC
Member

Posts: 2354




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« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2012, 12:29:10 AM »

1.  The answer depends on how close your antenna is to your neighbors.  Modern ham rigs put out very little power "out of band".  But if your neighbors are close to your antenna, they're likely to get RFI even if your transmitter is perfectly clean.

How close is "close" ?  You'll only know that after the wire is up, and you do some testing.

2.  My bias:

. . . Spend some extra money, and buy a newer rig.

The FT-840 is very simple (e.g., no speech compressor and no IF Shift, I think), but it will work OK.  An IC-718, if it's within budget, would be another good choice.  There are some things to remember:

. . . 100 watts is 100 watts, no matter how much or how little it cost;

. . . Most modern rigs have lower front-end noise than is inherent to the HF bands -- they're all "quiet".

. . . Most modern (all-solid-state) rigs are reliable.  Check the "Reviews" for the occasional exception.

So you'll be picking on a "features vs price" curve.   Until you know that you want a rig specially suited for X  (X= DX, contesting, CW, digital modes, whatever), most rigs will work out OK for most modes and uses.

Forgive me if I'm telling you things you already know.

.       Charles

PS -- FWIW, my own rig is a Yaesu FT-450.   If you can afford one used, it would be a good choice.
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KA4POL
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Posts: 1856




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« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2012, 12:29:36 AM »

Congratulations on your decision to upgrade. When I did that many years ago they talked me into trying to go even higher in license. I tried it successfully, so may you.
Now for RFI I got to say there is so much electronic stuff on the market you may still even more be running into problems. Of course it depends on the neighborhood and your setup for the antenna. To avoid psychological problems I'd put the antenna up without transmitting at first. If no one complains about dizziness etc start transmitting later on. In case of problems you hopefully got neighbors you can talk to. Often a choke in the right place will solve problems. Don't choke the neighbors  Grin
There will be many opinions which rig you should use. The TS-830 seems fairly well suited: http://www.sherweng.com/table.html
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KC8QOY
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Posts: 2




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« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2012, 05:27:31 AM »

Thanks for the advice so far. If anyone else has suggestions on HF gear, that would be great! I am trying to stay under $500.00 to start. I am still weighing the TS-830 but would love to hear more.
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W8JX
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Posts: 5350




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« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2012, 05:50:27 AM »

Thanks for the advice so far. If anyone else has suggestions on HF gear, that would be great! I am trying to stay under $500.00 to start. I am still weighing the TS-830 but would love to hear more.

I own a 830 and have had it since it was new. It was one of the last ones built. The last year they were made they were called "Gold Label" as the 830 below VFO was gold and not silver and had a different ceramic filter in IF too that was from 940. The 830 is still a class act today and will provide performance well above the new entry level rigs suggested above. One is fine shape is still a very nice rig to have. It does have a manually adjustable notch, IF and variable bandwidth tuning and has excellent selectivity when you learn how to use it that can even rival some modern higher dollar rigs.  Granted you do have to tune final output but this also gives you the abilty to feed less than ideal antenna SWR directly without concern. While a tuner is pretty much a must have for a new rig (either internal or external) because finals will throttle back quickly with SWR above 1.5 to one and higher this is not a issue with a tube final hybrid rig like a 830 unless you are dealing with very high SWR. (above 3 or 4 to 1)
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K8AXW
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Posts: 3598




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« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2012, 08:17:09 AM »

James:  POL and JX both make good points.  I own the 830 and like it very much.  It has been online for about 30 years and still has the original 6146 tubes. 

The one thing that I would like is the second VFO, which if you buy the external VFO, it will solve that one shortcoming. 

The only "problem" that I have had to correct is that Kenwood never installed star washers between the PCBs and the chassis.  This resulted in intermittent operation (after 20 years)but once I realized what was going on and installed star washers I haven't had a problem since.  But, if it works, don't try to fix it!

It's a great and solid rig and would make a good entry level transceiver.

As for RFI, please see comments by POL.  I never put up an antenna and use it immediately.  I always just receive on it for a few weeks so that everyone that has problems with their dishwasher, furnace and electric dryer becomes convinced that my antenna isn't the problem.
(I am NOT joking!  I've actually had women accuse me of ruining their clothes dryers!)

TVI is less of a problem these days because of CATV and satellite TV.  However, there are also a raft of other electronic devices that may suffer from RF overload from your rig.  But if you are operating properly then the problem is theirs, not yours. Never get involved in a "hands on" fix for anyone.

If I had to predict a specific item that you might interfere with it would be telephones.  Telephones these days are electronic and the wires connected to them are great antennas.This problem is easy to solve and if you do have a problem here, clean up your own system and let the phone compnay correct any problems your neighbor might have.

With all of that being said, go for it!!

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N6AJR
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Posts: 9879




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« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2012, 10:25:13 AM »

Most TVI troubles went away when the TV's went digital.  I use a 1500 watt amp most of the time and never get a complaint any more.  I would say if you are starting "new" again you  pick up a newer radio, used even is ok.  join a local club and see what who has to offer ass a loaner or for sale cheap.  Something newer than  a rig with tube finals is prefered, and you can get a 100 watt "shack in a box" like the ft 857d, the IC 706 MK II G or and alinco dx 70 for under 500 bucks used. so start with some newer rigs  that are needed in todays radio playground.  something with a computer port is  best. This sets you up for rig control and logging on the computer.  very handy.  good luck and welcome back from another "retread".
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W7ETA
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Posts: 2528




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« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2012, 07:48:19 PM »

I vividly remember feeling fantastic when I set up my first rig without tube finals!  Turn her on, get on a frequency, push the auto tune button.  Unlike the rig it replaced, I could set her up for around the middle of the band I was on, and then be able to tune from the bottom of the band into the SSB portion where I hunted for more DX, without having to retune.

I currently have a few rigs with tubes for finals, and enjoy using them.  The rigs I have now are ones I wanted when I first got my ticket but couldn't afford.

I see that the Icom 760 is in the same area as the 830.

I remember and avid DXer buying a used TS-830 because he loved the audio on it, claiming he could listen for hours and not get fatigued like he did with much more modern rigs.

This fellow's main interest was 75 meter DXing.  He had a beam and many beverage antennas.  He wound up being able to hear many weak stations that could hear him.  The result was that he would spend time on 75 giving out Qs to ops that were looking for AZ.  And he could work weak DX.

If the TS-830 with inrad filters and external VFO is more with in budget that the 760 is, I would happily choose it over any other solid state rig in the same price range.

Congrats on heading to General

73
Bob
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K8AG
Member

Posts: 345




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« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2012, 01:49:42 PM »

I understand your apprehension.  I would suggest the following:

Consider stealth antennas even if you don't have a home owners agreement with which to contend.  They are easy and most neighbors don't even know they are not simply power or phone lines.  (Of course ham neighbors will see them for what they are.)

Also consider QRP operation.  Some consider 100W QRP but I work nearly all QRP now and have a simple wire antenna between the trees.  It amazes me the contacts I make all over the world on 5W or less.

73, JP, K8AG
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W5DQ
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Posts: 1209


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« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2012, 02:07:13 PM »

Hello all,

 I have decided after being a Tech for 10 years, its time to upgrade my license to a General class. I had very little interest in HF because I was a neighborhood terror when I was a teenager with the CB. I used to get into everyone's TV, cordless phone and radios. This was around 1990-1995. I was pushing 4 watts (I swear!)

Now that I am grown up, I want to try it again. I do have some questions though.

1) Will HF still create chaos in the neighborhood? Technology has marched on and people's lives have changed. I want to make sure that my hobby doesn't cause problems with the people around me. I don't plan on running lots of power, just whatever the radio puts out (50-100W?). I plan on using a wire antenna with a tuner.


Should not have any problems (or very minimal ones) if you transmit a clean signal and follow proper station design techniques.

Quote

2) Is a TS-830 too much radio for me right now? I know its older, but I hear the recieve is fantastic. I am looking at one for sale on a forum for less then $500.00. It comes with the external VFO. There are many other options out there such as a Kenwood TS-430-440-450 out there as well. There is also a Yaesu FT-840 for sale for $300.00 on that same forum. I realize that the TS-830 is a hybrid radio, but the guy claims it to be in good condition and ready for use.


The TS-830S is a fantastic radio and other than having tube driver and final stages, it is just as good as  most rigs in use today. It may not have DSp and a vast array of modern bells and whistles but it has one o fhte hottest receivers available up to the latest string of new rigs. I had on years ago and loved it. Wish I had never traded it away. I keep thinking of getting another if I ever found a good deal.

I have no experience with the FT840 so can't give you any help there.

Main thing is be careful buying older radios to ensure it is currently being used and is operating properly, or if it has been sitting for a long while, ensure the power supply caps are still up to snuff by either having it tested (and/or repaired ON SELLER's NICKLE) before buying if you can't test/repair yourself. A sudden inrush of current to older capacitors can cause them to 'pop', turning your new rig into a nice paperweight if you can repair it or if it turns out too costly to repair.

Gene W5DQ
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Gene W5DQ
Ridgecrest, CA - DM15dp
www.radioroom.org
KB3HG
Member

Posts: 404




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« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2012, 07:04:53 AM »

James,
Can't see your back yard on Google, I'd think about a ground mounted vertical or even an antenna on your garage. being close to the interstate, You would have heard about RFI complaints from the trucks.

A 100 watt radio shouldn't cause heartburn in the neighborhood, if you want to test the water, put up an antenna,  if questioned, it's your shortwave radio antenna, you like to listen to shortwave.  Clean and simple.


You could still get away with dipole antennas for 10 meters, And if your looking at used gear,
look for WARC bands, 30, 12, 17 meters in addition to 160, 80, 40, 20, 15 and 10 meters.

73,
Tom

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KL3HY
Member

Posts: 117




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« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2012, 08:49:41 AM »

One thing that hasn't been mentioned yet is that the TS-830 doesn't have a general coverage receiver.  That may or may not be relevant to you.  If you want to listen to short wave broadcast stations, you won't be able to with the 830.  This was a deal killer for me when I was shopping for my first HF rig.

I ended up buying a TS-450 and have been extremely happy with it. 
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W5DQ
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Posts: 1209


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« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2012, 09:31:09 AM »

One thing that hasn't been mentioned yet is that the TS-830 doesn't have a general coverage receiver.  That may or may not be relevant to you.  If you want to listen to short wave broadcast stations, you won't be able to with the 830.  This was a deal killer for me when I was shopping for my first HF rig.

I ended up buying a TS-450 and have been extremely happy with it. 

To some this might be an issue but if you're workin' DX in the ham bands, you don't need a general coverage receiver. I have it on both my radios and have never used it. I barely have time to operate on the hams bands. Definitely don't have times to sir and listen on any SW bands.

Like mentioned before, the venerable TS-830S receiver is a hot selling point for these rigs. Most TS-830S's up for sale these days still command a premium price so that should indicate something.
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Gene W5DQ
Ridgecrest, CA - DM15dp
www.radioroom.org
K8GU
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Posts: 716


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« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2012, 10:10:59 AM »

Having owned an FT-840 for many years (17 now, wow) and having operated a TS-830S a few times, I can assure you that the TS-830S is a better radio in just about every aspect except portability.

There are some RFI problems that no amount of good engineering on your part can fix.  Just put your antenna up high and let 'er rip.
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