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Author Topic: No Joy with this Hobby!!!  (Read 3542 times)
WHISSPER
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Posts: 18




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« on: March 10, 2012, 06:10:07 PM »

Arghhh!!! I am ready to throw my radio and everything else over the balcony or against a wall.

I don't know why I keep trying to get this hobby to work for me but I have the odd bout of insanity and try again. The times I haved tried to  get a BASIC WORKING system has NOT worked. About once a year I will try again and after a week of irritation pack it all away again. This has been going on and off for five years!!!

Well the hell did I do a license? I can't see the point in even trying anymore (and yet I still want too - madness)

I have a radio(Icom IC7000 - which I really don't know how to use properly, a power supply and a tuner (LDG 1000 for the IC7000) (and assuming they are working - I know the power supply is good but as for the rest Huh).

Antenna and antenna systems seem to be my problem.

I thought all needed to do was a string up a bit of wire and at least I would HEAR something. All I get is static. Right across 1-30Mhz!! All modes (AM, CW, RTTY, LSB, USB).

I can't find clear simple suggestions for unit/apartment antenna. I understand all locations will be different but

I don't have bucket of money to throw at this. I have metres of wire and coax and more frustration that I can't even hear ANYTHING. I can't even get the BBC World Service.

What I have NEVER had is a working antenna system.

I keep looking round the net for SIMPLE antenna and get lost quickly as I DON'T have  a backyard. I live in a unit/apartment. I have great elevation, no ground, limited space.

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KC7YRA
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Posts: 256




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« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2012, 06:16:30 PM »

Hmmm, you've been struggling it sounds like.  It really is simple so maybe the good folks here can help.

Explain what antenna you have tried to build.  Lengths of wire, how it is attached to the coax, connector used, etc.  how is the antenna mounted?

The other issue with noise may be your biggest problem.  Apartment complexes are extremely noisy which can be hard (but not impossible) to mitagate.

Lets also check the radio.  Biggest thing to me is the RF gain.  If it is set too high, you will see a full meter and hear nothing.  Check that as well.

Lets start there.

Brad
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N4CR
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Posts: 1662




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« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2012, 06:21:27 PM »

If you posted your call sign, we'd be able to find some help near you. As it is, nobody even knows what country you are in.

How about you giving us a clue so we can help you better?

What you need is a local elmer. It's tough to learn radio or do troubleshooting over the internet.
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73 de N4CR, Phil

We are Coulomb of Borg. Resistance is futile. Voltage, on the other hand, has potential.
KE4YOG
Member

Posts: 182




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« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2012, 06:50:34 PM »

If possible find a local club and go from there. That can be daunting but it is a start. Couple of things that come to my mind. First is that getting a ground for a wire antenna is tough in an apartment. Possible add an artificial ground.  Next question would be what kind of wire antenna are you able to get up? I really think that you are closer than you think. What kind of tuner do you have? Make sure it will work with the type of antenna you are trying to run.  Just my thoughts at first glance.
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VA7CPC
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Posts: 2375




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« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2012, 11:51:23 PM »

The IC-7000 is a particularly complex rig to master, because of its extensive capabilities and small front panel, which require an extensive system of "menus" that you must learn to navigate.    There are lots of  "gotchas" -- things that, if you set them wrong, make it impossible to use.

Four questions:

. . . Do you have a balcony?

. . . What are the walls of your building made of?

. . . Have you attached _one wire 6' long_ to the antenna terminal, and tried to receive a local AM broadcast station?    An FM broadcast station?

One suggestion:

. . . Use the ARRL website  (  arrl.org ) to find a local ham club,
. . . . . contact the club,
. . . . . . . go to a meeting, and
. . . . . . . . . have somebody (preferably somebody who knows the IC-7000) come to your place and
. . . . . . . . . see what's going on.

Unless you have a pretty good background in electronics (or physics), it's really tough to take a set of manuals and figure out what to do. 

      Charles
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STAYVERTICAL
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Posts: 854




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« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2012, 01:17:09 AM »

Apartment ham radio is not easy at the best of times, and I can understand your frustration.
Your problem is one of interference from multiple electronic appliances, probably from within your apartment complex and surrounding dwellings.
This is fairly standard on H.F. these days, but there are solutions.
I would forget about a vertical antenna, or an end fed one as these will simply pick up more interference and you can't work them if you can't hear them.
There is nothing wrong with these antennas but you need something which is efficient but minimises noise.

Since any large antenna is not possible I would suggest you investigate a small magnetic loop antenna for your situation.
They do not require a ground, are only about 1 metre wide for HF and can be used as low as 1 metre above the ground.
Since you have good elevation, this antenna should perform very well indeed.
These antennas have a narrow bandwidth (around a few tens of kilohertz on some bands), but are well known for being a quiet receiving antenna.

I have personally tried some, and the signals are not as strong as a dipole for example, but the noise level is generally lower, giving a better signal to noise ratio than a dipole in my noisy location.
On transmit, they can be almost as efficient as a dipole on some bands, depending on the construction of the loop and its diameter.

The main negative of a small magnetic loop antenna is the care needed in constructing the tuning capacitor, and some means of remote tuning.
Some quick looking on the net will give you the idea.
In my opinion, this antenna is your best chance of HF communications in a noisy RF environment, particularly since receiving is your main problem.

Some more suggestions are to reduce your receive bandwidth (try it and see the huge difference in noise), by using CW or PSK31 with a narrow filter.
If you can't use a filter, try any antenna you can with PSK31 - the waterfall display on your PC will generally pick out any signals and you don't even have to have the audio volume turned on to listen to the noise.

Believe me, you are not alone in being exasperated by domestic HF noise, but strategies exist to still enjoy ham radio, although the options available are generally fewer than those lucky guys living in rural areas.

Good luck and 73s.

« Last Edit: March 11, 2012, 01:20:37 AM by STAYVERTICAL » Logged
AE5QB
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Posts: 269




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« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2012, 06:45:37 AM »

KISS.  If you can't even hear local AM stations then you have a basic problem.  That is assuming the 7000 (I don't know) has wideband AM/FM capability.  You should be able to hear something.  There is something very basic going on here.  My guess is while you may think your antenna is connected to the radio, it probably is not.   There is something very basic going on that should be extremely easy to eliminate.

The club suggestion is a good idea.  I know a lot of people think clubs are all about old-timers throwing their weight around, and that is true to some extent.  But I have never visited any club where I couldn't ask a question and get some help.  Sometimes those know-it-all attitudes can be helpful, especially if the person does know something - it can happen.   But even if you can't find a satisfactory club, look up local ham calls around your area and reach out to them.  I am confident you can find someone who can help, probably someone who has your same radio-it is a very common and popular one.

Here are the steps I would take:

Read the manual forwards and backwards and play with the menus until you understand them.  Make sure you know where the antenna needs to be connected and how to adjust the RF gain.  I can receive local AM stations on my radio without any antenna connected so you should be able to get something.

If you still can't get it to work, seek out someone with a working antenna.  Take your rig over and plug it into their antenna system.  This will isolate radio, from antenna, from location.

Depending on what you find there, take the next step.

Basic operations is not rocket science.  You hook up a wire, turn the radio on, and tune it for the station.  Now trying to work DX is another story about quality of installation, but you aren't there yet, you are at the basic stage. Take it a step at a time, find some willing help, and I think you will be on the air before you know it.

Heck if nothing else, if you want to send your radio to me, I'll check it out for you.  This may take a little time, but hey, if you haven't operated for years, what is another few weeks?  I am sure dozens of others here will do the same for you.

Don't give up if you really want to operate.  There is always a solution.  It may not be the ideal solution but there is always a solution.
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K8AXW
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Posts: 3739




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« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2012, 06:58:11 AM »

Quote
Read the manual forwards and backwards and play with the menus until you understand them.  Make sure you know where the antenna needs to be connected and how to adjust the RF gain.  I can receive local AM stations on my radio without any antenna connected so you should be able to get something.

If you still can't get it to work, seek out someone with a working antenna.  Take your rig over and plug it into their antenna system.  This will isolate radio, from antenna, from location.


Excellent advice.  You have picked one of the most difficult radios out there to operate.  For a first time radio, "you inna a heapa trouble boy!"  I've been a ham for 55 years and the 7000 I played with for awhile was no doubt the most frustrating rig I ever touched.  Guy wanted to sell it to me for a song.  After a few days, I told him to take it home.

Now you couple that with an automatic antenna tuner which has it's own learning curve, it's no wonder you're having trouble.

Take the previously mentioned advice and learn your gear with some outside help.
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N7NBB
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Posts: 381


WWW

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« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2012, 07:33:17 AM »

You obviously don't really WANT to give up on the hobby, since you keep returning hoping to find solutions to your problems. SO...
If you've asked locally for help, and been told your (apartment) situation is hopeless, which I doubt is the case, consider the following:  Before you entirely give up on the hobby, why not do what hundreds of others (who for one reason or another cannot operate from the comfort of their home) and do most of your operation "MOBILE".  Don't let apartment rules "rule" you. One of my friends operates exclusively from his mobile... a lot of the time by just sitting in his parking space out side his apartment. Granted it's not the "same" as a huge antenna at 70 feet up, but he has worked all states, and has many DX contacts... especially significant since he is a "MOBILE" station. If a high noise level cant be mitigated in your immediate area, take a drive into a more rural area (or at least a less noisy urban location). Don't get trapped into thinking a small antenna on your vehicle is all there is to mobile operation.  Build a dipole antenna you can throw up in some trees or other supports, and try that as well.  I can park at a location and within 20 min have a multi-band dipole strung up at 25 feet... even higher if there are trees or other supports nearby.  You can do likewise, and enjoy working the world on your completely portable HF station.  Having recommended that, I also need to explain that there are other small roadblocks to overcome most easily handled. . . and some downright FUN to figure out.   I realize at the moment you cant get your radio to even receive a usable signal, but as has been stated, if you are just starting out... a rank beginner.... the radio you have "CAN" be a bit overwhelming. If you can find a local club or even just ask another ham to suggest someone who might help you understand your radio's operation.  Also if you could give us your callsign... or at the very minimum WHERE you are located, it would be a lot easier to ascertain methods of assisting you.  Hope you get things cleared up and working, as this is a wonderful hobby with LOTS of rewarding activities.
Good luck.. let us know how it goes.
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G7MRV
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Posts: 477


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« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2012, 07:37:55 AM »

sAM,

Having read your previous posts, it seems to me youve tried to run before you can walk! You seem to be trying lots of ideas out for antennas but without a good basic knowledge. Have you a copy of the ARRL antenna book, or similar? I would strongly suggest getting such and reading it well.

But, lets see if we can at least get you started! You mention the HF side, have you any VHF equipment? a HT for instance? At least getting on VHF will get you making contacts and finding locals who may then be able to help you further.

As regards your HF. Firstly, try this - Put a long length of wire, not coax, direct to the antenna socket center pin of your rig (remove the mic and/or key so you cant inadvertantly tx!!!), something 5m or longer at least, and tune to 6.676MHz USB. Listen for an hour or so, you should hear the Brisbane VOLMET aviation weather broadcasts. Also, with this setup tune the broadcast bands in AM mode. You should hear plenty. This will show if your receiver is working. If you hear nothing this way, then i'd suggest having the radio checked by a dealer. This should at least get you hearing things.

Once the receiver has been ruled out as being at fault, then we can start to rething your antenna situation to get you on air! A random wire from your ATU, and a counterpoise wire form its earth terminal, and you should be able to start working something,. Prove the radio isnt at fault first, and then come back on here for more advice.
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N5EG
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Posts: 246


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« Reply #10 on: March 11, 2012, 09:05:57 AM »

Hi Whissper,

Sorry for your frustration.  Most likely the problem lies with the antenna and your apartment location.
The previous advice - to take your radio to a known good location and connect to a known good antenna is a sound first step. A second step would be to try a mobile or portable setup - get out away from the noise of your apartment and try a simple coax-fed dipole and some trees.

If those allow you to hear well then you will have isolated the primary cause.

In dense residential areas I have found that a dipole and a really good balun (maybe even 2) can reduce the local noise pickup quite a bit.  Feedline pickup of local noise sources can sometimes swamp the desired signals from an antenna (well, it does at my QTH).  A well-balanced horizontal dipole, a balun at the feedpoint, and a balun at the radio may help matters if the problem is local noise. Getting the dipole as high and as far away from the building as possible usually yields the most benefit.  Try to avoid a vertical antenna / balcony rail type of antenna as it could be more susceptable to noise.

You may want to learn to operate CW or digital modes (like PSK) - and set your receive filter to a narrow width - that also helps to reduce the amount of local noise in your receiver.

You may find that mobile or portable operation are your best bet if it's just impossible to erect a high, horizontal, and well-removed antenna at home.  Don't give up - lots of people are in the same boat you are and they are sucessful after a lot of effort.

-- Tom, N5EG

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N6AJR
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Posts: 9914




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« Reply #11 on: March 11, 2012, 11:52:59 AM »

find a club.  have a member come ov er to help set you up.  rinse. repeat. 


go to  http://arrl.org/find-a-club, type in your zip code and or other pertinant data,and hit enter. this will bring up a list of ham clubs in your local area.  . they all have a contact person and phone number. call and ask about  the next meeting, for an elmer , how do I ....
 
some one will take you under their wing.  Please gice it a shot.

enjoy
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KZ1X
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Posts: 3229




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« Reply #12 on: March 11, 2012, 06:11:13 PM »

A local YL ham here lived in an apartment and ended up getting set up with a 50 watt rig (nowhere near as fancy as yours), and was able to work DXCC.

Yes. DXCC.  From the apartment, with stealth antennas.  Brand new ham, not a technical person either.

Surprised?

You have seen a repeating theme in this thread ... you need an Elmer.  Local, in the flesh, not some internet person.

Amateur radio is a fraternal hobby.  The YL who use to live here in the apartment --who got DXCC-- would not have had a chance of success in amateur radio were it not for her Elmers ... she readily agrees ... and she now IS the Elmer, plus she ended up meeting the guy who is now her husband on the air.
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WD8T
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Posts: 126




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« Reply #13 on: March 12, 2012, 01:03:18 PM »

No response.  Maybe he just decided to end it all.   Sad
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K1WJ
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Posts: 454




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« Reply #14 on: March 12, 2012, 02:10:43 PM »

Whissperer,

Do not smash yor equipment against the wall.

Send it to me, K1WJ - good address on QRZ

I'll pay shipping - once I get it working - I'll let you know what was wrong..........

Can't go wrong.......... Roll Eyes 73 K1WJ David Cool
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