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Author Topic: Antennas, radios and getting my general  (Read 4719 times)
WD1R
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Posts: 26




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« on: August 30, 2012, 07:34:58 PM »

I have tossed around the idea of going from tech to general, I would be interested in both voice and data on the HF bands but I do have an issue. Where I live (and I rent) is pretty much in the center of town, and even with that, is in the middle of the woods. To give you an idea.... If you walked out my front door and picked up a 10 meter pole and tried to walk around with it held horizontal, you will be there all day trying to get it around the trees. Last year in the drought we lost at least 10 trees, 7 of which we had to have cut down, and you would be hard pressed to notice if you aren't looking for stumps. Many of them are really old pines, getting a tower over it would not only get the city and property owner on my rear, but probably the FAA as well.

So I guess my question is, short of moving, what can I expect from HF through this mess? The local 2m repeater is close enough (maybe 2 miles) so I have no problem with an HT hitting it from in the house, the local 440 is about the same distance in a different direction and I can hit it from outside with the HT but it isn't pretty.

The other side of this though is that there are enough trees that I could put up some serious wires and you couldn't see anything even if you were standing right next to them.

Since I have no experience with HF and trees I am just worried I will get my general, buy a HF rig, put up some antennas and never get anything because of the trees.

If nothing else, thanks for listening.

Allan
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K7MH
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Posts: 339




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« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2012, 08:15:55 PM »

Trees don't matter much at all until you get up above 30MHz a ways.
They make good antenna supports!
I have a 102ft inverted V about 40ft up in a fir tree that is probably 80 or more feet tall. Trees like that are all over the place in this neighborhood!! I have 4 of them on my property all twice as tall as my 40ft tower.
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KB4QAA
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« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2012, 06:53:19 AM »

Attenuation is essentially a non-factor at HF, or repeater work on 2m/440.  It becomes a factor with terrestrial weak signal work, satellites, and EME on VHF/UHF.
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2012, 09:27:14 AM »

I agree: Tall trees are good things when it comes to HF and wire antennas.

The taller and stronger, the better.

Very little if any attenuation from pine trees on the HF bands.  They can become a problem on UHF, and even more so on SHF (above 3000 MHz).

Get some local experienced ham help if you can and get one or two good wire antennas up high in the treetops, allowing for sway (so the wires don't all break when it gets windy).
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N6AJR
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« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2012, 09:51:15 AM »

You have many options, from a simple wire dipole fed with ladder line, to a fan dipole, to a hustler 5btv verticle to a steppir vert to a ma5b on a push up mast, and so on.  Put up something and get on the air, get your general, and have fun.  any antenna will work better than no antenna at all.
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WD1R
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Posts: 26




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« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2012, 11:51:17 AM »

Thanks! Now that I know the trees are not a problem I just have to decide on a radio, FT-950, TS-2000, or maybe a FT-897 so I can be really portable. Choices choices choices! Maybe find me a store within a couple hundred miles and see if they have those so I can see them before I decide.

Thanks again!

Allan
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AC4RD
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Posts: 1235




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« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2012, 02:48:27 PM »

.. I just have to decide on a radio, FT-950, TS-2000, or maybe a FT-897 so I can be really portable. Choices choices choices! Maybe find me a store within a couple hundred miles and see if they have those so I can see them before I decide

Allan, I have an 897 and a 950; the 950 is a MUCH better performer for DXing.  And I *love* the 950, but it's also a lot bigger and heavier than the 897; you would NOT (IMO) want to try to use it portable.  The 897 is (also IMO) a great little radio--not nearly as good for DXing and contesting, but it's as tough and as handy as a good Swiss Army Knife.  I worked over 100 countries last summer and fall from my riding lawnmower, using its battery for power and the 897 with various backyard antennas--had a WORLD of fun doing it.    And I don't know a thing about the 2000; never had one.

But it's a good idea to try all the radios, and see if one or the other feels best to you or suits what you plan to use it for the most.   My 897 was bought used (with shipping and a guarantee, from one of the big ham stores), for half the price I paid for the new 950; if price is a big consideration, that might be important to you.

Again, I don't know about the TS-2000, but (still just my humble opinion), if you buy an 897 at a good price, you can use it for portable/mobile ops for years and have fun with it, even if you get a higher-end radio later--the 897 is a great little radio.  If you're really eager to work a lot of DX, the 950 is probably a better choice, especially as a new model is coming out and prices on 950s are a little lower than they used to be.

The best news is that you really can't go far wrong with either of them!   :-)   And trees are great supports, and wire antennas work great and cost virtually nothing to build--plus, they're fun to experiment with!  :-)  73 GL!   --ken ac4rd
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WD1R
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« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2012, 05:21:24 PM »

Price is always a consideration, but I don't mind saving up a bit for something of quality (right now my HT is a VX-8GR and it is a nice little unit). I know I would love to have something like the 950 but I am really leaning towards the 897 as I can not only use it as a base, but a mobile or portable as well. Then if I want something a little nicer a few years down the road for my desk at home, the 897 will still have several functions I can use it for. Look at me, talking myself right into that 897! :-)

Allan
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WA4D
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« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2012, 06:02:45 PM »

This is why sociologists say, "Don't listen to what people say, Watch what they do".

Yet another ham who says  he is "tossing around the idea of going from tech to general". More talk. And oh yes, he "would be interested in" modes ....  How do you predict what "modes" you'll be interested in before you have used them?

We've heard these guys for years. Since the No-Code ticket emerged. "Oh, I'm tossing around the idea of learning CW,  but first I need to let my ears relax and then ask my wife for some new headphones, is there a way to learn this in your sleep?, I read you can be hypnotized to learn CW................"   Of course few ever do. Rare do you hear a ham who got his ticket in the last 10 years on the low end of 40mtrs at 30wpm. Talkers. Not Doers.

This is typical of the mediocre crowd that is attracted to the hobby.  No passion. No drive. Just "tossing around.............

« Last Edit: August 31, 2012, 07:00:00 PM by WA4D » Logged
WD1R
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« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2012, 07:23:44 PM »

WA4D:

Did I offend you somewhere I am unaware of?

If you want to be picky, I said "I have tossed", not "tossing around", have tossed being past tense. I further stated "I am just worried I will get my general...", note it does not say IF I get my general, it says I will get my general. I am currently on page 4-12 of The ARRL General Class License Manual For Ham Radio, Seventh Edition, on the section titled "Components in series and parallel circuits".

How do I predict what modes I would be interested in? Because I already enjoy voice on the air and my daytime job is in IT, hence the interest in data.

So falling back on your quote of "Don't listen to what people say, Watch what they do". I am actively gathering information to help me expand my horizions in this hobby. You are busy insulting me who you don't even know. So what does that say about you?

Allan

PS. Hams like you is the reason I have nothing to do with the local clubs around here any more. I was once VP of the local club, helped build the club shack at the fire station, but quit all the meetings and nets because of the "holier than thou upper class" hams that thought they were so very superior thinking everyone outside their little click was the "mediocre crowd". Sheesh!
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K7MH
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Posts: 339




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« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2012, 08:15:53 PM »

Modes really won't be a big concern. The rigs these days have all the conventional modes so you would have AM FM CW and SSB anyway. For digital modes you add a sound card interface and away you go, try a few and see what you like. For me it is just RTTY, I don't much care about the others. Maybe someday though.
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WA4D
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« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2012, 08:25:26 PM »

Good Come back Man.

That you are out of the local club scene and not wasting your time with the Emcomm buffoons  is a step in the right direction.  But I would say to you that not all hams are equal. Elitism matters. In all walks of life.  Equality is UnAmerican! We may be "created" equally. But in life, some people are achievers and well....most are mediocre at best! That's the way it should be!

Tune the bands. ANY band. Find literate, informed, engaging discourse on  technology (no not appliances) technology, film, literature, history, art, "last book read" or language.  You won't find it. One of the great myths of Ham Radio is that it is a vibrant environment for communicators. When in fact the vast majority of exchanges are of the most insipid drivel.

 I  stand by my remarks. Come back when you've got that shiny new general ticket and tell us what you have done,  not what you're going to do. (Because most don't!)

Cheers from LA
« Last Edit: August 31, 2012, 08:28:28 PM by WA4D » Logged
AC4RD
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Posts: 1235




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« Reply #12 on: September 01, 2012, 06:04:06 AM »

Did I offend you somewhere I am unaware of?

Don't pay any attention to that guy, Allan.  He usually only posts here when he's not hiding under a bridge, waiting for some billygoats to eat.  Wink

And you seem to know this perfectly well, but don't get hung up on modes.  I switch every few years; PSK/RTTY for a few years, phone for a few years, CW ...  it's ALL fun and there are lots of other options you can have fun with, too.  It sounds to me like you're in for a lot of fun when you upgrade.  73 GL!    --ken ac4rd
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K8AXW
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« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2012, 10:29:52 AM »

Alan:  It's good to get on here and bounce ideas and thoughts around with those who've been there; done that. 

Two great things about ham radio.  One, the hobby gives you something to 'think' about.  This is a great stress reliever and keeps the mind active with things that are away from everyday life.

Of course the second great thing is the many facets of ham radio.  You can go from SSB to moonbounce (EME) and a dozen thing in between, including building your own gear.

Keep thinking and planning which will should help you make more intelligent decisions.  Have fun.  This is one reason why we're all here.
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G3RZP
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« Reply #14 on: September 01, 2012, 12:04:20 PM »

One thing to think about with CW..........it's a skill. So is target shooting, so is building live model steam engines, and many other things. Once you've mastered it, it's an accomplishment to take some pride in having achieved. So will be getting a General, or an Extra class licence.

I've operated from apartments and worked DX with a piece of wire fed against a water pipe, and from a one room bed sit with a loop of wire taped to the wall. Go for it - the accomplishment is the joy!
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