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Author Topic: Getting started with CW/Ham Radio  (Read 1778 times)
JUKINGEO
Member

Posts: 31




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« Reply #15 on: March 24, 2009, 05:33:58 AM »

"The HW-16 is a very limited piece."

Not really, if low-cost CW is what you really want.

UPDATE:

I moseyed on over to the equipment review section (on this site) last night and read into the wee hours of early morning (2:00am), and I was pretty shocked to read that the HW-16 is actually the prefered rig with the HG-10 (or a modded VF-1) for CW work.

Granted I still feel that is limited in that it is only 3 bands, but it seems that many guys like this set up for CW.

The next up for CW work was the Kenwood TS-520S.  This was also another favorite for CW.

Surprisingly there wasn't much in the reviews for Drake in reference to CW although it was mentioned a few times.

But in regards to my research on Heath and CW, it would seem the HW-16 IS a better rig than the HW-101.

Well, I guess you learn something new every day.  Thusfar I still am leaning towards the Kenwood.  We will see.
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W5ESE
Member

Posts: 550


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« Reply #16 on: March 24, 2009, 08:27:04 AM »

> One particular brand that caught my attention was
> Kenwood. The R-499 receiver and TS-520S DO look
> like radios, what more is that Kenwood uses hybrid
> transmitters in their stand alone transmitters and
> transceivers. The antenna output has tube drivers
> and finals.

One other consideration to weigh is a feature
called 'full break-in', that is important to
some (but not all) morse operators. 'Full break-in'
is an extremely rapid transition between transmit
and receive. 'Full break-in' is also called
'QSK'.

If you are interested in participating in CW
nets or CW contesting, QSK will be more important
to you.

I have a Kenwood TS-520 (bought it new in 1977),
and, although I have enjoyed it a lot, it does
not have 'full break-in'. The transition between
transmit and receive uses a mechanical relay,
which is a bit slow and noisy. The transition
time is okay for operating voice (using
voice-activated switching, or 'VOX'). At the
time I bought it, I had recently upgraded to
General, and was looking forward to operating
SSB.

It wouldn't be my choice today, as I operate
CW about 80% of the time any more. The TS-520
is a great SSB radio, though.

The Heathkit HW-16 has very fast, smooth
transmit/receive switching.

Any of the rigs from Ten-Tec will have great
QSK, although they have used solid state
finals throughout their history, which may
dampen your enthusiasm for them.

A pair of rigs you might look at are the Ten-Tec
Century 21 and 22. They should be available for
$100-150. They use direct conversion receivers
(which have some drawbacks), but have fast
QSK.

Have fun es 73
Scott
W5ESE
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JUKINGEO
Member

Posts: 31




Ignore
« Reply #17 on: March 24, 2009, 10:50:04 AM »

Hello Scott

<<If you are interested in participating in CW
nets or CW contesting, QSK will be more important
to you.>>

Oh, no. I am a LONG ways off from that.  First I have to learn morse code so a CPO and a receiver are my primary concerns right now.   With transmitting comes the necessity for a licence a transmitter (unless I get a transceiver) and a proper antenna.  After that, then I will see where I end up going with ham radio.  Maybe I would get a bigger/better picture once I get my foot in the door.

But for now my main concern is learning and practicing morse code.  If the receiver also does voice, then that is just a bonus. It would just give me something else to listen to.

<<I have a Kenwood TS-520 (bought it new in 1977),
and, although I have enjoyed it a lot, it does
not have 'full break-in'. The transition between
transmit and receive uses a mechanical relay,
which is a bit slow and noisy. The transition
time is okay for operating voice (using
voice-activated switching, or 'VOX'). At the
time I bought it, I had recently upgraded to
General, and was looking forward to operating
SSB.>>

I have heard the 'S' variant of the 520 is better...especially for CW.  If that means an improvement on 'break-in', I don't know.  I just look at the Kenwood TS-520S as a good unit that does fall into the price bracket of a good receiver...yet it is a transceiver.  The vacuum tube finals also is a nice thumbs up.

<<It wouldn't be my choice today, as I operate
CW about 80% of the time any more. The TS-520
is a great SSB radio, though.>>

That sentence got beshoveled. Do you mean you do CW 80% of the time, or you don't?

<<The Heathkit HW-16 has very fast, smooth
transmit/receive switching.>>

Ahhhh,  So that is why it is getting good reviews from the CW guys.  One thing though, it is quite a bit less power than the HW-101 which uses 6146 finals like the Kenwood does.  Since the HW-16 uses a single ended final stage AND with a smaller tube, I figured it would have considerably less power.

<<Any of the rigs from Ten-Tec will have great
QSK, although they have used solid state
finals throughout their history, which may
dampen your enthusiasm for them.>>

Yup.  

<<A pair of rigs you might look at are the Ten-Tec
Century 21 and 22. They should be available for
$100-150. They use direct conversion receivers
(which have some drawbacks), but have fast
QSK.>>

Nice. Looks like the Heathkits!  Most of the newer Ten-Tecs I have seen thusfar look like fish-finders.

<<Have fun es 73
Scott
W5ESE >>

What's with the "73"? I seen many guys here use that at the end of their posts.  Is that a ham code for "end transmission"?

Geo

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W5ESE
Member

Posts: 550


WWW

Ignore
« Reply #18 on: March 24, 2009, 11:39:35 AM »



> First I have to learn morse code so a CPO and a
> receiver are my primary concerns right now. With
> transmitting comes the necessity for a licence a
> transmitter (unless I get a transceiver) and a
> proper antenna.

Okay, understood. The TS-520 was okay; I used it
a lot on CW. For ragchewing and casual use, it was
fine.

It's just that for about the same money, you
could get a radio with SSB, CW, and real QSK,
like the Ten-Tec Triton IV or Argosy.

> I have heard the 'S' variant of the 520 is
> better...especially for CW.

The TS-520S includes 160 meters; the TS-520
didn't. I don't know if the QSK scheme changed
between them.

> That sentence got beshoveled. Do you mean you
> do CW 80% of the time, or you don't?

I operate CW 80% of the time, these days.

<<The Heathkit HW-16 has very fast, smooth
transmit/receive switching.>>

> Ahhhh, So that is why it is getting good reviews
> from the CW guys.

Yes. Like Jim pointed out, it's actually
what's called a 'trans-receiver'; a completely
separate transmitter and receiver housed in a
single box.

> Since the HW-16 uses a single ended final
> stage AND with a smaller tube, I figured it
> would have considerably less power.

I thought it used a single 6146 in the
PA, though I could be mistaken.

> What's with the "73"? I seen many guys here
> use that at the end of their posts. Is that a
> ham code for "end transmission"?

It's a telegraphic abbreviation for 'Best
Regards'. But you'll hear phone operators
say it also.

http://www.ac6v.com/73.htm#73

73
Scott
W5ESE
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N2EY
Member

Posts: 3895




Ignore
« Reply #19 on: March 24, 2009, 03:44:21 PM »

<<You will not learn Morse Code by listening to people talk.>>

"Of course I know that."

What I meant was that listening to hams on voice will take time away from learning Morse Code.

<<How's this for style?

http://www.qsl.net/k5bcq/Jim/SilverRX1.jpg

All the controls go to 11, btw.>>

"Nice! Did you make that one yourself?"

Yes, back in the mid-1970s. Designed it around available parts. There was a matching transmitter and converter for 40 and 20 meters, too.

"The top right of the panel looks like you could put a nice large meter there in that empty spot, but yeah, overall pretty cool."

Why would I want a meter in a receiver?

<<There is an earlier model (TS-520, no 'S') that lacks some features.>>

"I was told to go with the "s" version. That is the one I need, right?"

I think any of them would serve your purposes. Much more important are condition, price, manuals, and whether or not it has the sharp CW filter.

TS-520 of any suffix are not rare; good ones show up frequently.  

"I am a service technician. I fix guitar amps mostly for a living. So yes, I am exposed to alot of tube gear. I am in the process of building my own stereo SE tube amp. I also have restored old jukeboxes and antique radios. So a tube radio restore isn't going to be too much of a problem, unless it is pretty complex."

"Complex" depends on the person, of course.

...

"I moseyed on over to the equipment review section (on this site) last night and read into the wee hours of early morning (2:00am), and I was pretty shocked to read that the HW-16 is actually the prefered rig with the HG-10 (or a modded VF-1) for CW work."

For the price, yes. However, I would only recommend the HG-10 VFO for use with the HW-16. Leave the VF-1 for other uses.

The HW-16 isn't the last word in CW performance by any means; there are a lot of rigs that are much better, including the TS-520.

What makes the HW-16 a good rig is that it has all the essentials of a basic CW rig, is simple to use and fix, and can often be found for a decent price.    

Others have mentioned QSK, aka "full break in". While it's a nice feature, it is not an absolute necessity like a sharp receiver filter.

"Granted I still feel that is limited in that it is only 3 bands"

Well, yes and no.

IMHO, it is better to have a setup that is pretty good on a couple of bands than it is to have one that is fair-to-poor on many bands. The various amateur bands have different characteristics, and it's important to understand them.

For example, if you're just getting started with Morse Code, the 80, 40, and 30 meter bands are probably your best bet, particularly if your available operating time is in the evenings. There's also the issue of antennas and how much space you have to put up an antenna for transmitting once you get licensed.

"Surprisingly there wasn't much in the reviews for Drake in reference to CW although it was mentioned a few times."

Eham reviews are simply opinions of owners/users; they need to be taken with a bit of salt.  

"But in regards to my research on Heath and CW, it would seem the HW-16 IS a better rig than the HW-101."

Agreed.  

Couple of other things:

- None of the TS-520 versions has full break-in/QSK.

- Much of the ham-speak/jargonwords you see here are abbreviations developed for Morse Code. For example, "73" is from a list of number abbreviations devloped over 130 years ago for the landline telegraph. People today think the strange-looking verbiage used by texters is a new thing, but it was being done with Morse Code 150 years ago and is still being done by hams today. (look on youtube for the Jay Leno competition between text messaging and Morse Code, it's really funny).

- There are lots of good websites about ham radio and Morse Code out there besides eham.net. Google is your friend!

Keep the questions coming!

73 de Jim, N2EY
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JUKINGEO
Member

Posts: 31




Ignore
« Reply #20 on: March 24, 2009, 09:40:45 PM »

<<The TS-520 was okay; I used it
a lot on CW. For ragchewing and casual use, it was
fine.>>

Sounds good.

<<It's just that for about the same money, you
could get a radio with SSB, CW, and real QSK,
like the Ten-Tec Triton IV or Argosy>>

And the 520S doesn't have these features?

<<I operate CW 80% of the time, these days.>>

Ok, gotcha

<<Yes. Like Jim pointed out, it's actually
what's called a 'trans-receiver'; a completely
separate transmitter and receiver housed in a
single box.>>

So for CW would I be better off with separates?  If I wanted something with more capability would I be better off with the Heath SB-301/401 Receiver/Transmitter combo over the HW-16?

<<> Since the HW-16 uses a single ended final
> stage AND with a smaller tube, I figured it
> would have considerably less power.

I thought it used a single 6146 in the
PA, though I could be mistaken.>>

No it doesn't.  It is using a different tube a 6GE5 Final.

<<> What's with the "73"?
It's a telegraphic abbreviation for 'Best
Regards'. But you'll hear phone operators
say it also.>>

Ahhhh, the CW'ers way of saying TTFN. LOL!

Geo
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JUKINGEO
Member

Posts: 31




Ignore
« Reply #21 on: March 24, 2009, 10:08:47 PM »

<<What I meant was that listening to hams on voice will take time away from learning Morse Code.>>

Oh, you think that I would get sidetracked too much with voice transmissions? Hmmm, not really.  As it is I do want to get a radio that will mostly be used for CW. But everyone needs a break once in a while and I do want to know what is going on on the voice channels.

As it is that part will be my full 'evaluation' of ham radio operation.  If I DO get sucked into the whole thing, then yes I will persue it further with a license and transmitting.

<<How's this for style?

http://www.qsl.net/k5bcq/Jim/SilverRX1.jpg

"Nice! Did you make that one yourself?"

Yes, back in the mid-1970s. Designed it around available parts. There was a matching transmitter and converter for 40 and 20 meters, too. >>

Nice job. No "fish finder" there.

<<"The top right of the panel looks like you could put a nice large meter there in that empty spot, but yeah, overall pretty cool."

Why would I want a meter in a receiver?>>

A tuning eye perhaps?  I just LOVE those things.

<<There is an earlier model (TS-520, no 'S') that lacks some features.>>

<<I was told to go with the "s" version. That is the one I need, right?"

I think any of them would serve your purposes. Much more important are condition, price, manuals, and whether or not it has the sharp CW filter.>>

I DID find out that the TS-520S does have the ability to have a sharp filter, but it isn't always installed as it was an option.  I saw a guy on YouTube operating a 520S with the cover off and I saw where the filter supposed to go.  From the look of it, it seems to be a small black box about 1" by 2".

<<A tube radio restore isn't going to be too much of a problem, unless it is pretty complex."

"Complex" depends on the person, of course.>>

I am mostly an amplifier tech, I don't do RF day in/out. So I am not exactly and expert in that department.  However, I am not a green-horn either, I have restored quite a few antique radios, but they are quite simpler than many of the tube based Ham rigs I seen.  

 
<<For the price, yes. However, I would only recommend the HG-10 VFO for use with the HW-16. Leave the VF-1 for other uses.>>

Most are using the HG-10, but I saw a few hams using the VF-1 too.

<<The HW-16 isn't the last word in CW performance by any means; there are a lot of rigs that are much better, including the TS-520.>>

I didn't think so, but looking at the reviews right here on eHam.net, there are many people that rave about it for CW work.

But another fellow I am emailing back and forth too did mention that if I go with Heath I would be better off with the SB-301/401 receiver/transmitter combo over the HW-16

<<What makes the HW-16 a good rig is that it has all the essentials of a basic CW rig, is simple to use and fix, and can often be found for a decent price.

Others have mentioned QSK, aka "full break in". While it's a nice feature, it is not an absolute necessity like a sharp receiver filter.>>

Yes, I was told that unless I am going to do contest work, I wouldn't need the full break-in ability.

<<"Granted I still feel that is limited in that it is only 3 bands"

Well, yes and no.

IMHO, it is better to have a setup that is pretty good on a couple of bands than it is to have one that is fair-to-poor on many bands.>>

That I was made aware of early on.  I was told to get an 'amateur band only' radio and not one of those all in one multi-band shortwave radios. A range from 80m to 10m would be good enough.

Besides I have also read that the 15m band on the HW-16 is also a bit iffy and that it is mostly useful on the 80/40 bands.

<<The various amateur bands have different characteristics, and it's important to understand them.

For example, if you're just getting started with Morse Code, the 80, 40, and 30 meter bands are probably your best bet, particularly if your available operating time is in the evenings. There's also the issue of antennas and how much space you have to put up an antenna for transmitting once you get licensed.>>

Transmitting is a different ball game and to be totally honest, I have not totally explored my antenna options.  I don't have much room where I am right now.  A tower is out of the question.  I might have to do with something in the attic.  

<<"But in regards to my research on Heath and CW, it would seem the HW-16 IS a better rig than the HW-101."

Agreed.>>

Hmmmm, would you also agree that the SB-301/401 combo is still better yet?

<<Couple of other things:

- None of the TS-520 versions has full break-in/QSK.>>

Understood.

<<- Much of the ham-speak/jargonwords you see here are abbreviations developed for Morse Code. For example, "73" is from a list of number abbreviations devloped over 130 years ago for the landline telegraph. People today think the strange-looking verbiage used by texters is a new thing, but it was being done with Morse Code 150 years ago and is still being done by hams today. (look on youtube for the Jay Leno competition between text messaging and Morse Code, it's really funny).>>

Yes, I DID see that clip on You Tube.  Another fellow here explained what the '73' means and linked me to a site that explained it in even more detail.  I responded to him by saying "Ahhh, that is the CW'ers way of saying TTFN".

<<- There are lots of good websites about ham radio and Morse Code out there besides eham.net. Google is your friend!>>

Duly noted.  I did go to other sites initially because I had a bit of trouble getting a login here. I have a bunch of sites saved as my favorites already.

Thanx,
Geo

Keep the questions coming!
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JUKINGEO
Member

Posts: 31




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« Reply #22 on: March 25, 2009, 05:55:01 AM »

<<I know nothing about tube equipment, but just thought I'd mention that www.LCWO.net is a great tool as well. Setup your free account and you can use any computer with internet access to continue your training. "scoring" is easier than with the G4ON software, but they both have been very useful for me.>>

I decided to try this site out this morning and it is cool!  I didn't need to sign up just to test out the program.  I started with the first exercise and at first I was like OMG!  I wasn't sure if I could follow along at the faster speed.  But after letting the exercise play over and over again and (and also reading the directions a few times over), I started to pick out the groups of letters and could hear the individual characters.  I didn't score well (obviously being the first time doing this), but I am sure that the more I listen to the strings the more I will be able to pick out.

The good thing though is that I am listening at 'real world' speeds, so I think this is a good method to follow instead of memorizing via 'visual' aids.  CW is audio based and carefully listening is the key (pun intended).

Thanx again for the tip off on this website because I can use it at work without having to install a program on my machine there.  I often get down time at work and I can easily hop on that site whenever I want to learn more.

Geo
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W5ESE
Member

Posts: 550


WWW

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« Reply #23 on: March 25, 2009, 07:09:53 AM »

<<It's just that for about the same money, you
could get a radio with SSB, CW, and real QSK,
like the Ten-Tec Triton IV or Argosy>>

> And the 520S doesn't have these features?

I don't know about the real QSK. The Kenwood
TS-520 used the sidetone oscillator to activate
the voice operated relay.

> So for CW would I be better off with separates?
> If I wanted something with more capability would
> I be better off with the Heath SB-301/401
> Receiver/Transmitter combo over the HW-16?

Could be; these would be in a very different
cost/complexity class.

I don't have experience with those radios.

The HW-16 is much simpler (and would be easier
to maintain). The SB-301/401 would offer
80-10m and SSB capability.

The HW-16 should be $100 or less.

By the way, if you get a variant of the TS-520,
(or any of several other radios) CW filters for
them are still available from Inrad.

http://www.qth.com/inrad/

I would go for the 400 Hz model. 250 Hz is a
little too narrow if it's the only filter you
have.

73
Scott
W5ESE
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JUKINGEO
Member

Posts: 31




Ignore
« Reply #24 on: March 25, 2009, 08:53:20 AM »

<<> And the 520S doesn't have these features?

I don't know about the real QSK. The Kenwood
TS-520 used the sidetone oscillator to activate
the voice operated relay.>>

I did speak to someone else about it and they did say that it does have a slower break-in response

<<The HW-16 is much simpler (and would be easier
to maintain). The SB-301/401 would offer
80-10m and SSB capability.>>

Yes, I would be interested in that.  The HW-16 does strike me as 'limited'.  The only reason I brought it for consideration is because the CW guys were ranting and raving about it.

<<The HW-16 should be $100 or less.>>

I can go a bit more with my spending budget, so if I can get something a little bit better...may as well.

<<By the way, if you get a variant of the TS-520,
(or any of several other radios) CW filters for
them are still available from Inrad.

http://www.qth.com/inrad/

I would go for the 400 Hz model. 250 Hz is a
little too narrow if it's the only filter you
have.>>

I just check it out.  They are charging $115 for the filter?  Ouch!  I nearly fell out of my chair!  I was expecting around $30 to $50.  If THAT is the case, I may as well make certain any radio I look into has it.  

Thanx,
Geo
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