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Author Topic: Considering a TT 13xx - which band and why?  (Read 989 times)
WC1I
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Posts: 15




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« on: July 27, 2009, 07:06:39 AM »

I'm looking at the Ten-Tec 1300-series transceivers as an inexpensive way into portable QRP CW.  As I'm really just starting out in CW, what band (and frequency range, given the builder has to specify a 50 KHz segment) would you recommend, and why?  The band options are 20, 30, 40, and 80.

Bill
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AA4N
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Posts: 110




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« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2009, 03:06:07 PM »

I would go with 20M.  It's a great band, and it will only get better as the solar cycle improves.  And it takes the smallest antennas, which is a big concern when you are talking about putting the antenna up and taking it down every time you use it.

My next choice would be 40M, only because it's got lots of slow code activity.  For a new CW guy, that might be more important than having to fool with the bigger antenna.  If you could get the tuning range to work between 7.040 and 7.120, that would be perfect.  The slow guys are usually found around 7.045-7.055  or  7.105-7.120

There's my 2 cents...

mike AA4N
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AB9NZ
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Posts: 176




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« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2009, 03:07:15 PM »

Bill,
  One of the higher bands is probably more useful for qrp work- but only when they're open. You can always get a qso on 40 but you do have to decide which 70 kilocycles of the band, 'cuz its split in half by the guys making modem noise. Since you're new to the manly art of radiotelegraphy I think you'll find 40 meters best for a beginners rate of exchange.
  I really enjoyed assembling and aligning my 1340. It teaches you a lot about superhet architecture.
  Some nice resources to look up for the new cw/qrp op are the free e-zine "The K9YA Telegraph" and the "QRP-L archive", google will get you there.
  I think you'll find the TenTec's narrow filter, and qsk make for a fun and practical little rig that will give you good service. Good luck and best regards, Tom, AB9NZ
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WX7G
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« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2009, 03:13:46 PM »

I had the 30 meter version of the Ten Tech and it worked well enough. I agree with the other fellow that 20 meters followed by 40 meters are the top two choices.

For 40 meters you might want to be able to tune down to the 7030 kHz QRP frequency. Calling CQ W2XX/QRP is effective. I would set it for 7000-7050 kHz. There is plenty of DX to be had at the low end with QRP.

To hit the 14060 kHz QRP freq you'll have to give up the bottom 10 kHz of the band.

I presently use an Elecraft KX-1 QRP rig and work 20 and 40 meters.
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WC1I
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« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2009, 03:58:23 PM »

I appreciate the responses.  Concerns with the TT revolve mostly around the limited tuning range.  No problem with stringing a longer antenna, so 20 vs. 40 is a non-issue from that standpoint.  

I'd love a K1, but don't feel my personal building skills are up to the task.  Plus, more $$.

So the tuning range is more a matter of selecting a range with slower/newer ops vs. possibly another with longer-term usability. And, of course, other considerations that I might not even be aware of.  Experience counts.
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W5ESE
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« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2009, 07:45:19 AM »

I would tend to suggest building the version for
40 meters, but you should consider a few
questions:

o what time of day do you see yourself using this
radio, and during what seasons?

in the winter, 20 meters can shut down hard after
sundown. in the summer, it can be difficult to
find 40 meter activity during the afternoon.

the "dip" in 40 meter activity during afternoons
in summer is not as "deep" as the "dip" in 20 meter
activity during winter nights, so if you want to be
able to "scare up" a contact to "somewhere" 24x7x365,
then 40 meters is your band.

o who do you want to talk to with this radio?

if you want to work some foreign stations with
this radio, you will find that generally easier
to do on 20 meters. you can do this on 40, too,
but it's more difficult.

if you want to work some of the local hams in
the region where you will be operating portable,
you will want to build it for 40.

o code proficiency

you'll find more beginning cw operators on 40
meters.

activity tends to be higher speed on 20.

o you'll probably find the frequency coverage of
the 1340 to be 65-70 kHz. i built the 1380, 1330,
and 1320, and they all had this amount of coverage.

o i would recommend setting your coverage to about
7005 - 7070 khz. if you set the range higher, you
will end up with a lot of "useless" coverage of the
digital mode segment. the arrl band plan for 40
meters calls for the data segment for domestic
contacts to begin at 7080 khz. any coverage of
that area will not be useful with this radio.
beginning at 7005 khz provides you with a little
margin of safety to avoid operating out-of-band
if the vfo tank circuit falls out of adjustment.

73
scott
w5ese
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N7DM
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Posts: 671




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« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2009, 07:48:23 AM »

ABSOLUTELY concur with 'ESE' !!!   These are tough times for 'twinkle power'..[I ran three watts for a few years]

dm
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W5ESE
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« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2009, 08:11:22 AM »

one other thing i neglected to mention.

i don't consider the ten-tec 1300 series transceiver
to be a good kit for beginners.

many of those who have built these have found
that they needed to make some modifications to
get them working well, and getting the rit
adjustment "right" is tricky. with the ten-tec's
"wrinkles", you may actually find getting the
k-1 to work easier than the 1300 series!

if you have never built a radio kit before, you
may want to consider one of these options to get
some experience first:

o build the ten-tec tkit 1056 direct conversion
receiver and a companion transmitter first. (the
receiver works very well).

o build a small wonder labs sw+ first. it also is
a single conversion superhet, but has fewer stages
and no rit, so it's simpler to build and align.
a capacitor swap will allow the sw+ to have as
much frequency coverage as the ten-tec 1300 series.

o build a wilderness radio sst first. this is
similar to the sw+, but it doesn't have as much
frequency coverage. since it's frequency is set
by "pulling" a crystal, it will be easier to get
going than either the 1300 series or the sw+,
and is about the size of a pack of cigarettes.

hope this helps

73
scott
w5ese
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WC1I
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« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2009, 11:08:46 AM »

Scott - the detailed perspective is much appreciated.  

On some of your specific questions:

1) time of day - mostly evenings and early mornings.

2) who - As a new CW op, I'd take anyone who will tolerate beginner's issues!  While dx would be fun, it isn't realistically any sort of target for now.

I also appreciate your experience with the 1300 series as I had *assumed* it was an easier build with few issues.  If that's indeed not the case, best to know now.  

I did have a look at the 1056, and it would certainly be a low-cost, low-risk entry point (for building, that is).  I hadn't read or much about it, though, so it was hard to evaluate.

Bill
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N2EY
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Posts: 3880




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« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2009, 11:16:49 AM »

Before deciding on a rig, consider several factors.

1) Band - At this time of the sunspot cycle, 40 is probably your best bet for having the greatest probability of being open to somewhere. But even better is a rig that lets you choose more than one band.

2) Performance - For portable use, battery drain is important, both receive and transmit. Also important is how low in voltage the battery can go before the rig starts to have problems, and how the power output drops when the battery voltage does.

Another performance issue that's a big one for many is tuning rate - how many kHz one turn of the knob takes you. The TT-13xx rigs tune very fast IMHO - about 100 kHz per knob turn!

Overall rig performance is important too; a rig with a mediocre receiver isn't fun to listen to.

3) Features - The TT-13xx rigs are bare-bones; no keyer, no ATU, no built-in battery, no calibrated dial, no noise blanker, etc. This may not be a concern for home use if you don't need any of those things, but for portable use carting all of them and their connecting cables and adapters along may be a bother. Also, if you have to buy them for QRP, the total expenditure may be greater than if you got a rig with those features, or options, from the start.

4) Construction - The ease of building a rig isn't just a function of how many parts it has or whether you have to wind toroids; there's also the construction manual and support facilities. Some kits have very basic construction manuals ("install all parts in Bag 1 on the circuit board according to Fig. 1") while others have well-illustrated step-by-step instructions and tests to guide you. Some makers let you download the manual in PDF for free, which is a big plus to evaluating what's expected.

--

You mentioned the Elecraft K1, but balked at the price and complexity. I'd recommend taking a second look at it, for the following reasons:

1) 2 band coverage in the most basic model, 4 band in the higher cost model. 2 band may be upgraded to 4 band by replacing 1 board

2) Low power drain (as low as 55 mA on receive) yet the tx can put out 7 watts at full blast.

3) Digital readout and keyer built-in.

4) Selectable 70 or 150 kHz coverage, others possible.

5) Much slower tuning rate (7 kHz/turn if set up for 70 kHz coverage)

6) Optional internal ATU, battery, noise blanker, folding stand.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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VE3GNU
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Posts: 86




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« Reply #10 on: July 28, 2009, 12:03:50 PM »

Bill---Great responses from everyone, and here's my $.02 worth:
Built my 1340 after I built the OHR 100A (for 20m) and the Wilderness NorCal 40A (for 40m) which turned out to be a wise move as the 1340 was the 'trickiest' to construct of the 3---with the 40A the easiest (and with the clearest instructions).
My TT 1340's VFO range is from 7.009 to 7.074---took considerable 'tweeking' for the RIT function---rig has the best QSK of the three---great sounding receiver---getting 4.5 watts out from a 12V 7.2 AMP gell cell. One thing to note:  the rig has a densely populated circuit board of 238 components---hense the caution from builders re: it as a 'starter rig'!
Suggest you heed the advice of Jim re: K-1---
73---Ernie (VE3GNU)
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WC1I
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Posts: 15




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« Reply #11 on: July 28, 2009, 06:49:04 PM »

Thank you - I think I was underestimating the complexity of the TT kits, even from the raw component count perspective.  I'm going to re-examine the K1.
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W7ETA
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Posts: 2527




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« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2009, 02:36:48 AM »

Between 20 and 40 for QRP CW?

How about 30 meters!!  Most people are just running 100 watts and few beams or phased arrays.  The result is you'll wind up with fewer people that can't hear you.

73
Bob
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AB9NZ
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Posts: 176




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« Reply #13 on: July 29, 2009, 02:51:34 PM »

Yea 30 is one great band, and it would be fully covered by the 1330's 70kc of tuning. Maybe I'll change my vote to 30. Please don't sell the Ten Tec short. The elecraft is a beautiful kit, but depending on what features are added it costs three to six times as much. That would get a fella thinking about a KX1 or a K2 or even an 817 or a 703.
99 bucks isn't too much to gamble, and I'm sure a guy could come up with a scheme to switch a little reactance into the VFO if he felt the need for more bandspread. Eventually we'll all probably end up with one (or more!) of those deluxe qrp kits, and if your budget allows it would be a nice place to begin, but the TT is a very useful rig, in a nice case, and not rock-bound or direct conversion, probably one of the best values in ham radio. It was the first (only) transceiver I've built, and even though I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, it really worked out fine. What ever kit you go with, it's really a blast to put a rig on the air that you soldered together on the kitchen table.
Good luck and73 de  Tom AB9NZ
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N7DM
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« Reply #14 on: July 29, 2009, 04:23:00 PM »

I would vote for 30 myself...[although I NEVER could get a card out of Wes..ES1WN].  I ran 200 on the Bird into a three element, fixed, wire, inverted Vee, Yagi...aimed at EU. One of the regulars was a OE that carried one of those Isoloops out onto his apartment patio.  Trouble with 30, from here in Seven Land was that by the time you left out a commercial TTY in the bottom, stayed away from the Holy 10.120, forgot the Packet racket  up high, I wound up with a total of 17 Kc for my use!  Dern small band...  but a good 'un....

dm
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