eHam Forums => Station Building => Topic started by: KC0PNH on May 13, 2003, 03:28:01 PM

Title: All needed for Shack
Post by: KC0PNH on May 13, 2003, 03:28:01 PM
Hi all..i am planning on upgrading to my General by next month and I would liek to know what all is necessary for the shack (radio, antenna). you know, what is the bare minimum things i need to transmit on hf ssb and cw?  I'd also like to know what the best, and cheapest all mode HF rig is and how much. Well thanks for the help, hope to hear from you all soon and maybe even on the air! 73's KC0PNH

Title: All needed for Shack
Post by: WB2WIK on May 13, 2003, 04:20:00 PM
The used market is a great place to shop for an HF rig, and I'd always recommend finding a *local* (no shipping involved!) deal, so you can inspect and try out the rig prior to purchase.  This also minimizes risk associated with shipping damage.

On the "new" market, the Icom IC-718 is given the nod of approval as a "best buy" by many, including the magazines who have reviewed it.  The IC-718 currently sells for $499, and all you need to use it is a regulated power supply and antenna.  An Astron RS20A power supply is a reasonable choice, and those sell for about $100.

The real, and more serious question is the antenna system.  All the equipment in the world won't make any contacts without an antenna, and more station performance is based on the antenna than on any other station component.

With the "higher bands" dying off due to lack of propagation lately -- and this will continue for the next three years or so, until the sunspot cycle begins its regular climb back to a maximum -- you'd probably be best off focusing on bands that are likely to provide propagation in the near future.  Those bands are 20m, 30m, 40m, 80m, and to some extent, 17m.  15m, 12m and 10m are suffering poor propagation already, and it won't get better, except sporadically, any time soon.

You might consider a good vertical which covers at least 40m through 10m, including the 40-30-20-17-15-12-10m bands.  There are many to choose from, and properly installed, most work very well, providing lots of DX contacts almost immediately after installation.  Expect to spend about $250 for a good one.  

Other reasonable choices are wire multiband dipoles, including "trap" designs and parallel wire designs.  These can be homebrewed, of course, but expect to pay about $100 to $150 for a premanufactured one.  And, while an HF vertical only requires a single support point (and some models may be ground-mounted and provide good results), multi-band dipoles really require two elevated supports -- the higher elevated, the better they work.

Of course, rotary beam antennas including Yagi, Quad and LPDA designs, are very available to cover 20-17-15-12-10 meters, and are the preferred choice for most, especially those desiring "DX" contacts.  A decent multiband HF rotary beam antenna, including a modest roof mount, mast, rotor, and cabling, will run in excess of $500 and is a great long-term investment.

Experimental wire antennas including loops are great fun and can work very well.  But they're most easily used with a good wide-range manual antenna by the time you add up the cost of wire, insulators, supports, feedline and tuner it's easy to run up a tab in excess of $250 (with a lot of that going for the tuner itself).  The advantage of such a system, though, is that once you've built it, you can continue to experiment for months or years with different configurations for almost no additional cost.  And, it's very satisfying knowing that the most important part of the station -- your antenna -- is something you built yourself!

Join a local radio club, if you haven't already, and find an "Elmer" or two to help you out with all this.  Lots of local hams who are active and successful on HF will invite you over to visit and see what they've done, and that's the best way to learn!

Good luck & C U on the bands!


Title: All needed for Shack
Post by: KC0PNH on May 14, 2003, 08:29:06 AM
I forgot to mention that I wouldnt mind being able to go portable.  What else would you need to go portable with that 718 rig?  For an antenna i was thinking an Outbacker Steath because its only 4 foot tall and my dad doesnt want an antenna in his yard so that would be good for size and portability.  What do you think of that?  thanks again, KC0PNH

Title: All needed for Shack
Post by: KC0ODY on May 14, 2003, 09:51:10 AM
As an owner of the IC-718, I can vouch for two things: 1) it's a GREAT rig; and 2) it's not terribly portable. I have mine in my shack, and while it doesn't take up as much space as some other multiband rigs, it's not something that is suitable for putting in my car.

If you're looking for something more portable, the IC 706MKIIG or Yaesu FT-100D are just a couple of examples of portable, 100 watt, all-band, all-mode rigs. These two radios also have VHF/UHF capabilities, which the 718 doesn't.  They will also cost you at least a couple hundred dollars more than the IC-718, but it may be worth it if you really want to go portable with your rig.

The antenna system is very important. Once you have decided if you want to go portable or not, then you can check out appropriate antenna systems. I've heard good things about the Outbacker antennas for QRP mobile operating, but I don't know anything else about them. There are plenty of manufacturers of mobile antennas- you might want to check out the Product Reviews section here to get some feedback on the various makes and models.

Title: All needed for Shack
Post by: KT8K on June 03, 2003, 05:07:36 PM
If you search around you can find *many* antenna designs that will not be noticeable to your dad, and will work well.  Resonant antennas are simplest and most reliable, and it is possible to hide even long dipoles if you use thin wire.  Wire antennas can also be stapled to the rafters in attics, laid across roofs, fished over trees (use insulated wire), etc.
Happy hunting, building, and operating!

Title: All needed for Shack
Post by: N6AJR on July 04, 2003, 02:53:25 AM
do a search here on Elmers search for a Fan Dipole.. check it out they work