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eHam Forums => Station Building => Topic started by: KF5BKW on February 07, 2010, 07:08:33 PM



Title: Looking to get into HF cheaply.
Post by: KF5BKW on February 07, 2010, 07:08:33 PM
I am on an extremely tight budget. I am 11 years old. I have been working to get my General. Their is only a very small chance that I will ever be able to afford a rig in the nearish future. But in case I do ever manage to scrape up enough money, I want to know the what the good stuff is. So for my first rig I was thinking about getting an IC-718. For an antenna I would probably use a Buddistick clamped onto my deck. As far as antenna tuners go, I was thinking an LDG Z-11 Pro. And for power supply, I was thinking an Alinco DM-330MVT Switching Power Supply. And lastly, for an SWR/Wattmeter, I was thinking a Palstar WM150. AS far as feedline goes, I'm fairly clueless, but I know I probably will be running around 100-150ft. I would like any and all reccomendations as to changes in these products or additional equipment that would be useful. Also, I would like some information on how to ground the Buddistick and the rest of the equipment.

73
KF5BKW


Title: RE: Looking to get into HF cheaply.
Post by: NI3S on February 07, 2010, 07:33:39 PM
I've seen lots of good used radios for $200-300. Not super-duper, feature packed do alls, but solid state workhorse rigs.  

$100 or so should get you into a power supply.  

$50 worth of coax and $20 worth of wire you can build a multiband dipole, or half of that will build you a single band.  

With a SWR meter you can tune it and skip the autotuner all together.  

If you don't have a computer (I suspect you do as a bright 11 year old kid) you might look into a used or free one.  

Talk to some of your local Hams, I'm sure they'd be willing to help a new guy. Good luck on your General test.  You have a bright future in amateur radio.


Title: RE: Looking to get into HF cheaply.
Post by: KH6AQ on February 08, 2010, 05:31:02 AM
The Buddistick antenna will work but so will a simple wire dipole if you have the room. No tuner is needed for either one. Any power supply will do. A cheap Astron power supply will work as well as anything else. You don't have to have an SWR/Wattmeter. The transceiver has an SWR meter built in. The coax can be RG-213 is you have the money and don't mind routing a 1/2" cable. Otherwise RG-58 or RG-8X will do.

So what you need to start is the IC-718 (or any HF transceiver), a power supply, and an antenna. 80, 40, 20, and 17 meters are the bands to use at this part of the sunspot cycle.


Title: RE: Looking to get into HF cheaply.
Post by: WA7NCL on February 08, 2010, 07:41:57 AM
Find a local ham club.  You should be able to find guys who would be able to loan you an old rig and help you with antennas, especially if you are a youngster.

I used to have an old SB102 that I loaned out to new interested hams.  I showed them how to build a simple antenna and they were on the air.

At your age, I remember it was hard to scrape any money together.

Try the Elmer loaner route, you might be surprised.


Title: RE: Looking to get into HF cheaply.
Post by: KH6AQ on February 08, 2010, 09:48:46 AM
Grounding the equipment and the Budipole: no grounding other than that provided by the AC power cord is needed.


Title: RE: Looking to get into HF cheaply.
Post by: KH6AQ on February 08, 2010, 09:48:48 AM
Grounding the equipment and the Budipole: no grounding other than that provided by the AC power cord is needed.


Title: RE: Looking to get into HF cheaply.
Post by: NA0AA on February 08, 2010, 07:51:10 PM
The Buddistick is kind of an expensive antenna for a guy who's pinching pennies - perhaps an antenna book and save some bucks on that.

If you can find an old Icom IC-730 or better, IC-735, those are both good all solid-state 100 watt radios that will set you back around $300.

If your dad has a car battery charger and you can scrouge up an old car battery, you have a power supply that will get you running for a while for free.

Are you a member of your local Amateur Radio club?  Perhaps there are some members who could Elmer you and maybe even loan you a radio whilst you save your pennies for your own rig.


Title: RE: Looking to get into HF cheaply.
Post by: K9KJM on February 08, 2010, 10:35:01 PM
The good old Icom IC735 IS a great starter rig!  Seen selling good used in the 300 dollar range. The Icom 718 is also a great starter rig, But in the 500 dollar range. If shopping used, I would stick to local hams or swapfests and the classifieds right here on Eham, Or QRZ. Best to avoid Ebay..........  Before you get your license, Just some type of general coverage short wave receiver would be really good for you to play with. If you check around, Maybe someone would loan you one for a while.
For coax on a low budget, Check with your friendly local cable TV installers. Ask for "spool ends" of coax. (When the rolls of coax get down under one hundred or so feet, They toss them right into the dumpster)

If you can string any wires in trees, etc  A whole roll (1320 feet) of electric fence wire, Along with some electric fence insulators can be had in the 20 some dollar range at your local farm supply store.
We always used to say "get some good antenna books", But now lots of that research can be done online for free.


Title: RE: Looking to get into HF cheaply.
Post by: KZ1X on February 09, 2010, 07:04:25 AM
You are in luck.  You live very close to several of the absolute #1 amateur radio clubs in the whole country.

Go to this web site:

http://www.k5sld.com/

and you will find contact information for MANY people who will help you out, quickly, and who live near by.  Have your parent or whomever make the initial contacts for you, but after that, you're an OM, OM.


Title: RE: Looking to get into HF cheaply.
Post by: K0RGR on February 17, 2010, 03:26:43 PM
Let's pinch pennies.

The two most important things for your station are a good antenna and a good receiver.

A good antenna will make a so-so radio into a top performer. A great radio WILL NOT make a poor antenna into a good performer.

You may live in a place where a full sized antenna is impossible. If so, the Buddipole might not be a bad choice, but it would not be my first choice.

Let's first save some money by not trying to do everything at once. Let's pick a couple good bands to operate on. 40 should be your first choice. A 40 meter dipole will probably also work for you on 15 meters.
So that's two good bands. I'd add 20 and or 17 meters.
You can build a dipole that will do all that for very little money. Put up the kind of mast people use for TV antennas on the roof, and suspend your dipole from there.

A good, cheap manual antenna tuner might even work better than the autotuner. Get one with a built in SWR meter, or make sure the rig you buy has one. There are lots of designs out there for simple antenna tuners, too, that you could build.

I'd invest in a quality power supply like the Astron RM or RS-35. These will last forever, and power the whole shack.

Now, there are tons of used radios out there. I often advise people to look for older Ten Tec rigs, like older OMNI's or TRITONS. These can be had cheaply in some cases. And, Ten Tec will still fix it if it needs it. The company is in Tennessee. Be sure you know what you're buying. The rigs often come without a mike so be sure to ask about that.


Title: RE: Looking to get into HF cheaply.
Post by: KF5BKW on February 17, 2010, 06:12:48 PM
Oh, sorry for not mentioning that I live in a neighborhood that barely allows you to have a satellite TV dish, much less a full-wave or even half-wave 40m dipole. And also, I would like to avoid any thing homebrew as much as possible and also to keep the operation simple. I am not aware as to how much more effort it requires to manually tune as opposed to auto-tune, so I may look into that. And also I would like information on the recommended grounding of the station with the Buddistick.


Title: RE: Looking to get into HF cheaply.
Post by: K9PU on February 19, 2010, 04:15:55 PM
You need to join a club.  Check around town.  Maybe at your school.  They might be able to loan you a rig for a while and get you on the air.  This worked for me.  

Good luck,

Scott


Title: RE: Looking to get into HF cheaply.
Post by: KF5BKW on February 25, 2010, 02:38:08 PM
So now I've been thinking that I could probably suspend a dipole in between the two columns on my deck and then coil the extra wire around the two columns. If this would work then please tell me of a manufactured dipole that would work on as many bands as possible, as I would like to stay away from homebrew, as I stated before. And I've decided to go used for the transceiver. Please reccomend good rigs to look for used at the Plano Hamfest in June. And again I want solutions to go about grounding my rig. Thanks.


Title: RE: Looking to get into HF cheaply.
Post by: KE4DRN on February 25, 2010, 05:58:59 PM
hi Zack,

since money is tight, skip the tuner and build a few dipoles.

very easy to do, all you need is a tape measure and some
#12 or #14 copper wire.  No soldering iron, no problem,
use common wire nuts found in electrical dept. in home depot, lowes, etc.

the info below courtesy of another Eham member

AN DIPOLE OR MULTIPLE BAND DIPOLE SPECS:
(Each leg is shown in length so you will need two legs.)

10 METERS = 8'4"
12 METERS = 9'5"
15 METERS = 11'1"
17 METERS = 12'10"
20 METERS = 16'8"
30 METERS = 23'2"
40 METERS = 32'9"
60 METERS = 43'7"
75 METERS = 60'9"
80 METERS = 65'6"
160 METERS = 123'5"


73 james


Title: RE: Looking to get into HF cheaply.
Post by: KF5BKW on February 25, 2010, 07:52:00 PM
Like I stated earlier, I want to staw away from anything homebrew. For the manufactured G5RVs out there, do they require a tuner? And would it be possible to coil each leg around a brick column? And how would I go about grounding the setup?



Thanks, KF5BKW


Title: RE: Looking to get into HF cheaply.
Post by: KE4DRN on February 25, 2010, 08:20:34 PM
hi Zack,

Be sure to attend Field Day at one of your local clubs.

You will learn a lot by getting in on the action and meet good
people that can Elmer you.

I know you want to avoid home built gear, what happens if
your G5RV is damaged during bad weather what will you do to fix it?

Find a local club here

http://www.arrl.org/FandES/field/club/clubsearch.phtml

Learn all about different antennas here www.cebik.com
you need to register no cost.  Lots of info written in plain english.

73 james


Title: RE: Looking to get into HF cheaply.
Post by: K1TWH on March 11, 2010, 04:04:01 PM
Zach,
   Starter radios around $300-400;  Yeasu FT-747GX, Icom IC-725, IC-728, IC-735,Kenwood TS-130, TS-140, TS-430, Ten Tec Triton, Argosy, Delta, Alinco DX-70T & DX-77T.
    Tuners @ $50-100;  MFJ-900, MFJ-901, B&W VS-300, and too many others to remember.  Look for their eHam reviews.
     Wattmeter?   If the radio has SWR indications, you can live without any 'wattmeter'.  MFJ makes a few approximate reading meters under $40.  I'd save my money on this for the antenna.
     Power Supply;  Astron 20, Astron 35, Jetstream JTPS28, MFJ-4125, and quite a few others.  Look for a nice used one on the web, even on Craigs list locally.  They are pretty common.  Just find a 20 amp supply in decent shape.  There are quite a few 'switching' supplies to avoid due to noises they make in the radio spectrum, so read the eHam reviews before buying any supply.
       Antenna;  Two equal lengths of wire longer than 50 feets attached to 300 ohm twinlead routed to that inexpensive tuner you buy.  Tweak the tuner for lowest SWR, note the settings for each band you are interested in, and enjoy HF.  Try to keep your doublet away from your home and other's home so as to minimize the amount of antenna currents induced into the house wiring (while minimizing the noise you pick up as well).
     73, and good DX.   Tom Howey  WB1FPA


Title: RE: Looking to get into HF cheaply.
Post by: KF5BKW on March 20, 2010, 02:42:47 PM
Okay, now I've passed my General and I am working on Extra. But, in the meantime, I have figured out a new basic outline for my station. I plan on buying a used transceiver at HamCom (A large North Texas Hamfest) in June. I was thinking an Icom IC-730 or 735, a Kenwood TS-430S, Yaesu FT-747GX, or a Ten-Tec Delta 580. I plan on getting a half-size G5RV from Antennas and More. For power supply I am going to use an Astron SS-25M. For an antenna tuner, I intend to use an MFJ 901B. I recently figured out a dipole requires no grounding, but how would I go about grounding the rest of the equipment. Any and all feedback is welcome.

73
KF5BKW


Title: RE: Looking to get into HF cheaply.
Post by: KF5BKW on March 20, 2010, 02:43:42 PM
Okay, now I've passed my General and I am working on Extra. But, in the meantime, I have figured out a new basic outline for my station. I plan on buying a used transceiver at HamCom (A large North Texas Hamfest) in June. I was thinking an Icom IC-730 or 735, a Kenwood TS-430S, Yaesu FT-747GX, or a Ten-Tec Delta 580. I plan on getting a half-size G5RV from Antennas and More. For power supply I am going to use an Astron SS-25M. For an antenna tuner, I intend to use an MFJ 901B. I recently figured out a dipole requires no grounding, but how would I go about grounding the rest of the equipment. Any and all feedback is welcome.

73
KF5BKW


Title: RE: Looking to get into HF cheaply.
Post by: KF5BKW on March 20, 2010, 02:44:10 PM
Okay, now I've passed my General and I am working on Extra. But, in the meantime, I have figured out a new basic outline for my station. I plan on buying a used transceiver at HamCom (A large North Texas Hamfest) in June. I was thinking an Icom IC-730 or 735, a Kenwood TS-430S, Yaesu FT-747GX, or a Ten-Tec Delta 580. I plan on getting a half-size G5RV from Antennas and More. For power supply I am going to use an Astron SS-25M. For an antenna tuner, I intend to use an MFJ 901B. I recently figured out a dipole requires no grounding, but how would I go about grounding the rest of the equipment. Any and all feedback is welcome.

73
KF5BKW


Title: RE: Looking to get into HF cheaply.
Post by: KF5BKW on March 20, 2010, 02:45:40 PM
Okay, now I've passed my General and I am working on Extra. But, in the meantime, I have figured out a new basic outline for my station. I plan on buying a used transceiver at HamCom (A large North Texas Hamfest) in June. I was thinking an Icom IC-730 or 735, a Kenwood TS-430S, Yaesu FT-747GX, or a Ten-Tec Delta 580. I plan on getting a half-size G5RV from Antennas and More. For power supply I am going to use an Astron SS-25M. For an antenna tuner, I intend to use an MFJ 901B. I recently figured out a dipole requires no grounding, but how would I go about grounding the rest of the equipment. Any and all feedback is welcome.

73
KF5BKW


Title: RE: Looking to get into HF cheaply.
Post by: KF5BKW on March 20, 2010, 07:38:54 PM
Sorry about the quadruple post, computer was very sluggish, obviously pressed the post button 3 too many times.


Title: RE: Looking to get into HF cheaply.
Post by: AD6KA on March 31, 2010, 02:50:02 AM
Buy The Kenwood TS-430.


Title: RE: Looking to get into HF cheaply.
Post by: KF5BKW on March 31, 2010, 07:41:54 PM
OK, now I've only got three problems. Two of which you can help solve. One is which transceiver of the ones mentioned above would work best? The other one you can help with is what to do as far as antennas go. I would like to know if it would be feasible to run a half-size G5RV across my deck (about 15') then back to the main part of the house (About 10' each side) and then droop both ends down (About 10' each side). If you can think of any more efficient solutions, please let me know. In case you were wondering, the third item is money, but I'm nearing my goal (sort of).


Title: RE: Looking to get into HF cheaply.
Post by: K7LA on April 01, 2010, 07:21:09 PM
Don't overlook silent key estate sales.  A good source for that are local clubs who help the late ham's family dispose of the station.


Title: RE: Looking to get into HF cheaply.
Post by: AE5MW on April 12, 2010, 03:57:52 PM
I see where you posted that you want to stay away from homebrew where an antenna is concerned but look at this site anyway. You may be able to fit a full size G5RV at your site. My dipole is homebrew along with the first 42 feet of feedline. Don't let the homebrew factor be intimidating. All antennas at my home are built by me and I enjoyed creating them all. Hope this helps.


Title: RE: Looking to get into HF cheaply.
Post by: AE5MW on April 12, 2010, 03:59:56 PM
oops I forgot to post the site  http://www.comportco.com/~w5alt/antennas/notes/ant-notes.php?pg=16  It may answer you questons.


Title: RE: Looking to get into HF cheaply.
Post by: KC2UGV on April 14, 2010, 07:53:00 AM
I'm not really sure why you want to stay away from homebrew antennas.  They are easy-peasy to build, and really hard to screw up unless you can't use a measuring tape.

A homebrew G5RV = $40 + 2 hours of time
A packaged G5RV = $150

Both will perform equally as well.

Dipoles are even easier:
SO-239 Chassis Connector = $3.69 at RadioShack
Wire - $7.99 for 50ft of 14 Ga speaker wire at Walmart
Some solder, or in a pinch, electrical tape
10 minutes of build time.

You can cut a lot of money down by building at least the antenna.  I can see why you don't want to homebrew a transceiver (Heck, I don't like soldering SMD parts, and my theory is weak).  But buying an antenna?  I can't see why.


Title: RE: Looking to get into HF cheaply.
Post by: KF5BKW on April 17, 2010, 04:46:03 PM
For the G5RV, I intend to go half-sized, and it would not be that expensive ($20-$30). Also, I recently received infromation, from the scout leader that got me into ham radio, that there is a local ham who would be willing to fix up a TS-830 for free if I bought one. One last thing, what would be a good hand mic to purchase ofr my Yaesu VX-3R if I have an adapter to a normal mic jack?


Title: RE: Looking to get into HF cheaply.
Post by: KE7UFQ on April 19, 2010, 11:30:06 PM
I haven't tried one of these, but it is as close to homebrew as you can get and you don't need a tuner,

http://www.hamradiofun.com/yo-yo-vee.htm

An HF radio and that antenna...your on the air.

Good luck to you and congrats! I hope to hear you on the air soon!

Jamie
KE7UFQ


Title: RE: Looking to get into HF cheaply.
Post by: K5CQB on April 21, 2010, 05:27:48 PM
Hi Zach,
I am the secretary for the KiloCycle Amateur Radio club in Fort Worth.  We have our meetings on the third Thursday of the month at the Ol South Pancake House on University St.  We also have a weekly net on the club repeater on Tuesday nights around 8:30 pm.  146.840 (neg offset, pl tone 110.9).  We will probably be discussing Field Day preparations at the next meeting.  You are more than welcome to stop by.  I am sure there will be many people around to help you.  We also have a yahoo group under the title of W5SH.  

Our club will also have a display at the FWPD Family Day event on Saturday April 24th at 7440 McCart, 10 am to 2pm.  The club president will have an HF rig operating and the R.A.C.E.S. van will be there.

73,
Jim
K5CQB


Title: RE: Looking to get into HF cheaply.
Post by: KF5BKW on April 24, 2010, 12:15:11 PM
OK, major update. I recently agreed to purchase a used Icom Ic-718 for $300, under the guidance of my Scout leader, who could also be considered my "Elmer". It was purchased from the Hill Country ARC. My "elmer" has agreed to loan me an antenna tuner and some antenna wire while I work on getting my own setup complete. So, I have been thinking to purchase an MFJ 901B. If this is a good choice please let me know, I will also be consulting my"elmer". As far as power supply, I will need to get my own before I get on the air so I'm still leaning towards an Astron RS-20A, although any suggestions on that would be welcome.


Title: RE: Looking to get into HF cheaply.
Post by: K5CQB on April 25, 2010, 10:39:01 PM
Zach,
The Icom is a fine radio.  If your able to put up a wire antenna then I suggest you skip the antenna tuner and go for a fan dipole.  I have used an inverted v fan dipole for several years and it has served me well.  Mine was built by alpha delta but I have faith that you could build one just as good ;D

http://www.hamuniverse.com/multidipole.html  

The Astron is a good power supply.  There is a local ham (Walt Williams, W5YUO) that builds an awesome power supply.  If your scoutmaster is a ham then he should be familiar with Walt.


Title: RE: Looking to get into HF cheaply.
Post by: KF5BKW on April 27, 2010, 06:41:32 PM
Ok, so I have yet another update in the ongoing saga of the soon-to-be station of KF5BKW. At tonight's scout meeting, I talked to my ASM, Mark Culross KD5RXT, who I have mentioned before. He told me that for a power supply, he has a supply from RadioShack ( I know, RadioShack is not generally very good, but he says that these power supplies are gems) that a fellow ham gave him, and that he is willing to give to me, solving that problem. I have solved the basic problems of my station, but any feedback would still be appreciated.

Thanks and 73,
KF5BKW


Title: RE: Looking to get into HF cheaply.
Post by: KF5BKW on May 10, 2010, 02:51:03 PM
Alright, everything is pretty much wrapped up. My radio was received by my ASM/"elmer" recently. he is letting me use an AH- tuner and 40ft of coax until I cant get my own, and he is giving me a RadioShack 25A switching power supply, as well as a couple of spools of speaker wire to use for my antenna. IF there are ant other reccomendations or other feedback, I'll periodically check back, but otherwise, consider this thread "done".


Title: RE: Looking to get into HF cheaply.
Post by: W4AIN on May 13, 2010, 04:47:22 PM
I have noticed that you were considering a G5RV Jr antenna at one point. Is this still the case? If so, you need to be aware that a G5RV Jr uses 17' of 300Ω twin-lead as a matching section. For this antenna to operate properly, the twin-lead must be at 90º (or very near to it) of the antenna. So, for this antenna to operate as intended, it should be mounted up to about 25' at the feedpoint with the twin-lead coming straight down and connecting to a coax which is run to the station.
I would highly recommend NOT using a vertical antenna if at all possible as a low mounted vertically polarized antenna will pick up a LOT more electrical and phase noise than a horizontally mounted antenna (unless you can install multiple counterpoise wires) . Hope this information helps.

Phil - W4AIN


Title: RE: Looking to get into HF cheaply.
Post by: KD6KWZ on June 02, 2010, 05:30:05 PM
Zach:
Here's some more antennas to think about:

http://www.hamuniverse.com/antennas.html

73
Mike H.