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Author Topic: Getting Started in HF  (Read 54574 times)
VE3TMT
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Posts: 986




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« Reply #15 on: December 01, 2014, 04:51:26 AM »

The problem with asking someone for an opinion is you will get many. Your choice of radio is the least of your concerns as the success of your situation seems to be dependent on choice of antenna.

I think for your given situation my choice (aka an opinion!) would be the 20m dipole. It won't cost you very much, and you will gain experience in antenna construction. If it turns out the attic is squashing your signal, better to have lost $20 in materials than have wasted $200 or more on a commercially made antenna. And with a tuner you could use it on other bands.

The Isotrons are a compromise. The MFJ loops work, but are very narrow banded and constant tuning is required. You will also need to run a power cable for the remote tuner.

As for radio and tuner, the Kenwood TS590 is a good all around performer, and many are appearing on the used equipment boards for a fairly decent price. The idea is to get your feet wet on HF at a reasonable cost. You can always upgrade to better equipment at a later date.


Good luck,

VE3TMT
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N4WCL
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Posts: 22




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« Reply #16 on: December 01, 2014, 11:28:57 AM »

If I went this route, what is a good all around tuner? (Opinion again I know, but I value anyone's opinion who has more knowledge than me on the topic to get me going) I also noticed that MFJ has an inexpensive 20-6m dipole for $29. I'd have no problem paying for that if it would get me started.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2014, 12:05:26 PM by KJ4WBT » Logged
VE3TMT
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Posts: 986




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« Reply #17 on: December 01, 2014, 12:30:29 PM »

Depending on your budget, if you want a manual tuner, the MFJ-949E is very popular. If you want an automatic tuner, the MFJ-993B is a good starter auto tuner.  MFJ has serious QC issues, and you can always spend a little more and get a better quality tuner.

Are you referring to the MFJ-1779C? Note the wording...it is a single band antenna. You can make one of those for less than $10 with all new material.



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N4WCL
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Posts: 22




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« Reply #18 on: December 01, 2014, 12:46:20 PM »

Which dipole could I use to tune for a few bands using a tuner. My other issue is my wife wants to get all this for a Christmas gift. I can only imagine handing her a list of antenna components to buy here and there vs just telling her to by this thing from this place. lol. I don't mind buying something already built and paying the "stupid" tax to offset me trying to explain to her what she needs to buy if you know what I mean. She's offered to go over our normal budget for my Christmas this year because she really wants to get this setup for me. It's got her interested in wanting to get her ticket as well.
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AA4PB
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« Reply #19 on: December 01, 2014, 01:07:45 PM »

http://www.hamuniverse.com/k4dpkfirsthfdipole.html

The MFJ-1779C is a standard dipole. While it is advertised as working 20M thru 6M, they intend for you to cut it to length for any one band. The MFJ is a reasonable option at 29.95. You will essentially be building your own single band dipole but the wire, the center support, and the two end insulators come in one box. You still need to purchase coax cable and connectors.

If a dipole is fed with ladder line and a balanced tuner you can tune it for multiple bands, but the antenna must be at least 1/2 wavelength long on the lowest band. However, bringing ladder line down into the building from an attic is usually problematic. You are better off to use a dipole on a single band where it can be fed with coax cable. Ladder line does not do well if it is run close to other conductors like metal ductwork, power wiring in the walls, etc.

The Alpha Delta DX-EE is actually several dipole antennas, cut to different bands, all connected to the same feed point. This is typically called a fan-dipole. Getting this to work on different bands inside an attic may take a bit of work and experimentation. At $140, this antenna is pretty expensive for what you get. Actually you could put up a home made standard 20M dipole and then add additional elements for 15M and 10M later on as you gain more experience.

« Last Edit: December 01, 2014, 01:31:00 PM by AA4PB » Logged

Bob  AA4PB
Garrisonville, VA
VE3TMT
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Posts: 986




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« Reply #20 on: December 01, 2014, 05:24:41 PM »

Which dipole could I use to tune for a few bands using a tuner. My other issue is my wife wants to get all this for a Christmas gift. I can only imagine handing her a list of antenna components to buy here and there vs just telling her to by this thing from this place. lol. I don't mind buying something already built and paying the "stupid" tax to offset me trying to explain to her what she needs to buy if you know what I mean. She's offered to go over our normal budget for my Christmas this year because she really wants to get this setup for me. It's got her interested in wanting to get her ticket as well.

Tell her this is what you want for Christmas:

Yaesu FTDX9000
Alpha 9500
Palstar AT5K
MFJ-1779C (HaHa)
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N4WCL
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Posts: 22




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« Reply #21 on: December 01, 2014, 06:16:54 PM »

Holy cow. lol. I think I'd never hear the end of it if I asked for all of those items. Slightly over the Christmas budget. Haha
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N3HEE
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« Reply #22 on: December 03, 2014, 05:52:45 AM »

Start with the 20 meter dipole in your attic.  That will be a solid antenna for you.  Once you get that up and working you can add 17, 15, 12 and 10 meters to it by simply hanging additional wires from the same feed point and coax.  This is called a fan dipole.  You can add one band at a time if you like.  Each wire you add will interact to some degree with the others so you will have to experiment and tune the antenna as you go.  You can use any kind of wire you like or have on hand.  Home Depot or Lowes has your covered for wire.  This will be a fun learning experience for you.

I see HRO has the Yaesu FT-450D on sale at $699.  That's a nice little radio with roofing filter and antenna tuner built in.  If you need a power supply then add another $109 for a Astron RS-20A or equivalent and $38 more for a 50 foot length of RG8X coax with PL259 connectors on each end.  MFJ antenna is $29.95  This will put you well under your budget of $1100 and will make a nice HF station for you.  You should be able to make lots of contacts with it.  Double you fun by using more efficient modes such as CW or digital modes. 

Good luck and Merry Christmas !

Joe
N3HEE

 
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Joe
N3HEE
CW Academy Advisor (Level II)
PA1ZP
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Posts: 688




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« Reply #23 on: December 03, 2014, 03:24:17 PM »

Hi

Joe his idea is not bad at all.
Try to find a copy of ARRL antenna handbook.
Only the text and pictures digital on a USB stick would be good enough.

You would have the rest of christmas studying in the book.
 
Antennas are so simple and easy and cheap to make if you know the theory.
Then you can build your dipole from 20 yards of twinlead and a single FT240-43 core.
Then a nice manual tuner and your in for 10-40 mtrs.

Even the dipole Joe suggests a 20 mtr dipole would be fine.
Again a FT240-43 ferrite to make a RF choke some yards of RG58 with 2 PL-connectors and you can make a "cats whiskers" dipole for 10, 12, 15, 17, 20, 30, 40 mtrs, that the tuner of the FT450D would handle nicely.

An amateur friend of me asked if i could help him finding an antenna for Hf, a vertical for 3 bands 10, 15, and 20 would be nice.
I replied, you did have a tuner .
He said, yes I have a very well known 300W PEP tuner with 1 : 4 balun of a brand that sometimes has some quality problems.

I said to him then we just passed a 7 band vertical in your backyard in the barn.
That was where I saw an old beat up 11 mtr half wave 5 minutes before.

We cleaned it put an single isolated radial on the antenna put some homebrew ladderline on it and he had his angle vertical for 10, 12, 15, 17, 20, 30 and 40 mtrs.
Total cost an afternoon of fun 20 yards of AWG15 or so twinlead and 40 roseclips at $2.50 total. 2 x 5 mm solder lugs and a piece 2 x 2 wood he had in the barn as a mast.
Bingo QRV on 7 bands for $15.

The roseclips he got for free from me, stil have about 400 left from the 1000 I bought for $50.
I thought 7 yrs ago that these cheap roseclips wouldn't last that long so I bought more then enough, still use the first ones that are outside in the open weather for 7 yrs now.
Gave 450 away to other friends in need of cheap sreaders to build 600 ohm ladderline.
Just have these in stock if i am getting a crazy idea on an antenna.

He worked his first intercontinental QSO that evening.   
could even use a simple 6 yrd glasfiber fishingrod with a wire atached to it to make the same simple 5.5 mtrs (18 feet) vertical with a single radial.

I also could use the 4" wide roseclips to build a multi band dipole to spread all the wire elements

73 Jos
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N4WCL
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Posts: 22




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« Reply #24 on: December 05, 2014, 09:56:59 AM »

Ok I'm really digging the FT450 and especially the fact that a tuner is built in. Since it doesn't have 2m, would I need an additional power supply to keep my 2m 70cm transceiver running? Or can one power supply feed be split. Also, if I'm gonna attempt to build this 20m, who is a good supplier?  I'm gathering I need just about any wire, cut to correct length based on calcs, a center feed point, some insulators, a balun at the feed point, and some rg8x and 259 connections, and maybe some para cord to help suspend all of this (got tons on hand). Guy I can't express enough how much I appreciate this help.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2014, 10:46:01 AM by KJ4WBT » Logged
WX4LTG
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Posts: 15




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« Reply #25 on: December 07, 2014, 06:46:10 AM »

Ok I'm really digging the FT450 and especially the fact that a tuner is built in. Since it doesn't have 2m, would I need an additional power supply to keep my 2m 70cm transceiver running? Or can one power supply feed be split.

One power supply can be used for all of your radios - as long as your combined usage doesn't exceed the output of the power supply.

For example, if your power supply is a 30A continuous and 40A peak, you could easily get away with transmitting on a radio that uses 22A peak transmit amperage and three other radios that use 1A "listening" amperage. You'd certainly want to avoid transmitting on more than one radio at once, though...  Grin

I'm personally fond of the Anderson Powerpole connectors, and an easy distribution bus like the RigRunner series makes a lot of sense if you don't feel like building such a bus yourself.
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KA4NMA
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Posts: 597




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« Reply #26 on: December 07, 2014, 02:00:41 PM »

Another option is to run a loop of wire around the attic, use ladder line from the loop to a wide ranging antenna Tuner such as a SGC or LDG. You will get multiband performance. You can also use this idea with a dipole.  Must radio internal tuners are not wide ranging to use these ideas.  Another idea is to run a stealth vertical antenna outside the unit. A small gauge wire will be hard to see. Add a radial, use ladder line to a good tuner and you have a good antenna.  Check out the documents at sgc world.com for more info.

Randy ka4nma
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PA1ZP
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Posts: 688




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« Reply #27 on: December 14, 2014, 04:39:53 AM »

Hi

I had a FT450.
I would say as you will coose a HF/6 mtr rig go for the Kenwood TS480 with the X-tal filters.
The FT450 RX is not as good as the Kenwood.

Certainly in CW the FT450(D) has a RX and TX that lacks performance against the older design used in the TS480.
I also have a FT857D and in RX CW with the narrow Collins filter the FT857D is way better in CW RX as the FT450(D) but agin the TS480SAT is even better in both SSB and CW as the FT857D.

But still your antenna situation will be the greatest problem in HF performance.
A balanced dipole of 2 x 20 feet and ladderline fed with a decent current balun and good tuner will give you 10-40 mtr in all bands.

I do not know what all these buy wonders cost, but a homebrew balanced doublet would cost about $25 including a homebrew balanced line.
Then you will have the rest of the antenna budget for the tuner and balun.

Also the loop antenna in the attic could be a good idea, just extend the dipole to a loop using stranded copper wires.
And again if you feed it with ladderline you can use it from 10-40 mtrs and even TX on 80 and RX on 160.
My little V-dipole of 2 x 7 mtr (2 x 23 feet) can be used and tuned in 80 mtr TX and even can TX/RX in 160, but performance in 160 TX is very bad as 2 x 23 feet is way to short for 160 mtrs and it gives a lot of resistive losses in TX, but RX is not bad at all on 160.

I always use AWG13 copper stranded speaker twinlead that I pull apart to build the dipoles and ladderline, i bought 100 mtrs of this great stuff online for $60.
So you have 200 mtrs of fine isolated AWG13 stranded copper wires or 100 mtrs of wire to make 100 mtr of homebrew ladderline.

73 Jos
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ZENKI
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Posts: 1621




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« Reply #28 on: December 20, 2014, 04:41:45 PM »

Set up a remote station or find a local ham who is willing to allow a remote connection or a station  to be setup on his property.

It will be a better investment and you will have more enjoyment working the world with decent antennas.

Maybe more hams should set up remote stations for others to use when they not doing their hamming.

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K5TED
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Posts: 229




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« Reply #29 on: December 20, 2014, 10:04:26 PM »

Consider using a remote autocoupler such as the SGC SG-237. Not very expensive, especially if you can find a used one in good shape. If in fact your roof does not have any sort of metal foil insulation, barrier, etc.


Take a look at the SGC Stealth Kit manual, starting around page 9. See if you get any ideas there. I can vouch for a number of these configurations working remarkably well using the SG-230 and SG-237. It would be positioned at the antenna feedpoint (in the attic), is automatic, and can be remotely powered from the shack over the coax by use of a bias tee.

Here's the manual: http://www.sgcworld.com/Publications/Manuals/stealthman.pdf  (the SGC Stealth Kit is not necessary to construct the antennas shown. It's just some wire, some cord, and some insulators)

Another option for 30m thru 10m is the MFJ-1786 magloop which has already been mentioned here. It works remarkably well. Yes, it does require some retuning as you move around the band, but that is easy and quick with the remote control head. It is powered over the coax by the control head.


« Last Edit: December 20, 2014, 10:32:36 PM by K5TED » Logged
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