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Author Topic: Newbie looking for advice  (Read 4489 times)
KM6XP
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Posts: 128




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« on: September 12, 2018, 06:39:04 PM »

So I am about to take my tech exam, been studying for a couple wks, scoring in th high 80s and low to mid 90%.  Taking the test this weekend.   

So already been looking at radios, power supplies, antenna tuners, and oh yeah, antennas.

So I am looking at the following radios:

Icom 718 (pros, price, solid radio, cons I will need a antenna tuner, and filters?)
Icom 7300( pros, tuner built in, more room to grow, not sure I need to add filters)

Not sure what a really good power supply is?

Goal is to get the tech ticket, get on air, then go for the general.

Money is not really a factor here, a few hundred difference between the radios in not an issue.

Any suggestions much appreciated.



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W5TD
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« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2018, 08:57:54 PM »

They are 2 completely different radios.  The Icom 7300 will run rings around the 718. Once you buy a filter and a TXCO for the 718 the price difference isn't that much.

Astron makes very good power supplies.

Good luck on the test.

73 John AF5CC
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K6BRN
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« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2018, 09:04:49 PM »

Suggestions: 

1.  Go for an upgrate to General or Extra as soon as possible, or even at the same exam (General does not take much more studying but grants a whole lot more spectrum access)

2.  Listen to John about the radio and power supply.  He's right on.

Brian - K6BRN
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KM6XP
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« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2018, 11:02:53 PM »

Thank that’s sort of what I was thinking, thanks for the push.

I may try to pass the general at the same day, I took a practice general exam, without reviewing anything, ouch, scored 48%, lol.  I think I need to look at some of the materials.

I just figured it would be easier to get the tech then start studying for the general, I agree, a General is a must as I am mainly looking to use HF Phone at this point.

Looking forward to getting on the air soon.
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K6BRN
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« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2018, 11:06:42 PM »

Looking forward to working you on the air.  Good luck with the exam!

Brian - K6BRN
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G4AON
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« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2018, 11:13:16 PM »

Good luck with the exam!

With regard to radios, forget the 718, they are mediocre. As per the other reply, a 7300 is much better.

One of the biggest issues in HF ham radio today is locally generated noise. The often mentioned (especially by sales and marketing departments) DSP noise reduction in a transceiver is over hyped nonsense, the most effective noise reduction is to install your antenna(s) as far away from house wiring, and utility cables, as you practically can. In addition, using a feedline choke to remove common mode currents on the coax outer is a big help. Having near zero background noise is a huge advantage.

The often used "long wire" antenna with a tuner in the shack is possibly the worst antenna imaginable in terms of local noise pickup. They are lousy transmit antennas too. If at all possible, try to avoid the need for any kind of antenna tuner by using matched antennas. We don't know how much space you have for antennas, but your antenna is the single most important part of your station.

73 Dave

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SOFAR
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« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2018, 12:40:33 AM »

Thank that’s sort of what I was thinking, thanks for the push.

I may try to pass the general at the same day, I took a practice general exam, without reviewing anything, ouch, scored 48%, lol.  I think I need to look at some of the materials.

I just figured it would be easier to get the tech then start studying for the general, I agree, a General is a must as I am mainly looking to use HF Phone at this point.

Looking forward to getting on the air soon.

Take both exams the same day, walk out a General.

I used to study 45 mins to an hour a day, start with two practice exams, work flash cards, then end with 2 more practice exams.

A week before the exam, reset the site filters.
https://hamexam.org
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NA4IT
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« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2018, 05:54:48 AM »

If you think you want emergency backup power for your station, look at a RV type Converter Charger and a SLA battery.

Chargers: a 30 amp unit will power a 100 watts HF rig and dual band radio, as well as keep the battery charged, no switches needed.

http://www.rivergatedist.com/PowerSupply.htm

http://www.cascadeaudio.com/power_converters/power_converters.htm

Battery: The bigger the amp hour rating, the better. Marine type SLA (sealed lead acid) or UPS system batteries.

Sometimes, battery wholesales will have "1 year take outs" of UPS SLA batteries for cheap prices. I've had one I bought for $45 10 years ago and it still works well. It is a 12V 150aH battery. With radios on low power, it lasts a week.


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KM6XP
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« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2018, 11:06:32 AM »

Thanks all, I am postponing the exam until next weekend and will take both tech and general exams, I downloaded the General stuff from hamtestonline today and will start reviewing.  I studied 8 hours for the tech material and am pulling 90% scores.  If I can do the same with the general material will take both next week.  I like being in college again, lol.  Btw, hamtestonline seem to be the best material, it’s put together well.


I will report back after the exams.   

Antenna, yeah, that’s gonna be an issue and will need help.
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G4AON
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« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2018, 11:53:20 AM »

Antenna, yeah, that’s gonna be an issue and will need help.
No problem, there are plenty willing to help, both here and the antenna forum.

For starters, don't try to cover DC to light with a multi-band antenna. The less you compromise on antennas the better and you don't necessarily need to buy commercial, antennas are easy to make yourself.

Give us a "heads up" on your antenna situation.

73 Dave
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VK2NZA
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« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2018, 05:32:59 PM »

I am in agreement with G4AON re the IC 718, I've owned two of these in the past, very reliable and competent but not commensurate in performance with later offerings, add the cost of the AF DSP and filter options its up there in IC 7300 price range.
Kenwood TS 590 SG or Icom 7410, FTDX -1200 all good late model options also.
All the best with your exams, great to see new amateurs coming on board with this great pastime!

My take would be, if you have the space for an 80 meter multi-band dipole with Ladder-line to a modest tuner will give you several bands and a great start to HF radio.


Welcome on board!
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KM6XP
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Posts: 128




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« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2018, 09:11:03 PM »

Thank you all, the antenna is gonna be the pain in the whole process.  Two story house, radio will be on the second floor.  The back and side yards are 98% concrete pavers, and pool.  No trees.  I was thinking attic dipole or multi band vertical that could be mounted on the ground on the side of house on a 12” pole.  Not the best options but I want this to be lower profile, for  astetics.  I understand it will be a compromise but I hope I will still get some range.

The big tower will have to wait until I retire and move out of California but that is 15 years away.

Also think I am picking up the Icom 7300 next week, there are a couple sales/ rebates going until 9/30 so I can pick it up for $979.
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G4AON
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« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2018, 12:02:16 AM »

Xavier I've sent you an email via the eHam message system. If you reply to my Gmail address I'll send some pictures of the ground plane antenna I'm currently using in Spain. It's fastened with Ty-Raps to a washing line pole on the side of the villa. Worked USA, Canada, Japan and lots of nearby European stations in the past few days using 50 Watts of CW. HF conditions are pretty lousy at the moment and many ops seem to have given up... also tons of activity on FT8 if all you want is to click a mouse to have a "QSO".

73 Dave EA5/G4AON (until 20th September)
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K5LXP
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« Reply #13 on: September 14, 2018, 02:41:45 AM »

Thank you all, the antenna is gonna be the pain in the whole process. 

Careful what arbitrary requirements you place on your installation before you even start.  "Aesthetics" is subjective.  Any antenna outside is better than an antenna inside, simply due to being in proximity to metal and sources of interference.  So whatever path you take at least start with something outside.  Maybe a 60' tower and beams isn't in the cards right now, but wire antennas are very discrete and usually good performers.  Verticals can also be made of wire and in the right location nearly invisible.  It's only wire, not a lung transplant.  If you decide to try something different or move it, just do it.  There is very little "permanent" or difficult about stringing wire around.  And, there is no rule that says you can only have one antenna, in fact it's to your advantage to have several.  So perhaps try a vertical next to/on your house as well as some form of horizontal wire.  You will find that each has an advantage on some bands, to some stations.  I have the 60' tower with beams but I still have and use a vertical and horizontal wires, because they offer options under different operating conditions.  The takeaway to this is you will be challenged enough with the installation you have, don't compound it by using antennas and an installation that are a compromise upon compromise.  Go for the best performance/efficiency you can and then experiment to incrementally improve as you go.

Quote
there are a couple sales/ rebates going until 9/30 so I can pick it up for $979.

That is a smokin' deal.  If I didn't have too many HF radios already I'd be tempted just on principle.

Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM
 
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KC1BMD
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« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2018, 08:27:38 AM »

I agree with K5LXP that keeping antennas outside is much better. Having said that, I'm in a condo and my permanent antennas needed to go in the attic (two fan dipoles up about 24 ft - maybe) with shack on 2nd floor, far from ideal. It works and the noise isn't that bad. I only run barefoot (typically 50-80W or so). The only problems I ran into are:

1. Plug in CO detector sensitive (also neighbor's in adjoining condo - same building). We switched to a different brand and it appears to be mitigated for now.

2. Washing machine motor causes minor interference (so I mostly just ignore it until the wash is done).

3. Trane furnace draft inducer motor interference (installed factory RFI kit, but no joy - I might need to play with the installation done by the heating contractor). Winter operations are a little bit challenging but not impossible.

In any case, since you are just starting out, I would keep it simple and effective. My recommendation would be a 40m dipole (if you have the room - I didn't have the room but added coils to make it physically shorter - electrically longer), or go with a 20m dipole (much shorter). If you're able to fit full size, you probably can work without a tuner, although I use one occasionally on 40m where the bandwidth is a bit narrower due to the coils. Place a good current balun at the feed point (build your own or buy from a reputable supplier, e.g. Balun Designs). With these two bands alone I can work a lot, especially on CW and even with SSB regularly reach EU, SA, CA, etc. I even reached AK and HI but it was a struggle and the other stations did all the heavy work. Go with simple and proven designs that work and build on that when you are able to.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2018, 08:34:07 AM by KC1BMD » Logged
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