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Author Topic: HF filters  (Read 3826 times)

Posts: 0

« on: August 27, 2001, 05:20:18 PM »

I am a new Tech who is planning to upgrade to General in a month or so. I want to buy a good HF rig and would like to know which optional filters I should get. I know that the specifics will be radio dependent, but any general suggestions about CW and SSB filters (250hz vs 500hz, which if stage, etc) would be appreciated.

By the way, I am currently leaning toward the ICOM IC-746 rig, if that will help.

Dana Ferguson

Posts: 21836

« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2001, 06:15:19 PM »

I'd get the rig first and get on the air, before installing any narrow CW filters.  Several reasons for this:

-You might just love the way the IC746 (or whatever) works on CW just the way it is; if so, you've just saved yourself the cost of a filter!

-Whether you buy an ICOM filer or an "after market" one, from IRC (for example), you'll have to install it yourself, anyway; it is not any more work to buy one later than it is to buy it now, and you might find out that an after market filter is preferable for some reason.  If you buy the ICOM filter now and then find that out, you'll regret your decision.  Used filters are worth very little, so you better like the one you buy.

-This may or may not be applicable for you, personally: But in general, money put into antennas is the best return on investment possible in amateur radio.  If I had $150 to spend on a great filter or a better antenna, there is no question that the antenna would be on its way -- and almost anybody who's been active on HF for any length of time would agree.  If money's no object, then this discussion may not apply!  But for most of us, it does.

For the record -- and hams will agree and disagree on this point -- I operate primarily CW, and have for 35+ years; I own three HF transceivers, all with narrow CW filters installed; and I almost never use any of the narrow filters.  I honestly wish I had not spent the money on any of them.  Reason: I love the way "wide bandwidth" sounds when listening to CW.  It provides more fidelity (broad range of audio frequencies passed to my ears via the headphones), is easier listening, and allows me to hear stations somewhat off-frequency, which alerts me to things I'd never know about if I couldn't hear those off-frequency signals.  (I have no problem whatever concentrating on just one CW signal, surrounded by dozens of others also in the passband.  This is a matter of mental training, and anyone can do it.)

Examples abound on this matter: Most recently, while ragchewing with a station in Atlanta on 15m CW, I heard a very weak, high-pitched (off frequency) signal calling CQ.  It was an EK2 station in Armenia, halfway around the world, not very strong, and not getting any answers.  I hastily signed off with my W4 buddy, slid the VFO down 2 kHz and called the Armenian.  Bingo!  A new DX contact in the log.  Never would have known he was there if I'd been using a narrow CW filter.  This kind of stuff happens all the time.  As a result, I'm resigned to practically never using narrow filters.

73 de Steve WB2WIK/6

Posts: 0

« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2001, 08:37:50 PM »

Sounds like good advice. That was the way I was leaning. I should probably wait and get used to the radio before adding a lot of accessories anyway.

Spending the money on a good antenna is probably the smart thing. I have a Home Owners Association to deal with, so I am limited as what I can put up. I am thinking about a vertical on a crankup mask so I can raise and lower as needed to please the neighbors. I live in the Dallas TX area and I understand the ground here is pretty good for a vertical.

Anyway, thanks for the advice.


Posts: 21836

« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2001, 11:06:46 AM »

Sure, Dana.  Remember improving your receiver only improves 1/2 of your station; increasing transmitter power only improves 1/2 of your station; but every improvement made in your antenna improves your "entire" station (both receiving and transmitting) and is thus doubly effective.  For some reason, a lot of hams seem to forget that.

Only after you get on the air and made a few hundred contacts will you know what your station needs.  In my particular case (just one example), it turns out that although I have no antenna restrictions (one major reason I bought this place!), I do have power line noise issues to deal with.  This noise is not consistent but at times is a real pain.  When it's particularly bad, I force myself to transmit with very little power, because I know I can be heard much better than I can hear.  So, when the local noise level's high, it's time to run QRP!  When the local noise level is low, I can turn on the amplifier.  No use running high power if I can't hear the stations calling me.

There are a broad range of issues to deal with in amateur radio operation, I just gave one example.  Only you will know what you must deal with, and you won't know that right away -- it takes some time.

Having operated from this place for 8-1/2 months now, I know that investing in serious noise cancelling systems to improve my reception would be worthwhile, and far more worthwhile than anything I could do to improve transmission.  It took months to fully realize this, and I'm working on it.

Get the '746 and let's hear you on the air!

The tilt-up or tilt-over vertical antenna sounds like a great idea, by the way.  You might check out the Alpha-Delta Outpost system, too...

73 de Steve WB2WIK/6

Posts: 414


« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2001, 02:20:31 PM »

I've had my Icom 706 about a month now, and last weekend, especially on 40m SSB, I wished I had a narrow filter. Too many other stations during the Calif QSO party were going at it just 1-1.5 KHz away. I tried the passband, DSP and other fx, didn't really help. I don't have a steerable antenna, either. A narrow filter would have been very helpful. I'm going to get one real soon.

Dave AD7DB
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