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Author Topic: Transceiver Advice for old newbe  (Read 2873 times)
KB5JO
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Posts: 66




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« on: December 16, 2005, 05:34:36 AM »

I was an amateur in the 60s (WB6HJZ), and in the 80s (KB5JO), inactive for 15 years.  Want to restart now am retired, interested in 15,12,10 mostly CW some SSB, less than 25 watts.  Don't want to spend thousands on this hobby, looking to set up small station in my home office without an antenna farm in the yard or on the roof.

Advice please about inexpensive transceiver and tuner that would permit feeding trapped dipole or random wire in the attic.  I've thought about the Ten Tec Argonaut and the ICOM 718.  Used would be fine, but I'm not interested in antiques or boat anchors.  Reliability and customer support is more important to me than features and gadgets.
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AA4PB
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Posts: 15043




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« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2005, 07:01:32 AM »

The antenna is the most important part of the station. An attic dipole with less than 25W is going to be a real handicap. The first thing I'd recommend is moving the dipole outside and up in the air if at all possible. Not only will that improve your transmit signal, it will get you away from the noise generating stuff inside the home and avoid a lot of RFI problems.

As far as transceivers, Ten Tec is a favorite of many CW people. Elecraft makes some nice QRP CW kits.
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Bob  AA4PB
Garrisonville, VA
WB2WIK
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Posts: 21836




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« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2005, 08:53:51 AM »

I agree: The antenna is far more important than the station equipment.  No exceptions to that rule.

For a low-profile, fun, low-powered station, put up a serious antenna and then "any" kind of rig will work well.

If you haven't been listening to HF lately: We're near the very bottom of sunspot Cycle 23, and Cycle 24 hasn't started yet.  This means propagation is at a near minimum, where it will remain for another 12-18 months before we start climbing up the slope of the next cycle.

As a result, the "higher bands" (10-12-15m) have been "closed" a lot, and just "open" a bit during daylight hours.  At night, they're shut down tighter than a frog's behind.  17m isn't much better.  20m often closes right after dark.

Thus, right now with the short days of winter upon us, the real "action" is mostly 15-17-20m during the daylight hours and then 30m for a little while until the MUF drops really low, and then 40m-80m-160m.  Thus, the "lower bands" are much more useful than the "higher bands," at this time.

Too bad you missed the "double peak" of Cycle 23, which occurred in 1999-2001 timeframe.  The higher bands were wild, and often open nearly 24 hours a day.  Not now, and probably not again until maybe 2009-2010.

I'd recommend a good, high, outdoor antenna or antennas, and please do include at least the 40m and 80m bands, since there's more activity there than anywhere else nowadays.

Then, the rig won't be so important.  A Ten Tec Argonaut-V is low power and a great CW rig (runs phone, too).  The IC-718 probably isn't quite as good overall, but runs more power (100W) and that can be very helpful with conditions as they are today.  One "problem" with both this rigs is that neither of them has an antenna tuner built in, so you might have to buy (or build) one as an accessory.  The "higher end" rigs, beginning with the IC-746PRO and also the TS-570D, TS-2000, TS-480 and also the FT-920, FT1000MP Field, IC-756PROII/III and so forth all have built-in very usable automatic antenna tuners: If your antenna is mismatched, push a button, and bingo -- it's matched.  Saves a lot of time and trouble and makes operating easier.

Welcome back!

WB2WIK/6

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KA2JIZ
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Posts: 105




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« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2005, 03:41:42 PM »

I was also QRT...for about seven years...missed some prime time as only back since summer of 2005. Bands definitely down. I purchased an Argonaut V for the home (apartment) and an SGC2020 for travel (not portable). Both will top out at 20 watts, which even now still makes it. Good advise on getting the antenna outside. I used to string a wire in the apartment, but it worked just as badly as it looked. Tossed it out the window flat onto a lower roof and noticed an improvement. An MFJ 1622 window antenna product reviewer added the 12 foot telescopic whip to that antenna and claims it works like gangbusters. I think I am going to try that setup myself. See his review.
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KB5JO
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Posts: 66




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« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2005, 06:24:00 PM »

I visited store ( ICOM service station ) here and put hands on the IC718. Guess it may not be the best available but I fell in love with it and believe will buy one for my Christmas present. My last station was a Ranger and HQ170.

Thanks for advice on antennas, I'll try to set up either dipole or inverted V outside.  Last time I was active with an 18V vertical mounted above aluminum patio cover ground plane.  
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WB2WIK
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Posts: 21836




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« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2005, 08:04:56 PM »

>RE: Transceiver Advice for old newbe  Reply  
by KB5JO on December 16, 2005  Mail this to a friend!  
I visited store ( ICOM service station ) here and put hands on the IC718. Guess it may not be the best available but I fell in love with it and believe will buy one for my Christmas present. My last station was a Ranger and HQ170.<

::Damn!  I hope you still have the Ranger and HQ-170, because what they would sell for today would easily buy the IC-718 with cash left over.  These things are becoming "collectable," and you might be shocked what they're worth!

>Thanks for advice on antennas, I'll try to set up either dipole or inverted V outside. Last time I was active with an 18V vertical mounted above aluminum patio cover ground plane.<

::You'll do a lot better with a dipole or inverted vee, if you can get it up reasonbly high.  I know the 18V well, and it's kinda-sorta an antenna, but not a very good one.  And if you don't run outside and change "taps" on the coil every time you change frequencies, then it's almost a dummy load.  Go for the dipole and you'll be surprised.  And, welcome back!
 
 
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N5VN
Member

Posts: 1




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« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2005, 12:41:46 PM »

 Was off air 50 yrs.Ret'd 2000 c Icom 718 and worked
 180 countries quick. Great rig for $. Now Pro3.
          73 Walt N5VN
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