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Author Topic: My First Ham set up  (Read 1915 times)

Posts: 64

« on: June 29, 2009, 02:44:48 PM »

After looking at several forums and looking at different topics, I think I found a good starting set up. My situation is , I'm a fulltime RV'er working at different places around the country. I have a 5th wheel trailer that I call home. I just received my Tech
 license and my main interest is CW. I'm looking at an IC-718 or Yaesu FT-450, a G5RV or a Buddipole antenna, and a MFJ antenna tuner. What do you think of this setup? I would like to find something a little less expensive if possible. any comments pros or cons will be accepted as I'm just starting out with limited knowledge.

Thanks and 73,s Richard KD0IBG

Posts: 113

« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2009, 08:13:38 PM »

Congrats on getting your tech, Richard, and glad you're planning to work CW.

The FT-450 is a fine rig.  I'm sure you would have no regrets after getting it.  You could probably save a few hundred by getting a used one, but be careful there.  Much better to have the rig demonstrated to your satisfaction before paying for it.

Just my opinion, but I dislike the buddipole antenna.  If I were in your place, I would get a small loop antenna, such as the MFJ-1788.  That antenna is pricey, but it works well at low heights using vertical polarization.  It can be used without a transmatch if the pickup loop is carefully adjusted for best SWR.

You should consider the input from a great number of folks before making your decisions.

73 de John/AD7WN

Posts: 3022


« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2009, 01:46:06 PM »

One thing I would make sure to get is something along the lines of a 500Hz CW filter. It definitely comes in handy with CW work (although some radios these days are all digital and have them 'built-in'). While the mushy grey stuff in between your ears is one of the best filters, the 500Hz certainly makes things easier. You can get narrower filters but the 500 is a good all-around if you have only enough money to spend on just one.

Both rigs are fine HF rigs, I hear many on the air and both have rave reviews.

Don't forget a hand key or a set of paddles!

Posts: 64

« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2009, 05:34:29 PM »

Thanks Guys for all the great advice. It's nice to get this help from those who know. I'm looking at everything you told me about.

73's Richard.... KD0IBG

Posts: 21837

« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2009, 06:27:43 PM »

Richard, with a 5th wheel you have a lot of antenna options.  I also would not use the Buddipole, as it's only a "single band" antenna that does not allow you to change bands while you're moving.  It's a pretty good choice for "pedestrian mobile" operations, or maybe setting up on a tall tripod while parked and camping.

But with a 5th wheel, you have a big, tall vehicle you can use to support better antennas.  I'd go for something like a Hi-Q "screwdriver" vertical installed up high on the 5th wheel.  If you have aluminum siding, all the better.  If it's fibreglas or other non-conductive material, just add radials.  If you have a rear ladder, which is pretty standard on 5th wheels, you can bolt the antenna to that and at least have some sort of ground plane for it.

That will allow you to change bands on the fly, while parked or moving, and the "big" Hi-Q verticals with the 5" diameter coils are very efficient.  Mounting one at the top of the rear ladder gets it up high enough above ground to be effective.  I have one on my Class A motor home, and it's a killer antenna, with almost no work to install.


Posts: 32

« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2009, 06:03:05 AM »


I acquired an IC718 almost a year ago and have been very pleased with it. I operate CW only and haven't plugged the mike in to it yet. Hi.

I like the IC718 because it has a very simple front panel layout and all the features I need available at the touch of a button (no menu digging).

I fitted the 500Hz CW filter.  That combined with the IF shift and CW reverse seems to satisfy most interference problems.

I also operate CW mobile almost every weekday and for this I use an FT817 with 50W RF amp and an OutBacker Perth Plus.
The OutBacker works extremely well (almost unbelievable) but to change bands I have to get out of the car and move the tap on the antenna. I agree with Steve (WB2WIK), it would be better to be able to change bands on the fly.

The FT817 is a great little radio but not easy to operate while mobile because some settings I tend to need while operating require digging into the menus.  This unit is designed for the backpacker so is very small and not much room for buttons.  Some day I may upgrade to something a little better suited to mobile operations. It’ll do for now.

Richard, sounds like you are on the right track with your choice of equipment.  Good luck with your new hobby.  One of the many things I have learned in this hobby is, not to spend too much time worrying about putting together the perfect radio system.  Select an antenna you know will work, (dipole is a good start) attach the radio and get on air and operate.  From there you can try different radio system components and find what works best for you.

David VK3GDM
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