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Author Topic: Okay help me find some good equipment please?  (Read 10683 times)

Posts: 91

« on: December 13, 2013, 08:44:26 PM »

As I said I need to get some reliable gear. I need to find a quality swr meter, a quality watt meter, a good external speaker, and a good microphone for a Drake TR7. I also need a good tuner. I keep buying low cost because we of finances, I just don't have much but I love ham. I figure every thing will have to be second hand. I don't know what brands and models to look for.
I will say money is real tight. I know as other say I also say it alot. I am very tight budget wise. I may get $75 a month to spend so think good deals please.

Any help is appreciated, snide remarks and beratment can be stuffed. Don't mean to be a jeark it it seams to be prevelant hear. I am just trying to participate in a hobby even though I don't have a lot.

Thanks ahead and 73s,


"Rangers Lead The Way!"  "Sua Sponte"   "Litalis Velox Silens"
When all else fails ham radio is there!
FT2900, FT8900, VX6, Ft60, TS940SAT, Drake TR7, MFJ 969

Posts: 2100

« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2013, 12:39:24 PM »

For starters, local Craig's list, local paper want ad and ask local ham club (if any) members in your area. Don't by anything unseen. In your position stay away from eBay ham scams.

Posts: 1279

« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2013, 04:46:04 PM »

Try to get to a Ham Fest if possible. There you can see and likely test the equipment before buying it. The prices are usually very reasonable, and most of the sellers are Knowledgeable hams and can help you with your selection.



Posts: 62

« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2013, 08:02:32 PM »

Check your local sources like craigslist, town papers, garage sales and thrift stores. Improvise and DYI where possible. Example: I found some Rat Shack Minimus 7 speakers for ~$2 at a yard sale and they're great for Ham/SWL. Don't completely discount fleabay for some items. Example: I found a 300 watt dummy load for $15, which is about $10-$15 less than I had been seeing them at hamfests. Check for sales, specials and used gear at places like Ham Radio Outlet.

Patience is key, the gear will come.


Posts: 1855

« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2013, 02:03:46 PM »

Any wattmeter you buy on the cheap isn't going to be any more accurate than the one built into the TR7.  And, with the REF/FWD panel switch pressed in (REF position), the meter reads reflected power and you can use the same watts scale.  If you feel you really need to know the SWR value, a Google search will turn up a formula for calculating the SWR knowing the forward and reflected power values.  For the tuner, I'd build a simple L network on a wooden board using a tapped coil and old broadcast radio capacitor.  If you need balanced output, a low power balun is an easy project, requiring only a toroid core and some wire. 

73, K8AC

Posts: 70

« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2013, 08:41:33 PM »

Build, build, build!!  Scrounge, Scrounge, Scrounge!!

Plans for a 100W dummy load made from a quart paint can, a pile of $.03 resistors, a UHF connector, and mineral oil are available online.  That's at most $15 or so. 

Do the unthinkable, and feed your antenna with salvaged 75ohm cable.  It is easy to find for free, proper connectors can be found with little effort, and it's typically not enough mismatch to matter. 

Build and use wire antennas.  If you have to buy the wire, buy it 500' at a time from a local electrical parts distributor. 

Here's the real secret; the computer gaming / digital music community has driven the price of decent quality headphones into the bargain range.  They will never match the high end quality that is out there but stuff is available for less than $20 that is usable instead of external speaker(s). 


Posts: 269

« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2013, 03:39:31 PM »

One thing you will want to buy is a good antenna tuner. I have the MFJ -969 and I love it. It is good for 300 watts, and has the cross-needle swr/watt meter built in. It also has a 4:1 balun. This will give you much more flexibility with wire antennas...

Posts: 6251

« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2013, 04:16:24 PM »

There are a few important rules to follow if you want something that's half-way decent.  First and foremost is this one--DO NOT jump at the first one you see. 

Ask to see the unit in use if at all possible.  If the seller refuses, refuse to buy. 
If he tries to say he can't because of a lack of a setup to connect it, refuse to buy.
If the seller has any excuse for you not to see it in use or try it first, refuse to buy.

Buy only when you can see it in use--preferably trying it yourself, or when you know you can trust the seller.  Those few rules will get you equipment you know works and can trust--most of the time.  73 and good luck!

Posts: 299

« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2013, 03:28:35 PM »

Is there a local ham club you can join?
This way, you have several eyes looking out for stuff for you. And...there is every likelihood that another member will give you something he's not using....or can lend you something 'till you find your own.
Don't buy anything would be just tossing your money into the toilet. There were several great tuners made in the '70s and '80s, that can usually be had for a song at hamfests. Again...someone would surely lend you one until you come up with one.
...You should document every thing you do, every transaction, every thought and effort....perhaps you can write an e-book someday about getting on the air for the least cost!!!
73, and Good Luck!

Posts: 505

« Reply #9 on: December 24, 2013, 07:14:06 PM »

Is there a local ham club you can join?
Don't buy anything MFJ...
I have never had any trouble w/ my MFJ 300 watt tuner or antenna analyzer.  Had them both for 13 yrs (suppose now my luck will change).


Posts: 666

« Reply #10 on: December 25, 2013, 04:38:33 AM »


First thing any decent tuner will have a good enough watt meter and SWR bridge built in.

If you want a lovely tuner for only the TR7 I have a Cubic (Swan) ST3-B that tunes everything you can throw at it and even after 30 yrs or more it is still 100%.

For an external speaker I use cheap garage sale found HIFI speakers wich i bought for about 1$ each.
If you want it to look good just spray it in Drake colour stile.

For the Mike
I think that every Turner +3B or Astatic Eagle will fit.

But even the cheapest CB dynamic handmike will do.
I tested a lot of CB mikes wich i had on my ham gear and certainly the dynamic CB hand mikes are in the same quality range as the ham mikes provided with the hamradios of today.
But I know a ham that has a TR7 and TR3 etc and a lot of classic equipement, a nice old X-tal hand mike suits these classic rigs perectly.

So for the mike and speaker you should be able to do it for 10$ and even have some change.

For the tuner I would be more carefull, I wouldn't buy the cheapest but the best.
i have seen far to many blown up parts in the cheap up to 300 watt MFJ's but I have to say that these defects were  90% due to ham misuse by people whom haven't got the slightest idea how a tuner works and how to tune an antenna with it and how to tune it that the tuner feels happy with it.

As a poor guy I can not afford the expencive ones from Palstar , so I build my own tuner.
It is 5KW CW and it is full bullet proof.
It costed me only 400$ and the finish and components are in quality standard you can not buy in any tuner today on the market except some military surplus tuners of Both USSR and USA.   

For antennas, I build all my antennas myself and the most expencive I use now is my rotatable V-dipole for 6-40 mtrs, it costed me 40$
But my homebrew wire dipole for 10-80 mtrs is made out of 13AWG speaker twinlead and rope and ty-raps
The insulator is made of a Poly Ethylene kitchen cutting board of 2$.
the insulators for the 600 ohm ladderline are rose clips 10 cnts each.
The copperwires costed me 55$ for 100 meter awg13 twinlead, I just had to pull the twinlead apart carefully and had 200 meters perfect copperwire for antenna use

So hamming on a budget can be done if you know how to do it.
And remeber thinking how to get a good cheap hamstation costs nothing.
Good luck

73 Jos
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