Need Some Encouragement/Advice

Discussion in 'Becoming an Amateur Radio Operator/Upgrading Privi' started by H2DADDY, Nov 14, 2009.

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  1. H2DADDY

    H2DADDY QRZ Member

    Here is my story. I am interested in Dxing. I realize that I will have to become a General to do this. I have a budget of $500-600 starting out. I realize that like my other hobbies, that if I really get into this, I will be spending much more. One problem that I have is I have power lines that run across my backyard. I know that I am not suppose to have an antenna anywhere near power lines. A large antenna in the front yard is out of the question according to the wife. Will I be able to reach long distances with my budget and my powerline problem? I ordered my books to help me pass the tests. Before I buy any equipment or take this too far, I want to be able to see if it is possible. Do I just need to save my money a little while longer? Any way around the powerlines besides moving?:) I started this adventure over a year ago and talked myself out of it. I still have the itch to try it out. Thanks.
  2. N3XP

    N3XP Ham Member QRZ Page

    Can you put up a vertical?
  3. NA0AA

    NA0AA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Why don't you contact a local club and see if a couple of members could come out and do a drive by antenna survey? There's a lot of ways to skin a cat.

    I have power lines across the alley from my back yard, but they are all final drops at 240 volts...

    You can also buy antenna books and look at the various ways other amateurs have built antennas over the years. ARRL sells at least a 1/2 dozen books and there are others.
  4. AD5ND

    AD5ND Ham Member QRZ Page

    As was pointed out "There's a lot of ways to skin a cat." and there are many hams that have done it. Do a google search for near by hams that can give you an opinion. Remember many of them will be too old to climb a tree.
  5. KF7AYS

    KF7AYS Ham Member QRZ Page

    Actually, you can do a lot with 10m for DX. I worked the western half of the USA on 10m. Now, that having been said, Getting your general ticket will definately make it easier for you. :)

    Cheers and hope to hear you soon, 73.
  6. W9GB

    W9GB Ham Member QRZ Page

    You would be best served looking for a Contesting / DX club in you area or state. Many of the larger clubs participate in contests from one location, setup for contesting and DX -- and need operators for the grave yard shifts.
    Best way to 'get up to speed' of the hobby and proper techniques. The equipment will come eventually.

    Worst approach for those on a limited budget -- is to blindly purchase problem radios (someone else's problem) and never fully experience their interest and leave hobby.

    ARRL Affliated Club search database

    Last edited: Nov 15, 2009
  7. K0CMH

    K0CMH Ham Member QRZ Page

    That is a fairly tight budget to get started in HF. However, "DXing" can be done on other bands, and through other modes, that do not require full privliges on the HF bands.

    One way to go would be to take the prior advice here and join a local club that has equipment suitable for HF DXing. As a Tech licensee, you can operate the HF bands provided there is a licensed General or above working as the "control operator" of the station -- or work on your own as a General or higher. Most clubs have "club stations" for the members to use.

    You can get into the VHF/UHF bands fairly cheaply, and then save money for the more expensive parts of the hobby while you enjoy those bands.

    There is a lot of shorter range "DXing" done on the VHF and UHF bands available to a Tech license. One thing that is a lot of fun on VHF/UHF is IRLP and EchoLink. I prefer IRLP because it is turely radio (i.e., both you and the party at the other end need to be licensed AND using a radio).

    Antenna Solution: Attic Antennas

    If you do find a decent HF rig within your budget, a simple wire dipole antenna, you make yourself for very little ($20.00 or less), in your attic can work well. Also, VFH/UHF antennas can be installed in an attic and can work suprisingly well. I have both. I have DXed to all parts of the world, with a 20 meter center fed dipole in my attic, at 100 watts. No, it does not work as well as a multi-element beam on an 80 foot tower, but it does work.

    Antennas in the attic are pretty well protected from power lines. If a power line contacts your attic antenna, you have a lot more trouble to worry about than your radios.

    If you consider buying a used HF radio, I strongly suggest you visit/join a local club and purchase it from a member who is as honost as you can find and who is willing to help out if the radio has problems. Club members can guide you away from "bad players". Also, there are sellers on ebay with very good reputations in the Ham community and those that have horrible reputations. Again, club members can guide you there.

    Again, the best advice is to locate a local club that you like. There will be folks that will help you.
  8. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'm a bit concerned about that powerline. Are you talking about the power drop for the house, or a real power distribution line?

    I wouldn't worry too much about the power drop for the house, but obviously you need to avoid it. If it's older, it's probably not well insulated. 240 V can ruin your whole day. If you do a vertical, make sure it can't fall on the power drop. That's also true of a tower. Likewise, you certainly don't want bare wires falling on the power drop.

    My dad's last tower was right next to the power drop, and we never lost any sleep over it. It would have been difficult for the tower to fall on it, but it could possibly have happened. The tower, of course, was very well grounded. The theory was that if the unlikely happened and the tower were to fall that way, it would take the power drop to the ground, both physically and electrically.

    If it's a power distribution line, I hope it's at least fairly high. I have a medium-voltage power feed for this quadrant of the city in my back yard, and it's not an issue, except for the fact that I have two 100-foot cottonwood trees that are about 75 feet from the powerline. I'd love to get an antenna up in the top of one of those trees, but... I am surprised that it's not noisy. Before I bought the house, I checked it out very thoroughly - no noise on HF at any distance from it.
  9. H2DADDY

    H2DADDY QRZ Member

    It is a real power distribution line that runs about 10 yards off the back of my house. It is not that high either. Doesn't sound like I can get into worldwide dxing with my budget yet. I am just anxious to get to learning. My budget says get a hand talk but reading everything on here tells me that is not the way to get started. I just want to start working and making contacts. This is a very confusing hobby and I have a lot to learn. I guess I am just going to have to learn some patience.:)
  10. K0CMH

    K0CMH Ham Member QRZ Page

    I will repeat previous advise. Locate a local Ham club and start asking questions. If there are no persons in that club that are willing to help you, try another club. Some or more "social" than others.

    Yes, the hobby can seem confusing and complex at first. But that is due to one of the best things about it -- there are many, many different things to do in Ham radio.

    Don't get discouraged. Follow your interests. I think you will find that you will really enjoy getting started.

    Most of us Hams start with a pretty small budget, enjoy the daylights out of what every we can get started with, and slowly aquire more and more "stuff".

    I started out with a low power ("QRP") transmitter that I build for scrap parts and a diagram, and a used "Short wave" receiver, and a wire "dipole" antenna. As I saved up money, I got a HF transciever. Later, I added UHF and VHF radios.

    Now I have three HF radios, three vhf/uhf rigs, a number of antennas, and all sorts of "odds and ends" to play with. I even got a little notebook computer for "digital modes".

    I think I have had more fun saving and planning for my next move than I have making the contacts . . well , maybe.

    Again, if you find a club you like, you will get opportunities to "check out" member's equipment before you buy anything. That is a lot of fun by itself.

    Good luck and hope to hear you on the air soon.
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