Need Some Encouragement/Advice

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

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  1. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    You may have problems with that power line. I'd do whatever is needed to get as far away from it as you can. If the front yard is the furthest place away from it, consider putting a big vertical disguised as a flagpole out there.

    The budget required to work DX depends on the amount of effort you want to put into it. CW or digital modes will go a lot further with less cost than any voice mode. Even as a Technician, if you can get on CW, you can work all of North America with relatively low power and simple antennas. Even as an Extra Class, it takes a lot more hardware to work the other side of the world on a regular basis. So, like most of us, you will probably end up with something in between.
  2. H2DADDY

    H2DADDY QRZ Member

    CW interests me but I don't think I have the patience to wait and learn it before I start my radio hobby. I could talk my wife into a flagpole, maybe. So it is possible with a technician license to work all of the US with just CW? That might be a little more incentive to learn CW. This is a hobby with a very large learning curve. I appreciate having a place that I can come and ask questions and not made to feel stupid.
  3. K7CCL

    K7CCL Ham Member QRZ Page

    I talk all over the world on a GAP TITAN DX. It's a mulitband verticle that is nestled between my house and the back yard fence. 4 ft clearence on 3 sides and open on the other. Money invested in the antenna... Nothing, not a dime, zero zilch, nadda. It was given to be by a fellow ham operator. It is mounted 3ft off the ground, has great SWR on all bands and works perfectly for DX stations. You don't need an antenna 50ft in the air for it to work DX. Nor do you have to spend a ton of money... Just find something that works and works good as cheap as possible... If you can't MAKE an antenna, they aren't hard to make and the cost is very low.. Just make sure it's resonant for the frequency you want to use it for and verything should work fine for you...
  4. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    As they say here in Minnesota, "Ya, you betcha".

    I got on during the ARRL Sweepstakes a week ago. Running 100 watts mostly in the 80, 40, and 15 meter Technician bands, I made 464 contacts in 49 states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and most of the Canadian provinces. I was using my 43' vertical. Some of those contacts came on 20 and 160 meters, but 40 was the 'workhorse' band.

    But, I've worked stations around the world with less - much less.

    As a Tech, you're limited to CW on HF below 10 meters. As a General, you could also do digital modes down there. There are inexpensive low power kits that work very well for PSK31. Check out the lines of gear from 'Small Wonder Labs'. Ten Tec has also offered lines of CW-only medium power rigs over the years, and they can often be found cheap. I'd avoid the very low power rigs as a beginner - low power operation is challenging, and may be too much so for a newbie. But if you can come up with 30-50 watts, you're in business.

    Learning the code will be a gift to yourself that keeps on giving! When you get good at it, you'll be able to make contacts with a rig you carry in your shirt pocket and a piece of wire thrown up in a tree!
  5. H2DADDY

    H2DADDY QRZ Member

    I checked out some sites on learning morse code. I don't know. I would love to learn it but dang, it looks difficult. I am pretty sure I don't have the patience to wait to get on the radio until I learn the code. I am going to give it a shot. Any recommendations on which method is better to learn with?
  6. H2DADDY

    H2DADDY QRZ Member

    I forgot to ask. I keep hearing about digital modes. What exactly is that?
  7. AK4BM

    AK4BM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thats not hard to come by - I bought my first radio (TS-130s) and power supply for $300, add $30 worth of RG-213 and a $40 MFJ G5RV....

    It can be done for that budget.

    I've since upgraded to a TS-570sg, but the TS-130 got the job done.

    Besides, HF isn't always that can meet a lot of people and some operating techniques using 2 meter repeaters in the area to get you started.

    Good luck in studying and passing your test, this hobby is certainly addictive!

  8. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    These are other non-voice modes where you use a computer to chat.

    The most popular mode right now is PSK31. You basically need a SSB transceiver and some kind of interface. You can fairly easily build your own interface, or you can buy one.

    Most PSK31 users run low power - under 50 watts. Many run less than 5 watts. I demo'd it for my brother out in Colorado. I set up my 2 watt 20 meter PSK rig with a 5' whip antenna and a counterpoise wire. I think I also had a small antenna tuner in play. From his kitchen table, in his brick house, I had a nice chat with a ham in California. It was a good demo! Your mileage may vary a whole lot. Sometimes, the low power and crummy antenna just don't work well. Other times, they work great.

    Small Wonder Labs has a line of kit radios for PSK31. They're basically a fixed-frequency radio on the PSK31 'watering hole' frequencies. You hook up your computer soundcard and serial port (via a converter if needed) and use free software. An antenna and 1 amp power supply are the only other things you need.

    Because PSK is a very narrowband mode, a lot of PSK signals fit in the bandwidth of a single SSB signal. So, even though the radio is fixed at 14.070, for example, you will see PSK signals from 14.070 to 14.072 or so, and there can be dozens of them in that space at the same time. Consequently, a fixed-frequency radio is practical for PSK use.

    Here's one of dozens of websites devoted to PSK31:
  9. K0CMH

    K0CMH Ham Member QRZ Page

    If you are interested in PSK, google sites for "digipan" and for "psk".

    Digipan is a free software that is very popular with Hams. It is dirt simple to use and installs without problems.

    Some of the PSK sites have plans for a homemade interface. These costs about $10.00 to make yourself. Since it is just audio signals, you don't even have to know how to solder if you can twist wires tightly.
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