Newbie - need advice

Discussion in 'VHF/UHF - 50Mhz and Beyond' started by KD2YEZ, Nov 28, 2021.

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  1. KD2YEZ

    KD2YEZ QRZ Member

    Ok, perhaps this should be in another place on the forum, but it did seem like a logical place to try. I have a shiny new tech license, after having been away from amateur radio for over 50 years. The learning curve for the new technology is kinda vertical for me. When I was last on the air I had a transmitter and a receiver (both with tubes), and a wire up under the eaves. Plus a straight-key (not allowed voice as a Novice). I had a box of crystals that I could select from to plug in for whatever frequency I wanted to use to transmit. It was always an adventure.

    So now I want to get on the air and be able to not just do 2 meters, but also be able to do 6 (and potentially 10, should it ever open) meters. I am not finding radios (other than ones that do all the HF bands are are $$$$) that will let me do all those bands. I will probably go back to doing CW, but I think I'd like to give voice communications a try now.

    I'd rather not use a hand-held, and I'd rather have just one radio, rather than several. It will be a base station, as I won't be driving for too much longer. I have read up on repeaters, etc., and so I know I need to get a radio that will allow me to generate the proper tones to use one. Yes, eventually I hope to get a general license, but that might be a while so I don't want to spend the big bucks to get a radio that does everything that can be done as a general. Just something to use in the meantime. Is there actually a single radio that will allow me to do all of what I want to do?

    Can anyone make some suggestions as to what equipment I should consider? And the best place to find it (bearing in mind I won't be able to fix my own radios should they malfunction)? Thanks for your help!
    KD2UHD likes this.
  2. KD2UHD

    KD2UHD Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Their are some options for for 2-10 meters radios such as a TYT TH-9800. But I would suggest upgrading to General or Extra before you start doing HFsince six and ten meters are not very active yet. If you are looking for a HF radio two good choices are the Icom 7300 of Yeasu 991A but used older radios are just as good. Also listening for offers on local repeaters is a good place to find cheap gear.
    Good Luck and 73
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2021
  3. KD2YEZ

    KD2YEZ QRZ Member

    Thanks for your advice. I'm afraid it could be quite some time before I can pass the General test, and I'd like to get on the air sooner, I'll look at the 9800. Since I won't be able to repair them, I'm a little leery of buying used radios. (Once I have a way to listen on the repeaters, I sure will keep an ear out, though.) I am rather hoping that I'll get lucky with six meters. :)
  4. KD2UHD

    KD2UHD Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    A good starting poit is a Baofeng HT. They are only about 25$ on Amazon and will all0w you to talk on 2m/7cm. Used radios are usally not broken unless advertize but i understand you concerns 73.
  5. KD2YEZ

    KD2YEZ QRZ Member

    I really do not want anything hand-held, but will look at it. Could I also do CW on it? There is a small allowance for CW on 2 meters, but none on 70cm. But, as you say, I'd be able to listen in on the repeater that way at least.
    KD2UHD likes this.
  6. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Forget CW on 2m, it's just about nonexistent today (unlike 50 years ago when it was pretty popular). There's a bit of CW activity on 6m, usually just below the SSB area which begins at 50.100, or sometimes between 50.100 and 50.110.

    However, 10m CW is alive and well with quite a lot of activity and your license allows that, as well as SSB voice 28.300 to 28.500. 10m has been opening up pretty often lately, and we're just at the beginning of the new solar cycle so it will get better and better. Two weekends ago it was wall to wall with activity including a lot of DX.

    I think what you'd really want is an "all band, all mode" rig that covers 10-6-2 and also the other HF bands. If you know code, the Tech license has CW privileges on 80-40-15 meters as well as 10m and of course all VHF bands and above. That's reminiscent of the old Novice license, but with the addition of being legal to use a VFO, more power (200W) and of course voice modes on 10m, 6m, 2m and all the VHF-UHF-SHF bands.

    There are new rigs that cover all that and aren't even expensive, like the Yaesu FT-991A or the Icom IC-7100. Yes, they do FM with the CTCSS tones and all that as well.

    I also see KD2YEZ was canceled recently and replaced with WN5BDN and you're in upstate NY a bit NW of Albany. There should be local VHF-UHF repeaters there, but the real fun isn't using those...and using CW on 10m can net you serious DX contacts if you have a decent 10m antenna.
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2021
    K4EEO and KD2UHD like this.
  7. KD2YEZ

    KD2YEZ QRZ Member

    Hi. Yep, I took my original call sign back (because I could). Unfortunately, when I registered for this site I used my email forwarding address, which doesn't seem to be working. I had to re-register with my recently assigned call sign (not my current, much older original one) because there was no way to activate the WN5 call-sign address since I couldn't get the email. I've sent the tech support a message and hopefully they'll sort it all out for me.

    Jeez, I'm a dinosaur. Everything is so tremendously different! Heaven knows, there's enough other antennae down there on the ridge south of me that there is probably a repeater as well. I'm not actually all that keen on using one, really.

    Yes, I rather like code. Antenna is going to be the problem with HF. I am in a multi-story building and although I have a balcony there are people above and below me. I've enough room for an inverted V 10 meter dipole, or a straight 6 meter one. I'm hoping the fact that the balcony is on the NE side of the building won't be too much of a hindrance (with most of the country being to my SW). Until we move into a house I don't know how I'd manage a HF antenna that could do 80-40-15, sadly. (Unless they've invented something I haven't stumbled across yet!) Electrically grounding a HF station will be nigh unto impossible, other than using the ground that is involved with the wall plug, for the time being. (No metal pipes even.) Then again, if I wasn't using a whole lot of power I guess I'd be ok, even on one of those fancy all-in-all rigs. (?) (Remember, I've been away a LONG time.)
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2021
  8. KD2UHD

    KD2UHD Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I didn't relize how close you were to me. The 146.940 repeter is near to you and is very active. Antennas are a problem. Possibly a verticle or a ten meter dipole might work?
  9. KD2YEZ

    KD2YEZ QRZ Member

    Vertical would have to be less than 10 feet tall (I think that's how much space is between the floor and the ceiling of the balcony. There are people living above and below who also use their balconies, so I'm thinking no verticals. I suspect the landlord would have a fit if I stuck something out over the common area, so not even semi-vertical. Yeah, it's going to have to be a center-fed dipole, I think. Those I can string up in "my" paid apartment space. As to other bands, maybe will have to build something creatively. I think I saw a YouTube with a guy who built something out of plumbing pipes that he just stood up in a corner of his living room to do 2 meters with. On the good side, if I am remembering that correctly, it is small enough I could put it in the window that faces SW. The dipole (or dipoles) will have to be on the NE side.

    Always did enjoy a puzzle!
  10. W0JKT

    W0JKT Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I have read good things about HF magnetic loops for limited space inside or from balconies and don't need a ground.

    Description from DX Engineering:
    Limited Space Small Loop Antennas
    Limited space doesn’t have to mean limited HAM radio performance. Our selection of limited space small loop antennas offers great options for small lots, apartments, condos, hotels, and even homeowners associations with tight restrictions. Plus, they’re portable so they’re great for RVs, campers, and hotels, too! We’ve got magnetic and wire/PVC frame small loop HF antennas from CHAMELEON ANTENNA, as well as cross loop antenna kits from MFJ.

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