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Seeking Advice for Equipment and Encouragement

Discussion in 'Youth Forum' started by Radiodad, Jun 24, 2011.

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  1. Radiodad

    Radiodad QRZ Member

    Gentlemen, After all the warnings I surely hope I have placed this request in the right forum! Many apologies in advice if I have it wrong. I'm looking for advice for a birthday present for my granddaughter. She is a smart girl and has a radio license (I didn't even know there were different licenses before I started reading this website, so don't ask me what kind.) She's been building radios and other gadgets since I can remember, to include getting an old radio of my father's working that she had to buy tubes for from the ebay. This thing is older than I am and I can't believe she has it running! What she doesn't have is a real "ham radio" that she can talk to people with well. She built something so she can listen on the "short bands" and this huge antennae that sticks up half a story off a tree next to our house. (If only you chaps could of seen her up there putting that thing up!) I know she wants a "HF transcever". (Her mom and I are not scientific people in the least, but we have been writing down everything she says.) The problem is reading all through these pages and everywhere else, we know we can't afford the nice radio for her that people have recommended for beginners that cost $700 or more used. With all of us, my brother and her uncle too, contributing to the "radio fund" our budget is still about $350. It might be small but we want to make it a big thing for her and useful. Maybe it is best to get an antenna or a battery or something she can build on? We really want to encourage her in this hobby that she loves, but there aren't people around she can share it with to learn. I drove her over to get her license last year and tomorrow we are going to a big radio event she has been talking about for weeks, but the radios club is a three hour drive which we can't make too often. They are supposed to have some salesfolks there tomorrow, so I'm looking for ideas of what to look for that is in our budget but would still be useful and encourage her in her hobby. I think she's getting frustrated with what she has now. I did show her some things on a website that look like walkie-talkies, but I think what she said was those bands can't get to our house (we up in the mountains) without more power so she needs to make something for the HF. (I think that's what she said. If it doesn't make any sense to you, remember who is translating.) Another question, I've read here a lot of warnings about the ebay website. Is it safe to buy things there? She's bought gadgets from them, like those tubes and a kit for a big power supply she made. Should I warn her to stay away from that site? It looked like a good way to buy old pieces she can fix up, but we can't afford to lose our money, nor do I want her meeting any unsavory chaps there. I hope some of you smart folks can help an old man out! Bill
  2. AJ4JQ

    AJ4JQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I would recommend the Icom IC-718. It was my first radio and I really loved it. It doesn't have an overwhelming amount of features, but it will probably do everything your daughter would need to use it for. I think the current price for a new one is about $750 (USD), but I'm sure there's somewhere (such as eBay, although I've never bought any radio equipment from there) where you could buy a used radio for significantly less. Congratulations to your daughter on getting her license; I'm also a "young lady" and got my license at age 14, 4 years ago. Hope this information is helpful, and best wishes on finding a radio for her.
  3. Radiodad

    Radiodad QRZ Member

    Thanks for the advice, Miss! I see a couple of those on ebay if it is safe to buy from there. Gee, and sorry everyone for the missing paragraphs in my post up there. I promise they were in there when I hit "Submit". Don't know what happened! Bill
  4. K8ERV

    K8ERV Ham Member QRZ Page

    I didn't read your entire paragraph, but crystal radios can be fun if you are near an AM broadcast station. I think the Midnight Science site may have something.

    A few years ago when I was about 10 I was in awe of being able to receive music FREE!

    TOM K8ERV Montrose Colo
  5. KD0LWU

    KD0LWU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Watch on this site in the Ham gear for sale area, you can sometimes find a decent rig for around $400. I picked up a used Icom IC-706 for $400 at a small hamfest. Nice usable radio with full coverage that can be bought decently priced any more.
    HF means anything from 10 meters to 160 meters, so you know in the future. Usually listed as 10m-160m.
    She will also need a power supply, batteries are fine but have to be charged, produce fumes, not really good in the house.
    Make sure you buy one a little over rated, ie- the radio needs 40 amps, get a 45 or 50 amp power supply. These dudes have gotten expensive, so be prepared for sticker shock!
    Like I said, watch here for items that come up for sale, most of these are hams and have no want to sell you junk, evilbay, everyone is just trying to make a buck anymore!
    I hope that helps a little at least!
  6. N0BOX

    N0BOX Ham Member QRZ Page

    You will run into an old Kenwood, Icom, or Yaesu radio from time to time in the "Online Swapmeet" section of this website for as low as $350 if you keep an eye out. Generally, you're looking at a radio made in the late-70s to mid-80s, generally one of the "hybrid" radios (hybrid means they use solid state parts [transistors/chips] *and* vacuum tubes in the same radio) or one of the very early solid-state-only rigs. People still prize those old rigs, though, so even though they may be old and not have the new features like "DSP", they still had fantastic receive and transmit audio and are a great place to start learning.

    You will want to watch for radios that are sold "untested", which is short for "if it doesn't work, I warned you!" or labeled as "tech special", which means that it is not working and you will need to fix it. People will put those labels on their radios and still sell them for a lot of money, as if broken radios don't depreciate in value for being broken. Older radios are, however, much easier to repair because they don't have all the computer control boards or surface-mount soldering to do, so the older it is, the easier it is to fix and to keep running if you have the ability to do the testing to find the part of the radio that needs to be fixed.
  7. W0VYE

    W0VYE Ham Member QRZ Page

    Radiodad, I salute you for being so supportive. You said you budget is about $350, so here are some things off the top of my head, but I would strongly encourage you to talk to her directly and ask her. I know that's not as spectacular as a big box, be she may appreciate it a lot more. Please stay away from eBay. There's a good chance you'll waste your money and not be able to do anything about it.

    -- A good manual antenna tuner. This is a lifetime investment that won't become obsolete. But it only makes sense if she likes experimenting with antennas in the HF bands, and she doesn't alrady have one. MFJ makes a number of them under $350.

    -- A membership in the ARRL ( which includes a subscription to QST magazine. This will give her access to a lot of on-line information, and a real connection to the ham community around the world. About $39 per year, less for a student. They also publish many excellent books, such as the ARRL Operating Manual and the ARRL Antenna Handbook. The Operating Manual is a no-brainer. It's a good resource for every ham. You may be able to get a gift certificate from the ARRL. also sells some of these.

    -- There's a wide variety tools and test equipment. A good soldering station and a digital multimeter come to mind, but again, she may or may not need or want them.

    -- A good comfortable set of headphones (Koss Porta-a-Pro from, under $40) or a headset with mic and headphones in one unit, Heil if you can afford it but there are others.

    -- A modern PC if she doesn't have one--either laptop or desktop--ideally running Windows 7. Important tool for most hams, and everyone else.

    A registration here on under her callsign. (free)

    Good luck and 73 (best wishes)

  8. N5YPJ

    N5YPJ QRZ Moderator QRZ Page

    How do you measure a few years Tom?
  9. K8ERV

    K8ERV Ham Member QRZ Page

    I lump a whole bunch together and count them as one. Makes counting easier.

    TOM K8ERV Montrose Colo
  10. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Did I misread the original post, or are they hoping to find an HF rig for $350?

    There are some potential radios you should consider. Bear in mind that most more modern radios run from 13.5 V DC, so a power supply will be needed to get them on the air. You will need a 20-25 Amp supply. The Samlex 1223 is a 23 Amp supply that can be had for $95 new. You may be able to find a used power supply from Jetstream or Astron - the SS-25 would be very nice.

    An exception could be made for an older 'hybrid' radio in good condition. This would include radios like the TS-520, TS-530, and TS-830. These transceivers have a built in AC power supply. I see an 830 for sale by the dealer for $349. One way to protect yourself from mail order problems is to buy from a reputable dealer. Check their return policy carefully. I think Hamstation has a pretty liberal one. I see an IC-701 with power supply for $300 at Radio City ( Radio City takes used gear on consignment, I do not know their return policy.

    You are probably fairly secure buying from listings here on QRZ, as well, but ripoffs do happen.

    While you're at that meeting, see if you can find a ham that will help you sort through the options.
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