where to start in HF?

Discussion in 'Becoming an Amateur Radio Operator/Upgrading Privi' started by KX6MWS, Dec 15, 2011.

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  1. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    If I could only have one HF band, it would be 40. But, 40 can be a little daunting for a newbie who is not doing CW. You could do digital stuff on 40, but this band is a bit messed up for digital work - people can't decide where to hang out for digital contacts on this band, because there are too many competing bandplans. Above 7200 kHz, shortwave broadcast stations pretty well rule at night. Generals doing SSB at night will be squeezed into the 7175-7200 segment, and that's getting pretty crowded. CW on 40 is a 'no-brainer', the band is always open to somewhere, day or night. I've worked the world on 40 meter CW with 5 watts and a vertical from San Jose, so I know it can be done. Digital would be a bit more of a challenge, SSB a lot more challenging.

    10 has been excellent in the daytime. We still haven't reached the peak of this sunspot cycle - that's still a ways off - so conditions should only get better for another couple years, then, we will hopefully get a few more good years on 10 before the cycle drops too low. There are are quite a few decent 10 meter SSB rigs out there that can usually be acquired very cheaply. The Radio HTX100 is best of breed, and they can usually be found on EBay for around $100. Make certain that the radio comes with the correct microphone and mic works OK. As long as you're content with making contacts in the daytime, only, this would not be a bad way to start.

    One radio you might consider buying used would be a Ten Tec Scout. These rigs use optional plug in modules to add bands. http://www.rigpix.com/tentec/scout555.htm There are usually several on EBay, and the band modules are generally available, too.
    One nice thing about Ten Tec is they are U.S. made, and the company will fix anything they ever sold as long as they have parts.

    You can also find older Ten Tec Tritons for well under $200. These radios are getting old, but they still work, and would be fine for a beginner.
    Kenwood TS-120, 130, or 140 would all work, too.
  2. W3DO

    W3DO Ham Member QRZ Page

    Save your money, even if you have to get a job or a second job and save your money and buy a brand new radio.

    Nothing beats what is available out there today - right out of the box.

    Forget about the high dollar rigs and go with a decent rig such as a Kenwood TS 480 SAT or 590S.
    Something that Sherwood rates at the bottom of their list as the 10 best radios out there for the buck is usually going to be the best choice for someone starting out.

    Nothing kills a hobby quicker then a noisy old radio that doesn't sound good or can't hear many people.

    Forget about the old hybrid radios and the expensive radios like Ten Tech and Elecraft because by the time you buy one and put the filters in it that you want and then find out that it does not have the options that the 480 or 590 has - you will have wished that you would have invested your money into one good radio - with a warranty over buying some one elses junk.
  3. KB2CRK

    KB2CRK Ham Member QRZ Page

    A good place to start would be 10 meters. a dipole antenna would be easy to make or an old cb vertical is easy to shorten and works well. the band has also been wide open.

    A good radio would be one that works. A few people like the latest and greatest but realistically a Heathkit hw-101 would work well for you and is easy to work on if something goes wrong.(I still use one)
    any one of many hybrid radios would a good choice if the price is right. Buy what you can afford and work with it. On ten meters right now an old radio shack htx100 would do well as a qrp rig and can be had for around $100.
  4. 2E0OZI

    2E0OZI Ham Member QRZ Page

    Depends on your working hours too - I went to a multi-band antenna system (W3EDP) because although my 20m home brewed dipoles were working fine the band was closed by the time I got home from work (this was this time last year). Of course I have to bear in mind you have different allocations in the bands from me - its a different deal over here.

    Having a multi-band radio allows you to be flexible and follow the bands throughout the day/night to best advantage.
  5. KX6MWS

    KX6MWS Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks. I just wish there was more new simple stuff out there. All that's sold new are either expensive multi-band all-mode rigs, or you have a few single-band kits (which are almost all CW only). It's pretty much all or nothing. Why doesn't Icom or Yaesu make a good 40 meter or 20 meter transceiver the same way they make single band 10, 6 or 2 meter radios?

    In general, I do like older electronics better. For example, I bought an old Heathkit frequency counter on ebay with nixie displays. Works great, and looks great too. An old radio that checks-out fully functional would be ideal for me. Even low power is fine; I've seen plenty of amplifier kits out there.
  6. WA6TKD

    WA6TKD Ham Member QRZ Page

    While I'm not new to ham radio, I have been inactive for two decades. I came across a Kenwood hybrid TS-520s as my rig to return to the airwaves. Great rig, no exotic parts used, lots of groups and elmers can help with setting-up/repairing/operating this rig. I was very fortunate to have met a local ham here on this forum that offered me this rig for only $100! It's in great shape and as he is a CW fan, he bought it with the optional CW filter. As I have sever antenna HOA restrictions, I'm limited to a pretty stealth 40 meter inverted V, I will probably not upgrade from the hybrid. Homebrew/DIY is my real interest.
  7. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Actually, there is a line of low power single band SSB rigs out there from MFJ. As a cheap road to being on the air, one of these would not be a bad idea.
    http://www.wb0w.com/mfj/mfjtransceiver.htm At this time of the sunspot cycle, a monoband radio for 10 meters would not be a bad thing. Just be aware that it will mostly be useful in the daytime, because that's when 10 is open. Ditto 20, 17, 15, and 12 meters. It should be easy to build a monoband dipole for any of those bands that will cover the General phone band without a tuner. Their 40 meter rig would give you some ability both day and night, but at night, the upper portion of the band is covered in broadcast stations, and you might have more difficult coming up with a good antenna without a tuner.

    You can still find old Radio Shack HTX-100 radios out there for around $100. As long as it's working and has a microphone that isn't trashed, these little rigs will make lots of contacts with simple antennas when the band is open.
  8. KT7DAD

    KT7DAD Ham Member QRZ Page

    Join Mount Diablo Amateur Radio Club.

    It is a very active club, and you will for sure get all the help and advice you can ask for.
  9. K9ASE

    K9ASE XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    that's quite away from Sunnyvale. I'm sure there is something closer in the San Jose area.
  10. K9ASE

    K9ASE XML Subscriber QRZ Page

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