YAN (yet another noob)

Discussion in 'Becoming an Amateur Radio Operator/Upgrading Privi' started by KC2UYZ, Feb 8, 2009.

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  1. KA2P

    KA2P Ham Member QRZ Page

    As for buying a radio that will restrict you, a few things come to mind. One thing is ergonomics. The smaller, portable rigs have small displays and many of the functions are "hidden" via software menus. Many buttons have two or three functions depending on what mode you are in. Think scientific calculator and you'll understand what I mean. A lot of hams, especially those who are older, find this abhorrent and stick with the full-size radios where each knob controls at most two related functions and it's clear what each does. Some radios are 160-10 meters only, or lack a general coverage receiver (i.e., broadcast shortwave), but for the most part there isn't much a recently built radio can't do.

    As for antennas, you appear to be in a great position. Getting your antenna up as high as possible will do wonders for your ability to hear and be heard. Big trees love wire antennas! They are easy to make, cheap to build, and withstand the elements pretty well. With an antenna tuner, you can use one antenna for multiple bands. If you have the money, you can probably find a used tower, triband yagi, and a rotator that will provide you with all the fun you can handle and then some.

    A caveat about commercial antennas and performance claims. You'll see a lot of ads for them and many hams use them. However, they are using them out of necessity rather than for performance. Many hams live in small lots, condos, or treeless housing tracts. Or their wife says antennas clash with her lawn art. Putting up a tower with a yagi/quad, or lots of wire just isn't possible so a short vertical or dipole is often the only way to go. But the laws of electromagnetism don't care about marketing or the opinion of wives. Nothing beats a full-size antenna up at least a quarter-wave above the ground. About the only time you'll see verticals seriously considered is on the transmit side for 80 and 160 meters. At these long wavelengths, height above the ground becomes a serious issue and the game changes, often requiring elaborate ground plane construction for maximum efficiency as well as phasing circuits for directional gain. But that's not to say compromise antennas don't work. It just sounds like you don't have to worry about that so why handicap yourself?

    Also a word about propagation. Study it. Love it. To me, it's what makes ham radio fun.
     
  2. KC2UYZ

    KC2UYZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    So, what do I lose by starting off with a long wire and a radio like the Icom IC-746 Pro?
     
  3. KA2P

    KA2P Ham Member QRZ Page

    It's a bit difficult to quantify what you'd be missing with such a setup. Propagation is a huge factor in determining if a QSO is possible. Assuming your long wire is up high enough, and is properly tuned, you should be able to make plenty of contacts. Sometimes random wire antennas can be difficult to tune due to any number of things. Antennas (verticals excepted) that are low to the ground radiate mostly straight up and are omnidirectional. It's only when you get them up higher than a quarter wave above the ground will the radiation angle come down and azimuthal gain start to show up. What this means is your signal will be strongest within about 500 miles and long distance contacts will be more difficult. That being said, I've been shocked at how bad antennas can be and still make contacts, even long haul DX. I'm sure people on this site can tell you about all kinds of amazing QSOs with very bad antennas.

    With a 746 Pro, you'll probably need an external antenna tuner to use a long wire, as most internal tuners won't handle bad matches which is what you'll have with a long wire on some bands. But such a setup will definitely work and should get you started.

    Whatever you end up getting, spend some time listening before you transmit. Note which bands are active during the times you can operate, and pay attention to good operating practices like checking if a frequency is in use before you transmit and respecting the band plans. You'll pick up on propagation patterns and know what to expect when you turn on the rig.

    Contests are a good way to get started as it's very easy to find a loud station, give him a call, and repeat back a simple exchange. Even if you are weak, they will try and finish the QSO as it means points for them. Another easy one is special event stations and clubs preparing for big contests the weekend before.
     
  4. KC2UYZ

    KC2UYZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Is DSP something that I should require in a radio? Again..I don't really want to have to buy another radio in 6 months.

    I thought I saw some radios that had the ability to show CW in plain text on the display. Is there such an animal?

    I appreciate all your assistance with my learning curve.
     
  5. KL7AJ

    KL7AJ Ham Member QRZ Page


    I'd never buy a rig based on what my eyes like. Is there any way you can actually operate a few different rigs at some elmer's QTH? It's really the only way to find out what you like (and what you DON'T like!) The LAST place you want to look for an unbiased report is in ham ads!

    Eric
     
  6. KC2UYZ

    KC2UYZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Probably can do this, but I have so little understanding of what features are considered desirable in a radio, which freqs I want, etc. that I'd be getting that person's opinion (not necessarily a bad thing) so i figured by asking here I'd at least get more opinions.
     
  7. KL7AJ

    KL7AJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Well, that's certainly a possibility...but actually getting your hands on something is still going to teach you a lot. In my "elmershack" I intentionally have some really LAME radios as well as some really nice ones. I find new hams learn a LOT more by trying out the really LAME ones!

    Eric
     
  8. KC2UYZ

    KC2UYZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Makes sense. I've contacted the local club and one of the officers there actually runs the club at work. I didn't know it existed, but there actually is a club with a shack at work. I'll visit with them this week sometime to get some "hands on"

    Thanks
     
  9. KL7AJ

    KL7AJ Ham Member QRZ Page


    EXCELLENT! This is how ham radio is SUPPOSED to work! Keep us posted!
    '
    eric
     
  10. KC2UYZ

    KC2UYZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I asked this in another thread, but thought you guys might know...I found a locally owned FT-1000MP with an October 1996 build date. Looks new and is being checked out by a local long-time HAM op as we speak. The vintage of this rig is a bit scary, but it appears to be a well regarded/reviewed unit with a lot of features. Knowing so little about radios, is this a better choice than something like an IC-756 Pro? I realize the FT is a BIG radio, but it's going to sit on a desk most of the time. I don't know what features a newer radio would have that I should consider over something like the FT.

    Thanks
     
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