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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 02-02-2013, 8:48 PM
   
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Default Newbie Question

I should give a little background info before I get to my ultimate question. I have always been into radio my whole life, and I have decided to finally bite the bullet and get my license. I have a technical background, and based on several practice tests, I should have no problem in getting the technician license, probably this month. My goal is to get a general class license as soon as possible so that I can access the HF bands.

My principal interest would be dxing on the HF bands (SSB, not CW). I want to see if I could dx to another continent. I understand that this depends on choosing the right bands and the right time of day as well as the propagation conditions for any given day. I also understand that having a good antenna is equally as important as having a good radio.

Now my question is what type of HF radio is best for dxing assuming I take all the above into account? I have started reading up on radios, and it seems that every radio is unique except for the very expensive ones which have everything you could want. I am on a budget, and I will be looking for a radio that is under $1500 and the less expensive, the better if it will do what I need it to do. I don't need a lot of bells and whistles, just something that will do the job. What should I be looking for in a radio that will primarily be used for dxing?

Thanks in advance for any input.
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 02-07-2013, 9:02 PM
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I would think just about any radio would be fine. I (we, my father and I) found an Icom 718 on Craig's List. The guy threw in an inverted V, some buddy poles, and the tuner. As for prices, look and ask around. Try a local hamfest, or things like Ebay or Craig's List. The most imporant thing will be the antenna. Try the KISS -- Keep It Simple Stupid -- is the best thing, at least to begin with.
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Old 02-07-2013, 9:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jk77 View Post
I should give a little background info before I get to my ultimate question. I have always been into radio my whole life, and I have decided to finally bite the bullet and get my license. I have a technical background, and based on several practice tests, I should have no problem in getting the technician license, probably this month. My goal is to get a general class license as soon as possible so that I can access the HF bands.

My principal interest would be dxing on the HF bands (SSB, not CW). I want to see if I could dx to another continent. I understand that this depends on choosing the right bands and the right time of day as well as the propagation conditions for any given day. I also understand that having a good antenna is equally as important as having a good radio.

Now my question is what type of HF radio is best for dxing assuming I take all the above into account? I have started reading up on radios, and it seems that every radio is unique except for the very expensive ones which have everything you could want. I am on a budget, and I will be looking for a radio that is under $1500 and the less expensive, the better if it will do what I need it to do. I don't need a lot of bells and whistles, just something that will do the job. What should I be looking for in a radio that will primarily be used for dxing?

Thanks in advance for any input.
I have a kenwood ts 480 hx 100/200 watts two power supplies are required for 200 watts but you can run it 100 watts it has dsp for noise removable face put the radio in an out of the way place and face where you want it. look at Ham & Amateur Radios - Equipment, Parts and Supply | AES for more details. LDG makes a tuner just for this radio.

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Old 02-07-2013, 10:34 PM
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You have a very large selection of radios for under $1500, both new and used. And working other continents isn't that difficult with a little effort. Picking the 'right' time and band is a biggy just as you suggested.
I'm a Kenwood fan so guess which brand I would suggest! As for the model, that's still an open question, almost any would do what you want.
The biggest problem with HF antennas is that they do require some room to put up. A simple dipole for whichever band you want to use is probably the cheapest thing you can make (not buy, but make, it ain't hard). Gobs of people use them, and they will do what you want them to do. After a dipole antennas start to get more complicated either in an electrical sense and a $$$ sense. Only having or trying one antenna is not very common at all. Almost everyone changes them at some point. Lot's of choices/options there.
Give the cheap-n-easy things a shot first, see how they work, then get 'better' stuff later.
Have fun.
- 'Doc
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Old 02-08-2013, 3:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jk77 View Post
My principal interest would be dxing on the HF bands (SSB, not CW). I want to see if I could dx to another continent. I understand that this depends on choosing the right bands and the right time of day as well as the propagation conditions for any given day. I also understand that having a good antenna is equally as important as having a good radio.

Now my question is what type of HF radio is best for dxing assuming I take all the above into account? I have started reading up on radios, and it seems that every radio is unique except for the very expensive ones which have everything you could want. I am on a budget, and I will be looking for a radio that is under $1500 and the less expensive, the better if it will do what I need it to do. I don't need a lot of bells and whistles, just something that will do the job. What should I be looking for in a radio that will primarily be used for dxing?
I am going to share some advice that an older elmer taught me. It's not the radio, but the antenna. Your radio is only as good as the antenna that is hooked to it. If you have $1500 to spend on gear, you might be better off spending $500 on a good used radio (Kenwood TS-830S) and $1000 on couple great antennas.
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Old 02-08-2013, 5:23 PM
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I agree! The antenna is 80% of your radio. I would go with an Icom 718, a 25+ Amp power supply, and a nice dual band 2 Meter/440 mobile unit. The rest can go into your HF and VHF/UHF antennas.
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Old 02-09-2013, 9:40 AM
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I'll echo those who favor the antenna decision.

I suggest you spend the majority of your time/energy focusing on developing an antenna system that is right for you, your goals and location. This does not have to be elaborate (it could be just a wire dipole) but it does have to be efficient, which will be affected by issues like the space you have to accommodate it, the elevation above terrain, structures and infrastructure that may cause conflicts, and how you're going to feed the antenna.

You can might get some help from local hams (try a club) who can help coach you through the process. You might find that you would do fine with a simple home-brew wire dipole, that you have room for a vertical and a wire dipole, that putting up a tower with a beam is worth the expense and effort, or that your situation requires something discrete, such as an attic antenna.

Aside from band capabilities, which radio you connect to the antenna is mostly irrelevant. You can connect an functioning old radio to a great antenna and out-perform a new high-dollar rig connected to an inefficient antenna.

HF is only as much fun as your antenna will allow it to be.

Good luck.
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Old 02-09-2013, 2:18 PM
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The suggestions concerning good antennas no matter what, I agree with. Once you do get access to the bands, it's a good idea to do some listening first. In fact, if you do a lot of listening (either on HF or VHF/UHF), you are less likely to make some silly mistake right off the bat.

On the other hand, making mistakes and learning go hand in hand, so, above all, have fun!

Jon
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