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Old 06-04-2017, 10:21 PM
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Default Been doing my homework, now need some input from other people on first time purchases

I am now ready to pursue my ham hobby, something I have wanted to do for a while but for various reasons could not.

I have been doing my research and it seems I must consider these aspects when it comes to buying equipment:

1) budget; i.e. how much am i willing to spend $$$

2) my license. here, if i understand correctly, shouldn't be that big of an issue. If i study and want to pass, i should be able to achieve "Extra" class no problem.

3) what bands i will mostly enjoy or use. but there is no way for me to know this right now; however, i have been listening in on websdr and i think i would enjoy being able to communicate long distances (so HF?) .I have heard a couple CQs in morse code (CW?) from international and was saddened to think they never got a response (that could have been me! ) but it seems this will require a huge jump in equipment and antennas... but not sure, hence why i am asking for help.

4) my location. I took a look at repeaterbook.com, and assuming their info is accurate, it seems there are lots of open repeaters in my area, los angeles county, in the 10m, 6m, 2m, 1.25m. 70cm and some UHF frequencies

since I still learning much about ham, I admit i am not sure exactly how to interpret all that repeater information.


I believe in saving and spending as much the first time purchase to avoid the trap of losing money in the long run by buying and selling (or maybe not even that, just ending up with never used radio..).

my budget right now not including antenna and peripherals is about 400 dollars.

this lead me to highly consider the yaesu ft 8900r. but it seems i will not be able to do any real "Dxing" with this? is that correct? it seems I would need a radio with CW and AM and SSB mode?

i next considered the ft 857d, but the price jumps considerably (900 dollars vs. 324 for the 8900r).

if i am going to spend 900 dollars for a transceiver, it had better be long term good, and frankly, if spending another 100-200 would get me a better one i'd just save up and buy one... but that would delay my purchase and set up considerably to save up extra money.

then i read about antenna tunners and antenna set ups... yeeesh. it seems a 900 dollar radio will still need extra tuner...

TL;DR.

I am willing to save up and spend at least 900 dollars for first time buy. what radios should i consider? will a cheap 2m 7cm radio do me just fine? I think i want to do HF,is it silly for me to consider HF right now so new to all this? how much should i "set aside" in my mind for antenna costs and peripherals?


thanks
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Old 06-05-2017, 7:51 AM
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Default new radio

The yaesu 450 D has a lot of features for a low price. I would go to HRO in Burbank. Many radios are set up to sample.
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Old 06-05-2017, 8:03 AM
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You should get a number of responses, since we all started where you are.

For less than $100, you can get licensed, a cheap chinese HT (I prefer Baofeng), and a mag mount antenna depending on your location, and you're on the air.

I recently upgraded to a BTech mobile mini and an NMO mount. Works great.

For HF, an ICOM 718 is a good first radio, around $500 used. Stay away from older used radios like some of the Kenwoods unless you plan on doing some periodic maintenance, meaning you'll be inside the case with a soldering iron. Not that that's bad, just make sure you know what you're getting into.

The rest of the discussion will be about antennas for HF, and that's where most of your learning will occur. Then there's digital modes, contesting, and a host of other topics that may interest you.

Welcome to the hobby and all the best, 73!
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Old 06-05-2017, 10:11 AM
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Good advice to get over to HRO in Burbank. You can see gear in operation and talk to the hams working in the store. One thing you posted caught my eye:
Quote:
Originally Posted by glos_angeles View Post
this lead me to highly consider the yaesu ft 8900r. but it seems i will not be able to do any real "Dxing" with this? is that correct? it seems I would need a radio with CW and AM and SSB mode?
Correct... the FT-8900 is not going to get you CW, AM, or SSB on the popular HF bands. It's a quad-band radio that will operate FM on 10 / 6 / 2 / 70cm bands. But if you're looking at that radio also look at its CCR clone, the TYT TH-9800. It will save you about $100 and is functionally the same radio. I've had mine for two years now and it's a gem. It will cover your analog FM needs quite nicely in your area... and even allow some much longer range operation when propagation again favors 10M and 6M FM. There are 6M FM repeaters in your area as well as 2M / 70cm. My TH-9800 is in my mobile and I use it mostly in rural PA, but have driven many times with it in NYC / NJ and it behaves very well in those high-density RF areas.

Also regarding your post noting CW "...require a huge jump in equipment and antennas". Not really. CW is the oldest and simplest mode in ham radio, and any HF gear you get is going to include CW capability. In fact, you can get VERY inexpensive CW-only single-band transceivers as kits, assembled, or build from scratch if you like.
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Old 06-05-2017, 6:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wb6uqa View Post
The yaesu 450 D has a lot of features for a low price. I would go to HRO in Burbank. Many radios are set up to sample.

It seems to be around 780 dollar radio with no 144 or 444 Mhz.

is there any radio near that price but with the extra frequencies? i would rather save up and buy one good one than have to buy another rig for VHFand 70cm
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Old 06-06-2017, 8:00 AM
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One radio that does it all, and is low priced. The holy grail of ham radio. A onetime purchase that you will use forever and ever as a ham. Just like the one antenna that is a top performer on all bands and works every country, state, and frequency you want. And is invisible to the neighbors.
No news to the hams reading this, but you are about to embark on a hobby that will last you a lifetime... at a price: constant change. The good news is that you can spend very little or a very lot and still get enjoyment in this hobby. And over time many hams come to realize that making those choices is as interesting as the hobby itself. There will always be something new, something better, something you'll realize you need, and something you'll want. Here's wishing you happy and productive searching and acquisition in your ham radio quest!
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Old 06-09-2017, 10:01 PM
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Default Get a bullfrog

LA:

Of course I'll get flamed. But my advice is to spend about $50 on a Baofeng and a dual band mag mount off Amazon. A Baofeng UV-5R, a short dual band mag mount like a Tram 1185-FSMA. Put the mag mount on a cookie sheet if in the house. Get on the air and see if you will like the hobby. Don't go spending hundreds of dollars and six months down the road decide it's just not for you.
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Old 06-10-2017, 8:29 AM
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Good advice, the same way I got into the hobby. Of course, there are radio snobs, but their radios are made in China, too, unless it's an Elecraft or Ten-tec. I see where Flexradio is US made. Japanese electronics where the first cheap solid states.

I have a handful of Baofung UV-B5 HT's, a BTech mobile mini, Kenwood 281, and an ICOM 7200. They're all great radios and the right tool for the job.

I would get a Yeasu FT-60, it's on my wish list, but the Baufeng's work fine. They're all programmable using chirp, except the HF rig, and I use Linux and FLDIGI for digicomms.

Again, I started out with a Baofeng HT and a mag mount antenna. G/L and 73.
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Old 06-10-2017, 8:49 AM
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Surely - the number one question should NOT be budget, but be about what you want to achieve? do you just want to talk to local people, just a bit like facebook via radio - constantly talk to the same people, about the same things - maybe find out when your local traffic is bad, and moan and groan about the weather (that could just be us Brits) and rag chew. If this is what you spent time passing an exam for - great. Buy a cheap hand held for your local repeater and spend the change on something else.

Maybe you fancy this but want to work a few repeaters and folk just a bit further away - then your cheap handheld goes into a white stick on a pole.

However - maybe you fancy using a satellite link - maybe talking to people in foreign countries, with a beam you hold in your hand, and needing just a bit of info on where the satellites are and how to follow them? That's about the same as your budget?

Maybe you want to work the world, with a bit of old wire hung out of a window - and have bought a second hand HF set on ebay.

Maybe you want something you cannot afford - so you buy second hand and have an upgrade path?

2m SSB with a beam, or maybe you find building antennas fun - or you could fancy getting involved in emergency communications, or maybe connecting a radio to a computer and trying data.

My advice is to read some of the information from your national radio society - read the articles, see which things grab you, and then see if you can afford it. $400 is beer money nowadays - when I first started in 1979 - a cheap 2m radio was about 300 - and I was earning maybe 40 a week. Ham radio has become dirt cheap. People used to borrow the money to buy what would now be radios costing two or three GRAND - you had to make sure you bought the right thing. Now, you buy things on a whim, and if you hate it - throw it away.

Work out which facet of ham radio you are interested in - then plan your shopping.
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Old 06-10-2017, 1:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Golay View Post
LA:

Of course I'll get flamed. But my advice is to spend about $50 on a Baofeng and a dual band mag mount off Amazon. A Baofeng UV-5R, a short dual band mag mount like a Tram 1185-FSMA. Put the mag mount on a cookie sheet if in the house. Get on the air and see if you will like the hobby. Don't go spending hundreds of dollars and six months down the road decide it's just not for you.

I considered this, but read how sometimes these HT can't even make contact with anyone and people end up with an idea that no one is out there on this hobby.

also, I think i would like to get into HF and mostly work out of my room/shack. I live where I can easily set up a dipole antenna (have been researching those) and will probabl work from base station.


HT are cheap though, so i really can always just "get one later" on a whim.

i'd rather save up now for something long term.
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Old 06-10-2017, 1:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KK4TTR View Post
Of course, there are radio snobs, but their radios are made in China, too...
Can you provide proof of this statement, because mine weren't. My Icom HF radios were made in Japan. My Yaesu handhelds were made in Japan. My Kenwood mobiles and handhelds were made in Singapore. These are all current models.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KK4TTR View Post
I have a handful of Baofung UV-B5 HT's, a BTech mobile mini, Kenwood 281, and an ICOM 7200.
So, look at your Kenwood and your Icom and tell us where they were made.

Yes, I calling you out because lots of people who try to justify the Chinese radios make the same statement you made. It's like politicians who keep repeating the same false statement hoping that the public will eventually believe it.

I made the following statement in another thread and I will repeat myself here:

"It's not the country of final assembly that is the issue. The issue is the source of the intellectual property used to design the radio (the Chinese have a long record of stealing the IP of others), the design standards used in the radio, the quality of the parts used in the radio (there are good Chinese parts and their are not-so-good Chinese parts), the assembly quality standards used in the radio, and the post-sale service of the radio. Apple builds iPhones in China and nobody, well almost nobody, has a problem with that. The difference is that Apple oversees the design and manufacture of the phone and provides a high level of service after the sale. Nobody has ever demonstrated that an iPhone produces spurious emissions in excess of FCC rules. But, some of the Chinese radios look pretty bad on a spectrum analyzer."

Quote:
Originally Posted by paulears View Post
Surely - the number one question should NOT be budget, but be about what you want to achieve?
Good advice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by glos_angeles View Post
I considered this, but read how sometimes these HT can't even make contact with anyone and people end up with an idea that no one is out there on this hobby.
There are two issues at work here. First, keep in mind that 5 watts is 5 watts. The receiver on the other end of the conversation, whether it be a repeater or a simplex station, does not know what brand of radio that 5 watts came from. All the receiver knows is whether or not it's getting enough signal strength from the distant transmitter to demodulate an intelligible signal inside the receiver. Now, if your signal into the receiver isn't strong enough whether you are simply too far away from the receiver or your antenna is more of a dummy load (a resistor that doesn't radiate RF signals very well), you may be difficult or impossible to be understood at the receiver. The result is nobody talks to you. Secondly, amateur radio can be somewhat cliquish, especially to new people. If you sound like a total noob on the air, some folks won't talk to you. That's why it's best to find an elmer (a ham radio mentor) or a club to help you learn the ropes so you can fit into the amateur radio community more easily.

I think the biggest compliment I ever received as a new ham came from a much more experienced ham who said that I sounded like I had been on the air for years. I got that way because I listened a lot before I talked and I had good mentors.
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Old 06-11-2017, 8:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by W9BU View Post
Can you provide proof of this statement, because mine weren't. My Icom HF radios were made in Japan. My Yaesu handhelds were made in Japan. My Kenwood mobiles and handhelds were made in Singapore. These are all current models.
I qualified my statement, the Japanese were the first "offshore" nation to produce cheap electronics in the 60's.

Quote:
Originally Posted by W9BU View Post
So, look at your Kenwood and your Icom and tell us where they were made.
I don't have to because you know as well as I do the Japs are outsourcing to China the same as everyone else.

Quote:
Originally Posted by W9BU View Post
Yes, I calling you out because lots of people who try to justify the Chinese radios make the same statement you made. It's like politicians who keep repeating the same false statement hoping that the public will eventually believe it.
No, I'm calling you out as the mod who insists on moving threads about Baofeng's to some obscure non amateur radio sub forum. Pure utter nonsense.

Quote:
Originally Posted by W9BU View Post
I made the following statement in another thread and I will repeat myself here: <snip>
I agree about IP, but you also have to agree the 3 bigs are gouging customers left and right.

You're entitled to your opinion. The same as everyone else.

Walmart is all the proof you need the American consumer cares more about unit price than country of origin, all things being equal.

As to the OP, MOST people will agree whether it works is the bottom line, and like I said, there's plenty of snobbery to go around. I just hate to see it rear it's ugly head. It's not how I was raised and it's not how I treat people on the air or online.
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Old 06-12-2017, 3:14 AM
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We do need to consider history in all this because in the 70s, when my electronics experience started, Japanese products were slammed in exactly the same way as Chinese equipment today - In the Hi-Fi world here in the UK our established, British brands were virtually wiped out by what was then termed 'Jap Crap'. These were cheap, mass produced devices with all the problems now being aimed at Chinese products - usually pretty decent components, but put together rapidly, with little quality control - but most importantly, good cosmetics and a very cheap price. Eventually, the Japanese improved their standards so by the 80s, things were much, much better, and then the reverse happened - the Japanese equipment morphed into real quality products. However - along the way it became common for certain parts of products to become monolithic - in radios, the entire PA section of the transmitter was bought in from outside - fixing one of my Icoms from the 80s revealed the PA to be Yaesu branded - and the Chinese are pretty good at making specific core components and then selling these. I cannot say for certain with radios, but certainly with other Chinese products their components appear in many 'made in the USA. brands - Power supplies are something the Chinese are good at, and I would be very surprised if these don't feature in many products being sold as made in X.

The issue with baofeng and similar is NOT quality, it's quality control. The B grade products will be identified and separated - the question is, what happens to them? They get sold of course!

For my hire stock of PA equipment, I have a pile of very well known American brand loudspeakers - sold to me in white boxes. So many factories in China are turning out products for foreign countries - legitimate products, if nobody from the company is in the factory, who stops the B grades being rebadged and sold?

I'm quite happy buying them - most fail the quality test on paint! I can live with that at the price point!
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Old 06-12-2017, 6:12 AM
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Some Kenwoods look bad on a spectrum analyzer too. There are Motorolas that can't keep the PL out of audible portion.
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Old 06-22-2017, 6:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wb6uqa View Post
The yaesu 450 D has a lot of features for a low price. I would go to HRO in Burbank. Many radios are set up to sample.
I just bought the FT-450D. Nice radio.
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Old 06-22-2017, 9:18 AM
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Default budget radios

The ft450d includes a antenna tuner and dsp audio and IF filters.
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Old 06-22-2017, 9:31 AM
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With the OPs new $900 budget he should be able to get a fine used HF base/mobile radio, a multiband VHF/UHF mobile/base radio plus a power supply, coax, an HF antenna tuner and antennas for everything. What part of Los Angeles are you in? I have a garage full of stuff that I could set you up with.
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Old 06-22-2017, 10:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by popnokick View Post
Good advice to get over to HRO in Burbank. You can see gear in operation and talk to the hams working in the store. One thing you posted caught my eye:

Correct... the FT-8900 is not going to get you CW, AM, or SSB on the popular HF bands. It's a quad-band radio that will operate FM on 10 / 6 / 2 / 70cm bands. But if you're looking at that radio also look at its CCR clone, the TYT TH-9800. It will save you about $100 and is functionally the same radio. I've had mine for two years now and it's a gem. It will cover your analog FM needs quite nicely in your area... and even allow some much longer range operation when propagation again favors 10M and 6M FM. There are 6M FM repeaters in your area as well as 2M / 70cm. My TH-9800 is in my mobile and I use it mostly in rural PA, but have driven many times with it in NYC / NJ and it behaves very well in those high-density RF areas.

Also regarding your post noting CW "...require a huge jump in equipment and antennas". Not really. CW is the oldest and simplest mode in ham radio, and any HF gear you get is going to include CW capability. In fact, you can get VERY inexpensive CW-only single-band transceivers as kits, assembled, or build from scratch if you like.
The TYT 9800 though doesn't have vox or a port for data modes like SSTV. If I remember correctly the Yaesu and Wouxun quad banders do.
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Old 06-22-2017, 10:46 AM
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The 450D is a great radio to start with on HF. And don't get hung up on wattage - a few watts with the right antenna will amaze you. Within reason a radio is a radio. A properly designed antenna installation is where the magic happens.

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Old 06-22-2017, 3:52 PM
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Great opportunity to see what IS out there this weekend,, ARRL Field Day.

Go to ARRL dot org and look up Field Day Locator for a Field Day ops in your area of the greater sinkhole of RF, Los Angeles

Visit as many Field Day operations as you can, many different groups out there, with all kinds of 'stuff'.

Also check local Ham clubs, also most listed on ARRL's website.

Next I can recommend to get a Mentor, and some are still out there.
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