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Old 02-17-2016, 5:03 PM
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Default Best band for newbie to start on

Looking to build a dipole in my "limited space" back yard (I live in a subdivision). I have room to put up a 20 meter inverted V, but I also considered a 10 meter, but heard there isn't much activity on 10 as on the other bands. Looking for suggestions. Thanks.
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Old 02-17-2016, 5:45 PM
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Try and get a 20 meter dipole up. You will be surprised how well you can do with good conditions. I made contact from NY to Lebanon with my dipole only 8 feet off the ground. Wire antennas are cheap so it's a good place to start. I like ladder line for a feed line personally.
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Old 02-17-2016, 6:15 PM
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Building an antenna for 40m would be your best bet IMHO, at least from an operating standpoint. A lot of activity for one, you need to have someone to talk to first and foremost. You can almost always get a contact on 40m, night or day. Not always DX, but 40m works quite well locally (which is why the military uses it for NVIS). So you might get someone 50 miles away, the next state or maybe across the country.

You get 15m for free in the deal with a 40m antenna. This band is almost the flip side of 40m, it usually takes a little work to make contacts with the opportunity for unusual DX paths to form. You get exposure to changing propagation but it won't be quite as frustrating as 6m and 10m.

Going below 40m the antennas become more difficult to manage.

As a second band I would add 20m, again because it's a reliable band with lots of activity. It's not as finicky as the higher bands, too. But 10m is fun once you've got a few contacts in. Antennas are easy to build, easier to get some elevation or take portable or get some gain and directionality.
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Old 02-17-2016, 6:56 PM
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Default double bazooka antenna

I like the 20 model.Radiowavs
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Old 02-17-2016, 7:07 PM
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Hi 20,17 and 40 dipole , delta loop it's all good .
Feel free to drop me a Pm.
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Old 02-17-2016, 8:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikedp View Post
Looking to build a dipole in my "limited space" back yard (I live in a subdivision). I have room to put up a 20 meter inverted V, but I also considered a 10 meter, but heard there isn't much activity on 10 as on the other bands. Looking for suggestions. Thanks.
The best band is the band that has what you want (DX, local, etc.), and has it when you are on the air. What exactly are you looking for?

20 Meters is the most popular band. Mostly because it is always open to some juicy DX area. Below that, 40 and 80 Meters is usually open at night, but during the day it is very usable for local (800-1000 miles) contacts. There are lots of nets on 40 meters in the afternoon. However, full size antennas for those bands are pretty large and my not fit easily on a small lot. An Inverted-V does save a lot of space but your vertical space requirement goes up.

The bands above 20 meters should not be ignored. My favorite band has always been 15 meters. That's mostly because, I am not a night owl and 15 meters is a daylight band. I could get on the air when I got home from work and still get a good nights sleep. At night there isn't much propagation, so the band kind of dries up.

10 meters is an excellent DX band, but the solar cycle is currently keeping that at a minimum. Give it a few years and it will pick up. Like 15 meters, 10 meters is a daylight band.

So there is no "best band for a newbie". Just pick a band that suits your operating mode get on the air.
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Old 02-17-2016, 8:40 PM
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DMR-MARC has picked up quite a bit.
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Old 02-17-2016, 9:05 PM
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Smile 'Best Band' for a limited antenna?

10 metres will pick up this summer, but ten will be spotty unless the sunspots are smiling. A 10 metre antenna is a cinch to put up- last summer I strung up a dipole 8 feet high and my first contact was Japan on 10 watts USB. Do you have local activity, 10-10 nets, and such?... then ten can be great place.
With such a limited space, a 20 metre antenna will work, but you are going to set yourself up to compete with the Big Guns - the guys with their towers, big beams and 5K amplifiers-- still, 20 a good choice if you you don't feel competitive and don't mind talking to the small fry- not to mention being stomped on with QRM (hint- I'd stay high up in the band --> 14.300 +.) 15 metres ?.. a cross between these two- I never was a 15 metre fan, and no one is on 12 except during band openings.
If I faced your choices I would choose 40, SSB---- a NVI antenna is easily do-able, and even low power will allow you tonnes of contacts. Do you feel adventurous?..then you might think of 60 metres--
Although its only a few channels, there are also fewer hams that use 60, with more DX coming on to it as their countries approve 60 metre operation. Here in the Rockies we use 60 much like the metropolitan city areas use 146.52 simplex. With the limited power restrictions, even a modest antenna puts you on par with the best of them. My 'Best 60's' DX?-- this winter to Northern Ireland. Best of luck Guy--Cheers!
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Old 02-17-2016, 10:02 PM
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For all the reasons given above, 40 & 20 are good bands to get started on. 40's good day & night, and can do NVIS for close-in talking; 20's more fun than a barrel full of drunk monkeys.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikedp View Post
Looking to build a dipole in my "limited space" back yard (I live in a subdivision). I have room to put up a 20 meter inverted V, but I also considered a 10 meter, but heard there isn't much activity on 10 as on the other bands. Looking for suggestions. Thanks.
MFJ makes a slick little 40/20 trap dipole that isn't much longer than a 20-only dipole. MFJ Enterprises Inc. I use mine as an inverted V when I go camping. It was a PITA to adjust, but now that it's there I don't need to take a tuner along. If you do want to tune though, the antenna will do 17, 15, & 12m as well. 10m is tricky on this however, so don't count on that working. Not much traffic there anyway these days due to the weak and declining solar cycle.
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Old 02-17-2016, 10:32 PM
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Thanks for the great info guys, I don't see myself interested in short range. DX' is what I'm really interested in. You've given me a good idea of what bands are good, and when. I will probably go for the 20 meter dipole. Quick question-I hear some people ground dipoles and some don't. Some will unplug antenna whenever away. What's the scoop on that, and where would I attach a ground wire? Thanks for putting up with my dumb questions.
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Old 02-18-2016, 8:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikedp View Post
Thanks for the great info guys, I don't see myself interested in short range. DX' is what I'm really interested in. You've given me a good idea of what bands are good, and when. I will probably go for the 20 meter dipole. Quick question-I hear some people ground dipoles and some don't. Some will unplug antenna whenever away. What's the scoop on that, and where would I attach a ground wire? Thanks for putting up with my dumb questions.
Some hams do completely disconnect all their antennas when they are not in use. Some also ground their antennas when not in use. Exactly what you do may depend on your location. My area is considered "high desert" (5,500 ft altitude) and is very dry most of the time. During storms very high levels of static can build up on an antenna.

So, for example, I make sure my 5BTV vertical is always disconnected when not in use. My 5BTV is mounted at the top of a 18 foot section of 2 inch Iron Pipe. I disconnect it because a few years ago it took a lightening hit. The 80 meter resonator at the top exploded into a zillion pieces and it took out the tuner that it was plugged into. It welded all of the capacitor plates together and then came out the side of the box. Luckily, there was no other damage and the antenna still works, but only on 4 bands.

You should have a good effective ground at your transmitter. Water pipe, house electric ground, etc.. But there is no need to ground anything else on the antenna.

A dipole works against earth ground for it's impedance and radiation characteristics. A dipole that is 1/2 wavelength above earth ground will exhibit a feed impedance of around 72 Ohms. 1/2 wavelength is also the optimum height for good low angle radiation. Low angle radiation is necessary for good DX.

As you raise it or lower the antenna, from the 1/2 wavelength point, the feed impedance will change. You can lower the antenna to get a pretty nice 50 Ohm input impedance. But at the same time you change the effective radiation angle. The modified radiation angle may effect your ability to work DX.

If you get low enough, you get into a region known as NVIS (Near Vertical Incidence Skywave) where your radiation is going mostly straight up. This isn't good for DX but is great for local operation. When I first started in amateur radio, this was just known as a crummy antenna. But over the years they gave it a name.

You should get a copy of the ARRL Antenna handbook. All this information is in the book. New, they are pretty pricey but you can usually pick up a older edition at a ham fest for cheap. They change very little, from year to year, so old copies are just as good as new ones.

Martin - K7MEM
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Old 02-18-2016, 8:51 AM
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Hy-Power 2B1040Q dipole only 31' long will get you on 10 and 40... rated @ 150 watts. Got mine from Universal Radio and have been real happy with it. 10 is a real DX band but with the declining sunspot numbers is spotty now. IMHO, if you can only work one band, go with 40, can always find something going on and good for DX at night.

Also, check out the Hustler 5BTV vertical... covers 80 thru 10. Have used this antenna for over 30 years and would recommend it. Look at the DX Engineering website for tons of good info on this antenna.

Good luck with whatever you choose.

Last edited by WA8ZTZ; 02-18-2016 at 8:52 AM.. Reason: addendum
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Old 02-18-2016, 10:33 AM
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20 meter dipole (inverted V, whatever)
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Old 02-18-2016, 10:46 AM
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Go for a fan dipole with 20 15 and 10

http://pages.suddenlink.net/kquinn1/Pics/fandipole.jpg

http://www.hamuniverse.com/4bandmaypoleantenna.html

Last edited by NDRADIONUT; 02-18-2016 at 11:10 AM..
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Old 02-18-2016, 11:22 AM
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I used a straight 20 meter dipole for the first two years of my ham career. I lived with my parents back then and that's all they would let me put up It worked very well.

One thing I just thought of... You don't have where you live showing in your personal data and you indicate you're a newbie. If you live in the U.S. and only have a Technician class license, you can only use SSB voice on 10 Meters. If you live in Canada, or elsewhere, then disregard.
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Old 02-18-2016, 12:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwt873 View Post
I used a straight 20 meter dipole for the first two years of my ham career. I lived with my parents back then and that's all they would let me put up It worked very well.

One thing I just thought of... You don't have where you live showing in your personal data and you indicate you're a newbie. If you live in the U.S. and only have a Technician class license, you can only use SSB voice on 10 Meters. If you live in Canada, or elsewhere, then disregard.
OK guys, a little background I should have mentioned earlier. I'm a newbie...but I'm not new-I'm 58 years old. Just getting a late start with things. I got my Tech and General 5 yrs ago, but never did get to put it to use. Hopefully I didn't forget too much. Things got in the way back then. But I'm hopeful this is the year. Not even sure about what equipment to buy. I imagine a portable like the FT-857D would be simpler to learn and operate and less expense upfront(although I understand a separate power supply is necessary which would add to the cost) but I'm hopeful I can get a base unit. Time will tell. If I were still in my 20's or 30's I could keep the portable a few years then move up. But oh well. I suppose joining a local radio club would help me out alot, but there is none in my area without driving a good bit.
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Old 02-18-2016, 1:53 PM
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Smile Ground'd antennas

Originally Posted by Mikedp
.....What's the scoop on that, and where would I attach a ground wire? Thanks for putting up with my dumb questions..........

There are never any dumb questions, Mike, but I wouldn't go that far with some answers you might get!

When you say 'grounded' I am assuming you mean something along the lines of lightning protection- a good idea regardless what you put up in the air. There is a whole science devoted to it, and I am anything but an expert on this subject- but if you wish a good, readable reference, then Google the "IEEE Guide for Surge Protection of Equipment." This ~50 page thesis deals with protecting electronic equipment primarily, but includes how antennas figure into the complete picture...and you want to address the complete picture! Most lightning damage is not cause by direct hits, and this guide give you a good overall view.
That aside, I would advise you to get a good quality lightning arrestor- one designed for serious radio service (not the inexpensive CB types) and put it in your cable line between your radio and whatever (tuner, antenna etc.) Coax feedlines are easier to deal with than open wire- which is a subject in itself. What and how you ground your arrestor and other radio equipment is covered in that IEEE guide far better than this quick note.
On a personnal level, I try to make all antennas grounded by design- that is, they are DC grounded thru their loading configurations. High in the Rockies we get some really terrific- as John Denver put it - "Fire in the Sky" - even St. Elmo's Fire coronas at times, so any static build up is scary business up here (I have seen open wire feedlines arc'ing away innocently with a storm passing miles off.) These DC neutral antenna's I am talking about are like the VHF CushCraft Ringo's (they have them for as low as 10 metre's)- and you can design similar antennas along those lines for 20 meters if you choose that band. They won't save you from a direct hit (rare) but disconnected from your equipment, grounded, they act like an "air terminal" (a lightning rod in professional speak) and they actually will bleed off a static nearby charge- Whether that will save you or No.....??... but the theory makes me feel a little better. I hope this gives you some ideas...................CF
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Old 02-18-2016, 5:13 PM
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If you don't need fm look into an icom 718 600 at hro....

ICOM IC-718 | HF Compact Multimode Transceiver 160 - 10 Meters with DSP
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Old 02-21-2016, 10:08 PM
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I had started out in the 20 & 40 bands when I entered this hobby. The equipment and power costs a bit of money to start off.

Then I had a decade break from the hobby. Life events, different home location, and being older now, 2-meters became the easy choice. I can chat locally on simplex with many, use various repeaters to talk worldwide, and support other community service events in the area with 2-meters.

Now, as K7MEM stated, "The best band is the band that has what you want (DX, local, etc.), and has it when you are on the air. What exactly are you looking for?" That is what you need to investigate before dropping good hard earned money into this hobby, only to realize that it was the wrong band and rewarding fun.

In my area 2-meters has a good share of activity. I know that other parts of the country it's dismal. There is the 440, 220 and 70cm too.

Check out all the areas of the hobby. Find your click.

In my area, many hams have CBs as well. For the most part we are above channel 30 and keep to the SSBs mostly at night. Radio is radio. It's fun on how you plan it out and enjoy.

I would suggest visiting a ham club, ask a few hams to see their ham shacks, evaluate if that cost and hobby niche is what you like.
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Old 02-22-2016, 9:16 AM
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I live on a smallish lot in a suburb of Chicago. I was faced with similar issues as you. I put up a Cobra Ultralite folded dipole and its works well. Cobra UltraLite Antennas - The Alternative Multi-Band Solution - Home Page . I might also suggest you look at a multiband vertical. I also use a GAP Challenger and with my old Drake TR7, if I can hear them I can usually work them. Good luck with your search.
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