Just starting out!

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SCPD

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So I have a lot of radio equipment laying around my garage that I've accumulated over the years, mobile radios, HT's, duplexer, controller, antenna's, power supplies etc. I got a GMRS license a couple years ago (I'm sure some people will say I wasted my money) and decided last Saturday to take the exam for Technician License and passed that and before I go any further with messing with any equipment I have would like to know what are the basic items I should get for testing, tuning and troubleshooting? I know joining a local Ham club would be an ideal way to get started and gaining more knowledge but for the time being I just want to pick up some basic tools for testing out the equipment I have and getting a feel for things before I jump into a club as a total newbie.
 

KB0VWG

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A good hf/vhf/uhf swr meter and a dummy load for testing is key to start out with.and then later maybe mfj analyzer or maybe a bird watt meter.
kb0vwg
wqoi992
 

SCPD

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Welcome into the fold, McAdams!
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I will echo the SWR meter, but emphasis that you get a good one specifically for V/UHF-- there are plenty of inexpensive hybrids that cross from HF into the higher ranges, but don't be fooled... they usually will break your heart (Coyote-ese for poor performance :) )-- you can get a fairly good V/UHF meter new in the range of $50-$80-- look on Amazon... Nissei RS-40.
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Next I'd get a good Multimeter. I have an old faithful Fluke model 77, a well traveled world veteran (I can't tell you how old it is, but its just as good and useful today as when it came out of the box.) For much of today's throw-away electronics, if you can't diagnosis/fix it with a multimeter, then you can't fix it at all (joking a bit there, but these meters will solve plus-plus percentages of most problems.) Get as good of one as you can afford- it will be your pal for life.
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After these two instruments, we start to spin off into the exotic... and oh! can I spin your head if we jump off into that Play Ground! Truthfully, as one who divides her hobby and her work- in my hobby I very seldom (very!) - use anything other than the the above two instruments... this makes me feel a little strange when at work, using the really exotic stuff, I reflect on the simple SWR meter and multimeter's I have at home.
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As you progress in ham radio you may find other things you'll need, like a good bench power supply, maybe a frequency counter, maybe (big maybe) a 'scope- but save those, and like items, for the possible exotic future.
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Good luck; you've enter'd into a great hobby..... :)
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...............................CF
 

bharvey2

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I was putting together a parts list in my mind and I completely forgot about a DVM or even an analog one for that matter since those are just like hands and I assume everyone has one! - A byproduct of being a techo-nerd for so long I suppose. Anyway good call, CF. A few good soldering irons, guns and possibly torches might be handy as well.

Echoing what CF mentioned, I have a number of fancy tools too, A "silly"scope, and a few HP/Agilent freq generators/counters and DVM on my bench at home and rarely use them. (Well the DVM is handy when at the bench) The SWR meter and antenna analyzer get far more use.

One last thing: If you're the proud owner of some middle-aged or older eyeballs, a bright light and a magnifying glass come in handy too.
 

SCPD

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Thanks to everyone that replied! As I am an Electrician by trade I have a few Fluke Multimeters, a bunch of soldering irons and the middle aged eyeballs, I have a really old old old swr meter that I'm not sure if I can use it on anything other than CB or not but I will buy the one CF recommended. Again thanks to everyone that gave me their input, it's very much appreciated.
 
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Give some thought to how you intend to power your many radios and accessories. Consider standardizing on a common connector such as Andersen Power Poles for your equipment, it will make your life easier. Don't skip crimpers Power Poles can be tricky so get the correct crimper. Most importantly enjoy your new hobby and never stop learning.
 

SCPD

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So I'm on Amazon looking at the Nissei RS-40 SWR and they also have the Nissei RS-50 which is digital. Any suggestions on which one I should get? I kind of like the digital as it's easier for me to see but want some suggestions on whether the analog is better than the digital or even if there is an SWR that does both analog and digital?
 

K7MEM

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So I'm on Amazon looking at the Nissei RS-40 SWR and they also have the Nissei RS-50 which is digital. Any suggestions on which one I should get? I kind of like the digital as it's easier for me to see but want some suggestions on whether the analog is better than the digital or even if there is an SWR that does both analog and digital?
First, congratulations on passing the Technician test.

Personally, I prefer a analog meter over a digital meter. I find it difficult to see trends on a digital meter. But from the reviews for the RS-40 and the RS-50, the RS-50 seems to be the preferred meter. And, while you can still purchase current stock, the RS-40 is no longer in production. You should also note that both meters are for VHF/UHF use and will not be useful on the HF bands.

Initially, don't go too big on the test equipment. You will find that, once you get a rig on the air, most of your test equipment is going to just collect dust. So start with the basics, like a good dummy load, a SWR/Power meter (HF and VHF), and a VOM or VTVM. The VTVM usually has a higher input impedance and doesn't load the circuitry as much as a VOM. But a VOM is also very useful.

I'm sure, being an electrician, that you might already know how a oscilloscope operates, and possibly some basic use. But it takes a while to really understand what a scope is showing you and good scopes are expensive. So I would hold off on buying one for a while. This is also true for other pieces of test equipment, like frequency counters and antenna analyzers. Unless you understand how to apply them and what their readings mean, they are not very useful. The good news is that, as time goes on, you will get a better idea of what you need and how to use it.

So far there has only been talk about test equipment and diving into a rig, without first knowing what rigs you have. What kind of rig do you have to get started?

Martin - K7MEM
 

bharvey2

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Having used both, I prefer the analog style. I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with digital - I'ts just a preference.
 

KC4RAF

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As others' have posted.

I prefer the analog also in that it shows the subtle difference in capacitor charge/discharge, diode characteristic, etc.
A good SWR meter is a must.
Also a good antenna analyzer if you plan on experimenting with building antennas.
A good VOM or better yet, a VTVM. (one of the things I learned in electronics a long time ago was to VOMit a circuit. lol)
The other guys have posted good info and I agree with them.

edit:
BTW, one of the fun things about amateur radio is you can build your own equipment.
I like to dabble in building antennas. When you have the time, visit K7MEM's site on antennas. He has a wealth of info for the experimenter. (and we are fortune that he is a member here and posted in your thread.)

http://www.k7mem.com/
 
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SCPD

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Hey McAdams :)
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Personally I like the analog displays... maybe because I grew up in an analog display world.. for something that doesn't have to be "Absolutely, positively to the N'th decimal point" I love the old fashion analog meters.
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Digressing a step here; I have heard tales from parents that their children had trouble reading old fashion clock dials- troubles telling analog time....an urban legend? maybe, but a good one.
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But, I can attest first hand to what a rotary dial 'phone is to a young child today. I have an old '40's style Bakelite door stopper of a landline that is hook'd up (I like old, working electrical stuff :) )... my nieces think its the greatest thing to rotary-dial their friends and talk on it.... I've amused them with explanations of telephone numbers starting with names like "Overland," long distance operators, long distance charges....most of those quite before my time, btw....
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opppps...Sorry...carried away.... back to the SWR meters....... :)
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I like the little Nissei because it is well built and fairly easy to use. It does not have the ability to set the full scale reading-- you have to adjust the transmitter output for that. Lacking that ability, you must interpolate the readings- but it is an analog meter and here we are thinking in 'analog world" (smiles).
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At work we have several Bird 43 meters- They, for me, like-forever, were the Ne Plus Ultra in bridges... Ahhh !..that is, until I got my new Telewave 44AP this year. No slugs- good from mid-HF to low microwaves.... beautiful! but $$. I ran the little Nissei side by side with it yesterday just for this Post- to see how they compared. The little Nissei is 'dead on'- (within its frequency ranges)-- (there you go: a Coyote endorsement- for what its worth :) )

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...Getting a little long wind'd here... maybe its the Thanskgiving day wine working as we cook dinner...(laughing) A happy Thanksgiving, Guys....! :)
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......................CF
 

SCPD

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So far there has only been talk about test equipment and diving into a rig, without first knowing what rigs you have. What kind of rig do you have to get started?

Martin - K7MEM
Well, most of the equipment I have is business band and gmrs stuff all uhf from 400 Mhz to 520 Mhz and a couple HT's in the mid 300 Mhz.

I have 2 Motorola CDM1550 LS+ DP6 versions setup as repeaters on 462.6000 and 467.6000 along with a cheap Chinese J-Nuoda SGQ-529 30 watt duplexer tuned for the same GMRS frequencies and I had an antenna custom made from Ed Fong WB6IQN to match the GMRS frequencies with 50 ft of RG8x, A control board between the tx and rx radios and a couple Motorola AE210-3101 Power Supplies.

The only thing I don't have that I can tell is the jumpers between the radios and the duplexer and I ordered 2 3ft LMR240 jumpers with uhf mini to PL259 as the radios have uhf mini antenna output and the duplexer has PL259 inputs.

Then I have a couple of Motorola GTX radios that I picked up from a cop buddy of mine but I think they are 800mhz so I don't know what I will do with those.

A Motorola MCS2000 that needs a new LCD screen, not sure if it even works, it powers on but can't see anything other than the back light.

I have a Kenwood KRK-3DH with one control head and a couple Kenwood TK870's and a gaggle of Kenwood TK-353 HT's (not narrow band) and a bunch of Motorola HT750's and not to mention a few Baofeng UV-5RA dual band.
 

SCPD

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After some looking around and reading the comments to my post I decided to go with a Nissei RX 503 1.8~525MHz 0~200W UHF/VHF/HF SWR & Watt Power Meter. And I purchased a MFJ-267 Dummy load, SWR meter, 1.5kW, 0-60MHz (probably don't need this but I have it now. lol)
I have an old vintage Simpson 260 series 7 VOM, not sure if it works still but it's sitting on my desk staring me in the face.
 
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bharvey2

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After some looking around and reading the comments to my post I decided to go with a Nissei RX 503 1.8~525MHz 0~200W UHF/VHF/HF SWR & Watt Power Meter. And I purchased a MFJ-267 Dummy load, SWR meter, 1.5kW, 0-60MHz (probably don't need this but I have it now. lol)
I have an old vintage Simpson 260 series 7 VOM, not sure if it works still but it's sitting on my desk staring me in the face.
Seems like a good start. Oh, and with regard to the Simpson, I have a number of them at work and home. One of my favs in terms of analog meters. And, I think everyone should own one.
 

KC4RAF

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That Simpson 260 was/is a work horse.

Still have the one I purchased back in 1970 and the one I got in about 1995, (that one has the mirror for parallax correction). Both still work and I use them a lot. Those analog vom really shows how a capacitor may be performing or not up to par.
 
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