Alinco New to HF and needs guidance

TeK-NO

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Hey, all I am new to HF and would like some help in some equipment that I have to be able to use the HF bands. I have an Alinco DX-SR8 along with a manual tuner,
MFJ- 945E. I also have an vertical mono pole antenna, however when I connect everything I can only hear shortwaves broadcast at times no HF communications. I need to know if I am missing something perhaps tuning or settings in the radio it self.
 

iMONITOR

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ka3jjz

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I assume you're looking to eventually get your ham license, as both the Alinco and MFJ are meant for those markets. But that doesn't mean you can't use them in a listening mode. They should work just fine; just don't transmit. The cross needles will work once you have your ticket and you start to transmit.

First, there's a basic rule about when and where to listen; listen above 10 Mhz during the day, below that at night. Occasionally the 25 meter band stays open a bit past local sundown, but that's about it. Turn on your flash player, because you will need it to view this very basic site that delves into this subject


Now depending on sites like the above may not be the best way to find stuff that is active. The Shortwave Schedule site is fine but it's based on a list that isn't updated daily. A much better bet to find what is active is to be a member of a mailing list which is updated often. The World of Radio reflector on groups.io is such a place and often has schedule information and changes;


Now this is mostly for SWBC, altho the owner has been going into a little LW and some pirate stuff from time to time. Specifically what are you trying to hear? There's so much on the HF bands that it can often overwhelm a newcomer. This is a very broad overview of the spectrum from longwave to 30 Mhz....


Now let's talk about the antenna and tuner. It's hard to make any guesses here, but for what band is that monopole designed? And why did you go with this? There are many broadbanded designs where a transmatch isn't needed. Was this because you have limited space? Don't fret; lots of folks are in that same position.

Finally where are you? (county/state is fine). It doesn't seem like it should matter, but in fact, it matters a great deal. Without going into a lot of details right now, the path that a signal from, say Europe, would take to get to me in the Washington DC area would drastically differ from the path it would need to take to reach California.

Lots of questions....Mike
 

wowologist

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I'd ditch the tuner it's meant to give your radio a better match for transmitting and really does nothing for a receiving. So your putting a device inline that is just causing a db loss and if you have the wrong settings on the tuner, you could actually be blocking the signal or reducing it so highly that your unable to receive anything useful.

Remove the mic so you don't have the chance to key up and toast the finals in the rig before you even get a chance to use it legally, not to mention it would be illegal. Other then that I would def. start out at either 5Mhz, 10Mhz WWV the time signal transmitted from Colorado, USA. Then once you have that pegged on AM experiment with SSB lower/upper on WWV and you will learn how to tune those signals. If you are not hearing WWV on 5mhz after say 8pm or 10Mhz during the day - you have other issues as even with a coat hanger stuck into the SO-239 in the back you should be getting one of them.
 

TeK-NO

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Hey Mike thanks for asking so many questions but I am a license operator I am not really a fan of HF but I decided to start getting in to it lately. I am not interested in shortwave at all main focus is for emergency communications if needed here in the Caribbean area with all these storms popping up. The reason for that antenna was for the space and the mobility to break apart. Question since I have a manual tuner would I still have to tune the antenna to it?
 

TeK-NO

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I'd ditch the tuner it's meant to give your radio a better match for transmitting and really does nothing for a receiving. So your putting a device inline that is just causing a db loss and if you have the wrong settings on the tuner, you could actually be blocking the signal or reducing it so highly that your unable to receive anything useful.

Remove the mic so you don't have the chance to key up and toast the finals in the rig before you even get a chance to use it legally, not to mention it would be illegal. Other then that I would def. start out at either 5Mhz, 10Mhz WWV the time signal transmitted from Colorado, USA. Then once you have that pegged on AM experiment with SSB lower/upper on WWV and you will learn how to tune those signals. If you are not hearing WWV on 5mhz after say 8pm or 10Mhz during the day - you have other issues as even with a coat hanger stuck into the SO-239 in the back you should be getting one of them.

[/QUO
 

TeK-NO

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Noted did exactly what you said... currently I am searching the bands. You think it could be a setting with the radio?
 

wowologist

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Ahh so you are a ham, well that depends, you said your in the carribean eh - thats a whole lotta plus and about as much minus as your in the equatorial plane of the planet. Youre really at the mercy of the bands ther, and I would suggest logging into a good DX program/service and match band opening with what you hear in realtime and then you will be able to judge your propagation level. Plus were just about at the very bottom of the solar cycle which effects you more in that location then say someone in the upper US area like Michigan or the Canada line area.
 

wowologist

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You can also use I think thers an Iphone version I have android version of the progation beacons for all the bands. Let me check and see if I can find it. Ill post the link. Ya NKCC cluster is one, I can seem to find the other one right now.
 

TeK-NO

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Ahh so you are a ham, well that depends, you said your in the carribean eh - thats a whole lotta plus and about as much minus as your in the equatorial plane of the planet. Youre really at the mercy of the bands ther, and I would suggest logging into a good DX program/service and match band opening with what you hear in realtime and then you will be able to judge your propagation level. Plus were just about at the very bottom of the solar cycle which effects you more in that location then say someone in the upper US area like Michigan or the Canada line area.
Thats strange cause I know other hams that are on HF nets on the main land so its something I have to figure out where is the problem.
 

wowologist

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Ya HF isnt "dead" ...it's just different for different parts of world from the equator out in both directions. Thats why I said you should match DX clusters with your actual live hearing. Ah the NCDXF beacon program for the Android. You can use that and chart along with DX clusters and see whats happening in realtime. Literally you may be set up just fine...but listening to literal dead bands.....
 
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ka3jjz

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HF propagation right now isn't all that great. Unfortunately the new cycle (cycle 25) is predicted not to be any better than 24 was, and maybe a bit worse. We're all going to need to get used to it. There will be days that are better, days that are worse.

If all you are interested in is emcomm, there are a number of ham nets that are involved with this. They would be on specific freqs in the ham bands. We have separate amateur radio forums on this board, so I would direct you to them for specifics as to frequencies. As an example, I do know right now 2 60m channels are being used, in part, to handle coordination for the fires in the Northwest.

You still haven't said anything about the monopole antenna. I know you are thinking that the transmatch will let you use that antenna on other bands, and to a certain extent, it will - but the further away you get from the design frequency, the less efficient the antenna will become. You need to rethink your antenna setup, I suspect. There are a great many wide banded designs that you won't need a transmatch to use. Doing some homework on them and considering the space requirements you have - I suspect you are somewhat limited, being in the Caribbean -
is a place to begin.

I would also investigate training in emcomm - there are many such groups on the mainland. From everything I have heard about emcomm, training is an absolute must.

Mike
 

ka3jjz

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This list is quite old, but it's useful to give you a peek at some of the resources emcomm would use. You will note that there are many such services that are not ham related, but with a decent antenna (and gods of propagation willing) you might be able to hear. It goes without saying that a good antenna is almost a requirement, along with a good transceiver.


World of Radio sometimes announces various emcomm frequencies, but there are better such mailing lists (such as those run by the ARRL) which make timely announcements when such events occurs. I'm not into emcomm myself, so I will let others recommend better resources for this.

What island in the Caribbean are you on? If it's one of the larger ones, they may have a group with training sessions for emcomm. The number of hurricanes in that area every year, this should be a given.

Mike
 

TeK-NO

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This list is quite old, but it's useful to give you a peek at some of the resources emcomm would use. You will note that there are many such services that are not ham related, but with a decent antenna (and gods of propagation willing) you might be able to hear. It goes without saying that a good antenna is almost a requirement, along with a good transceiver.


World of Radio sometimes announces various emcomm frequencies, but there are better such mailing lists (such as those run by the ARRL) which make timely announcements when such events occurs. I'm not into emcomm myself, so I will let others recommend better resources for this.

What island in the Caribbean are you on? If it's one of the larger ones, they may have a group with training sessions for emcomm. The number of hurricanes in that area every year, this should be a given.

Mike
I am not sure of what bands the antenna cover because it was given to me. All I know is that it dose not have any ground planes. I do not want to give out my exact location on this forum but I am in the Caribbean where I should be hearing stuff. There are many HF nets in the Caribbean that are access to people in the main land. However, when I removed the tuner and ran the coax straight to the radio I did notice that signal strength was increase but all I heard was to short wave stations. The stations were really clear, one was in Cuba and the other was some place on the other side of the world speaking German.

I am thinking of getting a wire antenna outside the balcony due the the limited space.
 

ka3jjz

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When you give your callsign over the air, everyone will know where you are....

If it's this one, it's designed for the 160 meter band, and that's where it would work the best (likely without the transmatch. As it has a loading coil, it would, of course, become far less efficient the further from that band you go...


If you can string a wire from your balcony you would likely get better reception. You didn't say how much space you have to work with, but there are tons of such designs.

Another option that is far less obtrusive is a loop - there are many designs that will allow you to transmit as well as receive. Look at this article from our wiki, and note that you shouldn't use the transmatch with these antennas...


Mike
 

majoco

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+2 on what Mike says. A vertical has to be tuned for a particular frequency and also needs a system of ground radials to be the 'other half' of the antenna - and you can't "re-tune" it with another tuner - and as you don't have a licence yet, you can't transmit to set up the antenna! "Between a rock and a hard place" springs to mind. String up a long piece of wire as high as you can and connect that to the transceiver - no tuner - then you should find stations in each broadcast band. Many of the "HF communications" that you are expecting to hear are often quite brief so if you are not actually sitting on the frequency you may not hear anything. A google search will give you more frequencies than you know what to do with! Try a search for MWARA frequencies!
 
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