Where does the newbie begin?

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alcahuete

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When you say that 10 Meters is hopping, you need to specify the time and location. It isn't hopping all the time, everywhere. So, when you are listening, pick the band that best suites you. It's pointless to listen to a dead band.
Right, that's how basic propagation works. Some bands are better during the day, some are better at night. Doesn't mean the bands are "pretty dead."
 

KC5AKB

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I recently got my Technician license and am now working on the General, which I hope to pass this summer.

I’m currently using a Baofeng handheld but I'm interested in proceeding to getting a base station so I can operate on the longer waves. Looking at various blogs and websites, it’s obvious there are all kinds of manufacturers and components available for putting together a rig. I would like to proceed with designing and assembling a base station, but I don’t want to go down a blind alley that would entail figuring out how every piece fits together, only to find that the components I purchased are not compatible or are not even essential.

Is there a place on RadioReference or elsewhere that can help me understand how to develop a station that I can use for communications with other hams without unnecessary expense and complexity? I want to start with a transceiver and antenna, maybe an antenna tuner, balancing cost and capability and not boxing myself into a path that requires that I go back to the drawing board because I went down the wrong path from the beginning.
Pm sent / there is lots of good information here in the post. These guys can answer questions and offer sound suggestions.
73,
R
 

Boombox

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Say what? This is the busiest both have been in a decade, due to the sunspot cycle. Just in the last couple days, worked Liberia, Puerto Rico, Falkland Islands, Morocco, Spain, Portugal, Algeria, and a ton of domestic stations.
You're in California. Low latitudes. He's in Michigan. Northern latitudes. I'm in the PNW. Northern latitudes. Different propagation characteristics. Also, K7MEM was listening to a DC based SDR, still -- different prop characteristics. The high bands here have been dead more than alive, especially if one considers we're approaching the solar peak. Still, there are a lot of DX stations to hear.

I think K7MEM's advice is spot on, though. You've got to pick a band that fits the timeframe. Skim through all of them, concentrate on the best one. Get a feel for what's out there during the different times of the day or evening.

I still think a newbie would be better off getting an inexpensive Tecsun or XHDATA, though to get a feel for the HF spectrum if they're not really all that acquainted with it already. Checking it out on a distant SDR is great, but if you're listening to one in DC and you live in Texas you're not really going to get a feel for how the prop hits your region on the various ham bands.

Agree with the suggestion that if you get an HF ham rig, get an Icom, Kenwood, Yaesu, etc. They all have pretty good reps.
 

alcahuete

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You're in California. Low latitudes. He's in Michigan. Northern latitudes. I'm in the PNW. Northern latitudes. Different propagation characteristics. Also, K7MEM was listening to a DC based SDR, still -- different prop characteristics. The high bands here have been dead more than alive, especially if one considers we're approaching the solar peak. Still, there are a lot of DX stations to hear.
Strange...I have a remote station up in Maine (a bit higher in latitude than PNW and Michigan) and work DX on 10 meters from there quite literally every single day....Europe, Asia, Africa, all over the place. If the high bands are dead for you, it's probably time to work on your antenna setup.

Here's my 10/12 meter log from an hour or so last weekend, from Maine:

Netherlands, Luxembourg, England (x3), Hungary (x2), Belgium, Italy, South Africa, Albania, Ukraine (x2), Malawi (x3), Greece, Israel, Norway, Canary Islands, Germany.

The best thing about 10m is that even beams are relatively small. For a n00b with a Technician license who wants a taste of HF, 10m is great. The OP could very easily set up a good 10m station that will work DX and fairly easily cover the 20 mile radius he's looking to cover. When the cycle isn't great, 10m is still fantastic for local communications. Plenty of other bands for DX when the cycle slows.
 
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