Radio Preppers

General Category => New To Radio => Topic started by: pb230019 on May 23, 2018, 08:56:02 PM

Title: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
Post by: pb230019 on May 23, 2018, 08:56:02 PM
Hi new here just passed my tech and general tests this past weekend. I am looking for suggestions on a good solid rig to start with. I am looking at a Yaesu FT-8900R as a potential starting point and a chameleon F Loop Plus or Alpha Antenna 10-80M Multiband Military 2.0. I would welcome any comments or suggestions and looking forward to learning more and hopefully being able to contribute to the site at some point.


Thanks Phillip   KE8JWD























Title: Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
Post by: vwflyer on May 24, 2018, 03:05:05 AM
Hi Phillip,
Welcome!
Suggesting a first rig for someone is hard to do. Of course you know the answer will be ďit dependsĒ. Iím partial to the Yaesu ft-450D as a starter rig to go in oneís shack. It is one of the best bangs for the buck with a good selection of filters and DSP. You can get one for under $500 like new. To get an icom with a similar set of features youíd have to spend almost twice that. It also has a surprisingly low current draw on receive for a 100 watt rig. Itís not that big and so can work well as a field day rig but itís a bit too big for real portable ops. I think a KX3 is about as big as I would go for a rig to go in a backpack. For ultra portable I like my MTR-3B. Itís CW only but boy is it small.
Title: Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
Post by: CroPrepper on May 24, 2018, 03:23:33 AM
Hi new here just passed my tech and general tests this past weekend. I am looking for suggestions on a good solid rig to start with. I am looking at a Yaesu FT-8900R as a potential starting point and a chameleon F Loop Plus or Alpha Antenna 10-80M Multiband Military 2.0. I would welcome any comments or suggestions and looking forward to learning more and hopefully being able to contribute to the site at some point.


Thanks Phillip   KE8JWD
Congrats on your exam.
To choose a rig you need to know:
What's your budget?
What are you intentions on ham? Only inside the shack comms or outdoor comms too? Outdoor comms with a car or backpack? Multiday outdoor comms with backpack? HF only or UHF and VHF too? QRP or not?

Cheers,
Via TapaTalk

Title: Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
Post by: gil on May 24, 2018, 06:33:01 AM
I will reserve my advice until those questions are answered...

That said, I would not suggest a magnetic loop as a first antenna; much better use a half-wave end-fed like the LNR Precision 40/20/10. Between Chameleon and Alpha, I'd suggest Chameleon. Alpha was using some pretty crappy hardware and shoddy craftsmanship in their early antennas; not sure if they cleaned house or not. Look at the Chameleon MPAS system for portable ops, but it is expensive. I do love mine... The QRPGuys Tri-band antenna is just $15 and works well with a 6m/19ft telescopic fiberglass mast, for portable operations.

In any case, remember this: Wire antennas are cheap, easy to make and work very well.

Congratulations on getting the General license. You can use HF, so I don't see why you shouldn't.

The questions remain: Mobile? VHF/UHF/HF? QRP? Portable? Home shack?

Gil.
Title: Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
Post by: pb230019 on May 24, 2018, 08:21:07 PM
I am first looking for something I can both use in the shack and be portable to learn the basics with. I rent so having a portable antenna is a must as well. I would really like to be able to be more portable at this point. Including antenna my initial budget would be in the $500 range for now. I have a license but that's it. I have a whole lot to learn so the 8900 is in my price point and being quad band I was thinking that would give me a good base to learn from. Does my thought process make sense? Getting a permanent mobile rig will be next in a few months.

Appreciate your feedback and comments.

Phillip  KE8JWD

 
Title: Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
Post by: gil on May 24, 2018, 08:36:00 PM
Hello. For $500 including transceiver and antenna, you will either need to go Morse-only or used equipment. A used FT-817nd might just be your ticket, and does everything, HF,VHF,UHF. Add a cheap tuner like the ZM-2, 9:1 unun (EARCHI) and a piece of wire, bingo, you're on the air...

Gil.
Title: Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
Post by: pb230019 on May 24, 2018, 08:51:49 PM
Hello. For $500 including transceiver and antenna, you will either need to go Morse-only or used equipment. A used FT-817nd might just be your ticket, and does everything, HF,VHF,UHF. Add a cheap tuner like the ZM-2, 9:1 unun (EARCHI) and a piece of wire, bingo, you're on the air...

Gil.
Thanks Gil I will look into that and thanks for the suggestion. Hope have something in the near future and will definitely report back as to where I needed up.

Phillip
Title: Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
Post by: LWolken on June 10, 2018, 11:56:55 PM
Lots of good deals to be had on used Icom 706MKIIG shack in a box.  Lots being sold for $400-$500 range.  All band all mode HF, VHF, UHF rig.  The only caveat is the finals are no longer available from what I understand so extra caution should be used to avoid damaging them.  A cross needle swr meter would accomplish this.  I prefer the Yaesu FT857d shack in the box rig.  I would not get a qrp rig as a beginner and certainly not a fidgety antenna system like a mag loop.  The bands are in bad shape and a qrp will only leave beginner frustrated.  A chameleon cha micro with the 60' wire and counter poise will get you on hf and give you the flexibility you to adjust for your needs down the road.  Hope this helps and please keep us posted with what you decide to purchase.
Title: Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
Post by: CroPrepper on June 11, 2018, 03:55:48 AM
I am a beginner and I decided to go for QRP. Although I had only 5 contacts yet, the excitement and rewarding feeling when a contact was made is enormous! Very rewarding.
It is hard but if you only got 5 Watts, then you start to think about efficiency. How long the feeder is going to be? What kind of coax you will use? Calculate coax loss in feeder line, build very efficient antennas and so on. I think if you go QRP then you have to dig much deeper into the topic to get it to work, which is basically not a bad thing - it's actually quite good.
Title: Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
Post by: LWolken on June 12, 2018, 12:35:15 PM
Congrats on the contacts just remember you can qrp a qro rig but you can't qro a qrp rig.  One can always qrp after getting through a pile up.
Title: Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
Post by: CroPrepper on June 12, 2018, 02:06:23 PM
The main advantage of qrp rigs is power drain. Qro rigs in qrp mode drain much more power than pure qrp rigs.

Via TapaTalk
Title: Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
Post by: vwflyer on June 12, 2018, 11:04:59 PM
Quote
The main advantage of qrp rigs is power drain. Qro rigs in qrp mode drain much more power than pure qrp rigs.

That's true. The 817 realistically draws what on receive, 350ma? Most QRO rigs can be made to draw something in the area of 1 amp if you turn down or off some settings. That's a realistic difference of a solid 500-700ma. Figure 600ma at 12.5 volts and we have 7.5 watts of power savings.

Of course the oft-quoted downside of QRP is it's less reliable ability to be heard. To help overcome this handicap, more efficient modes are used, i.e. CW and digital. The problem with CW is that it kind of requires that the operator learn it. The problem with digital is that it requires a separate computing device, which also draws juice, cutting into your power savings. A laptop is the most convenient platform for working digital but it's also the most power hungry. A smartphone is the least power hungry but kind of inconvenient with it's small interface. A tablet is often chosen as a happy medium. The screen of a tablet is the most power hungry part of it, and unfortunately, outdoor/portable use generally means that the screen brightness has to be turned up to see it in the daylight. An iPad Mini at full screen brightness has been measured to draw about 4.5 watts. This makes your power savings only about 3 watts over a QRO rig that doesn't use the iPad. 

So at a battery voltage of about 12.5 volts that comes to an additional 240ma draw on the battery that a QRO rig has over a QRP rig coupled with an iPad Mini. That means that if you want to be able to have 8 hours of receive/monitor time, you'd need a battery that was about 2ah bigger to do so with a QRO rig vs a QRP rig/iPad combo. The difference in size and weight between a 7ah battery and a 9ah battery is pretty minimal and may well be worth it to have the option of going QRO when you need it.

I'm not saying that the 817 is a bad choice. I would certainly own one if I could convince myself that I needed one, and I almost have on a few occasions. It does everything under the sun and coupled with a small power amp can certainly take the place of a shack rig. It's an all around work horse. But to make it a reliable mode of communications, one has to either learn CW or concede that it's power savings over a QRO rig are going to be modest.
Title: Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
Post by: gil on June 13, 2018, 06:12:52 AM
Current draw is my pet peeve, so I'll add my $0.2 here... I really like the 817 too. 350mA isn't too bad; more than my KX2 or my RT-320, 175mA, but you can run an 817 for some time on reasonably sized batteries. Now take a Weber MTR4b, 20mA current draw! That means it will last 17 times longer than the 817 with the same battery, 50 times longer than a QRO rig. A battery that will power your big Icom or whatever for a couple hours will run the MTR non-stop for four days ! Let's that sink in for a moment... Yes, a small CW rig beats everything else.

Gil.
Title: Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
Post by: CroPrepper on June 14, 2018, 03:29:12 AM
I know that CW is the best energy efficient method, but for a beginner I think SSB is a good start. I had a QSO with Moscow yesterday (1800km) on 5W SSB. Getting through pileups with a  QRP rig on SSB is very frustrating. But for me it's fun. Sooner or later I will get a 50W amp for sure.
But for beginners, I don't know if CW will be learned right at the start - I guess not.
Title: Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
Post by: gil on June 14, 2018, 04:20:16 AM
Sure, and you're doing great, so keep at it :-)

Gil.
Title: Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
Post by: LWolken on June 18, 2018, 09:45:21 PM
Doesn't do you any good how long the battery lasts if you can't  make a contact, complete a relay etc....I'll take 650mah draw with 20 times the output any day of the week.  The key to running portable qro is simple, use enough power when necessary to complete the contact.
Title: Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
Post by: CroPrepper on June 19, 2018, 02:58:13 AM
Yeah... Like when I was talking Croatia Moscow 1850km on 5W SSB and some wise guy flattened me with his 1.5kw station. Great stuff! The guy in Moscow was not amused, my S meter almost blew up. Of course it's great to have a power reserve in the sleeve to activate if necessary. I'll get an amp myself, the small portable 50W amp for the 817.
But, what's your goal in emergency preparedness? Doing DX contacts with 100W, even considering that there could be a grid down and most of the hams are out of order and the air is much cleaner?
I don't know. For me its enough to get continental, staying inside Europe. I mean, that could secure your survival. It depends on what goals you have for your emergency ham stuff. I see no need to talk to USA or Japan if a disaster strikes. It's enough to hear what is happening there, if I have to communicate I don't see a reason to go outside Europe. That said, 5W is an acceptable power, also considering the ease of carrying that rig around. Someone using 100W for +2 days of field use has to haul more than 4 times the weight (even more) than I do.
Id rather be mobile and quick on foot in a SHTF and using 5W, than slow, overloaded and burning all my calories just to haul my 100W righ with solar power and 2 kilos of batteries around.


Check that out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_u1ss3GXcI
Title: Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
Post by: gil on June 19, 2018, 04:21:14 AM
Quote
considering that there could be a grid down and most of the hams are out of order and the air is much cleaner?

Oh yes! I bet most amateur stations will be down the minute the power goes down. Some will stay on the air a bit longer, 2-3 days, maybe even a week. After that, it's only going to be small CW rigs and a handful of people with big solar panels.

If you watch my latest video, posted yesterday, I make an easy contact on 80m using 3W out maybe, with eight AA batteries, and they last a long time. Add a solar panel and a charger, you're on the air for months, maybe years...

Gil.
Title: Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
Post by: CroPrepper on June 19, 2018, 04:31:18 AM
Yes, CW is the top of the energy efficiency.. It's like a VW BlueMotion or a state of the art hybrid car. But not everybody can afford (learn) it. Although CW seems like a really useful thing to know, I personally prefer talking SSB.
I can charge my 18650 via USB and my Anker solar panel. It can deliver 2A tops, enough to charge my batteries to stay online. I have my diy 3s2p 6Ah 18650 pack. I can take out 3 and run 3Ah while the others charge. With my 817 I can stay online quite a time with 3Ah. Although I would not waste energy too much, rather stick to the 3-3-3 rule for SHTF.
I built in a BMS to that pack, I could even charge them with solar. But this panel delivers 5V, converting it to 12V won't do the trick as the Amps will drown.
Maybe, I'll get a decent 12V panel someday, but I don't see the need right now, not when I don't have a current-hungry amp.

If you buy your rig primarily for fun, then go with 100W, if you buy it from the prepper side of view, I'd suggest for QRP rigs. There is no need to get through a pile up when SHTF  ;D
Title: Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
Post by: gil on June 19, 2018, 05:05:49 AM
The 817 is at the limit. I like it, it's an excellent radio. Actually, if I had 600 Euros now I would probably buy one... Especially that it has 2m and 70cm SSB. Make a portable 2m Yagi like I did and you'll have a lot of fun!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6quIk_X3QIE (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6quIk_X3QIE)

Gil.
Title: Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
Post by: vwflyer on June 19, 2018, 01:41:17 PM
Quote
But not everybody can afford (learn) it. Although CW seems like a really useful thing to know, I personally prefer talking SSB.

You can afford what you value.
Title: Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
Post by: CroPrepper on June 19, 2018, 04:08:46 PM
I value cw as it is but have no intention to learn it for now as I see no need.

Via TapaTalk

Title: Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
Post by: LWolken on June 19, 2018, 11:00:34 PM
Personally I would love to see a 30-50 watt variant of the FT-857d.  If I can't make it with 50 watts its probably not happening.  On the contrary there have been numerous occasions where 5-10 watts would not make the trip but 20-30 worked just fine.  The 817 is a fine rig and I'm sure I will get one eventually but just not in the doldrums of this solar cycle.

As you can see with Julian's videos there are many great power options for QRO rigs in the field.  A 7-10Ah LiFePO4 battery and 30-50 watts of solar is more than enough.  I used this combination on Dry Tortugas Island for 4 days.  That's what I'll be running on field day.  Most shtf situations I can dream of are going to be more listening than anything else, maybe a quick wellness check to family.  I seriously doubt I will be running around performing comms ops like some guys plan.  More than likely it will be if and when its time to move to a new location.

This thread got me thinking though, when was the last time I even heard a QRP station?  Maybe its just my area?  Here in Texas, we're about 800 miles wide and tall which is about 1200km both ways.  European DX contacts are still regional where I live.  Its all about perspective I guess...
Title: Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
Post by: vwflyer on June 20, 2018, 12:19:01 AM
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This thread got me thinking though, when was the last time I even heard a QRP station?
Do you do much CW? Iím in the El Paso area and I have regular QSOs with QRPers on CW. Iíd estimate that ľ - ⅓ of my CW QSOs are with someone running QRP.
Title: Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
Post by: CroPrepper on June 20, 2018, 03:40:42 AM
Quote
I seriously doubt I will be running around performing comms ops like some guys plan.  More than likely it will be if and when its time to move to a new location.

Running high power rigs in the air in SHTF is like drawing a target on your back. Also you need to change locations often or your shack will become a target.
In the civil war in Yugoslawia, HAM operators had an important role in relaying information to the army as the Croatian army and informational infrastructure was not present / cut off. Resulting in pinpointed attacks from the aggressor on villages with active ham operators. Just sayin. If they saw an antenna on your roof, your house was gone.
Title: Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
Post by: LWolken on June 20, 2018, 10:04:29 PM
Code: [Select]
This thread got me thinking though, when was the last time I even heard a QRP station?
Do you do much CW? Iím in the El Paso area and I have regular QSOs with QRPers on CW. Iíd estimate that ľ - ⅓ of my CW QSOs are with someone running QRP.

I was referring to QRP on SSB, I don't do any CW yet but it is on my serious to do list this coming off season (HVAC Contractor).  I will probably go ahead and get MRP40 just to play around until I can become proficient with CW.  The digital modes such as FT-8 are neat for testing antennas but I really don't see them being useful as much as CW in SHTF.
Title: Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
Post by: vwflyer on June 20, 2018, 11:12:42 PM
You defiantly will not regret learning morse code. Itís not like buying a computer interface to run FT8 and after a few contacts getting bored of it and regretting the purchase. Learning morse code is a lot more rewarding and even if you eventually bore of it, it will always be useful. Itís not a product, itís a skill.

I agree that digital modes like FT8 have limited usefulness to the preppers but thatís not their target users. On the other hand, FSQ was designed specifically for emergency comms. Modes like FSQ and Olivia are very handy to the emergency communicator. FSQ can even send messages while the receiving station doesnít have an operator present at the radio.  They perform better than CW. They can send faster and in worse conditions. Their only downside is that they require a computer. This adds weight, complexity, points of failure, and power requirements. If you can afford the additional weight and power requirements they are a good way to go.

I have an IC-706 in my suburban and am setting up a mobile station that can run digital on all HF bands. This mobile station will be able to run digital modes for extended periods of time until I run out of gas. Then the foldable 22 watt panel will allow me to run the station for short intervals.
Title: Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
Post by: madsb on June 28, 2018, 04:15:51 PM
Hi new here just passed my tech and general tests this past weekend. I am looking for suggestions on a good solid rig to start with. I am looking at a Yaesu FT-8900R as a potential starting point and a chameleon F Loop Plus or Alpha Antenna 10-80M Multiband Military 2.0. I would welcome any comments or suggestions and looking forward to learning more and hopefully being able to contribute to the site at some point.


Thanks Phillip   KE8JWD
The mentioned radio and antenna is kind of a strange combination. The two antennas cover a lot of HF bands but the radio only has 10m. On the other hand the radio has the 6m, 2m and 70cm VHF/UHF bands which the antennas won't cover.

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