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Author Topic: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?  (Read 4280 times)

pb230019

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New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
« 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
























vwflyer

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Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
« Reply #1 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.

CroPrepper

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Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
« Reply #2 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

« Last Edit: May 24, 2018, 09:11:08 AM by CPR »

gil

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Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
« Reply #3 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.

pb230019

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Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
« Reply #4 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

 

gil

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Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
« Reply #5 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.

pb230019

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Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
« Reply #6 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

LWolken

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Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
« Reply #7 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.

CroPrepper

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Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
« Reply #8 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.

LWolken

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Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
« Reply #9 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.

CroPrepper

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Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
« Reply #10 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
« Last Edit: June 12, 2018, 02:08:15 PM by CPR »

vwflyer

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Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
« Reply #11 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.

gil

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Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
« Reply #12 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.

CroPrepper

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Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
« Reply #13 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.

gil

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Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
« Reply #14 on: June 14, 2018, 04:20:16 AM »
Sure, and you're doing great, so keep at it :-)

Gil.

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Re: New to HAM Community What is a good beginner rig?
« Reply #14 on: June 14, 2018, 04:20:16 AM »