Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Gadgets we connect to the radio.

  When I started to set up my shack I wondered what things will I need besides the radio and antenna. The first thing I looked into was a meter for reading the swr and power. I collected some catalogs from various online stores such as ham radio outlet. I started looking at the various models and manufacturers. I looked at what each meter had to offer such as how much power can it handle. At this point and time I am only working with a 100 watts total, so I did not need one to handle over 1500 watts.
  The next thing I did was to start looking at reviews of the different meters out there. I checked, which is an excellent source of information. I also used Google to search for other reviews on these different models and manufacturers. Another avenue I chose was to check out the various youtube videos where people were demonstrating different meters.
  It came down to the price, size of the meter, review of the meter and what wattage it could handle. I finally ended up with an mfj large cross needle meter. It was the mfj 884 swr power meter. It was very easy to read especially for a guy with glasses who is getting older. I also liked the fact that it covers a wide range of bands and frequencies. The price of the meter was also in my budget range. I have not had any problems with the meter since purchasing it. I am planning on buying another meter in the near future that will handle more power, but that will be when I can afford an amplifier.
  The next item I had to think about was an antenna tuner since I am using a g5rv junior dipole antenna to cover a wide range of frequencies. I followed the same routine as for a meter. There are alot of tuners out there on the market and a pretty good price range. I then thought about a manual antenna tuner or an automatic antenna tuner. The first tuner I bought was a mfj 949e antenna tuner. The reviews were plentiful and they were not that bad, plus I could afford it. The only thing I don`t care too much for is that the knobs are hard on the fingers to turn. I have some other knobs left over from some electronic projects that I may try at some time. I did buy a mfj 993b automatic antenna tuner later on that seems to work very well. It tunes easy, fairly quickly and is not very noisy. The only drawback with this tuner is that the power button does not seem to last very long. I have replaced mine at least 3 or 4 times since buying it. I may look into finding a better quality switch, but that means more money. Thankfully my electronic technician background helps with the desoldering and soldering of a new switch that mfj has provided free of charge.
  Another item I decide on was a switch to change for the different antennas I will buy or build as time goes on. Again I searched the catalogs, internet and checked all the reviews. I ended up with a ameritron rcs-8v remote control switch. It provides me with at least the connection of up to five different antennas. There are some manual types of switches out there on the market, but I preferred the remote switch.
  Lastly I had to look into a power supply for my radio and other devices. When I purchased my kenwood ts2000 I bought the kenwood kps-15 switching power supply. It started to have a problem with the power after a year or two. I opened it up and found that some of the capacitors were popped up on top and bulging. I replaced the capacitors and it works like new. I decided that I wanted another power supply to handle the radio and other devices if needed. Again I took the route of looking for a good power supply. I could not believe all the choices out there. After checking reviews I decided on a diamond gzv4000. It has plenty of power and current to supply for all my current devices. It will provide an adjustable 5-15vdc and  40 amp continuous with a current foldback at 42 amps. It run very quiet and I have had no problems with it.
  As a final thought there is the case of coaxial cable, guy rope and various connectors. The best solution is to go with the various online stores like universal radio or dx-engineering. I have also found some other places on the internet selling pretty good connectors. In a pinch you can always check out the local radio shack. As far as cable goes I would look at the power you are going to run and whether or not it is going to be buried under ground.  Another thing is how flexible the cable is, because that can determine where you have to route the cable.
  If you have any other ideas or sources out there please leave a comment. Take care and 73s.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

What Radio Should I Start With.

  The choice of what radio should I start with depends on a few different factors. The first one would be how much can you afford. The second factor would be what bands do I want to work. Will you be interested in the high frequencies, vhf ,uhf or all three. The third choice would be do I want a fairly simple radio to control or do I want a more sophisticated radio. The simpler radio may be a good choice for a beginner in the hobby.
  Once you have various radios in mind I would start to read reviews by the hams that own them. One of the places I like to go to for information and reviews is They seem to have a wealth of information on all kinds of ham equipment. The reviews can provide you with the good, the bad and the ugly. Sorry about that I borrowed that from an old movie. I would also suggest to use various browsers on the internet such as google and yahoo to search for reviews on the different radios out there.
 Another route that one can take when deciding on a ham radio is to go with a used radio. There are numerous sites out there whether it be the classified swap add, ebay or one of the ham radio equipment stores online. There are some sites out there such as ham radio hut that have alot of equipment for sale including used radios for sale. This type of site seems to be associated with ebay, because when you click on an item that's where it takes you. Once you like a radio you can then use a site such as RigPix to look at information about the radio and as well a a good picture of the radio.
 Finally one thing I would advise is buyer beware. There are alot of places out there that just want your money for a piece of junk. Before you purchase any product out there look for reviews on the place it is coming from. If you are using ebay you can look at the persons reviews on there store to check out the ratings. You can also read the reviews whether good or bad. I would also make sure you have insurance on the item you purchase. I have seen alot of damaged items come through the postal services out there.

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