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HF Starter Setup

Discussion in 'Ham Equipment' started by snakyjake, Jan 23, 2012.

  1. snakyjake

    snakyjake Member

    Nov 20, 2011
    Likes Received:
    What are some recommendations for a good, simple, value priced starter HF setup for voice mode?

    For the band, I'd like to work mostly in the evenings/night. A multi-band transceiver would be nice, but I presume it will cost a lot more than a single band like 10 meter. If that is the compromise, then I'm okay working local 10m at night to save the money.

    For antennas, I need something simple. Something I can start out with, get up and going with minimal frustration. I'd prefer a vertical, or a good non-directional. If it isn't much more money, something mobile work be ideal (something to take camping or to a friend's house).

    What I've read about so far...
    Radio: Magnum 257 for the transceiver.
    Antenna: SuperAntenna MP1 vertical or an inverted dipole (though I don't want to be climbing trees). Not sure on coax vs. ladder; I have coax already in the house.

    Other suggestions?

    Thanks. Jake.


  2. office888

    office888 Active Member

    Jun 8, 2009
    Likes Received:
    Kenwood TS520
    Yaesu FT101

    Both can be had for about $250.
    Both offer 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, and 10 bands.
    Both are tube-hybrids, meaning, they're very forgiving to a bad SWR.
    Both are fairly bulletproof.
    Both are ~100w output.

    Antenna, an 80m dipole cut for 3.8 mhz. Feed it with 600 ohm ladder line to a balanced line tuner like the MFJ-974HB, Johnson Matchbox, or other balanced line tuner.

    Or if you don't have the cash for a tuner, make a fan dipole.
  3. Moleculo

    Moleculo Administrator
    Staff Member

    Apr 14, 2002
    Likes Received:

    10 meters is usually open during the day and not nearly as often in the evening. The radio you mentioned will get you started on 10 meters, but you would be better off with an all band rig, especially if you want to use HF mostly at night.
  4. trucker

    trucker Active Member

    Feb 9, 2010
    Likes Received:
    I second the suggestion of getting an all band HF rig if you can. The cost of a new 10 meter only radio, is getting really close to the price of a good used, multi-band HF rig.
    If there is a ham club nearby, I would suggest talking to some of the guys there and asking for advice from them. If you are interested in a mobile, used radios, like the ICOM 706MKIIG (last of that model) can be found for around $600 or so. And it covers 160-6meters and 2 meters & 440. Its a shack in a box, and a very tough radio. I use one in my pickup along with a Tarheel 100a HP (screwdriver antenna) and have had a blast with it. Works well and is very reliable. Lots of choices out there. The toughest decision is new or used. Buying new may cost more, but, you have a warranty. Buying used, you take a chance and have to trust the seller is telling you everything they know about a radio. The majority are honest and that is a good thing. But, even then, you can get a radio that has problems that the previous owner had no idea about.
    As for antennas, a home-built dipole is all you need. A single support (pole or tree) and you can have a multi-band antenna up in no time with very little cost. Then, as you get comfortable with what you have, you can decide on what direction you wish to go and upgrade antennas, radios and other accessories. Amateur radio is fun and ADDICTIVE.
  5. kd-5-bgt

    kd-5-bgt W9WDX Amateur Radio Club Member

    Nov 10, 2007
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    I agree on the radio,a good used multi band radio such as Yeasu,Kenwood,Icom all have multi band radios you can pick up used for 300$ to 400$ +/- .... and have 100 watts output,that is plenty of power to make world wide contacts
    The radios mentioned by Office are both great radios they are tough....and they sound great on the air.

    Antenna I would say make a fan dipole yourself,...by making your own antenna you can get the cost down to well under what you can buy one for,plus you will have bragging rights that you made your own antenna...plans for building all types of antennas can be found online

    Hope to hear you on teh air soon !!
  6. W5LZ

    W5LZ Crotchety Old Bastard

    Apr 8, 2005
    Likes Received:
    I don't remember which (if any) license you have, which will play a big part in that 'multi-band' radio part of it. If only the Technician, then a 10 meter only radio might be your best bet. If you have the General license, why not have all the bands available to you for use? Then, that multi-band radio would be your best option. (If you don't have it already, get that General!)

    As the 'Mole' already said, 10 meters is a 'daytime' band. It can certainly 'open up' after dark, but it's not all that common. The lower you go the more the band(s) open up after dark. 40 meters is probably the 'longest' after dark band, usually the most distant stations. If you can't get out of the USA on 40 meters, you just ain't listening at the right times (when them other places are awake).

    I think of the older radios, the TS-520/830's and the Ft-101's being something like 30 years old, are just not the best that you could do for a multi-band radio. Count on having to work on them, and the resulting searches for parts. Get a 'step' newer, maybe the TS-140/440's or FT 737's or newer. Going only by the eBay prices I've seen lately, those 30 year old radios cost more now than when they were new (almost)! That's just not a very good deal, you know? 'eBay' isn't the best/cheapest place to be looking for good radios, by the way.

    Nothing says you have to do anything -right now-, so why not get something you'll keep for a while?
    - 'Do
  7. Matt Dillon

    Matt Dillon Member

    Mar 24, 2011
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    If you have room, you can put up a G5RV (or similar) wire antenna for a small investment. <$100. Having been there done that, I'd recommend saving a little more money and getting a solid state easy to use radio to start. I got burned real bad buying radios that are complicated to operate and not working. Yeah, I know: "Buyer Beware", but not having the experience to know any better and being a naturally trusting person cost me about $1500 before I took the advice of an experienced hamster and found a nice Icom 718 (with auto tuner) for less than $500. I love it.

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