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New: What is the best starter equipment?

Nov 12th 2020, 11:48

Neustein

Joined: Oct 11th 2020, 14:55
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Total Posts: 0
I am new to amateur radio and got my technician license. I have been trying to figure out what equipment to buy, but have been overwhelmed. What is the best equipment one should get when starting out in amateur radio?
Nov 12th 2020, 15:29

W1VT

Super Moderator

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
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If you can, I would avoid a handheld radio. A base station has a much better receiver and puts out more power.

HF can be a lot of fun but you need a General these days, as 10M propagation is too poor to seriously consider the band as someone just starting out. There is a ton of FT8 HF digital activity every day of the week, while there is more voice and CW activity on the weekends.

Zak Lau W1VT
ARRL Senior Lab Engineer


Nov 13th 2020, 08:05

N6ZO

Joined: Mar 6th 2013, 09:57
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Total Posts: 0
This is such a great hobby, especially for anyone with a curious mind. So many things to try- SSB voice, CW, satellites, digital, etc but the doors really open when you get your General license and are allowed SSB voice on the bands besides 10M.
At that point it’s time to look at serious equipment, starting with the antenna you can put up. There may or may not be restrictions at your QTH. A $10,000 radio is wasted $ if it’s hooked up to a rain gutter! Hopefully you can start with a good dipole, or a modest multiband vertical or horizontal antenna. Then start with a decent transceiver, maybe an FTDX 3000 or ICOM 7300. AND an antenna tuner if your antenna is multiband.
So, if you just can’t wait, get a basic dualband handheld now, IF you’re near a local 2M repeater. But seriously, I would recommend putting down the sales catalogues and pick up the General license manual first and get access to HF SSB voice on the bands, especially 20M during this part of the sunspot cycle. You will have a blast with this great hobby!
I would also recommend joining one or more local clubs which you can find on the ARRL website. Great way to get help and get involved.
73
Ted
KK6CSO
Dec 23rd 2020, 10:24

N4MAV

Joined: Jan 11th 1999, 00:00
Total Topics: 0
Total Posts: 0
Neustein, Like a lot of new hams, this question comes up often. Here in the South Western area of Virginia in the large hills, I always recommend to new Hams that they get a mobile radio with power supply to handle both the auto and home at first. That is going to get tiring switching back and fourth, so eventually you'll end up with 2 mobiles. The HT or handheld portable radios have their places, but if you're in the hills and mountains of 6 land they are not a good first choice. If you're in LA or some f those places you may be OK with an HT.
Next is the most important part of any radio. The antennas you use should be 50% of whatever set up you get. The stock antenna onan HT sucks, so get a better one. As to the home? Using a good duel or single band antenna and don't skimp on the price here and get crappy feedlines. 144-148 and 440-450 MHz need good large coax if the run is going to be longer than say 50 feet. The small types of coax usually RG8x is a good cable for your mobiles, and some of the shorter runs for the house. I try to use the best coax I can buy with what my budget allows. If it's a used line be very aware of where it came form and if there is any cuts in it.
I know this is said time and again, but pick up the ARRL Hand Book and read it cover to cover. I try to get a new one ever 2 years or so, but just starting out get a used one thru QRZ.com or Eham.net or maybe Swap.QTH.com. But try to upgrade to a newer one, better information, better on ideas. Then after reading that, get a hold of an ARRL antenna book, those are great to have as both a reference and a great way to spend an evening in your radio shack

I hope this helps you a little bit, it's not hard, just a lot of information to handle at first.

73
Russ Abbey, N4MAV
Floyd County, Virginia
Dec 24th 2020, 04:41

W1VT

Super Moderator

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
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The latest generation of HF radios features direct USB connections to computers, a significant improvement over a serial cable and audio connections. It is hard to justify vintage HF radios unless you have the skills and desire to repair them as it is now hard to find radio repairmen. And if you do, parts aren't necessarily available.

Zak W1VT
ARRL Senior Lab Engineer
Dec 31st 2020, 18:59

KJ7PVJ

Joined: Aug 13th 2020, 14:50
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Total Posts: 0
I’m a new ham and I got a good shack set up. Buy the best that you can afford. Yaesu FT991a for about $1100, ZeroFive 30’ FlagPole $900, LDG Tuner $250, misc cables and fittings $300, and a FT3DR Ht for $400. The Ft 991a is multiband and covers 2 meter, 70 cm, and the HF bands. I did not skimp and bought new but lots of this available used on QRZ for about 10-15% less. Got my Tech in July and my General in December and working on my Extra. Just bought a used FT950 and DMU2000. I’m like a crack head when it comes to this hobby.

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