HF Radios

Looking around for a decent High Frequency Multiband transceiver isn’t an easy task if you are new to amatuer radio and a frugal shopper. I watched Craigslist and Ebay for a couple weeks before narrowing my options down.

I learned a few things along the way as well. One of the first radios I found was local on Craigslist and the add said it had 11 meters on it. I looked up the model a Yaesu FT-101E. According to the specs it had ability to listen to 11 meters but needed to be modified in order to transmit on 11meters. Now for those who don’t know 11meter is the CB radio band. Not a HAM band and what I learned in reading about radios that had been modified is that they are not FCC legal. This is an old tube radio and for some reason my romance with old radios of my youth drew me in to look at older radios first. Not the best idea. I emailed the guy and we talked back and forth until I asked if the 11meter mod had been installed to make it transmit, in this email I had happened to change my signature to include my callsign. No reply.

I wondered if my question and callsign made the communication stop. As I type this the radio is still listed on Craigslist for sale.

There are horror stories out there of so called modded radios that look like the work of a 3 year old with a soldering iron. I had to ask myself why I wanted an older radio like this, all tubes, no frequency counter, more likely to need work now or in the future. I am sure there are plenty of “boat anchors” making QSO’s daily but not the best idea for a guy starting out.

It appeared to me the best options for me based on reliability, ease of use(learning curve) and mostly price the 80-90’s solid state stuff was what I should be looking at. I checked out Kenwoods, Icoms etc. I had narrowed down to a couple on Ebay.  Had to look careful and really read descriptions so many “work great except on 40 and 80 meters”  Or ads that say “tested” but as you read on tested means they put power to it and the meter lights lit up.

Well to cut to the chase I found an ICOM IC-740 for a good price and took it.  It has the optional power supply in it, the FM, all the filters for cw and passband. even came with the stock Mic.

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I picked up a 10meter Dipole from DR.Dipole as well.

I set it all up, put the center of my dipole 17.5′ in the air as an inverted V. Got inside and my swr was over 3:1 according to the radio. Whoa! this is no good, I am suspicious of my long run of RG58 making things whacky. I rolled the power back and was able to keep it around 2:1 at 45watts. I ran up to Radioshack the next day and grabbed their SWR meter to see how close it was to one on radio. It was fairly close so I called out on 28.400 and listened. Now I know it is a terrible time of year for 10 and 12meters but a guy has to try. I tuned and listened on 40/80 and 160 meters was able to pull in a few to listen to. Heard a lot of cw on 20 and 40 meters. But no QSO’s for me. I can see right off the need to learn morse code again.

I have not had a chance yet get the dipole down and do some trimming or repositioning, I have been looking at antenna tuners and I want my dipole as close as possible without a tuner but I can see life will go a lot more easy with one. I happen to get the MFJ catalog recently and I like a few of their tuners.

I have been reading up on Baluns and the use with tuners, not totally sure if I am going down the right road trying to use a tuner as opposed to directing my attention at the physical antenna. It is 10meter 1/2 wave Dipole and after measuring it seems as if it should work just fine. So I will be trying a different feedline f coax to see if it helps but I still want to get a tuner if not for this situation but for other antennas and the other bands.

-KG7FDJ

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