Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Your First Ham Shack

 
  This post is actually from my other blog and it seems that it is well liked so I thought I would share it on this blog of mine. The link to the other blog is off to the right of the posts and is called The Ham Shack Shop.
  Setting up your first Ham Shack may seem a little scary at first, but it does not have to be. I would start out with the basics when deciding on a Ham Shack for all your Ham Radio Equipment . There are some Ham Radio Operators that may have a separate building or maybe a room out in their garage. I would just make sure it's heated for the cold weather and cool in the hot time of the year. Other considerations for locating your Ham Shack is a fairly quite place in your house. In my house that isn't an easy task. Right now it is next to the family room and at times it can be somewhat noisy. I have moved it to quite a few different locations in the house and now I am right back where I started.

  Okay you have your Ham Radio License so where do you go from here. So what Ham Radio Equipment do you need to start out with ? Well the two most obvious are a Ham Radio and a good antenna. Of course there are other pieces of Ham Radio Gear you will need. First and foremost I would plan on a good grounding system. You certainly do not want to damage your Ham Radio Equipment or Yourself. There are lightning surge protectors you can buy where you connect a heavy gauge wire to a 4 foot or 8 foot ground rod. Mfj makes good lightning surge protectors. Remember these will not generally protect from a direct lightning strike. The best protection is to disconnect your cable coming into the Ham Shack. I do this especially if they are predicting storms and I may not be home.
  Some other pieces of Ham Radio Equipment you should have is a good SWR Meter and a good Antenna Tuner. There are quite a few different SWR Meters for Ham Radio. They generally come in the typical single needle movement and the cross needle movement. Some of the SWR Meters will cover a wide range of bands and frequencies. They also will cover various power levels. Starting out I would look for one that covers 200 watts to 300 watts output. I recommend this ,because most Ham Radios put out at least 100 Watts these days. I would check out Eham.net at http://www.eham.net/reviews/ where you can find all kinds of useful information on all kinds of ham radio equipment. The next piece of equipment is a good Antenna Tuner. In this category there are two kinds. You have the Manual Antenna Tuner and the Automatic Antenna Tuner. I have used both and I do like the MFJ 993b Automatic Antenna Tuner. The only problem is with the power button as they tend to wear out quite frequently. I finally got tired of replacing it and installed a toggle switch and have not had a problem since then. Here is a link to a post on my other blog about it sorry I did not take a picture of it. Here is the link http://hamradiokc2yti.blogspot.com/2013/10/mfj-993b-switch-problem.html .    Antenna Tuners also come in models that can handle more or less power, so starting out I would go for the less power. Some of them are also designed for high frequency only and others cover VHF or UHF.
 Okay now you have to decide on a good Ham Radio and a Power Supply to power it as well as other equipment in your Ham Shack. Once again you can either buy a new ham radio or you can buy a used ham radio. I would check out Amazon.com or Ebay. With Ebay you will generally find the Used Ham Radio Equipment. Just make sure to check out the user rating and check out the reviews on the seller. The other choice is to buy a New Ham Radio from Amazon or one of the dealers on the internet such as Universal Radio, Ham Radio Outlet, DX Engineering or AES Electronics just to name a few. As far a brands of Ham Radios go I prefer Kenwood, Yaesu or Icom. There are other brands available in new or used Ham Radios. I my self have a Kenwood TS-2000 and am very happy with it. The less expensive way is used and there are some good deals out there. The other item is a good power supply. There are quite a few different choices to go with. Popular brands are Diamond, Pyramid, Astron and Jetstream just to name a few. There are some that put out more current, so I would go with 35 amps or more.
  Finally I would decide on what kind of antenna you would like to use. You may want a new antenna or you may want to build your own Ham Antenna. There are plenty of places to get ideas to build your own Ham Radio Antenna. Either way you will need a good Ham Radio Antenna . If you have room and are looking for something simple I would go for a Dipole Antenna. You can buy one that will cover 10 meters to 80 meters and some cover 6 meters as well as 160 meters. There are also vertical Ham Radio Antennas that cover a wide range of Ham Bands and Frequencies. If you are looking for a more directional antenna I would look into the many different beam antennas. They will take up more room, but give a better signal strength. Larger Ham Antennas may need a good support such as a Ham Radio Antenna Tower or Antenna Mast . So starting out I would keep it simple and build up as you go. I would search the internet and the videos on youtube where you can see and learn about all the different Ham Antennas as well as all the other Ham Radio Equipment to start your own Ham Shack.
  Be-aware that these are just some of the basic pieces of Ham Radio Equipment you will need starting out in this awesome hobby. I would also check out Amazon, Ebay and The Ham Radio Dealers for various books on starting your Ham Shack.
  Thank You for reading from Dan KC2YTI 73s. 

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