Need first time HF help

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by KD2HAM, Oct 14, 2021.

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  1. KD2HAM

    KD2HAM XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Good evening,

    I'm a bit overwhelmed with my first try at HF so I'll make it short for now

    - FT-891
    - LDG Z100 plus tuner (no issues working that)
    - using a Super Antenna MP1DXTR80 for now until my Buddistick Pro gets shipped out

    I tried using the antenna twice. First time I got the SWR down to 1.2 or so on 40M and 20M. I did pick up some chatting in Spanish and it was clear. Second time around it was 2.2 and I couldn't get it lower. I heard garbled voices here and there but nothing clear

    I need help with the following

    - on the FT-891 how do I change the PO meter to SWR?
    - for the antenna, how do I position the radials? I have it outside of the garage on the driveway and had them fanned outwards
    - what can I do to lower the SWR? Not sure if it's the radial placement.

    I am using a Rig Expert 230 Stick for readings before connecting to the LDG. Thanks all

    https://youtube.com/shorts/agVAD66ZJaQ?feature=share
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Oct 14, 2021
  2. W4HAY

    W4HAY XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    First of all, can you put up a wire antenna such as a dipole in a flat-top or inverted vee configuration?

    There are numereous types of wire antennas to choose from and you can get a lot of bang for your buck with them.
     
    KO4BCN, N2OTG and W5ESE like this.
  3. KP4SX

    KP4SX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    That's not an antenna symptom.
     
    W0FS, W9RAC and KA4DPO like this.
  4. KS2G

    KS2G Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Get some hands-on/in-person help from a local club.
    There are lots of them near you:
    https://www.arrl.org/find-a-club

    ;)
     
    KD2HAM likes this.
  5. KA4DPO

    KA4DPO Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    First of all, 1.2 to 1.0 is a very acceptable SWR. The bands are not very good right now, and the antenna you are using is a compromise, to say the least. Try putting up a dipole for 20 or 40 meters and see if that doesn't help a great deal.

    Your problem is a very inefficient antenna coupled with poor band conditions.
     
    W2AI, W9RAC, KI5WW and 2 others like this.
  6. N5CM

    N5CM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I agree with those who suggest getting some wire in the air. A dipole or inverted vee are good choices. I have wire dipoles, verticals, and a large horizontal loop.

    This last weekend I tried for the first time one of these end-fed antennas with a 9:1 transformer. A friend of mine built it from scratch and asked me to give it a try. The wire is 30 feet long. With the transformer box tied to the guardrail of a 2nd story back porch and the wire tied to a line that went over a nearby tree, I worked some decent DX. I've never been a big fan of end-fed antennas, but I had good luck with this one. I was visiting with a relative over the weekend and took my portable equipment.

    Tuning is a bit quirky, and I needed a 1:1 choke in the coax from the transformer box to prevent common mode current from making my radio act a little crazy. I had about 20 feet of coax attached to the transformer box. I placed the choke in the coax line 20 feet from the box and then ran another 16 feet or so to my external tuner.

    I was able to work J5T (Guinea-Bissau DXpedition) on 17 meter CW and 3DA0RU (Kingdom of E-Swatini DXpedition) on 30m CW. Also worked FS5CL on 20m CW and TZ4AM on 30m CW. Not bad for a little home brew end fed wire and 100 watts from a patio table in southeast Louisiana.

    Try some wire in the air.
     
    WA8FOZ, KA4DPO, KI5WW and 1 other person like this.
  7. W4HAY

    W4HAY XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    This is a good paper on antennas, propagation, and feedlines. It may seem a bit overwhelming at first, but it contains a wealth of information: LINK
    The first part is very important if you want to get serious about hamming -- propagation. It's the way the Ionosphere effects how signal travels.
    About 1/4 down the article is a brief description of the most popular antenna configurations.

    It's lengthy, so you might want to print it out or download it so you can peruse it at your leisure.

    FWIW, my only antenna is a multiband trap/fan dipole 35' above the ground. With 50-100 Watts and taking advantage of propagation , the world is at my fingertips.

    Right now we're just coming off the bottom of Sunspot Cycle 24 so propagation of 20 Meters and above is far from optimal but improving. 160, 80/75, and 40 meters are good, however.
     
    KA4DPO likes this.
  8. KM1NDY

    KM1NDY Ham Member QRZ Page


    Hi:
    I am a rabid 891 user. As well as using the LDG tuner.

    First an anectdote: when I first was trying to figure out HF, my husband who was not a ham at the time was convinced my radio did not work at all and thst I bought $1500 worth of gear to just listen to static. When I finally figured out how to start using it, he was amazed! Enough so he got his ticket and own gear. Point is, don't fret yet!

    1) your LDG tuner will tune anything. Those swr's are fine. I am happy enough under 3, but if the tuner tunes it up, I'll transmit (I mean swr of 8+). This is what people call "the compromised antenna" which I am a fan of.

    2) To change the meters, short press the function button. Use the vfo or the multifunction knob (can't remember which I am going on memory) to "mtr" or the acronym that looks like meter. Press the multifunction button and then select (again either with the vfo, I.e. Tuning knob, or multifunction button which one you want, power, swr, alc, etc.) I think then long press the multifunction button to get back to the main tuning screen. You should see your choice appear when you transmit. Again this is from memory, but it's the jist of it. The 891's menus are challenging at first. You will get used to them.

    3) just fan out the radials. But I agree that an wire antenna is a much better option than a vertical. My opinion of course. An endfed halfwave cut for 40M will get you on essentially every hf band with your tuner.

    4) check 20M for activity during the day. 40M afternoon to late evening. 80M early evening until sunrise.

    Just play around. You'll get a feel for it! Promise!

    Mindy
     
    WS9K, K8XG and KD2HAM like this.
  9. K8BZ

    K8BZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    If you were not able to tune the SSB signals in clearly then check the tuning step setting on your radio. You may have inadvertently switched it to 1 Khz or high tuning step. You need it to be about 100 Hz (.1 Khz) or lower to tune an SSB signal clearly. Also, make sure you are lower side band on 40 and upper side band on 20. If you are trying to tune an LSB signal and your radio is on USB it will sound garbled and you won't be able to tune it.

    As far as your antenna is concerned; if you have access to an antenna analyzer you can check to see the frequency on which a given band is resonant. If it's too high then lengthen the segment of the antenna that tunes that band, and vice versa; if the frequency is too low, then shorten that segment. Start with the highest frequency band and work your way to the lowest. The highest frequency band's tuning segment will be he segment closest to the base of the antenna. As you work your way down in frequency you will work your way up the antenna (the lower the frequency the longer the antenna). That's why you start on the highest frequency. If you started with the lower frequencies first, you will de-tune the other bands and you increase frequency.

    If you space the radials out it's not critical where you put them. With this antenna setting on the ground, objects around the antenna could have a big effect on it's performance and SWR. If you get your best tuning on the antenna with your car parked 20 feet away, and then move your car, you may not have the same SWR readings. Don't expect stability in SWR and great performance from this antenna. If it's setting on the ground and you want to use it on the 10 meter band, the 10 meter segment of the antenna is the part below the lowest trap. The antenna will be as close to being under ground as you can get it without actually being under ground. First time HFers would do better and gain more experience putting up a dipole or two, not to mention saving a lot of money. You will probably be able to make contacts with this antenna, but it might be frustrating.
     
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  10. KM1NDY

    KM1NDY Ham Member QRZ Page

    Ohhh, and a quick thought. Make sure your AGC is on! I think there is an auto option.

    Use the same short press of the function button. Scroll through until you see AGC. Press it to turn it on. Maybe a long press to see options? Choose auto.

    No agc can garble the receiver on the 891.

    Other useful tips: I generally leave IPO on. Will turn on DNR in a noisy environment, usually just to 1.

    Mindy
     
    K8XG and KD2HAM like this.

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