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Thread: Help me spend virus money

  1. #1

    Default Help me spend virus money

    I've got a new/used Kenwood TS320S with a MFJ-1655 "balcony antenna" (freshly out of the box) that I just bought for my home base system. Before I get it going, though, I am finishing my build of a decent shack in my converted home-office. Some things I know I want include a multi-zone clock, software to display the scrolling time zones/sun, and a decent boom mic setup (budget is about $200 for mic). I'd love to hear from anyone here as to what they've got in their shack and what they might recommend for mine. Thanks for reading, and I look forward to some good suggestions.

  2. #2

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    If you need suggestions on how to spend my tax dollars, you should send it back to the IRS. No offense intended, but it sounds like you do not need it,

    I actually NEED that money. I only made 8k last year (gross, not net) and I haven't got a dime yet. Nor did my small business or my disabled girlfriend. This is whats wrong with America, right here in black and white! Ill help you spend it, just toss it in the mailbox to PO Box 193, Marcell MN 56657!

    Anyone else need help spending money???? Same address please!
    Last edited by brandon lind; Tue 21st Apr 2020 at 05:55.

  3. #3

    Join Date
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    Yeah, and that other site over yonder calls me a dirty liberal because I won't tow their line. Which is funny, since I agree with post #2.
    Well, all except the part where he wants me to send him money. Haven't seen the dirty bribe yet and probably won't.

    Radio gear, really? Dude!

  4. #4

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    In my defense, I was joking on the "send it to me" part. lol. Everyone can keep their money, I didn't do anything to earn it. Just got a little worked up there, thats all.

  5. #5
    Super Moderator 5B4AJB's Avatar
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    A frequency counter (look on ebay)!

  6. #6
    Super Moderator 5B4AJB's Avatar
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    A frequency counter! (check on ebay)

  7. #7

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    No, DO NOT buy a frequency counter (at this point). Take it from a guy who bought one far too early in the game and didn't have a clue how to use it. Think of things like a dip meter or an antenna analyzer that don't necessarily require an understanding of RF to utilize the device.

    This is how that frequency counter idea will go... You will get one and think "great, now I can do alignments". Nope. Just stop there. Let me be the bearer of bad news for a minute. Most frequency counters are FAR too insensitive to be used for working on radios. The mixer stages are too low-power for that. Now you need a probe, a good one. So, what do you do? You go buy one online. OK, That works.... Except that now every time you probe around in the radio, assuming it doesn't outright kill any oscillation you find, you get frustrated because it gives you readings totally off from whats really going on and the counter can't seem to show a steady reading. That's because the probe (with its cable full of capacitance) loads down whatever RF you touch it to and that shifts the frequency of the circuit you are trying to measure. But you don't know that until you've scrapped hundreds of dollars worth of stuff trying to do things you are not ready for. Then, you stumble on a youtube video teaching you that the 10x probe setting isolates the probe cables' capacitance from the circuit and you're back in business.... Nope. That's when you learn that you need a high impedance, low noise amplifier, because now that 10x probe attenuates the signal far too low for that whimpy frequency counter to detect. Up $**t creek again and back to ebay! Don't worry, that amplifier is only a few bucks, but in the 2 weeks it takes you to get it, you'll find plenty of other things to get distracted with and suddenly counting frequency is a distant thought!

    At this point you realize (through all your messing around with failed projects and a box full of wasted pcb boards) that you would have rather started with a means of measuring capacitor ESR and coil inductance. That's when you get an ESR meter for 20 bucks and start measuring capacitors and inductors. Now you're off to making LC oscillators! But wait, there's more.... Why the heck isn't it oscillating? Sure wish I had a cheap oscilloscope to see whats going into, and out of, the circuit, right?

    Start with a bag of 2N3904's and an oscilloscope and play with lower frequency experiments (like audio) and get a handle for the intricacies of AC slowly working to higher frequencies before you even waste your time with a sensitive piece of test equipment like a frequency counter. If you buy one before understanding basic RF, it will sit on your desk looking cooler than you for years to come!

    If the tech side isn't for you, get an antenna analyzer or a dip meter and get good at tuning antennas. Maybe download a few tutorials on smith charts too. That is far more rewarding than learning RF electronics starting with the wrong gear! If you do not own (or know what a) plastic diddle stick is, do not waste your time with a frequency counter!

    Good luck! I hope that virus money goes to something that will educate rather than discourage!

  8. #8

    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by doc_cj View Post
    I've got a new/used Kenwood TS320S with a MFJ-1655 "balcony antenna" (freshly out of the box) that I just bought for my home base system. Before I get it going, though, I am finishing my build of a decent shack in my converted home-office. Some things I know I want include a multi-zone clock, software to display the scrolling time zones/sun, and a decent boom mic setup (budget is about $200 for mic). I'd love to hear from anyone here as to what they've got in their shack and what they might recommend for mine. Thanks for reading, and I look forward to some good suggestions.
    First I would like to know what a TS-320S is. I can't find any information on that model number. The "S" on the end suggests that it is a HF transceiver but I can't find any models that start with "TS-3". There is a TS-120S, a TS-520S, and a TS-820S. But I can't find any reference to a TX-320S. Is is me, or is this a typo?

    In fact, what is a MFJ-1655? Is that another typo? Do you mean the MFJ-1625?

    As far as a multi-zone clock, there is lots of software out there. One possibility is Ham Radio Deluxe (HRD). Especially if your radio had computer control capabilities. HRD has a nice world map display that shows time zones and and the current Gray line. But note that the latest version of HRD is licensed and requires a initial fee and yearly maintenance fee.

    Another piece of software that you might find useful is the HF Propagation and Solar Data tool. It will keep you apprised of the current band conditions.

    If your radio has computer control capabilities, there is a bunch of software that you can use to control the radio. The previously mentioned HRD has rig control capabilities, plus much more. Another popular software is Fldigi and DXLab. Both of these software are free and include built in logs.

    In your radio's manual there should be a microphone recommendation. That would be a good place to start. There are lots of very high end microphones out there that will work, but they will cost you dearly. For a mic boom, just put "mic boom" in a google search. There are a ton to choose from. Myself, I don't use a mic boom. I have about 5 or 6 different mics (old and new) but they usually just sit in a drawer. I usually only have a key connected.

    I'm not sure why a frequency counter was suggested. While it is a nice piece of test equipment, it's not too useful, if you don't know how to use it properly. Test equipment is nice to have, but not everyone wants to take on the task of making radios work.
    Martin, K7MEM
    http://www.k7mem.com
    Ash Fork, AZ - 60 miles from the Grand Canyon on Rt-66. Elevation 5,300 ft.

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