What is a normal cw watt output people use for ham radio?

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Question by 1992dodge: What is a normal cw watt output people use for ham radio?
Like how often can people make contacts on like 5 or 10 watts of power on cw. What type of DXing does that give you?

Best answer:

Answer by william_byrnes2000
It usually depends on your antenna. In fact, all communications by ham radio depend a lot on the antenna.

A 5 watt signal, fed into a good antenna, with a decent match, can manage DX of up to 1000 miles.

To optimize your DX, you should use an antenna with a lower angle of radiation. You should also check the propagation sites for the maximum usable frequency, for the area you are shooting for and the time of day.

The lower bands, like 80 and 40, and 30 I would imagine, though I haven’t been checking 30, would have better DX in winter, and in the hours after local sunset.

Conversely, bands like 10, 12, 15, 17, and 20, will perform better between sunrise and sunset.

Depending on your finances, a dipole will do you nicely on the lower bands, and this is also the case with the upper bands, though any antenna with gain relative to a dipole or an isotropic radiator (theoretical antenna, I know, but when you see ratings for gain of Dbd and Dbi, they’re referring to decibals over a dipole or decibels over an isotropic radiator) will give you better service.

If you have the space, and everyone who fell in love with 40 meters as a kid wishes they did, then a yagi for 40 is the way to go. But remember that you’re dealing with an antenna with a driven element about 67 feet long, and a reflector slightly longer, so most people don’t have a 40 meter beam.

A loop antenna can give good performance, and can even manage to be a little more stealthy than a yagi, since the wires are in the trees, and all your neighbors see is the feedline.

Always remember that if you can manage it, a properly tuned antenna for the band you’re operating on, is preferable to a multiband antenna.

Compromise is often the name of the game, both in terms of your wallet, and your relations with your neighbors. So, some guys go for a vertical, for several bands at once. A vertical has a low angle of radiation, but it’s also kind of a noise magnet. If you’re going to go with a vertical on HF, make sure you have a ground rod in and a short run of wire to the chassis ground of your rig. I just put a rod in last night, and the improvement on the audio on my IC 746 was remarkable, even to me, and I’ve been a ham since 1968.

There are good verticals out there. The Hustler BTVs have staying power, though if you’re willing to compromise on bandwidth. Hygain has a nifty little number for multiple bands, that promises not to need radials, for the modest sum of $ 950. A sum not modest enough for me, though OM. There are others that are cheaper, but you do sacrifice a little in the cold months, having to get the ladder out and adjust the band on an antenna.

A word of caution about the no radial verticals. Remember that a vertical is usually (electrically anyway, not always physically) a quarter wavelength for the band you want. A quarter wave radiator needs another quarter wave to counterpoise it. If you think of a half wave antenna as the goal, then it’s easier to understand. An antenna that is 33.5 feet long, may be a quarter wavelength for 40 meters, but it should have an equal length of wire, at least one, to counterpoise the radiator. Many guys recommend 20 to 60 radials for a ground mounted antenna, but 4 can suffice for a roof mounted antenna.

The no radial antennas are electrically half wave antennas standing on one end, sort of like a vertical dipole, so the counterpoise is there. Now granted, they have been putting these out for a few years, so the jury’s not totally in on these.

If you can, get a hold of a new copy of the ARRL Antenna book, and read up on the kind of antenna you want to try. There are some really nice programs included on a disk, made specifically for hams, by the guy who wrote the NEC software. The one offered to the ARRL is called the ARRLNEC, and it comes with the antenna book, included for the $ 45 price. The commercial version, costs $ 80.

And they work on Vista machines, I checked before I bought mine.

Above all, remember that our hobby is supposed to be fun. A low power rig can be a challenge, but the rewards are also richer. As Thomas Paine once said “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph”. And, a low power rig can also run much more easily “off the grid” so you have a headstart in an emergency.

Keep the faith OM, remember that Cycle 24 is just getting going. It seems to be waking up about the same way I do, but in a few months it should have had its coffee, and be raring to go.



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