Even though I have a really modest station at the moment, over the last year I have been able to work over 100 DXCC Entities without too much difficulty. Today I though I’d share the details of my basic setup; hopefully to inspire other would be Hams or current Hams who don’t use HF to give it a go. The following gear is all you need to get your Basic Mixed DXCC (at least from Australia), and the total cost should be less than ~$1750 USD:
- Icom IC-7200 Transceiver
- Icom AH-4 Remote Antenna Tuner (a remote tuner significantly minimises loss in feed lines)
- ~5 Metres of 1″ Aluminium Tube (for element)
- ~100 Metres of 1.5mm^2 Wire (for radials)
- 1 Star Picket for the ground
- Miscellaneous insulating material and a few hose clamps.
- 32 Ferrite Beads (for tuner control cable & feed line)
- Coaxial Cable (I used Belden LL-195)
The Icom IC-7200 is a great value budget transceiver; it does everything a new Ham could want, and more. Some standout features are: easy to use IF DSP with dedicated knobs, built in USB for CAT & Audio (digital modes are easy to use), control for Icom AH-4 Tuner, rugged and low cost.
The AH-4 is a wonderful tuner, and the fact it is mounted at the antenna means that loss due to high vSWR (which mostly takes place in the feed line) is significantly reduced. Not only is it one of the smallest on the market, it also matches a very wide range, and works perfectly with a vertical element of a random wire. I have found performance to be excellent when used with a vertical element, as the take off angle is a lot better for DX work than a low height random wire. The only catch is, unless you put ferrite beads on your feed line and control cable, you may run into issues with RFI in the shack, although this is not an issue with the tuner itself.
All in all, the aforementioned basic setup has brought me a lot of joy; I also used a similar setup in Cambodia and managed 70 DXCC entities in 6 weeks. If the aluminium tube is substituted for a fibreglass telescopic pole with a wire taped to it, the setup makes an excellent portable station, however these poles are best not used in a permanent installation as they will not last as long as an equivalent aluminium tube and are more expensive.
Here are a few photos of the gear (the radio photo I borrowed from Google Images, but mine is the same):
The moral of the story is you don’t need to be rich to enjoy DXing on HF!