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I'm a beginner who's nearly half a year from receiving my ham license in India. I want to start with HF radio and wish to build my own rig. Currently I have looked and multiple designs using the ad9860 module. Also I live in a city and know very little about antenna design. Can someone guide me to the next level? Thanks.

EDIT: About myself.
*Currently Second Year Computer Engineering Student
*Fairly competent with practical electronics having built a Morse code oscillator with an arduino.
*NOT looking to buy a rig, but WANT to build one.

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  • $\begingroup$ Too broad a question. You might want to narrow the question in terms of your background in electronics, any particular rig you may have short-listed. There are any number of amateurs in/around Bombay whom you could hit for help with the antenna. p.s. Your website is down - laer.in returns a 404 $\endgroup$ – VU2NHW Oct 27 '14 at 5:43
  • $\begingroup$ Can you check the updated question please @VU2NHW ? $\endgroup$ – Boggartfly Oct 27 '14 at 8:14
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    $\begingroup$ Still too broad and opinion-based. You might try searching for things like "homebrew HF rig". Personally, I built a SoftRock RX TX and added a PennyWhistle amplifier. I also have an FT-897 I use when I want to get on the air and not fuss with hardware and software problems. There are a lot of ways to approach your problem. $\endgroup$ – Phil Frost - W8II Oct 27 '14 at 11:31
  • $\begingroup$ Suggestion: If you do go to build a transceiver you may want to find a local ham club and see if anyone there could help you with finalizing it. If I was you I would ask for one to check it out before you try to turn it on. Just to make sure you didn't do something incorrectly which could possibly break parts of it. $\endgroup$ – Matt Oct 27 '14 at 18:16
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    $\begingroup$ @Boggartfly: Phil's comment up there is on the money. HF/VHF/UHF/SHF? SDR/chip-city/raw? Modes? Bands? .. These decisions are only the tip of the ice-berg, and can only be made by you. Also, don't get ahead of yourself building the Tx - possession of a Tx without licence is an offence. Do the Rx (Rx is more complicated anyway) now while you wait for your licence to come in. $\endgroup$ – VU2NHW Oct 28 '14 at 7:30
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I strongly suggest that you begin with a one-band radio kit. There are several manufacturers and the cost is likely to be quite reasonable even with shipping. The main reasons are:

  • to get on the air as quickly as possible.

  • Even a little experience with real-world operations will likely change your view on what you want from a radio.

  • The main obstacle to successful operating is likely to be antenna design and location. Time spent in this area will yield much more performance improvement than reworking radio designs. Local issues, especially QRM/QRN may lead you to change your thinking about HF entirely.

A 20 m or 15 m CW-only transceiver would be my recommendation for an in-city location. Antenna length and noise levels both increase at longer wavelengths.

A local college may have a ham club with useful equipment and assistance. A good SWR meter or even an antenna analyzer could be really useful. Being able to test your new radio with an existing, low-SWR antenna would give you confidence that the radio works and some experience with tuning.

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