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Don’t want to rain on your parade, but I would not consider a QCX mini a beginners kit. It is not difficult to build but does need GOOD soldering skills and some knowledge of electronic components and trouble shooting.
If you do not have these skills I would suggest something simpler or commercial rig to start with.
My suggestion for band would be 40mtr as a good all round band with (relatively) modest antenna requirements.
Trying to recommend a paddle is like trying to tell someone which is the best radio gear to buy - an impossible task as we are all different.
Not too expensive you say, well that limits you for a start, at the cheap end (if there is one) there is the option of using double sided pub material or a hacksaw blade etc to the expensive end where you can pay hundreds of £ $ Euros . Whatever you get there is the problem of learning to use it (properly ).
So! there you go, something to think about
Don’t take things too seriously, we are supposed to do this hobby because it is fun.
I just passed my ham exam and while I wait for my callsign, I am having a think about my future station. I've decided that I want to build kits and the QCX mini seems like a good start as I also want to learn CW. I live in the city centre of a relatively big city (Rennes in Brittany), so lot of RF noise and my aim is to install at home a "good enough" station to practice and go portable the rest of the time. Also as I am inexperienced, I want to start with some simple stuff.
At the moment my big question is which band should I start with ? I've been listening around on the various webSDR, and it seems to me that the slower CW could be found on 80m , nevertheless a 80m band antenna seems a bit tricky where I live.
I am in a 100 years old block of flats in a conservation area so my plan is for an attic antenna. An exterior antenna is not completely impossible but tricky and expensive as it would probably involve lengthy administrative authorisations + hiring a crane to install it. The roof is a typical Breton job, that is a 2 pitch one with a 45º slope and an horizontal ridge beam at the top. In total the ridge is roughly 14.5 m long (give or take 100mm) and about 18m above the actual ground but obviously there are buildings around, these are of a similar height. Right now, I am thinking that a good start would be a dipole underneath the ridge of the roof (I have access there and the neighbours are cool with me stringing wires in the attic). A 14.5 m long dipole would barely get me on the 30m band with a bit of help from the velocity factor, and 20m would surely work. What worries me is that the CW on 20m looks awfully fast from what I've heard, 30m is a narrow band, not too sure if that is a good beginner band.... Also when I go portable, I might try SOTA.
So to sum it up what is the best band to start CW bearing in mind that I am limited in space for my antenna ?
And an accessory question what CW paddle would you recommend ? Good to learn with, easy to source from France and not too expensive...
In advance thank you for your replies...