Will it hurt my 6500 to run it without a mic?

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I do not have a proper antenna or mic for my 6500 yet and would like to start setting it up and do some monitoring. Will it hurt the radio to run it without a microphone?
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Leroy, KG3U

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Posted 3 years ago

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Photo of George Molnar, KF2T

George Molnar, KF2T, Elmer

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Official Response
Not at all. Microphone is totally optional! Just no transmitting without an antenna :-)
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Leroy, KG3U

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Thanks for the reply. Another reason for not wanting a mic attached!!
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Burt Fisher

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Was the mic part a serious question?
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Leroy, KG3U

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It was a serious question - at least for me! I know that I am being overly cautious, but this radio is new to me and I do not want to take any chances with it. I have a long wire antenna about 100 ft long that I can use for monitoring and setting up the software. Transmitting is not a big concern right now (one step at a time!). I am working on an OCF Dipole for that. Thanks for all the replies. This community will be great help to me as I work to get this radio going.

Thanks,
Leroy KF5ZAI
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Mark - WS7M

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As most of us know it is not hard to make a basic antenna.  In fact a short coax, split out to a dipole of about the right length strung across the room does wonders and yes you can transmit!

The 6500 has an ATU.  I'd keep my power way way down like 3-5 W max, use the ATU and you could transmit.  You probably won't do very well but I worked a few US stations with that same exact setup before getting an outdoor antenna going.

At minimum you'll receive better with something like this too.
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Duane, AC5AA

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The 6500 only has an ATU if you ordered and paid for one!
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WW1SS - Steve

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The 6500 comes with the ATU It is an option on the 6300
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Duane, AC5AA

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Oops - you're right - looks like that has changed since I bought mine two years ago. Sorry for the bad data!
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Walt - KZ1F

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Any radio, my less a really expensive one, works ever so much better with an antenna, mics are optional. Is it the case of you can't legally transmit?
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Duane, AC5AA

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who needs a mic if you have a key?
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Walt - KZ1F

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Um, nocoder?
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James Del Principe

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become a know coder !     HI HI.       73, KD1I        Jim
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Leroy, KG3U

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I want to become a know coder! Just don't know if I will live long enough to learn it :)
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Walt - KZ1F

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It's fun and easy. At 14 or 15, I had the ARRL handbook memorized. I listened to am and single side band, courtesy of the halicrafter's bfo nightly. I could not, for love nor money, understand 5wpm for even the novice test. Fifteen years later I was banging out and copying low 20's wpm. Now I am pretty solid at 28 and can copy a call sign low 30's if I hear it a couple of times.
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James Del Principe

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Walt, I am so glad to hear your words of encouragement.   Anyone can do it if they have the will.      It also took me a while when I was a kid.....     after 53 years of ham radio, I still can't do 28 or more but 20....sure...and that's OK with me. 73, Jim
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Walt - KZ1F

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I still don't understand why, as a teen, it was beyond me but it was. In 1980 I was mgr of systems programming and services at an IBM shop. The applications mgr and I had similar'brushes' with ham radio, he didn't get the theory and I didn't get code. We helped each other and voilà.
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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For a relative newcomer, the question isn't unreasonable. There were many CB radios made that will not function without the mike connected, because the PTT switch is actually part of the audio switching circuitry, saving a set of relay contacts.

But indeed, virtually all modern amateur gear will function without a Mike connected.

If you want to be safe while learning the ropes on your rig with no antenna, or poor antenna, you can go in and disable the transmitter in "setup". Or just use the power output control and turn it down to 0.
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Martin Ewing AA6E

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You do have to be a little careful if you want not to transmit, since this is an SDR, and the T/R function is mostly a software thing.  It would be handy if Flex provided an overriding TX-disable function, which ideally should be a hardware thing -- like a switch or external contact closure.

I can see several use cases for this:
  • Protect against unauthorized Tx (kids in shack, kiosk demos)
  • Protect against Tx problems when a receive-only antenna is in use
  • Protect against burning out *expensive* receiver test setups.  (A big concern at test labs!)
I think the Flex 6000 may be fairly hard to blow up when transmitting into an arbitrary load, but that's something I try not to test.
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Lee, Elmer

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look under Radio Setup > Transmit > TX inhibit > enable

I think the radio is pretty much bullet proof.  I wouldn't hesitate a minute transmitting into a 100ft piece of wire.  It will either match or it won't.

73  W9OY
(Edited)
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James Del Principe

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Looking into a 100 foot piece of wire is several thousand ohms at best. It will NOT match the output of the Flex even with the internal ATU. It will most likely not harm the Flex as the power will roll back sensing the very high VSWR. However, I still would not transmit into it.  The op can easily build or buy a matching unit for this. Remember too that an end fed random wire will also need a very good RF ground.   73, Jim
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Martin Ewing AA6E

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@W9OY  -- I stared right at that disable button without seeing it!

73 Martin
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Lee, Elmer

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yea I know I'm a boy too.  can't see the milk in the fridge chest level right before my eyes
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Lee, Elmer

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Jim  

For a given length a single ended antenna's impedance is periodic.  It varies between near zero and thousands of ohms (at least theoretically) as a function of frequency.  An example of a single ended antenna with a low impedance is a 1/4 wave vertical, which when placed over an excellent ground has an impedance of 37 ohms (not several thousand).  When placed over no ground the impedance is more like 100 ohms.   The Flex will have no problem matching this impedance.  A 100 ft piece of wire is 1/4 wavelength at 2.34 mhz it will also be low impedance at 7.02 mhz (40M)  11.7mhz  (a little above  30M)  and 16.38 mhz (between 20 and 17)  it is very likely you could match either of those bands as well.  on 15 its low impedance at 21.06mhz and on 12M at 25.74 mhz.  It's low impedance resonance on 10 is 30.42 just above the ham band.  On 6M it's resonance is 49.14 and 53.82 mhz bracketing the 6M band.  It is likely would not be a good antenna on 160 or 80.  So a 100ft piece of wire is not a bad antenna.  It will likely load on 8 of 10 ham bands using the Flex tuner.  The problem will be common mode current which will likely show up on the radio's case.  If you add some kind of counterpoise, that will go a long way to mitigating common mode current

What you are thinking of is the impedance of a half wave end fed antenna which is several thousand ohms (theoretically) and is the reason this would be a bad length choice on 80M

73  W9OY
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Winston VK7WH

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Roy and Lee, it's very comforting to know that I'm not the only person with tunnel vision. The XYL of nearly 53 years is barely game to let me out of the house on my own!
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Steve W6SDM

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Anyone can learn Morse Code and it really doesn't take that long if you practice. 

Since I came into the Navy as a ham operator, already at 20+ WPM, I got the honor of being a code instructor for those who needed a little extra help getting up to their initial 5 WPM goal.  As luck would have it, the students I got to work with were mostly Marines who had zero interest in learning Morse.  Most wanted to wash out so that they could be sent to Viet Nam and allowed to indiscriminately shoot things. 

My mission was to help them succeed and it didn't look good for me if a bunch of them washed out.  The rule was that if you didn't make your WPM goal that week, there was no weekend liberty.  All those sweet, young, adorable ladies that were waiting in Pensacola would have to do without a strong, handsome Marine because YOU refused to practice your code.

It's amazing how much of an incentive that was and very few ended up dropping out because they couldn't learn code.
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Walt - KZ1F

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In retrospect, I think the biggest hurdle is instilling the bad practice of converting code fragments to ... -.-- -- -... --- .-.. ...
Rather than hearing s y m b o l s. One of the first meta lessons I learn in flight training was it is far more efficient and effective to learn something right the first time than learning the wrong response, unlearning it, learning the correct response. By inference Steve, big points for teaching your charges correctly the first time!
(Edited)
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Mark - WS7M

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In general I completely agree with Walt.  If you can learn something the right way, the first time then you certainly will have a better understanding and potential use of the thing.

I do find that things we learn sometimes come at us in different ways.  Let's take Walt's example of flight training.  I am particularly qualified to speak on this subject as I taught people to fly for many years.  I hold an ATP, ME, SE, CFI, II, IA, IG along with rotorcraft ratings.

While I'm not actively teaching and flying these days it was something I did for a living for quite a few years.

In teaching people to fly there are two pieces:  knowledge and skill.   In the case of knowledge there really is no substitute for reading the book, taking tests and testing yourself.  As an instructor I used to regularly quiz my students on the book learning part to see how they were doing.  But there was little I could do to cram that required knowledge into them.  By quizzing I not only ascertained their level but also provided some repetition of recall which helps in the memory process.

The skill portion of learning to fly is a combination of applying knowledge and learning through your various senses as well as muscle memory/control.   Case in point:

Teaching someone to land.   There is a very scientific reason for everything done in preparation to land all the way to the point of touch down.  You can talk about each point, describe why it is done and apply the knowledge learned in the knowledge section.  But even if you spend hours and hours and hours describing it NO ONE gets in the airplane and does the landing right the first time.  The reason is that they might know the theory but they have not learned the feelings and appropriate muscle memory to do it right.  It simply takes practice.

So back to code.  For me it was difficult because the first place most of us see code is in a book.  Where A is shown as dot-dash on paper.    I am not sure how many of us learn code without seeing the dot-dash representation.

The problem as Walt points out is that the moment you see that dot-dash it sort of sticks and now you start to convert a sound to dot-dash then to the A in your head.  Really really a bad idea.  But it is probably how many of us started.  I know I started this way.  I used to read the dot-dash stuff over and over until I could tell you by heart that Z was dash dash dot dot.   

Sure I knew that a dash was a long sound and a dot was a short sound and people even said don't think of them as dash and dot but rather dah and dit.  But still it was the printed form that went into my memory first.

I would venture to say it created problems.  Had I gone first to a class where there was never a mention of dash or dot or anything drawn on screen and an instructor sent characters we could hear and we learned from that I think it would have been far easier to learn to copy code.

As it was I didn't have that so I memorized the symbols then spent a ton of time getting my ears and brain to be fast enough in the conversion of the sound to the symbols so I could understand it.  

As it was I was young enough that I passed my 5 WPM novice test pretty easily.  But I was really doing it all wrong.  Here is what saved me:

Frankly the guy that gave me my novice would have given it to me even if I couldn't copy a single letter.  He just wanted a new ham and he was gonna pass me probably no matter what.  In someways it is good he did but the next thing he did saved me from a life of horrible code practices.  He took me to a club meeting where I met an old timer that could copy code easily at 40-60 wpm.  

That night he demonstrated that as they played tapes and he recited from memory what had been sent.  It wowed me.

After the meeting I walked up and introduced myself as a new novice and proudly announced I'd passed 5 wpm.  He said great but can you copy real code?  I looked at him almost in shock and said sure I can... I can copy 5 wpm.  So he grabbed the code practice key and said, "I'll send, you copy"... I'll be damned if I didn't get much of anything.  Sure a letter or two here and here but not much else.

I said, that has to be way faster than 5 wpm!  He said nope... It's just 5 wpm but sent the way code should be sent, the letters and words are at 20 wpm with nice gaps between the words.  Well I couldn't copy a thing and felt deflated.

He explained that copying code when you get above about 25 wpm is not about letters but about words and knowing the sound of a word.  So he sent me my name at the tape 5 wpm:

--    .-    .-.    -.-

I copied it great.  He began to send it faster and fast and said don't try to copy the letters, listen to the sound and I realized as he speed up I was still copying mark and finally he stopped.  He said I got up to about 25 could you still hear the letters?  I said well kind of but really I started to hear the sound of the whole word.  He smiled.

I asked so how does this work if I have no idea what the word is.  He said then you go to similar sounds.  So for example   Bill and Will and Still all have  ill in the end.  You learn the sound of ill and you can copy any word that ends in ill because your brain will click on that and give you a few extra milliseconds to decide on the first several letters.

I left that meeting feeling empowered and I threw away my stupid cassette types.  I then tuned around the band and started to find fast senders and I tried to listen and learn word sounds.

When my license finally came in the mail I got on the air and had my first QSO not at 5 wpm but probably closer to 15.  The guy sending back was good so I had no trouble hearing the words.  Every now and then a new word would show up and I'll write down the parts I did hear and come back later to fill in the missing part.

I worked nothing but CW for a year and by the end of the year I was copying about 32 in my head.  I could go to the club meeting and keep up with most of the people there.  There was always a code practice unit at our club meetings.  I'd get there early and practice with people and it was fun.

So Walt has a point.  Always try to learn the right way.  It is far easier.  But keep in mind that sometimes just to get to the right way you might have to read about the wrong way.  It is a shame but it can't always be avoided.

Another way I learn was to pick up a magazine and try to send the words out of an article as fast as I could.  This helped me to learn the sound of different words.

Just my 2C