One suggestion I got from one of my instructors: don’t waste time looking for a “perfect” rig, try to be QRV (“online”) as soon as possible!
One serious constraint I have is living in an apartment, so setting up huge beams, verticals or any other huge antenna is not a possibility. Looking at possibilities within ham radio, I noticed I really liked small, portable equipment. The advantages for me are: portable operation, quick to set-up, can work from a window. Downsides: low power, less than ideal antenna, not cutting edge technology.
So right now I am working with:
- Yaesu FT-817
- Signalink USB digital interface
- AlexLoop Walkham magnetic loop antenna
- MacBook Pro running: RUMlog and Fldigi
With this setup I already got my first QSOs using PSK-31!