First Post - Hello



(Mods Please move if in wrong place)

Great site, just starting out and am looking for some advice on technology requirements. What hardware do I need for direct access trading at home.

Recommendations on;
1) PC spec make model - guide price etc.
2) ISP
3) Broadband
4) USP's
5) Other equipment.

What do you guys use?

As an opener I am currently trying to get a feel for the start up costs. Then look at a suitable reliable trading platform / charting package. As for specific markets no plans yet, but was interested in an earlier thread on US stocks and forex. Any further views guys?

Hi Sulla81BC

Welcome to T2W :)

It is a miss conception that you need a top of the line computer to trade online. Any basic computer with internet access should do it.

PC - I paid just over £1000 2 years ago, and this included 2 monitors which is a luxury more than a necessity. I wouldn't pay more than £800. I wouldn't go to a high-street dealer, as there are in my view a complete rip-off :mad:

ISP - I'm with BT on a 512k Broadband connection, and I haven't had any major problems. You don't need broadband, a 56k modem will do :)

USP - I have to be honest and say I don't know what this is :eek:

Other - Not much else needed, although a DVD-RW is a nice extra. Hopefully Mummy and Daddy FTSE Beater are reading this - well Christmas is coming up :cheesy:

For charting packages, it comes down to what you want to spend, but you can get started for around £60 a month.

Hope this helps :)
I use a Fujitsu latop - 2.4GHz, 256MbRAM etc with all the other stuff that a boggo-standard lappy comes with. One screen. Tried it with two, and it was too much work for my little brain to deal with. Laptop saves me having to have a UPS in my view, and means I can take it downstairs easily when I get bored with my surroundings.

I use Sierra charts for my charts - £40 every 6 months, IB for my price feed ( basically free ).

I use broadband, I have used dialup in the past but it gets the heart rate going when you get the 2hr cut-off halfway through a daytrade.

Other than that, if you're starting out you dont need much more. In fact, I know of other people who've been trading for years who dont use anything more than this.

Good luck. :cheesy:
I use a home built Athlon 2000 on;y 4% cpu utilisation suggests it's way overpwered.
128 KB broadband utilisation 15% suggests its way overpowered.

Computer power is not needed.. grey cells and exertise is...
Great thanks for that. Its put my mind at rest, I thought everyone had 8 screens, 4 phones and someone to get the teas and coffee in! :)

My PC is quite old and I've got a 56k modem. So I will get a broadband connection and see how the PC holds up. I'll check out IB and sierra charts as well.

USP = UPS I suspect, which is an uninterruptible power supply AND a parcel delivery service. Broadband is well worth having if possible, if only for freeing the phone up...personally I can live with the Ozone layer going etc but I'd be snookered without ADSL now I've had it 5 months! ;)
Mid range PC is fine, some charting packages etc run better with more CPU and RAM so going for a powerful but fairly cheap CPU is favourite - there's a sort of 'step' where a small change in CPU speed involves a big price jump, seems to be around Athlon 2600+ point these days, personally I like one decent screen to multiscreens and a 17" LCD screen is quite nice, RAM should be 512Mb+ (I've got 1Gb here, but it's a bit of a special case so 512 is fine), operating system - many swear by Win 2000, I've got 4 PCs all running Win XP Pro and like it a lot... I'd go for one or the other. UPS if your electricity supply is a bit dodgy or you intend to use the PC in place of a pacemaker to keep the old ticker beating - otherwise a Belkin anti surge multiway strip thingy ought to be enough, just to protect against odd surges and spikes.
You may need a bit of old technology as well

Don't forget to buy a good soft pair of elbow pads !
DaveJB - Yes UPS is what I meant. :eek:

Just wondered how people dealt with the PC crashing in the middle of a trade, power failure, connection problem etc. What / if any, back-ups people had? Or is it fingers crossed and a mobile with the brokers number in speed dial?

Also had a look at Sierra, for the price I assume it is just the charting front-end application and that you require historical data from a seperate source. Do I assume that could be IB? If so is it a bit of a palaver getting the two connected?
I trade from a Laptop which has battery backup but I also have a UPS which has my cable modem connected and the base unit to my hands free phone. I also have dialup ready if broadband fails and I also have the broker numbers in position #1 on both my landline and my mobile.

There was a power cut a few weeks ago and although I wasnt in a trade, if I had been then there was plenty of time to get out of the trade and shut down the pc.

I have on a couple of occasions called IB and was connected to the trade desk in less than 60 seconds from identifying a problem.

That figures, Oaty ;)

Sulla - yes, Sierra is just the front end. You can get data from someone like MyCrap (ooops, I mean for about £20 a month I think but realtime will cost about £45pcm last time I used it, depending on the exchange rate.

Otherwise, if you have an account with IB then the feed is free assuming you make them over $30 of commission each month (7-ish round trips on futures will do that) but you only get the data whilst you are connected - there is no backfill from them, and when I last spoke to them, they have no plans to introduce it either. If you dont make enough trades, I think they sting you something like $10 for the feed. Anyway, its a doddle getting Sierra to run from IB or MyTrack.

I know your comments are aimed at those trading US equities and futures. For those who may be considering other markets this waiving of fees does not apply to say the FTSE and Dax where you will still have to pay the exchange fee.


Just curious, how much (roughly) is the next step up the ladder in terms of data delivery ie. historical data + real time feeds and a decent charting tool in one application.

Or what other options are there?
Hi Sualla81BC

I would say the next step up is E-Signal, which is about $104 a month + exchange fees. There is a 30 day free trial, during which time you only pay the exchange fees. However if you decide to continue with the product, you'll be charged for the first "free" month as well :(

nice name by the way - I'm more an 'Alea Iacta Est' type, with Einstein's take on where...
I'm not a daytrader, but every one of them I've spoken to so far mentions having a phone and a broker's number to call as the essential backup. With a laptop (battery backup) I'd question the need for UPS - I got my wife a laptop sorted a few months back and went for a Centrino setup with the Pentium M chip and 512Mb RAM in - only 1400 Mhz as I recall but some 4 hrs battery life.... plenty of CPU and RAM power for trading, I'd suggest, and the battery makes a UPS redundant.... anti surge power strip for protection is still a good idea though, not least because they come with a guarantee that if all of it fries you get cover for the dead kit. (Check that on the box, that's what ours said as I remember)... plus it had a 15" screen which is rather nice, and will take an external monitor too - desktop replacement is the idea here, just a bit more expensive (about £1300 I vaguely recall). On the plus side as a special offer we got her company logo printed on the lid as a freebie :)
Develop your own software, it costs about £1500/$2500 to sign up with E-signal as a developer, but after that you get loads of data for about $50 a month - I'll be quids in by, err, 2007 ;)
UPS - no bother, I carnt sepl fur toffy sumtymes! Sierra/Mytrack was okay for a cheap feed I thought, I'm not sure I'd use that trading large sums though - if you're trading a small account it makes sense to shave costs, but I've always felt it a false economy to 'make do' in the data arena unless it started to cost you a significant fraction of your profits each year. I can understand people with £5k in play choosing Sierra/Mytrack easily, I've found it less understandable when I've encountered people with 5 figures on the go who are asking how to download free data from Yahoo!