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Author Topic: Can't they build a cheaper radio?  (Read 6419 times)
N2EY
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« Reply #15 on: May 26, 2010, 06:40:09 PM »

To N3OX:

Boy, I wish I had friends like you did when I was getting started as a ham!

---

I think it's important to point out to new amateurs that ham radio can be done on the cheap if a ham is willing to invest some "sweat equity" and doesn't insist on a new rig, the latest technology, "all bands", etc.

One thing that helped me enormously over the years was the realization that it is better to have a station that can only do a couple of things well, than to have a station that can do a lot of things poorly.
 
Besides used rigs, QRP kits and CW, PSK31 can be done on the cheap with the various Warbler rigs. Antennas, accessories and shack furniture can be homebrewed. A shack computer can be assembled from hand-me-downs. Etc.

There's also homebrewing. Back in 2008 the ARRL had a Homebrew Challenge, asking for rig designs that cost less than $50 in parts. Entries had to be able to do 40 meter SSB and CW. There were several entries that met all the criteria. Recently they had a second challenge, for a 50 watt amp to follow the rig. Again several entries under $100.

Sure they're not fancy and they only cover one band, but they meet all FCC regs and they do work.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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N3OX
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« Reply #16 on: May 26, 2010, 09:06:24 PM »

One thing that helped me enormously over the years was the realization that it is better to have a station that can only do a couple of things well, than to have a station that can do a lot of things poorly.

Yep.  If I were starting out again and didn't have any help, I would probably be taking a very serious look at the BITX20, the MMR 40... and some of these other rigs that can be built for very cheap... get on one band, like you say.

They're cheap enough in "raw parts" and I already had soldering gear, etc, before I got my ticket.  MMR 40, 66 feet of wire, and some RG-58 and you're on the air.  Even better if you put the 50W amp on it.

I think it would have taken me a few months just to get up the nerve to order the parts back then, and a while to get it working, but it would have felt good when done and making QSO's.

73
Dan
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73,
Dan
http://www.n3ox.net

Monkey/silicon cyborg, beeping at rocks since 1995.
AI4NS
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« Reply #17 on: May 26, 2010, 09:30:27 PM »

I started out in 1972 as a 13 year old with military surplus, and a homebrew Novice Special transmitter. Got busy with life, and got relicensed about 4 years ago. Bought a TS-430S, power supply, and tuner from a ham for $75, and it didn't work. Sold the tuner for $120, the power supply for $110, and still have the 430. I buy equipment that needs work, fix it and sell it. I now have a K3, ALS-600 amp, legal limit tuner, etc. Took me a few years, but my cash investment in ham radio is about $1000. The rest was profit from selling equipment. It can be done.
Mike
AI4NS
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VE3PLO
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Posts: 158




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« Reply #18 on: May 26, 2010, 10:33:36 PM »

short and simple question, how much are ham radios in CHINA?Huh
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KF5EGM
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« Reply #19 on: May 28, 2010, 12:23:09 PM »

ok so first, I'm 27, not starting a family but have kicked out all the expenses for now. So far I've been unable to even get an antenna for my radios (a 2 meter and a 70 cm). Now I guess I didn't know what I was talking about when I started in about pricing, shows what I know about electronics, almost zilch. I am an IT type but not electronics. I'd like to be but would prefer to learn from someone. As far as qrp radios go, I'm all for it. I actually have since found a single band qrp cw kit for 30 dollars. Something that uses 9 or 12 volts and fits inside an altoids or tuna can. Quite interesting little series of receivers and transceivers. I think most of them are 30 or less. My big deal is getting instruments and learning to use them. Well i have to go get stuff from a friend...time is a wasting...will be back later.
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AA4HA
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« Reply #20 on: May 28, 2010, 04:36:05 PM »

I think that newer hams can also be intimidated by the sheer $ value of the gear that a longer term ham has sitting on the desk or shelves. After 10,15,20 years in the hobby we all have a tendency to collect a bunch of gear.

Sometimes if someone visits our shacks they may see all of this gleaming gear and not really get a chance to see that some of it was picked up as a bargan at a hamfest, homebrew, kits or converted commercial gear.

It's like those topbanders who are running converted Gates BCB transmitters, they certainly didn't pick those up new. I use a bunch of Harris gear that was never intended for ham use and there are probably more repeaters that are converted Motorola or GE base station rigs than there are off-the-shelf ham VHF/UHF repeater systems.

Life would be allot simpler with just one radio. It is just that we all evolve through different phases of the hobby and sooner or later you have an old Gonset sitting next to the latest TenTec on your desk.

Tisha Hayes, AA4HA
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Ms. Tisha Hayes, AA4HA
Lookout Mountain, Alabama
WB2WIK
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« Reply #21 on: May 28, 2010, 06:02:07 PM »

KF5EGM: With a limited budget as most of us have, you're likely better off simply buying good used gear.  "Classic" gear is very expensive, even higher priced than new stuff, so avoid that.  But "ordinary" used gear can be an incredible bargain.

A 100W all mode HF transceiver that's very functional and works well can be found for $250-$350 and might serve you for several years.

I wouldn't spend $100-$200 on a QRP rig unless that was just one more toy in the collection; as a primary rig, it's not a good deal.

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NA0AA
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« Reply #22 on: May 28, 2010, 10:49:41 PM »

I always sort of giggle at this.

I can set up a workable station for around $1,000.  That's from scratch.  New equipment  Won't be a world beating contest station but you will make contacts.

Compare that to other hobbies will ya?

Boats or Jet Skis?  Someone covered that.

Snow skiing?  You MIGHT get fully outfitted for a Kilobuck at a discount store, then $100 day for a lift ticket.

Golf?  GOLF?  Maybe you can get used clubs and get lessons and on the course for a grand, then $50 a round or WAY more.

Bicycles?  My last, low end mountain bike cost a thousand bucks.  that's not even a particularly good one.

Motorcycles?

OK, Fishing - if you shore fish and don't need to travel someplace exotic.

Bowling.  $1,000. goes a long ways bowling, OK.

Parachute jumping?

Surfing?

Scuba?

No offence meant here, but in perspective?  Buy used equipment and you can likely beat that down to $500 or so and that is buying commercially made hardware.

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N2EY
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« Reply #23 on: May 29, 2010, 06:13:16 AM »

A 100W all mode HF transceiver that's very functional and works well can be found for $250-$350 and might serve you for several years.

Yep. The challenge in buying used gear is getting good used gear. That's where it helps to have some more-experienced but disinterested advice.


I wouldn't spend $100-$200 on a QRP rig unless that was just one more toy in the collection; as a primary rig, it's not a good deal.

I disagree! It all depends on the situation.

If somebody wants to get on HF for the absolute minimum cost, wants to learn by building kits, has limited space but good antennas, wants to experience simplicity, or does a lot of camping-type activities, a small QRP rig may be a good idea. But a decent antenna is a must.

I think the first step is to think about exactly what somebody wants to do on HF, then decide on a rig. For example, if somebody wants to ragchew and work a little DX on SSB, there are lots of good used low-cost 100W class used rigs that will do the job, and QRP would not be the best deal. OTOH if someone wants to try out PSK31 on a budget, and learn some electronics in the process, a Warbler kit might be the way to go.

A budding CW op should look for a rig with a 400-500 Hz IF filter and maybe a built-in keyer. Power would be a secondary consideration.

---

One of the biggest mistakes I see hams making is putting all their resources into a fancy rig, then using extreme-compromise antennas in order to cover all bands.

For example, the G5RV is a decent antenna on 80/75, 40. 20 and 15 meters if the feedline isn't too long, the antenna is up in the clear and a good tuner is used. Trouble is, some hams insist on trying to make one work on other bands, and/or put it up too low and too squeezed in.

Better to choose a couple of bands and have a good antenna.

73 de Jim, N2EY
 
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N3DF
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« Reply #24 on: May 29, 2010, 07:07:31 AM »

Today's $1,500 radio is 1970's $275 radio.  That would buy you a Heathkit HW-100 in 1970 that you had to build up from a kit and isn't in the same league with modern radios. 
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Neil N3DF
AA4PB
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« Reply #25 on: May 29, 2010, 07:57:06 AM »

If you don't have the experience and test equipment, I'd make used purchases from a dealer (AES, HRO, etc) that bench checks their used radios and provides a 90 day warrantee. It'll cost you a bit more but you are not likely to get stuck with a radio that has issues. An individual may tell you the radio works fine and he uses it every day. Maybe he only uses it on 75M and doesn't know that it no longer meets receiver sensitivity requirements on 10M - which may be exactly where you want to use it.
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N2EY
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« Reply #26 on: May 29, 2010, 03:30:17 PM »

Today's $1,500 radio is 1970's $275 radio.  That would buy you a Heathkit HW-100 in 1970 that you had to build up from a kit and isn't in the same league with modern radios. 

The HW-100 was and still is a good set. What it lacks are features and options.

It was also the least-expensive 5 band 100 watt SSB/CW transceiver of its time. The $275/$1500 quoted price didn't include a speaker, mike or power supply.

Heath sold thousands of them, and tens of thousands of the improved HW-101 model.   

Your point, however, is absolutely on-target: Even the least-expensive rigs of 40 years ago were very expensive for what you got, compared to today.

$1500 today will buy an Elecraft K2/100 kit with lots of options never dreamed of in 1970, plus a power supply, mike, paddles, and more. 

73 de Jim, N2EY
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K3YD
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« Reply #27 on: May 29, 2010, 11:45:49 PM »

Radios cost too much these days. I truly see it as a crippling force in our hobby, and clubs and radio makers need to hear this. Many of us young people are hit hard by the economy and just getting started in life is not so easy. 700 is simply unachievable to some of us.

Thinking back to my early days in Amateur Radio, I shared many of your thoughts about high equipment costs when I looked through the advertising pages of QST in the local library.  (Couldn't afford an ARRL membership then.)  Fortunately, some local amateurs clued me into the bargains of used gear and the generous fraternity of Amateur Radio.

My first station consisted of a borrowed transmitter and an old receiver, purchased from a local ham with money I earned cutting lawns and delivering newspapers. 

It wasn't elegant, but it worked and I had FUN.  As a Novice I worked 37 states and 3 countries for a total investment of under $50, including crystals and antenna.

There is a LOT of very functional older gear in ham basements, attics and garages.  Some is available very cheaply.  Many clubs have "loaner" rigs for new members.  Look around, and ask around--you'll be amazed how inexpensive a functional station can be.  And, a $250 used radio will give far better performance than a $250 brand new radio ever could.
 
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N2EY
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« Reply #28 on: May 30, 2010, 10:16:05 AM »


It wasn't elegant, but it worked and I had FUN.  As a Novice I worked 37 states and 3 countries for a total investment of under $50, including crystals and antenna.
 

A lot of us started in similar ways. But it's important to remember inflation; $50 back-when can easily equate to $400 or more today.

---

One mistake I have seen made by hams is the idea of spending a certain sum all at once and then being "set" and not having to spend any more. While that can work, what often happens is that the sum is enormous, or seems to be, and becomes a block to actually doing anything.

I think a better solution is the "line item in the budget" method. It means setting up a budget, with ham radio getting a certain amount per day/week/month/year or whatever. Station building is then planned on the basis of the budget.

For example, $2 a day may not seem like much, but at the end of a year it's $730. Even a dollar a day adds up over time.

A lot of elaborate stations were built just that way - a little here and a little there, over the course of years.

73 de Jim, N2EY

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VE2ITZ
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« Reply #29 on: May 30, 2010, 08:36:36 PM »

Radios cost too much these days. I truly see it as a crippling force in our hobby, and clubs and radio makers need to hear this. Many of us young people are hit hard by the economy and just getting started in life is not so easy. 700 is simply unachievable to some of us. The radio companies must realize that those who carry this hobby to the next generation must be able to afford it. Without that we are just another gmrs service. I for one don't want that. The radio companies should think about making bargain radios with less bells and whistles and maybe cheaper yesteryear technology. Don't stop with the dr who tartus of a ham rig... Just make something for the rest of us. I am sure it's possible. Is there the will to do it though? A 50 or 100 watt BASIC cw rig or 10 meter ssb? Why not get our guys into real ham radio instead of giving them another less capable phone?

Hello:


I began my  ham radio life with the following equipment:

A 1972 hallicrafters fpm-300 that my brother got in a garage sale for 50 dollars, a kenwood tr-7950 i got in e-bay for 75 buck, and a Sony shortwave ICF-6800w i got in a store used for 50 dollars.

This was 5 years ago.

All antennas have been home made till now.


Used gear can be a lot of fun too!


I just went today to a ham fest and i still drool over those Yaesu 101's out there.


I have now upgraded from the older 70's and 80's radios, but i have not spent a fortune either. As others have mentioned, i sold the other radios, made some profit and gradually upgraded to newer stuff.



My motto in ham radio is always the same: KISS concept in mind. I learnt this from a photography teacher. (He always told us to "keep it simple stupid").

i  think it is a good idea to find a good ham radio elmer and friend in your area and maybe even join a club to get technical help and if interested also ask as many questions as possible. Even if you think they might be silly.

It is much better to ask and learn than to remain in doubt.


Ham radio is a really wonderful hobby and i think you can stil enjoy it without a huge budget.

Dont let prices fool you.

Learn to appreciate simple things in life. They are all there for you to savour a piece as well!

Wish you good luck in your endeavours!


73 de VE2ITZ!

 Smiley
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