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Author Topic: Can't they build a cheaper radio?  (Read 7317 times)
KL2TC
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Posts: 37




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« Reply #30 on: June 02, 2010, 02:31:39 AM »

The key is to start saving now.  Don't put it off.  I have a tupperware container out in my shack that I toss extra money into and it is amazing how it can add up.  Set a goal and leave that money alone until you reach that goal.  You will be surprised at how easy this can become.  I started doing this to acquire guitars.  I have the guitars that I want, now I am going for radios.

The best VHF/UHF antenna that I have is one that I built out of 14 gauge wire, hot glue, solder, coax and a PL259.  This thing works like a dream and I put it together with stuff that I have around my shop.  If you go to Radio Shack you can get twenty feet of coax with a PL259 on each end for around $12.00.  That, some speaker wire, an SMA to SO239 adapter and hot glue and you can build a verticle dipole that will take care of those handhelds for less than $20.00 and it will knock the socks off of those commercial antennas.  Hang it outside or in.

Best of luck,

Al
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N0OG
Member

Posts: 13




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« Reply #31 on: June 03, 2010, 04:03:46 PM »

I'm 29 and my wife is pregnant with our third child. I consider myself "young" and in that weird place in life where all my extra money finds it's way into that black-hole called "raising a family"...I totally understand your sentiments!
I've been licensed for 16 years but had to sell all my transceivers a few years ago in order to pay for life insurance, new tires, utilities, mortgage--all the things that a responsible adult has to pay for.  I wasn't far enough along in my career [salary] to afford while having a thousand dollar ham shack. I grew up quick!. I realized that in order to be able to be a ham I'd have to focus on QRP and homebrew. And since I SUCK at CW, SSB was my only choice. I bought the BitX 20m SSB kit from http://cqbitx.blogspot.com/ and I have slowly been building it. Without a large budget, guys like us have to learn to enjoy the hobby without a lot of bells and whistles.
I think homebrewing brings me back to the true spirit of amateur radio. It doesn't have to be a rich man's hobby--and it isn't for me. You've just gotta be creative! Message me if you'd like some ideas...Jared n0og
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KD8HMO
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Posts: 228




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« Reply #32 on: June 06, 2010, 12:14:10 AM »

There are all kinds of good deals out there to be had for a few hundred dollars. I found a mint condition Kenwood TS-520S with the hand mic, MC-50 desk mic, and all the boxes and paperwork and manuals for $400 last year. I see all kinds of old Heathkits out there. You can find nice HW-101s all the time. A friend of mine just sold a pair of Heathkit twins for less than $200. Yaesu FT-101 series radios can be had all over the place. They might need a bit of work, but just seek out a good tech.  If you really want to get on the air, its not that hard to do...
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N2EY
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Posts: 3908




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« Reply #33 on: June 06, 2010, 06:17:32 AM »

I think one of the issues forgotten in this thread is that "expensive" means different things to different folks.

For some hams, a $1000 transceiver is very inexpensive. To others, a $500 is very expensive. All depends on the situation.

Pay scales, cost-of-living, and taxes are very different just in different parts of the USA. But ham gear prices aren't.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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KC5MO
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Posts: 36




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« Reply #34 on: June 06, 2010, 10:54:59 AM »

I paid $100 for my Kenwood TS-520SE and all I had to do was an alignment and it works great! I do wish I had 30 meters on that rig. I do have several Small Wonder Labs RM-40's and a RM-30 that are quite fun and they are very inexpensive  at $29 each.  Ham radio is as expensive as you make it. Also remeber that the antenna is 90% or better of the station. Spend your money on the antenna, better yet build your own.

Herb   KC5MO
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N2UGB
Member

Posts: 179




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« Reply #35 on: June 11, 2010, 04:10:01 AM »

There are good, new, low-end transceivers for sale... IC-718. FT-450, etc. Used rigs. I recently sold my loaded IC-718 as I am committed to QRP and was using it as a QRP rig anyway. Was a bargain for the new owner. Even older, but not boat-anchor, used rigs can be found at very attractive prices.

Get away from looking at all the buttons on those costly Ferrari-level transceivers. Thousands of hams, world-wide, are enjoying the hobby without flirting with bankruptcy.

My old FT-817 and NorCal 40 qrp rigs suite me fine.
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AD6KA
Member

Posts: 2238




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« Reply #36 on: June 18, 2010, 01:26:28 PM »

Even on a very low income, it is not that difficult to save up
$350 or $400 for good used rig like a TS-430 or FT-847.
You have to have resolve and dedication in your financial planning.

Seperate the "wants" from the "needs":

I NEED to put gas in my car to get to work.
I WANT to go out to see a movie, but I'll put that money
in my "Rig Saving Jar" instead.
OR
I'm hungry and NEED to eat. I WANT a big juicy take-out pizza,
but instead I'll make mayself a sandwich or some pasta from store
bought ingredients.

Do that for a year and you'll be able to afford a pretty nice used rig.
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KC0SHZ
Member

Posts: 372




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« Reply #37 on: June 18, 2010, 02:42:36 PM »

Club station available in your area?  We have a station at the Salvation Army here in town and we are always looking for someone to help with the radio station updates and help running the station or updating the software, etc. 

For this, members get to use the rig and the big, quiet, 160 meter loop antenna, as well as the PC logger, and the APRS tracking software free.

Might look into this type of thing as an alternative to dropping money you don't have on radios.
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AB7KT
Member

Posts: 155




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« Reply #38 on: June 18, 2010, 09:11:29 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.


To start with your 2m and 70cm stuff, forget about buying an antenna. You can build a GOOD antenna for almost nothing. You will need some coax and at least one connector, but the antenna itself is free. For example: you can build yourself a 1/4 wave ground plane out of metal coat hangers that is a good antenna. You can build a J-pole out of twinlead or copper pipe. Fire up your search engine and start looking, there are thousands of websites that will tell you how to build good 2m/440 antennas.

I think the thing you need to do as far as HF is to join your local radio club and get to know some local hams. As was already mentioned, if you are sincere and a likeable guy, I bet you will come up with a rig in short order.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2010, 09:13:06 PM by Kenneth J. Gilcrest » Logged

I thought you said this was a weak signal mode ? I HAVE a weak signal and he still didn't hear me.

FWIW: My callsign is AB8KT
K7KBN
Member

Posts: 2825




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« Reply #39 on: June 19, 2010, 11:45:08 AM »

Can't they build a cheaper radio?  Sure, they can.

Will it have all the features you want?  Most likely not.
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73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
N2EY
Member

Posts: 3908




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« Reply #40 on: June 19, 2010, 12:01:31 PM »

One thing I've noticed is that there's a big gap in the HF rig market.

What I mean is this:

If you want to do QRP on one HF band, there are lots of neat little rigs out there. Many are under $100 as kits.

If you want a 100 watt 80-10 SSB/CW rig, there are lots out there too, but the least-expensive ones cost over $500.

There's nothing in-between, such as a 50 watt rig that covers several bands for $250.

Yes, there are lots of good used rigs out there for under $500. Trouble is, a lot of newcomers are wary of them, because they come with no warranty and the newcomer knows what s/he does not know.

In the bad old days Heath made the HW-16. It was a rig designed around the Novice privileges of the time, and had everything a Novice didn't need removed. It sold for just under $100, which works out to about $600 in today's money. Back then, though, $100 was a rock-bottom price for a rig that would do everything the HW-16 did. (The Heath HR-10B *receiver* was $80 then, and wasn't as good a CW receiver as the HW-16 had)

What I think we need is a 21st century version of the HW-16: a rig designed around today's Tech/Novice HF privileges, without a lot of other stuff, selling at a rock-bottom price.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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AB7KT
Member

Posts: 155




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« Reply #41 on: June 19, 2010, 12:21:39 PM »

Long after the HW-16, Ten Tec had the Century 21 and Century 22. They did everything the HW-16 did plus had a VFO and audio filtering.
Ten Tec SELLS (doesn't make) a two band QRP rig right now that covers either 40 and 20 meters OR 40 and 30 meters. They sell for $250 and it isn't a kit.

Note however that all these inexpensive radios we are talking about (HW-16, DX-60, Century 21, Century 22, Ten Tec 4030..............) are CW only rigs. To me, that's fine. But, you have to be willing to put forth the effort to learn CW. Adding SSB into the mix and you immediately leave the under $500 club unless you are willing to build. This is NOT a personal attack and is not an attempt to disparage anyone, but if you haven't built a J-Pole or a 1/4 wave ground plane for 2 meters, I hardly think you are up to building a BitX-20 SSB tranceiver from a kit. I don't know if there is anything else out there with SSB that would be easier to build up from a kit but it would be nice if there was.
FWIW: I am NOT an electronics guy either although I have build a number of kits over the years. I have a BitX-20 kit about half done and it is somewhat beyond my skill level. In addition, I don't have the test equipment to properly test each stage as it is completed although I am working through that by begging for advice and help from other more knowlegable and better equipped hams. I feel certain that I will be able to finish it and get it working, but I am pretty sure this isn't something a beginner would want to tackle.
Logged

I thought you said this was a weak signal mode ? I HAVE a weak signal and he still didn't hear me.

FWIW: My callsign is AB8KT
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