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Author Topic: Ernie wanted  (Read 11138 times)

Posts: 5

« on: April 05, 2012, 07:36:08 PM »

I am new to Ham radio but have a decent background in wiring. I want to learn how to build and modify my own gear but dont know many in the community. Is there anyone out there that would be up for the task of teaching someone the basics of radio building and repair?

I live in Southern York County, PA and travel daily to Baltimore, MD.


Posts: 3323

« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2012, 09:05:22 PM »


Some of the skill sets you maybe asking for are rare to find today. There are outstanding home builders-- but it will take time.  Many are now retired, passed away, or not in good health to teach  or mentor.
For example, when I started in late 1960s and early 1970s --- radio punches and steel or aluminum chassis were still used for home brew equipment.
By the early 1980s, it was not uncommon to see these tools sold or given away (no interest by new 1980s radio amateurs).

Check with local amateur radio clubs and Antique Radio restoring groups.

Mayfair Electronics Service
3628 Rhawn Street
Philadelphia, PA 19136

Pittsburgh Antique Radio Society, Inc. (PARS)
Seth Ward
83 Ruthfred Dr.
Pittsburgh, PA 15241
Publication: The Pittsburgh Oscillator, quarterly.
Dues: $14.00.
Quarterly meetings, Spring Fever, and March meet.

Central Pa. Radio Collectors Club
contact: Frank Hagenbuch
1440 Lafayette Parkway
Williamsport, PA 17701

Delaware Valley Historic Radio Club (DVHRC)
PO Box 5053
New Britain, PA 18901
Publication: The Oscillator, monthly.
Dues: $20.
Monthly meetings with swap meets, quarterly tailgate swaps.
contacts: Stan Saeger: 610-967-5340

Mid-Atlantic Antique Radio Club (MAARC)
5825 Woodwinds Circle
Frederick, MD 21703-7579
Publication: Radio Age, monthly.
Dues: $20.00.
Monthly meetings.

« Last Edit: April 05, 2012, 09:21:57 PM by W9GB » Logged

Posts: 6994

« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2012, 09:40:20 PM »


What you want is going to take a great deal of time and effort.  I know I'm going to take a lot of flak for what I'm about to suggest but I'm going to do it anyhow.

Decide what you want to build.  Transceiver?  Accessory for the shack?  Then come back and ask or research via the computer on available kits and then choose and build one.  Or two or three.

Choose kits that use "though hole" components and not SMT (Surface Mount Technology) which are very small components that require their own skill levels and procedures to use.

Building kits will give you solding practice, component recognition and installation, an assembly manual with schematic and in many cases a test procedure to follow throughout the built.  If not that at least you will get a setup and perhaps even an alignment lesson to boot.  And if you have a problem, most of the time you have someone to ask for help.

Another suggestion I'd like to make is check to see if there is a Vocational School close to where you live that has night classes in electronics.  These are usually very inexpensive and provide a great way to learn electronics.

Finally, buy an ARRL Handbook.... any year, new or used and look through it for construction articles.  Find something small to start with, even if it satisfies only a minimal need.   Things like this will give you experience in building.

As for the modification part, this comes only when you see where you can improve a circuit or piece of gear.

All of this is a lengthy education.....but it's great fun!

A Pessimist is Never Disappointed!

Posts: 1055

« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2012, 11:56:22 PM »

A couple of ideas. First, ham helpers are Elmers, not Ernies. Second, look to the electronics courses at your local colleges and vocational schools, and talk with the counselors or, better yet, the instructors, and tell them what you are interested in and ask their recommendations.

Your local library may have several books on electronics projects. If not, go online to the bookstore and get a Communications Handbook. It will cover virtually everything you need to know about radio communications and construction techniques, and includes building projects that include transmitters, receivers, power supplies, antennas, test equipment, etc. Theory is included, too, as are operating procedures, safety considerations, component datasheets, etc. It's well worth the money, and even an older handbook will teach you a lot. Of course, the bookstore has many other great theory and construction books as well.

There are some good online sources, too. Google around for "online electronics course, "online communications course," etc. The Navy has a really good one online. You might also find some useful information in some of the YouTube videos (and some not-so-useful information as well). Another good source for construction ideas, although not necessarily ham radio, are the Make Magazine blog at, and the do-it-yourself projects at

One great online source for beginners is the "Elmers 101" course, which teaches the theory and construction of the nice, and inexpensive, SW40 CW transceiver. Take a look at the lessons at to see what it covers. You will also find a lot of good construction technique, projects to work on, and other tidbits from the the QRP Amateur Radio Club International and its quarterly magazine. See the web site at

Finally, use one of the online ham search programs that allows searching by city or zip code (e.g. ARRL's, then call some of the hams who are listed, and find out if there's a place they like to meet, or a club they are members of. I found 18 listings for your town alone, but a nearby larger town might have a larger listing. One of them might want to volunteer to be your Elmer, or put you in touch with someone who will.


Posts: 3315

« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2012, 01:17:25 PM »

Hi Steve, welcome aboard!

Remember this is a lifelong hobby so don't feel like you have to learn everything this month! Smiley

1. Join the ARRL and read QST.  It has all sorts of construction articles, modifications, and electronics basics.  The knowledge soaks in little by little each month.
2. Please, please buy the ARRL Handbook, even a used one.  It has so much information, you will refer to it for years. 
3. For advance antenna building get the ARRL Antenna Book

4. The 'Hands On Radio" column in QST is super for learning electronics by building small demonstration circuits and projects.  You can buy a book with the first few years worth, with an optional parts kit to build the projects.

5. Ramsey Electronics, Vectronics (MFJ) and others have relatively inexpensive kits you can build, modify, destroy and fix.

6. Take apart anything electronic.  Trace the power circuits, identify the major sections i.e. power supply, controls, memory, transformers, etc.  Identify particular components by color code, number code, look them up on the internet to see their specification.  Save old electronics for scavenging parts, wires, connectors. 

Navy Electrical and Electronics School.   Government paid for it, you get to benefit.  This is normally a year long course available online for free.  It's pretty readable, afterall sailors learn it!   You can dabble at what interests you or read it from front to back.

Radios Shack Electronics Lab.   I've got one.  It's modern, up to date and a great way to practice and learn.  Two accompanying books are written by the famous Forrest Mims III.  You can continue to use the breadboard and components long after you are done with the basic books.

Posts: 2227

« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2012, 12:35:37 PM »

I was poking around the technical section of last night, and there are a bunch of links as well as a few articles on restoration.  moving on to equipment building, many levels of DIY are represented.  much of this is QEX-area material, and might require a subscription to QEX to gain access.  I don't have the "tried it and added X and retried it" to narrow that down for you, for I was not synched website-to-subscription for part of the search.

Posts: 369

« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2012, 01:34:35 PM »

Elmer is hard to catch up with and seems to hide from us Newbs quite a bit.
Guess he got tired of us constantly pestering him.

Sometimes the only way to "Flush" him out is
through his kid brother Ernie..... Smiley

Posts: 1291

« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2012, 07:40:17 AM »

DEY  and others..  I have elmered a lot..   how ever some of the  requests  are just  not in the elmering  catagory.
"teach the basics of  wireing and radio  repair."
I spent  over 2000 hours  studing  broadcast engineering to get as far as  in those days   Second Phone.

Do you think  there are any   'elmers'  out there that would spend even  1/10th that amount of time. Huh
an elmer's job is when you get something almost done and run into a problem and need help,
or in the beginning  you need a broad view,,  block diagram,  general picture of a project,
then the elmer can help..

but  spend 8 hours a day for  8 weeks  to   teach you basics...
I don't have that kind of free time..

you have to train yourself  just like i did..   the get help  with someone who has experience

in trouble shooting  ...


Posts: 6994

« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2012, 08:43:19 AM »

WUR:  I'd like to add one addition method of learning electronics.  Take a correspondence course.  Start with the "basics" course and when you finish it, consider taking another course in something more advanced.

During my course of study for my ham tickets I took 5 correspondence courses plus one other designed specifically for the commercial ticket.  They took 7 years to complete.  I then went to night school at the local Vo-Tech for two years. 

I found after taking the first course the goal changed from getting an advanced ham ticket to a commercial ticket on to learning what I could.  It helped me tremendously with my work as a power plant operator.  What you want to undertake is a time consuming project that should never end. 

So with that point in mind, don't get in a hurry and enjoy the trip.

A Pessimist is Never Disappointed!

Posts: 1291

« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2012, 07:07:07 AM »

  AXW  and  all.      I alos  have continued to study.
After  Cleveland institute,,     Signal school in  Ft Monmouth..same  3 month basic as field radio repair..
also  many schools at  IBM..   Home entertainment  correspondence  from  both  National tech schools  and    Bell and Howell(devry)

and   fax school at   panasonic hdqtrs.   and  correspondence  for  most   Okidata printers.

I think  1963  is the only  year I did not have a formal school  from  1943 to   2002..

You can not learn it all but you have to try..

Posts: 6994

« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2012, 06:11:43 PM »

YLI:  I'm sure you'll admit it's been a blast, hasn't it?

A Pessimist is Never Disappointed!

Posts: 404

« Reply #11 on: May 17, 2012, 07:30:26 AM »

You appear to be south east of York and North North West of Belair  by a map within 25 miles from my handy repeater finder.  Any how between 2m and 70 cm there are 35 repeaters within 25 miles of Shrewsbury, PA . If you can get on some of these you may hook up with a club.You know the elusive club    with real people. Contacts possible elmers. now on the other hand go to the ARRL website and look for Field Day sites near you  about 7 weeks from now go and meet people. Where did you test? Another source of contacts. I listen to 96.1 out of York, don't they advertise a community college there. Your opportunities abound, look around and ask questions. I'm in Delaware about 50+ miles from you.

Shrewsbury, PA    146.700    123.0    K3AE     4.7    SoPaCommGp    
Shrewsbury, PA    449.725    123.0    K3AE     4.7    SoPaCommGp    
Shawsville, MD    145.330         K3HT     8.3    K3HT    144.730 o    T-MARC
Shawsville, MD    449.375         W3EHT     8.3    W3EHT    444.375 L o l    T-MARC
Red Lion, PA    146.865    123.0    W3ZGD     10.1N    Hilltopers    o (t 3Z ) WX e    ARCC
Red Lion, PA    449.425    123.0    N3NRN     10.1N    N3NRN    o (t 3Z ) e    ARCC
Jarrettsville, MD    448.475         WA3DUR     12.4S    N3UR    443.475    T-MARC
              N3UR              o    T-MARC
Whiteford, MD    147.120         N3CNJ     13.6E    N3CNJ    147.720    T-MARC
Whiteford, MD    442.650    107.2    N3CDY     13.6E    N3CDY    o t e l rb wx    T-MARC
Whiteford, MD    449.225         N3CNJ     13.6E    N3CNJ    444.225    T-MARC
Holtwood, PA    448.625    114.8    N3TPL     15.2E    N3TPL    o (t 2A ) L RB e    ARCC
York, PA    146.925    74.4    W3WAN     16.2N    WAN-RS    o (t WA ) L e    ARCC
York, PA    146.970    123.0    W3HZU     16.2N    Keystone    o (t 3Z ) L WX (ca) e R A LiTZ    ARCC
York, PA    442.050    131.8    N3KZ     16.2N    UPenn ARC    o (t 3B ) L (ca) e    ARCC
York, PA    447.275    none    W3HZU     16.2N    Keystone    o (ca) e    ARCC
Manchester, MD    146.895    146.2    N3KZS     17.0W    N3KZS    l o l    T-MARC
Hampstead, MD    443.800         N3KZ     17.0W    N3KZ    448.8 apl o t a l    T-MARC
Manchester, MD    447.675         N3KZS     17.0W    N3KZS    442.675 o t    T-MARC
Valley Forge, PA    146.760    131.8    W3PHL     17.1N    PARA Group    o (t 3B ) L (ca)    ARCC
Valley Forge, PA    443.800    131.8    N3KZ     17.1N    UPenn ARC    o (t 3B ) L RB (ca) e    ARCC
Valley Forge, PA    443.900    none    W3PHL     17.1N    PARA Group    o    ARCC
Cockeysville, MD    145.190         K3NXU     19.6S    K3NXU    144.590 o t    T-MARC
Peach Bottom, PA    444.900    100.0    KY3ARS     19.6E    YARS    o (t 1Z ) e R A    ARCC
Cockeysville, MD    448.525         KB3BHO     19.6S    KB3BHO    443.525 o    T-MARC
Bel Air, MD    146.775         WA3PFT     20.0SE    Harford Co RACES    146.175 r    T-MARC
         146.2    WB0EGR              o t a e r    T-MARC
Bel Air, MD    147.120         N3EKQ     20.0SE    N3EKQ    o    T-MARC
Bel Air, MD    447.9875         KB3TOG     20.0SE    HarfdCoRaces    o DSTAR    T-MARC
Bel Air, MD    449.775         WA3PFT     20.0SE    Harford Co. RACES    444.775    T-MARC
         162.2    WB0EGR              o t a e r    T-MARC
Hanover Twp., PA    147.330    88.5    WA3CPW     21.1W    WA3CPW    o (t YB ) (ca) e    ARCC
Hanover, PA    147.330    146.2    W3MUM     21.2W    PMRC Inc    o (t 4B ) WX e R A    ARCC
Hanover, PA    447.875    103.5    WA0OJS     21.2W    WA0OJS    o (t 1A ) L RB (ca) e    ARCC
Dover, PA    439.250    none    W3HZU     22.1NW    Keystone    o t L e O ATV-426.250 in    ARCC
Westminster, MD    145.410         K3PZN     25.0SW    K3PZN    144.810 aelrz o t a e l r z    T-MARC
Quarryville, PA    448.175    94.8    N3EIO     25.0E    KC3LE    o (t ZA )    ARCC
Westminster, MD    449.875         K3PZN     25.0SW    K3PZN    444.875 EL o t e l    T-MARC

35 Records Matched

Tom Kb3hg

Posts: 6994

« Reply #12 on: May 17, 2012, 09:40:30 AM »

"Seek and ye shall find.  Ask and ye shall receive."


A Pessimist is Never Disappointed!
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