Gettings started as a ham operatorHam radio equipment doesn't have to be expensive. To start out with, it doesn't have to be elaborate either. Start with what you can afford.
It can take years to get the dream station assembled. Let it! It's part of the fun!
No Equipment Yet? Join The Club!Local clubs are often a valuable source for both information and used equipment. If you're lucky enough to have a club near you, join today! Most clubs have a club station that you will be able to use (under supervision if you are not licensed yet).
Also, you stand a good chance that one of its members will lend you (or sell at reasonable prices) the equipment you need to start if you can't afford to buy all the basics.
Your local ham radio club is also an excellent source of ...
- Used ham radio equipment
- Tips on setting up your radio shack and antenna.
- Helping hands to install antennas & tower or supports.
- Elmers... helpful experienced amateur radio operators.
Equipment for HF, VHF, UHFIn the early days of amateur radio, the receiver and transmitter where often separate boxes. These days most amateur radio operators use transceivers. By doing so, they have a receiver and a transmitter built-in the same piece of equipment.
Even so, it is not a bad idea to have a good stand-alone amateur radio receiver. It will often come in handy. Trust me.
Many amateur radio operators start with a VHF or UHF transceiver, (portable, fixed or mobile), to stay in touch with the local community of ham radio operators through the club repeater and other repeaters in the immediate region.
But, HF is the way to go if you want to really get a taste of DX (long distance) contacts with amateur radio operators in countries all over the world.
New or used?Whether you can affort a new rig or not, both new and used rigs can give you years of enjoyment. A well maintained set can last a lifetime. When you're new to the hobby, a used rig can often be a cheap way to get on the air. Especially low power (QRP) rigs can be had for even the smallest of pockets.
To get the most out of your rig, use and maintain it according to the manufacturer's recommendations. This will ensure you get the optimal mileage out of your ham radio equipment.
Modified equipment or Kits?In the early years of amateur radio, operators used to build their equipment. From scratch.
After the 2nd world war, used military communications equipment started to become available, hams would buy them cheap and modify them to work on the ham bands. Modifying equipment is still a popular activity within the more technically inclined hams. The majority of used equipment these days are commercial VHF/UHF sets. Modifying these rigs sometimes requires soldering. Some rig can be re-programmed using a PC or EPROM programmer.
Ham radio kits are another way of building your own rig. These kits come with all required parts and often extensive building manuals. Building a rig from a kit is a very cheap, and fun way to get on the air. Most sets these days are QRP designs using state of the art components. Working stations from all over the world with equipment you built yourself is a pleasure beyond words.