Equipment Cost

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jgm1945

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Feb 11, 2017
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Cherokee Village, Ar.
I'm a newbe here, and to ham radio, and I can't believe how much it will cost me for a home set up... Ham radio is way out of my league. It's sure not for the poor guys on a cornbread budget. I guess that's one of the reason's some guys stick with the cb's, but they are getting out there also.
I've been studying to get my tech license, but I'm gonna stop studying, because I can't afford the ham equipment. I've been on ebay and cl for days looking, and everything is high dollar stuff. I've talked to a ham guy yesterday, and he said 2mm would be the cheapest route for me. There are no 2mm repeaters towers in my area. I want to get my general license, and get a hf set up, but that is to far out of my league...I'm bummed out.
 

KE0GXN

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Echo Mike Two-Seven
You could always buy used gear. Ask around and see if there is a radio club near you. A lot of clubs will have a loan program till you can get your own gear, or at a minimum a club member/Elmer can loan you a rig or two till you can get your own stuff.

I had quite a few club members loan me gear till I could save my pennies to get my own stuff.

Unless you are recruited into the hobby by local operator , (I was not), you have to get out there and introduce yourself, make phone calls or do internet searches to find a club, Elmer or contacts that can help you locally.

I asked around, did internet searches of my area and literally called a amateur cold turkey (my county EC) and introduced myself, told him I was interested and if he could help me. It also helped that my examiners were all local club members and I asked them questions and they invited me to a meeting.

It can be done, just have to put in the leg work if you don't know anybody like me when I first started out.
 

cmjonesinc

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Find a local club and ask around. Most anybody who has been at the hobby for a while has some stuff sitting on the shelf and are usually happy to see somebody new getting into it. When I first got licensed I was at a hamfest just looking around and got to talking to a seller. Told him I was new and very eager to learn and he sold me an icom 706 (very very nice at the time) for 200 bucks.
 

ladn

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You can get into amateur radio on a cb radio budget. Ebay probably isn't the best place for a newby to go shopping. While there are deals to be had, there's lots of overpriced equipment just waiting to be sold.

At the risk of raising the ire of other users, the inexpensive Baofeng UV5R series of handheld radios (VHF/UHF which will work on a majority of the repeater systems around) sell in the $30 range. Single name brand (Yaesu,Alinco) mobile units are in the $150 range.

HF radios start to get pricey and their antenna requirements can take up a lot of space, but you can still find affordable equipment. Seek out a local amateur radio club and go to a meeting. Chances are you'll meet some folks who will willingly guide ("Elmer") you through getting licensed and acquiring equipment.

Good luck and stay with it.
 

KC4RAF

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Davenport,Fl.- home to me and the gators and the s
I bought my Yaesu FT-2900 at HRO on sale for either 119 or 129. It's a 2 meter mobile that works great as a base if you have a 20 amp power supply. Some times you just have to wait for sales to happen and usually around Christmas time is a good time.
As mentioned by 'ladn', you can also get the CCRs. I have 2 Baofeng and they are within all tolerances.
 

jonwienke

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+1 on the Baofengs. They aren't fancy, and you'll probably want to upgrade eventually, but even if you eventually get a Yaesu or Icom, having a cheap disposable radio can be useful as a loaner or backup.
 

jim202

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Mar 7, 2002
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New Orleans region
I'm a newbe here, and to ham radio, and I can't believe how much it will cost me for a home set up... Ham radio is way out of my league. It's sure not for the poor guys on a cornbread budget. I guess that's one of the reason's some guys stick with the cb's, but they are getting out there also.
I've been studying to get my tech license, but I'm gonna stop studying, because I can't afford the ham equipment. I've been on ebay and cl for days looking, and everything is high dollar stuff. I've talked to a ham guy yesterday, and he said 2mm would be the cheapest route for me. There are no 2mm repeaters towers in my area. I want to get my general license, and get a hf set up, but that is to far out of my league...I'm bummed out.
Here is a link to one of the many repeater database search sites. This one allows to do a search many ways. I did a proximity search and found about 25 repeaters within 60 miles or so from you. The closest one was only about 16 miles away.

You may have to put up a high antenna or use a directional antenna to be able to get into some of these repeaters. The other problem that is rampant is that the information on the different repeater search sites is poor and often is missing the required CTCSS tone needed to be able to gain access to the repeater. Some repeaters are closed and this means unless your a member or part of the closed "CLICK" the people on that repeater will not talk to a stranger or you will be run off.

You could use a scanner to try listening to the frequencies you find in the listings.

Also the databases provide the call sign of the ham licensee that is responsible for the repeater. Doing an Internet search on the calls can provide more updated info in many cases about the repeater listed.

Anyway, try going to these sites and do some searching around in your area. Don't forget that there are some located to the north of you in MO.

https://www.repeaterbook.com

http://www.levinecentral.com/repeaters/google_mapping.php
 
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mmckenna

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No reason amateur radio needs to cost more than CB.

There are a lot of good options out there, you need to look and know what you are looking at.

The issue I see is that a lot of the used amateur radio gear sell at inflated pricing, and I'm not sure why. When I sold off the last of my amateur only radios, -all- of them sold for more than I originally paid. One of them (still on the "new" market) sold on e-bay for more than it can be purchased brand new.

The other issue I see is often other amateurs will try to steer you in the direction of their current interest. I see this as a sort of "technology du-jour" in a way. I've watched other amateurs fall into this. One guy who's got the disposable income to purchase the latest gear all the time got into P25. Suddenly all the other hams just "had" to buy P25 gear.

Be cautious when another amateur tries to tell you what equipment you need. Make sure you talk to others (preferably that are NOT part of the same club) to get a good idea of what is popular in your area.

2 meters is not your only choice. While it's common, it's relatively short range, and unless you have others in the immediate area to talk to, you will need to have access to a repeater. Even then, some repeaters can be pretty quiet.

A couple of ideas:

Look into 10 meters. You could use your existing CB antenna with some minor trimming. 10 meter single side band will get you some good distance, even cross country contacts. Radios are a bit expensive, and they go for a lot on the used market, but shopping around might turn up some good options. E-Bay is rarely your best bet.

Used commercial gear can be had pretty cheap. There's a lot of used VHF and UHF commercial gear on the market. It won't have all the "amateur friendly" features of the dedicated amateur gear, but it'll get you on on the air. The programming requires a computer, software and cable, but if you look at the older Icom commercial stuff, it's pretty cheap. Something like a used Icom F-320 mobile can be had pretty cheap. They'll have 32 memories, so you can add the local stuff.

Making your own gear is an option, but not always a good one for someone new to the hobby.

Don't give up on amateur just yet. However, CB can be a much more useful tool in some parts of the country.
 

jgm1945

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Feb 11, 2017
Messages
13
Location
Cherokee Village, Ar.
Thanks guys for the help...Where I live is a big problem with the Ozark hills all around me. I live in a valley with big tall oak trees everywhere. The ham guy I talked to the other day said the 2mm repeater here for us was closed for lack of interest in the guys using it, nobody wanted to help keep it up. He also said the hand held 2mm radio were not strong enough to reach the next closest repeater which I was thinking 20 miles away, over these big hills, but some one mention maybe it was 16 miles away?
I guess if I had a cheap 2mm hooked up to my car, I could drive to the top of one the big hills and listen?
I'll keep asking around here, and maybe I'll find something that will work.

For the other poster that ask if $40.00 dollars was to much for the home made antenna.....no it's not, but when you live on a small disability check every month, and medicine cost, car notes and on and on, it's tuff. I get my check next Wed. and guess what we had for supper last night???? white beans and cornbread, and guess what we're having tonight... white beans and cornbread. Hey don't get me wrong I'm thank God for the beans, and cornbread and roof over our head, but some people are not as well off as others, but that still doesn't keep them for wanting something.
I just need to learn to keep quite,and learn to live within my income, and not have my wanta sticking out so far...lol
 

k6cpo

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Dec 30, 2013
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724
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San Diego, CA
You can get into amateur radio on a cb radio budget. Ebay probably isn't the best place for a newby to go shopping. While there are deals to be had, there's lots of overpriced equipment just waiting to be sold.

At the risk of raising the ire of other users, the inexpensive Baofeng UV5R series of handheld radios (VHF/UHF which will work on a majority of the repeater systems around) sell in the $30 range. Single name brand (Yaesu,Alinco) mobile units are in the $150 range.

HF radios start to get pricey and their antenna requirements can take up a lot of space, but you can still find affordable equipment. Seek out a local amateur radio club and go to a meeting. Chances are you'll meet some folks who will willingly guide ("Elmer") you through getting licensed and acquiring equipment.

Good luck and stay with it.
The Baofengs are good starter radios only from the price point. They are a bugger to hand program, even for experienced operators. If you choose to go this route, you will need to find someone who know the radios inside and out to teach you how to use it.

No reason amateur radio needs to cost more than CB.

There are a lot of good options out there, you need to look and know what you are looking at.

The issue I see is that a lot of the used amateur radio gear sell at inflated pricing, and I'm not sure why. When I sold off the last of my amateur only radios, -all- of them sold for more than I originally paid. One of them (still on the "new" market) sold on e-bay for more than it can be purchased brand new.

The other issue I see is often other amateurs will try to steer you in the direction of their current interest. I see this as a sort of "technology du-jour" in a way. I've watched other amateurs fall into this. One guy who's got the disposable income to purchase the latest gear all the time got into P25. Suddenly all the other hams just "had" to buy P25 gear.

Be cautious when another amateur tries to tell you what equipment you need. Make sure you talk to others (preferably that are NOT part of the same club) to get a good idea of what is popular in your area.

2 meters is not your only choice. While it's common, it's relatively short range, and unless you have others in the immediate area to talk to, you will need to have access to a repeater. Even then, some repeaters can be pretty quiet.

A couple of ideas:

Look into 10 meters. You could use your existing CB antenna with some minor trimming. 10 meter single side band will get you some good distance, even cross country contacts. Radios are a bit expensive, and they go for a lot on the used market, but shopping around might turn up some good options. E-Bay is rarely your best bet.

Used commercial gear can be had pretty cheap. There's a lot of used VHF and UHF commercial gear on the market. It won't have all the "amateur friendly" features of the dedicated amateur gear, but it'll get you on on the air. The programming requires a computer, software and cable, but if you look at the older Icom commercial stuff, it's pretty cheap. Something like a used Icom F-320 mobile can be had pretty cheap. They'll have 32 memories, so you can add the local stuff.

Making your own gear is an option, but not always a good one for someone new to the hobby.

Don't give up on amateur just yet. However, CB can be a much more useful tool in some parts of the country.
My very first HF contact, with the help of a friend, was on 10 meters. It was made from San Diego, CA to gulf Breeze, FL and was done using a Mag mount CB antenna stuck to the top of a metal storage shed.
 

mmckenna

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For the other poster that ask if $40.00 dollars was to much for the home made antenna.....no it's not, but when you live on a small disability check every month, and medicine cost, car notes and on and on, it's tuff. I get my check next Wed. and guess what we had for supper last night???? white beans and cornbread, and guess what we're having tonight... white beans and cornbread. Hey don't get me wrong I'm thank God for the beans, and cornbread and roof over our head, but some people are not as well off as others, but that still doesn't keep them for wanting something.
I just need to learn to keep quite,and learn to live within my income, and not have my wanta sticking out so far...lol
Amateur radio can be a very expensive hobby, if you let it.
I can understand the fixed income angle. It can be done, but it sounds like your location is going to be a limiting factor.

CB -might- be your best bet. If you are looking to talk to locals, that might be a better investment of your limited income. If the closest repeater is 20 miles off, you're going to have a hard time doing that with a hand held radio only. You'll need at minimum a good external antenna up high. Even then, you're stuck talking to other amateur radio operators on one repeater. That might get old pretty quick.

HF or just 10 meters would probably work better in your case, but the cost will be more.

I feel your pain. While you can get the cheap Chinese radios for $30-$40 bucks, you still need a good antenna to get any long range use from it. The stock antennas will be the real limiting factor.

Keep your eyes open, though, there are good deals out there. Maybe keep in touch with the local amateur operators and have them keep their eyes open for you. I remember many years ago I gave an old radio I had to a handicapped guy. He needed something to pass the time, and the radio was surplus to my needs.
 

jwt873

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Unfortunately with many hobbies, there is an initial outlay. Golf is going to set you back a few hundred for a decent set of clubs. Carpentry requires the purchase of tools. You need tanks, masks, and fins for scuba diving. For serious photography you need a higher quality camera etc etc. The amateur radio hobby fits in with these examples.

I don't know what to say. The only thing you can do is wait until your situation changes.

I was a starving college student when I got my ticket. Fortunately my parents let me live at home rent free while I was attending school. I had a part time job in an auto parts store in the evenings that allowed me accumulate a few bucks.

I managed to save up enough for an old used Heathkit HW-100 tube type HF rig. I cut a dipole for 20 meters and fed it with RG58. That was my ham radio setup for many years after. It wasn't until I had an established job and a house of my own, that I started to upgrade.
 

DJ11DLN

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Potential cost is what has been holding me back as well. Not because I don't know that it can be done on a budget...but because I'm afraid that I might want to "do it right" and wind up sinking several thousand $$$ into it. Being a "paid-up lifetime charter member of the born-again tightwad society," this tends to frighten me, so I sympathize with the OP, LOL.

On the bright side, I've studied so much that I ace the online sample tests for Extra, so I know that I need to get off my butt and attend a VE testing session, even if I never get off of 2M. For that, I have more than enough old/obsolete/unemployed Part 90 stuff laying around that will work just fine, the FM allocation anyway.:cool:
 
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Don't give up, there are a number of Ham Fests coming up within driving distance. There you will find tons of equipment for sale or even trade. There will be new dealers and everyday hams all willing to talk with you about your needs. Some upcoming Hamfests are Claremore, Ok Joplin, Mo Springfield, Mo Mena, AR. Find someone local that you can ask questions of, don't give up. Starting a new hobby may mean selling or trading some of your unwanted past hobby items, we have all cycled through hobbies.

The Greecountry Hamfest in Claremore, Ok is April 7&8 Friday and Saturday. This has a huge swap meet and is the largest hamfest in the State. Several new dealers will be present plus lots of individuals selling stuff.
 
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KE0GXN

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Echo Mike Two-Seven
I will echo the patience aspect some have alluded to here. I myself made it to General class without yet owning a single radio. Mostly because it was cheap to study and take the tests. My first radio was a handheld Yaesu FT-60R. Then I saved up for several more months for a Kenwood TM-V71A mobile.

It wasn't for several months to almost year before I puled the trigger on my HF station.

What got me through in-between were great Elmers who loaned me gear.

If you are on a limited budget like most of us....patience is a very important virtue in this hobby, not to mention purchasing within your means, once you save your pennies and getting the most out of your equipment purchasing.

All of us would love to have 200 foot towers, beams, and the most high-end transceivers money can buy, but at the end of day you get what you can afford and make the best of it.

Good luck!
 

Otto

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Portland, Oregon
For the other poster that ask if $40.00 dollars was to much for the home made antenna.....no it's not, but when you live on a small disability check every month, and medicine cost, car notes and on and on, it's tuff. I get my check next Wed. and guess what we had for supper last night???? white beans and cornbread, and guess what we're having tonight... white beans and cornbread. Hey don't get me wrong I'm thank God for the beans, and cornbread and roof over our head, but some people are not as well off as others, but that still doesn't keep them for wanting something.
lol


Not to be a Debbie Downer here, but if you can barely afford to buy food, an expensive electronics hobby might not be in the cards for you. Sorry, just my first thoughts on this.
 

jgm1945

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Cherokee Village, Ar.
Expensive Hobby

Not to be a Debbie Downer here, but if you can barely afford to buy food, an expensive electronics hobby might not be in the cards for you. Sorry, just my first thoughts on this.
Otto...Your are 100% right, there's no need to feel bad about telling me this. I just need to get back under the porch. There is a difference between the things I have to have, and the things I want. Thank all you guys that has tried to help me with great idea's, I don't think I'll be posting any more, the hobby is over my income, and I need to move on in life, but thanks to all yall....
 

Rred

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jg-
Before you look at any equipment, try to find s local ham radio club. And if that means an hour away, OK, take a trip to the big city one night to go to one of their meetings. Newcomers are always welcome.

The basic gear for a HF station hasn't changed in fifty years. OK, there are some new frequency allocations, and some new modes, and wonderful digital waterfall displays...but you can take a 1970's Drake TR7, which was THE choice of the State Department and lot of other users back then, and buy it used, complete with matching power supply, for $400. Less than that will buy you a 10-20 year old from one of the brand names, all solid state OR even a tube model. Tubes still work! They suck more power, so you can't run them off the grid as easily, but they also ignore SWR much longer.

You'll find a compromise that fits your budget, and there are private sellers in those clubs, and many respected vendors (HRO, Universal, etc.) that also sell used gear with warranties--eliminating the ebay questions, often at a better price.

And then there are folks who make "QRP" low power radios to use with Morse code only. Really minimal, in size and price, but an accomplishment that they can still talk around the world with that gear. Money helps, but "hams are cheap" is commonly heard, because hams aren't always rich.
 

wyShack

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Campbell County, Wyoming
If the interest is there, a way can be found. Many years ago, I had similar problems (a high school student planning on college) and I found a way. Just off the top of my head if your interest is mainly VHF.UHF FM you can buy a Baofeng UV5R for under $50.00. You can build a vertical antenna with wire and a coax connector. Add some coax and get the antenna up over the roof of your home. Total cost would be under $100. start with the radio and use its antenna on simplex (if that is all you can get) to get going. Once 'on the air' start improving the antenna situation -the antenna is often the biggest factor in station effectiveness (after the operator of course). If there is a local club, ask if anybody has gear they are not using -you can almost always borrow things like SWR and other meters. Offer to help out if you can.

Never stop learning
 
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