Who works on/creates radio equipment?

Status
Not open for further replies.

NewSDScanner

Member
Joined
Oct 5, 2010
Messages
135
Location
San Diego
Who creates and works on radios and associated equipment? If I wanted to enter this field, what would I need to be? Electrical technician? Electrician? Radio Tech? Where do you learn how to do this?
 

oldtimeradio

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jan 19, 2003
Messages
101
Location
Stafford Springs, CT
My Life as a Radio Tech

When I was a young teenager I got interested in radio.
Got my amateur radio license in the late 60's (WA1DMX).
Allot of experience gained as a ham.
Got into 2-Way radio as an installer and worked my way up to repair technician quickly.
Got my commercial radiotelephone license which was required in the early days.
13+ years with GE 2-Way equipment. Cellular was just beginning.
Worked for GE, RCA, and Motorola and then worked in the Cellular field for 13 years, 11 of them as a cell manager.
Today cellular has taken over allot of the 2-Way radio business except for Public Safety.
Companies I worked for sent me to school on specialized communications equipment.

Now retired I still tinker with electronics and of course ham radio..
Working in the field worked for me. You'll learn about all aspects of the equipment and new technology that comes out. Hands On...

Good Luck in your venture.

Mike

WA1DMX
 

zerg901

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Apr 19, 2005
Messages
3,410
If you want to create electronic gear, I think you need a EE degree (Electrical Engineer - 4 years of college). Maybe a Masters in EE - that would be 6 years of college IIRC. Lots of calculus and differential equations. Lots of hard work.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrical_engineering
 
Last edited:

fineshot1

Member
Joined
Sep 17, 2004
Messages
2,521
Location
NJ USA (Republic of NJ)
Who creates and works on radios and associated equipment? If I wanted to enter this field, what would I need to be? Electrical technician? Electrician? Radio Tech? Where do you learn how to do this?
Click on the links below - this will just give you some idea.

Lots of schooling needed. I went to DeVry Tech for the ET program
at night school back in the early 1980's. Graduated in 1983 and soon
went to work for NCR Comten, Inc in the computor main frame market
long before the flood of the PC market started. Once the main frame
market started drying up I went into the cellular industry and that was
hot for many years. Now I am in Public Safety Radio Communications.
When I was younger it was tough to work full time and go to school at
night but it was my only choice. You may also have to make some tough
choices if you want to break into the electronics industry.

Electronic Technician and Repair Careers, Jobs and Training Information | Career Overview

Electronics and Computer Technology Degree - Associate Degree | DeVry University

http://www.lincolnedu.com/schools/lincoln-college-technology/locations
 

jim202

Member
Joined
Mar 7, 2002
Messages
2,674
Location
New Orleans region
Who creates and works on radios and associated equipment? If I wanted to enter this field, what would I need to be? Electrical technician? Electrician? Radio Tech? Where do you learn how to do this?
There are few companies that will take a green horn into their lair. Best bet is for you to learn the basics of electronics for a start. Learn how Ohm's Law works and be able to understand how voltage and current are related. What function do the different components in a radio perform. Learn how a radio receiver and transmitter work. What does the coax cable and antenna do for the radio connected to them?

One of the best resources you can find is the Radio Amateur's Handbook. Today the name is the "ARRL Handbook" and the cost is high at $49.95 a copy. I still pull it out at work now and then. There are a number of good books at the ARRL site ARRL :: Technical where you can sort of browse around and look at some of the different books. If you have a "Ham Radio Outlet" store near you, maybe a trip in person can let you look through some of the books available.

If you do go to the store, talk with the people there and inquire about some of the ham clubs in your area. Most of the people behind the counter are ham radio operators. They can point you in the right direction if you make a good impression on them. Maybe you can find someone near you that can work with you and act as a mentor to speed your learning along.

After I got out of the Army way back when, I managed to find a few hams that were working on a repeater. Found out they could use some help, so I became close friends with them and offered my self to work with them and the repeater. One of them became my mentor back then to speed up my understanding of radios and how to work on them.

Here some 40 plus years later, they are still some of my best friends. Even though I don't even live in the same region, when I do manage a trip back there, they are still glad to see me. The tower I helped build and the repeater I worked on is still there.

I have serviced 2 way radios, built cellular sites, designed the cellular sites, worked on microwave systems, designed microwave paths, spent a good number of my years working with the public safety dispatch centers and the federal government agencies on their communication systems. Today I work for a company that makes radio interoperability gateways. the work is interesting, fun, lets me travel around the country meeting different people all the time and I get paid to play with radios. Not bad for a radio nut. They call me the scrounge, because I always seem to come back from some of my trips with equipment that someone was getting rid of. Many of the radios at work that I get to play with were obtained in this fashion.

If this is the kind of work you think your interested in doing, then learn, learn and learn some more. maybe once you have planted your feet into electronics, even go to a tech school, then maybe you can find a radio service shop that will take you in and start you off doing install work and the ground work on tower jobs. You have to sort of try pushing your way in the door. Once your in there, the future is up to you.
 

mm

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Dec 19, 2002
Messages
652
An EE degree in your desired discipline and at least a 3.0 GPA is required by most major US companies designing radio related products.

The particular college isn't as important as having a real grasp of the particular field you want to get into such as receiver design, transmitter design with a good grasp of new methods such as digital methods.

I have worked with other engineers from some of the big schools, MIT, USC and some of the other big east coast colleges along with much smaller or lesser known ones such as Embry Riddle, Oregon State and Arizona State University which in my opinion the last 3 have some of the best RF engineers who I have ever worked with.

Be aware that it isn't as glamorous as you may think, I have been designing avionics transmitters and related transmitter systems for over 21 years at companies such as Motorola, Cobham Avionics, Wulfsberg Electronics and some others designing radios for all fields of aviation such as public safety, private and commercial users.

It used to be fun in the early days but now there are literally cases and cases of paperwork required when designing radios for ridiculous items such as a common screw used to hold your transistors and circuit boards down to a heatsink/chassis.

Most of the red tape/ paperwork that screwed up the engineering in this country is related to ITAR restrictions which were started from the 2 government administrations, both democraps and repulsicans (these are not typos either), of the 1990's to around 2008 but even the present administration isn't doing anything to help out with the engineering field in this country.


Your engineering time will be spent doing around 10% real world design, 15% relating with redesign obsolete issues, 25% of the time working with manufacturing related issues and around 50% of your time dealing with obsolete and pirate parts issues which is becoming the major pain in the engineers butt.

Looking back on things I wish I had become an OBGYN, at least i'd be working with something that I like to be around.



Mike
 

jje64

Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2002
Messages
138
Let me offer my advice in this area. I am currently a manager with a company who designs such equipment. I have over 25 years experience as an engineer and manager in the high tech field. My expertise is in RF circuit and system design. I have loved electronics since I was 13, I am ham, am very good at math and science, etc.

IF your desire is to design radio equipment ( the equipment used at base stations, in mobiles, etc.) you will need a degree in electrical engineering. A masters degree preferred. Similarly if you wish to be a systems engineer. Systems engineers do protocol design, system architecture, etc.

If your desire is to install and build (READ: hands on) radio systems (police, fire, cellular) then a EET degree or associates degree is fine.

Now for what I consider the important advice that I give to any person wishing to enter a field and have given to my 15 year old son,

1) Do NOT make you hobby your job. You will end up hating your hobby, your job, or both. Find a job/career that pays enough money for you to live and enjoy you hobby.

2) Find a job that cannot be sent off shore. As a hiring manager for a large high tech firm I can tell you quite frankly that a VERY LARGE percentage of those electrical engineering jobs designing radios are GOING OFF-SHORE. I can hire six engineers in China or India for one here based on salary. Do I believe that those off-shore engineers are better than those here -NO. In fact their work is rather poor, in my experience. But radios are low margin items. That means the company cannot make much money on them based on what it would cost to design them here vs what they can sell them for to a police dept. Companies are driven by their stock price. There is not a quarter that goes by that I have to plan for a layoff of someone here or myself!!

3) RF engineering is not what it once was. Whether done here or off-shore there is no "real" design done any longer. Engineers from my generation and earlier have done such a good job at making more highly integrated circuits that RF design today is simply "a dead bug on a board" . No more tuning, circuit matching, etc. Apply power to a chip, bypass everything correctly, connect input and output, done. Not anywhere close to all the time you will put in on the topic in college

4) IF you still want to be an EE go the route of Software (Can't believe I am saying that as I am a hardware person). But more and more electronics are done via software algorithms running on a chip. The software represents the circuits formerly done with transistors, etc.

I am sure this will stir a lot of negative comments. I certainly am not wishing that. But, this is my opinion and that of quite a few peers of mine. These are very smart people with MSEE and PhD EE degrees who are sorry the day they did it.

I hope this helps you judge for yourself. I think all folks need to hear the positive and negative when choosing careers. I wish someone had offered me such advice.

Best of luck.
 

NewSDScanner

Member
Joined
Oct 5, 2010
Messages
135
Location
San Diego
Wow, I want to say that I GREATLY APPRECIATE all of the advice and insight you guys have given me in this discussion. I post on forums a lot and it's certainly not ever day (or hardly even every month) that I run into quality replies like this, so thanks again!

That said, I now know the answer to my question. I'm currently getting ready to go to school to be an electrician (5 year professional apprenticeship program) and based off of what I've read here, I'm going to stick to that plan for sure. The fields are definitely related and I figure I could keep this stuff as a hobby like jje64 said so that I don't grow to hate it, haha. One thing that is cool though is that I really love studying and working with electricity and radio is definitely related so I'm sure as my study of electricity/electronics continues, I'll learn plenty about radio as well.

jje64, I also want to thank you for giving me the pros and cons and talking about how RF work has changed recently.
 

krokus

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jun 9, 2006
Messages
4,921
Location
Southeastern Michigan
There is a large difference between electrical and electronic items. If you get a good understanding of the basics of electricity, it will help you with both sides.

I dare say that an interest in electronics will help you understand some of the electrical aspects, to a more in-depth level. Electricians get paid well, after getting some time under your belt, and should provide for the electronic hobby. :)

Good luck, for whichever path you follow.
 

n4yek

Member
Joined
Apr 20, 2004
Messages
2,491
Location
Newport, Tennessee
1) Do NOT make you hobby your job. You will end up hating your hobby, your job, or both. Find a job/career that pays enough money for you to live and enjoy you hobby.
Amen, I worked at Ten Tec, an amateur radio manufacturer in Tennessee, for 10 years as an electronic technician. Now I have no wish at all to even talk on my radios nor do I work there any longer. I don't mind monitoring my scanners, but talking on my ham gear is no longer desirable.
 
D

DaveNF2G

Guest
Excellent advice from all participants. This is the kind of thread that makes RR.com so valuable.
 

WayneH

Forums Veteran
Super Moderator
Joined
Dec 16, 2000
Messages
7,501
Location
Sitting in an airport somewhere
Speaking from a maintenance perspective....

I echo both posters above me who said that once you get in to radio you lose that personal interest. Before I got in to two-way (service & repair) as a career I had serious interests in it as a hobby, which helped me going in but after a few months doing the job the last thing I wanted to do when I got home was hear any kind of radio.

When I got hired by a local shop (in San Diego) I was in school for my electronics degree, which probably helped, but how I got offered the job was from me stopping in and buying manuals from them to read up on Motorola equipment. Now, especially with the way the economy is, you're lucky to get in to the industry without knowing someone. And depending on where you are geographically located sometimes working for a local shop isn't a good idea (San Diego=not). Low pay and an insecure future. If someone wants both of those it's best to get hired by a government agency be it Federal, State or local. They'll pay well and give you good benefits. Typically a Military background will help anyone immensely over anyone off the street. Otherwise, if someone wants to stay private then the better paying industry is cellular.

Even heading in to the electrical field still gives you the possibility of working in two-way, or RF communications in general, since the stuff has to be powered somehow, and it's always a contractor doing that work, and getting paid well for it.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top