Ham Radio Starter Kit
May 3, 2014
When you go shopping for a starter kit there are several things to keep in mind and there essentially is not one right answer. A lot will depend on your budget and what you want to achieve in the first weeks and months. The great thing is that you can gradually expand your communications system over time as you gain more experience and build up a bigger budget.
The first thing you need to do is understand the basics of frequency bands. Your choice of equipment will most depend on what kind of wireless frequencies you want to get started in. The more frequencies you want the better the equipment you will need.
The next thing you need to consider is where you want to be using the radio; just at home or on the go as well? I generally would recommend getting started at home as the gear is less intricate and it helps to get a broad understanding first. While the basics are the same, home equipment is bigger and easier to figure out.
You will also have to figure out where your nearest repeater is. Check out these websites for more information:
When operating from within your house you can get started with an antenna in your room, but you will encounter limitations. With a bit of planning you can get an antenna installed on your roof, which give you much better performance. There will be an extra cost but this is a once off, you can extend your in house equipment and still use the same antenna.
For the connection to the antenna I would recommend in spending some extra for high quality coax cables with low loss per foot. This will pay off for years to come and will save you time and money when your system grows and enhances.
When you get started you will not need a big space, but this can quickly change if like me you become addicted to wireless communications technology. Once you understand the systems you will quickly want to experiment with building your own pieces from scratch, which will require a decent worktable. As this stuff can quickly become a bit messy you might want to consider setting up in a garage or designated room where you can shut the door. This can keep other family members and partners happy, as they will not have to trip over cables and boxes.
Stay tuned for some further posts on different starter kits.