Ham radio equipment not expensive

Published 5:26 pm Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Becoming an amateur radio operator may seem like a costly venture, but with some luck and good shopping skills even the most frugal person can become fully equipped.

Pearl River County Amateur Radio Club Vice president Larry Wagoner said that a portable radio, which is good for a coverage area of 15 to 100 miles and puts out about 65 watts, can be obtained brand new for $130. These units are usually set up to operate off a vehicle’s power supply but home power supplies can purchased for about $100.

“So we’re not talking about incredible amounts of money,” Wagoner said.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The size and weight of these radios is comparable to old CB radios. Car antennas can be purchased for between $20 to $100 and a home antennas will run between $40 to $50. Cable usually runs about 60 cents a foot. For the do-it-yourselfer. antennas can be handmade. If they are built correctly, handmade antennas can work just as well as a store-bought model, Wagoner said.

There are opportunities for those interested in purchasing used equipment at HAM fests. Sometimes used gear can be bought for about 50 percent of the brand new cost, Wagoner said. The local club is planning such an event for Dec. 6, at the Poplarville Fair Grounds.

Those who want to spend the big bucks can look to spend between $27,000 and $28,000 on equipment that would work about the same as the cheaper counterparts while only providing some additional features, he said.

“Frankly, those are people that have more money than sense,” Wagoner said.

Wagoner said he uses modestly priced equipment and homemade antennas. Even with his equipment he is able to talk with people around the world. To top it off, no one can tell the difference in sound quality, he said.