Already have the proper equipment? Skip this step! What equipment do I need?
Unfortunately, there is no 'one big machine' that will do it all. There are a few items you will need, but, don't let this deter you, it is actually much easier than it seems, especially when it is put in a list for you like this one! You will need: -A Transceiver
-A Power Supply
-An Antenna Tuner
-Microphone or Key
That is the basic equipment you need to make a QSO. There are many retailers that sell this, and beware of some places like Radio Shack! They overprice cheap items that you could otherwise get for a cheap price. Transceiver:
A transceiver is a combination of a receiver and a transmitter. They are a better option than getting a separate transmitter and receiver, especially if you are inexperienced. Depending on frequency range and power output, they can cost from a range from $100-$10,000! However, you can get a good quality one for around $200-$600. Fortunately, they are probably the mot expensive item you will get, and pretty much all of the other items are way below $100. Some trusted brands are Icom, Yaesu, and Kenwood. However, there are much more. To combine shipping and decrease the cost, you can get just about everything from Ham Radio Outlet (hamradio.com). You could also opt for building a kit. However, the kits usually only produce less than 5 watts, but they are extremely fun as long as you like to solder. However, if you are operating VHF (Very High Frequency) which is most commonly thought of as talking to people using repeaters
, then you may only need a small mobile handheld transceiver that has all of the listed components listed above. A local ham gave me a VHF repeater for free when I first started (like I said, older hams really like helping out new hams), but most people can get them for around $70-$200. Power Supply:
A power supply is what powers the transceiver. Most power supplies cost less than $100. But be careful, you have to make sure they are compatible with your transceiver. If you buy one that puts out too little volts, your transceiver will be greatly under-powered and may not turn off, but if you buy one that puts out too many, you could blow your fuse, or seriously damage your radio. Remember: If you aren't sure, CONSULT AN EXPERIENCED HAM!
If you sent me a message, I would be more than happy to help. Antenna:
If you find the right one and use it right, you can get a good quality antenna for $30. However, you can also get a good quality antenna for $300. I, myself have a $30 antenna and have made a QSO with countries like Argentina and Germany. When you think of an "antenna", you probably think of a metal tower. Those antennas are called vertical antennas, but are not the only option. There are yagi's, dipoles, and many more. A good antenna that you could string off the side of your house is a G5RV: http://www.mfjenterprises.com/Product.php?productid=MFJ-1778 . They work just as well as a vertical antenna, and can sometimes be a huge money saver. Always remember, Check with your town zoning laws before putting up an antenna. Often times your town may have restrictions on the type of antennas you can put up. Antenna Tuner:
This one is a bit complicated. Basically, you need this "tuner" to be able to, in plain words, "match" your transceiver to your antenna. If you have them mismatched, a lot of the power you transmit on your transceiver could end up severely damaging your transceiver or blow a fuse. There are two types of tuners: an auto tuner and a manual tuner. A decent manual tuner can be found here: http://www.mfjenterprises.com/Product.php?productid=MFJ-971 and auto tuners can vary depending on brand and other factors. A manual tuner is recommended for inexperienced hams. For the sake of cutting down on a bunch of words, you can learn how to use it by going here: http://www.hamuniverse.com/tuner.html . Microphone or Key:
This will be how you communicate. Depending on the mode you use, you need a key to send Morse code, and a microphone to send SSB (voice). Many transceivers have different microphone jacks, but fortunately, many transceivers come with a compatible microphone. Morse code keys usually don't however. And there are many different types such as a straight key or bug. Since you are probably a inexperienced ham, you might want a straight key as it is more simplistic. Most Morse code keys have two different jacks. If you have a key you want to buy, email the seller or talk to him in person about which you should get. Extra Cables:
You will need extra cables usually around 1-5 feet long to connect all of your equipment together. CONSULT WITH A HAM OR YOUR RETAILER FOR INFORMATION ON WHICH ONES! Usually, you will only need one type. Remember! Never let yourself become frustrated or deterred because there is so much you may not know. Just email the seller/retailer, send ME a message, or talk to your local ham radio club, because they all will be more than happy to help you learn to be a ham. It is quite simple once you understand everything, and surprisingly, there isn't a whole load you will have to know. Just the basic skills.
Now, you're ready for your QSO...