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Most of my contributions to date in AusTech have been on software and intangible technology, so I’ve decided to share some knowledge on hardware and one of my biggest hobbies – amateur radio. It’s well known that a hand-held transceiver would not be a good selection for an amateur of first time DX radio user. Despite the fact that the hand-held transceivers have the benefit of being fully functioning device, they have several flaws. Viable alternatives for beginners include VHF/UHF/HF, which are all mode rigs, offering great versatility, however they are usually too expensive for beginners.
Consideration of these factors begs the question as to what equipment is most suitable for first time radio operators. The answer to this question depends on two things, namely; budget and intended use for the radio. There are many reasons as to why individuals are obtaining amateur radio licenses. Some people use the radio as a safety precaution, whilst other enjoy having a technical hobby. These differences in use are to be taken into consideration when deciding what equipment to purchase.
Hand-held FM Transmitter
Hand-held transceivers are perfect for a range of public events, including the co-ordination during emergencies. However, the range of transmission is limited, which may pose limitations in the context of events and operations spanning large areas. These devices are easy to set up and are usually ready for immediate use after purchase.
Mobile FM Transceivers
As the name implies, mobile transceivers are great for circumstances that involve movement, such as use within a vehicle. However, they may also be useful in static environments. They have a great deal of utility when the co-ordinating people during emergencies, however they are not as easy to operate as hand-held devices. These devices can be optimised through the installation of an antenna and a permanent power source, however this will involve a great deal of expense and affect the device’s mobility. These devices are more suited to people who are interested in ‘rag chewing’ the other operators in their locality.
HF, UHF, VHF
These options are reasonably expensive and would only be appropriate for a beginner who was willing to spend a substantial amount of money to establish a radio system. Recent regulatory changes mean that technicians can operate at general level without having to successfully complete a proficiency exam.
Having a system of this calibre will allow an operator to conduct numerous experiments. An operator could experiment with modes ranging from classic digital through to use of RTTY, fax and SSTV.
That’s all I have for amateur radio for now. I hope this knowledge can help you get started and enjoy amateur radio as much as I do!