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Starting out on the cheap



At the risk of prolonging a contentious thread, I gave
some thought to how I might help a newcomer start out,
and came up with something like this:

1. Buy/beg/borrow/steal a general coverage receiver.
With a wire antenna this gives Mode A receive, and
gives ham/utility/SWL receive capability as well.

2. Rig up a 435 MHz receive converter. Either diddle
a surplus UHF commercial radio and feed its IF (10.7
or 21.4 MHz) into the receiver, or build one of the
many kits or published designs. With a simple antenna
(and a cheap preamp if you need it) you now have
Mode J receive.

3. Rig up a 145 MHz receiver converter. Maybe use the
3rd harmonic of a 40 MHz computer clock oscillator as
the LO and an example of harmonic mixing. You now have
Mode B and can listen to just about anything that goes
over.

4. Rig up a 145 MHz CW or SSB transmitter (there is no
point in worrying about transmitting until you can
receive and know what reception sounds like). A VXO,
a T2 SSB exciter (from scratch or build it from a kit)
and a brick amplifier. You can now communicate on Mode A
and Mode J, in both directions.

5. Fancy stuff: build a simple modem for the funny noises
emanating from AO-16/LO-19/IO-26.

6. Play with FM: 137 MHz weather satellites (a much better
newbie/public event demo, IMHO) 145 MHz ISS, 435 MHz 9600
baud. Would the very forgiving drift-resistant tuning
system of an FM radio chip like TDA7000 do the right thing
with satellite Doppler? Hmmm...

7. You get the idea...a series of small purchases, lots
of building blocks, successive refinement, the possibility
of building up a station in various directions. None of
this four-figure cost of entry stuff.

Your mileage may vary, of course. The beauty of ham radio
is that we can all do it our own way and still have fun.
-- 
Laura Halliday VA3LDH    "Laisse le vent tout emporter..."
Grid: FN03gs                - Foly/Viennet
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