Jump to content

Inexpensive HAM base station

Recommended Posts

Hi everybody,

I just recently discovered HAM radio. I haven't gotten my license yet but I'm studying for it. Meanwhile, I've been doing some research as to setting up my base station. My goal is to be able to transmit and receive on VHF and UHF bands, and HF would also be great but is not necessary. As I did my research, I realized that there are many routes to my goal, but the ones I've found are very expensive. I am looking for something under 300 dollars, preferably 200, including antenna, transceiver, coax, key, microphone and anything else that is necessary. It would be great if any of you know where to get this stuff for cheap or have any advice in general about this.



P.S. If hak5 is not the right place to post this, please tell me immediately and I'll move the topic to another site. I would hate to be a nuisance. I just really loved the responsive and helpful community here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm no moderator. And your free to ask questions. But i dont think there to many people here that can help you. The thing i do can say your better of finding the local ham radio section. They could help you the best. I also highly doubt it you can get all that gear for less then 300$. The place where i live you are required to have the license before you can buy the radio. The keep your price low. I would look at mobile stations. Ok they dont have the big power output but are way cheaper to get.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think Madhak should have some answers for you and there are a few other HAM guys amongst us. Most tend to hang out in the SDR part of this forum. This isn't so much the wrong forum to ask but there are probably better ones out there. I'm quite interested myself in the answers you may get, even though I don't expect to become a HAM guy myself anytime soon...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Swaggie and others,

We (hackers and hams alike) are notorious for being cheap. For most getting started in radio starts with the fine art of listening and is usually preceded by the desire to transmit, and usually after receiving a license to do so. Then there are a very few who like to live dangerously and start transmitting without a license giving us (and the FCC) sport; we get to hunt you down. :smile: Starting with an SDR is the big no brainer for listening. Transmitting can also be done very inexpensively too if you are handy with a soldering iron and can read schematics.

But I understand the need to get on the air quickly too. Flea markets are a great place to look for bargains on radios but bring a friend who knows something about them and a Volt/Ohm meter. Also, new Chinese radios have flooded the markets and are well within in your budget. For example, I was in Dayton and picked up a V/UHF radio for $45 complete with battery, wall charger, antenna and wrist strap. Adding and external antenna is trivial and can be crafted out of plumbing parts. The rest is up to you. :lol:

The test for getting your license is VERY easy, no longer requires Morse code and yes, you have to register with a government agency. But dems da rulz. :mellow: I came over to this forum because of all the OTHER helpful people who are just as friendly and can help me on my other projects. As the NSA sez, sharing is caring :ph34r: . See you on the air? - KD6W

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey Swaggie!

First you need to find out which is more active in your area. A lot of times one band is more used than the other (usually 2m VHF). A basic dual band radio will eat into your budget pretty fast so I will give you my $.02

Option 1)




and add coax cable

Option 2)

Use a handy talky like a Yeasu FT-60 and an external 50w amp (can be found used for less than $100)

I would still recomend the same antenna as above.

There is a chance you might come across a used HF radio localy that fits your budget, you will just have to keep your eyes open. I too recomend joining a local group to find out the ins and outs of your area.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So the guys at the other forum had the idea to use a baofeng uv5ra-b, which seemed like a great idea from my uneducated point of view. Do you have any ideas for increased sensitivity, best antenna, or power amplification, or any pointers on what kind of range i should expect for instance? Also aiaf the baofeng seems like a bad idea don't hesitate to say so.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a Baofeng UV-5R and we have a few more at HacDC which we used when testing AX.25 over HAM as a potential medium-distance transport for Project Byzantium.

The Baofengs in general are decent, capable HTs. They're not as nice as a Yaesu or Kenwood (which cost about 10x as much) but they can still hit the local repeaters from a decent distance and they are a lot better value, especially when you're just starting out. It's good enough for you to practice on while you get licensed and figure out what features you want/need in the long-run.

And since they're so cheap, they're easy project fodder. You won't feel bad about cracking them open to solder bits on or tossing them into projects which might get vandalized or destroyed. It's only $30-50.

Also, the Baofengs ship with the ability to transmit and receive on some other frequencies, like the FRS/GMRS frequencies, which can be useful. I've set the presets on my radio to match the FRS/GMRS channels so that I can use it to communicate with people who have FRS/GMRS radios in a pinch. Technically this violates the FCC rules for FRS/GMRS, because these radios are not certified for operation those frequencies, but in an emergency situation it could come in handy.

My only complaint about the UV-5R is that it doesn't charge off 5V and requires a special power brick. The UV-3R does charge off 5V, so you can use any common USB charger, but it also has less transmit power and lacks the number-pad so it's a pain to program without a computer.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The radio I spoke of earlier was the Baofeng and now that I have had some time to use it, it's OK. BUT, although it works, it has it's issues too as one should expect for a radio that doesn't cost hardly anything. The old saying is true, you get what you pay for. But I concur with the range of comments from the other forum (G0HCP and OH8GAD) the bang for buck and your first experience will be based tempered on the band and the people around you on those bands. I live in the Bay Area, not far from the HAK5 World Headquarters. I just scanned the 2m band from my QTH (location) and there are a few stations on the air, some analog and some digital (DMR and DStar). If you live farther away from metropolitan areas, there will be less. When I scan a popular part of 80 meter band, there are six or more QSO's (conversations) and they are all over the western United States. Mind you, none of them are talking about anything worth listening too.

Again - a fool and his money are easily parted but who am I to tell you how to spend it. Did you take your license test yet? - KD6W

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...