HOME-BREWED AMATEUR RADIO “The most versatile hobby on earth”
You don’t have to buy all your equipment from a store, you can build it yourself, either from a kit or make it up yourself – what we Hams call “Roll-your-own”. This will often be much cheaper and a lot more satisfying to do. I know of Hams that operate “Roll-your-own home-brewed” only stations; they use this equipment even in stringent competition operating. What other hobby can boast this? Surely this makes “Amateur Radio – the most versatile hobby on earth”.
Building a kit radio is a most satisfying experience, even more so is building a transceiver from a circuit published in one of the Ham magazines, making the PC board (copper-clad board) and assembling the collected components yourself. However, in order to gain the experience needed to build a more complex kit, it would be wise to start off with a beginners kit at first. These kits come in all sizes and complexities these days, you can pick and choose; most all kits are of excellent quality and the construction guidelines from the suppliers are excellent. With diligence and taking your time it can be successfully assembled, tested and put to use without you scratching your head to much. From a simple kit move to a more advanced kit; in no time you will attain the experience to build equipment from a circuit you found in your favorite Ham magazine; trust me, hands-on experience combined with a little curiosity and a lot of reading will elevate your skills.
Home-brewing is not only limited to radio- or test equipment; many Hams build their own antennas successfully. Hundreds of Ham antenna articles can be found on the Internet, complete with plans and build instructions. A large portion of the Ham population worldwide experiment with different antennas, designed and built for their own specific applications and environment, antennas in wire and aluminum tubing being the most popular. You do not need to reinvent the wheel: search the Internet or Ham publications, find the antenna that you feel suits your needs and locality, if required do some design changes to adapt to your situation, collect the materials and then build the antenna. Thousands of Hams from all over are doing just that successfully. After the third or fourth antenna you will start designing your own antennas – who knows, you could just be the inventor of the world’s first wonder antenna that every Ham has been dreaming of.
Amateur Radio started off a century or so ago with Hams having to make do with “Rolling their own and home-brewing” all their equipment. There was nothing on the shelves to buy: neither commercial equipment, nor any instant kit radios. Those bygone days were what Ham Radio is all about, building your own and experimenting with all sorts of equipment and antennas. As time progressed we Hams have become spoiled with all the off-the-shelf equipment to be had, even to the extent that today we often don’t know what makes the equipment tick any-more; we can only operate it and pray that it does not break. If it does break we can’t fix it, so we either throw it away and get a new one or have it fixed by some or other specialist charging big bucks.
As an old hand at the game, I can state that building these modern kits takes me back to the days when “Home-brewing” was at the order of the day. It makes the hobby come alive again, to operate some or other piece of equipment that you have built yourself, that is Ham Radio. After you have built this rig from a kit, tested it all by yourself for workability and then put it into service; you will never need to send it to the “Spin doctors” for repairs or tweaking. You will become the expert on this radio and it will be the most wonderful experience. Try it just once, you will not be disappointed!
Vic – ZS6EA