Ham Radio For Dummies
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Soon enough, usually about five minutes after your first QSO, you start thinking about upgrading your ham radio station. Keep in mind the following tips when the urge to upgrade overcomes you. Remember the adage “You can’t work ’em if you can’t hear ’em!”
  • The least expensive way to improve your transmit and receive capabilities is to use better antennas. Dollar for dollar, you get the most improvement from an antenna upgrade. Raise antennas before making them larger.
  • Consider increasing transmit power only after you improve your antennas and eliminate local noise sources. Improve your hearing before extending the range at which people can hear you. An amplifier doesn’t help you hear better.
  • Buying additional receiving filters for an older radio is a whole lot cheaper than buying a new radio.
  • The easiest piece of equipment to upgrade in the station is the multiple-mode processor between your ears. Before deciding that you need a new radio, be sure you know how to operate your old one to the best of your abilities. Improving your know-how is the cheapest and most effective improvement you can make.

By taking the improvement process one step at a time and by making sure that you improve your own capabilities and understanding, you can achieve your operating goals quicker and get much more enjoyment out of every ham radio dollar.

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H. Ward Silver has the experience of a 20-year career as an electrical engineer developing instrumentation and medical electronics. He also spent 8 years in broadcasting, both programming and engineering. In 2000 he turned to teaching and writing as a second career. He is a contributing editor to the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) and author of the popular “Hands-On Radio” column in QST magazine every month. He is the author of the ARRL’s Amateur Radio license study guides and numerous other articles. He developed the ARRL’s online courses, “Antenna Design and Construction,” “Analog Electronics,” and “Digital Electronics.” Along with his comedic alter-ego, Dr Beldar, Ward is a sought-after speaker and lecturer among “hams.” When not in front of a computer screen, you will find Ward working on his mandolin technique and compositions.

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