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Essential equipment

Dec 2nd 2011, 23:38


Joined: Nov 16th 2011, 11:36
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Total Posts: 0
OK, have a working rig (radio, power supply, antenna, plus HT). What other equipment should I have and in what priority? Presumably, I'll need equipment to make sure I'm FCC compliant, so what will I need in that department? Next, what tools and other gear do I want to have on hand?
Dec 3rd 2011, 03:04


Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
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Total Posts: 0

If you want to do it as a Regulator would you will need to spend a large amount of money on pieces of test equipment which are anually calibrated with certificates etc. A Regulator would also have remote/mobile measuring sites. Tests and testing methods would also have to be varifiable. You would also need to know what the results mean.

Not all of us have the money, equipment or expertise to do this. If the equipement is new it should have been tested to conform to the required standards in the factory. The good thing is with some basic understanding of electronics and communications ( eg ham radio ) and the limitations of your radio and measurement equipment you can make measurements which will indicate whether your station is working correctly. Or whether you need to make more accurate measurements to chase a fault.

Before you spend your hard earned money you need to check what your license says you need. For instance here in the UK it used to be part of the license that you had to have a calibrated wavemeter ( a crystal receiver) to be able to confirm your transmit frequency and look for any spurious signals. Many of the regulations are similar throughout the World. Details are available on the Internet and the ARRL website.

Here are a few simple things that will enable you understand and test your station. Fix it and construct and test projects which you will build in the future.

The ARRL Handbook and ARRL Antenna Handbook. Even editions which are a few years old ( you can pick these up for a few dolars) will give you the information you need to understand how your equipment works. To chose the test equipment and how to use it. What measurements to make and understanding the results. There are also some testing methods and simple test equipment designs which you can build from these books.

A good multimeter. Most are digital now and can measure componet values. It should be able to measure the maximum DC current that your transceiver uses. Most 100W HF 13.8V rigs use up to 20A.

A portable receiver. (Another transceiver even better) I use an Eton E5 for HF. But there are many more. This will allow you to listen for spurious signals, some harmonics, noise etc. With a calibrated frequency readout frequency measurements can be made. Also checking signal quality and levels from homebrew crystal oscilators and transmitters if you decide to go in to home construction.

A near by radio ham who is familiar with measurements and knows the quirks of his/her station. Who can monitor your signals and give accurate measurements and quality reports.

A good quality dummey load which can handle full power of your transceiver for the duration of your testing. As initial testing should be done into a dummey load and not radiated. Annoying those on the band. At some point you will need to carry out the tests into antenna. As some issues only show up when using the antenna.

Some pre-made test leads, adaptors and rf attenuators (50 ohm)

Like for automotive maintenance, you will aquire most tools as you go along. But what ever tools you purchase, make sure they are of good quality. Or they will damage screws and nuts etc. Pay more for side cutters and small pliers. Remember to use the appropriate tool for the job. Small side cutters and pliers can be damaged by using them on too thick materials. Yes I've done it (many times)!! You are likey to need a soldering iron. I would suggest at least a 40W temperature controlled one with the option of different size bits. But you need to learn how to use one.

A computer or smartphone with internet access. There are many free programs available which will analize or generate signals. Also web sites with manauals and guides to measurement techniques.

There are many other pieces of equipment you could purchase and use. But you may find that other radio hams or the local club can lend or help you with the measurements. Remember the more accurate the instrument the more expensive it will be to purchase and repair! So always think before you measure. Have an idea of the levels, type of signal levels you will encounter and what results you expect. I have seen the result of $100,000 piece of test equipment damaged when someone transmitted into it.

Best 73's


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