Books on Radio Design or building

Discussion in 'Homebrew and Kit Projects' started by KN4BSH, Jul 6, 2017.

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  1. KN4BSH

    KN4BSH Ham Member QRZ Page

    Not sure what section this question goes under; however, I will start here.

    Can someone point me to books or offer suggestions on books that deal with radio design and construction? Currently, I want to make a 2m SSB radio and eventually get to creating 40m 20m and 10m HF radios.

    However, I have no clue where to start. I am currently studying for my General, and teaching myself electronics by books; however, other then simple circuits I have no exposure to radios design and concept, so I am looking for some good books.

    Thank you
    N0TZU likes this.
  2. N7EKU

    N7EKU Ham Member QRZ Page


    ARRL handbooks are full of info on radio design, even old ones from the 80's are fine. IIRC, some of those older ones actually had 2m homebrew designs to build.

    And the web is full of stuff. This is a great one:


    WA7PRC likes this.
  3. VK3YE

    VK3YE Ham Member QRZ Page

    Another good read is at (hosted on G0UPL's website)

    Also recommended is Experimental Methods for RF Design which has some VHF techniques.

    A 2m SSB rig is an ambitious project first up so I'd recommend a progression of simpler transmitter and receiver projects first up. But definitely achieveable! You might end up building the HF rig first.

    I'd suggest starting with a basic kit or from-scratch design and progressing up.

    1. The Beach 40 is a basic DSB transceiver for 7 MHz

    2. Or if you want something cheap and quick (and mostly prebuilt) it's hard to go past the Bitx. Reviewed at

    3. Consider something like an MST3 SSB kit for 14 MHz

    4. Alternatively the original 14 MHz Bitx. A DDS VFO would be a great accessory.

    For example something like the CDV DDS which I reviewed at

    By this stage you'll have gear for 40 & 20m (ie the busiest HF bands).

    5. Build a transverter from 14 MHz to 144 MHz. This will get you to your aim. Start with low power (eg 100mW to 1w) as you should still get contacts if there's local activity. Then add amplifier stages.

    An alternative approach is to build a 144 MHz DSB direct conversion transceiver. Ideas at

    Here's my experiences

    An unfinished project - you'll probably get yours done before mine!
    KC8YLT likes this.
  4. WA7PRC

    WA7PRC Ham Member QRZ Page

    You could do worse with RF Circuit Design by Chris Bowick (link). After that, especially for higher frequencies, mechanical construction matters. An ARRL or RSGB handbook will get you started there, have other design info, and have projects/suggestions in them. If your book budget is slim, there's alotta of info on the Internet Archive: :)
  5. F5VHZ

    F5VHZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    First of all, i would like to say its a nice change to hear from some one ready to start out by building his own gear.

    Some of us oldies did and some didn't but with time (and age) we have all built something and been damm proud of it.

    Many moons ago i started to teach my self electronics when i was in my early twentys. I had moved to France and I read all the Elecktor magazines and allways looked forward to the summer bumper edition to take with me on holiday. I also read the manuals issued from the RSGB in fact still have one somewhere. Although it covered tubes and those new things called transistors, it was a very usefull read.
    From these i learnt the basics and that is where you must start. If you want to build a skyscraper, you have to be able to build a solid foundation first. This is the first step in electrinics and radio, and everything else really.
    Get to know the basics, inside out.. there are many books and tutorials avalable, the ARRAL book is a very good start. I once had an excellent book that started with a crystal radio design then one component at a time the book explained what the new component was and how it could make for a better reciever.. one component at a time showing different configurations and explaining what was happening was the foundation i needed. If i can find a reference to it i will post it on here.. all the diagrams were pale blue if that rings any bells with anyone. It was my holy bible, and i had that from the local library in the UK.
    From these humble basics, i started as you are about to, making my own radio gear, frequency converters, mixers, ATV recievers, antennas, test equipment, and on and on...enough to pass the radio exam, and start transmitting etc....
    roll forward 15 years and returning to the UK i had learnt enough to get a job as an electronics engineer doing industrial repairs to circuit boards, and 5 years later i was a senior engineer and eventually started my own buisness contracting directly with British Aerospace... then later head hunted back. A few years later i decided to leave the UK again and return to France where i worked as a senior electronics, radio and design engineer untill i had to retire a few years ago from health problems..
    I had made a career out of my hobby and loved every minute of it..and i still play radio and build things rather than buy black boxes..
    Don't give up, don't be put off by not finding a good source of help, keep searching untill you get that magic source of information that you feel is right for you. This should be fairly easy with the INTERNET and Youtube etc.
    Also have a go at the local Ham Radio Clubs, Hopefully you will find one where they are active and do a lot of construction, teaching, competitions etc, but these clubs sadly are not the norm, many are just a meeting place for a bunch of guys to get away from the missus for a few hours !! But keep looking because there are some very good clubs too.
    I hope my story of how i suceeded will help you and inspire you to keep plugging at it untill you have what you need.
    good luck and may the force be with you..
    F1HIC, FC1HIC, G1YEB, M5AET, and now F5VHZ
    N5DMC likes this.
  6. K9STH

    K9STH Ham Member Volunteer Moderator QRZ Page

    Probably the best way to build a 2-meter SSB transmitter is to build a 20-meter SSB transmitter and then build a transmitting converter to put it on the 2-meter band.

    I have never built an SSB homebrew transmitter. I have built a couple of DSB transmitters. However, I have built a number of VHF transmitting converters, receiving converters, and transverters (converts both transmit and receive) over the decades.

    Glen, K9STH
  7. N1OOQ

    N1OOQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Some of the W1FB books are pretty good for beginners. He gave basic information without getting bogged down in math and theory too much... and so the books are good for getting a little intuitive feel for radio circuits, and learning to recognize what a certain component or circuit is there for.

    I have seen at least one of them on the web in a PDF.
  8. KN4BSH

    KN4BSH Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thank you all for the support and insight on this topic. Due to cost and being a small project - I have already completed the Pixie 40m kit; however, I a little frustrated with this project. It work, and I hear a good number of CW signals (no key yet - so just listen) however, I have a bad hum in the system - even when I use a 9v battery. Looking at methods to get rid of the hum.

    Yet - I am not deterred from learning electronics and building a "good" radio. To be honest - the main driving force in getting my license was to have a reason to learn electronics.

    Thank you.
  9. KN4BSH

    KN4BSH Ham Member QRZ Page

    Question about design - How would I limit my frequency range from: 7.025 - 7.125? I thought crystals are rated or operate at a specific frequency.
  10. VK3YE

    VK3YE Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yes, crystals only give operation on a particular spot frequency, unless you add a VXO to 'pull' its frequency a few kilohertz. The more pull you get the less the stability. You could use a switch with several crystals for limited frequency agility. 7 MHz ceramic resonators give even greater shift but there may be chirp given it's such a simple transmitter circuit. And the receive offset arrangements will be harder.

    You might enjoy my Pixie page at which details some mods.

    But past a certain point it's better to put it aside and tackle another project which has features like a better receiver and frequency agility built in - as they say "you can't apply lipstick to a pig".

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