I have an older Dell laptop 1.6Gig 20mb hd, 512k ram I use for the radio software. You can get them online for $50 or less. My only suggestion if you intend to run PSK from it, to use a USB sound card (available for <$5 on eBay) so you don't accidentally kill your main board sound chip. I use Windows XP.
Go cheap to the max. Iff you find that Linux loggers, digital software, etc. works for you, check out thrift stores, garage sales, even dumpster dive.
DISCLAIMER: dumpster diving is at your own risk. Check to see if it's really legal, and not just sorta legal. My town dump has gone totally ape about computer scavengers. Bummer.
TIP: Goodwill and other thrift stores often offer "special color tag of the week" half-price-off specials, etc. Since the marked price will usually be astronomical relative to the value, bide your time. The lack of a hard drive/RAM and bad cosmetics scares away some people. Thrifts are good place to get monitors and other peripherals.
Once you get your free or really cheap PC, load it with Lubuntu (Linux kernel + LXDE environment). Pentium 1.5 GHz, even Celeron, with 512mb ram will work stellar. Heck, you can manually load LDXE over a late model PowerPC Mac (the Linux kernel has been ported to PPC for a while).
I have an IBM ThinkPad from 2005 that has XP on it and cost me $125. Picked it up at a Hamfest. I have found that XP is the sweet spot for Ham Radio software, compatible with just about everything. Also, I installed Windows XP in VirtualBox on my MBP. Runs like a charm and best of all VirtualBox is free. Unfortunately, most of the software I run (i.e. Ham Radio Deluxe, etc) does not have a version for Mac/Linux. I guess I could use wine too.
"I prayed to God for a new motorcycle, but I learned that God didn't work that way. So, I stole a motorcycle and prayed to God for forgiveness. " -Unknown
Then load up CQRlog and Fldigi and you are off to the races...
My guess is that they don't want people reading the personal data that is on most discarded home computers. My local town recycling center, probably like most, charges money to dump computers. I assume they then pay someone else to take it away so the town wins if someone takes one away for free but I think the data thing is an issue.
Originally Posted by AB2T
I seriously doubt they give a rat's patooti about data carelessly left on discarded computers. What they care about is the contract they have from the local waste disposal company, which pays THEM for the privilege of collecting e-waste and in turns gains revenue from the recycling of the precious metals (tin, silver, gold, etc.) in the electronics.
Originally Posted by KT1F
Don't kid yourself. it's always about the MONEY.
Maybe you're right. I know someone makes money out of "eWaste" eventually but I didn't think my little town would collect enough to make it worthwhile but perhaps they do.
Originally Posted by WA9SVD
I gt back into radio after a 7 year hiatus and busted budgets along the way.
By the time I got to getting a ham radio computer there wasn't much money left.
I ended up with a cheap I5 notebook from Lenovo .... it's the only windows computer I'll allow in my house and is dedicated to the operating position alonside the Icom 7600.
It was a temporary quick fix until I can get my new 27" iMac up to speed with ham stuff.
I'd bet the waste company harvests garbage and other material from many "local" communities. Collectively, it can be lucrative.
Originally Posted by KT1F
here in at least a part of Southern California, GOODWILL accepts e-waste (discarded electronics) for no fee, and I'm told they automatically get $0.50 for every dead monitor turned in. (In years past, the local municipalities would charge $0.35 to $0.50 PER POUND to dispose of CRT monitors. GOODWILL accepts donations on a daily basis, the cities only had one or two "pickups" a year, guess why they stopped the $harging for disposal. PLUS, GOODWILL helps put people through rehab, and get them back into society as responsible citizens, and gets them jobs. Recyclers certainly don't do THAT!