Is Ham Gear Too Expensive? Or, Are Some Hams' Expectations Unrealistic?

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by N2EY, Sep 29, 2017.

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  1. K3EY

    K3EY Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yeah but as JY so aptly points out--for a guy with four kids and one income making 15 bucks an hour ham radio is for the rich
  2. KB1CKT

    KB1CKT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Sad, isn't it? Myriad of reasons why this is. I have read that our savings rate is down from where it was, but I don't believe this to be a new issue either.
  3. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Late to the party, but ham radio has never, ever been cheaper than it is today.

    "Problem" I see is more hams living with antenna restrictions than ever they want to be on the air, but we can't hear them.

    My first Novice station in 1965: Homebrew 6V6 transmitter (xtal controlled) and S-38C receiver; knife switch antenna T/R; homebrew folded dipole for 40m.

    For what that all cost in 1965, adjusted for inflation by the CPI calculator, I could buy a new HF transceiver that's about a thousand times better..for the same cost.:p

    But "antennas" are key. If you have antenna restrictions, you can spend $100K on ham gear and still not be very successful. Thankfully new digital modes are so efficient it's possible to make contacts with a paper clip sometimes, and that's helping.
    WU8Y and W7JZE like this.
  4. KK5JY

    KK5JY Ham Member QRZ Page

    Honestly, I think this is where most guys are getting hung up on this issue, since it appears in a new thread about once per week or so.

    The bar for "affordability" for ham gear has definitely moved, and for the better. There is no doubt about that.

    That said, the bar for other terms has also moved... e.g., "rich," "middle class," "living wage," "inflation," "working poor," "cost of living," and so on. And I think most people here are having trouble understanding that, and possibly because they tend to be the kind of people who are well-off enough to have the free time to comment in a 'Z thread most/all of the day, as opposed to having to work until their dying day just to eat. And so they naturally have no concept of how the increasing number of people in the other half of society have to deal with (a lack of) money, because they don't have that problem. They were people who retired in "the wealthy/good/prosperous years" before the big financial squeezes hit.

    The other thread that keeps popping up from time to time is "why aren't there more young(er) people in ham radio?" And one reason is the same as what I just explained. The younger you are, the fewer years you have had to make money, and most of your cash probably goes to raising a family (or two) that you had before you knew what it cost to have a family, and the further behind you started with respect to "net worth." The numbers say that the average young person today is worse-off, financially, than a person of that age 20y before, and that trend goes backwards into the 1950's. The income-to-COL ratio for the average person is falling, and people who have been retired for 5y, 10y or 20y may not have a concept of that because they have been out of the job market too long.

    And all due respect to previous posters, the published "CPI" numbers are a fairy tale. Ditto for "inflation." Working-class people understand this perfectly, but in case somebody wants a reference;
    KC3BZJ and W7JZE like this.
  5. KB1CKT

    KB1CKT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thankfully I managed to get a property where I can play with antennas (at least a bit). My last car purchase was bought with radio in mind, to a small degree--I was being cheap, but I also wanted something that I wouldn't cry over drilling holes into.

    But I was into radio long before getting the house. Many seem to do it the other way around, and suffer. Well, sometimes we really can't chose, but it sure is nice when we can.
  6. KB1CKT

    KB1CKT Ham Member QRZ Page

    There is truth to that. IMO some of it comes from a lack of teaching, and examples. And probably a bit of teen-angst driven desire to not listen to elders. I mean, look around: who doesn't rack up bills on CC's to buy anything and everything? The concept of living debt free & within one's means is not something taught. And those who do this, tend to be viewed with suspicion. I can say that as I used to think that way!

    Some of it though is unfortunate. Recently there was a stat that said, in 1950, median house price was 2x household income. Today it's 5x. I'm sure we're getting more house for our money (more square footage, A/C, better lighting, on and on) but we're sure paying for it.
  7. KK5JY

    KK5JY Ham Member QRZ Page

    What you say is definitely true, but not just for people that surf their credit cards until the wave of bills buries them on the beach of bankruptcy. I know two people my age who are not totally underwater, financially. One is a very successful engineer who lives on beans and rice. The other is an engineer who is less successful, but his wife bled her ex-husband dry in child support, so he has lived on three incomes for almost two decades. Everyone else that I know in my age range is buried. Most of them don't even have cable TV, or crazy phone plans, or anything extravagant. They just don't generate enough money through their labor to offset the cost of living. Period. And most of them are well-educated people with high-tech jobs, and drive 10yo cars, etc. Labor just doesn't have any value anymore, with respect to the expenses of life -- not even highly skilled or professional labor.
  8. KB1CKT

    KB1CKT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I don't doubt what you say, but most people I see seem to have new car payments, fancy cell phones and other money-suckers. Must just be a different place.
  9. KK5JY

    KK5JY Ham Member QRZ Page

    What I suspect is that the people you describe and the people I describe are no different from each other, except that the people you describe have given up and have decided to live large while the credit flows, and the people I know are still living under the illusion that they can somehow make ends meet if they just trim the fat a little more. :cool:
    KC3BZJ likes this.
  10. K9STH

    K9STH Ham Member Volunteer Moderator QRZ Page

    In 1960, the Heath HW-30 "Twoer" cost $44.95 for a kit. Using the Westegg site, that equates to $370.06 today. That was when the minimum wage was $1.25 per hour. The HW-30 had to be constructed, it had a super-regenerative receiver, and put out 1.5-watts on a good day! Plus, you needed some type of antenna and a crystal which added at least $10.00 to the cost. The rig did come with a microphone.

    From you can get a Baofeng UV-5R dual band portable for $29.99 and the minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. The Baofeng runs 5-watts output, has 2-bands, well over 100-frequencies, a superheterodyne receiver, antenna, microphone, and so forth. The Baofeng is light years better than the HW-30 and the cost, in today's money, is astronomical!

    At minimum wage, purchasing a new Baofeng today requires about 4.5 hours of labor. In 1960, purchasing an HW-30 required about a weeks worth of labor at minimum wage! Of course, most people make more than minimum wage. The time spent working in 1960 versus 2017 is even less today than before.

    For not much more in purchasing power today, one can get a 100-watt output SSB transceiver that covers 160-meters through 6-meters than an HW-30 and for less than what a 75-watt INPUT crystal controlled transmitter with AM / CW capabilities only, as a kit, cost in 1960!

    Frankly, amateur radio is MUCH cheaper today than ever before!

    Glen, K9STH
    W4IOA, K1OIK, W7JZE and 1 other person like this.
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