Why are Hams not building some of their own gear?

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by N8ZL, Dec 27, 2018.

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  1. N8ZL

    N8ZL Ham Member QRZ Page

    I know technology has changed but I dont understand why Hams are not building their own antennas, transmatches, or amplifiers. Antennas are wire, tubing and feedline. A hand full of parts and you have a transmatch (tuner). Amplifiers are more mechanical than electrical, break the project up into blocks and it's easy and fun and you get the satisfaction of saying "I built it". Probably been discussed before, but just wondering.
    KC8YLT and KA4DPO like this.
  2. N2EY

    N2EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Whole bunch of reasons.....

    1) Lack of know-how

    2) Lack of tools, test gear and related resources

    3) Lack of resale value.

    4) Lack of time.

    5) Lack of examples.
    N6HCM, KC8YLT, KA4DPO and 1 other person like this.
  3. W9RLG

    W9RLG Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have to agree with EY. To me the world now days is i want it right now and don't want to wait for anything. I still build my own antennas, that is one of the things I love about ham radio. I always wondered why somebody would pay $1oo for a wire antenna you can build for $25?? I even built my own hex beam from parts here on the farm. My homemade hex beam cost me a whole $250 and some time. Time I would have spent not doing anything productive. Being retired I have time!!

    I think sometimes it is also just as expensive to buy parts as it is to by the product already built. It's not like back in the 60's and 70's when you could take old AM/FM radio and tv parts and build things either, at least I don't think it is. I could be wrong!!

    K2CAJ likes this.
  4. K4AGO

    K4AGO Ham Member QRZ Page

    Just curious... How many mechanical 1200 w amplifiers have you built? And like N2EY said can you give us an example? I would really like to see pictures and schematics of a 1200 watt mechanical amplifier. I'd even settle for 600 watt.
    73 John
    AJ6BO likes this.
  5. W5INC

    W5INC XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Doing a quick check over yonder at the ARRL website, there are over 20 HF amp projects that can be built from the information garnered there. The 1990 ARRL handbook and the ARRL website do have plans for a legal limit 8877 tube amp, good for 160Ms thru 10Ms, for those interested.
    K4AGO, K1SZO, K9ASE and 1 other person like this.
  6. KC4YLV

    KC4YLV Ham Member QRZ Page

    The over-simplified answer is that the cubic acres of milsurp and scrap gear that the previous generations leaned on are gone. No longer can one get 'free spool ends of 75 ohm CATV hardline' as so many 30 year old VHF/UHF guides suggest - that stuff gets sold back at scrap to recoup losses. You can't go into a junkyard and walk out with a couple free sweep tubes and a 30 pound HV transformer out of a TV set. Hell, a six inch chunk of B&W coil stock will run you forty bucks - IF you can find somebody willing to sell to you in single/small quantities.

    The finer point is that a lot of us DO homebrew our own gear; there's a very active homebrew subforum on this very site. The eastern Euro gang is selling us 100-300 watt amp boards for dirt cheap and we're 'homebrewing' them onto heatsinks and hooking up scavenged 48vdc power supplies. And tons of hams are hacking on bitx and DDS blocks these days - reminder that writing code to make a thing do things it wasn't intended to is just as much homebrewing as building an amp from scrap parts. It's just a little less visible.

    This is a slightly dense takeaway and your response isn't really intellectually honest. High power construction is as much about mechanical engineering - stress relief, heat transfer, modular construction - as it is about figuring out if that cap should be 7.5 or 10 pF. But you raise a great point! The age of the average ham having a mill and a lathe is kind of gone, barring the octogenarians that have had it around for 40 years. Most new hams can't afford their own home, let alone a shop full of metalworking gear.
    KG4RRH, AJ6BO, KI4AX and 8 others like this.
  7. K3EY

    K3EY XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Most of all, lack of interest.
    N6HCM and KK4NSF like this.
  8. WF7A

    WF7A Subscriber QRZ Page

    A superficial, and admittedly vain, reason is that whatever equipment I homebrew looks...well...amateurish. (My fabrication skills are non-existent; I can solder decently, but that's about it.) If I'm going to use a piece of equipment I'd like it to have function and form. (One of my complaints about manufactured ham radio gear is that most of it looks amateurish, too--it's not anywhere near as "sexy" as well-designed, mainstream consumer goods.)
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2018
  9. KP4SX

    KP4SX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    What I often see when the question comes up about "why don't you build your own dipole" is that the fellow feels he doesn't have time to do so and can easily reach into his pocket to buy a ready-made one. I actually did that once back in the 80s when I bought a B&W trap dipole because I really didn't have the time to monkey with building one from scratch since I was working a very hectic "young man's" schedule so I fully understand that.
    Now that I'm a retired old guy I would never do again that unless I saw some certain advantage to doing so since having free time is no longer a problem.
    KC3JFK likes this.
  10. KP4SX

    KP4SX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    That's really true. I built a very nice QRP transceiver that was based around an inexpensive chinese QRP transceiver and an article in QST about building a DDS VFO. There was a very large group of builders working on similar projects on a Yahoo! group. If you're not into the stuff you won't see it happening. Most of it is happening on private groups, Facebook, etc.
    I didn't know an Arduino chip from a potato chip at the time and learned a lot and it was all a lot of fun and I met some great people in the process.
    See the pics at the bottom of my QRZ page.
    KC8YLT, KK4NSF and VK4HAT like this.

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