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Need advice on RF

Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by Joe, Feb 6, 2004.

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  1. Joe

    Joe Guest

    I have been hobbying around in electronics for about a year now, and I am
    getting interested in RF for notification of certain events in my regular
    job as a wildlife damage controller, as well as building small tracking
    transmitters and receivers. I have been studying for my technician class
    amateur radio license, and have made contact with one of the local radio
    clubs in my area. Problem is, no one seems to be interested in or know much
    about homebrew instruments. I am interested in getting my license not so
    much to be able to communicate with people around the country (or world),
    but mainly so that I can build the instruments and devices that I have ideas
    for in my head and be able to legally build and use them.

    I have googled for things like tracking transmitters and beacon transmitters
    and the circuits I am finding just plain don't work. A lot of these circuits
    use the FM band and transmit on 88MHZ or so, but don't seem to have the
    range that is advertised.

    Before I start spending money on books, I was wondering if there is a sort
    of a 'bible' for the amateur radio homebrew (beginner) type person. I have
    seen some of the books the ARRL sells, but I am not sure which ones to
    invest my dollars in. If there are any homebrew ham operators out there who
    could suggest a book for a beginner like myself, I would greatly appreciate
    it.

    TIA,
    Joe
     
  2. The "bible" is the ARRL Handbook. It's name changes every so often,
    but always with Handbook in the title, and a couple of years ago it
    was "The ARRL Handbook for the Radio Amateur".

    It's the reference, and one really ought to have a copy no matter
    what other books they collect. A new edition has come out every year
    for decades, so it should be easy to pick up a recent used edition
    cheap. The projects change from year to year (though not all
    of them) but the the background material tends to change glacially
    (except for the occasional time when they make a leap forward).

    They do have books intended for learning about electronics, as
    geared towards radio, that many probably will need as a supplement
    (or, the Handbook is the supplement/reference book to the other book).
    I'm not sure what they have these days in the way of such books.

    A recent book that I've yet to see but likely should be on
    the shelf of everyone beyond a certain level of playing with
    radio, is "Experimental Methods in RF Design". It's apparently
    a mix of more advanced topics than the Handbook but with practical
    projects too. But I'm less sure it would be of interest to you,
    since it deals with fancier receivers and fancier modulation modes,
    when you sound like you're more likely to only need basic transmitters.

    Michael
     
  3. Joe

    Joe Guest

    Hi Michael,

    Thank you for the info. I will see if amazon has any and just order it. Yes,
    right now, just basic transmitters and receivers for me, but who knows about
    the future.

    Joe
     
  4. I forgot to mention that many libraries are likely to have an ARRL Handbook,
    so if you've got access to a library you might check that first.

    A traditional place to find old Handbooks are fleamarkets put on by
    amateur radio clubs. The ARRL has a list of upcoming fleamarkets at
    their website at http://www.arrl.org Maybe you'll be lucky and something
    local is happening soon. Those "hamfests" can also be a place for buying
    parts, and other things the hobbyist might be interested in.

    Nowadays, I suppose many people would say "got to Ebay to buy a used
    Handbook".

    Michael
     
  5. There's another good newsgroup for this topic: rec.radio.amateur.homebrew
    for people who like to build their own circuits. "Homebrew" is ham slang
    for "I built it myself," not "I made my own beer."

    I'll bet you five dollars and a box of doughnuts that your local library
    will have plenty of ham radio stuff on the shelf. Look in the 620 region of
    the Dewey decimal system and you'll find all kinds of interesting electronic
    texts. They may also have lots of back issues of ham radio magazines such
    as _QST_, _73_, _CQ_, and other electronics hobby mags such as _Popular
    Electronics_.

    Hamfests are terrific for stuff like this. Part of the fun is looking for
    it. You can get piles of ham mags for next to nothing, as well as older
    _ARRL Handbooks_.

    I don't tinker with RF as much as I used to, but I did learn a lot by just
    gritting my teeth and BUILDING something, rather than just reading about
    others doing it. I learned that when you're building an oscillator, the
    components must be *mechanically* stable, or else the frequency will drift
    dramatically whenever you even move the circuit.

    Good luck!
    Matt J. McCullar, KJ5BA
    Arlington, TX
     
  6. Joe

    Joe Guest

    Thanks Matt,
    I didn't think to check the local library. It is a very small town I live
    in, but it is worth checking into.

    I'll see if my news provider has rec.radio.amateur.homebrew

    Joe
     
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