Basic Equipment to

Get On The Air with HF Radio

1. A transceiver radio

- Most new ones range in price from $600 to $5,000

2. An antenna

- $20 (do-it-yourself wire dipole) to $500 + + +

- Antenna systems range from very simple to extremely complex and expensive. Complexity and expense have little relationship to how efficiently it transmits signals. Different needs (eg portability, multi-band, shape and size, directional vs non-directional) dictate decisions about which to get. A simple dipole is a good start.

3. A DC power supply with at least 20 Amp continuous capacity

- $50 to $125

- Some say a “switching power supply” is not recommended as it may produce some interference noise in your receiver. Others disagree.

4. Battery power for portable work

- $100 to $160

- Lithium-Iron-Phosphate types (LiFePO) are excellent for small size, light weight, steady discharge, long shelf life between charges (available in sizes approx. 6”x4”x2”).

5. Antenna “Tuner” (AKA: antenna matching unit, or antenna coupler) to match antenna/transmission line impedances to the 50 ohm output of radio

- up to about $150

- Dedicated tuners are needed for most multi-band antennas. Some transceivers have built-in tuners, but most are limited in capacity for handling large mismatches between antenna and chosen frequency.

6. Transmission Line

- Some common ones in order of expense and inverse order of loss:

RG58 (least expensive), RG8X (some referred to as “LMR240”), RG8 (some referred to as “LMR400”)

- Loss on HF frequencies is less than on VHF/UHF frequencies. If transmission line is under 100 ft. long, loss (dB/100 ft) is not significant

- For portability RG58 or RG8X may be best (lighter, thinner and more flexible).

7. Accessories (optional)

- CW key, headphones, mic, log book, connectors, amplifier and other “stuff”.

The information on this page is provided

courtesy of Pete Harris, KE6ZIW.

Images on this page are courtesy of Wikimedia.