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Other Uses For Ham Radio Equipment


By: Jon Kreski


Ham radio equipment can be used by people without amateur radio licenses as long as they do not transmit on any frequency they do not hold a valid FCC license for. For example, just about any amateur radio transceiver will have a high quality receiver. People that may find good use for the amateur radio may include avid shortwave radio listeners, CB radio operators that want to run a separate high quality receive radio and people wanting a sensitive AM or FM commercial broadcast radio receiver. Before you run out and purchase an expensive ham radio for non-amateur radio uses make sure that the particular radio has all the features you are expecting!

Any person wanting a high quality tower or tripod for use with a TV antenna may be interested in ham radio equipment of this nature. Ham radio antenna rotators may also be considered for TV antenna purposes. Make sure to ask the price before making a commitment to buy the equipment. Also be sure to understand the loading characteristics of the equipment. For example, for a tripod or a tower, what is the maximum wind speed it is designed to withstand? Will you need to use guy wires? Will a concrete pad be required and if so what are the dimensions and amount of concrete required? What sort of grounding is required by the National Electrical Code for the tower and antenna? Perhaps most importantly, what is the maximum antenna size the tower or tripod is designed to safely support? Is the rotator strong enough to turn the antenna in question?

Some antenna coaxial cables may be able to be used for other purposes but be careful to understand the electrical and protective characteristics of the coaxial cable being considered. If you transmit on a radio designed for one type of coaxial cable with a coaxial cable not designed for the antenna and radio used you can destroy your radio in the process. Most ham radio operators should either know the various types, know where to research the various types or know someone who should know the various types of coaxial cables and their respective specifications.

Some ham radio antennas can be used for other purposes. Be careful to first understand the risk to your other radio equipment if you use the wrong antenna for the wrong purpose. One non ham radio purpose I found for my Gap Challenger DX antenna is for listening to commercial AM radio broadcasts. I found that the 31 foot vertical antenna works great for this purpose with the right coaxial cable and radio attached. Other antennas may be able to be used for other purposes such as CB radio. Note that it is much easier to make a CB radio antenna shorter and use it on the amateur radio 10 meter band then it is to lengthen an amateur radio antenna for use in different radio band. Carefully consider the possibilities, your budget and your skills before purchasing the equipment.

Used ham radio equipment may be found at the following places among others - swap fests, Craig's List, e-Bay, listed in local newspapers and on local ham radio on the air nets. Before you make a purchase take time to discuss your project with the person selling the amateur radio equipment to find out if the equipment being considered will work for your project.

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