Some hobbies are inherently expensive if you want to get the most out of them mainly through equipment cost or fees. Luckily shortwave listening doesn’t have to be one of them if you practice a little bit of patience along with a some basic do it yourself construction.
After a lifetime of doing shortwave on the cheap Ive got together some of the things learn’t about getting a budget shortwave station up and running.
Shortwave Receivers – The Main Event
One of the most expensive items has to be the SW receiver itself but there’s things you can do to reduce the cost.
Older Shortwave Radio Models
As producers release more recent radios you’ll start to see the older range slip in price. With enough shopping around getting hold of a real bargain is more than feasible. Sure they may not be the next shiny object but if its a good radio from a proven manufacturer it’ll do the job just fine.
Buying Used SW Radios
There’s serious money to saved by plumping for a used shortwave radio over a new model but this route can be problematic. Its a sad fact that there’s an army of people who will scam you if they can and its best to approach each potential sale with close attention to detail along with a healthy dose of suspicion 🙂
My top 3 tips here would be
1. Don’t impulse buy, there are so many places to get secondhand shortwave equipment and it pays to take a good look at whats available before parting with money.
2. If planning to buy a used radio from an online source be aware of all the pitfalls. If in doubt get someone who has more experience to help you, it’ll make things go a lot smoothy.
3. Get yourself off to a ham radio rally or two, not only could you end up with a great radio at a good price but it may push your hobby in a whole new direction. The secondhand stalls alone are more than worth the effort.
If your always wanting the next brand spanking new shortwave radio then the hobby is going to run at a high cost but if your prepared to compromise or wait things can be done a lot cheaper.
Of course the receiver cost will depend on your particular listening habits but for many a SSB enabled, sensitive receiver that covers good portions of the HF band is just the ticket.
To be honest most of my listening is done via homemade wire antennas and I like to think Ive got pretty good at making them over the years (until someones proves me wrong).
The fundamentals of the antennas we used at HF are set and once you understand the basics you can recycle almost any type of spare wire into a functional antenna.
Wires antennas are easy to setup and even more importantly can be altered just as quickly if you think they could perform better. Use of wire antennas isn’t restricted to the outside either and with careful planning you can get a workable indoor version installed.
There’s more meaning when you take the time to make something that you can use for the shortwave hobby even if it just simple wire antennas or simple receivers.
Ongoing Running Cost Savings
This one is easy especially if your taking radios outside to use and that’s the huge amount saved over the long term by getting a quality set of rechargeable batteries in play.
To get anywhere near an acceptable operating time from a portable shortwave radio takes a good set of batteries (more if your not using headphones) and these are going to cost.
Even at the rate of a new set say every 2 weeks it doesn’t take a math genius to work out that investing in rechargeable’s is so much cheaper in the long run.
Bank Note Courtesy of Wikipedia (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license)