I can remember way back in the day when I first got started in Amateur Radio. I had all kinds of interesting things I wanted to do… building and testing antennas, interfacing radio gear with computers, and getting into all manner of different communications protocols. To me, Amateur Radio was the ultimate compliment to wireless networking and a great way to continue being in the “radio mindset” that came with a 10-year Air Force career in electronic warfare. But there was a little problem in getting started with Amateur Radio, and that was money.
Radio gear ain’t cheap. Brands like Yaesu, Kenwood, Icom, and Ten-Tec fetch a decent buck, even for starter radios. And it only gets pricier as you leave the realm of hand-helds and get into mobile and base-station-grade rigs. I always thought that the hundreds and thousands of dollars that it can take to assemble a good station made Amateur Radio cost-prohibitive to many that might otherwise get into the hobby.
Fast-forward many years. Thankfully I’ve been able to enjoy decent radio gear through the years. Much was previously-owned, some was bought new, and I’ve enjoyed the experience of using real radio equipment in a range of situations. But raising three kids was a fiscal priority, and I have always been mindful of the beefy price-tags associated with the equipment. Over the last the couple of years though, a new gear market has opened up that makes Amateur Radio attainable to more people than ever.
Where once you had to go to radio supply houses for gear, now those new to the activity can go Amazon and pick from new brands like BeoFeng, QYT, TYT, and others that deliver a lot of features at bargain prices. One very popular example? The BeoFeng U5-VR in its various versions (I have two of these). Though user interfaces and manuals may be quirky for some of these cheapies, they often have feature sets that blow the Old Guard out of the water. Just check reviews for anything you’re interested in before purchase.
I still fancy myself mostly “a Yaesu guy”, but I absolutely love what I get from my low-end equipment. I wish this tier of the market existed when I was getting started.
Now back to where Wi-Fi intersects with Amateur Radio. Beyond shared radio principles, there are fascinating overlaps between the two radio worlds. There are books and blogs written about what happens when FCC Part 97 rules intersect with those of Part 15, but you gotta get licensed before you can go down that road.
FCC Part 15
FCC Part 97
Ham Radio License
Source: SANS ISC SecNewsFeed @ February 19, 2017 at 03:15PM