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With all the advances in the field of electronics, microcontrollers, etc., is it a good option today to build my own amateur radio transceiver (or transmitter/receiver)? Why might one choose to build over buying, or the other way around? How should one weigh the time invested in building versus money spent buying?

I have some experience building ham radios, but that was several years ago and using almost only analog circuits. It was very hard to tune it. I know that you can't buy the fun and knowledge gained from building your own, but the question is more about the time/price balance of building one or buying one.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Amber, Dan KD2EE, PearsonArtPhoto, Dan, Seth Oct 23 '13 at 17:55

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ I'm afraid this question is too opinion based in it's current form. Could you perhaps edit it to make it more specific? $\endgroup$ – Seth Oct 23 '13 at 17:55
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    $\begingroup$ What's the problem with opinion on this SE? If you get 20 hams in a room you will have 200 opinions. It is part of the fun. $\endgroup$ – SDsolar Apr 17 '17 at 18:40
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If you are interested in the electronics and technical aspects of transmission and reception, then yes, now is a fine time to get involved in building your own radios.

If you are more interested in pursuing communicating with other users, though, your time and effort would be better spent using a good rig.

Now is also a great time to get into Software Defined Radio (SDR) which puts much of the radio receiver into software, enabling one to quickly adapt and change their radio for specific uses.

Lastly, some amateurs want the features of high-end stations without spending thousands of dollars. A sufficiently motivated amateur radio enthusiast can, over time, build a very capable transceiver that rivals some of the professional stations for a fraction of the cost. However, they are simply spending time rather than money - it's not a quick or easy path, but can be very rewarding.

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  • $\begingroup$ I didn't know about SDR, I will read about it thanks! $\endgroup$ – kR105 Oct 22 '13 at 19:33
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    $\begingroup$ To add to @KD8OAS's comment, if you want to spend time communicating, you may be better to spend build time constructing antennas. Since their general construction and materials haven't changed much (versus radio electronics) you could get a lot of satisfaction from making contacts on a home brew antenna. And since the radio is only as good as the antenna, you can invest the effort in learning and making the best antenna you can and reaping the reward. $\endgroup$ – Peter KB1AVL Oct 22 '13 at 19:54
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    $\begingroup$ Most people don't know that you can use SDRs for transmitting, also. They won't let me post this as an answer so here is a link all about doing it with a Raspberry Pi and an RTL-SDR.: rtl-sdr.com/… $\endgroup$ – SDsolar Apr 17 '17 at 18:37

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