A Buying Guide for Amateur Radio Amplifiers

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A Buying Guide for Amateur Radio Amplifiers

An amateur radio amplifier is an electronic device that is used for increasing the power of a radio signal. An amplifier can be employed for increasing the power of a weak reception or for boosting the radio message before it is passed on by an antenna. The same principle is valid for all kinds of radios and amateur ones are no exception to that.

The term 'amateur radio' does not define the skills or knowledge of those who operate the radio, but rather implies that such a radio cannot be used for commercial purposes. Also known as ham radios, amateur radios have been popular since the early 1900s and they serve different purposes, ranging from talking to local friends to exchanging vital information in case of an emergency. The use of amplifiers can improve the amateur radio experience. Buyers who are interested in purchasing a new or used amateur radio amplifier can benefit from having some basic knowledge of the way amplifiers work in order to be able to make the right choice.

What is an Amateur Radio Amplifier?

Amateur radio amplifiers have several practical applications and they come in different models that are suitable for different frequencies. Boosting the data and voice signal that is transmitted via an antenna is one of the most popular uses of an amateur radio amplifier. Users can choose to employ one or more amplifiers, depending on the type of radio they operate and the quality of the signal.

In order to be able to handle a certain amount of output signal, an amateur radio amplifier needs to be properly designed to serve this purpose. Buyers should be careful when choosing an amplifier because errors may lead to problems such as overheating. This usually happens when an amplifier is not powerful enough for the amount of signal it needs to transmit.

What to Look For in an Amateur Radio Amplifier

When shopping for a new amateur radio amplifier, one should pay attention to several factors if they want everything to run as smooth as possible. One of the most common reasons for which one chooses to buy such an amplifier is making the signal of their radio more powerful. It is true that adding an amplifier to an amateur radio can improve the quality and sometimes the volume of the signal, but users should learn how this works in order to make the most out of their amplifier.

Signal Power and Decibels

An amateur radio amplifier can make a radio 'louder' by increasing the power of the signal with a certain number of decibels. A decibel is a unit that measures the power of a sound signal relative to a certain reference level. To put it simply, the sound is louder when the sound level as measured in decibels is greater. Changes of only 2 decibels, for example, are only slightly perceptible by the human ear, whereas a change of more than 5 decibels can be noticed clearly. The signal of an amateur radio can be influenced by different kinds of interferences and high noise levels and the goal of a user should be to obtain a signal that is intelligible for the receiver. One should remember at all times that amateur radios are not intended to broadcast FM quality. The chart below illustrates the extra power one can gain by adding more decibels to their radio signal by using an amplifier.

Decibels (Db)

Current or Voltage Ratio

Power Ratio

0.1

1.012

1.023

0.2

1.023

1.047

0.3

1.035

1.072

0.4

1.047

1.096

0.5

1.059

1.122

0.6

1.072

1.148

0.7

1.084

1.175

0.8

1.096

1.202

0.9

1.109

1.230

1

1.122

1.259

2

1.259

1.585

3

1.413

1.995

4

1.585

2.512

5

1.778

3.162

6

1.995

3.981

7

2.239

5.012

8

2.512

6.310

9

2.818

7.943

10

3.162

10

Users should keep in mind the fact that using an amplifier does not immediately guarantee a better quality of the sound. Obtaining a balance between the signal and the noise levels can be rather difficult even for experienced users. This is why one should run as many tests as possible in order to be able to compare the difference that a gain in decibels can make on the quality and volume of the signal.

Thermal Protection

Thermal protection is an important thing to consider when shopping for an amateur radio amplifier. A high-quality amplifier needs to be protected from overheating at all times, because this can cause a decrease in the quality of the signal or even the melting of components. Reading the product description carefully when shopping for such an amplifier online is a good way to make sure a certain type of amplifier features enough thermal protection. Buyers should remember that the accumulation of dust may affect an amplifier and thus they should make sure the model they buy has filters to keep the dust away from the components.

Cooling Systems

A cooling system is important for an amateur radio amplifier because it prevents overheating and thus the automatic shutdown of the device in the event of overheating. Buyers can opt for amplifiers that feature a heat-dissipater system that helps maintaining the transistors at low temperature. This is especially important for solid-state amplifiers, as the heat is usually dissipated in the air in the case of tube amplifiers. The need for a cooling system can differ from one user to another, because it is often related to the ambient temperatures in which the amplifier is used. For example, a user who lives in a tropical climate may require a more powerful air circulation that can disperse more heat.

Types of Amateur Radio Amplifiers

There are two main types of amateur radio amplifiers available and there are several difference between them. The two types are tube and solid-state amplifiers and they feature different designs and employ different ranges of current and voltage. For instance, a solid-state amplifier requires ferrite-core transformers, whereas a tube one does not need any kind of transistors in order to work. Buyers should choose one of these types according to their existing radio and their preferences. Reading a few reviews on specialised websites may be a good way to learn more about the specific characteristics of a certain model. Most types of amateur radios should work well with any of these amplifiers, but if one is not sure, they should refer to the manufacturer’s manual for more details regarding compatibility.

How to Find an Amateur Radio Amplifier on eBay

Amateur radio amplifiers come in various types and feature various functions and thus users should compare as many models as possible before making a purchase. The actual process of buying an amateur radio amplifier should not be a very difficult one, as eBay offers multiple options for all needs. When deciding to start shopping for an amateur radio amplifier on eBay, all you need to do is type the words 'amateur radio amplifier' into eBay's search bar. You immediately get several pages of results that you can browse in order to find the ideal model. You can speed up your search by adding more keywords according to your preferences. Furthermore, you can also refine the results by price, location, condition, and more.

Amateur radio amplifiers can sometimes be expensive and a good method to save some money when shopping for such a device is to have a look at used products. In this case, you need to pay close attention to the product description offered by the seller and carefully study the photos as well. If you have any doubts about the condition of an amplifier or the way it works, you should not hesitate to contact the seller for more information. When shopping for used electronics on eBay you should avoid buying items that do not have pictures or comprehensive product descriptions.

Conclusion

Using an amateur radio can be both a hobby and a way of communicating essential information in a certain area. Amplifiers can boost the amateur radio experience by improving the volume and sometimes the quality of the sound. One does not need to have extensive experience in working with electronics in order to be able to install and use a radio amplifier. Some basic knowledge about the way amplifiers work is enough when it comes to buying such a device.

Browsing through as many models as possible and comparing their characteristics are essential things to do in order to be able to select the optimum amateur radio amplifier. Whether one is looking for a new or used amateur radio amplifier, eBay is a good place to search for such a device. The website offers a wide selection of amplifiers as well as an intuitive search system that allows buyers to locate and buy an amateur radio amplifier in almost no time.

 
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