These days, ham radio is widely regarded as a niche hobby, but in decades past, it served many of the same functions that social media outlets and podcasts serve today. Furthermore, while it’s true that the internet essentially stole ham radio’s thunder, the hobby still enjoys a loyal following in the U.S. and abroad. If you’ve recently passed your first licensing exam and are eager to dive right in, it behooves you to obtain a dependable console. Anyone interested in going the custom-built route is urged to consider the following options.
Traditional Hobby Shops
Brick-and-mortar hobby shops are generally the best places to find ham radio equipment outside of the internet. At these stores, you’ll find a variety of pre-assembled consoles, console components and operation manuals. Additionally, some – but not all – hobby shops offer custom console-building services to ham radio enthusiasts. While this is often pricier than purchasing a pre-built console, being able to personally select bands, directional couplers and other components is well worth the additional cost.
Online Specialty Stores
Since traditional hobby shops have shifted away from ham radio in recent decades, many amateur radio enthusiasts have taken their business online. Although ham radio specialty stores of the brick-and-mortar variety are few and far between, a large number of them can be found on the Worldwide Web. These stores tend to offer much larger selections of components and consoles than traditional hobby shops, and unsurprisingly, many of them provide custom building services.
Building it Yourself
A fair number of ham radio enthusiasts go the DIY route when it comes to console building. In addition to the numerous books on the subject, there are an extensive number of online guides and tutorials for ambitious do-it-yourselfers to consult. Still, if you’ve never attempted a project of this magnitude, building your own console may ultimately prove to be more trouble than it’s worth. Even if you’re keen on saving money, having your console assembled by a knowledgeable pro can save you a tremendous amount of time and frustration.
Every ham radio operator needs access to a good console. Although there are a number of reliable pre-assembled consoles available, many hardcore hammers agree that custom-built is the way to go. Fortunately, getting your hands on a custom-built console doesn’t have to be a chore. Brick-and-mortar hobby shops, online specialty stores and the DIY route are all great options for ham operators in need of a new console.