- Making another hole in my "equipment wall"
- Sharing some advice for those who are in this hobby, and are frugally minded, either by choice, or forced circumstance.
I am certainly not an audio "buff" and I only have a very basic knowledge of audio equipment, but I had a couple things in my shack that I wanted to accomplish that I thought would be aided by adding a mixer. Primarily, I wanted an easy way to have the option for a couple different microphones at the same time so that I can accommodate guest operators (mainly my kiddos) and be able to route these to multiple radios. I also figured this would be a nice way to interface the same microphones and headsets with a couple different computers and phones for work conference calls and webinars that I do from my home office. I've only just grazed the surface of getting everything set up, but so far I'm liking it much better than my old "patch panel" and swapping plugs in and out for the different tasks.
I love ham radio, but like many of you, I'm not swimming in piles of money to be able to spend on it. I have a good job, and make an ok salary, but a large percentage of what I earn is getting socked into college savings for my kids so they don't have to start their working lives in debt the way I did. Because of this choice, I am very fugal with my hobby. With that thought, here is my advice for enjoying ham radio on a budget, and for frugality in general:
- Waiting forces you to really think about the purchase, and prevents you from rushing in and ending up with buyers remorse (i.e., did I really just spend $1300 on a lawn robot, and then also spend money to join a gym, when I could just be getting some of my exercise pushing an actual lawn mower that can be had for practically nothing?)
- It allows you to consider "do I actually need this thing, or is there a less expensive alternative that will satisfy what I'm after" (i.e. do I really need the fancy $4000 SDR, or would I be perfectly happy with the rig I can now get for a small fraction of that, just because its "old technology.")
- Taking the time to do this consideration lets you casually research options and do some poking around. If you've managed to stockpile some good karma, I've found that the universe will often present you with a very viable alternative.
- Sweepable mids, so that I could adjust the frequency of the mid range to add punch where we like it for ham radio
- Multiple sets of outputs, for outputting the audio mix to multiple locations/devices
- USB interface, to get audio into and out of the PC for radio use, without needing to rely on the "analog" sound card inputs and outputs that can be problematic at times