Amateur Radio Station Construction
Students learn about the different components of an amateur radio station and how to connect and test them. Students learn important safety rules for constructing and using a station. Students build a station and test it under the supervision of the licenced amateur radio operator. This activity can be used as practice for the Shipwrecked mission.
Building a working Amateur Radio station requires many skills, including safety and testing techniques, and a working knowledge of the components and their interconnection. Take the time to explain everything in some detail. Let the students handle and examine the components carefully. Make sure they ask lots of questions.
You will need:
- A table for everything, near an AC power outlet.
- An Amateur Radio transceiver. A mobile VHF/UHF rig is best. See the Block Diagram below.
- Handheld VHF/UHF Amateur Radio transceivers.
- Cables and accessories. See the Block Diagram below.
- Test equipment: Multimeter and SWR Bridge.
- A portable/demonstration antenna like the one in in the Amateur Radio Antenna Construction activity.
- Whiteboard and pens
Every radio station is different. Be sure to check out all the equipment and cables you will be using today.
- Put all the equipment on a table and ask a licenced Amateur Radio operator what everything is called, what it is for and how to connect it up.
- Then, as a group, create a parts list and draw up a block diagram showing how everything should be connected.
- You can then copy the information into your booklet.
- Here is an example of a block diagram for a typical Amateur Radio station:
Amateur Radio Station Block Diagram
Before going any further, a licenced Amateur Radio operator will explain to you any potential safety hazards and what precautions you should take to protect yourself including:
- Electro Magnetic Energy
- Short Circuits
- Lead Acid Batteries
- Structural Collapse
- Tool Slippage
- Wood Splinters/Rope Burns
Remember: It is always better to be safe than sorry.
- Who can you talk to with this station?
- What band and frequency does the radio work on?
- What voltage does the radio work on?
- How powerful is the transmitter?
- What type of signal does the radio receive and transmit?
- What does “Look up and live“ mean?
- Where is the best place to stand when erecting a mast?
- What can happen when a screwdriver slips?
- What happens if you short out the power leads?
- What type of feed line is used for the antenna?
- What sort of connector is used?
- What type of antenna is it?
- Is it a vertical or horizontal antenna?
- How high is the antenna?
Once you have everything you need, have drawn up your plans and when it is safe to do so: Set up and test your Amateur Radio station, under the supervision of a licenced Amateur Radio operator, as follows:
- First erect the antenna
- Arrange the radio and other equipment on a table
- Connect the microphone to the radio
- Test the power source with a multimeter
- Connect the power source to the radio
- Connect the antenna meter to the radio
- Test the antenna with a multimeter
- Connect the antenna to the SWR meter
- Turn on the radio and adjust the volume and squelch
- Select an unused channel
- Test the antenna by briefly holding down the Press To Talk button. Observe the SWR meter.
- The antenna meter will show you if the radio and the antenna is working
- If everything is working correctly, test your Amateur Radio base station with some hand-held radios
- Test your Amateur Radio base station with some hand-held radios again, this time via a repeater