The Reason Why You Should Home Brew

Inspired by a post on Pete’s blog found here: I got to thinking that there are many reasons why we all should home brew. When you look at the discussion about home brew on various forums, you often hear the same excuses as why people do not home brew.

1. I am not smart enough.

Well, I am not an EE either, I am a construction worker who is as dumb as a bag of hammers and i can manage to not hurt myself or make the world explode, so I think you can do it also. I think what people really mean when they say they are not smart enough, is that they are just to lazy to put the time and effort required into learning. You passed an exam, so your obviously not dumb, just lazy. Its taken me 5 years to build a radio worth using more than once. Yes 5 years. And it will probably take me another 5 years to build something I am really happy with. These are not short term projects, there is no instant gratification here. It takes time, energy and effort to gain the skills and understanding required to be able to build a pretty decent radio.

2. You cannot make a rig as good as anything you can buy.

I agree you cannot. But you can make a rig that has utility and is good enough. Not that my home brew stuff is ever going to replace the Icoms i own. So why bother? well simply because home brewing gives you more than the radio at the end of it. Ham radio used to be about self education in radio electronics. Its now about consumerism. Where people once used skills and knowledge to solve a problem, people now throw money at it and act like this makes them the reincarnation of Marconi, Edison and Tesla. Throwing money at a problem is not a virtue, it is a cop out. If we as a hobby are going to stand for something and honour the past, then home brewing for the sake of learning is non optional.

And here is the thing. Home brewing is about learning. You learn at a fundamental level how a radio works. You learn other skills that are useful with your black box icoms like fault finding and trouble shooting. And it gives you something to talk about with others on the radio that is not the lowest common denominator dribble that many seem to think is the pinnacle of what the hobby has to offer.

Wouldn’t it be nice to get on 40m in the afternoon and have 10 other people to discuss home brew with? Actually talking nuts and bolts radio rather than politics or running thought some brag list of purchases like they are achievements worthy to be proud of? Or rather than listening to some I am not dead yet net where everyone checks in to thank the person running the net and announce they are still alive, that they come on and say, i got that thing i have been working on all week working right now. Or they ask a question and have a few really good responses. That is traffic I could listen to.

Or for that matter, the talk on DMR is not about how well the internet is propagating today and wanking on about what talkie walkie you code plug is using on your hot spot, but rather people talking about building a pixie and making it work or trying to understand why a voltage divider does what it does.

Yeah there is so much more we all could be doing and so many much more intelligent things we as hams could be talking about and dont. So many hams complain about things being dumbed down. Well, here is some space for hams everywhere to lift things on an intellectual level. I wont hold my breath though. Dumbing down is not the problem, laziness and apathy is.


2 thoughts on “The Reason Why You Should Home Brew

  1. Will the broken links for the Lessons in Electronic Circuits be updated? Can you recommend any beginner books? Just getting into ham radio – would like to learn the electronics side of it. Thank you

    1. Ok links are there, give me a couple of days and I will post a list of books for you that might be useful. Mostly i found that most the ham books were not all that helpful, but some of the more generic books very useful. Also, I more or less started with small projects and went from there.

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