Surplus radio gear for Amateur Radio use
This page is to share what I and some others have learned about several items of surplus radio gear suitable for use in the Amateur Radio service. Many models of surplus commercial and military radio equipment are desirable because of the higher physical and electrical characteristics this equipment is built to. Amateur radio equipment is usually designed and constructed to appeal to a mass market of end user consumers, similar to other items of consumer electronics such as stereos and televisions. While Amateur Radio equipment is feature rich in buttons and functions, it is not robust nor does it reach the level of design excellence found in may commercial and military radios. This is due largely to the Amateur Radio market demanding bells and whistles at low prices the manufactures cannot afford to build quality equipment to.
It is no accident this page is attached to a emergency communications organization's website. Practice has shown time and time again Amateur Radios do not hold up. While adequate for the "typical" ham, offerings from Yaesu, Kenwood, Alinco, Icom, others just don't cut it when communications are for real. Commercial and Military radios are intended to be used in the presence of other powerful radios, when the antenna is shot off the vehicle, when the operator is stressed, etc. When your Yae-wood-com falls apart, these things keep plugging along - they have to, they were intended to function in roles where people die if they fail.
The radio amateur can obtain robust, very high performance equipment at reasonable prices if he looks outside of the mainstream of the Amateur Radio market. While much of this equipment may be 10 or 15 years old or older, it was state of the art in its day and will often outperform most new amateur radios. Remember, the government may have paid $40,000 for these radios, and what they paid for was the best design available, the best materials available, put together in such a way to survive a nuclear attack. Donít look for fancy knobs, buttons, RIT, Shift, etc. These things are real radios, built for people who need to communicate with each other in a difficult environment. Most of the bells and whistles are advertisement department hype and you donít need them anyway.