Many ham radio operators grew up with magazines such as Popular Electronics, Electronics Illustrated, and Radio-Electronics. Sadly, these magazines are gone now, but there are still electronics magazines out there that can help you keep up with what’s going on in electronics. These magazines are written for practicing electronics engineers, so many of the articles will not be relevant to amateur radio or written in such a way to be nearly incomprehensible to electronics hobbyists, but you can’t beat the price. They’re free!
The magazines I’m referring to electronics engineering trade magazines. These magazines are sent out free to electronics engineers and others working in the industry, and are supported by the advertisers. You’re not an electronics engineer? Don’t worry. If you e-mail me, I’ll tell you how you can qualify. Also, these magazines generally make their content free on the Web.
Let me give you an example of the good stuff you can find in these trade magazines. The theme for the September 15, 2005 issue of Electronics Design was Wireless Design, and nearly every article was on this topic. On one of the very first pages, there was a link to Discover Circuits, ” a resource for engineers, hobbyists, inventors & consultants, is a collection of 11,000+ electronic circuits or electronic schematics cross-referenced into 500+ categories to find quick solutions for electronic design problems.”
On that same page there are results of a survey that asked the question, “Which electronics hobby influenced you to choose engineering as a career”? Electronics kit building topped the list at 36%, but amateur radio came in a close second at 34%. If that’s not a good indicator of the value of amateur radio, I don’t know what is.
The editorial contains a link to the NTIA spectrum allocation chart. It’s a wonderful chart, but at 42-in. x 27-in., I don’t think you’re going to be printing it out on your inkjet printer.
One of the feature articles in this issue is Take A Peek Inside Today’s Spectrum Analyzers. This is an interesting discussion of the different types of spectrum analyzers currently available. While you won’t find a spectrum analyzer in many ham shacks, these are useful tools, and you can sometimes get a deal on one at hamfests and used equipment dealers.
Finally, the product section contains a writeup describing a ZigBee Radio with RS-232 and USB interfaces. These units cost only $99, and might be fun to play with in some ham radio applications.
Some of the other trade magazines that are available include:
As I said before, they’re free, so why not sign up for one or more?