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you will not be surprised to learn that the equipment available to amateur operators for communicating via all these modes is extensive. Hams have since the early days made terrific use of surplus and home-made equipment, and that continues today. On the other hand, there are transceivers available at retail that can cost from upwards of $10,000.
Getting started in ham radio does not have to be an expensive proposition by any means, especially for those who are interested in learning how to do it themselves. Amateur radio is thick with plans and designs for constructing the simplest antenna all the way to the most complex satellite communications suite or slow scan TV, and so on. In fact, part of the lore of amateur radio is learning by building it yourself, and the hobby is well known for the generosity of its members in mentoring those who wish to learn.
Of course, ebay has a active ham radio traffic area, and buyers can find just about any type of ham equipment, with the usual caveats to exercise a little caution. Still, hams as a group are probably among the most honest and dependable of those trading on ebay.
Many newly licensed hams get started in amateur radion on the VHF, or "two meter" band by simply purchasing a readily available hand-held "HT" portable radio, and communicating via the many repeaters that are installed and active throughout the US and the world. Technicians have access to this band, and many start out there before branching out to other modes. At the present time, one can pick up a handheld radio to operate on 2 meters for around $100 used, and there are plenty out there.
One piece of advice: If you intend to operate in the HF bands, where your license permits, you might want to make sure you include plans for a good antenna in your setup. The best radio you can buy is just an ornament until it is connected to a good antenna, and many new hams spend big bucks on a transceiver with all the bells and whistles, only to be disappointed because they are lacking a good antenna.
In the past, you would be pretty much SOL, but today, we have such innovations as EchoLink which will actually allow you, as a licensed ham, to get on the air without ever touching a radio! All you need is your computer, the software, and a headset or other audio device.
Although there are some who feel that communicating via EchoLink over your computer isn't really amateur radio, nevertheless it does offer the opportunity to communicate anywhere in the world, similar to VoIP.
There is a certification process, during which you must establish that you are properly licensed, but after that you're all set, and it's free.
Learn more here:
While there is no real substitution for a high-quality properly erected antenna, there are thousands of hams all over the world who communicate by hanging a single wire out their window, or even running some wire around the ceiling or the baseboard. This will certainly get you started and provide hours of enjoyment until you can obtain that palace in the mountains and erect your massive beam. :)