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The list price for the Rangemaster varies from $750 to $1000. You can purchase for less, but those prices are right from the web site.
Keith Hamilton told me a while ago that the cost to certify a transmitter was over $10,000. I don’t know if that’s accurate or not, but it’s what he said.
And does he really sell thousands of units? Are there really that many Part 15 AM operators out there?
Don’t forget that the cost of certification is an upfront expense. It’s either part of your investment, and you expect some return from it, or you have to borrow the money and pay it back with interest.
The Rangemaster is a quality transmitter, but it’s more difficult to set up than, say, the ProCaster. AM systems in general are more difficult to install (and get decent range) because of the grounding issues.
I think that if you know what you’re doing, and tune the Rangemaster up correctly, it will give you the best range. That’s been my experience in any event. The Procaster is built every bit as well as the Rangemaster, in my opinion, but you can’t tinker with the output (at least in a documented way) to get every last bit of legal power out of it. The Rangemaster is NOT Industry Canada certified but the ProCaster is (under RSS210).
I’ve also had good experiences with the Talking Sign transmitter, made by the guys who make the ProCaster. It’s built much more ruggedly than the Talking House, and if you can get the wire antenna up in the open above everything else in your vicinity, it does a good job. The guys at ChezRadio apparently sold that business, and it’s no longer being made.
The nice thing about the Talking Sign and the Talking House is that you don’t have to worry about grounds, as they were certified with grounding accomplished via the custom wall wart. For casual use and range, you can’t beat their ease of use and installation.
Anyway, that’s my 2 cents on AM transmitters. I’ve used all the ones I’ve mentioned, and the only ones I still own are the ProCaster and the Talking Sign. Take that for what you will.