Thanks to Joe – N7IV for putting together this info for our new hams.
New and Cheap
A Chinese company makes Baofeng handy-talkies (HT) that work on 2m and 70cm. They are primarily commercial radios that can be made to work on our bands. Here are some things to remember if you are considering buying a Baofeng radio:
- The price is right. There is a lot of bang for the buck
- They are throw-away radios if they break, buy a new one
- They are usually programed with a computer so I suggest that you buy the programming cable that connects the radio to your computer’s USB port.
- They have a rather unusual antenna connector setup. So if you want to hook up an antenna (like a J-pole) you’ll need to buy an SO-239 (female UHF) – to – female SMA adaptor.
They made and are making many different models. Local folks have been happy with their models:
New and a Little Better
Wuxon is another Chinese radio company. They make bargain radios too but these radios have two big advantages: 1) are designed specifically for the amateur radio service and can be programmed easily by a human being without a computer; and 2) they are sold by reputable ham radio equipment suppliers.
The down side is that they cost at least three times as much as the BAOFENGs. You might want to consider the WUXON
Much Better Quality but Only One Band
Both the Wuxon and Baofeng HTs cover both 2m and 70cm. The HTs in this group are mono-band radios. Like the Wuxons, they are sold by major ham radio equipment stores. Unlike the Chinese radios, they are built to exacting specifications by hyper-reputable Japanese companies. You may want to consider a 2-meter HT in this group.
Great Quality, but be Prepared to Open Your Wallet (or Purse)
You can spend more to get more bands (like 1.25M and 6M) but why? We have no 1.25 or 6 meter repeaters in town. You can also spend more to get the fancy features associated with digital radios. I don’t think we have any of those digital radios in town because we are all too cheap. It is probably not a good idea for a novice to buy such costy radio. The radios in this group are very good indeed. Some even have extra bands and other digital features.
Consider a Higher Power Radio
Radios in this group generally put out at least twice the power of an HT. They can be mounted in a vehicle or used at home. If you use one at home, you’ll also need to buy a 12 volt power supply. These radios come in both mono-band and VHF/UHF varieties. You should also consider buying a used radio in this class. I’ve seen nice ones sell at hamfests for under 75 dollars. Here are a few to consider.