Advice: If you ask Naomi, she’ll tell you to buy a good mobile rig (search for UHF/VHF Amateur Radio Mobile, and you’ll find lots and lots of choices – I like the Yaesu FT-7900), and use it with a good antenna. She has one in her car and one at her desk at home. The one at home is hooked to a good antenna, mounted in the attic. Norm has the same mobile rig, and two more at home, hooked to outside antennas mounted up 20 to 30 feet on masts. We also have low band radios, hooked to much larger outside antennas. Sarah, N6OPE, got one of the BTECH tri-band mobile rigs – the nice thing about this one is that it only puts out 25 W, which is way more than a handheld, but low enough current draw that you can power it from a 10A power supply or even a small alarm battery: https://baofengtech.com/uv-2501+220. You could run it mobile, carry it in a box, or set it on a shelf or table at home.
However, since most new hams will ignore the advice to skip the handheld radio, here are some resources for first time radio buyers. But please, please, please, do not use your handheld radio with a rubber duckie antenna inside the car – it just won’t work well and you’ll make everyone listen to your weak signal – all the experienced (and inexperienced) hams will notice and it won’t reflect well on us as teachers. Of course, you can always try it, get the bad signal reports, and then say, “Thanks! Naomi and Norm told us that this wouldn’t work.”
There are some really inexpensive handheld radios out there, and they work reasonably well. Examples: Baofeng UV-5RA for under $40. Baofeng UV-82 for under $50 and a higher powered one for under $60. Or even a Baofeng 888 for $15 – it covers only the 70cm band, has only 16 channels, has no display, and no keyboard, but it’s a solid radio with 3W output.
- http://qualitymatrix.com/k6yxh/mentor/handhelds.htm – This webpage gives some examples of handheld radios and explains some technical terms.
- Gordo’s Survey of Handheld Radios (reproduced here with permission of CQ Magazine) – – Gorden West’s February 2012 CQ Article on Handheld Radios
- http://miklor.com – lots of info about all brands of Chinese radios, a great resource!
- Power Supplies – to power a mobile rig at home, you’ll need a battery or power supply. Miklor has done a fine job of explaining what you need here: http://www.miklor.com/COM/Review_30APS.php
Brick & Mortar Stores – support our B&M stores, so we have somewhere to go when we need to buy ham radio stuff! Please don’t shop at the stores, then buy on the Internet – we really need these guys!
Ham Radio Outlet (HRO) in Burbank – there are also HRO stores in Anaheim, San Diego, Oakland and Sunnyvale
http://www.gigaparts.com/ (often have free shipping for orders over $200)
http://www.universal-radio.com/ (my first choice website to check prices and specs – just include “Universal Radio” along with the brand and model number and Google it.)
http://powerwerx.com (sells the Wouxun)
Baofeng Tech (BTECH) – sells a whole line of Baofeng radios, including mobiles and handhelds
http://www.radioshop888.com (sells just about everything, including Wouxun and Baofeng)
http://wouxun.us (sells Wouxun and Baofeng and ships from the US – very helpful support)