Handheld Ham Radio Adivce

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SDRover

Rank 0

Contributor I

60
San Diego
Member #

3527

After spending all day yesterday I've finally passed my Ham Radio Technician License.

Does anyone have recommendations for a quality handheld radio? I want to avoid the cheaper radios but want to find one that is fairly easy to use - mostly interested in communication with 4x4 clubs and groups - not so much in long-range communications as I carry a Garmin with emergency satellite help. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
 
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WA4WLF

Rank V
Member

Pathfinder II

1,631
Catoosa, OK, USA
Member #

11831

Ham Callsign
WW7PDX
After spending all day yesterday I've finally passed my Ham Radio Technician License.

Does anyone have recommendations for a quality handheld radio? I want to avoid the cheaper radios but want to find one that is fairly easy to use - mostly interested in communication with 4x4 clubs and groups - not so much in long-range communications as I carry a Garmin with emergency satellite help. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Congratulations on passing your exam!

I can personally vouch that the ICOM ID-51A, or it's less fancy counterpart the ID-31A have excellent menu driven interfaces and a solid build quality.

Something to keep in mind is that most folks will tell you that you will do most of the setup via a PC, and the handheld will only be something you want to use for tweaks. Compared to others that I know that got licensed with me, I saw a definite reason for that due to the controls on the baufengs many of them got, while I was comfortable doing pretty much everything through my device.

At the end of the day, just make sure to actually use your radio and learn how to do things via the device so you are capable of communication in the field.

Other than that, I would say to see if there is a Ham Radio Outlet nearby so you can get your hands on the radios and have a chance to play with pretty much any model worth putting money on.
 

Flipper

Rank V
Member

Off-Road Ranger I

2,395
Florida
First Name
John
Last Name
F
Member #

5021

Icom, Yeasu, and Kenwood all make great radios, sort of like Ford, Chevy, and Dodge. HRO is a good place to purchase. If they dont have a store in your state there is no sales tax and free shipping. Congrats on the exam. Lots of info in communications threads. Eham.net also has radio reviews.
 
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OBJK

Rank V
Member

Advocate II

2,306
Pelham, Alabama 35124
Member #

5808

Congrats on the Tech license. My buddy has an Icom 51a and it's a great HT. Complete with Icom's flavor of Digital Repeater access Dstar.
 

Plasmajab

Rank IV

Off-Road Ranger I

937
Quinte West, Ontario, Canada
First Name
Ian
Last Name
Howard
Ham Callsign
VA3IRA
Congrats. I'd look for something that does 2m/70cm and has a bnc antenna connector. Like a yaesu ft4xr, alinco dj-500t, icom ic-v80. I know most of these are all BNC connector, but that and a tiny mag mount and a 12 plug, and youre off to the races. Upgrade each bit as you go along. It might seem like a good idea to go with a radio thats all "whiz-bang" but I have found more often then not on trails, simplicity is a wonderful thing.

And worst case scenario, should one of these guys break, your out $150 bones. Someday you'll want a hard mount in your rig, then you can keep this rad in your go bag for your spotter or in case your hard mount rad goes out.
 
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SDRover

Rank 0

Contributor I

60
San Diego
Member #

3527

Congrats. I'd look for something that does 2m/70cm and has a bnc antenna connector. Like a yaesu ft4xr, alinco dj-500t, icom ic-v80. I know most of these are all BNC connector, but that and a tiny mag mount and a 12 plug, and youre off to the races. Upgrade each bit as you go along. It might seem like a good idea to go with a radio thats all "whiz-bang" but I have found more often then not on trails, simplicity is a wonderful thing.

And worst case scenario, should one of these guys break, your out $150 bones. Someday you'll want a hard mount in your rig, then you can keep this rad in your go bag for your spotter or in case your hard mount rad goes out.
Thank you, that is really some good advice. Since I am going to use it mostly for communicating with other rigs simple is good! I appreciate your reply.
 

SDRover

Rank 0

Contributor I

60
San Diego
Member #

3527

Congratulations on passing your exam!

I can personally vouch that the ICOM ID-51A, or it's less fancy counterpart the ID-31A have excellent menu driven interfaces and a solid build quality.

Something to keep in mind is that most folks will tell you that you will do most of the setup via a PC, and the handheld will only be something you want to use for tweaks. Compared to others that I know that got licensed with me, I saw a definite reason for that due to the controls on the baufengs many of them got, while I was comfortable doing pretty much everything through my device.

At the end of the day, just make sure to actually use your radio and learn how to do things via the device so you are capable of communication in the field.

Other than that, I would say to see if there is a Ham Radio Outlet nearby so you can get your hands on the radios and have a chance to play with pretty much any model worth putting money on.
We have a Ham Radio Outlet near my house in San Diego so going to head there later this week. Thank you for the help.
 

SDRover

Rank 0

Contributor I

60
San Diego
Member #

3527

Th
Icom, Yeasu, and Kenwood all make great radios, sort of like Ford, Chevy, and Dodge. HRO is a good palce to purchase. If they dont have a store in your state there is no sales tax and free shipping. Congrats on the exam. Lots of info in communications threads. Eham.net also has radio reviews.
Thank you, we do have a Ham Radio Outlet in San Diego - going to check them out.
 
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whitneysc

Rank II
Member

Contributor II

327
Northern Virginia
First Name
Scott
Last Name
Whitney
Member #

15344

The Baofeng UV-9R+ is an exceptional radio! At $40 each, you can afford one for everyone.
I have four (one person) and a dual-band remote head unit installed into the truck. If for any reason one of us walks away from the vehicle, we have an HT on our belt. While the user interface can be a challenge, when you have multiple units, the programming cable and CHIRP software makes for super easy cloning.
 

KyleGrant

Rank III
Member

Off-Road Ranger I

662
Wichita, KS
First Name
Kyle
Last Name
S
Member #

2565

Ham Callsign
KSØTOR
Congrats! I'm a Yaesu fan personally, currently owning a FT-7900 mobile, FT-817 QRP all mode and VX7R portable (awesome portable). I do have a Wouxun HT as well for grins and giggles, works decent but you get what you pay for. Once you experience quality of name brand radios you'll have a hard time going back, much like anything else in life.

Give the FT65 a look. While I haven't used it, Yaesu is a great brand and for $116 on Amazon I doubt you'd be dissatisfied with a name brand dual band portable at that price point.

Welcome to the hobby, hope to chat some day! - KD0LDK
 

4L_Warrior

Rank III
Member

Advocate II

684
East Bay Ca.
First Name
Ed
Last Name
Galvan
Member #

14975

I run a YAESU FTM-100DR in the truck with a Larsen 2m/70cm antenna. I also have the YAESU FT-60 with a Diamond SRH77CA upgraded antenna.

HRO will be able to set you up with a good radio.
 
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whiskey7backroads

Rank VI
Member

Influencer I

3,089
Olympia Washington
First Name
Brent
Last Name
Conklin
Member #

13675

Ham Callsign
W7BR
I think it depends on your area, and what you plan on doing. I have yaesu ft400 on rig and rt70 handheld for packpack. The 400 has aprs and the handheld allows me to crossband repeat when in remote location
 

whitneysc

Rank II
Member

Contributor II

327
Northern Virginia
First Name
Scott
Last Name
Whitney
Member #

15344

Stay away from Boefeng
Why the blanket statement? I understand there is a bias against "Chinese Junk", but in my experience, it's just not true!
I own several and for his intended purpose and price point, they can't be beat.
They do what they are intended to do and the models I have are waterproof. I've yet to kill one.
 

KyleGrant

Rank III
Member

Off-Road Ranger I

662
Wichita, KS
First Name
Kyle
Last Name
S
Member #

2565

Ham Callsign
KSØTOR
Why the blanket statement? I understand there is a bias against "Chinese Junk", but in my experience, it's just not true!
I own several and for his intended purpose and price point, they can't be beat.
They do what they are intended to do and the models I have are waterproof. I've yet to kill one.
Here's a good read on various opinions. I have a Wouxun I've had for over five years now, still works great. But - it's cheap, would likely break easy if I didn't take care of it and is lacking a few features I enjoy in my Yaesu.

https://forums.radioreference.com/off-topic-wireless/366977-why-people-buying-baofeng-radios.html

It more boils down to understanding what you're buying. I consider Wouxun/Baofeng radios "throw-away" and not radios I rely on, they are secondary to my others due to intermittent issues I've had. If you've ever hooked one up to an RF service monitor there's reason why to avoid them, spurious emissions galore. Yes they work, yes I have one and enjoy it - I just don't think I'd recommend one right off the cuff for a brand new operator. For a little more money you can get a solid portable from a proven brand with good support, accessories, etc. that I would be comfortable relying on. But if somebody is crunched for cash, knows what they're buying it isn't a bad gig.
 
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Magic Mike

US West Region Member Rep
Member

Protector III

4,986
Auburn, CA, USA
First Name
Michael
Last Name
Lee
Member #

13728

Ham Callsign
KM6YKV
Why the blanket statement? I understand there is a bias against "Chinese Junk", but in my experience, it's just not true!
I own several and for his intended purpose and price point, they can't be beat.
They do what they are intended to do and the models I have are waterproof. I've yet to kill one.
I bought one for our Death Valley trip! The only thing I could hear was the rig in front of me and the one behind me!
 
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