[C.A.R.S.] What radio for a new Ham? [1 Attachment]

ki7nai Daniel Humphries

I am not a terribly experienced ham, but I am frugal and decided to first get on the air with an inexpensive Baofeng radio.  I chose a uv-82 5watt hand held for my first radio and found some challenges.  First, it didn't have enough power to get to several repeaters with the stock antenna, I tried a mag mount antenna but its performance with my radio was worse than the stock rubber duck antenna so it was returned.  I built a few antennas, got some help from an experienced ham with an antenna analyzer and met more frustration as the antennas were within tolerance and should have worked, the radio measured 5w output on a meter but moving from the lab to the real world, high gain antennas didn't perform as expected with my radio.  Ultimately I bought a second hand Yaesu ft-8800r and haven't had any more frustration with antennas or power.  

After a lot of research I've determined that some of the baofeng radios can have sensitivity problems in the receiver, if the received signal is too strong the signal can become distorted in the radio, or in the case of excessively strong signals the receiver shuts down.  In my case the stock antenna attenuates signals just enough for the radio to work, adding a little bit of gain with a "better" antenna makes the radio impossible to use.  I played the cheap radio lottery and got the radio I paid for, not a radio that would allow me flexibility with higher gain antennas.  Your luck may be better or worse.

Based on my experience with a sample size of 1, I wouldn't assume you can buy a cheap radio, slap a high gain antenna on it and get on the air.  I don't know what the odds of having problems with a Baofeng are but I know the odds decrease when you buy a name brand.  I am hesitant to recommend an expensive brand name radio for a first radio, because they are so much more expensive and offer very little advantage, but when you buy a Yaesu, Kenwood or Icom, you won't suspect the radio is the problem when your home brew j-pole doesn't perform.  

I understand money is a concern, for this reason I feel it is only fair to recommend a baofeng radio with the warning that you may get a lemon.

With the same buyer beware warning, I have had good luck with this cheap power supply.  It doesn't come with a power cord or fancy terminals, I cut the end off an old extension cord for power and have found the screw terminals to be adequate.

Daniel Humphries

On Sunday, November 26, 2017, Kenneth Tolliver ktolliver@... [c-a-r-s] <c-a-r-s@...> wrote:
[Attachment(s) from Kenneth Tolliver included below]

I have been asked by many new Hams in the last few weeks about what radio they should get. 

It's really hard to say. However, using my 'keep it cheap' philosophy I will let you know what I would recommend for new Hams right now.

In my order of priority:

#1. Don't waste your time and money on a 4 or 5 Watt HT(Name brand or otherwise). You need more power. Get an Cheap 8 Watt HT. Then Get on the air. Be sure to get a Nagoya NA-771 or similar upgraded Whip Antenna for your HT too.

#2. Get a Mag Mount for the HT that will work for a Mobile Radio too. Then get it on the air.

#3. Then get a Cheap Dual-Band Mobile Radio with 20 Watts or more. A 25 Watt Mobile will plug right in to your car's cigarette lighter port. Then get it on the air with your Mag Mount.

#4. Get a 12 Volt DC Power Supply to operate the Mobile at home(using your Mag Mount). Then get on the air at home.

#5. Build a Copper J-Pole Antenna. Then get it on the air.

#6. Buy a GP-3, or GP-6, or GP-9 (or similar) Antenna and coax cable. Install it on your house. See how great it works. 

#7. If you have made it this far, sure, go ahead and spend some money on a name brand Mobile Radio. I'd still stick with the $45 8 watt BaoFeng HT's.

See the attached pdf which lists some radios and accessories.

Some of you more experienced radio operators--- give us your recommendations too. My view is -- don't spend a lot until you know what you are doing and know what you want. You can always buy a FT-8900 later.


Ken Tolliver