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Handheld ham radio for beginners

Handheld ham radio for beginners

So you just passed your ham radio technician class exam and now it’s time for you to decide what transceiver you should get! Your may be fairly familiar with radios overall since you decided to take your ham radio exam, and you may even have or had multiple scanners for years. Now that you’ve graduated up into Amateur radio, you’re probably looking for some suggestions on what to get as your first handheld ham radio. I’ve research some of the internet for reviews on the handheld ham radio for beginners, and he’re is what I’ve come up with.

#1 BaoFeng UV-82HP High Power Dual Band Radio: 136-174mhz (VHF) 400-520mhz (UHF) Amateur (Ham) Portable Two-Way

The BaoFeng UV-82HP is the second generation of the classic UV-82 Series of radios. One of the newest features is that there are three selective power levels (Low – 1 watt, Medium – 5 watt, High- 7 watt) allowing for a high-output of up to seven watts. There are 128 programmable memory channels, and using the free computer software you can program the UV-82HP exactly how you want it. Users can also set VFO limits using the CHIRP software. The BaoFeng UV-82HP  has a frequency range of [TX] 136 – 174MHz, 400 – 520MHz, [RX] 136 – 174MHz, 400 – 520MHz, 68-108MHz (FM Broadcast). The box contains the UV-82HP Radio Body, one 1800mAh Battery, a High Gain Antenna, one Earpiece with Remote Mic, a Desktop Charger, a 120 volt AC Adapter, a Belt Clip, and Wrist Strap. Below is a quote from a recent review of the UV-82HP on Amazon

Latest Amazon Review:

“I own a pile of Baofeng radios and can’t seem to quit buying them. Most recently, I’ve been using the UV-82 series and really enjoy the higher quality build of the radios. I have three of the UV-82 model and two of the UV-82C style. Now I have purchased one of the new UV-82HP units, to get the extra couple of watts over my other UV82s. I was hoping that the UV-82 line would eventually come out with a tri-power version because I also own a Baofeng BF-F8HP tri-power and have really enjoyed the extra wattage. Now, with this new UV-82HP, I have a 7-watt version of my favorite low-cost legal HAM and emergency-use-only MURS, FRS, and GMRS radio.The build quality of the UV-82 line is much better than the smaller Baofeng radios, such as the UV-5R line.

I drove around town testing this new UV-82HP unit with a family member at home, indoors, on another Baofeng handheld (standard UV-82). I can really tell the difference in how it performs from inside a car to another radio inside a house. I could drive about three miles from home and still have reasonable reception, which is excellent under those circumstances. I was able to get a response from local HAM repeaters easily (2-5 miles) and also repeaters over 10 miles from home, from inside my house. I am using the stock V-85 antenna included with many new Baofengs and am quite surprised at how well it does. I will now be carrying this new UV-82HP radio as my daily carry HT. For the low cost of this unit I am quite impressed with its capabilities. I already preferred the “commercial” build of the UV-82 line, and now I have all the goodies of the UV-82 along with a couple of extra watts of power for better communication (HP).

For a new ham on a budget, the UV-82HP receives and transmits (RX/TX) on the Ham 2 meter and 70 centimeter bands. To use the two Ham (2m and 70cm) bands you must have a valid Ham Technicians license. The GMRS, FRS, and MURS (walkie-talkie) frequencies can be used in an emergency only (the radio is too powerful and not FCC Part 95 certified for legal non-emergency use on the non-HAM bands).

This excellent radio, with features matching or exceeding much more expensive radios, is highly recommended for a person seeking his or her Ham Technician license!”

#2 BaoFeng UV-5R Dual Band Two Way Radio

The BaoFeng UV-5R is another exellent handheld ham radio for beginners. This radio has a 4 watt Tx frequency range of 136-174 MHz and 400-480 MHz special VHF, and a receive band range from 65 – 108 MHz for the FM broadcast band. With up to 128 memory slots you have plenty of room to store your favorite channels. Other features of the BaoFeng UV-5R include: a battery save function, a VOX, DCS/CTCSS encode, a key lock, and even a built in flashlight! Selectable frequency steps include: 2.5, 5, 6.25, 10, 12.5 and 25 kHz, and RF power may be selected for either 1 or 4 watts. This radio comes with an SMA-Female antenna, a flexible antenna, a BL-5 Li-ion battery (7.4V 1500 mAh), a belt clip, one wrist strap, a AC adapter (8.4V 600ma), and drop-in charging tray. This radio does require a PC03 FTDI programming cable.

Latest Amazon Review:

“The Baofeng UV-5R is a good, reliable, and inexpensive dual band HT that is commercial grade. Out of the box, it comes complete with a 1800 MAH lithium-ion battery, belt clip, hand strap, earpiece, and drop in charger. You get 128 channels that you can use/store. Since I was NOT familiar with any of the radio jargon or programming knowledge I shopped around and found some shops that wanted to charge me $75+ to program and set me up with what I needed on this radio. I decided to give YouTube videos and some Google research a try before paying. The manual it comes with is not great by the way. After a couple of hours online I was able to learn the “ins and outs” of this radio as a beginner. The couple of hours it took me to figure out the radio is the only negative I have.

I have now used this device for over 2 years now and never have had any issues. Six radios later for co-workers and no problems at all with any of them. After programming it I noticed I was having a bit of static while driving or in underground areas. Because of that I upgraded the stock antenna to a stubby flexible antenna that was approximately $6 USD (pictures shown). Since I did so I have had better transmission quality. I recently went to Aruba on vacation and I was surprised to see the entire airport staff was using Baofeng radios.

The display is easy to read. There are lights that come on when there is radio traffic being transmitted but you can set it to not activate those lights. Keys are easy to press. Comes with AM/FM capabilities and a flashlight/ strobe/ SOS light. Has a large volume knob with integrated power switch so you cannot accidentally turn off the device. Speaker can be placed fairly loud. Quality is great I believe for being a China radio. I have dropped this device plenty of times (not proud of any of those moments) and still no issues and nothing broken. Battery lasts a very long time after a single charge. For the price it’s a quality that cannot be beat.”

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