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jenandjon
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I have been interested in radio for a long time I just never had the pocket book to buy all the equipment. I still dont. All my extra money goes to travel. Showing my kids this beautiful country of ours. An acquaintance recently showed me his Baofang radio. He paid like 30 bucks for it then another 20 something for a longer antenna. It works off repeaters so I do understand In a SHTF situation they are useless. What I am thinking is this. My wife is not a hiker. My boys and I are. If we get off trail somewhere or something happens I can call for help or at lest get in contact with the wife.  We go to a lot of places without cell service.

I do not have a license yet. I will not be transmitting anything until my wife and I have our license.

I'm looking at these.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/2x-BAOFENG-UV-5R-III-Tri-Band-UHF-VHF-Walkie-Talkie-Long-Range-Two-Way-Ham-Radio/154268892594?hash=item23eb247db2:g:UTAAAOSwhRlf7Dtz

https://www.ebay.com/itm/2-PCS-Baofeng-uv-5r-8W-TRI-Power-Band-Radio-Portable-Two-Way-radio/324314565840?hash=item4b82a78cd0:g:rOIAAOSw2RdeJKhe

https://www.ebay.com/itm/US-Baofeng-UV-5RA-Dual-Band-VHF-UHF-Ham-Amateur-Two-way-Radio-FM-Transceiver/184186954417?hash=item2ae265e2b1:g:fLYAAOSwSmxeVjJl

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There are lots of areas not covered with repeaters, but you can use the radios in simplex mode....radio to radio without a repeater.

In order to legally use these radios, each person using the radio will need to take the Technicians exam from the FCC.  There is an associated application and license fee.  The best source of information on the license is at www.arrl.org.

You can let another person use the radio in your presence with you as the "control operator" on your license.  Any misuse of the radio falls on your license.

The radios you listed are pretty cheap Chinese radios and most HT radios (Handi-talkie) are not easy to program from the small menu driven screen and buttons.  I generally recommend that you purchase a program from RT Systems and a programming cable for use with your computer.

Nearly all repeaters require your radio to issue a PL tone to unlock the repeater with each transmission.  These tones are required to prevent keying up adjacent or nearby repeaters.

I would strongly suggest you contact a nearby ham radio club to get personal assistance.  They are always eager to help new people entering the hobby.

Ken

KE5DFR 

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jenandjon,

A LOT of hams get started with those little Baofang handhelds. Even when they accumulate more equipment, they still use them.

As mentioned, a lot of prime areas, may or may NOT have repeater coverage, so the limitation on "point to point" operation, can be severely limited by terrain and other factors. Even more pricey equipment suffers from those same limitations.

Study, get licensed, get a pair and download CHIRP, programming those without it can be an "interesting" adventure.

 

Best of luck

Butch, W9MCI

1 hour ago, jenandjon said:

I have been interested in radio for a long time I just never had the pocket book to buy all the equipment. I still dont. All my extra money goes to travel. Showing my kids this beautiful country of ours. An acquaintance recently showed me his Baofang radio. He paid like 30 bucks for it then another 20 something for a longer antenna. It works off repeaters so I do understand In a SHTF situation they are useless. What I am thinking is this. My wife is not a hiker. My boys and I are. If we get off trail somewhere or something happens I can call for help or at lest get in contact with the wife.  We go to a lot of places without cell service.

I do not have a license yet. I will not be transmitting anything until my wife and I have our license.

I'm looking at these.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/2x-BAOFENG-UV-5R-III-Tri-Band-UHF-VHF-Walkie-Talkie-Long-Range-Two-Way-Ham-Radio/154268892594?hash=item23eb247db2:g:UTAAAOSwhRlf7Dtz

https://www.ebay.com/itm/2-PCS-Baofeng-uv-5r-8W-TRI-Power-Band-Radio-Portable-Two-Way-radio/324314565840?hash=item4b82a78cd0:g:rOIAAOSw2RdeJKhe

https://www.ebay.com/itm/US-Baofeng-UV-5RA-Dual-Band-VHF-UHF-Ham-Amateur-Two-way-Radio-FM-Transceiver/184186954417?hash=item2ae265e2b1:g:fLYAAOSwSmxeVjJl

 

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Handhelds are nice yet they have a limited transmission range of a few miles if you are going radio to radio without using a repeater.  Radio to radio is also known as simplex.   To improve the transmission and reception range when not going through a repeater, you can use an external antenna while stopped.  I use a role up j-pole antenna.  It is kept in my backpack.

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I like that you are getting involved in HAM radio due to activities. That is how I got my start. My son was with a group of 4WD off-roaders that used HAM more than CB so he invited me and some others to commit to a class that was offered by one of those off-roaders. 

I was satisfied with just having a Technician license until recently. I found this great free study site that you might find helpful, I have in studying for General.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I purchased one of these BAOFENG radios as well just to have a small HT to take on the road.  Just didn't think I could pass up the price.  But, I have found the user interface and the ability to program problematic to the point that I avoid using it.  Had to take it to a friend's house who had a computer interface and program to initially setup for my local area.  Maybe if you used it on simplex only it would be ok.  But otherwise I would spend the money to buy something with a better HMI (human machine interface) for interfacing with HAM repeaters (after you get your license).

I actually bought a couple of inexpensive COBRA FM band HTs to back the trailer in campsites for my wife and I. Also about $25 but require no license and will work fine for point to point simplex over a small distance.

Dave AB4RE

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I think it depends on your goals.  

If you want to get into HAM it is a great hobby.  

If you are looking for a way to communicate when you need help, or in an emergency this may be an option for you https://www.findmespot.com/en-us/products-services/spot-x#service-plans  I know a few friends that have this type of device (I believe it is this brand) that have use it all over with good success.  I know one of them took it to AK on a hunting trip and it would send his wife pre-sent messages that included their GPS location.   Now there was a teenager with a new GF on that trip so they upped it to unlimited texting.....

Normally they just keep it on the base plan.  They do a lot of outdoors stuff. 

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  • 1 year later...
On 1/12/2021 at 3:49 PM, jenandjon said:

Thanks for the input. I live in a rural community and I know there are a couple guys running around with their call sign on the license plate. I will see if I can track one down.

So, how'd it go? Did you get your ticket (license)?
I've had a Baeofang 5vr for several years now and it's the least used of my handheld radios, primarily because without the programming software"CHIRP", it's a little challenging to enter in a repeater set up with their menu structure.  
Once you use it for a while, you may wish to upgrade, simply for the ease of use that the other vendors have put into their handhelds.  Good, relable brands are Yaesu, Icom and Kenwood.  THere are others, but those three  have a LOT to choose from.

If you find a used one for sale,  look it up for user reviews on www.eham.com  sort of like the Consumers guide with only real user use information.

IF you want to find out the name behind the call sign, use QRZ.com to find them.  Fortunately or unfortunatly depending on how you look at it, the FCC HAM license is a matter of public record and can be found easily on the FCC web site or QRZ.com.

Let us know what radio you got and how you like it.

BTW, I've been monitoring the 146.520 the national simplex frequency while traveling accross parts of Idaho and Oregon, and VERY rarely hear anyone on it. THere are some folks local to me that use it but in general, it's the rare occasion that I talk with someone driving down the highway that is also traveling. 

As you probably know, HAM radios aren't used like CB's, to give smokey reports.

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  • 5 months later...
Twenty or so years ago we had an old Class C, and I put my call sign and 146.520 on the back. Got a couple of calls. Now we're full-time in a Class A and I haven't bothered.

We use a pair of onn ht's for parking, etc. They come with a huge list of frequencies, some of which are higher power and require a license. The low power ones don't need any sort of license. I've been thinking about getting the license to use the higher power channels. What's the proper group of letters for those frequencies? GLSS or something like that?
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  • 1 month later...

Hi,

Those are either Family Radio Service (FRS) or General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS), or both as the frequencies overlap. These services are different then the Amateur (ham) radio service.

FRS use does not require a license. FRS is limited in transmit power to two watts or 1/2 of a watt depending on the channel. FRS is only allowed to operate in simplex, radio to radio mode.

GMRS use requires a license from the FCC. This license fee is $35 and gives one a license good for ten years. GMRS allows for more transmit power, 5 watts for handheld/mobile stations, and 50 watts for repeater stations. GMRS allows for the set up of a repeater to cover a larger area then simplex can cover.

Again, this is different from amateur/ham radio, and having a ham license does not give one the right to use GMRS.

Hopefully, this is helpful.

William Anderson

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I am thinking of getting a HAM HT for the purpose of obtaining useful information in the rare chance of hurricane evacuation or avoidance.  Initially my use would be only to monitor frequencies but since I'm a license collector,  CDL, motorcycle, PPL, Scuba I'll probably start studying for the Technician and General license.   

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Technician license is not that hard to get.  Get with a local ham radio club and there is always an "Elmer" to help you out.  The problem with the HT is as you move around, you will need to find which repeaters are used when they activate a weather alert.  Then you have to program the local repeaters and this is best accomplished with a software package and your computer.  Most HTs now are difficult to program from the front panel.  The best software I have found is from RT Systems.  Another free one is CHIRP, but I am not fond of it.  Most HTs come with a minimal programming software and cable.

You can look up all of the repeaters in an area and get the frequencies, offset and PL tone if required and if the repeater is open or closed.  You can also program the NOAA stations on the radio so you can have access to these stations.

If you are just getting into the UHF and VHF repeaters, I would suggest you save DMR for a later date.  DMR can be a bit of a steep learning curve and will not serve any purpose for weather data.  But do get a radio that is DMR capable.  Lots of people are using the Anytone  HT radios.

Happy chatting.

Ken

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3 hours ago, TXiceman said:

Technician license is not that hard to get.  Get with a local ham radio club and there is always an "Elmer" to help you out.  The problem with the HT is as you move around, you will need to find which repeaters are used when they activate a weather alert.  Then you have to program the local repeaters and this is best accomplished with a software package and your computer.  Most HTs now are difficult to program from the front panel.  The best software I have found is from RT Systems.  Another free one is CHIRP, but I am not fond of it.  Most HTs come with a minimal programming software and cable.

You can look up all of the repeaters in an area and get the frequencies, offset and PL tone if required and if the repeater is open or closed.  You can also program the NOAA stations on the radio so you can have access to these stations.

If you are just getting into the UHF and VHF repeaters, I would suggest you save DMR for a later date.  DMR can be a bit of a steep learning curve and will not serve any purpose for weather data.  But do get a radio that is DMR capable.  Lots of people are using the Anytone  HT radios.

Happy chatting.

Ken

Thanks for the advice.  Back in a former life I was responsible for the radio communications for a medium-large company.   We used Motorola, Kenwood and Icom radios.  I found that aspect of the job enjoyable and relaxing.  From applying to fixed radio bases, some repeaters to teaching new hires how to properly operate company radios to the changeover to PTC.  I doubt this will become a hobby but will most likely get both the HAM & GMSR licenses.

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I read through this but didn't see a mention of the phone app "repeater book". I'm using it on a iphone, and don't know if it's available for android.   For those that don't know about this app, when the app is opened, it uses the phone gps ( and some portion of the cellular data) to determine your location and present a list of repeaters in the nearby area. The distance from your location to the repeater as well as the type of repeater ( DMR, DSTAR, Fusion, echolink and many more)  can be adjusted to what you may wish to use. All of the information that's needed to adjust the settings of the radio, beit hand held ( we don't call them walkie talkies anymore) or mobile radio so that you can have a conversation with local folks.  Settings for the ham band repeaters of 10 meter, 2 meter,  6meter and more are also available.

During a recent trip to the Oregon coast, I was at a rest area on route 395 that was 80+ miles from the nearest town, but 37 miles from the nearest repeater. Fortunatly, there was just enough cell service to ping the repeaterbook data base and provide the frequency and other settings needed for a conversation on that repeater.  Had there been an emergency, HAM radio would have been available when the cell signal quit..  

The one thing repeater book doesn't do well, is keep track of the repeaters that have gone off the air or are defunct, but it's a great resource while your traveling. I've made some great contacts with folks near where I've been camping or travelings.

Best of luck with your new adventure.

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7 minutes ago, franco-bolli said:

I read through this but didn't see a mention of the phone app "repeater book". I'm using it on a iphone, and don't know if it's available for android. 

It is available for Android as well.

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On 8/22/2022 at 5:40 PM, William Anderson said:

GMRS use requires a license from the FCC. This license fee is $35 and gives one a license good for ten years.

Its great to see the cost has gone down.  I got my GMRS license a year or so ago and it was around $60....

I have a motorola CM200 in my UTV and programmed to one of the GMRS frequencies. I figured its' better to have the appropriate license than get caught without it and chance losing my HAM license.

It would be nice if FCC would consider a refund of a portion of the cost of the license to previous purchasers now that  they have lowered the price...

1 hour ago, Chalkie said:

It is available for Android as well.

Thanks for the follow up information!!

 

BTW, I noticed that new BAOFENG UV-5R are coming in locked for transmit in the HAM bands.  A friend of mine asked me to program 2 of them with chirp and neither radio would transmit on the  FRS/GMRS frequencies even though the frequencies are selectable as a default group of frequencies to download to the radio (via Chirp).  Only the HAM frequencies would allow for 2 way communications... The very early version of that radio wern't locked so they could transmit in restricted frequencies and I think that's where the FCC was having heartache about those radios being in the US.

There is a way around this roadblock, but it's not for discussion here.

Don't get one of these radios thinking you're going to be able to snoop the Emergency Services communications like police, because most of them have move to more secure digital communications that only authorized radio companies can program into the radios.

 

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