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Thread: Inexpensive Ham Radio Recommendation?

  1. #1
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    Inexpensive Ham Radio Recommendation?

    Hi all. Does anyone have a recommendation for an inexpensive Ham radio that I could buy rapidly? I just want something that could transmit if I need it to, but wouldn't usually be asked to do so. It's transmission abilities could be pretty deeply restricted, and I wouldn't care. I want it to be available for emergencies/disasters, but for the most part it won't even have a transmission antenna attached because I'm not licensed to operate at this point...

    A big bonus: the ability to do something with digital reception and transmission. I know there are some digital protocols the radio guys use, and weird things they do bouncing signals off the moon. I would like to be able to play in that arena.

    I do already have one of those RTL-SDR dongles, so I already have the ability to receive a big part of the spectrum, as well as translate the signal to digital if I spent the needed time researching the methods...

    So, there are cheap radios available. Here's one:
    BaoFeng UV-5RE+ 8Watt Ham Radio Handheld Rechargeable

    Is that a decent pick given the above? I want new because I have enough fixer-upper projects already. Cheap because I won't really use it much, barring disaster.

    ...not that disaster is all that improbable. High winds are predicted Wednesday, and PG&E is planning another blackout. No idea how much of the state will be affected this time

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    Re: Inexpensive Ham Radio Recommendation?

    Not an Ubuntu support question, moved to The Cafe

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    Re: Inexpensive Ham Radio Recommendation?

    I just went and bought that radio. Still interested in folks' opinions, though, because I should have a month or so where it's eligible for return. I wanted to get the order in now so that there was a good chance that it arrived before Wednesday and the maybe-blackout.

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    Re: Inexpensive Ham Radio Recommendation?

    I don't know anything about that particular ham radio; I let my license lapse years ago. Have you considered a Citizens Band (CB) radio? I know they aren't particularly powerful, but they are inexpensive particularly when acquired used (pawn shop). They are widely used by over-the-road truck drivers and commonly monitored by the State Police for accidents on the road (Channel 9). If you are looking for an emergency communications system for a blackout-type scenario, a CB radio in your auto powered by your engine/battery might be a good option. This is old-school analog, but still works.
    System76 Serval Pro 7: Lubuntu 18.04; Dell Latitude D800: Lubuntu 18.04; Zotac Z-Box ID45: LinHES 8.5.1

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    Re: Inexpensive Ham Radio Recommendation?

    Thanks. Interesting suggestion. We used to have a CB a long time ago. There's a 5% chance I can dig it out of the attic. For me, I want the range, both RX and TX.

    Blackouts can be very wide-ranging when they happen, and I can always call for cops on the cellphone (barring the "big one" [cataclysmic earthquake], or a nuclear apocalypse destroying everything.)

    There's a league of Gentleman-Super-Hams that actually specialize in disaster communications. I'd like the capability to join that group, even though I most likely never will. I'd like to listen in on them, for one thing.

    Also, I just kind of like the idea of phoning Denmark because there's no power at the mall and my ice cream is melting in the freezer

    The radio I linked should get here by tomorrow evening. My power is almost certain to go out, not coincidentally, on the same afternoon. Should give me something to do, though I wonder if the battery comes charged or not. We'll see.

    Thanks again for the post.
    --jetsam

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    Re: Inexpensive Ham Radio Recommendation?

    On the other hand, with CB experience, I could gain a deeper appreciation of such classics of American cinema as Smokey and the Bandit II.

    ...One thing newer generations will never understand: just what a big trend CB radios were for that one year in the mid to late 70's. We had so few things to fad over, we went mad for CB radio one year.

    Then MTV came out... I don't think I ever heard mention of CB radio after that.

    Edited to add: Looking at Smokey and the Bandit stuff online, it's actually pretty entertaining and surprisingly credible as art. This scene has good editing and a kind of 70's grit that's well nigh impossible to recapture in retro recreations:
    East bound and down "smokey and the bandit"

    The 70's: If you want to relive them, you surely didn't live them in the first place.
    Last edited by jetsam; 2 Weeks Ago at 05:07 PM.

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    Re: Inexpensive Ham Radio Recommendation?

    I've got a 2 meter license although I haven't been active in probably 30+ years.

    I used to find radios in pawn shops fairly cheap that were in excellent condition and picked a few up now and then when I was active.

    I don't have a clue what's available in the radio market these days although I'm amazed at how inexpensive hand held transceivers are now.

    I've still got an amateur radio base station antenna mounted on my work shop with the coax all rolled up and hanging on the wall.

    I don't know why I lost interest in amateur radio but I did although still kept my amateur radio license current.


    I have a box of old CB radios in my work shop from the good old days of CB radio.

    CB radio back in it's day was the original social media before computers and smartphones and Facebook and twitter and whatever else.
    Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.
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    Re: Inexpensive Ham Radio Recommendation?

    I'm looking forward to getting the new radio. I'll have about a month to evaluate it. At $47.00, if it at least basically works and is usable, it'll be a bargain, especially compared to what radios like that used to cost. I'll have to resist the temptation to transmit, since I don't have a license. Hopefully the thing isn't so unwieldy to use that I'll make it transmit accidentally.

    It's looking likely our address and neighborhood will be spared any blackouts on Wednesday. Subject to change of mind by PG&E or change of weather by the world, we'll probably get to keep our lights on this week, and that's a relief.

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    Re: Inexpensive Ham Radio Recommendation?

    We have a lot of hail storms here, two and a half years ago one of our cars was totaled by baseball size hail while our daughter was driving it out of town, I have three BaoFeng radios they pick up the weather reports real nice if they are in range, but she refused to use it. To be honest they do not get the range they say they do, in town buildings, trees and power lines all interfere with the range, maybe in the wide up country they get the range listed.

    I have a friend that is big into these small radios so I did research and for about a 150.00 a think you can buy a pi3, another BaoFeng radio and a small container that opens and closes for portability and make a repeater, I had one made for a 250.00 it is awesome, I can be in my vehicle anywhere I have cell service and my hotspot if it can connect to the internet then I can dial a repeater anywhere around the world and talk on my 35.00 BaoFeng to them and it is crystall clear no noise at all. I also have a 2000.00 system which is old school that I like very much. Even truckers almost never talk on cb's anymore so they are almost completely useless, in 2013 I drove a truck for a few months and it is dead on the cb even in emergencies. I met my wife on the cb in 1981 and we have been together for 38 years, so young and old use to talk on them at one time but not now.

    On a personal note the friend a mentioned above could not get help in Walmart so he turned on his radio and called a manager to his location for help, it worked but they were not happy about it, there are a few very few frequencies that you can talk on like it is a walkie talkie without a license.

    There are videos on how to modify a hand held to create a mobile node.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Isx-F6wlD-c

    This is what a node is it is VOIP with a ham radio.

    https://www.arrl.org/files/file/VoIP.pdf

    This is a link to the network that lists the repeaters that you can dial into, however you do have to have a license.

    https://web-tpa.allstarlink.org/portal/register.php

    I am very busy with real life outside the forum so I will not have more time to post on this topic, but google can answer all your questions and let you know what is possible and how to do it.

    Good Luck
    Last edited by wildmanne39; 2 Weeks Ago at 10:14 PM.

  10. #10
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    Re: Inexpensive Ham Radio Recommendation?

    Awesome. Thanks for the input, all, and thanks for all of that wildmanne39.

    The thing has arrived. I won't be rushing through this stuff. Today's agenda: get the batteries in and turn it on. Figure out which button I shouldn't press to transmit... just the basics. Tune up... down... around...

    The repeater stuff is pretty impressive. You made your own two or three node mini network, but it has huge range I guess because the end node is a powerful transmitter. Very neat.
    Edit: No, the repeaters are a network unto themselves... Need to do some reading.

    Who knows if or when I'll get licensed... It was a few years ago I looked into it. It seemed doable but annoying, about like getting your driver's license is the first time. Not my favorite activity, studying for standardized exams... I guess we'll see. Maybe soon, maybe in a few years...
    Last edited by jetsam; 2 Weeks Ago at 09:46 PM.

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