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WonderMonkey

Looking For A New HAM Handheld Radio

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I'm looking to buy a new HAM handheld radio.  My current Yaesu, the reliable FT3D, is dying.  Dying to the point where I've pulled out my Baofeng F8HP, which is actually a reliable radio.  However, I'd rather investigate and get a new shiny radio as I can't stand not to.

 

In addition to working great, battery life is important to me as I'll take it backpacking to remote areas.  I'm OK with taking a spare battery, but I'd like the radio itself to do well in managing power.

 

Feel free to correct any of nonsense that I may spout below, as I've not fully embraced my Amateur Radio license (General) and explored its capabilities.

 

Digital - Has a winner emerged?  If I buy one brand will I have put myself in a room with a small number of people when I decided to use digital?

 

Hand Programmable - I know they all CAN be programmed by hand, but some fight you.  I use CHIRP for the Baofengs and RT Systems for the Yaesu and both are great, but suddenly needing to program a repeater while away from my computer are foreseeable.

 

5w or More Transmit - I know some have 8w, and many say there isn't much difference, so I'll stick with the 5w minimum.

 

What else?  What am I not asking about?

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I'm trying to remember.. I think Wilson here in our group is the radio expert.

I've got very little experience but interestingly, have made the same choices in the past years as you have.

 

My Yaesu is clearly a quality radio but being honest, my F8HP has seen 300% more action.  It's currently stuffed in my Get Home bag, but for a season there I would listen in to the locals morning chatter on my commute to work...we have two good repeaters in our area  that hang with me for the 30 minute commute.

The 8watts?  I dunno.. I think it comes down to antenna regardless.

The Baofeng has lived in the car, blistering south carolina summer heat, freezing cold winters, tossed around on the floor board etc.  If I put it on a meter, I'd likely see that it drifts plenty, but bottom line, it is still working after several years of abuse.

I've got spare and extended batteries for both radios and that car power adapters, mag mount antennas and whip upgrades in handheld mode.

 

I don't spend time listening cross country etc  on them, so going digital really isn't in my plans.

 

I just wanted to get an idea of who we had in our area, how active they were, what my range was like, etc.

The "Buy Two-way Radios"  internet sales folks are actually 4 miles from my house. I drive past them on my daily commute and have stopped in to spend some money with them a couple times.  They tested my Baofeng for me, called locals for radio check etc and the little radio appears to do the job.

 

I was all studied up and ready for my General a couple years ago...and then Covid... I need to brush up and catch up with the area club.. I think they typically get together in October and I can get the test done then.

 

In the meantime, no, I don't press TALK.  and honestly 99% of the chatter is what you'd hear sitting around the Bojangles for a morning cup of coffee with us bunch of old codgers.

 

but at least I know how to program my radios, have my repeater codes saved for other areas, etc.  These zombie movie prepper guys that see the actors just grab a radio and start talking  and think that's how HAM is going to work...yeah...have fun with that. (grin)

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I need to get into this.  For now all I have are cheap walkie talkies.  I do have a shortwave receiver, but nothing that I can transmit with.

 

I gather you need a license to hit the talk button, right?

 

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Oh i dabbled it some over the years, but they hams around here started drinking ...... And playing more then i liked..... I happened up on MTEARS sky warn, so i just monitor now, they have better on screen weather reports then noaa..... Every once in a while the mature hams will talk, now i MIGHT ?? Get back into it, now that i have more time, that being said if i wanted advise, id hunt @Derf40 up.

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Jeep by law your suppose to, but no you don't have to have a license to key A repeater, that's what happened here, jokers got there hands on Radios and Started playing on the repeaters getting drUnk and a Ting foolish. 

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6 minutes ago, jeepwm69 said:

I need to get into this.  For now all I have are cheap walkie talkies.  I do have a shortwave receiver, but nothing that I can transmit with.

 

I gather you need a license to hit the talk button, right?

 

yes...it's not a hard test..they eliminated Code years ago...so just some common knowledge stuff that's really helpful anyway.

there's a number of web sites that offer practice tests so you can get an idea of the questions

Wave Talkers Technician Exam Prep

Free Ham Radio Practice Tests – Ham Radio Prep

HamExam.org: Free Amateur Radio Practice Tests with Flash Cards

 

my comments were that, unlike FMRS /GMRS

General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) | Federal Communications Commission (fcc.gov)

I do have this license as we do a lot of camping and my 5 watters really come in handy.

 

anyway...unlike family friendly radios, where you pick it up, dial up a channel and press talk, a HAM needs a bit more training, knowing the frequency and transmit offset, etc..how to program your radios and what to expect from them with and without repeater access.

 

used to be you could touch on a private GMRS  repeater around places like Disney World theme park areas to help keep in touch with the family if you split up at the park. But those are few these days and the cell phone has replaced what used to be FMRS insanity at those parks.

 

I still like having my radios as part of my emergency prep - there's a Cobra CB handheld with a mag mount in the truck. We've come up on traffic logjams on the interstate and I'll turn mine on to listen into trucker chatter to get an idea of how bad the issue is and what routing options might be available.

 

We've gone camping with neighbors where cell signal in the mountains was nill, but we could talk RV to RV using the GMRS and have some privacy.

 

that sort of thing.

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7 hours ago, Bighanded said:

I'm trying to remember.. I think Wilson here in our group is the radio expert.

I've got very little experience but interestingly, have made the same choices in the past years as you have.

 

My Yaesu is clearly a quality radio but being honest, my F8HP has seen 300% more action.  It's currently stuffed in my Get Home bag, but for a season there I would listen in to the locals morning chatter on my commute to work...we have two good repeaters in our area  that hang with me for the 30 minute commute.

The 8watts?  I dunno.. I think it comes down to antenna regardless.

The Baofeng has lived in the car, blistering south carolina summer heat, freezing cold winters, tossed around on the floor board etc.  If I put it on a meter, I'd likely see that it drifts plenty, but bottom line, it is still working after several years of abuse.

I've got spare and extended batteries for both radios and that car power adapters, mag mount antennas and whip upgrades in handheld mode.

 

I don't spend time listening cross country etc  on them, so going digital really isn't in my plans.

 

I just wanted to get an idea of who we had in our area, how active they were, what my range was like, etc.

The "Buy Two-way Radios"  internet sales folks are actually 4 miles from my house. I drive past them on my daily commute and have stopped in to spend some money with them a couple times.  They tested my Baofeng for me, called locals for radio check etc and the little radio appears to do the job.

 

I was all studied up and ready for my General a couple years ago...and then Covid... I need to brush up and catch up with the area club.. I think they typically get together in October and I can get the test done then.

 

In the meantime, no, I don't press TALK.  and honestly 99% of the chatter is what you'd hear sitting around the Bojangles for a morning cup of coffee with us bunch of old codgers.

 

but at least I know how to program my radios, have my repeater codes saved for other areas, etc.  These zombie movie prepper guys that see the actors just grab a radio and start talking  and think that's how HAM is going to work...yeah...have fun with that. (grin)

 

I know @_Wilson_™ and I have spoken briefly about HAM.  Also when I was in Western Tn this past week I connected to MTEARS just to see if I could.  No speaking, just hitting the repeater in range.

I'm minimally competent in what I use my license for, but I under-utilize it.  The BF F8HP IS a good radio, but I felt my FT3D was better as far as durability.  It has other features which I would not expect the BF F8HP to have due to price point.  I have only dabbled in digital, and that was Yaesu's digital.

And you are right, most of the daily chatter is old man talk, which I'm approaching.

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6 hours ago, jeepwm69 said:

I need to get into this.  For now all I have are cheap walkie talkies.  I do have a shortwave receiver, but nothing that I can transmit with.

 

I gather you need a license to hit the talk button, right?

 

That is correct.  You can listen all you want, but unless you are in an emergency, you can't transmit.

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6 hours ago, _Wilson_™ said:

Oh i dabbled it some over the years, but they hams around here started drinking ...... And playing more then i liked..... I happened up on MTEARS sky warn, so i just monitor now, they have better on screen weather reports then noaa..... Every once in a while the mature hams will talk, now i MIGHT ?? Get back into it, now that i have more time, that being said if i wanted advise, id hunt @Derf40 up.

 

I connected to MTEARS when I was in Western TN last week.  I just keyed the repeater to make sure that I could.  MTEARS is a great thing.

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I'm going to replace the battery in my Yaesu FT3D and see if that fixes the issue.  I don't think it will, but it's worth a try.  When the unit is powered on and I disconnect the power or the programming cable, it powers down.  What does both of those have to do with the battery?  Not sure, but it's worth a try.

 

Here in a bit (few day), I'm going to dive back into the digital capabilities of the radio.

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Alright I've got APRS up and running.  I COULD use it so my wife knows where I am when in the deep woods, but I have a Garmin InReach for that.  I'm going to have to do a bit of study to see if and why I care about APRS.

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1 hour ago, WonderMonkey said:

Alright I've got APRS up and running.  I COULD use it so my wife knows where I am when in the deep woods, but I have a Garmin InReach for that.  I'm going to have to do a bit of study to see if and why I care about APRS.

 

I've determined that like the last time, I don't have a recognizable use for APRS.

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I'm playing with WIRES-X right now.  It's cool hearing other countries chat.  I've listened to Japan, Italy, Australia and of course, USA.

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9 hours ago, _Wilson_™ said:

@WonderMonkey I've come up on another site that might help in your searches, i myself have been searching for a Australia station  i shot skip with years ago, never got a chance to get a SQL card. 

 

https://www.repeaterbook.com/repeaters/index.php?state_id=none

 

I use that on occasion, good site.  Whenever we get deployed I do a quick search using there and both print out and load the repeaters into my HT's.

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