Your HT as a Go Kit
OK, so you got that shiny new handy-talkie (HT) after (or even before) you were licensed. Your radio is your ticket to help out in emergencies, or just to take the radio out and have fun in a new location. Before you go anywhere with that new (or old) radio, it would be good to have a “Go Kit” with enough accessories to sustain your operation.
To start out, you might consider a better antenna for your HT. The stock antenna (better known as a “rubber duckie”) is very inefficient. With a radio that puts out 5 watts, usually only three watts leave the antenna. Be sure to get one that fits your radio. You can order one on line or check out the local ham radio stores. Most radios have what is called an “SMA” connector. Chinese radios usually have what is called a “reverse SMA” connector. Be sure to get the right one.
Next consider a second battery for your radio. Having an extra battery on hand should ensure that you never run out of power to operate your radio. The store you bought the radio should be able to help you get a spare. Ask any ham and they will probably tell you about the time their HT battery failed. Having a spare means you will be able to stay on the air a lot longer. By the way, be sure to keep it charged!
External antennas will boost your transmission and reception. The author’s first external antenna was a magnetic mount antenna (dual band. Costs around $25.00) that was placed on a pizza pan. It gave better reception and allowed me to get my signal out farther. Be sure to get it as high as possible. When working in the VHF/UHF range. Height is all-important.
There are other external antennas that are good for portable use. One is one called a J-pole. You can make one (usually one band only) or purchase a commercially made one. Some of these allow for both VHF and UHF. Get a suitable coaxial (coax) cable and a way to get it up into a convenient tree and you are good to go. Of course, a good permanently mounted antenna for your home is not a bad idea either! Be sure and check to see if you will need an adapter cable to connect the coax to your radio. There is a “SMA to SO-239” adaptor cable that will work with most radios. Consult your dealer.
When using your radio out of doors, it is a good to be considerate of others who may not want to hear you talking on the radio. Purchasing a headset for your HT is a good idea. Yes, someone will always hear you taking, but they will not be able to hear the station you are talking to you. You can get a simple headset or a more elaborate (and expensive) one, depending on your budget and needs. There are what are called “speaker mikes” that allow you to clip your radio to your belt and be able to speak and listen. You can clip the speaker mike near your head. Some of them even have an earphone jack. They are pretty cool. Some newer HTs even have Bluetooth capability. Any one of these options allow you to talk in a crowd or in a situation that demands quiet.
You will need some kind of container to put everything in. This is the “bag” part of a go-kit or go-bag. This is not a “one size fits all” item. Get a bag or container that works for you. Some hams put everything into a small suitcase. I have small bags for most of my radios and a larger bag for my main radio. Look around the internet or ask fellow hams for advice. My bags hold everything pertaining to the radio assigned to it.