Beginner’s Corner Feb-2014
By David Harden, KJ4CMY
I did the New Ham booth at the January GARS Tech Fest. It was fun and exciting meeting many new and returning hams!
One recurring question concerned the Chinese handy-talkies (HTs) and how good they were. I hadn’t had a chance to use any of them, so I decided to investigate.
Amazon.com is selling the BaoFeng u5-5R dual band radio for $38.00 (http://www.amazon.com/BaoFeng-UV-5R-136-174-400-480-Dual-Band/dp/B007H4VT7A).
There are other on-line vendors with comparable prices, too. This radio has 128 channels, and should receive more than just the two meter and 70 cm ham bands.
It received a 4.5 out of five stars in on-line reviews. The radio has a good battery and comes with free programming software. You might have to buy a cable to connect it to your computer, but it uses the same 2-pin Kenwood LMR style cable that Wouxun, TYT and many others use. Reviews say the manual is poorly written, so you might need to ask for help. One review suggested that if you do get one of these radios, to join the BaoFeng Facebook page or check YouTube for any guidance.
Here’s what one reviewer said: If you buy this, make sure you download and read “The (Chinese) Radio Documentation Project (revised edition)”.
Do a quick Google search for it. It’s an enthusiast-written manual for the Baofeng UV-5R, created with the beginner in mind. Don’t even waste your time reading the official documentation, it’s worthless.
Several reviewers discuss free programming software on Google that appears to be useful.
My advice: check all the reviews before purchasing. For a many this should make a great first radio, or a great second or third radio for emergencies.
I also took a look at the WOUXUN 2M/440 Dual Band HT. The specs are similar to the Baofeng, and is priced at Ham Radio Outlet at $99.95.
Again, this one got mostly 5 star ratings.
I don’t know what your funds are, but I went with KK4VLR to HRO before Christmas. She picked up a Yaesu FT-60, I think it was.
She bought the radio, the programming software, and a cigarette lighter adapter for about $200. (Get the programming software; it is worth the price.)
I would get a radio that has at least two meters and 70 cm (440 MHz).. If you buy a new radio, you will have to charge up the battery before you use it,
unless you hook up the adaptor. At least you can go to your vehicle and plug in a simplex frequency, and hope someone is listening. You might also set up a repeater frequency manually (always a good thing to know), and make a contact that way.
Good idea: get your radio, Take it out of the box, charge the battery, and read the manual while it is charging.
You can also load the programming software into your computer.
73 de David Harden, KJ4CMY