Note: This web page represents by own personal opinions and research.
Here's my advice for selecting a HT (handy talkie) radio:
Buy an HT radio manufactured by one of the following:
My picks for multiband HTs:
- Kenwood TH-F6A
- Yaesu VX-5R (not the VX-7R)
- ICOM IC-T90
My pick for low-cost (2-meter, single band):
Where you can shop for radios:
Ham Radio Outlet
510 Lawrence Expressway #102
Sunnyvale CA 94085
Ham Radio Outlet
2210 Livingston St
Oakland CA 94606
Where you can shop on the Internet:
You can search for more. These are the main ones I've found to be useful.
- Pick an HT that can output 5 watts (or more)
- You definitely want the 2-meter band (144-148MHz). Other popular bands that
may be supported by your radio are 440MHz (aka "440" or 70cm), 6-meter,
and 220MHz (aka "220" or 1.25-meter).
- If you buy a used radio, make sure it has "PL tone" (aka tone,
CTCSS, or private line) capability.
- Consider getting a better antenna than the one included with your radio.
Comet and Diamond are two major brands.
- People submit opinions of radios and other products at http://www.eham.net/reviews
Look at the "Transceivers: VHF/UHF Hand Held" section.
- www.eham.net also has a Classifieds (for
- I've found some website reviews by searching Google with the model number
of the radio and "review" as the search terms.
- Other reviews and opinions by searching Google's Usenet search engine http://groups.google.com
- You can download user manuals from Kenwood's and ICOM's website. For Kenwood
go to Jump to Manuals. For ICOM go to Support then Documents.
Basics of Repeaters
If you have a weak signal to/from the repeater (assuming you are using an HT):
- Increase your power level (or verify you are transmitting at full
- Outside is better than inside: Try transmitting outdoors instead
of in the office, home, or car.
- Stationary is better than being in-motion.
- Higher is better than lower: Get your antenna to a higher location,
safely of course..
- Try moving to another location: Sometimes moving just a few feet
(or inches) can make a big difference.
- Try an after-market antenna to replace the one that came with your HT. You
can also build or buy a "rollup J-pole" antenna (a useful antenna
for portable operations, like emergency communication services). I've had
good success hanging my rollup J-pole to a low branch of a tree. For indoor-use,
I hang it in front of a 2nd-story window that is in the direction of the repeater.
- Use a repeater that is closer to you or that has better coverage. The fun
is experimenting and with experience, discovering which repeaters work well
in your area.
- Eventually, you may like the hobby enough to buy another radio. A "mobile"
radio can be used in the car or at home. Mobile radios typically have more
transmission power (like 50 watts instead of 5 watts) and better circuitry
to filter unwanted noise/interference.
Some info on repeaters:
WVARA's New Ham Net web page:
Donn Lee, W6FYI