I took my General Exam for HAM radio last year and have done very little with it. I did purchase a fairly inexpensive 2M handheld radio, Handheld Deluxe VHF/UHF Dualband Amateur Radio 2M/440 Transceiver with Twin Display 5W TYT TH-UVF1, to get my feet wet. I am able to hear conversations but, due to the small antenna, I have been unable to participate. Time to take things to the next level and order some true ham radio gear.
I set aside a small portion of my tax return for ham gear and have had an Amazon Wish list setup for the HAM radio gear I’ve been wanting and that I have researched quite deeply. I pulled the trigger on this wishlist so I now have a bunch of great gear heading my way.
HAM Radio Gear
Shack Gear (Base Station)
The key player in my Ham “shack” will be a 2 Meter radio. I chose the Yaesu FT-2900R 75 Watt 2 Meter VHF Mobile Transceiver Amateur Ham Radio, I will utilize it as a base station. The FT-2900R has great reviews and can output up to 75 Watts. It also has a #30 mail in rebate directly from Yaesu (valid from 01/15/2013 to 03/31/13). If you need the pdf Yaesu Rebate form it is here.
The FT-2900R is designed to be used as a mobile radio, but I opted to use it as a base. This required a power supply to provide DC power. The Pyramid PS15KX 10A 13.8-Volt Power Supply with Cigarette Lighter Adapter fit my requirements. This was great because it not only can provide power via wire leads, but has a cigarette lighter adapter so I can use it for other mobile gear too. Now I can add a cigarette lighter plug to my old CB and do some 11 meter CB in my Shack if needed.
I am going to start out with a portable 2 meter dipole antenna, the Falcon 2 Meter Dipole Amateur Ham Radio Antenna. This will give me some flexibility for mounting and positioning, and since I live in a HOA laden subdivision it will keep me from angering the neighbors and the HOA fines that may accompany such actions. If this antenna doesn’t work, I will opt for something more permanent. I will also attempt to build my own homemade ground plane antenna. I have a Solarcon I-MAX 2000 CB/Ham Radio Base Station Vertical Antenna – 24′ on my wishlist, just waiting for me to click “Order Now” if the Falcon antenna or the homemade antennas don’t work out.
To connect the Yaesu FT-2900R to the Falcon 2 Meter Dipole Amateur Ham Radio Antenna I purchased 18′ RG-58/U Coaxial Cable With Pl-259 Connectors. 18′ will be fine for the Falcon antenna, but I may have get a longer run of RG-58/U coax if I have to move to the 24′ antenna (Solarcon I-MAX 2000).
Mobile Gear (Auto and Travel)
I also wanted some mobile gear for the car. I currently have a CB radio, but the CB spectrum seems to be full of rude, loudmouthed bullies who are way to found of echo effects. It’s so bad that I rarely even turn it on any more and I firmly believe that the more responsible licensed folks on 2 Meter would be a better listen.
I already own a TYT TH-UVF1 136-174/400-480MHz Dual Band Handheld Transceiver, which has been great, even with it’s tiny antenna. It came with both an AC adapter and a DC mobile adapter (for car). The manual and documentation are pretty terrible. There are some Yahoo Groups focused on this very radio, which helps. I plan on keeping this for mobile use but will be adding a BaoFeng *UV-5R Plus* UV 5R+ Dual-Band 136-174/400-480 MHz FM Ham Two-way Radio(2013 Enhanced Version) to my mobile radio tool set.
The BaoFeng *UV-5R Plus* already has quite a following, and the Amazon reviews for it are pretty darned good too. It is priced very economically, just like the TYT TH-UVF1, and has quite a user community in place. In addition to a dedicated BaoFeng UV-5R Plus Yahoo Group, some enterprising users have even developed a 3rd party, open-source software programming tool called Chirp to easily program it. The programming requires a special USB cable to connect the radio to your PC, Mac, or Linux workstation. I had to order the Dual Band Car Battery Eliminator For BAOFENG UV-5R VHF/UHF Two Way Radio, separately.
The car, being metal, is pretty much the equivalent of a Faraday cage, so if I want any type of good distance, an external antenna will be needed. I bought a 2 Meter / 70 cm 144 – 148 & 440 – 470 MHz MAGNETIC Mobile ANTENNA to resolve this issue. The review are good, the price was right and it covers 2 meter (144-148MHz) and the 440-470Mhz bands too.
I needed an adapter also because both of my portable radios use SMA connectors and not PL-259 connectors.
Now I should be able to use either of my mobile 2 meter radios in the car.
If you have your Ham license but haven’t gotten your feet wet, you can get a BaoFeng for $30-60 and start doing 2 meter radio. This is the time to prepare, because trying to buy this stuff post TEOTWAWKI will be impossible.
I have posted my 2 meter setup and the relevant Amazon.com Links from my Amazon wishlist so you can check the items out and read the review from people who have already purchased them. Obviously you should purchase from the vendor of your choice.
Links to help you get up to speed on Budget Ham Radio Gear: