Thursday, April 05, 2007

What radio should I buy... the most frequent question asked by someone studying for their Technician license or just having passed the test and waiting for their call sign to appear.

Very often they have been attracted by the siren's song of a multi-band handheld, what we used to call a handie-talkie. My advice before you purchase anything is to investigate your specific needs and location before you pull out that wad of cash. A hand held radio may be just the thing or it could be fairly useless.

Let's think about your locale first. Are there a lot of repeaters in your area? What kind of coverage do they have? If there are very few local repeaters or they do not have good coverage a hand held radio may not do you much good no matter how cool it looks. If it turns out that most of the hams in your area operate simplex without using a repeater you may want a more powerful mobile type radio along with an external antenna.

Also consider what type of activity there is in your area. Does everyone use 2 Meters? Is there any activity on 440 MHz? Whether you buy a hand held or a mobile type radio you can often save a lot of money if you need only 2 meter FM capability. Note if you go the mobile radio route you will need some sort of a power supply, an external antenna, and some coax to use it in the house.

The best advice is to seek out and talk with local Hams. They will know what's used in the area where you live. Despite what the advertisements may claim not every mode and band is popular in every part of the country. Track down the local radio club, ARES, or Skywarn group. These folks will know what type of radio works best in your area.

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