A couple days before I took my test I had also received my first radio. To start off I wanted to get on the 2Meter band being as I could talk phone right away with a Technician’s license and I would be more likely to make contacts on local repeaters than trying on 10meter sideband right off. I was skeptical at spending too much right away as I didn’t know enough about what was to be had out there without a further education.
So after reading quite a bit on forums and reviews I decide to give the very affordable BaoFeng UV5R+ a shot.
It is a tidy little Handheld with most the features you need or would want. Programmable via cable or keypad, scans frequencies or memory channels and even has a flashlight and a decent Fm broadcast radio.
I found the best price on Amazon I picked up an programming cable, Mic and a TRAM model 1185 mobile dual band antenna for my Jeep. This is a lot of radio for 40 bucks is all I can say. 2Meters, 70CM bands. Can be used as police scanner, FMRS and MURS radio.
The stock software leaves a lot to be desired so I downloaded CHIRP and it works very well. I can load up repeaters from various sources and save the image of the radio etc. On my recent honeymoon through the Olympic Peninsula here in Washington State I was able to load up my radio with repeaters based on the counties I was going to be driving through.
I use this mostly at home with an outside antenna. Radioshack is among the many places you can get an adapter for this radio to connect to a PL-259. I built a couple different groundplane antennas that I have used to participate in a few local area Nets. I do have a little bit a trouble hitting all the repeaters which I thought was due to coax loss but a few tries in the car and just out in the yard with stock antenna I still feel a bit under powered. I run into a lot of I can hear them but they can not hear me. I am keeping my eyes out for a mobile with a little more power or a linear amp.
I had picked up a Daiwa CN-103L SWR/Power meter from a friend and both of the antennas I have made tuned up nicely, so I will connect to the repeaters I can until I get a few more vhf/uhf watts under my belt.