Everyone who is prepping should be concerned about communications for a post-SHTF scenario. After the SHTF it’s too late to decide that you want to learn about HAM communications. We know money is tight, so how can you get experience with Ham Radio? By reading up on our budget ham radio recommendations that focus on the BaoFeng UV-5R and the TYT UFV1.
Budget Ham Radio – BaoFeng UV-5R
I’ve been toying with budget ham radio (aka economic Chinese Radios). I own a handheld TYT UFV1 Dual Band radio which cost me around $115. It does have all the features that you find on other handheld radios that cost many hundreds of dollars and works like a champ, but $115 is still a decent wad of money for someone with a family.
Recently I started tinkering with the BaoFeng UV-5R Plus Dual-Band 136-174/400-480 MHz FM Ham Two-way Radio. This thing has all the features of the TYT for less than 1/2 the cost! That’s right, I got this radio for about $55 from Amazon.com. The prices have dropped down to the mid $30’s for these!
The Bands these cover (Not all of these are legal to broadcast on, but listening should be fine – see FCC Part 95 Rules)
- 2 Meter
- 70 cm
- FRS (Family Radio Service)
- GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service)
- MURS (Multi-Use Radio Service)
- Marine VHF
- Public service Frequencies
- NOAA Weather Band
- FM radio (listen only)
That is quite a list of frequencies.While it’s not legal to transmit on all these frequencies if your not a HAM or if the device isn’t approved on the FCC Part 95, that really won’t apply after SHTF. I’d take an FCC fine over death any day!
I have other radios (TYT UVF-1, Yeasu FT-7800R), but I always find myself reaching for my BaoFeng when it’s time to head out! I’ve added a few accessories to this great budget ham radio to make it even more awesome and versatile.
The 12v power adapter is essential. It plugs into your charging base for auto and mobile use.
There is another 12v solution, the Baofeng VPS-001 Vehicle Power Supply / Car Battery Eliminator, this swaps out with your battery, so you run your BaoFeng directly from your auto’s 12v current, allowing you to save your battery.
Lb-75n Battery Case, uses 6 AAA batteries to run your handheld, very nice, if you have rechargeable batteries!
Radio Battery Case for Baofeng, this one uses 6 AA batteries.
I’ve been testing out some aftermarket antennas, that really give my BaoFeng a nice boost in transmit and receive. Post on BaoFeng Antenna Upgrades.
I decided to expand the range and allow myself the ability to use this in my car. Sure it would have worked in my car using the rubbery ducky antenna, but a car is essentially a large metal box, not the greatest thing for radio waves.
Another cool thing I can do is use this without my car, by placing it on a large metal surface (cookie sheet) and use it for a “base station” antenna. I was able to hit a repeater (70cm band) about 25 miles away, without line of site. We’re talking hills and trees, and rain in my path.
Cable Adapter for external Antenna
I needed a way to connect the PL-259 connector to your SMA antenna connection on the BaoFeng, so I grabbed the Reverse SMA to “PL-259” Adapter Cable – Female/Female for Wouxun Baofeng. This is the one that fits perfectly on the BaeFeng.
Note: The TYT UVF1 uses the exact opposite, male SMA fitting (“SMA” to “PL-259” Adapter Cable).
Mobile Microphone for Auto use:
I was unsure of the quality of the BaoFeng UV-5R Plus Dual-Band 136-174/400-480 MHz FM Ham Two-way Radio, but after buying it and using it, I fell in love. I like it so much that I bought 2 more, just in case I dropped mine or it was stolen.
I mentioned this radio last night at a local Ham Club meeting and one of the other members pulled this exact radio out of his coat pocket to show everyone. They are gaining in popularity which means the price might start going up.
$55 to get some Ham experience is priceless in my mind!
Links to help you get up to speed on Budget Ham Radio Gear: