HAM Radio Gear
Lets look at some good, entry-level gear, that can be modular, and will support your needs even as you become a HAM radio ninja!
Shack Gear (Base Station)
The key player in most new Ham shacks will probably be a 2 Meter radio. The radios listed below are mobile radios, designed for automobile use, but make great base stations. Since we’re about being prepared having 2 bands gives us more communication options, so a dual band, 2 Meter & 70cm radio, would make the most sense.
- Yaesu FT-2900R -75 Watt 2 Meter
2 Meter + 70cm
- Yaesu FT-7900R (or a FT7800 if you can locate one) – Mobile Dual-Band Amateur Ham Radio 50W/45W VHF/UHF Transceiver. In addition to being able to transmit and recieve on both 2 meter & 70cm, this radio has a 1200/9600 bps Data port (Packet Jack). This means you can send digital data to other HAM radio operators or connect to the internet via a HAM network!
- Yaesu FT-8800R – VHF/UHF Dual Band Amateur Radio Transceiver – 50W/35W. Simultaneous Receive of 2 Frequencies & Cross-Band Repeater Capability! I don’t think this has a data port.
These radios are designed to be used as a mobile radio, therefore to use them as a base station they will require a DC power supply.
If you use Anderson Power Pole Connectors and stout wiring to connect your radios in your automobile, and a RigRunner (similar to a DC power strip, with connections for Power Pole Connectors) in your shack, you’ll be able to quickly move your gear between your ham base shack and your vehicles.
If you want to really reach out and maximize your 2 meter and 70 cm radios you’ll want to find a good base station antenna for the shack.
If you plan on being on the move or need some flexible deployment options, a dipole antenna, like the Falcon 2 Meter Dipole Amateur Ham Radio Antenna (horizontal polarization) will give you some flexibility for mounting and positioning. This antenna can be hung from a hook, dangled out a window, or even strung up between 2 trees. This is a great option if you need flexible deployment options, or may need to move it to new positions quickly, but won’t give you the best transmissions, since you’d want vertical polarization for 2 Meter FM broadcasts.
The car, being metal, is pretty much the equivalent of a Faraday cage, so if you want any type of good distance, you’ll need to employ a mobile dual band antenna, probably with a magnetic base, so you can move it from vehicle to vehicle.
Handheld Radios (Auto and Travel)
A handheld radio would also work for base station, vehicle use or backpack carry.
To connect to a mobile or base antenna, an adapter is needed because handheld radios use SMA connectors and not the standard PL-259 connectors.
BaoFeng UV-5R + is the workhorse of the budget HAM radio world. 2 Meter and 70cm (and more)
- To connect to an antenna you’ll need a Reverse SMA to “PL-259” Adapter Cable – Female/Female for Wouxun Baofeng, (BaoFeng requires a SMA Female connection)
- If you just want to upgrade the antenna on the BaoFeng unit, you can upgrade it with the ExpertPower 14.5″ DUAL BAND 144/430Mhz U/V SMA-F Antenna For BAOFENG UV-5R WOUXUN KG-UVD1P for a great increase in distance for transmit and receive.
TYT TH-UVF1 -2 Meter and 70cm
- To connect to an antenna you’ll need a “SMA” to “PL-259” Adapter Cable, (TYT UVF1 requires a SMA male connection)
- If you just want to upgrade the antenna on the TYT UVF1 unit, you can upgrade it with the ExpertPower 14.4″ Dual Band Two-way Radio Antenna SMA-Male for a great increase in distance for transmit and receive.
This should give you some ideas to allow you to use a mobile 2 meter or 70 cm radio in your car.
If you’re just getting started with ham radio, it makes sense to get the best bang for your buck and use gear that can be used in both base and mobile operations!
Links to help you get up to speed on Budget Ham Radio Gear: