HAM Radio Purchase

e9999

You want to do what...?
Moderator
Joined
Sep 21, 2003
Messages
17,058
Location
US
 
 
 
well, I would not say that getting a ham license is trivial. It does take some studying, you need to find an exam, pay fee(s) etc. The exam is not difficult technically speaking, but it will take a few hours all together to get it all done. Certainly more time-consuming than just paying online for a GMRS license. And you can lose it all if you forget to renew. But you get more potential use out of the ham license. One of the main advantages I would think is the availability of repeaters which I imagine is better than GMRS, so better distance communication. Plus APRS, email etc. And I wonder if a ham radio is not cheaper than a comparable GMRS.
There is also MURS.
At the end of the day, though, if you're talking about trail communication, it is meaningless to discuss that without there being a consensus among the participants, whatever it is, and I suspect there will always be folks who just don't want to deal with the ham aggravation.
 
Joined
Nov 24, 2014
Messages
5,216
Location
Traffic Land
 
GMRS works in the 462 - 467MHz range. Close to 70cm band used by HAM radio operators.
Plenty of repeaters around the country.
GMRS are generally cheaper than HAM radios, unless you consider Midland radios which are obscenely expensive for what they are.

The best thing about the GMRS "license" is that it's good for 10 years and it covers your entire family. It's not required to hold an individual license as in HAM's case.
Family includes spouse, parents, grandparents, uncles/aunts, cousins, nephew/niece, etc.
As one can imagine a family can chip in for the license costs therefore reducing the cost per person.
There is no limit on the number of cousins you can have. ;)

50W max transmit power should be plenty for any off road needs.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Aug 25, 2008
Messages
1,134
Location
Sacramento area, CA
 
 
Need to check your area of use, availability of GMRS repeaters in the west can be a little thin. GMRS repeater directory for Utah shows 25 with only 5 being open access, the rest private/club. While Utah has over 120 open 2M repeaters and over 160 open 70cm repeaters.
I should carry a GMRS for a backup, what do you recommend for an inexpensive one I can use with an external antenna.
 
Joined
Nov 24, 2014
Messages
5,216
Location
Traffic Land
 
For a dedicated GMRS take a look at BTECH GMRS-50x1

Midland are nothing but Chinese radios at higher prices. They are the same as TYT, Luitone and Baofeng.

BTECH is Baofeng.

If you don't want a dedicated GMRS, you can look at the above mentioned radios as HAM radios in single (UHF) or dual band (VHF and UHF). But if you go this route you need to spend some time programming the radios in the GMRS frequency with the allowed transmit power (not all channels are allowed to transmit at the same max power of 50W) and PL tones associated with each channel.

But again, get something your group runs. There is no point in getting one radio that you like and everybody else is on a band that you don't have access to.
If everyone is on CB, you might as well use smoke signals.

If they are not HAM-ers but want something better than what CB can offer, GMRS could be the ticket. As I said above, the license is perfect (if you want to get it) even though it is slightly more expensive at first it covers a lot of users (all your extended family who wheels with you) unlike HAM radio license (single user).
 

Gun Runner 5

KI4CMQ
SILVER Star
Joined
Oct 22, 2009
Messages
16,361
Location
Thomasville, GA
 
 
Most likely we will be traveling in small groups and most of us already have a HAM license and those that don't are currently prepping for the exam. So HAM it is, thus my original question in post 1.
Thanks
 
Joined
Aug 25, 2008
Messages
1,134
Location
Sacramento area, CA
 
 
For an antenna I use a Comet SS-680SB, has two base options depending on which mount you like.
It is tough and has good gain. Have tested toughness a few times as it is mounted on roof rack and forget to take it off going into garage.
Straighten the wire part and its good to go.
 
Joined
Apr 4, 2006
Messages
2,074
 
 
The Baofeng UV5R 5W handheld and its various brethren (I did change the antenna, not using the stubby that came with it...) work fine on GMRS, although not FCC-certified. Would that BTECH GMRS-50x1 by any chance carry certification?
For a 2m HAM antenna, I'm currently using this:
I'm happy with that, it has held up well to the brush at the side of our trails, and recently made a contact over ~40miles on simplex; 25W did it, 55 W was better... There's a Diamond NR770HAB (1/2 wave on 2m) on a mag-mount somewhere in the back of the truck just in case.
 
Joined
Nov 24, 2014
Messages
5,216
Location
Traffic Land
 
The Baofeng UV5R 5W handheld and its various brethren (I did change the antenna, not using the stubby that came with it...) work fine on GMRS, although not FCC-certified. Would that BTECH GMRS-50x1 by any chance carry certification?

Yes.
The GMRS-50X1 is FCC certified (Part 95E) for use on GMRS frequencies. The GMRS-50X1 is also FCC certified for VHF/UHF scanning capabilities (Part 15B)

Receive only on 2m and 70cm band.
 
Joined
Jul 10, 2017
Messages
1,017
Location
DC
I’ve been looking at radios too and was set on a Yaesu. I’d like the best bang for buck with these features: 70cm/2m dual band and removable faceplate.

I feel like Yaesu used to have a model that fit this bill but wasn’t as fancy and was about half the price of the FTM-400. Anyone know which model I’m thinking of?
 
Joined
Nov 24, 2014
Messages
5,216
Location
Traffic Land
 
It looks the same as Baofeng (BTECH), Luiton, TYT, etc.

Probably the same manufacturer with different labels on them. Some different specs too sometimes.
 

1911

chupacabra
Joined
Aug 11, 2006
Messages
6,025
Location
Parker County, Texas
 
 
I’ve been looking at radios too and was set on a Yaesu. I’d like the best bang for buck with these features: 70cm/2m dual band and removable faceplate.

I feel like Yaesu used to have a model that fit this bill but wasn’t as fancy and was about half the price of the FTM-400. Anyone know which model I’m thinking of?
Yaesu FT-7900
 

Cromagnon

SILVER Star
Joined
Jun 8, 2012
Messages
174
Location
Colorado Springs, CO
 
For equipment reviews there is always eham.com, qrz.com and qrznow.com for 1st hand opinions from folks using the equipment. There are as many reasons to get an Amateur license as there are not to get one, you can always find a reason to do something or not.

As others have stated there is a very good reason to get the same radio as your traveling companions, if you need help with the operation of it your companions will probably be able to help if you have the same radio they are familiar with. As with any radio system make sure you use a sturdy, well placed and quality antenna. Do not skimp on this part of the system. A good radio and poor antenna will result in poor results while a mediocre radio and good antenna will allow for communications. The antenna really is the most important piece of the puzzle. High, strong and efficient!!
 

Road Apple

SILVER Star
Joined
Nov 28, 2011
Messages
453
Location
Santa Cruz, CA
 
Just picked up my first ham radio, which my local group suggested, the Icom ID-5100A. Not a cheap radio, but solid and capable. After completing the simple MARS modification, this radio is also GMSR capable.

Also picked up the Comet SSB-1 NMO and SS-680 NMO antennas. The SSB-1 is a 16” flexible 1/4 wave, 2 meter antenna for local/trail use. It needs a ground plane, such as your roof or hood.

The SS-680 is a 27” spring mount 1/2 wave, 2 meter for longer range communication. It will appreciate a ground plane, but doesn’t require one.

I’m using a Diamond K-400 SNMO lip mount, which can be used on the hood or rear hatch. It comes with about 13’ of coax.
 
Last edited:

WB8LBZ

SILVER Star
Joined
Dec 29, 2013
Messages
298
Location
El Paso, TX
 
The IC-5100 has a SD card that lets you save/share configurations so you can clone radios once its programmed. Many of the newer Icom radios have this feature. I have shared/cloned frequencies many times.

Larry in El Paso
 

Gun Runner 5

KI4CMQ
SILVER Star
Joined
Oct 22, 2009
Messages
16,361
Location
Thomasville, GA
 
 
One of the guys in our group is new to HAM and wanted a lesser cost radio initially. Decided on this Midland Product.
image.jpeg
 
Joined
Nov 24, 2014
Messages
5,216
Location
Traffic Land
 
It's an overpriced Chinese radio with a Midland label on it.
It goes by different names, Anytone, Baofeng, Luitone, Talkcoop, QYT, etc.
 
Top Bottom