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Radio Recommendations
May 13, 2019
9:17 am
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Tyler - K6TLR
Rancho Cordova
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July 12, 2017
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Hey everyone! There were some requests from people about radios that we will be able to use once the club frequencies are allocated.

Pretty much, you can use any radio that operates in the VHF and UHF radio spectrum (140-170MHz and 440-470MHz). Depending on what radio it is though, we might have to modify it a tad to unlock it so that it can transmit on the club frequencies once we get them. So, here are a few options that I have found work great, and why. Starting from lowest price point to highest.

 

**Disclaimer**
Keep in mind that all of these radios are technically licensed by the FCC as Ham Radios, and using them unlocked is technically “illegal” according to the FCC. This particular rule is put in place to control the manufacturers though and enforcement generally comes through the manufacturer side, not the consumer side. But, I have to put the disclaimer out there. There is technically no 1 radio that can legally “do it all”. So if you want to 100% stay legal, then you will need to carry at least 3-4 different radios. My two cents, is that so long as you are adhering to the laws that were designed for consumers to follow, then the FCC (and most others) will leave you alone. So stay on the correct frequencies, and stay within the designated power limits for the frequency you are using. This is not meant to be legal advice… just some thoughts to help you make a decision 😛

 

Handhelds

Baofeng UV5R (25$ amazon) – As base model as you can get. Great introduction radio. Plan on replacing it every 1.5-2years. Will work on club frequencies no modifications needed.

 

Baofeng BF8HP ($65 amazon) – Same as the UV5R, but 8watts power instead of 5watt.

 

Alinco DJ500T ($80-120 amazon) – IP54 rated. Can take a beating. Can get dropped in snow, puddles, rocks from vehicle heights. Dont drop it in a lake. 5watts. Easily unlocked for club frequencies. Shouldn’t have to buy another one in any amount of time. Battery is small, so plan on carrying extra batteries or get a car chargeable battery. My favorite handheld right now.

 

Mobiles

TYT 7800 (150-200$ Amazon, and other places) – The best bang for your buck mobile radio. Removeable faceplate can be mounted anywhere separate of the radio itself. Does crossband repeat. 50watts. Easily unlocked.

 

Icom IC2730A ($300-350 amazon, other places) – Best value quality radio. Large screen with high contrast, so it is easy to quickly see what is going on while you are bouncing around on the trail. The faceplate mounts using magnets, so it is extremely quick and easy to remove from a topless jeep when you park it. 50 watts, crossband repeat, very sensitive receiver and really nice, clear audio.

 

Yaesu FTM400 (400-550$ amazon and other places) – Best APRS built in radio on the market right now. APRS is perhaps one of the most useful ham radio tools for off roaders. Think of the functionality of a Garmin InReach, but through radios, and no subscription fee. You can text people, email people, post your GPS coordinates online for people to track you (loved ones, search and rescue, club members during maintenance runs, etc etc). The only downside to this radio is that it is touchscreen, and touchscreens are notoriously difficult to operate while bouncing around on trails.

 

Considerations

If you use a handheld from inside your vehicle, your signal will be severely decreased. Anytime you are inside a vehicle, you will want to get your signal to the OUTSIDE of the vehicle as much as possible. In a topless jeep during the summer… no problem. In a metal body Toyota, or with your hard top on during winter… slight problem. There are magnetic mount antennas you can get that plug n play with handheld radios. Just slap the antenna on your metal body somewhere (keeping it vertical), and run the coax through a door or window. This will greatly increase the range of your signal and can be done for about $20.

If you are getting a mobile unit, you will need to consider how and where you want to mount your antenna system, brackets for mounting the radio itself, brackets for the faceplate, and running coax through the vehicle.

 

Thats it for now. let me know if you have any questions!

May 13, 2019
12:23 pm
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Jeff_R
Meadow Vista
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Hey Tyler, I remember that your uncle had a retractable mic holder that was on a cord and was mounted above his head. Do you know where we can get these?

May 14, 2019
11:54 am
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Sloguy
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December 14, 2018
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Thanks Tyler. Great information.  A lot more than I expected.

 

John

May 15, 2019
12:44 pm
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Tyler - K6TLR
Rancho Cordova
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Forum Posts: 333
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July 12, 2017
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Jeff_R said
Hey Tyler, I remember that your uncle had a retractable mic holder that was on a cord and was mounted above his head. Do you know where we can get these?

  

I dont know exactly what he uses… but I imagine something like this would work great:

 

https://www.amazon.com/T-REIGN…..038;sr=8-9

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