Needing help with deciding which handheld to buy!

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Needing help with deciding which handheld to buy!

Post by webdes » Mon Sep 28, 2020 4:43 pm

Hi all,

Just found this site whilst searching for Baofeng articles and found some great posts here so decided to join. I have been looking at buying a couple of handhelds to keep in contact with home if the phone networks go down or the SHTF....

As we are on a limitedish budget I found that Baofengs were affordable and seem to have a lot of features but after reading many many posts, articles etc I realised that they are not as powerful as I would need what with the topography between home and work, being a lot of trees and buildings. Also, only wanting to buy legit gear from reputable dealers such as limits what I can buy here in the UK as we seem to have a lot less impressive radios than say the US.

I am studying for my Foundation licence so I can stray outside the walkie talkie constraints.

Can anybody suggest a handheld radio that can transmit up to 10km, has a decent battery life, can scan/transmit on various frequencies etc and will not cost me a fortune? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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Re: Needing help with deciding which handheld to buy!

Post by TacAir » Tue Sep 29, 2020 8:33 pm

Pick 2,
Quality and cheap rarely go together.

I see used FT 60s on often, that may be worth chasing until you have ticket in hand.

Good luck.
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Re: Needing help with deciding which handheld to buy!

Post by mattltm » Wed Sep 30, 2020 1:10 am

Sorry to break this to you but there's no such thing as a handheld that can reliably cover 10km without either a great physical location (at least 1 station on elevated ground with clear line of sight to the other station) or additional infrastructure (like a repeater, a Network Radio or a SAT terminal).
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Re: Needing help with deciding which handheld to buy!

Post by woodsghost » Wed Sep 30, 2020 7:58 am

Yeah, your terrain may prevent the communication you desire without some additional infrastructure in place. In which case a Baofeng may be the cheap option that works (mostly) as well as the rest.

You may want to get in touch with local ham radio clubs. In some cases they have loaner radios for new members and you can get familiar with a radio before buying. You would also get to know the local ham radio infrastructure which already exists in your area (if any).

Just some thoughts, and tough to do in a COVID world.
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Re: Needing help with deciding which handheld to buy!

Post by Blast » Wed Sep 30, 2020 6:59 pm

Howdy Webdes and welcome to the squad. As others have mentioned, the Baofeng radios are cheap but may have quality issues. That being said, I've personally have had good enough luck with them to end up buying three, all of which still work.

Looking at your requirements, I would recommend something from the Baofeng UK Radio Store's tri-band products. Not only do they have the technician's level voice bands of 2m and 70cm, they also include the lesser used 1.25m band. That last band fell out of use a number of years ago with amateur radio operators but at least here in the US it's regaining popularity in the prepper community because so few people use it.

Now, the real power of your communications comes from the antenna(s). In the case of Baofengs, you'll end up spending more for the antennas than the radios themselves. Trust me, just do it. Looking at the Baofeng UK stores, they have very limited options for the antenna. Jumping to, for a vehicle-mounted antennas I've had good luck with ... B016SIJX28 for my dual-band (2m/70cm) radios but this antenna won't work with the 1.25m band. If you go with the tri-band radio your antenna system will likely need to be:
1. A generic, nmo-base, magnetic mount:
2. A tri-band, nmo-connection antenna:
3. A female PL249 - female SMA plug adapter:

For strictly hand-held use the antenna(s) to consider are:
1. Nagoya NA-320A Triband HT Antenna 2M-1.25M-70CM (144-220-440Mhz):
2. Tactical-syle ABBREE 144/222/435Mhz 18.8-inch SMA-Female Tactical Antenna for Baofeng BF-R3 UV-82T UV-5R UV-82 GT-3 Baofeng x Radioddity UV-5RX3 UV-82X3 BTECH UV-5X3 Abbree AR-F3 Tri-Band Two Way Radio:

If you have the ability to place an antenna on your roof a whole other world opens up to you but so do safety issues (lightening strikes, falling, etc). At that stage it'd be best if you received advice from experienced ham operators from a local club.

Another possibility is making your own antenna. Really effective "J-Pole" style antennas can be made cheaply from (relatively) easy-to-find parts. A word of warning, though...making antennas quickly sends you down a rabbit hole of making task-specific antennas such as long range, low-power Yagis, circular-polarized satellite trackers, broad-band SDR antennas, etc. :lol:
Here's a good write-up on making dual and tri-band antennas:

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Re: Needing help with deciding which handheld to buy!

Post by webdes » Thu Oct 01, 2020 2:10 pm

Hi All,

Many thanks for the replies. Going to look into antennas etc and see where I go.

Also, will check into local clubs, I believe there are a couple in my area so will look them up thanks.

@Blast thanks for the comprehensive info, was most helpful. Gonna stick with tri band Baofengs for now from the UK store as they are in my price range (needing 3: 1 each for me, missus and home). I like the idea of a mobile aerial for my truck, gives neighbours something to ponder over! I will visit dfma and see if making an antenna is in my ability, though my son might take over as he's in that phase of making things right now!

Thanks again all!!

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