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Choosing Your First Ham Radio

Posted by Bill Dick on

So you've just got your license, or are working towards getting one, or you just want a radio to monitor the logging roads, there are a lot of choices, and price points. Let me help get you into your first amateur radio.

At times going with the cheapest as your first isn't always the best idea. Take the Baofeng UV-5R for example. It's about as cheap as they come. Sure it works fine, but try to program it by hand. I'm sure thats enough to turn off a few folks from the hobby right there. The antenna it comes with isn't the most robust either. I've had some call refer to it as a dummy load :) And if you are thinking of purchasing one because it comes with a free programming cable, well thats another joy. Unless you still have a Windows XP computer, or are an expert at loading outdated drivers into modern OS'es. Not exactly what you want from your first ham radio.

Before purchasing your first radio, ask yourself what do you want to use it for? Participating in ham radio nets? Listening to traffic on logging roads, or other public service channels. Maybe you want a handheld that offers good range, or if your in the Metro Vancouver area one that is weather-proof. After all we've had about 6 months of solid rain, so a radio that can handle some drops of water would be nice. What about a radio that is easier to program than others. Did you know with the right antenna a handheld radio will allow you to work satellites, yes the ones in space, even the International Space Station! Do you like plane spotting? Some will even dip into the AM portion of the VHF band allowing you to listen to aircraft.

Once you have settled on what you want to do with the radio, consider the accessories to compliment the station, and fully enjoy operation. Are you going mobile in a vehicle. Consider a speaker-mic, external antenna, and a battery eliminator. Will you be going on an extended hike? An extra battery, or an alkaline battery pack will come in handy. Have you volunteered for a public service event? A high gain antenna, air conduit earpiece, and leather case will ensure you hear the action, the action hears you, and your radio survives the fall to the ground when someone bumps into you.

My recommendation for a first radio is the Wouxun KG-UVD1P. It is well constructed, built to IP55 specifications making it resistant to rain, comes with a decent antenna for a handheld, and is easier to program than others. It can also be complimented with a wide range of accessories for just about any situation. Do you have a special requirement, or need? Drop me line, I'll work one-on-one with you to help you make an even more informed decision for your first, second, or even third radio.

73s Bill

VE7IKX

 


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