Ron Guest

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Operating portable on VHF/UHF, my first blog post in a series on my amateur radio journey

In early February the FCC issued my Technician license and I received my General license a couple of weeks later. I dove into operating with both feet so I am creating a series of posts to document my journey. This first post explains my initial setup for VHF/UHF repeater and simplex operation.

As soon as I passed my Technician exam I - like most everyone - was in a hurry to get my hands on a radio and get on the air. And like most I decided to start with a handheld radio. These are self-contained transceivers with respect to both power and an antenna. When seeking advice on what to buy there were two primary schools of thought. One said to buy a Baofeng radio because, although they perform poorly and are difficult to program, they are very inexpensive. A lot of people consider them throw-away buys and are happy with these as a start.

I took the second recommend route which was to start with something that performs better and is more reliable and hence would be something I could use in the long term for Skywarn, emergency comms and public event support. I specifically chose the Yaesu FT-60R. It is an older design but works very well and has a great reputation. Unlike Baofeng, Yaesu has a long track record of investing in R&D to advance radio technology and I was happy to support their commitment.

So far I’m content with my decision but I would have purchased the Yaesu FT-70DR instead. It costs only slightly more but brings digital voice encoding which turns out to be quite useful. And the System Fusion feature in that radio allows communication across the country, even the world. Unfortunately I let some FUD proffered by a few discourage me from valuing digital mode.

Next post in the series: my base station setup for VHF/UHF

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