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Old 02-24-2016, 11:52 PM   #1
ke0me
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Default VHF/UHF handheld radio recommendation

I have not had a handheld VHF/UHF radio for a number of years so I'm thinking of adding that to the inventory for this summers trip.

Seems that 2m/70cm units are popular, looking for recommendations of features to get.

This will be for just monitoring as I drive, or asking directions to places as we travel.

Being retired, trying to balance cost with performance.

What has your experience been with the Chinese radios ( Baofeng and Wouxon) ?

Would like to stay under $100 for basic radio.

Not opposed to used units either, so any good older units from the big 3? (Y,I, and K)
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Old 02-25-2016, 06:20 AM   #2
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The Baofeng and Wouxon radio's are surprisingly good for their price and considering that they are mid range Chinese radio's.
One word of advise , be sure to get the programming cable and software (makes programming a lot easier).
Higher capacity battery's would be a good add-on also.

For traveling , a hand held doe's not compare to a proper mobile but they do have their uses and can be quite helpful from time to time.
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Old 02-25-2016, 07:55 AM   #3
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If you want cheap Baofeng is CHEAP!!!

If you want GOOD, Icom ID-51A or if you happen to have something like a Kenwood TS-2000 in your shack the matching Kenwood hand held.
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Old 02-25-2016, 09:13 AM   #4
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The biggest problem I have with Chinese radios is you can't manually adjust the squelch, it has to be programmed into the radio. Other than that they work pretty good. Most of them have a 4W output except for one model of Baofeng with 8W out. Ebay or Amazon is the cheapest place to find the Chinese radios, usually in the $25-35 range.
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Old 02-25-2016, 07:16 PM   #5
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I have a Baofeng I won with a dollar ticket that maybe be all I have to say. It's some thing I don't care about losing if I really need to communicate I grab the Kenwood. One of my complaints is it can be programmed on just about any included freq. by any one including PS bands, FRS and other services that they shouldn't not be on. Thank God it has no AM.
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Old 02-26-2016, 10:46 AM   #6
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I do agree that changing the squelch on my Baofeng is a pain.

Menu
Select option for squelch (Forget if it is zero or nine)
Menu
Up/down to adjust
Menu
Exit, and then the change is implemented, so if you need to move 2 or 3 steps that' a whole lot of button pushing.

The receiver is not that great and neither is the transmitter or audio

But it makes one great hand mic for my TS-2000 in locked repeat mode I often put channel 020 (link on my Baofeng) into the hand held and 200 (Also the channel I choose for LINK) on my TS-200s's either Sub receiver to use the Baofeng as a mobile mic (Then on the TS-2000 MENU, 6+1 SUB and one tough of PLUS) or set the Darien Repeater on one side of the TS-2000 LINK (200) on the other side, and double push the PLUS sign on menu 61 SUB (Cross band repete) AlaS, audo on Baofeng not as good as TS-2000 though.

(But the reason I had the TS-2000 shipped to my home instead of carrying out at Dayton is the TS-2000 ... well.. I'd have gotten home with one arm longer than the other cause that puppu is HEAVY after all.
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Old 02-26-2016, 05:05 PM   #7
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I bought one on Amazon for $23 for backup. It seems to work ok. Get the programing cable and a better antenna.
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Old 02-26-2016, 06:07 PM   #8
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In disaster recovery work where equipment might be subject to loss or damage, having a bag full of cheap radios might not be a bad thing. I'd be reluctant to take a multi-hundred dollar HT into the driving rain for hours or into a part of town where someone might decide to take it from me.

In time of really devastating loss where local hams may have lost everything, perhaps 2 dozen Chinese handhelds on a shelf at the EMC might be a good idea, too.
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Old 02-26-2016, 06:34 PM   #9
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If you are going to take it out in the rain You'll need at least two! Most quality radios are fairly weather proof.
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Old 02-29-2016, 03:02 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by accumack View Post
I bought one on Amazon for $23 for backup. It seems to work ok. Get the programing cable and a better antenna.

One word of caution on that Programming cable...

There are some different "Chip" makers (this is the chip that converts the USB to the serial protocol used on the radio for programming)
1: FTDI.. These chips work, all versions of most every operating system made, These work
2: Prolific.. it is a crap shoot, some work, some do not, some work with one OS but not another Will not work with windows 10.
3: FTDI Knockoffs: WILL NOT WORK WITH MODERN WINDOWS,, Not sure about 8, but Windows 10 will destroy these chips. Plug into a Win-10 machine and the chip no longer works,
4: Prolific knockoffs.. Do not work with Windows 10. Not sure about 8, But at least they do not brick.

Had a Prolific in one medical device, they replaced with a Genuine FTDI.. Have several FTDI's including my Baofeng cable, work great.
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Old 02-29-2016, 03:40 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wa8yxm View Post
One word of caution on that Programming cable...

There are some different "Chip" makers (this is the chip that converts the USB to the serial protocol used on the radio for programming)
1: FTDI.. These chips work, all versions of most every operating system made, These work
2: Prolific.. it is a crap shoot, some work, some do not, some work with one OS but not another Will not work with windows 10.
3: FTDI Knockoffs: WILL NOT WORK WITH MODERN WINDOWS,, Not sure about 8, but Windows 10 will destroy these chips. Plug into a Win-10 machine and the chip no longer works,
4: Prolific knockoffs.. Do not work with Windows 10. Not sure about 8, But at least they do not brick.

Had a Prolific in one medical device, they replaced with a Genuine FTDI.. Have several FTDI's including my Baofeng cable, work great.
On the Prolific chips, you can go into the Device Manager and determine which version of the driver is running. On Windows 10, if the version is 3.3 or newer, knockoffs and some true Prolific chips won't run. You can easily find older versions of the drivers on Prolific's website. Park version 3.2 on your computer. Then you can go into the Device Manager and roll back the driver. Then the cable should work just fine.

I have a bunch of USB programming cables for Motorola radios and most of them now need the driver rolled back. I spent an anxious hour googling and reading about this on the day after I upgraded to Windows 10. It works fine, but if you reboot the computer, you'll probably have to roll back the driver again the next time you use the cable. A bit annoying but it does work. At least you don't have to toss those cables.

If anyone needs help rolling back a driver, let me know in this thread, and I'll post more detailed instructions.
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Old 02-29-2016, 06:56 PM   #12
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I had one of the cheap USB ones reach down to remove it from the computer ended up with the plastic shell and the wire!
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Old 03-01-2016, 09:33 AM   #13
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I was not able to get the Prolific chip in my Medical device's cable to work, I tried older drivers and everything, Nothing worked, it simply would not connect.

They sent me (Free of charge) a new cable with an FTDI chip and WHAM, connected.

I spent a good week trying to get that old cable to work, Multiple calls to customer assistance, New Driver CD with teh proper drivers, and everything.. Downloaded and installed older versions of the drivers, everything, Nothing worked.
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