A Conversation About Communications

Posted on 2023-09-05
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[MB] I’ve been browsing the communication guides on CORAC and I’m sure those are going to be helpful too. I’d like to buy a radio while I’m studying for a license, because I think having one in front of me to tinker with simultaneously would make understand everything easier. I see guides on a BaoFeng and Tecsun on the CORAC website. Any thoughts on these items or other radios anyone would recommend? I believe the closest repeater to me is on Palomar Mt, though there are a couple listed as just “Escondido” in my area.

[TW] My recommendation is Yaesu Ft-60r; IMHO it is way better radio than Baofeng, sturdy, easier to program been around for long time.

Ham Radio Outlet (there’s one in San Diego), DX Engineering, Gigaparts are all reputable vendors.

[JP] I am so utterly disappointed that CORAC continues to recommend the purchase of Chinese-made radios.

The Chinese Communist Party is our mortal enemy. Their human rights record is deplorable; they are rabidly anti-American, anti-Catholic, anti-religion. They oppose everything we stand for. We should not encourage people to patronize them; instead we should boycott them. Every sale they make takes a sale away from Icom, Yaesu, Kenwood and Alinco who really need our business.

The use of political prisoner slave laborer helps reduce their cost profile. And it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that these radios were being sold at prices below the (already low) cost of production in order to drive legitimate manufacturers out of business.

I tell you, it will be a sad day for Ham radio when the Chinese succeed in driving Icom, Yeasu, Kenwood, and Alinco from the market. Then, you will be at their mercy, having Baofeng and nothing else.

I suppose the issue of quality may still be up for debate; but I have at least one confirmed case on CORAC; namely inability to program the radio. And I’ve seen and heard enough elsewhere to arouse a healthy skepticism of the Chinese Brands.

Examples of defects reported:  

  • Inability to change settings from the front panel
  • Inability to change settings using a computer, programming cable and CHIRP
  • Defective firmware
  • Firmware updates are possible only with Windows, leaving Mac, Linux and others out in the cold.
  • Receiver overload
  • Transmit out of band

And FWIW, no matter how poor I become, I won’t ever buy one — on principle.

Do an internet search on BRICS. This is an organization of countries who seek to destroy the U.S. economy.  Guess what the “C” of BRICS stands for?

Choose well.

[SB] Assuming you are asking about ham radios in VHF/UHF (aka “dual band” radios which would be used to access repeaters and speak to others in “line of sight range” i.e. within a 0-100 mile radius depending on how high your antenna is – what I am about to say is about all that, and not about HF / cross-country / international radio setups).

Based on my direct personal experience I can only recommend the Kenwood TM-V71A which is sadly discontinued, though most of them that you’d find on eBay or somesuch are likely in great condition I’m not sure I’d recommend buying from a random eBay seller unless it’s advertised as new or like new (you do still see those occasionally) and the seller has a high rating. (If anyone has any questions about this radio please don’t hesitate to ask me, I have  put in a lot of hours on them and own many.)
 
The closest currently available model would be the Icom IC-2730A I believe, but I don’t have any personal experience with it. 
 
In general I would choose a Kenwood, Icom, or Alinco in that order. (I know what I’m about to say will start a flame war, but so be it) I would stay away from Yaesu (too many quality control issues I’ve seen in my own family’s and others’ Yaesu radios over the years), but they are very popular and certainly “local support” for them is likely to be good (lots of people in the US use them and are therefore able to help you with them). Like John, I would explicitly recommend against any of the lower-quality RadioOddity, Bridgecom, AnyTone, Baofeng, Quasheng, Wouxon, PowerWerx, etc. radios. If the “don’t support China” argument isn’t convincing to you, I can tell you (as someone whose career is in software design) they are quite frequently hard to learn to use, particularly for the less technically inclined, due to the poor interface design, fragmented market (many different firmware versions, many different brands), poorly written documentation, and buggy firmware. They allow you to get yourself into situations a well-designed radio would not, and then it’s on you (the inexperienced user) to get yourself unstuck.
 
The one exception (as far as build quality) I have heard about is Hytera (this is a high-end electronics manufacturer in China, and I understand their hardware is well-built), but I don’t have any personal experience with those and I don’t know how good their interface design / documentation / level of support is.
 
If you are on a budget but still want a mobile radio you could look at single-band (2m i.e. VHF) radios. In some areas of the country that is what most people use and you don’t need the second band (70cm i.e. UHF). But having dual-band capability is an advantage in some situations and if you are serious about getting into ham radio I think it is a wise upfront investment to have both bands in hand.

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