Communications Gear Import Ban

BY Herschel Smith
1 year ago

Survival Blog:

Back in August, I warned SurvivalBlog readers about an upcoming FCC rules change.  Well, the ban did indeed arrive, on Monday. As of September 24th, 2018, the FCC banned the importation of some quite capable dual band models of inexpensive Baofeng ham radio handie-talkies:

     FCC Enforcement Advisory No. 2018-03

Because of this new FCC “enforcement advisory” ban, I predict that fewer and fewer these particular hand-held ham radios will clear Customs. Then, Amazon and eBay listings for them will soon disappear, probably in just a few weeks. The window of opportunity is closing quickly, folks!  Note that no license is required to buy these radios.

I strongly recommend that SurvivalBlog readers stock up on these dual band radios, NOW, while there are still some available at a reasonable price! Grab a five-pack, or perhaps two five-packs, so that you will have some extras available to trade at a later date.  Remember:  “Buy low, and sell high.”  As I’ve described in detail in the blog before: Bans almost always lead to higher prices!

JWR wrote about this earlier and I’ve been thinking about this.

The Baofeng radios he’s recommending come with baggage.  The real radio guys pan this stuff.  The clubs won’t go within a mile of it, and the scuttlebutt is that if you don’t buy after-market antennas for it, as soon as you walk around the next building you lose signal.  Parts fall off, the radios don’t work for long, etc., etc.

Furthermore, it’s said that you must have your certification to use most of the frequencies on these radios.  Frankly, I don’t know what to think.  I believe it’s important to have at least minimal comms equipment, but I also believe that we don’t all have to be Ham radio operators in order to have this minimal capability.

On the other hand, these are fairly cheap, and getting your certification is said to be easy.  Furthermore, they aren’t going to be available for long.

So here’s a bleg for readers.  How about someone with some comms capabilities (Pat Hines?) weigh in and give us a lengthy assessment of this whole matter?  I’m not thinking about stationary radios.  I’m talking about highly portable comms equipment.


  1. On October 3, 2018 at 3:25 am, Tired dog said:

    Cheap but flexible. Wide frequency range covers multiple fcc defined “services” with varying requirements as to power levels and other constraints. Coverage of ham, public service, marine, commercial and other areas in one little radio. Too broadband for fcc to stomach. Nutshell analysis.

  2. On October 3, 2018 at 8:12 am, CA said:

    I’ll link at WRSA and ask for comments here.

  3. On October 3, 2018 at 8:26 am, Marshall said:


    I program and maintain a set of about 20 Baofeng UV-5R radios for our church safety team. The only problems encountered so far after ~4 years of use are: 1 bad battery pack, and a couple of broken belt clips. Otherwise, they work and work well for our purposes. We do replace the antennas that come with the radios with short stubby SRH805S antennas to reduce overall size/bulk. My radio easily resides inside my inner suit jacket pocket.

    I have carefully read the FCC rules on the use of FRS, GMRS radios/frequencies and the Baofeng and other similar radios do not “strictly” follow the rules. For example, true FRS, GMRS radios are ONLY capable of operating on the FRS, GMRS frequencies and no others. So, a radio that can be programmed to operate outside those frequencies is not legal to use as a FRS, GMRS radio without a license. However, there is no way the FCC can tell your radio is programmable if you restrict yourself to operation on only the FRS, GMRS frequencies. The risk of complaints that will draw unwelcome attention from the FCC is low as long as you stay away from Police, EMS, and Ham frequencies.

    Based on this information, I’m planning to stock up on some extras while I still can at reasonable prices.


  4. On October 3, 2018 at 8:32 am, Jon said:

    I’m a licensed amateur. We have a couple Baofengs. They’re good enough for general short range use if you weatherproof them and add a decent antenna. All rubber duck antenna suck because they lack a ground plane of consequence. However an inefficient antenna doesn’t mean a bad radio.

    I suspect FCC banned import because the radios allow transmission on GMRS, FRS, and MURS frequencies at abouve authorized power levels. That causes harmful interference to licensed services (GMRS), which is illegal. And with all the pressure to open up frequencies for Part 95 wireless devices, cracking down on illegal transmitters is to be expected.

    I like the Baofeng UV5 series. It’s affordabe. It can be legally used on unlicensed frequencies by attenuated power output to comply with legal limits. In some ways they are more useful than more expensive offerings from Yaesu, Kenwood, or ICOM. In other ways, not as reliable. Everything is a compromise. You have to learn the limits of your gear. For most people, learning with a $35 Chinese radio is easier than a $600 ICOM. For us, the expensive radios don’t offer enough utility to justify the price.

    Limiting import of these radios is also consistent with the ongoing trade war with China. Consumers will suffer.

    I don’t advocate hoarding anything. If you need legal short range commo, the. Baofeng, Woxun, or Anytone programmable radios are a good option that fits in most budgets. Get what you need, and maybe a spare or two. Learn to use them. Enjoy the hobby.

    We use a few Baofeng UV5 radios around the homestead. They work fine if you keep them dry, add the “other half” of the antenna, and aren’t too rough in handling them. And they have a neat FM radio receiver built into the handset. We are considering Anytone handsets for an excursion into digital mobile radio.

  5. On October 3, 2018 at 8:33 am, Badger said:

    Licensed amateur. These radios are still quite functional for many, especially (remember Stalin’s quote) since they allow purchase in higher numbers. 2 reasons for the FCC ruling. One is the objection that most of these radios will operate across various licensed/non-licensed bands, unless one goes in voluntarily to disable the VFO. Bad deal for many volunteer groups – who don’t get squat from Gubmint – since many of these allow use of a local ham repeater as a backup when they’re also allowed locally to use a (non-ham) freq for weather/disaster coordination.

    Second objection is closet protectionism but not for who you might think. The Big Companies will need to have some price-point attractive options on the market for the peasants. The price-point of the Big Detroit equivalent of radio makers has been largely out of touch with the masses for some time. And the latest offerings from the “‘Murikan” companies to hit some reasonable price-point are made in, you guessed it, China.

    Long way ’round the barn to say quantity has a quality all its own. Get ’em, train with ’em, they don’t need a whole lot to be functional in a team sense and, in many cases, the dual-band antenna they come with is adequate to the task. Freeware applications that would let you “clone” a 1/2 dozen radios with English meanings for channels for your team is NOT a bad thing either; the ease of fielding becomes part of the consideration as well. Are they up to the Big Boys level of hardware – the made in America stuff? Not generally; but then do you always need to shoot Federal GMM when your goal is 3 MOA?

  6. On October 3, 2018 at 8:36 am, Patriotman said:

    The Baofengs serve their purpose and I personally believe in them. Are they the only piece of your comm plan? Of course not! But do they absolutely serve a purpose? Yes.

    Many of the HAM would guys scoff at them because they have set-ups worth thousands of dollars. But, if you had to fit a small unit for patrolling or community security, these would absolutely do the trick. I ain’t lugging a Yaesu 870 into the field on a patrol, but these little radios fit nicely in a pouch on a chest rig and have the range for the area that most of use are going to be operating in. Get some after market antennas (or build your own) and you are good to go. There are people I absolutely trust in this realm who have told me these are g2g.

    Again, these are robust little radios that serve specific purposes and should be one of the tools in the tool box.

  7. On October 3, 2018 at 8:44 am, nick flandrey said:

    This issue has been hashed out in a thousand different formats and places.

    It comes down to –

    Are you comfortable using Harbor Freight tools for anything? Then there is a place for Baofeng radios in your preps.

    Are you comfortable with Delton rifles and Hi Point pistols for any use? Then there is a place for Baofeng radios in you plans.

    If you always need Snap On tools, even for the most one off repair, don’t buy Baofeng.

    If you always need Glock/HK/S&W for a gun, then don’t buy Baofeng.

    Baofeng and all the similar variants are the Harbor Freight and Hi Point of the radio world. They ‘work’ for a value of ‘work’. ANY gun is better than NO gun. Any radio is better than no radios. Any food is better than no food.

    There are alternatives to Baofang that won’t break the bank and will probably perform better and last longer. Whether they help you COMMUNICATE better is an open question. Don’t lose sight of the goal- communication.

    You can’t use the radio you don’t have.


  8. On October 3, 2018 at 8:51 am, Pat Hines said:

    Unlike some, my first transceiver was a Kenwood TM-241A on the two meter ham radio band. I bought it just prior to taking the Technician exam which I passed. I stayed at this level, you are legal on all bands above 30 megahertz, which is 6 meters (54mhz), two meters (144-148mhz), 1.25 meters (220mhz), .70 meters (aka 440mhz) and up. Most dual band transceivers are two meters and .70 meters.

    Some folks are “concerned” about having a station which can be inspected by the FCC at any time. My first station was in my rust bucket of a 1975 Chevy Blazer, not in my apartment at the time, the time being 1991. I would go out to the Blazer to log onto a local net, sitting there for about 20 minutes one night a week.

    That was when I was near broke all the time, in school at UNC-CH.

    Today I have an ICOM ID-51A, a dual band, handheld transceiver with digital capability, and a GPS receiver. It also receives FM broadcast band, I use it pretty much everyday to listen to WORD 106.3 mhz. Not cheap at about $350.00 or so, but lots of capability.

    In my truck and as a base station, I use an ICOM ID-5100A dual band unit, max power is 50 watts. Like the handheld unit above, it has digital and GPS receive. The display/remote head unit sits in front of my desk top computer display, the actual transceiver is over near the 12v power supply. This is connected to a vertical Diamond antenna out on the deck.

    I have an identical unit in my pickup truck, with the transceiver behind the rear seat, control head removed to center console.

    My license is available for viewing on a limited basis.

    Please feel free to email me about this subject, Herschel.

  9. On October 3, 2018 at 9:18 am, James said:

    Just checked the Big E and can get cheaper then Amazon listing in article: ,seem the same uv5r for 20 cheaper,a lot of different deals/pricing there most with free shipping,they have 20 lot new for 400,nothing wrong with saving a few bucks.The one thing is buy from US sellor believe warranty will be covered in Texas if needed,otherwise need to ship to China,am sure that works out well!

  10. On October 3, 2018 at 9:59 am, Herschel Smith said:


    “There are alternatives to Baofang that won’t break the bank and will probably perform better and last longer.”

    Very well then, assume you’re talking to a newb, and give some suggestions. Don’t stop with merely saying there are alternatives. Suggest some.

  11. On October 3, 2018 at 10:29 am, Pat Hines said:

    Most of the Alinco brand will be more reliable than the Baeofang units. I’ve never used them, but know folks who have.

    For a list of both in production and out of production handheld units, go here:

    While you can use a handheld as a base station, that’s not ideal. I’ve always used mobile transceivers as base stations, remember though, you’ll need a 13.8 volt power supply to run them in your home because they’re designed to use automotive power. Alinco makes mobile units as well.

    I generally stay with ICOM, Kenwood, or Yaesu transceivers as they’re universally rock solid construction with very good specs. Most are easy to program.

    I’ve not gotten into long range HF transceivers, which require either a General or Extra class license.

  12. On October 3, 2018 at 10:40 am, Ed said:

    I too am a licensed amateur operator. I also hold several commercial licenses and was a CW radar tech and then a surveillance receiver bench tech in another life.

    I’d have to agree 100% with the post by “nick flandrey” above. As with the Harbor Freight tools example, they are certainly better than nothing and if that’s what you have to do, then that’s it.

    The superficial part of the problem is that we all know the Harbor Freight tool will do a lot of stuff for cheap but it will not last as long as the name brand tool made from better materials and to higher quality standards. The critical part of the problem is that we don’t know “When?” this failure will occur. It might not occur in your (natural) lifetime, or it might happen next time you go to use it.

    While the above is true of everything, no matter the price point, buying the best you can afford is personal insurance against failure. An increase in “MTBF” (mean time between failures) in better equipment means that the odds of a failure at any given time in the unit’s service life are reduced. I am all for better odds if I can buy them.

    The handheld units I run are name brand, ruggedized, submersible, are backed by a real warranty and have a wide variety of good quality accessories available for them, like a waterproof speaker mic. I have several identical units that maximize the accessory selection, provide ease of operation because I only need to learn one menu and the multiple units provide an additional layer of insurance against radio silence. I use programming software to standardize my frequency lists and operating parameters among radios. I would really like to think that I’ll have commo when I need it.

    Regarding transmitting on frequencies outside the main design parameter of the radio, it’s usually not too effective. The handheld radios I run can be “free banded” with the programming software, but receive sensitivity and transmit power are low between and out of the designed ham bands. This is because of design constraints in the various circuits, mainly filters, but most notably amplifiers on the transmit side and the IF circuit on the receive side. I fooled with mine with a Byrd power meter and a dummy load and power output outside the designed bands that the radio was tuned for was poor. I cannot imagine the cheaper Chicom would be any different, especially since most are reverse engineered from the major manufacturers’ existing designs anyway.

  13. On October 3, 2018 at 10:40 am, Greg said:

    I have bunch of the uv5r with aftermarket antennas, used for 4-5 years in all weather, weather proofing consists of a ziplock bag with a hole poked the corner for the antenna. The ones in the barn and garages have have been on continuously sitting in their chargers for 3-4yrs and subjected to temp extremes from -5 to 95+, dust, livestock and fecal matter. They transmit and receive great over the 300 hilly acres of my AO. Total costs per unit over that time with replaced antennas, dead battery and broken belt clips is approx $50 each. Never had a radio failure. If you are using them for farm, hunting camp ect, buy with confidence. If your a navy seal, probably not the best option.

  14. On October 3, 2018 at 10:53 am, Greg said:

    Update, I did have a radio fail almost forgot, it hung from the lanyard from the ATV handlebars and all the bouncing and impacts killed it. These are so inexpensive I tossed it in the trash and didn’t think of it again until I hit submit in the last post.

  15. On October 3, 2018 at 10:56 am, nick flandrey said:

    The classic dual band walkie (or HT in ham cant) is the Yaesu FT-60R at $150. They can be found cheaper used (about half that on ebay.) It’s a solid radio and used is a real option. That would be my recommendation for a “real” dual band ham radio.

    I’ve got both the FT-60R and the UV5. The FT is a pro level radio, both in look and feel, and build and performance quality. The included antenna works well. The UV5 gets better battery life when just listening, and has transmit on the additional frequencies (which is a deciding factor for some.) Everyone suggests changing the antenna, which increases the cost somewhat.

    Many preppers seem to treat the Baofengs as high power FRS and GMRS walkies and never use the ham bands. While this use is a violation of the rules because they are not “type accepted” most people don’t care.

    If you WANT high power GMRS, there are choices from Midland and others that comply with the rules. GMRS requires a license but it covers your whole family and lasts for several years with no test. I haven’t personally used the Midland products, but their new-ish mobile GMRS gets good reviews from 4 wheelers and others who use them hard. (GMRS allows more power than FRS) Midland has a long history producing consumer radios. Look at GMRS only radios to get the higher output. That would be my recommendation for local comms, without ham bands.

    “Business” radios (or “jobsite” radios) from Motorola are sturdier than Baofang, and widely available used. Depending on the model they can use business frequencies or FRS/ GMRS. There are models in blister packs at Home Depot that aren’t gold plated $. This is my recommendation for local comms while decreasing the “bubba factor” (as expressed elsewhere, bubba and all his friends will be on FRS and GMRS freqs because EVERYONE has some of those little blister pack radios.)

    In general, with the other radio “services” you get “channelized” frequency selection, and not the ham ‘wild and wooly’ ability to just punch in a frequency. This is unacceptably limiting for some people.

    The non-conforming chinese radios allow the user to do things that break FCC rules. There is a similar issue with “export only” CB radios and so called “freebanders”. If this is what you want to do, that will determine your choice. If you want to play by the rules, it will cost a bit more as testing and QC cost more, but the quality is higher too.

    There is a place for everything. Baofeng/etc has their place, and they provide an easy and low cost way to check out ham radio, or get some local comms in place.

    As with anything, I’d suggest people spend an ‘appropriate’ amount of money to get and ‘appropriate’ level of quality and usefulness. Not everyone needs snap on tools, or a custom fighting knife, or a Barrett, but if you make your living working on cars, snap on might be more appropriate than Harbor Freight. Ditto for whatever tools you choose for the job.

    FWIW, I don’t think the imported chinese radios will be disappearing soon. They weren’t type approved before and they are still here. Same for drones that illegally use ham frequencies, export only CBs, “solvent traps” for “cleaning your gun”, grow lights that emit RF all over the spectrum, etc….


  16. On October 3, 2018 at 11:14 am, OhioGuy said:

    thank you commenters … info is the ultimate prep

    For consciously-incompetent individuals like me, I’ve moved on to some conscious competence

    I’d recommend two (2) items for enhancing utility of these radios

    1) 2-Way Electronix dual-band SlimJim ladder antenna w/ 16′ cable
    SMA female connector for the UV-5R …. about $30 plus S/H

    2) RT Systems programming software and cable connector …. about $35

  17. On October 3, 2018 at 11:18 am, nick flandrey said:

    To address one of your other questions–

    Yes, it is fairly easy to get your basic ham license, the Technician license. Becoming a “ham” is more than that, but that’s an issue for culture warriors. If all you want is to get licensed to use your radio on local repeaters or point to point within your group, there is A LOT of info out there on how to do it. I recommend doing so because using a radio effectively takes practice, like anything else, and instruction. [I’ve written literally thousands of words on HOW, but it looks like they went away when the website changed hands… I’ll link if I can find another place.]

    Other people have written even more thousands of words on the same questions- license or not, are baofengs worth buying, who cares in a world WROL… It’s a bit of a religious war, like AR vs AK, Glock vs 1911, Harbor Freight vs anything else…


  18. On October 3, 2018 at 11:34 am, nick flandrey said:

    I’m gonna link to Frank and Fern, because even though he hung up his blogging hat, he has some great content for beginners.

    Read his other radio posts too.


    (I’m in the comments on that post)

  19. On October 3, 2018 at 11:46 am, nick flandrey said:

    Here’s a link to some of what I’ve written on the subject, read the comments as well.


  20. On October 3, 2018 at 11:55 am, Misfit01 said:

    Extra class here. Have just about every band, mode covered by a few different makes and models. Got a uv-5r while I waited on my first real hf radio (icom ic 7200). I worked the local repeaters and learned a lot in real time on the fly. Got another uv-5r and me and the xyl practiced the range and effectiveness of our then AO. Made a map of how far and how well we could hear each other. I now have 4 of the UV 5r radios but also got 2 others that were banned by the FCC, anytone term8r. Thise are also good it’s. The UV 5r radios are nearly bullet proof. I haven’t wat proofed or anything else and they perform as expected. Also got the bigger batteries for longer air time. I use them on my job (spread out over 5-7 miles). I programmed in our company paid frequencies and communicate for a fraction of the cost of the Motorola hand helds.
    I still have the 7200 but also a yaesu ft 897 which has hf/vhf/uhf capability (both modified to transmit out of ham bands, Mars operator as well). I also have a Icom ic 7100 in my truck (also hf/vhf/uhf capable and modified). I have a tar heel 400 and a dual band diamond for antennas.
    When it comes to comms, sky is the limit.

  21. On October 3, 2018 at 12:12 pm, Greg said:

    Hi Nick, I plan on pursuing a ham license and getting a sturdier name brand rig. But a point not in the discussion yet is that besides the price point, many people want to have all the bands legal and illegal in a handheld for listening. Sure you can get a used ft60 for a decent price or throw down serious cash. But they are closed to the other bands without tweeking and expense. We are close to a civil war in this country and justifiably paranoid types in blue states want to snoop on the local ambulance / fire services / railroad / utilities / dot / aviation ect ect as a clue to what’s going in perilous times since the cops are encrypted, the option to use as a walkie talkie in an emergency is icing on the cake for $30. Ft60 is awesome but I’d just be talking to you…

  22. On October 3, 2018 at 12:23 pm, nick flandrey said:

    @greg, the FT-60R has much wider receive than transmit. You can listen to almost all of it.

    ” Receives 108-520Mhz and 700-999.99Mhz (less cell), Transmits 144-148Mhz & 430-470Mhz, Locking mode prevents accidental changes of frequency.
    One Thousand memory Channels, NOAA Weather Alert, Receives Emergency channels in 800-900Mhz,”

    If you really want to monitor, HTs make TERRIBLE scanners, and they don’t do trunk tracking or digital. That might be fine in very rural areas, but in any sort of built up area, you’ll want something like the Uniden Home Patrol II. (Which I recommend.) It solves the programming issue very elegantly.

    Add a good discone antenna, and a lappy running SDR# or equivalent with an SDR dongle, and you can see where the signals are and listen to them.

    If you are rural, a very cheap analog scanner is still going to be MUCH better than an HT for monitoring.


    (That said, I do sometimes put my FT-60 in scan and listen while I’m driving. The school bus drivers are shocking to listen to, and very chatty…)

  23. On October 3, 2018 at 12:35 pm, nick flandrey said:

    Before I head out the door, one more link to some thoughts about listening vs talking, and what radios are appropriate for preppers.

    my apologies to Hershal for all the linking and the comment drift…


  24. On October 3, 2018 at 12:50 pm, Keypounder said:

    First, my bonafides.

    First licensed in the mid-1970s. Now an Extra-class amateur operator.
    Am active on 160 meters through 70 centimeters (1.8 mHz to 440 mhz) with occasional ventures into the 900 mHz and 1296 mHz bands. Occasional contributor to NC Scout’s Brushbeater website. I own and regularly use handi-talkies by BridgeCom, Baofeng, Yaesu, Motorola, Icom, and Kenwood among others, ranging from 1970’s vintage IC2AT/3AT/4AT to modern multiband vhf/uhf radios. I also have CB equipment, fixed, mobile and handheld.

    WRT Baofeng radios, (UV5R is mine) here is my assessment-
    Advantages: Low initial cost, ability to cover a wide range of frequencies without modifications (MURS, GMRS, public service, aircraft, amateur, military, business, etc.), lots of aftermarket accessory support. Does have a clean signal on 70 cm band. Holds acharge for a fairly long time. As numerous others have stated, if it is all you can afford it is better than no radio.
    Disadvantages: cheap weak chassis, breaks when dropped, no economical service or repair, dirty transmit on VHF ( 2 meters) to the point that it can be DFed anytime it is turned on within a mile or so even if it is not transmitting, and can be DFed on third harmonics as well as primary 2 meter frequencies when transmitting on 2 meters. Antenna supplied is bad for anything more than a mile or so away. Does not have general coverage receiver such as provided by the recently discontinued Kenwood TH-F6A, my personal favorite HT. Chargers are poor quality; I have had several go bad. Lastly, if you are running unlicensed, or transmit either knowingly or unknowingly on public service, military, etc frequencies, you may well encounter one of the few remaining FCC DF vans, which will be unpleasant; present day technology can locate a transmitter virtually instantaneously, and if you prove sufficiently annoying the government will catch you.

    To sum up:If this is all the radio you can afford, so be it, but if anything goes wrong with it you will be buying another radio. If money is tight, save it and buy a good used HT.

    Recommended handi-talkies:
    Kenwood TH-F6a: covers 144, 222, and 440 bands with 5 watts out, fair general coverage receiver, a plus, and has a good AA battery pack, another plus. Rain resistant but not waterproof, and does not allow full-duplex operation.

    Yaesu VX7r: covers 50, 144, and 440 at full output, and 222 at reduced output. Extremely rugged, actually waterproof. Does not have a AA pack that allows transmit, so you have to get multiple rechargeable packs for extended operation. Full-duplex, a distinct plus.

    If you want some security against casual eavesdropping, the Motorola DTR digital radios are worth a look. I’d suggest you stick to the 550 or 650 versions. If you want amateur digital VHF/ UHF HTs, all the major makers have them, but I have no experience with those. They are much more expensive than their analog counterparts, have less useful range, and are harder on batteries, so I am told. Decoding is easy with an SDR dongle and some software, so there isn’t any real privacy afforded by those.

    As far as present in-production equipment is concerned, I don’t own any of the new offerings because what I have, out of production though it is, suits me perfectly. IF I were looking for a new radio, I would look at radios from the following makers: Icom, Yaesu, Kenwood, and Alinco. I would want at least two band transmit capability, with access to 50 and/or 220 mHz strongly preferred; AA battery pack allowing transmit preferred;
    waterproof strongly preferred; good general coverage receiver with SSB reception essential; full duplex operation preferred. Titanium or other metal chassis strongly preferred. If I had to stick to rechargeable battery packs, having one that takes 12 v power, like the Yaesu VX7, would be preferred.

    Hope this helps, Captain!
    Regards, Keypounder

  25. On October 3, 2018 at 1:04 pm, nick flandrey said:

    one last summary thought before I head out the door-

    If having a radio for local comms is on your “nice to have” list, the baofengs and similar are a great choice. You don’t need the speaker mic and earbud, or probably even the extended battery.

    If having a radio is an essential part of your planning, the chinese radios will get you started, but should be upgraded as soon as feasible to something more sturdy and dependable. Stick with a ‘name’ manufacturer.

    If “playing radio” or becoming a ham is one of your goals, you might want to start with a ‘better’ radio, especially if it’s used and comes with a mentor (or elmer as hams call them.)

    I’ll add that most hams I know have at least one chinese radio, and they are much more accepting or possibly resigned to them than they were a couple of years ago.


  26. On October 3, 2018 at 1:08 pm, Pat Hines said:

    Related, but slightly off topic, ham exam prep applications. First, for the iPad and iPhone.

    For Those other smart phone and tablet brands:

  27. On October 3, 2018 at 1:41 pm, Herschel Smith said:


    It looks like the TH-F6a has been discontinued and replaced by the D74a.

    Yep. These are quite a bit more expensive than the Chicom stuff.

  28. On October 3, 2018 at 2:03 pm, Henry B said:


    the uv5r’s good nuff starter/tossaway/givaway rigs…

    you can always get these:×3

    BTECH UV-5X3 TRIBander (VHF/1.25M/UHF) Analog Portable Two-Way Radio


    yes…i am licensed..yes, i have other kit: kenwoods/yaseu/alinco too…

    73’s all….

  29. On October 3, 2018 at 2:33 pm, NC Scout said:

    The FCC is not even on the same page. Laura Smith, special counsel to the enforcement bureau, doesn’t even have all the facts correct. I’ve been on top of the potential enforcement action since June. The Baofeng very likely is not going anywhere- their use will simply be banned on paper, just like MURS has a limit of 2w, CB 4w, and there’s no cussing on the ham bands; the enforcement actions begin and end with the paper its printed on.

    Bottom line is this- cheap equipment has a place. If you’ve gotta go cheap, the Quansheng TG-UV2 is the one to get.

    NC Scout

  30. On October 3, 2018 at 3:07 pm, Badger said:

    Couple of points now that some sage folks have contributed. The Wouxons I have work great; I have one setup as a regular dual-band hand-held for the amateur bands and one locked onto a non-ham band country freq we are a liberally permitted secondary user on for my SKYWARN group. Same mag-mount trunk antenna hits any repeater I want, many of my colleagues direct and from my perch on the ridge, the NWS office 44 miles away LOS, with 5w.

    Nitpick on some of these radios: Some of them have been known to “blow” their settings if keyed while plugged into their charging dock. Remember that the charger is NOT the same as running the thing off a DC power supply. If you need it suddenly, pull it out of its charger and use it. Don’t be that guy. :)

  31. On October 3, 2018 at 3:15 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    Is the Quansheng TG-UV2 AA battery pack capable? We always have tons of those around the house.

  32. On October 3, 2018 at 4:39 pm, Pat Hines said:

    Yes, I’m an Extra too, just renewed it for another ten years (no cost). I also sprung for the GMRS license, an FCC ripoff because there’s no exam, merely a fee for a three year license.

    Base station power supplies. I’m an advocate of linear power supplies, as opposed to switching types.

    The power supply I’m using now is a rack mounted 50 amp unit. That kind of power isn’t needed for the ID-5100A, but it covers a ICOM IC-756III that has 100 watts output. The IC-756III is mounted in the same rack. As an old USAF ELINT analyst, I was spoiled by rack mounted equipment. But I digress.

    I haven’t bought one yet, but will be buying an amplifier of about 160 watts, to stay under the 200 watt limit of my Diamond X-700 antenna. Part of my rationale is the 140 foot run of coax from my dual band base station to the antenna, lots of loss on that distance, though I can hit the high level repeater up near Caesar’s Head with 5 watts. I’d like to do better in some north Georgia repeaters from here, might even do simplex with Concerned American with more power. Most amps have received signal pre-amps to help with distant stations.

    Last, for a while, any high tech aspect of our preps can run into some serious financial outlays. Like acquiring various firearms and ammo for them, long term food supplies, and other things; you bite them off one fork full at a time. You don’t have to dump $20,000.00 into equipment right up front, unless you have deep pockets.

  33. On October 3, 2018 at 7:15 pm, Keypounder said:


    The TH-D74a looks like a nice digital radio. It does do 222 in addition to 144 and 440, a distinct preference of mine, and it has a general coverage receiver, GPS and a host of other features like voice recording, etc. Folks that have them, love them- check out the reviews on if you want all the skinny. Like a lot of digital radios, it has a rep for being hard on batteries, but it does support a AA battery pack you can transmit with, a plus. It also is weather resistant, has a big LCD screen, and lots of aftermarket support. I haven’t bought one even though I could afford it because I presently have no need for digital and APRS and GPS. As Pat said, you can spend as much money as you want to on comm gear, but I have to balance my budgeting. I can buy three nice used TH-F6a radios for the price of one of the TH-D74a units, or buy one and a case of 5.56 green tip…..or…..

    Yes, the TH-F6a is discontinued, as is the VX-7r. Both are analog only. Both are still supported for repairs etc, at least at present, however, so in the unlikely event you break it, you can get it fixed. I still use my IC-2AT regularly; it is almost 50 years old and still works flawlessly despite having been dropped and abused. Good equipment lasts a good long time.

    Another candidate still in production, which I have no experience with but have seen recommended is the Yaesu FT-60r. This is a dual band HT which is not as rugged as the VX7, but it does have a decent AA battery pack, which the VX7 does not, and is something I strongly prefer. No GC receiver, a big minus for my purposes.

    If you are going to get into amateur digital, one thing to keep in mind is that a lot depends on what digital format is dominant in your area. Yaesu has made a strong push for their format, selling clubs digital C4FM repeaters for $500, but Icom and Kenwood both use the D-Star format. Like Beta versus VHS, it is not clear which format will dominate ultimately, if indeed either does, another reason I am postponing my purchase of a digital HT. I will wait and see how this pans out before buying amateur digital.

    I hadn’t discussed license vs. no license, but I come down strongly in favor of getting at least your General amateur license, primarily because of the HF privileges that go with it. The General is not hard to get, and it opens up a whole new world in the lower HF bands, particularly important as we head into solar minimums. VHF/UHF, meaning line of sight communications, can be done on the license-free allocations, but I am not aware of any license free option that allows HF operation, which is an essential for any sort of down-grid communication past local communications. Yes, one can communicate using LOS from mountain top to mountain top over hundreds of miles, but those favorable locations are few, far between, well known, and *easy to DF*.

    HF communication using Near Vertical Incidence Skywave (NVIS) allows near 100% reliable communication using voice, high speed data, or Morse code out to 300+ miles with no mountaintop, Yagi, amplifier or any other obtrusive equipment needed, even over highly adverse terrain. Antennas can be just a few feet off the ground and are easily concealed, and NVIS signals are hard to DF. With that in mind, you should be considering as part of your communication plan some fixed location and/or mobile equipment that not only supports 144/440 VHF/UHF FM communication, but also supports HF communication as well, another reason not to overspend on local comm equipment while neglecting other needful capability. The Icom 7100 or the Yaesu 857D are two good radios for this.

    I’d suggest you take a look at the information NC Scout has posted on his site; he’s gone into this specific question in considerable detail over several posts. You can also drop me an email; I’d be happy to cover this in a lot more depth.

    Regards, Keypounder

  34. On October 3, 2018 at 11:07 pm, nick flandrey said:

    “I’d suggest you take a look at the information NC Scout has posted on his site;”

    like this one:


  35. On October 4, 2018 at 8:55 am, Jim B. said:

    Can I ask a related question: is there a device that can send text messages using radio frequencies like GMRS? I am aware of the GoTenna but as one who is deaf but wants to be able to communicate if the grid goes down, I would deeply appreciate any advice on being able to send text messages in such an event.

  36. On October 4, 2018 at 10:33 am, Copisetic said:

    Does anyone really think that in the middle of a civil war that anyone is going to worry about what the hell the FCC thinks or cares. LOL

  37. On October 4, 2018 at 11:23 am, Michael Collins said:

    @Copisetic et al:

    In a grid down/wrol scenerio, the fcc is irrelevant..

    However, NOW is the time to learn and become proficient w comms gear, because it WILL NOT automagically come to you in a grid down/crisis setting if you don’t have the knowledge and skills now, before something happens.

    This is why getting licensed matters, as it allows one to actually use the equipment w/out the hassle of being hounded/fox hunted by licensed operators and/or the FCC df boys, who are very good at what they do.

    At minimum, a general ticket is needed, this allows you to use vhf/uhf and various hf bands, all of which will cover 80% or more of the required needs.

    in addition, go ahead and get a gmrs license, this allows you to use the many gmrs repeaters around nc/sc, and covers your family….

    check out: for repeaters.

    gmrs repeaters here;

    i travel all around the state, sc, tn and va too and have both my kenwood
    tm-v71 and this nifty little 25w mobile×2 programed with vhf/uhf/gmrs/frs freqs and repeaters.

    HF is at home base, in hoa community and i am able to get on air using a random longwire at 15′ and a di pole using a bucket of concrete and mast sections…all my vhf/uhv/scanner antennas are in attic and i routinely hit the 2m repeater on mt mitchell from exit 25…

    again, now is the time to learn and train, take nc scouts classes where you will get the basics, and then some….

    just my .0002 worth….

  38. On October 4, 2018 at 1:37 pm, Keypounder said:

    No, I don’t. But that is beside the point.

    If you want unreliable short range communication, buy cheap delicate unreliable radios. And don’t learn how to use them in the field. Or try and have them break when you drop them or get shorted out in the rain when you forget put them back in the baggie. Or use them and get DFed by the gang down the road who have good gear with DF capability who can locate your radio any time it is on.

    IF you want reliable short range communication during a SHTF event that *you know how to use*, get a license, buy decent equipment, and use it. Regularly. Learn proper procedure, learn how to reduce POI/PDF, but most of all, learn what the gear will do.

    Your choice. Choose wisely.


  39. On October 4, 2018 at 4:57 pm, Pat Hines said:


    You have it right. So many think that when the “balloon goes up” all communication protocols will go up with that.

    Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Get licensed.

  40. On October 4, 2018 at 8:03 pm, Fred said:

    Yep, Fedgov will have a vote after it all goes sideways. Get licensed. DF and Intercept are real things and Fedgov has the tools and experience in this realm. Start to learn manual Book and One Time Pad encryption methods. They are both simple and in the case of Book if you rotate your source “book” (doesn’t have to be an actual book, this could make it harder for them) it takes a while to break the codes. Always use hand delivery of encrypted comms and only use electronics when necessary. This must be strictly adhered to. Fedgov ain’t the goat humpers. Your team needs a comms plan that includes disciplined approaches with these considerations and others including leadership denying team cell phone, Internet, and TV, which is not receive only anymore.

  41. On October 5, 2018 at 8:05 am, M Collins said:

    @Jim B,

    I would look at DMR options, as there is texting option, better range on simplex….

    Some DMR radios do not have amateur bands, but many do, and have the option of doing analog operation too vs digital…

  42. On October 5, 2018 at 10:29 am, Jim B. said:

    M Collins,

    Wow! I never even heard of DMR radio and it really looks promising. It appears I have some homework to do but I really appreciate this. Thank you so much.

  43. On October 5, 2018 at 2:31 pm, M Collins said:

    @Jim B

    Your welcome…

    there is so much to know and learn, i’m a cherry myself, complete neophyte compared to many of the fellows above.

    This is why we train, get edumecated by, and listen to, the fellows, and ladies, who have more knowledge, training and more importantly to me, real world, been there done that, experience.

    Gotta soak it up, learn it, apply it, unlearn it, re-apply it, play w shit, find out what works for you and your situation, cause it ain’t mine, and mine isn’t yours, and rinse and repeat.

    Gotta define your goals, needs vs wants, knowing that there is nothing 100% and go for the 80% of what you need and can do, day to day in your AO..

    Get the basics, build on that, it’s all layers..

    Eventually it sinks in, and the dots connect, until then, it’s ether, was for me…

    I’m still learning, playing, tinkering and getting educated..

    As many have said, NOW is the time to get licensed, get decent kit, learn it and do it….

    Good luck, we’ve all been there, gotta start somewhere….


    ps….check out SDR radio here, this is good stuff for listening, which is 2x more important that talking:

  44. On October 5, 2018 at 6:43 pm, Jim B. said:

    @M Collins,

    Thanks again – software-defined radio is quite interesting. It too is a new concept to me. You are absolutely right that listening is much more important than talking, particularly if times get hard. I will read through that link – thanks for expanding my horizons.

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