New Ham user to be

Hello. New to Ham. Trying to decide between say the Wouxun KG-UV9PX and say a Yaesu FT-70DR or FT-5DR.

  • Mainly would like to be able to scan and listen to as many emergency channels, aircraft transmissions etc as possible (ideally the channels or frequencies preloaded on device or very easy to program myself).
  • Have the best distance to connect to repeaters and sound quality.
  • most channels and frequencies to communicate on

Any recommendations?

Amateur radio is a bit different to listening to other services so much is to do with deciding which exam licence class to study for if you want to transmit or what gear to buy to listen? They can be similar or different? Antennas is probably where to have a think where you live and how high you are really matters. What are your thoughts?

True. I wasnt thinking of antenna. How well will a hand held Ham or GMRS radio do for picking up local channels, emergency and airline/airport communications if I’m just sitting in my home with the radio?

Will I need to build an external antenna or just stand outside when I want to hear or speak to anyone?

Most likely I would get an antenna upgrade for the hand held to replace stock one.

Being honest - hand held are great for casual listening, but the hams are more interested in more and more distance. Remember that VHF and UHF is essentially line-of-sight. Radio waves go in straight lines, they get reflected, refracted and absorbed - so it’s a fight. If you live on the 10th floor in a city, then you will hear lots of everything, and from a decent way away. If you live at street level, surrounded by tall buildings reinforced by steelwork, much less so. If you live in a flat rural area, there simply aren’t that many things to hear. Mountains and valleys are great on top, awful at the bottom.

If you buy a ham handheld, and enter the frequencies, then many people are put off because ham radios just don’t scan fast enough to pick up very short transmissions. That’s why a scanner is best - plus aircraft are AM in a band ham kit rarely covers. I’d watch the hundreds of YouTube videos to get you started and read the many forums on line. Scanning and ham radio are VERY different as hobbies, but many do both - with different radios. Radios that transmit are rarely good for scanning and vice versa. However both are less good on a rubber duck antenna inside a building at ground level. Antenna upgrades for hand held are rarely ‘wow’, and usually very selective - as they might be a little better at one frequency, but worse at another. Height is really the thing that matters. You need to do some research into the differences between scanning, CB, free to use and amateur radio. They are all flavours of radio. Some have lots of rules, some effectively none. The people are different and their budgets wildly different. Ham radio is NOT (in my view) buying a cheap radio and saying hello - it’s just a tiny bit of the hobby, and you’d miss the rest. Repeaters, world wide digital networks mean you could sit in your house and chat to me in the UK, but you have a bit of a steep journey to get there. It’s not possible to buy a radio and do that with it straight away. Many people buy one and give up - never getting the computer programming side sorted, so they use the radio for local chats, if and when people are around. Same radio - different usage. If you can do some basic maths, learn some physics and take a test, the world opens up - but that’s a long term plan, not a credit card tomorrow thing. Even scanning means you have to put work in to program the radio. It’s a big hobby.

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My suggestion would be to go on a site listing repeaters in your area (try Repeaterbook). See if you have Yaesu fusion or DMR repeaters in your area as that will drive you to a brand of radio. If you have any fusion repeaters near you, then the FT5DR is a wonderful choice. I have one and like it in spades. Listens to many bands. I believe the FT70 will work as well, shorter money. I say this believing that you’ll get further into the radio hobby as you go, most people will be un-content with just listening after a short time. I would recommend waiting to buy a radio until after you have your license, however, as they’re all an expense you won’t be glad for if you don’t follow through. All portables benefit from an antenna upgrade, this’ll run you $25 or so. If you have a repeater within a few miles of your house, the world opens. Else you’ll be limited to just a mile or two and I think listening will be pretty dull in ordinary times.

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