Global Skywatch

Ted’s essays

two-way radios for you

Yaesu FT=60R Dual Band Handheld $172

Baofeng dual band UV5R handheld $36

Below, I am republishing information about a class this coming Saturday. Today and tomorrow I am refining the information I will be presenting and the exercises we will be doing. As I assemble the video clips, handouts and class outline, I recognize the value I am offering. Even my family and best friends won’t get the information out of me in a more organized, concise way.

On either side are two choices of dual-band radios. To the left is the $172 Yeesu. It could be a Motorolla, Kenwood or other well-established amateur radio producer. The price could run from around $170 on up to $300 or more. They feel dense; hefty – you get a sense of the electronics packed tightly into a well-engineered package. Ease of use and capabilities are well above the Baofeng to the right.

But you could buy five Baofengs for the price of one industry-standard handheld radio, or AFFORD A RADIO rather than continuing to wait for a SPARE $172 to appear in your wallet. They do with computer chips much of what their more expensive brethren do with hardware.

The Baofeng UV5 was a breakthrough in handhelds. Hams were of two minds: 1) cheap junk that I wouldn’t own on a bet, or 2) everyone should have one – if you drop it in a puddle, run over it or lose it, you buy another $35 radio. The “cheap junk” camp is now a tiny minority.

I am solidly in the “everyone should have one” camp, putting my time and effort into facilitating that. As Exhibit A, I present the information on this coming Saturday’s class below.

P.S. Backpackers spend hundreds of dollars at REI to shave a few ounces off the freight they haul on their treks. Here’s this Baofeng turning that on its head.

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BaoFeng UV-82HP
$62.89
UHF / VHF
128 Channels
Output: 7 Watts


I have helped well over a dozen people earn their amateur radio licenses. But I recognize the effort to study for, and pass the FCC exam is not for everybody. Much more accessible is The General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) licensed radio service. A $70 FCC GMRS license has no testing requirements and covers your entire family’s use for 5 years.

BAOFENG makes good, affordable radios that can listen to several other bands and legally enable you to transmit, that is communicate, via GMRS channels. Significantly, unlike the inexpensive blister-pack big-box-store radios, these transmit at much higher powers, and are capable of utilizing repeaters for long-distance communications.

My favorite of their current offerings is the feature of this post.

Nice high-quality radios typically run $200 and up. While they do have some advantages over the BAOFENGS, they cost so much more that even serious radio guys with high-end gear typically have an inexpensive BAOFENG for occasions when they want to risk a whole lot less money in case something bad happens to the radio they are using, as back-up units, or to loan out to guests.

The primary down side to these guys is that they are hard to get good at. Many of them are shunted aside because they are not intuitive to operate. There is no economy in buying a $63 radio that you cannot use.

To answer that, I am presenting a class through Darby Adult Ed on April 22nd to get students (all ages welcome) to understand and practice a bit with their BAOFENG radios.

Step 1 is to register for the class.

Right behind that is buying a radio.

By the afternoon of Saturday the 22nd, you and your new friends will have powerful communications tools in your hands.


Purchase BOEFENG UV-82HP

Below is the information I wrote up, and as published by the Darby Adult Ed program. My BAOFENG radio recommendation has changed in response to changes in their radios, support and marketing program. The radios below will be fine for the class and serve you well, but if you are going to buy a new one, the UV-82HP shown at the top of this page is the one to buy.

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Learn to use your Baofeng radio

The Baofeng UV-5R and BF-F9 are economical, compact dual band UHF/VHF amateur radios. With 128 channel capacity and up to 12 hours of battery life, they are good choices for ham radio operators who need mobility at low cost. Many licensed ham operators have these as backup and alternative-use radios.

The low, low entry prices for these radios are great, but have high learning curve costs. These $35-$60 radios do many things with software that the $175-and-up radios do with hardware. That makes them harder to learn and more challenging to operate.

This 4-hour class, split by a one-hour lunch break, will get a group of local radio operators started, and running with these useful radios. We will learn to use, and practice using them for 2-meter ham as well as GMRS two-way radio operations. Students must come with a Baofeng Dual Band UHF/VHF Radio, version 2 (V2) -5R and BF-F9.

Instructor: Ted Dunlap

Instructor Info: Ted is an FCC-licensed General-Class amateur radio operator, past president of the Bitterroot Amateur Radio Club, locally active in emergency radio communication, and has helped over a dozen people in the South Bitterroot become licensed ham operators in the last two years.

Dates: April 22 (1 Session, Saturday)

Time: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm, lunch break, and 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Location: Darby Community Library

Student Fees: $8 Regular OR Senior (60+) $4
When signed up through Darby Adult Education program.
$12 for drop-in additions.
Note: all moneys to instructors will be donated to the Conner and Darby radio repeater fund. Additional donations to the repeater fund are not only welcome, they are encouraged.

For more information, contact Darby Adult Education.