Baofeng UV-5RA

While I by no means think this is the greatest radio ever built, it is largely responsible for me getting back into the hobby. Let’s face it, I work in education and the compensation is more intrinsic than quantifiable. That made this perfect for the budget.

While it can be a pain to program (go ahead and buy the cable, it’s the only way to do more than five channels and maintain any resemblance of sanity), once the memories are set, it is fairly easy to use. It allows you to rapidly move between frequencies by directly entering the memory number. You can also use the A/B button to toggle between two frequencies. It has a FM Broadcast feature that allows you to listen to the radio while you are not actively talking. And, for pure cool points, it has a flashlight/strobe. While it is not extremely bright, it is functional to see your way in the dark.

One drawback I’ve seen is that is very susceptible to interference. Being on campus, it is not uncommon for me to overhear the ground and maintenance crew on amateur frequencies.

No one will confuse it with a top of the line hand held, it does make a great first radio (since Radio Shack decided to get rid of the HTX-202) and lets new operators get their feet wet in the hobby before shelling out more money. With the low cost, it is also possible to get several to have as back ups, or paired with a portable TNC for APRS/Data use.

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