Cheap ham radio equipment
As I pull the small BaoFeng UV-5RE dual band out of my shirt pocket i cant help but feel a sense of amazement at how tiny the radio is, and yet so capable. I give the ON/OFF switch a quick twist to turn the radio on and tune to my favorite FM broadcast station as the sounds of music fills the speaker. Good solid sounding audio without that tinny sound like so many other small portables. I then tune up into the UHF portions and listen to the local FRS operators chatting away about picking up groceries and getting signal reports from different locations. I know I can't use the radio here but it sure is tempting at times. I suppose that if it were an emergency situation and someones life were at stake that maybe the F.C.C would slap me on the wrist and tell me not to do it again without fining me some outrageous sum of money.
One has to wonder just how the Chinese are able to make so many of these radio's and sell them for such a low price. The current pricing over at Amazon has them for about one fourth of what a Japanese made radio would cost. The big three manufactures Kenwood/Icom/Yaesu have been in the radio business for almost forty years now, so you would think that they would be building quality radio gear by now.
With ham radio being such a specialized market in the communications field there is also the possibility that the big three have been running the price's of the amateur radio gear up to make a bigger profit.That does seem possible but wouldn't explain the fact that American radio companies such as Ten-Tec and Elecraft also have gigantic price tags on most of their gear.
One has to wonder if maybe it is the ham radio operators fault. We are always on the lookout for a good deal and the BaoFeng radio's certainly fit. Although I am not sure of the quality of the radio gear coming from China. You would think that ham radio operators would want the best communications device possible and not be so concerned about the cost. In this digital age most people including ham radio operators seem to want instant gratification with a plug and play radio.
The BaoFeng UV-5R 2m/440 hand held radio's seem to get good reviews. They are an excellent choice for backup radio gear and use out in the field during emergencies. With a price tag under fifty dollars you aren't as concerned about the radio getting broken or destroyed. I know that I personally would not want to take my five hundred dollar dual band radio out into the rain and snow.
It would seem that the smart choice for most hams would be to look into buying one of the new radios from BaoFeng or one of the other Chinese manufactures. With the capability to not only listen to FM broadcast stations but also everything from 100 MHZ to 170 MHZ and 400 MHZ to 480 MHZ it is no wonder why these little radios are so popular. The frequency coverage includes Weather stations in the VHF range as well as 2m and 70cm ham radio and FRS/GMRS communications. You can even use it as a local police scanner, just be careful not to transmit there and get yourself into trouble.
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