Letter Re: Cheap and Easy Ham for the Communications Novice by TSR


I am an amateur radio operator, and we have organized and trained many new “hams” in our community. We hold weekly on-air meetings for those new operators to hone emergency communication skills and develop proficiency as well as an emergency network.

It has been our experience that those who start out with the low-powered BaoFeng UV-3R+ “handi-talky” (HT) become discouraged and drop interest in ham radio after a few months. Here are some reasons:

  • The BaoFeng UV-3R+ operates at only 4 watts of power, while mobile units range from 15 to 75 watts.
  • The BaoFeng UV-3R+ barely connects with local repeaters with signal quality so weak that other operators don’t want to talk with them for long.
  • The entry price for the BaoFeng UV-3R+ is so low that users cringe at buying a basic “real” antenna (better quality) for more than their radio cost and a realistic cost for a decent mobile unit seems sky high in comparison.

I do see value in having even several BaoFeng UV-3R+ HT’s, but their value is for quick and cheap communication between team members in very close proximity. There is a low power setting of only one watt that would provide some serious security from unintended listeners. The radio has value, but I would discourage anyone from buying it as a first radio. – T.W.