JWR’s Recommendations of the Week:

Here are JWR’s Recommendations of the Week for various media and tools of interest to SurvivalBlog readers. This week the focus is on Tool Organization. (See the Gear section.)  But, first a much more pressing concern:


Communications Gear  — Import Banned!:

Back in August, I warned SurvivalBlog readers about an upcoming FCC rules change.  Well, the ban did indeed arrive, on Monday. As of September 24th, 2018, the FCC banned the importation of some quite capable dual band models of inexpensive Baofeng ham radio handie-talkies:

     FCC Enforcement Advisory No. 2018-03

Because of this new FCC “enforcement advisory” ban, I predict that fewer and fewer these particular hand-held ham radios will clear Customs. Then, Amazon and eBay listings for them will soon disappear, probably in just a few weeks. The window of opportunity is closing quickly, folks!  Note that no license is required to buy these radios.

I strongly recommend that SurvivalBlog readers stock up on these dual band radios, NOW, while there are still some available at a reasonable price! Grab a five-pack, or perhaps two five-packs, so that you will have some extras available to trade at a later date.  Remember:  “Buy low, and sell high.”  As I’ve described in detail in the blog before: Bans almost always lead to higher prices!




U.S. Taxes For Worldly Americans: The Traveling Expat’s Guide to Living, Working, and Staying Tax Compliant Abroad

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The World’s Best Tax Havens: How to Cut Your Taxes to Zero & Safeguard Your Financial Freedom

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Becoming an Expat Ecuador: 2nd Edition (Volume 6)

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Philippines Expat Advisor: Move to the Philippines Faster & Cheaper

Movies and Television:

Finally available on Amazon Prime: The Magnificent Seven. (And of course also available on DVD.)

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Fiddler on the Roof.  Here is a description of this now classic 1971 film: “In this film version of the stage musical, based on the stories of Sholom Aleichem, Tevye the Milkman is a Jewish peasant in pre-Revolutionary Russia trying to support his family and maintain his Jewish tradition under a Czar that would like to run his people out of town. Tremendous songs and memorable dance sequences make this film a true classic.” Available on DVD or for free streaming to those with Amazon Prime.


Vlogs and Instructional Videos:

How to remove rounded Allen head bolts. | remove rounded hex key bolts 8 different ways

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This Little Flashlight Is Incredible!! 3,350 Lumens. If you want one of these versatile ThruNite TH30 headlight/handhelds, please order it though our Amazon link, so that SurvivalBlog gets a little piece of the action.

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DIY Sandbag tubes, the easy way to fill sandbags!

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Budget Night Vision ! (Pinty Night Vision Binoculars)


Gear (Tool Organization):

Powerful Magnetic Knife/Tool Strip, Solid Wall Mount Wooden Knife Rack, Made in USA

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MLTOOLS Pliers Cutters Organizer Pro – Made in USA – Pliers Rack – P8248

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Wrench rack by Hall Designs – 20 slot, steel. Made in USA (Red)

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Magnetic Drill Bit Holder, Stress-free Organizer Made in the USA by Woodsom

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Lehigh Crawford Flip Up Tool Holder FTH3P


Make a Suggestion

Want to suggest Recommendations of your own? Then please send them to JWR. (Either via e-mail of via our Contact form.) Thanks!




    1. Me too. Got a pack plus Nagoya 15″ antenna upgrades. I opted for the newer BF-F8HP (3rd gen UV-5R). A friend and I used his older basic UV-5R units a couple of weeks ago while on vacation, and we found that they were decent, but the signal degraded quickly when around taller buildings. Get a model that will be strong enough to suit your future needs.

    1. Phil,
      Buy the radios, then take a FREE online tutorial course for your Technician’s License. Don’t worry about the test, it’s super-easy and there is no requirement to learn Morse code anymore for the entry-level license. I think it costs about $25 to take the test through a local Ham club. Once you’ve taken the test you’ll have an email in a couple weeks, usually, with your new call-sign. There are many resources you can use later if you really want to understand amateur radio.

    2. Phil, most clubs do a fee of 25 to 35 bucks for a study session and test, and throw in a free years membership even if you don’t pass the exam. Many clubs have already paid thousands of dollars from their own pockets to set up repeaters, so that cheap annual dues really go to pay for the electricity to run them.

      Buy the UV5R which has the 3800 extended battery, get 2 of the 15 inch whip antennas, get an Actual Nagoya magnetic roof mounted antenna, and get the adapter pigtail to connect the radio to the Nagoya coaxial cable.

      I also purchased the items to power the radios from 4 different sources.

      Best wishes.

  1. Pliny Night Vision video makes me want to buy one in the future, however, I’ve discovered that apparently Pliny company has perhaps gone away, or ceased to exist, but the exact same item can be found on Amazon as,

    Bestguarder NV-800 7X31mm Digital Night Vision Binoculars…$288.88.

  2. Ham operator for 40 plus years….

    First of all these Baofengs are terrible radios. Badly designed, poor emission controls — and actually banned on many ham repeaters. I don’t disagree that they are cheap, but you get what you pay for. I disagree that the FCC should ban them, but, well the feds like doing that stuff.
    If you are going to be investing in radios there are much better brands with better features – Yeasu, Kenwood.Icom – both for use and for future resale value. I wouldn’t trust my life to one of these Baofengs – which are basically radios built for use by Chinese security guards and taxi drivers. Get an ICOM IC-211 which has FM and SSB and CW or a newer shack in a box Kenwood TS-2000
    My point is ham radio is, like firearms, less about what you have and more about knowing how to use it. If you just buy equipment without knowing how to repair it, how to build an antenna, how propagation works – do you know which band is best in winter or summer — you will not be in a good situation. In that case you are better just to buy some of those MURS radios at Big 5 and call it good.

    1. Baloney! Have you ever tested a Baofeng for yourself? I assume not or you’d see the spectral quality is no worse than any Icom or Yaesu. They’re often banned on repeaters because new hams don’t know how to configure them properly and the hams on the repeaters have their nose too high in the air to educate someone new to the hobby.

      FWIW, they aren’t too welcome on my local repeaters either and I use mine all the time. Not a soul has a clue because I have it configured right.

      I’ve pulled a couple apart too and their engineering and assembly rivals any other “major” brand that I have taken apart.

      I own Yaesu’s too. They are great radios. Every radio has it’s use if the operator is properly trained.

      Signed, 30 year Extra class ham.

        1. My reading wasn’t quite the same as yours. The link pointed out where Baofengs, as well as major brands, have some comparable results when bad performing units are tested.

          For what it’s worth, the link is a 3 year old article when Baofengs were pretty new. They weren’t too great when new, as were other brands.

          My test gear isn’t top of the line, but isn’t garbage either. I’ve seen the test results on 3 models of Baofeng / BTech radios, as well as 2 models of Yaesu HT’s and old Radio Shack mobiles. They are all pretty comparable.

          There isn’t a ham alive who can detect a Baofeng, or any particular brand and model of radio on a repeater, by ear. It’s just a bunch of elitist garbage a lot of older hams try to perpetuate, for some reason.

          As I said, I’ve been in the hobby for 30 years, hold an Extra class license, offer tests as a VE, and teach Tech and General classes. My aim is to help others into the hobby, not put them down because they don’t have a megabuck to spend on equipment.

          1. Not saying I go either way. I don’t own any Baofengs. I bought a bunch of Icom T-90As off of Ebay as that model was phased out over the years. However, the “cost” argument doesn’t wash any more. I see the lines of people at the stores every time a new iPhone model is released for a price tag of $800+. I have a business where I’m routinely in people’s homes who are on Welfare (or nutritional supplement payments) and I get to see their 100″ flat screen TV’s with their X-box ones or PS4s along with the multi-thousand dollar gaming computer. I’m sure there are exceptions and I’m all for helping those who truly need it, but for the most part, it’s about priorities. Next time someone claims to not be able to afford a $200 radio, look and see what kind of cell phone they are holding in their pocket (and how new it is). Go ahead and call me a cynic.

  3. Those radios (and better antennae) had been in my Wishlist for some time, even though I read before that the ban was coming. I really wonder why I wait? At any rate, they are ordered and on the way. Thanks for the “kick in the pants” to get going on those.

  4. I don’t know a lot about radios but I did read all the Q&A on the Amazon link. The consensus was that you need a license to operate this radio. The reason was “You do need a license to use this radio. A GMRS license to use the GMRS frequencies. A Ham License to use HAM Frequencies. It is not legal to use these for FRS frequencies because the don’t meet the requirements of ½ watt power and a fixed (non-detachable) antenna”. Also the FCC link states a “operator” can be fined for using this radio on FRS.

  5. Regarding the “operation solely in the appropriate frequencies”, the notice clearly states, “it cannot be imported, advertised, sold, or operated within the United States without an FCC equipment certification. Even if a two-way VHF/UHF radio operates solely within the amateur frequencies, the operator is required to have an amateur license to operate the device and must otherwise comply with all applicable rules. The Bureau will take very seriously any reports of failures of two-way radio operators to comply with all relevant rules and requirements when using devices in the amateur bands.”

    There’s a lot of ambiguity with compliance with “all applicable or relevant rules”, which could imply the mere possession of the radio, be it powered on or off, as a violation. You may have an argument if there’s no channels programmed outside the approved bands but you are guilty if found otherwise.

    Expect that many Ham Radio clubs, including ARES or REACT groups, will struggle to allow anyone to use these radios or have them in their possession during sponsored events. Locally, many of our Ham radio volunteer events include Hams operating these radios (and I have found these radios effective and seldom create interference or issues since most issues are operator errors in communication protocols), and these volunteers will be turned away or forced to buy the expensive radios.

    Imagine the headlines in the media, “Local volunteers for [insert name of event] are in violation of federal law or regulations” and the general public will be aghast and shocked!

    Many officers of these Ham clubs may also be FCC approved test supervisors and some will be on the lookout for these non compliant radios (while others have heartily endorsed and support these radios for new ham operators with a technical license) – the cost of entry is high for a new technical licensed Ham if you buy a name brand HT.

    Further complicating things, Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) in the U.S. has Memorandums of Understanding with organizations including the American Red Cross, National Weather Service, Department of Homeland Security, Citizen Corps, Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International, National Communications System, National Association of Radio and Telecommunications Engineers Inc., Salvation Army, Society of Broadcast Engineers, Quarter Century Wireless Association Inc. and REACT International Inc. Given a few government alphabet names in this list, it could be a problem if their partners ask for compliance of these operators in the use or possession of these radios.

    Have GMRS and Extra Ham licenses but the use or possession issues with this enforcement bulletin could be an expensive lesson if the FCC decides to make you an “example” of enforcement authority. Could see the FCC getting a court order for all Amazon sellers to disclose all sales and buyers since September 24, 2018, and then the buyers getting a letter with a big fine attached or demand to disgorge the possession of these radios. No “grandfather” provisions written in the bulletin too. Look out if they “match and attach” your address to your license.

    As usual, the bulletin is broad and sweeping, so it will take time (and actual enforcement actions or case law) to sort out how prescriptive enforcement will be in the future – sounding like a lawyer now!

  6. I agree with “anonymous – Ham operator for 40 plus years….” 100%. I have programmed a variety of Baofeng radios for my CERT group and I own one myself. These are by far the biggest P.O.S. radios on the market today. A very small percentage of them are OK at best, but many of them are bad out of the box, have parts that fall off, and have a very dirty transmit. I cannot explain how low quality these are. I WOULD NEVER RECOMMEND THEM TO ANYBODY UNLESS THEY SIMPLY DON’T HAVE ANY MONEY WHATSOEVER! It’s a very bad idea.

  7. Amazon.com 5-pack : BaoFeng UV-5R UHF VHF Dual Band Two Way Radio.

    I look forward to learning a bunch from these radios and taking the technical class with my kids.

    Amazon has a few different vendors selling this bundle ranging in price from $101 to $200. There is only 1 Prime seller and his stock won’t back in until Oct 1 making Prime deliveries Wednesday Oct 3. I picked a distributor from China, at some risk I thought, as they are shipping from China with an ETA of no later than Nov 9.

    I sorted through buying one radio at a time and it saved $1 in a qty. of 5 but did not included the USB serial cable (that Amazon will sell to your for another $21) compared to the 5-pack CRU which includes it for “free”. But the single unit boxes are in stock and you can have them Saturday for $23.65 each.

  8. Bad news: 5 pack BaoFeng UV-5R: I just checked the status of my order and found that the seller had cancelled it and re-listed it for an additional + $29 for total $130 BEFORE shipping. The seller was “BaoFeng” boooo.

    Feel and tremble from my epic stink-eye.

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