A HAM radio can run on a portable generator or even a car battery, and it doesn't depend on cell phone signals to be able to communicate with other users. The bottom line is that if you have a HAM radio, chances are high that you will be able to find and get help.
Amateur radio, or ham radio, can be used for vast array of activities:
- Talking around the world without wires.
- Talking locally through repeaters.
- Emergency communications.
- Public service communications.
- Legacy communication modes like Morse code and Radioteletype (RTTY).
- New communication modes like digital packet, Automatic Position Reporting System (APRS), and spread spectrum.
- Amateur radio satellites in space.
- Foxhunting (using “radio direction finding” techniques to find a hidden transmitter).
- Moonbounce (talking by bouncing radio waves off the moon).
- And much, much more...
Ham radios are great tools but you don't have to break the bank to get a good one. Below you'll find our top 5 list for ham radios for under $50
True, you can't read it much when the backlight is off, but I rarely find that I need to glance over at the screen to check something. When you are actively using the radio interface, the backlight comes on. With the backlight on, the screen is great. If you need the backlight on, a simple tap of the "Exit" button will turn it on without changing anything on the display. The feature that you don't get, though, is the different backlight colors based on radio state. This is not a big deal since there is a light right below the VFO/MR button which turns green when receiving and orange when transmitting.
It works wonderfully and the price is a great value.
This is a great value radio, solid hardware and compatible with lots of accessories. For ease of use, you need to get the legitimate Baofeng USB cable. Works decent as a scanner if you load the right frequencies, really slow though, like one channel per second compared to some scanners that are 30+.
A couple things that could be improved would be the ability to set how long the LCD and keypad back light would stay lit. It is not adjustable and is too short for my liking. I also think the flashlight is a waste of space and it should have a channel knob like the UB5 in it's place.
You get 128 channels with any combination of VHF or UHF channels. Another plus is the radio ACTUALLY SUPPORTS NARROWBAND, INCLUDING SPLINTER CHANNELS. This is a HUGE plus if you want to use the radio to listen (or transmit, if you're authorized) to public safety after 2013 when the FCC mandates narrow band on VHF and UHF. Many agencies are also going to channel steps most ham radios cannot properly tune (e.g. 154.8225). The UV-5R uses DSP, so it has great audio on both transmit and receive. Reports I got about my transmit audio were great, and I noticed if I spoke loudly, the DSP did a good job of attenuating the voice to a tame level.
The display is fairly easy to read, and for it's size the keys are easy to press. What I really like is the large volume knob with integrated power switch, no accidental turn off of buttons! The PTT key is easy to actuate and you don't get fatigue for long conversations. Speaker is loud, though I don't think it has the 1 watt of audio the specifications state.
All in all, this is a great ham HT that has the unique ability to LEGALLY operate on part 90 (commercial) frequencies (for those duly authorized), has great performance, and a long battery life. For the price, you cannot go wrong with it.
If you compare the Baofeng UV-5R to the latest offerings from Icom, Yaesu, and Kenwood, you wouldn't think it's a 5-star radio. But when you look at the price they're asking for the UV-5R, 5 stars hardly seems enough. This is a fantastic value. For under forty-five bucks you get a pocket-sized dual band radio, complete with earphone/mike and a desktop drop-in charger. Heck, Icom gets almost as much as this radio sells for just for the charger! NOt enough? It'll also cover FMRS and GMRS frequencies, receive the FM broadcast band, and there's even a built in flashlight!
So you've got to figure there's a catch, right? And there is: Programming this radio from the front panel is a royal pain in the caboose. After studying helpful web pages- not the manufacturer's manual- I'm now comfortable programming single frequencies and repeater offsets in, but I still don't seem to be able to put the in memory properly. The manufacturer supplies a program that's supposed to make programming easier, but the word is that it's as confusing as the front panel controls.