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Ham radio VHF / UHF handheld transceivers can be bought very cheaply. Some offer coverage of just one amateur band, whereas others are dual or even triple band. Typically the most common are 2 metre, 70 cm and dual band 2 / 70 handhelds.
These handhelds vary in price, with low cost entry ones widely available. Higher cost ones from established manufacturers offer more capabilities and are typically easier to operate and programme - repeater and simplex channels along with CTCSS tones for repeaters normally need to be programmed on as programmable channels.
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When buying a VHF / UHF amateur radio handheld there are several points to look for to ensure that the handheld is the correct one to buy.
- Frequency / band coverage: Handhelds may be obtained as single band or multiple band sets. The most common are dual band sets for 2 / 70 cms., but others are appearing on the market that have three or more bands. Obviously the more bands the higher the cost!
Although the transmitter coverage is limited to the amateur bands, many handhelds that are available to buy have receivers that cover frequencies outside these bands. If this is a capability that is needed, then check the specifications.
- Power output: The power output of these ham radio VHF / UHF handheld transceivers can vary. The lowest is generally a way or so, but there are others that can transmit much higher power levels. Beware that if it is being used without an additional microphone, then one's eyes will be very close to the antenna when transmitting and this is not good. It is also not good for the brain as heating caused but he RF can cause headaches even if there is no proven link to cancer. It is best to use a microphone on a lead to increase the distance from the antenna to the user.
- Programmability: As many channels tend to be used on VHF UHF, programming these in manually can be very time consuming and tedious. The most usual way is to use a computer programme. Ensure that you have access to one - note that less software is available for users of Macs.
- CTCSS: CTCSS is a capability that is essential to access repeaters. As repeater operation is often required by handhelds in view of the power and antennas used, the CTCSS capability is almost universally used - even if converting radios intended for professional mobile or portable communications, it is still likely to be present. The main issue is the ease of programming it.
There are many cheap VHF / UHF handhelds available via the Electronics Notes store from manufacturers like Baofeng. These provide really excellent value for money when buying a VHF / UHF handheld, although they tend to focus on the basic levels of functionality required. These are ideal purchases for most cases as normally all that is needed is a reliable handheld that can provide simplex and basic repeater operation. If a handheld with greater functionality is needed, then those from the established names like Kenwood, Icom and Yaesu are always a safe option to buy.