“Which radio should I buy” – this is oft cited as the #1 question for every new ham.
I don’t know what is right for you, but I ended up with a Baofeng F8HP which seems “just fine”. I can connect to the local repeater groups here in Seattle. I just needed a special (but fairly inexpensive) cable to connect the radio to my computer so I could program in all the local repeaters using CHIRP. Doing it by hand is apparently quite tedious and I haven’t even ever bothered trying. Now I can just press a ‘scan’ button on my radio and it will loop through all the local repeaters and stop whenever it finds someone talking.
I also picked up a Nagoya antenna (common knowledge seems to be that the “rubber ducky” antenna that comes with your radio should just be thrown away). I can’t bring my self to throw it in the garbage; the object is still an infused mystical conduit, so I’ve kept it in a drawer at home in case I can find a use for it in the future conjuring.
With this basic setup, I have been able to use the repeaters to listen and converse with people as far away as Everett in the North, Enumclaw in the South, and all over the Olympic Peninsula in the West. Note: this is mostly theoretical because I have barely worked up the nerve to talk on the air. Let’s just say: it’s a work in process.
I think it will be easier once I convince all my friends to ditch social media and to get their ham licenses.
That being said, I’m wanting to explore what might be next for me in my adventures with Amateur Radio. There’s a whole world (and other worlds) out there. I found a form online that examines your interests within the hobby to determine what specific equipment you might want to look into purchasing. Here’s a list of what I came up with on my own personal interests. What are you interested in? Let me know in the comments. I’ll let you know what I hear back from the people evaluating this form.
Communicate with international friends on Earth.
Communicate with the International Space Station.
Communicate through satellites.
Communicate with the Black Knight Satellite
Order a pizza.
Communicate with other objects in space.
Communicate with extraterrestrials.
Communicate with ultraterrestrials.
Utilize radio frequencies to locate water. (dowsing)
Utilize radio frequencies to operate a lawn computer.
Slow Scan Television.
Using a makey-makey and an RTL-SDR to play RF like a piano.
Convince 1000 new hams to get off of Facebook and into the ham shack.