A 70cms HH for £8

A disposable rig for wet activations?

G day Pete that’s amazing .
de Ian vk5cz …

Amazing, these Chinese radios. A new SOTA activator and friend of mine, Dave G3TQQ, bought a 30 quid Baofeng 2m / 70 cm handheld at Newark Rally. He brought it round to my shack last week. I was surprised when it produced 7 watts output on 2m FM. He ordered a larger 3.8 Ah battery and activated Ingleborough NP-005 with it last Saturday.
It’s never been so cheap to get into ham radio.

73 Phil

Forgive me for looking at this with a jaundiced and cynical opinion.

I can remember a colleague using, or trying to use a Baofeng UV3 at Friedrichshafen. It couldn’t cope in the VHF/UHF rich atmosphere of the rally. Our group’s collection of Yaesu, Alinco, Icom handhelds (from 1996 vintage VX1s to VX8 and other modern D-Star things) worked fine.

You pays your money and…

…but if in the middle of nowhere, or the VHF/UHF desert that is NE Scotland, then they function - even if nobody talks to you!

In which case they work as well in NE Scotland as in Friedrichshafen because nobody spoke to Dave on his UV3 either!

Fair comment Andy - and noted Barry - but spend 50 quid on a Baofeng and a SOTAbeams MFD and you’re able to try SOTA to see if you like it (Daves other radio being a KW-2000, he’s never been on VHF before). That was the thinking behind buying cheap. If Dave takes to the SOTA side of the hobby and uses 2m FM regularly then I’d suggest a secondhand VX-170 or a new FT-270. They’re much cheaper than the ones with bells and whistles and more sturdy I reckon. I think you mentioned banging in tent pegs with one once on VHF NFD!

73 Phil

Yes, these uber-cheap handhelds work fine when you don’t push them and are a great introduction. However, durability and half-decent RF performance comes at some cost. My VX-170 was well worth the £83 it cost me new a few years back. I would expect there to be a few of the Chinese handhelds that are built well and have decent RF performance and to be cheaper than an FT-270. Whether they are much cheaper and they’ll still be working perfectly 6 years later after sitting in the mesh side pocket of a rucksack with 240 summits to their name is open to question. That works out at £14/year for my VX-170 and the battery still lasts forever.

After I failed to qualify an activation a few years ago because of battery failure (it didn’t like minus temperatures - nor do I nowadays!) I followed advice from Tom and got a cheap and nasty 2 metre handy to put in the rucksack. I’ve actually never used it! It’s probably like buying an umbrella - you know that if you buy a “brolly” you’re going to get a drought!

Talking of handies, hardly a month goes by without a new one being advertised or reviewed. They must sell lots of them - but where are they all? I often tune around two metres but rarely hear anything but the ID of repeaters, and I live in a city with a population of a million and in a conurbation that must double that figure, but two metres suggests that nobody is home! The collective weight of dust in VHF gear must measure tonnes!


Brian, your right, there must be huge amounts of kit gathering dust. I know because I have enough of it!

Thinking on, whilst an £8 handheld is worth considering, still one of the best SOTA radios for starting out in a reasonably populated are would be a second hand FT290. I’ve seen beautiful ones go for £35, sets which are immaculate but a little old. Whilst the output is a bit QRP when using internal cells and they don’t have the sharpest hearing, they run all day as they have a low current consumption on RX. With a small 12v LiFEPo you should be able to work many long activations before it needs recharging. OK, 2.5W isn’t brilliant but with a small beam you have SSB and FM coverage. I’ve had some lovely simple activations with a handy running 1W to a J-pole in North Wales and North West England. Should be just as viable in many parts of Europe. I’m not too sure about VK and US. Shame they’re a bit bulky but they are quite lightweight.

Hmm… could there be mileage in a 290-Challenge? :slight_smile:

I have both Baofeng UV-3r Mk II and Quansheng TG-UV2. I can tell you there is a huge difference between the very cheap Baofengs (UV-5r,3r,…) and Quansheng. Resistance to nearby signals, RX sensitivity and modulation are superior on Quansheng. Also the radio puts out real 5W and not 4W as some of the Baofengs. However what I like the most is the endurance of the radio. It is very ruggedly built from hard plastic with no gaps.

Back in April I have been out /P and made couple of QSOs while we were sitting around campfire with OMs, I have left the radio on a bench we sat on leaving it on RX and somebody accidentaly pushed it of the bench. It was already dark so I did not see it. Then in the morning I found the radio in a grass, covered with morning dew and it was still powered on and receiving. And guess what, I am still using it without any issues!

But anyway, I still like the UV-3r for it’s compact size. It fits in any pocket for what if scenarios during non-ham radio trips.

I have a 290 that I got for a fiver at the local club’s junk sale, a bit battered and the silly little dial lamp is dead - when I can get a round tuit I’m replacing it with a white LED - but it works very well, it even has the pre-amp built in. I have done a few successful activations with a borrowed 290 when my first 817 was undergoing repair and I agree that they would make great starter radios, particularly as they perform well on SSB!

A 290 challenge might be fun, I’d be up for it, chasing or activating!


Bought my '290 back in the early 80’s when they were the dog’s doodahs for portable SSB. IIRC cost me about £90 :frowning:

Used it for many a Backpacker’s contest and probably my first 80 odd activations where I did 2m and it still sits on my shack shelf waiting to be useful again so bring on the challenge!

Also have an FT60E that’s accompanied me on over 400 activations and can’t have been used a dozen times. But it’s there if I need it! Wonder how many calories I’ve burnt lugging it up all those hills…

73 de Paul G4MD

I think it may be possible to organise a “Vintage Electric Handbag Fun Day” where you get to use that TR-2200/TR-2300/FT-290/IC-22/whatever that has been gathering dust for years. How about any radio that was launched in 1989 or earlier, as that implies a design at least 25 years old and manufacturing quality that has resulted in some still working 25 years later.

No heavy rules or commitments just go out and have fun with an older radio. Post a picture of you and your “Electric Handbag” in use along with your ODX. I’d drive South to an SS summit closer to G-land or maybe even to G/LD to work a few other vintage fools! :slight_smile:

Even if you don’t have an old set, you can still go out and activate or chase those who have lugged their antiques up a hill.

the more I thik about this, the more I like it. How about starting another thread with “Vintage Electric Handbag Fun Day” as the title - hey, somebody might activate with a WWII spy set or even, God Forbid, a WS19!


Count me in :smile:

Count me in too… most of my stuff qualifies!!!

Me too!
My first activations were with a FT290 and contemporary amplifier, like this:
(Ever heard a CW op dismiss a key as “like operating a piece of cheese” :o)

C’mon Adrian - you’re not trying… you want something like this:

Actually - that was made in 1992 so doesn’t qualify!!!

Oh well, Rob

But was the design from 1989 or before? Time for a new thread.