OK, did the title grab you? Over the past several months there has been a flood of small, cheap, multiband VHF/UHF radios have literally flooded the market. These radios are fairly well made and sound good. BUT they are small radios designed for limited distance and way too many new as well as seasoned hams are trying to make them reach well beyond their potential.
Yes, you can add larger antennae and make the radio perform better. However, most folks utilize the antenna that came with the rig and try to make the trip into the local machine. This is resulting in lots of very marginal signals and lots of kerchunking.
These are issues that can be prevented with a little education. As the old adage goes, a little learnin’ goes a long way.
Firstly, know the limitations of marginal antennas and the radio itself. Just because you can hear a repeater that is transmitting from 50 miles away doesn’t mean it can hear you. Several things work against the HT. First is power. The repeater typically will be transmitting in the 50 or more watt range while your little HT is going to top out at 5 watts (and it will get hot in your hand with extended use). Secondly, the repeater has some listening issues that your little HT doesn’t. There is usually a few db lost in duplexers, feedlines and connectors. Lastly, is location. Sometimes, just moving your HT a few inches can provide 20 db or more of gain. This can be attributed to things blocking your signal to a variation of polarity.
All in all, these little HT’s do a great job but as a knowledgeable ham you should know the limitations of your equipment and some of the tricks of the trade to make it work.
Have a great and Merry Christmas and hope your Santa brings you the radio gear of your dreams.