First I am covering free programming software. Some radios come with free software. One of the most robust free software is called Chirp.
Below is a screenshot and I am downloading the channels for my BF-888 radio.
To use the radio software will require a programming cable. Most of the cables are USB types. Below are some inexpensive China-made radios. I have some of them below and work really well.
Inexpensive BF-888S FM UHF Radios
BAOFENG BF-888S Two-Way Radios (Pack of 2). I have over 12 of these radios. They all work well as a ham radio Work well as direct communications or via repeaters. $26.00 for two of them. Great price and made like a brick! View them HERE at Amazon.
- Portable Handheld Two Way Radio, Long Range Communication Walkie Talkie
- Dimensions: 0.391.971.26 in, Weight: 0.44 lb, 1500MAh Li-ion battery
- Frequency Range: 400-470MHz, RF Rated Power: ≤ 5W, Operated Voltage: 3.7V, About 8 hours Battery Life
- 16 channel, 50 CTCSS/105 CDCSS, VOX Function, Low Voltage Alert, Time-out Timer
- Package Include: Baofeng BF-888S2, Earphone2, Battery2, Antenna2, Desktop Charger2, Belt Clip2, Wrist Strap2, Manual2
USB Programming Cable for many china made radios
Baofeng USB Programming Cable PL2303 Support Chirp for GMRS Radio Two Way ham Portable radios: UV-5R, BF-F8HP, BF-888S, UV82HP, GT-3, UV-9S, BF-R3 (Black) View HERE at Amazon.
UV-5R – VHS – UHS radio
I have 4 of these radios, but the lower power ones. The one listed is a higher power (8 watts) model. Ham Radio Walkie Talkie (UV-5R 8W) Dual Band 2-Way Radio with 2 Rechargeable 2100mAh Battery Handheld Walkie Talkies Complete Set with Earpiece and Programming Cable. This set comes with ONLY one radio but with a bunch of useful things. You can view this radio HERE at Amazon.
Thinking about getting your Ham Radio Licence? I would suggest that you do. Then you will become an amazing Radio Prepper! Get your FCC license then Join the ARRL. For a study guide, here is a suggestion. As I wrote previously, most ham clubs can give the test. It’s amazing what can be done with ham radio equipment. From satellite communications to digital equipment. Below is a book that will help you study for your license. There are three levels, and I would suggest you start with the Technician level.
Technician Class 2018-2022: Pass Your Amateur Radio Technician Class Test – The Easy Way (EasyWayHamBooks) Paperback. Check this book out HERE at Amazon.
Radio Prepping during the SHTF and the TEOTWAWKI.
First, I have never broken any radio laws in the past 70 years of being a Ham Radio Operator and do not plan to in the future and suggest that you do as well. That being said, I follow all these LAWS BECAUSE I (WE) LIVE IN A CIVIL SOCIETY OF LAWS.
But when and if there is no more civil society and everything breaks down (TEOTWAWKI) I will do everything that is necessary to secure the safety of my family, neighbors, friends, and community. That would include how I use radio equipment. While I do not, many people use the above equipment on the FRS and GMRS frequencies. They work well and they even replace the low gain antennas with more efficient and higher gain ones. They are probably getting away with this because there is little enforcement because of manpower. There will be fines if they were to be caught. During TEOTWAWKI the world would be crazy and no one would even care about the FCC, rules, or laws.
While I would never suggest that you use the above equipment now unless you are a Ham, It would be a good idea to learn about and possess this equipment so if you ever need to use it you would know-how. Learning about programming, antennas, power backup, and battery charging are all good prepping skills. As I said above, becoming a Ham is even a better prepping idea. Think about it.
Dennis in Central Texas