2M Recommendations For Beginners Please!

Dave Bennett

I am starting this thread for us folks thinking of getting into 2M.

My CB doesnt do too well when out on the trail, it is merely OK. I need range and clarity. This is also a safety concern for me.

2M seems to be the way to go but I know there is much to consider when purchasing a unit and getting into something new. I dont want to get one and then wish later that I had went with something different... I've had enough buyers remorse with my expedition purchases.

I am a total newbie to this so I need help. I am also on a budget so I need to find the best "bang for the buck". Also, do I need a HAM license for 2M?

I need someone to break it all down Barney style for us!

Suggestions and input please!!!
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I'm currently going thru the same thing, as much time as I spend with no other vehicles around in Southern Utah and Mexico it was a no brainer for me! Along with the SPOT system I also purchased last week I bought the following items to get my Ham Radio career going:

1. Yaesu FT-7800 Dual Band Radio (Provides dual bands, 2M + 70cm) $249.00 with free head seperation kit and shipping! http://www.gigaparts.com/store.php?action=profile&sku=ZYS-FT-7800R

2. Spoke to the guys at www.expeditionexchange.com and they hooked me up with the Diamond Antenna NR770HB Dualband VHF/UHF Mobile Antenna (NR770HB) $60 along with the Diamond Antenna K540 Mobile Antenna Mount (K540) $36 and Diamond Antenna C213 Coaxial Cable Assembly (C213) $42.

3. The book to have:Arrl Ham Radio License Manual http://www.amazon.com/Arrl-Ham-Radio-License-Manual/dp/0872599639/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1195848526&sr=8-1

To get your Technician Lic. you must pass a 35 question test, the book is what you need to learn about the test and also has all of the test questions with proper answers in the back. I don't need another hobby, but it is kind of fun to learn. I'm also very happy with how easy the antenna was to install on my 98 D1 with roof rack, very clean installation. The radio is very small and the face detaches to where you can install it in a small space and then mount the larger part of the radio up in the dash of somewhere else out of the way. The kit to do this with the radio is free when purchased from www.gigaparts.com.

Hope some of this helps!


Tacodoc, yes you need a license. The US test is easy, though there's lots more to learn if you end up interested.
This is a good overview:


When I bought mine I didn't want buyer's remorse either and ended up with a Yaesu FT-8800. It has dual band, dual receive, which means it's like 2 radios in one box. You can talk on one side while monitoring another frequency on the other side. I'm very happy with it as a mobile unit. There are lots of other excellent choices at almost any price point.
If you want to spend less you can go for a dedicated 2M only rig like, for instance, a Yaesu FT-2800 or Icom V-8000. They can be had for well under $200 and closer to $100.

Any radio, antenna, or about anything else ham radio related you can read user reviews on eHam:


Once you use 2M on the trail you will want to throw your cb out the window.

Recommended books for Overlanding


Agree with bj70.

I would not worry about buying twice, as having more radios is always good. They are easy to resell as well.

My first set-up was a Yaesu FT2800 and a Wilson 2m antenna. As low budget and easy install as this was, it worked absolutely great. You can buy that entire rig for under $200.

The FT2800s are a nearly bomb proof radio, and an excellent choice. At just over $100 at gigaparts recently they were a great buy. As your needs increase then the next logical step is a good dual band. I want an 8800-it's on my Christmas list.

What I would not do, is buy a hand held as your first radio. It will seem tempting, but don't do it. It sacrifices much of the range, clarity, power, and ease of use, that you want a Ham radio for in the first place. Get a handheld for your second radio.

The first step, though, is to get your license. I think studying at hamtestonline is the way to go, but there are many other ways. The tech test is pretty easy, don't sweat that part of it.



2005, 2006 Tech Course Champion: Expedition Trophy
Great that you are looking at Ham radios, Dave!
They are infinitely superior to CB. Today I was out exploring with a friend, and with CB I could only make contact up to about 1/4 mile at most.
With the Ham, I have been in contact with other Hams for 5-10 miles through hills and canyons! Line of sight is even farther! Amazing clarity too. You won't be sorry. Just don't scrimp on the antenna.
BTW, I really like the fold-over feature of this antenna.
Here's a quick link to my radio install thread: Yaesu Install

Hasta luego!


Lost Canadian

Expedition Leader
I should have posted a thread like this a week ago as I'm just getting into HAM as well. I just ordered up a Yaesu FT-7800 with a Larsen antenna after reading some the reviews here and on several other sites. Actually Mark Stephens build here is what sparked my interest with dual band. I haven't taken the test yet, the plan is to do so after Christmas.

Sorry I don't have much to add but I look forward to seeing what others have to say.


The antenna that I bought from www.expeditionexchange.com also has the fold over feature, just FYI:
2. Spoke to the guys at www.expeditionexchange.com and they hooked me up with the Diamond Antenna NR770HB Dualband VHF/UHF Mobile Antenna (NR770HB) $60 along with the Diamond Antenna K540 Mobile Antenna Mount (K540) $36 and Diamond Antenna C213 Coaxial Cable Assembly (C213) $42.
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My brother who just got his Extra a while back gave me the book to study for my Technicians exam. I promptly put it someplace I wouldn't lose it which means I couldn't find it until after I took and passed the exam. :)

The method that worked for me was to download the question pool for the exam in word format. I then went through and bolded the correct answers. To study I just went through each question and studied the correct answer.

For me it was very effective. I learned a lot and was able to recognize the correct answers easily.

texas taco

Like lost Canadian I also read Scotts article on dual bands. I have passed my test. I recomend to suck it up and try to take the next ham class put on by your local ham club. They teach the test. You also can lean other things to. Warning-----it can be very boring, but it is a breaze to pass if taken. Before I had taken the class months earlier i purchased a Yeasu 7800 with a Larsen dual band antenna because it seemed the most bang for my buck. It was about 300 dollars from HRO. One day you will want to use 70 cm, so buy what your license will allow you to use. You will not be dissapointed. I am very pleased with my radio. The only thing I wish it did was dual recieve, but thats no big deal just an unneeded want. Good luck. Once you go ham you wont go back!!!

Recommended books for Overlanding


I recommend Gordon West's book. I bought mine at fry's. I studyed it for about a week an half before the test. I have zero electrical knowledge and i passed only missing 2 question.


PhulesAU said:
www.QRZ.com all tests on line.
I passes last Saturday at 7pm. I started reading the book at 11am. I finished the first chapter which was nice intro to get my brain in the right frame. Then I went to the above website and worked through the sample tests. Just with my general knowledge and luck I scored in the 60's. You need a 74% (27 of 35) to pass. Then I went back and retook each test and easily got 100% on each. I took the first 9 tests. When I took the real test that night I scored 33 of 35 and recognized every question but 2. They don't tell you which problems you miss but...

My advice is to go for it. You have a pretty technical head so it will not be too difficult. Go to the website and work through a few tests. The book is handy to answer all the questions that pop up down the line.