Mobile or handheld


I am currently studying off and on for my tech license. I would like to get a setup to start listening in until then. I am in a work vehicle passenger side most of the week but can not install anything in the vehicle... has to be easily removable.

I am eventually going to get a yaesu 8900r set up in my vehicle permanently but it would only be used on my daily commutes to and from work which means not much time listning and figuring out how to run the radio efficently.

So is there a way to make it easily portable as in plugging in to the cigerette lighter for power and then some sort of magnetic mount antenna?

I have been thinking of getting a yaesu dual band hand talkie with a magnetic mount antenna but would be able to get alot farther distances with a true mobile unit..

Any suggestions?


You can do a couple things.

1) HT with magmount and external battery

2) mobile rig, magmount bigger external battery

It largely depends on your budget and how much repeater coverage there is in your area.

Do avoid the cigarette lighter socket. The wiring is insufficient for running a rig and most mobile plugs for HTs are for charging only, not transmit.

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There are "battery eliminators" for many popular handhelds that plug into the cigarette lighter. I have one for my vertex standard handheld. Food for thought

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High-Tech Redneck
I'd stick with the handheld plus mag mount approach if you are in a work vehicle. Keep it charged up with the cig plug if you have a way to do that. Except for the antenna you could cram the whole rig in your pocket and walk off.

Most new hams think they are going to do something significant with ham. I did for a while. Unless you are an aging old fart with numerous medical ailments to discuss or have a deep psychological need to rant about the younger generations, then your not going to find a lot in common with 90% of the people you will be talking to. It's not that cool, it's not like being a cop, it's actually pretty boring and useless. Where ham shines for most of us on this board is when you are traveling with someone and they are also a ham, then you can use real kick butt radios and communicate reliably and over significant distance. Without a buddy though ham is mostly useless, I mean you can try it in an emergency but how many real emergency does one have? The old farts are usually really nice guys and will help, I'm not knocking them at all, but you just won't find a lot to discuss unless you have common ground. It's not like you'll be on there doing anything exciting.

If you were just really set on using a mobile, I'd get a plastic ammo box and a small 12v battery (18Ah or so) and neatly mount it all inside, cut a hole for panel mounting the face, make a surface mount antenna connector, you can do them up really nice if you want. Even cut ventilation slots and add a fan on a switch if you like. You could even give it a 12v plug to plug into the vehicles power to try and slow or offset the drain from the radio as long as the engine is running, use a diode or relay to make it disconnect when the vehicle isn't running. You can go wild and have it all inside a box with a handle. But that will not be cheap and 100% DIY. I built a simple power pack box and it ran me a pretty penny collecting gadgets, it's super cool and was fun to build, but not sure it's was worth it.


Wiffleball Batter
I would think if you're in any kind of city or urban built up area an HT should be plenty of radio for you. I think HT's can put out up to 5 watts, right? Plenty of power to hit repeaters or do simplex. Modern HT's are amazingly versatile units and pack a lot of features (almost too many, IMHO) into a very small pacakage. With an HT all you'd need is a 12v power cord to keep the battery charged and maybe an external antenna. Easy, cheap and should do everything you need a radio to do.
Once you have a vehicle of your own and are headed out into the boonies, that's when I'd think about putting a mobile unit in.


A handheld attached to a good magnetic antenna will yield you decent results. Plenty good for learning the basics of amateur radio. I did find that using a handheld attached to an external antenna and an external power source to be a little cumbersome. Adding a mic to the setup made it easier to use. I used a Baofeng UV-5R-V2+, mag mount antenna, battery eliminator and mic for a few years before I installed a Kenwood mobile in my rig. It was a reliable, budget friendly set up that let me learn what I wanted out of ham radio.


Thank you for all the replies. I just want to be able to start becoming familiar with how hams work being able to dial in to different freqs and learn the equipment a little better/programming and be able to go through the steps hands on of finding a repeater while moving on the road with android app or book etc

I think of it for prepping/ becoming familiar before going out on some longer in the middle of nowhere trips. I have a friend or two with HAM who are doing some big trips every year but i cant get away quite yet.

Any recomendations for a HT? I have been eyeing the yaesu ft 60r


Expedition Leader
I guess ham usage varies per State. Here in Colorado we have relatively good repeater coverage with cross-linking. A good example is Colorado Connection. Coverage map can be seen here.

Topics are rag chew but also road conditions, closures and such, especially when conditions deteriorate during the winter. In the summer tourist season arrives.


SE Expedition Society
I guess ham usage varies per State. Here in Colorado we have relatively good repeater coverage with cross-linking. A good example is Colorado Connection. Coverage map can be seen here.

Topics are rag chew but also road conditions, closures and such, especially when conditions deteriorate during the winter. In the summer tourist season arrives.
Yeah, here too.
We have a 2M net that goes up when weather pushes through. It's run by an employee at the NWS in Peachtree city that's a ham.
Our local ARES has a few repeaters and we net on them. I took part in a county exercise a few days ago where we simulated a crash of the local EMS dispatch system and I dispatched from the basement of the EOC via ARES members set at strategic relay locations. It was pretty fun...

For the OP, get a good HT for now. I'd say a Boafeng, I even have one now (8/4/1 watt settings). But if it's going to be your primary radio for a while get a good one.


2016 4Runner Trail w/KDSS
I recommend a low-cost HT for the reasons listed and also because its a cheap way to decide what features you want before you spend more money on a mobile rig. Even if you plan on your HT being your primary radio for awhile, i still think a cheap baofeng is worth starting with. In the worst case, you wasted $30 and in the best case you avoided paying a lot of money for a radio you regret buying because it turns out you want some other feature or you didn't really understand what you were buying.

My old baofeng starter radio now lives on as an APRS radio with a moblinkd TNC

Also, before you spend any money on battery eliminators or 12V chargers, get the radio and use it first. Unless you are transmitting a ton, I bet the regular battery will get you through your work day and you can charge it overnight. (also some of those batter eliminators are junk fire hazards, do your research before picking one).
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High-Tech Redneck
I have a Baofeng UV-82HP and it's great. I take it into work some days and let it sit on my desk, it will usually go about 2-3 days monitoring before needing a charge, less than that if you talk on it much.

Right now it's in my 4runner attached to a mag mount antenna until I decide what kind of setup I want in there permanent.