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Which codec & HT will end that old chestnut

FYI this cannot be exhaustive as I deliberately picked a rabbit hole. HT’s from £25, most around £200 to £500 & all the way to £1500, and for this discussion I’ll include Poc or NR if you prefer. Point being we have analogue & digital repeaters, DMR, DStar, Fusion - Wires-X, a host of hotspots including Allstar network via Rpi, OpenSpot, MMDVM, DV switch, Firespot, DV Mega and platforms like Echolink, Teamspeak, Zello, DroidStar, Peanut. Networks such as Brandmeister, TGIF, IPSC, FreeSTAR etc etc. You get the picture. As I have previously written, the joy of Allstar is the combination of analogue rf & Rpi voice over IP. DStar digital, older and developed by Japanese hams added to the Icom range, then Yaesu C4FM and Wires-X with the HRI box as a node or cable for ‘pdn’ direct link to pc. DMR for the most part needs no introduction, otherwise known as Mototrbo from Motorola. If you have FOMO then with HT’s you definitely have a headache, you can Bridge & crosslink with a few minor audio issues, but let’s face it you can slightly chase your tail looking for a contact roaming the repeaters and talkgroups or reflectors if you prefer. Devils advocate bomb here, 1750hz tone, 2m/70cm analogue repeaters, class of licence and voila busy channels back in the day…Oops. The reality is worldwide comms for a foundation licensee with an HT, or any callsign, but especially in challenging situations is a huge benefit.


  1. To have fun in spare time & get on the air. Here come all the caveats, actually I broke it down into why I bought each HT in the photo. What I then did with it and finally I’ll wrap it up. We all have a budget, an idea and over time this collection grew. I’ll also give it a covered in dust rating a bit like ‘where are they now’.

  • My first HT was a Kenwood TH-D72A analogue, bought from Sunrise Electronics on Tottenham Court road. Used for our fledgling business & for listening to the then busy london repeaters. R.I.P.

  • Wouxan KG-UV2D analogue. This little HT still gets out, used for both work & pleasure for years, getting all nostalgic. The battery discharged if the pins were left open, tape cured that, & for some reason if in a pouch the torch used to flip on. Easy to program workhorse. Full dusting due to retirement.

  • Cobra marine radio. I have an MMSI and this is affectionately known as the floating orange turd. For years my personal carry with fully waterproof PTT at work. I will move to the H class DSC HX980E, the DSC handshakes the MRCC.

  • Retevis RT1 analogue PMR workhorse. Rugged radio goes out for the bumps & mud duck jobs, read when I don’t want to use a ‘safe queen’. Chirp programmed with 16 channels. In use & also in use at SARAID. Choose a UHF or VHF radio. Get dusted off.

  • Anytone 868 DMR & analogue. My first recce into digital with an original Moonraker codeplug, subsequently modified, experimented and flashed, programmed various zum & nano spots. I now have a DV-Mega & an Openspot. I learnt alot from this HT and Brandmeister, sits on my desk for hotspot use (let’s not go there with the it’s not radio or you use a hotspot discourse). You can turn this into an 878 if competent, talk to 2E0ERO. Long battery life easy display, but you do need to get your head around the codeplug to really use it. Light dusting due to desk operation.

  • Icom ID-51E+2 Dstar & analogue, had arrived chez moi. Nearest repeater function & an intuitive menu albeit in LCD. Lovely well built handset, but has the highest dust rating.

  • Inrico T320 Poc/network radio. First foray into Zello spawned use of Echolink & Teamspeak. Used as a learning curve getting alot of use as complimentary comms where people could use Zello on an android phone to talk to us. Gathering dust recently.

  • Yaesu FT2DE C4FM & analogue, unashamedly 2nd hand. Bought to be used as an HT to an FT400XDE node in the vehicle. Wires-X on the go. Bought before the FT3D came out to become obsolete and not worth the money to upgrade to the FT5 for now. I’d say some dust, as the FTM400XDE gets more analogue repeater use than the FT2D.

  • Baofeng UV-S9 analogue tribander. Frankly a cheap HT to hand out when team member memory failure occurred. Learned from my dear dad, he had a separate set of tools to lend when people asked, never asking again. Always dusty.

  • Wouxan KG-UV8G analogue but 4m. You will need better than the stock antenna, but this is an otherwise neat radio, colour display, and easily programmed. Primarily used for communicating back to the vehicles AT588. Do get on 4m as modified and cheap TRX are abundant for simplex heaven. Dust here as I operate from the vehicle, ok laziness.

  • Anytone AT878UVii+. As predicted the 868 ran out of memory space for the contact list, not a deal breaker if you have Pi-Star or Openspot on a display, however the bluetooth headset in the car keeps me legal & I did revisit codeplugs to make a new one. This is on a battery eliminator in the vehicle where dust & dirt is a feature, but it is regularly used.

  • Baofeng-UV9ERA analogue, originally purchased as a cheap work & pleasure radio. It has proved to be a little gem and I use it for my Allstar Shari node. It’s therefore in & out the box with a low dust level.

  • Rfinder B1 analogue & DMR & DMRoip digital. It’s an HT, android 8 0r 9 phone with in my case Echolink, Zello & Teamspeak. Although the selling point is no code plug with the Rfinder repeater database is very good (subscription alert) feature, the cloud based programmable user memories (aha so you can build a codeplug with your hotspots aswell) all in one handset were the appeal. One handset to carry & we are testing it for the SAR team. I have found it very good, my only problem is battery life with constant monitoring & my phone account services all needing juice. No dust yet.

Certain programming criteria have to be met before using the B1 to full effect by Ham or professional users. For my callsign usage I followed the PDF highlighted here :

Specifications -What do you want from a Handheld

The idea is to communicate, maybe not just kerchunk a repeater or talkgroup, sorry moaned didn’t I. I originally bought that Kenwood TH-72A as it was the best I could buy, so it got used. In a way the B1 reminds me of that quest. If you haven’t got a local repeater enabled for digital, the UK being accessible & somewhat different from the U.S.A, then you will likely find a hotspot useful. That costs money, whether tethered to your phone or home wifi. Hold on you say, you did include Poc, Network radio platforms. I did, the argument here is even these scale the heights to £350 and if not used as your primary phone, represents a further investment. Some are becoming more dated due to their android firmware versions, buyer beware on some platforms.

I wonder if the federation tested different flip communicators before settling on the contract to supply Kirk & the Enterprise.


If it’s just access to analogue simplex & repeaters life is good, read really quite cheap and with a little investment in an Rpi & Allstar, digital becomes possible.

Buying from a big brand means you are buying into a proprietary codec and probably a hotspot for convenience anyway. The Yaesu FT70D is an inexpensive way into digital via C4FM. Moving up in value arguably gives you a better receiver and then like cars it becomes more about features. It will come as no surprise the Anytone AT878UVii+ is so ubiquitous over the airwaves & talkgroups, however the learning curve will be greater. It is worth doing some research and learning, actually this is a general point. Don’t be someone that hands over your ID & callsign to be programmed into the radio & hotspot, remember ‘all the gear & no idea’.

If you’re like me, something will make your head turn and the station manager will be looking at another box coming through the front door. Here is not the place to repeat all the arguements I’ve used, ‘but it does beam me up & the old one couldn’t’.

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