This is a common question that we get asked quite often. To work in a shelter or at the EOC, “technically” no equipment is required as we have what are known as “go-kits” that have all the gear you’d need at the shelter and a fully equipped radio room at the EOC. All that being said, it is good to have your own equipment to practice, explore the hobby, and have it available should you wish to deploy to another location. With all equipment, don’t be afraid to purchase gently used gear. QRZ.com has a great used listing as well as we have a local ham radio shop in the Pea Ridge Flea Market operated by Bob-W5CL open on the weekends.
For standard VHF/UHF repeater and simplex communications, we recommend any radio capable of analog communications that has been produced within the last ~10 years. Digital radios are “nice to have” but in an emergency activation, our communications will primarily use analog.
If you did want to step up to a digital radio, the secondary mode we would use is Yaesu System Fusion also known as C4FM. These radios can operate on the C4FM digital mode as well as analog. The digital mode allows for the transmission of your callsign and GPS coordinates automatically with your signal as well as the ability to send pictures with the camera microphone accessory.
The following radios are C4FM/Analog capable:
- Yaesu FT-2DR (black/white touch screen)
- Yaesu FT-3DR (color touch screen)
- Yaesu FT-70DR (standard screen but does support digital)
We do have a DSTAR repeater stack in addition to our Yaesu System Fusion repeater. DSTAR may also be utilized to send and receive pictures by using a compatible radio, bluetooth module, and Android application. The ICOM ID-5100 and ID-4100 mobile radios work great for this purpose.
HF (High Frequency) Radios
The answer to what HF radio you need can vary greatly depending upon who you talk with. For ease of use, we recommend a radio that has a built-in TNC (terminal node controller) and sound card. Several vendors offer radios in this category.