On this page, I've included links to a number of inexpensive Chinese 2 meter and 70 cm handhelds.
The products listed on this page are suitable only for use by licensed amateur radio operators. Most of them can transmit inside the ham band or outside of the band. If you don't have an amateur license, then this product will cause you nothing but grief. If you use it inside the ham band, you will discover that hams are extremely protective of their frequencies, and they will track you down. You will stick out like a sore thumb, and you will not go unnoticed.
I originally posted this page a few years ago. At the time, a few cheap handhelds were showing up on eBay and other places which could be shipped straight from China. Some of those are still available. Generally, you could legally buy those radios for your own personal use. And if you were a licensed ham, you could legally use them in the U.S. (or other countries with similar regulations), as long as you understood that you were responsible for the correct operation. In other words, if they were putting out a spurious signal somewhere, you were on your own.
In general, however, these Chinese radios could not be imported or resold in the U.S. This was because they were never certified by the FCC. In general, most of these radios need certification (under either Part 15 or Part 90 of the FCC rules) before they can be imported and resold. Again, importing one for your personal use was an exception, so it was possible to legally buy these radios from China. Depending on how you read the rules, it could be argued that they were illegal to sell, even if you decided to sell them used many years later. But buying one from China was and is legal.
Since I originally posted this page, more and more of these radios have shown up for sale in the United States. And more importantly, some (but not all) of them are certified under either Part 15 and/or Part 90. This means that U.S. retailers can legally sell them in the U.S.
If you are thinking of buying one of these, it's probably a good idea to look for the FCC certification. First of all, if a U.S. seller is selling uncertified radios, this is illegal. It's not illegal for you to buy the radio--it's just illegal for the seller to sell it. But more importantly, it does increase the risk that you will use it in violation of the rules. Such a radio might work fine right out of the box. But there's always a chance that it is transmitting a spurious signal outside the ham bands. So there's always the chance that your putting out a spurious signal which interferes with someone else (like your local police department). Unless you test the radio yourself, you'll have no idea that this is happening. But you could very well get people mad at you, in which case they will eventually track you down, and you'll face the possibility of a huge fine (generally in the ballpark of $10,000 per day).
If the manufacturer went to the trouble of having the radio certified, the chances of this happening are greatly reduced. Again, the uncertified radio will probably function flawlessly. But if you have a choice between a certified model and an uncertified one, it's probably best to get the certified one.
Most of these radios now for sale are available on Amazon, which is probably a good place to buy. All or most of these radios are actually being sold by third-party sellers, and the third-party seller is the one who actually ships the radio. But you actually make the purchase through Amazon, and if there are any problems with the sale, you will have Amazon's customer service to back you up.
Here are some of the radios that are currently listed on Amazon. Most of these have free shipping available.
The following mobile rigs are also available on Amazon:
In most cases, the seller should state in the description whether the particular radio is certified under Part 15 or Part 90. In some cases, however, the seller might be unaware of the importance of this information. In that case, you might need to do some research. If a radio is certified, that fact should be noted in the owner's manual, and/or on the radio itself. So before buying, you can take a close look at any pictures or manuals that are available. The FCC also maintains a database, which is available at this link. As you can see, however, this database is not particularly easy to search. You do not have the option of searching by manufacturer or model number.
As noted above, these radios are for use by licensed hams. If you decide to use one of these without a license, there's a high probability that you'll eventually get caught, and eventually face a large fine. Some people think that it's a good idea to buy a radio such as one of these for use in some future "emergency". In some cases, the future emergency use is planned after "TSHTF", and it's presumed that the FCC will no longer be in business. While that is certainly possible, getting a license is still a good idea. If you're buying a radio to communicate from Point A to Point B in an emergency, it's a good idea to test the radio and see whether it can, indeed, communicate between those two points. And if you are preparing for TEOTWAWKI, then you ought to do this testing before TEOTWAWKI. And to do that, you'll need a license. Getting a license is not difficult, and there are many resources available to help you get your license. In fact, I am the author of a study guide for the beginning level of license, the Technician license. You can see the full details for my book at this link. For more thoughts on the subject, you can visit my Emergency Communications Page.
Since these radios should be used only by licensed hams, it goes without saying that they should be used only in the ham bands. If you use it outside the ham bands, then chances are, you'll be using a frequency that's assigned to someone else. If it's the local taxi company, then they'll complain to their radio supplier about the interference, and the radio supplier will eventually figure out what's going on. If it's the local police department, then this process will undoubtedly be followed by some unpleasantness down at the station. In either case, you're liable for a fine in the ballpark of $10,000 per day. With other suitable unlicensed radios available, it's just not worth the risk.
Since most of these radios will physically transmit on frequencies used by commercial and public service users, some of those users might be tempted to purchase them. Unless the radio is certified under Part 90, this is a very bad idea. You might save a few hundred dollars by doing so, but it is illegal to use these radios for those purposes in the United States, because there is no indication that they are certified for use in those services, and they are not guaranteed to meet the technical requirements for such radios. In all likelihood, you'll get away with it for a while. But if your radio ever causes interference problems and someone investigates the source of the problem, then you could very well wind up having to pay a fine of $10,000 per day. It's not worth the risk. (If the radio is certified under Part 90, then it is probably OK to use the radio for such purposes, but that is outside the scope of this article, so do your own research.)
If you decide to buy one of these radios, let me give you one last piece of advice. Most of these radios are capable of transmitting outside the ham bands. As a ham, it's perfectly legal for you to own such a radio, but it's not legal for you to transmit outside the ham bands. On the other hand, it is perfectly legal for you to receive signals outside the ham bands. And chances are, after you buy such a radio, you'll want to program in some interesting channels outside the ham bands. When you do, it's a good idea to program the radio to transmit on a ham frequency. For example, if you want to listen to NOAA weather on 162.55 MHz, or a police department on 470 MHz, you can easily program these frequencies. But if you do nothing else, the radio will also be programmed to transmit on the same frequency. It's not unheard of to bump the push-to-talk switch by accident. Indeed, it's quite possible that the transmit button gets bumped, stays pushed, and is not noticed. So if you were listening to the local police department, you would unknowingly be transmitting on their frequency with an open mike, and every cop in town is listening to you go about your business. Eventually, they will come knocking on your door, and they won't be pleased. Therefore, you should program a transmit frequency inside the ham bands to go along with that receive frequency. So when you put the radio in your pocket and the switch gets bumped, you'll be transmitting in the ham bands. Perhaps your ham buddies will eventually come knocking on your door, but they generally won't be as upset as the local police department, and you'll avoid a trip down to the station to explain yourself.
The information and links above should be up to date, and most of those products should be available on Amazon. When I first started this page, most of these radios were available only from China, and I had the radios shown below linked. The radios listed below are generally no longer available from the links shown. Even though the links no longer work, I'm leaving this part of the page active, in case you're looking for information on one of these radios.
CVSB-J48-110V Chinese 70cm Handheld
I'm not quite sure what to make of this product, although it appears to be an extremely inexpensive 440 MHz handheld.
There is no indication that this unit is certified under any part of the FCC rules, so it is not suitable for any commercial use in the United States. But for something really inexpensive for occasional use by licensed amateurs, this radio appears to be somewhat useful.
It does appear to cover the entire 70 cm ham band, and it appears that you can enter frequencies from the front panel and/or program up to 199 memories.
If you're a licensed ham, then $80 seems like an extremely cheap price for a couple of 440 MHz handhelds. Even so, there are a couple of cautions:
There is no indication that these units are able to send CTCSS tones (also known as "PL" tones). Therefore, they cannot be used on most repeaters, since most 70 cm repeaters seem to use tones. But for simplex use, they're probably a very good value. If you need an extra handheld in the glove compartment, for working on antennas, etc., then these seem to fit the bill.
As noted above, these are not certified for sale in the United States. Since it is not legal to sell such radios, then you're probably on shaky legal ground if you decide to sell it later. However, it is perfectly legal for you to buy one or two for your own personal use (buying quantities under ten don't qualify as "importing"). And it is legal for you to transmit on the ham bands with them, since there is no requirement that hams use certified transmitters.
However, it is required that any transmitter you use meets the FCC spectral purity requirements. Chances are, these units do. After all, those requirements are not exactly rocket science. However, there is no guarantee, so you should take a look at your signal before using them on the air. It's always possible that they put out a spur on some out-of-band frequency. So you should look at your signal on the frequency you intend to use, and make sure the output is clean.
If you understand these limitations, then it seems to me that $80 is an excellent price for not one, but two, UHF handhelds. Of course, if you don't understand these limitations (or you're unwilling to take the risk that the output won't be clean), then you should look elsewhere. Also, please don't buy one of these as your only ham rig. You'll be sorely disappointed. But if you just need a spare UHF rig, then these cheap radios just might fit the bill.
Long Range Walkie Talkie Set (UHF, 110v)
And here's a dual-band HT for $52.99, including shipping:
SinoRise SR-638UA Specialized 99-Channal Digital Walkie Talkie
And here is the "Sinorise Model SR-638", a dual-band (2 meter and 70 cm) in the same category, for $52.99, which includes shipping from China. Once again, the specs on the web site are rather limited, but it has a power output of 2.5 Watts, and covers 136-174 MHz, and 400-470 MHz. All of the cavaets above still apply, except this one appears to have CTCSS capability, since it features "155 groups of CTCSS/DCS coder".
This one doesn't appear to have a keyboard for entry of frequencies, but according to the description, it is "PC Programmable", and has a USB connector (which appears to be on the bottom).
There's one review on the website, which seems to say that the USB cable is not included, but a 120 volt charger is.
Here are a few more that I've found, with even lower prices, all of which include shipping:
Hongda HD-360 70 cm HT, $38
This one covers the 70 cm band, with 5 watts, and sells for $38, including shipping. It appears to have CTCSS capability. It's billed as being sixteen channels, but there's no indication from the product description as to how the frequencies are programmed.
Rechargeable 5W 400-470MHz 16-Channel Walkie-Talkie FM Transceiver (VHF/UHF) HD-360
Hongda HD-Q6 dual band HT, $49
This one covers both 2 meters and 70 cm, also with 16 channels, with about 5 watts output power. Like the HD-360, there's no obvious method of how you program the thing. There's no mention of CTCSS capability.
Dual Frequency Handheld Walkie-Talkie FM Transceiver (VHF/UHF) HD-Q6
Hongda HD-8800 VHF/UHF Handheld, $67
This one is described as "VHF/UHF", but the frequency range is not specified. There's also no mention of CTCSS capability. It has 99 channels, and presumably one can program them from the keypad and LCD screen.
Professional LCD Display Walkie-Talkie FM Transceiver (VHF/UHF) HD-8800
Hongda HD-K99, $54
This one covers both 2 meters and 70 cm. Again, it's a mystery as to how the sixteen channels are programmed.
HONGDA HD-K99 Two Way Radio VHF/UHF FM Transceiver
Hongda HD-Q8 dual band HT, $48
This one's product description at least refers to a programming cable.
HONGDA HD-Q8 Two Way Radio VHF/UHF FM Transceiver
Hongda HD-660 dual band HT, $51
This one covers both 2 meters and 70 cm with 5 watts. Again, it's unclear how those sixteen channels are programmed.
HONGDA HD-660 Two Way Radio VHF/UHF FM Transceiver
Hongda A-88, $46
HONGDA A-88 Two Way Radio VHF/UHF FM Transceiver
Hongda HD-620, $51
HONGDA Two Way Radio VHF/UHF FM Transceiver HD-620
Hongda HD-668, $51
HONGDA Two Way Radio VHF/UHF FM Transceiver HD-668
Shouao TS-228, $51.30
SHOUAO TS-228 UHF VHF Radio
TYT-800, 70 cm, $48
TYT-800 VHF/UHF FM Transceiver
BBT-789, dual band, $35.30
BBT-789 VHF/UHF FM Transceiver
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