Ive decided to hold off on the HAM radio.. I don't have a license and my primary interest in it is to communicate with my brother (in Maine) via radio.. since neither of us have our licenses yet.. I can put my money into our debt for now.. I did purchase a HH cb, as it is more pertinent to my life currently - being a truck driver I encounter accidents and backed up traffic daily.. tho only once has the cb given me any real clue to why the traffic was back up..
apparently the HH units are limited to 4 watts output.. giving me a 4 mile range supposedly. Im not sure if that is sufficient or annoying.
Anyway, thanks for the great posts! I will keep these links for when I am purchasing the HAM unit and accessories as well. Thanks Wolverine!
If you could use FRS/GRMS-type radios for hunting, hiking, or whatever I'd still look at the Baofeng UV-5r. Yes, it's a ham radio, but it also does FRS, GMRS, and MURS frequencies. Just program the FRS channels in now for use as a walkie-talkie (complete with headset and VOX) and you'll have at least some HAM capabilities when you do get licensed without having to buy more radios.
I wish I had known about these before I picked up my Midland FRS/GMRS radios because the UV-5r does more than they do (and even has a built in flashlight). Oh well, I have a couple of extra radios if I need them for local work.
If you're really on a budget the Baofeng BF-888s is even cheaper. A little lighter on features but still has the same RX/TX frequency range and you can get 5 of them for under a hundred bucks on Amazon with free shipping via Prime. I haven't tried those, but they're supposed to be okay.
I guess I should mention a word of warning is using these radios on FRS isn't strictly legal as they put out too much power even on low (FRS limited to .5watts and these do 1 watt on low). You could keep you signal strength down by keeping the included antenna, but use at your own risk. Of course in an emergency the rules get tossed.
-Brian in Oregon