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Hand Held Radio

Mavic Mac

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One of the requirements of my flight authorization is that UAS PIC may be required to maintain direct two-way radio communication with ATC, and if required must comply.

Currently I do not own a hand-held unit. Researching hand held units online I have noticed the biggest complaint is that unless the operator is in close proximity to the ATC tower communication is limited.

The majority of the areas I have authorization for are 3+ miles from the ATC tower, with wooded and hilly terrain between myself and the tower.

@R.Perry said he uses a I com A-14 radio. Just wondering what others use and how well the reception/transmission is at a distance from the ATC tower.

As always thanks in advance for your reply
 

AMann

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I have a Yaesu FTA550 transceiver, currently costs about $195. It outputs 5 watts like most other handhelds. It will work for talking with ATC in the conditions you stated, but as with all handhelds with rubber covered short antennas, if you are a distance from the stations you want to talk to, nothing beats attaching a mobile antenna to it.
 
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LUIS MARTINEZ

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I have a Yaesu FTA550 transceiver, currently costs about $195. It outputs 5 watts like most other handhelds. It will work for talking with ATC in the conditions you stated, but as with all handhelds with rubber covered short antennas, if you are a distance from the stations you want to talk to, nothing beats attaching a mobile antenna to it.
Yeap, forget the rubber duckies and plug a mag mount antenna to your HT and drop that puppy on the middle of your car roof and you get a nice ground plane to maximize your transmit range.
 

PatR

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Agree with both the previous posts. Lacking a longer antenna the best a hand held does in communicate pretty well with aircraft fairly close and almost over head. They don’t deal with ground obstructions well. Even when used air to air or air to ground they perform much better when linked to an external antenna.
 

AMann

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If you do this, do you need to tune the system, like with a CB antenna and SWR meter?
Tuning an antenna is always good, but 5 watts is such low power, its OK to not tune it- provided you use a VHF antenna. An antenna tuned for the 2m HAM band is good for closely matching the aeronautical civilian bands (118-137 MHz). I use my dual band mag mount tuned for 440 MHz and 2 meters (146 MHz) with my Yaesu without issues.
 
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PatR

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For those that might be interested, Sporty’s Pilot Shop is one of the places with a good selection of brands and models to review. Aircraft Spruce and Specialty is another.
 
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Mavic Mac

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For those that might be interested, Sporty’s Pilot Shop is one of the places with a good selection of brands and models to review. Aircraft Spruce and Specialty is another.
Just curious if you use any of their (Sporty's) radios? This one PJ2 Handheld COM Radio has good reviews
 

PatR

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Both Sporty’s and Aircraft Spruce have been serving the full scale community for decades. They’ve stayed in business by selling quality products, especially those involving two way communications.

I have not used a hand held in a few years but I know that if I needed one I would choose a name brand from a source accustomed to and with a long history serving pilots. I would not go looking for a cheap price from an obscure internet vendor.
 
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AMann

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Both Sporty’s and Aircraft Spruce have been serving the full scale community for decades. They’ve stayed in business by selling quality products, especially those involving two way communications.

I have not used a hand held in a few years but I know that if I needed one I would choose a name brand from a source accustomed to and with a long history serving pilots. I would not go looking for a cheap price from an obscure internet vendor.
HRO is not a obscure vendor, they have been a neighborhood brick and mortar HAM radio shop that has grown a lot since being first started by a CHP officer in 1971.
 
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PatR

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I was not referencing HRO, just the common practice of shopping price instead of quality and post purchase support.
 
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AMann

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I was not referencing HRO, just the common practice of shopping price instead of quality and post purchase support.
I understand, I bunched HRO and Amazon in the same sentence- my bad! ;)
 

LUIS MARTINEZ

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One of the requirements of my flight authorization is that UAS PIC may be required to maintain direct two-way radio communication with ATC, and if required must comply.

Currently I do not own a hand-held unit. Researching hand held units online I have noticed the biggest complaint is that unless the operator is in close proximity to the ATC tower communication is limited.

The majority of the areas I have authorization for are 3+ miles from the ATC tower, with wooded and hilly terrain between myself and the tower.

@R.Perry said he uses a I com A-14 radio. Just wondering what others use and how well the reception/transmission is at a distance from the ATC tower.

As always thanks in advance for your reply
Owned this one for 5 years, works great,
 

2edgesword

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Years ago I used a Bendix-King KX-99 handheld NAV/COM (1.5 watts) while flying a C-150. It could transmit and receive beyond 10 miles. I think your issue will come down to line of sight more than power when you're on the ground.
 
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PatR

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I had one a long time ago (pre internet) with about the same performance. Line of sight was, indeed, a big factor.
 

AMann

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Whichever HT you get, buy the AA battery version as charging batteries in the field is a hassle and rhe battery packs wont last if you store the radio a lot between flights.
 

Capt Binkley

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Had an Icom for years. However, cell phones replaced most of their utility for emergency situations. They are far more reliable than waiting for a signal on a handheld. Doesn't do us much good for monitoring traffic though.
 

AMann

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Had an Icom for years. However, cell phones replaced most of their utility for emergency situations. They are far more reliable than waiting for a signal on a handheld. Doesn't do us much good for monitoring traffic though.
We can’t monitor local CTAF/Unicom with a cell phone, which is why OP was asking about a handheld. You are right though, cell phones can even be used for HAM radio calls, but lots of us holdouts won’t use them for that ;)

As for their utility, cell phones are useless in many parts of the US still, and when off roading, a lot of us use 2 meters, CB, APRS and GMRS for emergency and regular comms, and carrying a PLB like SPOT is also a must.
 
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