NOTE; AS OF 9/27/2018 THE FCC SEEMED TO HAVE DECLARED THAT IT IS ILLEGAL FOR AMATEUR RADIO OPERATORS TO USE MANY OF THE LESS EXPENSIVE RADIOS LISTED IN THIS SECTION. SEE THE OFFICIAL NOTICE.
However — from KB6NU comes this:
Noji, KN0JI, posted the text of an email exchange that he had with Scott Stone, Deputy Chief, Mobility Division of the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau. Noji asked, “Does Part 95. 591 mean that all Baofeng UV-5R and UV-92 radios (which can transmit [on] FRS and GMRS frequencies) will become illegal to buy or sell in the U.S. after September 2019, even for amateur use?”
To which, Stone replied,
“No. Those devices do not have Part 95 certification, so they are not authorized for use in FRS or GMRS. i.e. they are not capable of operating under this subpart. They can be used by amateurs, but only on amateur frequencies.”
The bottom line seems to be that one “hand” of the FCC does not seem to know what the other hand is doing — however, if anyone would know the right answer, it would seem to be the Deputy Chief of the Mobility Division. You’re probably just fine using one of these inexpensive radios, so long as you are properly licensed and operate them only on amateur radio frequencies.
There are three key barriers to entry into the ham radio hobby. Obviously, none of them is insurmountable, but the whole point of the Fast Track series is to get people past those barriers with the maximum amount of enjoyment and the minimum amount of frustration.
You’ve conquered barrier #1; you’ve gotten your license. (If you have not yet gotten your license and need some guidance, The Fast Track to Your Technician Class Ham Radio License will get you through step one in as little as a week.)
Barrier #2 comes at that moment you start contemplating your first radio. There are a lot of choices, ranging from very affordable to very expensive, with a dizzying array of features the new ham can scarcely comprehend, much less evaluate — where does the new ham even start? This part of the Fast Track site is designed to assist you with that.
Barrier #3 is that first contact. “What do I say? Who do I talk to? How does this thing even work??” The best advice we can give you about that is to relax. Every one of us had a first contact at some point. We like this hobby, and we’re waiting to welcome you into it. 99% of us don’t care if you make a few so-called mistakes — we’ve all made them, too. (See the last chapter of the Fast Track Technician book for a couple of mine.)
Let’s get you set up with your first ham rig so you can get on with having fun. Full disclosure; if you purchase your new gear through our links, we make a couple of bucks, but our main concern is getting you going in the hobby, so if you find better deals or more suitable gear for you as you explore, go for it.