Vertex VX-150 
I opted to purchase a two-meter handheld first instead of a dual-band mobile to use as a base station like I initially had planned. My reasoning was that the prices for the new dual-bands aren't much less that what used HF transceivers sell for and the used dual-bands don't sell for much less used than new. So, I decided to study for the General license, the next class up, and then look at buying an HF rig. In case you have no idea what I'm talking about, I'll summarize.

The Technician license, the license I have, is the first license to earn in amateur radio. With it, you can transmit on the allocated frequencies 6M and up which is 50MHz and higher; also known as the VHF/UHF bands. The 2M and 70cm (often called 440 because the range is 430-450MHz) bands are the most popular bands here. Hence, the dual-band transceivers you see are almost always 2M/440. The radio I bought for portability transmits on the 2M band only - 144-148MHz. There is a lot of activity on that band and generally the contacts are through repeaters instead of direct contact. The General license allows many privileges on the higher wavelength bands, like 160 down to 10 meter (1.8MHz to 28MHz). These are the HF bands and are used for greater distance contacts be they U.S. and North America or Europe or S. America or wherever, depending on what frequency you are using. The next, and highest class, license is Extra and that gives full amateur privileges on the amateur bands.

As for the VX-150, I like it and I've had no trouble hitting the Bangor repeater (147.045) or the W3OI repeater (146.940) in Allentown on 3W; 5W is the max on this thing. I programmed in 16 local repeaters that I should be able to hit from various points locally and, since the scan range is 140-174MHz, a few other frequencies like weather and police. Once I travel around with it I will program in other repeaters I pick up - in Berks and other nearby counties, maybe some Philly or N. Jersey ones, Jersey shore, and Pittsburgh, and others as I pick them up.

I plan on taking the General in March or April and then by summer purchasing an HF rig, power supply, and antenna and getting all that set up. So, for now, I'll just be on the 2M repeaters wherever I go.

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