Some more words about radios

January 17th, 2022  |  Published in amateur radio, general interest

In a previous post, I went on about how radios are a fun and interesting hobby, and some pitfalls to avoid. In this post, I’m going to combine that with some photos I’ve shot.

Militias love radios. Nothing really stimulates the juices of the average Red Dawn aficionado like hearing “bravo six, going dark” crackling through your earpiece as you tactically assess the operational conditions in your strike package as Point dismounts and infiltrates the enemy 7-11 to purchase a burrito.

For all of the money these clowns spend on tactical gear and weapons components, all of them are determined to spend the least amount of money on their radios. In my years of covering far right protests where militias are present, I have never seen these patriotic American nationalists stray from the ubiquitous Chinese Baofeng UV-5R handie-talkie radio. The UV-5R is an extremely inexpensive (~45USD) and cheaply made radio that is notorious for its lax construction standards and inconsistent performance.

Power output can be set at either 1W or 8W but this can vary widely from radio to radio, with some transmitting 10w when set at 8W and others only transmitting at 4W no matter the setting. Menu buttons sporadically don’t work, the language of the radio randomly resets to Chinese, and many times the radio will tune to a completely random frequency when it is turned on. These radios also have a tendency to generate “splatter”, which is when a radio transmits outside of its bandwidth due to its microphone being too loud.

Half of the reason fash love the Baofeng is due to excessive posts about it on 4chan;  the rest of the reason is because it’s cheap enough to be disposable and because non-hams treat it like CB radio. Which brings me to another point. In the second photo below, one militia member covered his radio’s screen with yellow tape to keep people from seeing what frequency they’re operating on. This is ridiculous on a number of levels, one being that anybody with a similar $45 radio can hit “scan” and immediately tune to their frequency. Anyone with a software defined radio (SDR) dongle on their computer can immediately see the transmission on their waterfall, directional Yagi antennas can easily triangulate the location of a transmitter, and anyone close enough to read the frequency on the screen can simply OVERHEAR THE CONVERSATION.

I do not begrudge anyone from using any radio to get into the hobby, but a Baofeng is a terrible choice if you will need it in a life threatening situation, like if you’re lost in the woods or your car is stranded or you’re trying to overthrow the government. Behold, the worst of the Whackers.

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