One of the exciting things in amateur radio at the moment is the unbelievably low price of the Chinese handheld radios. One of the very cheapest is the BF-888S. It’s a 16 channel 70cm unit putting out about 2.5W. I got a pair for $42 from a Chinese ebay seller.
These radios are so cheap, they make you want to invent projects to use them. One project I’ve had in mind for a while is to use them for ARDF/fox hunting (you hide a transmitter, and people drive/wander around with receivers trying to find it) with kids armed with little Yagis.
My club (BRC) is looking at getting in to some fox hunting as a way of creating some shared activities, so I’m going to need a simple, portable beam with a good front to back ratio in order to play.
I had a look around and vk3hra’s blog had a nice step-by-step so I decided to copy his. It’s based on the fairly common PCV pipe & tape measure approach. The idea with steel tape measure is that it bounces back from being folded, so it’s easy to fold the elements for transport etc. Here’s his design:
I purchased a UV-B5 for my first radio. In general the cheap Chinese hand held radios are incredible value for money. I assume they are selling thousands into the business market in Asia and that’s what’s allowing these prices.
Similar to the best selling UV-5R, the UV-B5 can transmit anywhere in 136 – 174 MHz and 400 – 480 MHz including being field programmable. A result of this, and their lack of certification, they are only legally able to be owned by licensed ham radio operators in most developed countries.
The reason for choosing this model over the ubiquitous UV-5R is a couple of things. One of the common faults of these wide band radios is that the front ends can be easily overloaded. According to Brick O’Lore the UV-B5 handles this better than the other radios in this price range.
I was looking on ebay for radios and saw some old QSL cards being sold. This inspired me to design my own while I wait for my licence to come through. I really love the look of these old cards, the typefaces and cardboard remind me of the wool consignment books in which we used to record details of each bale of wool during the early nineteen seventies.