I have been involved with Amateur Radio since 1986 and some form of Emergency Communications since 1988. I even have my Extra class license. For those of you who don't know what that means, I have taken several tests to reach the highest license class. When I first started with Amateur Radio, there were five class licenses. Currently there are three: Technician, General, and Extra. Also, the FCC has changed the Morse Code requirement. I had to prove 13 wpm in Morse Code to get my General Class license. When I received my Extra class, the morse code requirement was no more.
Emergency Communication, which the buzzword of the last ten years, has been a part of Amateur radio since it became a hobby. Before computers, many young boys and some girls were involved with Amateur radio because they could design and test their transceivers. Today, these same type of boys and girls are into computers. So much for the background.
Anyway, I was looking for something that was light, mobile, and good for emergency communications. One of my friends, who is involved with an ARES club in Fallon and who provides secondary communication during emergencies and exercises, had just programmed a dual band transceiver (FT-60R) for the Sheriffs department. He was waxing eloquent on all its features, when I had an epiphany. I had been looking for this radio... I needed it...
My husband agreed with me and we bought it from HRO off the internet. This company is one of the major suppliers of amateur radio equipment. You can find them at http://www.hamradio.com/ . Also, if you look this up by model number, it will give you a list of the things this radio can do. It not only can receive and transmit on the normal Amateur radio frequencies, but you can also listen on frequencies like the weather channel.
Plus even better I tried out this transceiver at a state-wide health exercise for flu shots. My job was to connect to our state IRLP (can't explain except that this frequency has repeaters --repeats the signal-- which connects the entire state). I had to put a different antenna on the radio because the rubber ducky (original antenna) was unable to hit the first repeater. But, it worked. I was able to hear and be heard. The exercise was a success.
Now if you find this entire review goobleygook, it probably is... There is a lot of tech speak in it even though I am trying to use layspeak.
But if you want to get into Amateur radio and emergency communication, this radio is really good and not too expensive. When you are buying an HF transceiver, you can run into a lot ( a real lot) more money. Just remember that you need to get an FCC license first. It isn't too hard and you'll be glad you did.