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Handheld 2m... what's your experience?

With the onset of Christmas season coming fast, I am curious about getting a no-frills 2m handheld, such as an Icom IC-V8 5.5W (or Yaesu 5W) with Comet BNC-24 and/or external antenna. I have hobbies outside of chasing that facilitate the purchase of a handheld, and I am a cheapskate.

What are your thoughts/experiences? Is it worth using a handheld in the field, or just stick with mobile setups?
The only thing you may not like about a handheld in the field is that 5W won't get you too far. Even with a great antenna you are not going to do very well in hill terrain and an area with "alot" of trees. There are a few mobile radios out there for under $150. If you're getting outside of town, you'll want more power.

You can buy a mobile amplifier that will boost your power. I have one of these for my handheld (along with a microphone) that is my backup radio, and it works great as a mobile unit this way.
I have my Yaesu FT530 dual-bander hooked up to a radio shack scanner antenna / low-power dual-band mag-mount antenna. This not only gives me a bit of gain, but makes it useable while in the vehicle. It's not really the best setup, however, since transmitting on the HT while being "bound" by 4 ft of RG58/coax in the vehicle cab isn't the easiest. That said, I also mainly use the HT for receiving, as I use my other mobile radios for transmitting.
I have a cheapo Raido Shack 75mW radio which I bought for nothing more than a radio to take into a store with me in high traffic times. I also have the mobile rig, which is used more than anything else. IN fact, the only time I used the handheld was during the blizzard of 2003 when my car was buried under 3 feet of snow (as was the rig inside), and I was able to get a couple repeaters nearby without any real problem. As most have already pointed out, their range really sucks, but again, I just have it mainly when I'm chasing and am away from the vehicle in times where I want to be in constant contact.
I only have a Alinco DJ C1 handie( Credit Card Size) with about 100mw of power. Main advantage has extended receive including the weather channels. Full repeater facilities including CCTS tones. This has been used on occasions when I wanted something unobtrusive at Ham meets.
The main portable rig is a Yaeseu FT817 great for holidays as it has full HF as well.
Otherwise I stick to the trusty FT1500 in the motor (50W) but also has WX channels.
You guys make some good points that handhelds work great for scanners at times, and can have much wider receive than some scanners. I use my handhelds for that purpose much of the time.

Mike, the FT 1500 was the first radio I bought, that thing is like a brick. Mine experiences a little intermodulation now and again, but still a good radio. Apparently they don't sell them anymore. The FT 2800 is still less than $150. It's got plenty of power and an "Alert" function that can be used with the weather channels.

Originally posted by Mike Sharp
I only have a Alinco DJ C1 handie( Credit Card Size) with about 100mw of power. Main advantage has extended receive including the weather channels.

I have one of these as well... I don't use it for chasing, but love using it to monitor WX radio and ham nets while working, using the earbud and hiding the radio in my shirt pocket.
If you enjow camping, particularly in high terrain, you'll love the HT! You'd be suprised how many other campers are hams and are in range.

Definately get a 1/4 wave aftermarket antenna, they far outperform the stock duckie. When backpacking, I use a 5/8 wave mobile antenna mounted to the pack frame with a mirror mount.
If you're really cheap, but you want the most power you can get from a handie, the ADI AT-210HP is under $100 and puts out about 5W with the battery pack, 6W with 12VDC.

I've had mine since '99. It sitll works, but it has some quirks from the treatment it has received.
If you want a handheld, get an ADI AT-600. They are not easy to get your hands on and very in price range, however you won't be disappointed. At $127 (some charge more, try to find the good prices) you will definitely get more than what you will pay for. Most used ADI AT-201 models or higher (depending on your frequency preferences) will go a long way.

Unless there is a vast shortage of em, LOL, you won't see me with any other brand.