be sure to buy the programming cable... doing it on the fly with these cheap Chinese radios sucks really bad.
you're almost better off buying a 888 instead. that way you can't screw something up because you're not licensed and have no idea what these settings mean or do. even then you still have to know what you're doing even just a little bit.
Programming this radio manually is quite easy, really. This website explains it all very well. Read it once. Read it a second time with the radio in your hand, but not programming it---just locate the buttons, etc., and then read it a third time, following the instructions, programming as you read. After you program several frequencies, you can do this in your sleep. It's easy.
As far as getting your Technician license... that is quite easy, too. This website is a great way to study, and they garuntee you pass your exams, or your money back. I think it cost me about $25.00 or so for each license level:
It took me about a week of casual study, like an hour a day, to be able to pass the Technician exam. EASY. Mostly, it's about rules and regs. I studied for another week, about an hour a day, and got my General license. That test was difficult, but study well for a week and you're good to go. And then I studied for about a month to get my Extra license, but had to study about two hours a day... that test was TOUGH.
I had this Baofeng radio, and gave it to a friend that did not have a hand-held. Wish I had kept it, but I have other radios. For the money, it's an excellent radio that will get the job done. You'll REALLY need the aftermarket 14.5 inch antenna... the rubber duck it comes with is just beyond useless, but will work for short distances. The aftermarket antenna will greatly increase transmit/receive distances.
I have two of these antennas, and highly recommend them. If you're out camping, take a little 4-lb test fishing line, tie one end to a rock or stick (fishing line will break easily so you don't get the antenna stuck on a limb of a tree), and the other end to the end of this antenna. You will be amazed at the range this antenna will give you, even on 4-watts, which is what the Baofeng will give you. I use this antenna for my home unit (Yaesu FT-8899) and even living in the mountains, I can hit repeaters in Colorado Springs AND Denver, and others, too. Amazing!
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