TYT TH-9000

One of the main reasons my wife and I got our ham licenses was so we could have reliable communication when we went off-road jeeping. My father-in-law Joe is also a jeeper and amateur radio operator, but since Brianna and I weren’t at the time, we resorted to using CB radios which provided rather poor performance while on the trail.

Since getting our call signs we’ve been using our handhelds but I wanted to get something specifically for the jeep with a little more power then the 5 watts our Baofengs could put out. Since I was looking for a radio for the Jeep, I was looking for a few specific factors.

First, I needed it to be cheap. Our jeep is over 20 years old and is built-up for off-roading. This means it doesn’t have simple features like locking doors, windows, an alarm, etc… If someone wants to steal something from inside the jeep, it can easily be done. I didn’t want to put a $700 radio in it and have to worry every time I took my eyes off it.

Second, I needed it to be kinda durable. On the trails, the jeep gets very dirty both inside and out. I wanted something that could get a little dust on it without ruining it.

Third, I wanted it to have some decent power. 50 or more watts was preferred. I didn’t want to have to rely on a repeater to make contact at a few miles while on the trail. (I know elevation plays the biggest factor in this, but I wanted all the help I could get).

I wasn’t sure I’d be able to find a cheap, durable, powerful radio. Was I searching for the unicorn of radios?

After looking at all the big brands, ICOM, Kenwood, Yaesu, and at their big price tags, I had almost given up hope…

Then I came across the TYT TH-9000 2M 60 watt mobile radio. As with anything I’m thinking of buying, I started  to do my research. Reviews on Amazon had it at 4.3 out of 5 stars… and it was only $169 with free prime shipping. It looked extremely durable and could put out 60 watts…

I’d never heard of the brand, so I wasn’t convinced it would suit all my needs. I started looking up video reviews and noticed in many of them people said they’d purchased their radios from $120 to $140. After digging around I was able to find an online shop that had them in stock for $130. With a little luck I also snagged a $10 discount to bring it down to $120. At that price point I figured I could roll the dice and give the radio a shot.

I’m a big fan of Amazon Prime and as such I’ve become a bit spoiled with free 2-day shipping. It took a little over a week for the radio to arrive but it was worth the wait. The overall build quality of the radio is very good and has all the basic features I need. Everyone on the receiving end has given me excellent reports of my audio quality and the built in speaker sounds both full and loud. Did I mention it also came with a programming cable in the box?

The only downside is CHIRP doesn’t support the radio so I had to use the supplied programming software which isn’t as good… but it’s something I can live with for being so inexpensive. With that being said, all the buttons on the head unit are fully programmable so you can customize them however you’d like.

If you can score the radio for a excellent price like I did, and all you need is a single band 2 meter radio, I would highly recommend grabbing it. However, if you’re picking it up closer to the $200 range, there are other radios around that price that I would also consider before purchasing. It would all come down to your specific needs and the features you’re after.

Tram 1185 Mag Mount

It’s a question I clearly remember from the technician exam, “What is a good reason not to use a “rubber duck” antenna inside your car?”, the answer being “Signals can be significantly weaker than when it is outside of the vehicle”.

It makes perfect sense, you’re in a big metal box, of course it’s not going to work as well. I’m still researching mobile radios for my car and as such I’m still using my handheld Baofeng radio. However, like the question suggests… the stock rubber antenna doesn’t work that great when you’re driving around. To solve the problem I started looking for an antenna I could mount to my car. I’m currently leasing an FRS so anything permanent wasn’t really an option for me. The easiest solution was to opt for a magnetic mounted antenna.

It worked out quite nice since I have it sitting on my trunk, feeding in through the trunk lid at the top, and then running into the front of the car. Since the backseat lays down and provides easy access to the trunk it was a breeze to run the feed-line and tuck everything neatly away.

I bought a Tram 1185 Amateur Dual-Band Magnet Antenna, which connects to a radio via a PL-259 connector. However I planned on using this with my Baofeng UV-5R which uses a Female SMA connector. To solve this, in addition to the antenna, I also purchased a SMA Female to UHF Female RF Adapter. This solved that issue but then presented a new problem. While everything connected together fine and was working great; there was about a half inch exposed gap at the antenna connection point.

From my ham study questions, I know moisture can be a big factor in poor radio performance. So I wanted to seal the gap but still be able to easily remove everything to use the stock antenna.

Off to the hardware store I went! After a few minutes and a little trial and error, we found a pack of two rubber orings that fit perfectly around the inner edge of the adapter. When stacked on top of each other they completely sealed the gap with a nice snug fit. A dab of glue to hold the two of them together, they now sit on the adapter in the car for easy use.

Baofeng Adapter Gap  Orings  No gap  Box