There are a great many manufacturers of Amateur radio equipment with hundreds, or thousands, of choices in a wide array of price ranges. In an effort to assist new hams, Greater Tampa CERT, in association with the Tampa Amateur Radio Club(TARC), recommends the following radios based on actual field experiences from our members.
Entry-level hams, or Technician Class Operators as they are formally identified by the FCC, generally are limited to UHF/VHF frequencies. These frequencies are used for short to medium distance communications, perfect for emergency use. Primarily we operate on VHF frequencies (the two-meter band) in the range from 144.00 - 148.00 MHz. However, due to congestion on the two-meter band we also operate on UHF frequencies (the 70 centimeter band) in the range from 420.00 - 450.00 MHz. The ARRL has a nice color Band Plan that shows allowed frequencies for all license types.
One of the most cost effective methods to enter the world of Ham Radio is through the use of a Handi-Talkie. Remember the walkie talkies of your youth? Well, these are modern equivalent radios that operate on Ham frequencies with nominal power output of five watts. What makes these more effecitve than a walkie talkie is the use of repeaters. Repeaters around the county greatly extend the communications capabilities of the Handi-Talkie user.
Mobile radios are designed to be installed in a vehicle, with an antenna mounted outside on the roof or trunk. They are capable of much longer ranges than the standard handie talkie by virtue of higher output power (typically 30 to 50 watts) and larger antenna.