Moving beyond the one-way “here’s my position trackers” are the APRS-ready HTs.  I think they really shine for hiking and stuff.

Kenwood TH-D7A
Kenwood made the TH-D7A for years.  At the urging of my Elmer (“it’s the only walkie-talkie you’ll ever buy” he promised) I got one of these the evening before I sat for my Tech exam.  I used that radio for years.

1) You could send short messages from the keypad (this was a little more impressive before cell phone text messages were so common).

2) You could wire a GPS receiver to it and update position.

3) You could get distance and heading to other users and see their distance and heading (which was handy for chasing weather balloons… another story)

4) I did APRS through the PCSAT and ISS digipeaters with just the radio and an Arrow Antenna for my friends in Stillwater.

5) I had a serial cable that let me run a “moving map” sort of display with my Palm III. (That was a while back, but I found those Palm pilots the other day.)

Those radios have been discontinued for about a year now.  You should be able to find some on eBay.

I just traded up to a  Kenwood TH-D72


Which has some newer firmware that I don’t see as life-changing but it does contain an integrated GPS with waypoints and the basics to navigate.  That’s one less thing to have on a belt or have sliding around the dashboard.

Yaesu makes multiple models of the VX-8 with APRS capability.


Similarly, Kenwood and Yaesu offer mobile rigs with the about the same  feature set as their handheld cousins, the Kenwood D700


and the Yaesu FTM-350R


But what you might need is already in your smartphone… more later.


Scott / KD5NJR