Congratulations on your tech class and welcome to the hobby! First off, the Yaesu FT-60R is a very good choice, although i do not own one, i have used the radio extensively and can honestly say that every new technician that is interested in working local VHF and UHF should own one. It is a solid built radio with intuitive controls and a very rugged appearence. I jhave seen these radios get used, abused and dropped in a pool and they keep on working. As far as specs go, the receiver on the FT-60R is adequate; it boasts a low noise floor without not too much hiss while still maintaining good sensitivity. The transmit audio isnt anything special but it gets the job done, and the range with the stock rubber duck is about 3-5 miles (up to 8 or 9 miles if your in a good location) so you wont have to worry too much about not greaching the repeaters in your area. As far as an antenna goes, the Smiley seems to be a decent antenna from the reviews i have read and the research I have done (unfortunately I do not own one) but if you are looking for reliable, tough, and effective HT antennas, i would look into the company "Diamond". http://www.rfparts.com/diamond/rh519.html Here is a link toan antenna on the diamond site, its a dual bander HT antenna that I have used with the Yaesu FT-60R. As i said before, you only get about 9 miles tops with the stock rubber duck (and even thats a stretch) but with the RH519 (the antenna in the link) I got about 10 miles from on top of small hill (about 40 feet over the surrounding terrain) and I got good audio and very good signal reports from a repeater 17 miles away (i was on top of a weather observatory about 110 feet taller than anything else within a half mile radius). Of course the final decision is yours, but i definitely would suggest looking at a few different dual-band antennas on the Diamond website before making a decision.