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CO Hunter
05-27-2010, 08:35 PM
New to HAM, technician license posted today :D, and new to the forum, though I've been on MUD and in Colorado Land Cruisers in the Springs under CO_Hunter. Looking for a radio, been reading lots here and other places. My motivation for HAM was mainly the time I spend in remote places (on foot) so I think an HT is in order. I've narrowed it down the Yaesu FT60r, VX-7 and Kenwood TH-F6a, I have a line on used VX-5 for 150, but for the price I think the others may be worth it.

They each have ups and downs, including price but I don't want to out grow it soon either, I'm leaning FT60r.

My main features are dual band, dual receive would be nice, the FT60r has EAI which seems like a good feature considering my motivation for buying one.

AA battery option for full power trnsmit seems like a big plus.

How important is a squelch dial vs. digital squelch, I have read complaints on that.

APRS (I have a Delorme PN30) would be nice, it is a maybe for the future so would I need a TNC and laptop?

I recognize a new antenna would likely needed, one for HT then magmount or other for vehicle. So are all the other bells whistles on the other 2 radios worth the extra money?

Are the other radios better for use with a vehicle or home amplifier?

For home use are there external antenna options that would be better than a basic whip? I live in South Springs and would rather use simplex for practicing rather than repeater all the time.

I may turn a wheeling trip up Rampart area into a trip to HRO this Sat. I wish our club was as active in HAM as you guys. Sorry if some of the questions are pretty elementary and repeating. Some of the posts were several years old and I was hoping for some up to date info. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

wesintl
05-27-2010, 08:52 PM
congrats!
you will probably like the extra features of the 7r over the ft60. both will put out 5w.

I used an HT in the vehicle for trail runs and I didn't like it at all. Unless you add and external speaker and external antenna to make it easier. Still, you're only on 5w. One of the beauty's of hams is putting out 50+ watts to really reach out. Trying to see how far you can get 5w out can sometimes be fun but HT's are limiting. I would buy a nice mobile radio first if you are wheelin then an HT or buy a mid mobile and mid ht.

corsair23
05-28-2010, 01:29 AM
I agree with Wes for the most part...

I used a VX7R for a year + as both my mobile rig and my HT. I ran coax (the thin stuff) up to the front from a rear mounted antenna and would connect up the HT there...I used the external mic/speaker combo (Yaesu MH-57A4B) and found it to work just fine. The biggest issue was the limited reach with just the 5W max that the HT puts out. It was GREAT for trail runs, but around town or on the way to the trail I just couldn't reach as far as I wanted to...

Now I'm running a FT8800 as my mobile rig and I love it.

Sounds like you "need" a HT for when you are out on foot so buying a HT won't be wasting money should you discover that the HT just isn't cutting it for when you are in your Cruiser and decide to upgrade to a true mobile rig later like I did. About the only extra (i.e. wasted) cost might be the coax run from your antenna to the HT depending on your setup. I have the Diamond K400CNMO mount on the rear hatch and used the 10' Diamond C110SMA extension to reach the front. The nice thing on this was that both the mount and the extension are the thin RG316 coax so I didn't have to futz with any adapters/connectors...Plug the K400CNMO coax into the C110SMA extension and then that extension plugged directly into my VX7R.

The bonus of upgrading to a true mobile rig later and still having the HT is that you could set up the mobile rig to be a repeater when you are out on foot and that would extend your reach with the HT by a lot (as long as you could hit the truck from where you were).

As for what HT to get...I've only ever used the VX7R and it has been great. I think they are all really comparable so figure out what features you really need to have and buy one that offers those features.

CO Hunter
05-28-2010, 05:18 PM
Thanks for the feedback guys. I realize by purchasing only one radio there will be compromises. I just can't justify getting HT, mobile and base right off the bat. Has anyone tried using an HT at home with an amp an antenna more suited for a base e.g., J pole? Passing the test almost seems like the easy part as compared to shopping and setting up a rig.

DaveInDenver
05-28-2010, 05:47 PM
As an all around radio your best money is a mobile. By the time you get an HT, amp and all that you will have spent lots more than a solid 50W FM mobile. If you are looking at the VX-7 class HT just get an FT-8800R. Unless you really plan to operate while backpacking there is nothing that the HT will do better and the mobile will sound better, be more sensitive receiving, easier to operate. The dual VFOs and all the features of the higher end HTs are really not nearly as useful as they are in a mobile. I would get the VX-60 or the VX-5 if the prices are right but save money for the mobile, which really IMO makes a difference whether or not ham clicks with you or not.

CO Hunter
05-28-2010, 07:15 PM
I'm seeing the consensus forming here and I do appreciate you guys speaking from your experiences. As I said the motivation was that I'm in remote places on foot, and cell phones just don't cut it for emergency communication. I guess the presumption is if something happened I could get back to the rig. The 7800 and 8800 were ones that I was looking at during my research when I started to lean away from mobile but I don't want to short change myself with the HAM experience, well not too much any way. Dave when you wrote VX- 60 did you mean FT-60 or VX-6?

I will be going to HRO tomorrow to handle some of these radios. Hmm...:confused:

DaveInDenver
05-28-2010, 09:05 PM
Yes, my mistake, meant FT-60R. I was thinking 2m/70cm HT with one VFO, be that the FT-60R, VX-5R, etc.

Don't misunderstand, I do think HTs are very useful but I think the mobile is more versatile to start with as you can operate in the truck, at home and camping. But they are hard to take on a 14'er and what-not, no argument.

My point is only not to spend a ton of money on an HT if it's your first and really don't spend a ton of money on your first radio period. Most people tend to get a borrowed radio or trade up quickly until they find the right radio for them.

jacdaw
05-28-2010, 11:48 PM
Congrats on getting your ticket Leon, and welcome to RS. I have an FT-60 that I never use. It's my glove-box "if all else fails backup" radio. I have three antennas for it and a drop-in charger, plus a AA battery case and a speaker mic. If you'd like to borrow it for a few weeks to see if it is really enough radio for you, I'd be happy to loan it to you.

I think you'll find that you'll want a mobile rig with 50w tho. ;)

corsair23
05-29-2010, 12:55 AM
Thanks for the feedback guys. I realize by purchasing only one radio there will be compromises. I just can't justify getting HT, mobile and base right off the bat. Has anyone tried using an HT at home with an amp an antenna more suited for a base e.g., J pole? Passing the test almost seems like the easy part as compared to shopping and setting up a rig.

Not sure you need all 3 right off the bat, that is for sure. Unless of course you're planning to sit at home in your tighty whities and do a lot of rag chewing :hill:

Maybe Hulk will chime in but I know he installed an external antenna that he can connect up to his HT at home...Not sure how well that worked out in the end :confused:. I can easily hit the repeater up here in Denver from Littleton with my HT.

You can make a super cheap antenna J-Pole antenna out of some twin lead and misc parts that supposedly works excellent (haven't finished building mine yet :o) - LINK (http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/forum2/showthread.php?t=6295)

I guess a lot depends on what in the end getting your license will be used more for...Sitting at home rag chewing, contacting far off places around the world, calling for help from the top of a 14er, trail communications, ??

I was perfectly happy with my HT for everything except communication while driving on the road...It is way :cool: to be able to hit the CO Connection repeaters and chat with someone in Grand Junction while sitting in Littleton. The HT just didn't have the power to do that reliably. Having a HT with you in the back country won't guarantee you'll be able to reach someone in an emergency with it either though...But assuming you can make it back to the truck with the mobile rig in case of an emergency might be a mistake as well...

Dave offers good advice that if $$ is an object, you don't have to buy the fanciest stuff to start. If you've done some searching you've probably figured out that HAM equipment tends to hold its value pretty good.

CO Hunter
05-29-2010, 10:13 PM
Congrats on getting your ticket Leon, .... If you'd like to borrow it for a few weeks to see if it is really enough radio for you, I'd be happy to loan it to you.

I think you'll find that you'll want a mobile rig with 50w tho. ;)

John, thanks and what a great offer! I may take you up on that sometime. I went to HRO this afternoon and looked at the HT's I mentioned as well as the 7900 and 8800. Not a big store, but loaded with cool!. So after much discussion with the helpful guys there that reiterated much of was said here, I got the 7900 (price included detachable kit). Tough decision for sure between mobile and HT then between the 7900 and 8800. Just couldn't justify the price up to the 8800.

Not sure you need all 3 right off the bat, that is for sure. Unless of course you're planning to sit at home in your tighty whities and do a lot of rag chewing :hill:

Having a HT with you in the back country won't guarantee you'll be able to reach someone in an emergency with it either though...But assuming you can make it back to the truck with the mobile rig in case of an emergency might be a mistake as well...

Hey, who told you what I was planning!

But you're right I had to balance all the tradeoff's of possible scenario's in and out of the truck. Doesn't mean I won't eventually get an HT.


My point is only not to spend a ton of money on an HT if it's your first and really don't spend a ton of money on your first radio period.

Seems that using 8800 as repeater may work in some but not most of my circumstances, due to same issues of hitting any repeater, so that was part of the decision for 7900 and it still seems pretty versatile.

Hopefully, I didn't over spend seems like this was a good compromise. I really didn't intend to buy today but the special with the detach kit tipped it.

I really appreciate all the candid discussion, it really did help. So I'll be reading the manual of the next few days figuring out how to program and will probably get the software kit eventually.

Hopefully I'll be able to go out on the trail with you guys sometime. I poked around the site a bit and didn't see where you have a yearly run schedule.:cheers:

73's

jacdaw
05-29-2010, 10:38 PM
go here (http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/forum2/forumdisplay.php?f=11)for what we're planning.:thumb:

and go here (http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/forum2/forumdisplay.php?f=4)for trip reports to whet your appetite.:D

Sadly, the only entries in the website calendar that are populated by the server are registrants' birthdays. In my experience, runs have not made it onto the calendar.

What antenna/mount did you go with? Where did you put it?

CO Hunter
05-30-2010, 09:55 AM
Thanks for the links. I had seen those pages but I was looking for something kind of like we do, where monthly trips are planned in advance and then people will post up impromptu runs. The challenge would be figuring out which trips you ham guys will be going on.

As for the antenna, didn't get one yet. Figured I'd set the radio on the mantle and stare at the radio for a while. Just kidding, a friend has offered up a 2m magmount so I can at least try the 2m band while I mull over antenna options. Deciding on a radio was hard enough yesterday. I'll be up in Denver again next weekend, daughter has lacrosse jamboree up there so I can swing by HRO and get an antenna then.

Mobile antennas is one area I have not spent much time researching too much, not yet anyway. corsair23, is the rear hatch the preferred mount location on a 80 series?

I do see a homebrew J pole in my not too distant future.:D

nakman
05-30-2010, 11:01 AM
little late to the party here, but congrats on the ticket and the 7900, great choice! Don't worry if you change your mind later, you can always sell later and recover 75-80%.. these ham things are better than Toyotas for resale value. But my radio recommendation would have been, and still is, get as many radios as possible :)

For mounting to the 80, I've run it mounted to the edge of the hood, edge of the rear hatch, and I'm about to move it to the front fender, using one of these mounts: http://www.gamiviti.com/html/products_antennamounts.html Not really trying to sell a mount here (currently out of stock anyway) but I'll share my experiences. On the hood mount was the wire was moved a lot, and the clearance was too small between the hood and the fender, resulting in the coax crimping and shorting out after about 2 years. On the rear hatch, there's a lot more clearance between the sheet metal, so crimping is less of a concern. But I have to remove the antenna to get the 80 in the garage, which is a pain, plus it's vulnerable to branches up there so I'm often switching antennas depending on terrain. The big antennas (liker Comet SBB5) work a lot better on the highway at getting those repeaters and other travelers than the little stubby whips (likre Comet SBB1). So I'm back to the front fender, this time mounted to the fender instead of the hood so the coax never has to move, and hopefully won't crimp.

For true performance, I'd rank order your antenna locations as smack dab in the center of the roof, top of rear hatch, edge of hood, front bumper, then rear bumper, from best to worst. Then factor in if you have any vertical clearance concerns and go from there. hth! :beer:

chtucker
05-30-2010, 11:16 AM
Only comment that I have is that I would typically drill a hole in the roof.... But I am not willing to take down the glued on headliner on my 1994... I think the 95+ has a more traditional clip/screw set up... with the proper hole saw its a breeze.... (one that has a stop on it to keep you out of the headliner)

DaveInDenver
05-30-2010, 06:16 PM
Hopefully, I didn't over spend seems like this was a good compromise.
Nah, you got a nice middle of the road radio. Pretty sure that (and it's cousin the previous FT-7800) is the first new radio for probably 75% of the club. You don't give up anything performance-wise to the FT-8800R, gain a couple of nice things, lose the dual VFO and dual tuner. If the choice is 1 x FT8800 or 1 x FT-7900 and a used (or even new) HT sooner then there is no comparison IMVHO.

I agree with Howard, drill the hole and be done with it. It's like ripping off a bandaid, just gotta grimace and do it. FWIW I run a Larsen NMO 2/70 dual band antenna and am very happy with it. But honestly for 2m and 70cm there are tons of fine choices, look for one that is around 3~4dBi of gain and has what seems well made.

If you don't want to drill the hole, then the next best option are the edge mounts with set screws. They bite into the paint a bit and can generally give you a decent enough ground coupling. Mag mounts in my view are not great unless you really don't have another option. They scratch paint and fall off and perform worse than better ways of mounting.

chtucker
05-30-2010, 06:30 PM
Any of these work, http://www.tessco.com/products/displayProducts.do?groupId=365&subgroupId=20

If you buy the larsen dual band antenna, the rod is thin enough to bend to get 100% vertical if you mount it on an odd surface.

CO Hunter
05-30-2010, 09:15 PM
.. but congrats on the ticket and the 7900, great choice!

Thanks, I got the transceiver mounted today, driver side kick panel area, tucked up and out of the way. Plus I can remove it fairly easily for indoor use. Went ahead and did the CDL and 7-pin mod since I was in there anyway.

.. I think the 95+ has a more traditional clip/screw set up...

I'll have to check into that, never even looked at it.

If the choice is 1 x FT8800 or 1 x FT-7900 and a used (or even new) HT sooner then there is no comparison IMVHO.


That was kind of what I was thinking, but down the road a bit.

On to mount locations. I am definitely not opposed to drilling holes. The challenge I have is I put things on the roof, Yakima rocket box, canoe, half width rack. My best option on roof would be right (passenger) rear. The PO put a satellite radio antenna there but I haven't looked at it closely. A concern on roof mount is also antenna height, so as Nakman suggested two antennas is an option there. The guys at HRO mentioned that as well, the top of the roof is pretty high as is. I kind of like the idea of the fender mount Nakman has as well but is getting 50w in the face a good idea :eek:, yes newbie question? Then there is mounting in back, not on hatch itself but body, similar to fender mount.

CO Hunter
05-31-2010, 03:58 PM
OK so after more reading I'm looking at the right rear roof, someone on here had done that and I have existing holes from the removal of the factory rack. The satellite radio pod was a strong little magnet. Any advice on the best way to route the antenna wire to the front drivers side?

Update: Going for the center of the roof and will use mag mount or glass antenna and pigtail when hauling stuff on the roof.

corsair23
06-01-2010, 12:39 AM
OK so after more reading I'm looking at the right rear roof, someone on here had done that and I have existing holes from the removal of the factory rack. The satellite radio pod was a strong little magnet. Any advice on the best way to route the antenna wire to the front drivers side?

Update: Going for the center of the roof and will use mag mount or glass antenna and pigtail when hauling stuff on the roof.

The channels down by the doors make great raceways for wires and such...Hidden under the door jam panels etc. out of harms way. My FT-8800 is located in the PS rear compartment (attached to a FZJ80 subwoofer bracket I picked up from a guy on MUD) and my faceplate is in the front just under where the ashtray would be (but where my CB is). I ran the cable from the separation kit from the transceiver in the PS rear all the way to the front in the channel down the passenger side.

You could run your antenna cable the same way, but up the DS I'm thinking. Or if you're drilling a hole through the roof then you could run it across the headliner and then down the B or C pillar and then up to the front.

rhyary
06-02-2010, 11:06 AM
I just changed my HRO order from HT to mobile after reading this thread.

Thanks everyone.

Rami

CO Hunter
06-04-2010, 10:22 PM
Okay, so I figured I should give this thread some closure. I mounted the Larsen 2/70 (open coil) on the roof, routed down the C pillar, along sill plate to the radio above the drivers kick panel. The face plate got mounted in din 2 below the stero head unit, extra cable stowed behind the face plate. For the speaker I ordered a 4 inch 8 ohm speaker and utilized the stock front sub woofer box (works surprising well for a $4 speaker :thumb:). I haven't done my secondary fender mount yet, HRO shipped those from Atlanta. I'm hoping the left over coax from this install will be enough for my second mount. So thanks again you guys helped a lot. I found a lot of good discussion on other threads as well and appreciate the extra time Dave (in Denver) takes to answer all the questions he does. Here are a few pics...

19182
Glory hole
19184
Antenna (Larsen 2/70)
19183
C pillar routing
19186
FT-7900
19185
Speaker location (did not use any crimp connectors)

CO Hunter
06-04-2010, 10:24 PM
More pics

19187
Dash
19188
Night dash

chtucker
06-04-2010, 10:56 PM
awesome first install!!! You want to come help me do a 100 or so CDOT trucks :)

DaveInDenver
06-04-2010, 11:03 PM
Nice job!

Obviously better than my first NMO hole, which while I knew enough not to poke the drill through the headliner I did not think it through enough. The metal sheet metal doughnut that you drill out has to go some place and if it does not stick in the hole saw it will fall via gravity down.

No biggie since I was close enough to reach it through the dome light, I thought. Well, except that the chunk was hot, you know, from the drilling. Oh and the headliner in a Hilux is more plastic-like than cloth-like. So good thing is that it did not get stuck up there after all. But it melted a half moon exit slot for itself. :doh:

Second hole went much better since I slid a piece of cardboard in there and wouldn't you know it if the slug stayed in the drill like it was supposed to!