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-   -   Newbie radio question (http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/forum2/showthread.php?t=13159)

CO Hunter 05-27-2010 07:35 PM

Newbie HAM radio question
 
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 07:52 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 12:29 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 04:18 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 04:47 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 06:15 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 08:05 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 10:48 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 05-28-2010 11:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CO Hunter (Post 151013)
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

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 09:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 80lolux4x4 (Post 151038)
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.

Quote:

Originally Posted by corsair23 (Post 151042)
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.

Quote:

Originally Posted by DaveInDenver (Post 151030)
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


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