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Old 12-02-2011, 09:21 AM
mtncrsr mtncrsr is offline
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Default Hand Held Ham Suggestions

Hi guys,
I am new to the ham world. Received my license this fall and am looking for suggestions of what hand held unit to buy. I will use the device mostly while 4-wheeling, for emergency use and for communicating with friends. I don't need the world's best right out of the box but would enjoy getting something at a reasonable price with useful features. That being said your suggestion of useful features would be helpful as well.
Thanks
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Old 12-02-2011, 09:54 AM
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Do you have a mobile yet? I ask mostly in case you have a brand preference. Do you have a price point in mind?

A lot of people are running the Yaesu HTs, mostly the VX-8G/R, VX-7R, VX-6R, FT-60R. We have the VX-6 and VX-7, which we like well enough. But if I was going to get a new right now it would be one of the mid-sized commercial derived models, Yaesu FT-270, Icom IC-V80, Kenwood TH-K2AT, etc.

Features I think are important in an HT:
5W output with ability to down select to 0.5W~1W
NOAA Weather RX
Wide band RX that covers FRS/GMRS
Some level of weatherproofness and fairly rugged case (they take a beating)
Large battery (this is something I do not like about the VX-7R, not nearly enough capacity)
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Old 12-02-2011, 09:57 AM
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BTW, there is a Yaesu VX-8 on the Denver Craigslist right now for about $300. That's not a bad deal if you're looking for a top end feature-wise HT.
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Old 12-02-2011, 10:00 AM
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I do not have a unit yet as this would be my first so I have no brand loyalty. I would say $400 would be on the high end if it makes sense. That said, if $450 got a much better unit I would consider it. It would be nice to be in the $250 - $300 range.
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Old 12-02-2011, 10:09 AM
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Got it. Well, personally I would not spend that much on an HT and save the money for a mobile. HTs aren't great general purpose radios, particularly in a truck. Do you want to APRS with it ever? That would be the only reason to spend that much IMVHO.

If it was me, I'd get an Icom IC-V80 (~$150) mainly because they have nice and loud audio and a BNC antenna connector. But it only does 2m, having UHF is handy as much for FRS reception as the ability to use 70cm ham. My second choice would be a FT-270R (2m-only) or FT-60R (2/70). Both of those would also come in at about $150.
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Old 12-02-2011, 10:09 AM
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for wheeling i'd get a mobile. I use my mobile a billion times more than a handheld and has way more power. For that kind of money you could get a good 1802,1900 or 2900 mobile and ft270 or something similar if you really think you'll be using a hand held out of the truck.
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Old 12-02-2011, 10:28 AM
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My reason for desiring an HT is for flexibility. During an emergency I would rather not have to try to rip the radio out of the truck to take it on the fly. It would be nice to have the smaller unit for hunting and backpacking as well. I guess that I need to weigh the pros and cons of the HT and the mobile for use in the rig and for other purposes.
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Old 12-02-2011, 10:30 AM
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I agree with the comments above....

I'd get a decent HT but keep it cheap, then buy a mobile for the truck. you could stay under $400 and have two radios and be a lot happier. Like Wes said, the mobile in the truck is way better and easier to use than the HT. The HT is nice to have when you are walking around outside of the rig or in your house or something.

We usually leave the Mobile in the kitchen. When I'm in the garage me and Allison can chat without a phone call if she needs something since my truck has a radio in it too.

I got a VX-7R and I am just now (after 3 years of ownership) starting to use some of the features it has beyond 2m. I'd have been fine with a cheaper one personally, but now that we have it it is kinda nice.
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Old 12-02-2011, 10:34 AM
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and budget for a nice antenna for the HT, they help a lot.
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Old 12-02-2011, 10:55 AM
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I really appreciate all of the helpful suggestions. It is leading me down a different, and I think better, path. So for an HT and a mobile, what would be your top three picks in those categories? Some reasons for those selection would be most helpful too!
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