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ham radio

Discussion in 'Electronic Devices' started by CaptainBob, Dec 16, 2010.

  1. CaptainBob

    CaptainBob Empty Pockets

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    Are there any ham radio folks here?

    I'm studying for my Technician cert and have questions, questions and more questions.

    I am shopping around for an HT style radio or a vehicle mounted mobile radio but have become overwhelmed by all of the choices out in the WWW.

    Any thoughts would be appreciated!
     
  2. DaPro

    DaPro Loaded Pockets

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    I used to be, my dad was big time into it, I let my no code tech expire in 2006.....really hate myself for that, but I never used it.

    I still have a yaesu ft-5100 2m/440 I think....just collecting dust in my shop, but I hate to get rid of it since they are still desirable.

    Call Sign was KC5VQX, and my dad was KC5LAH
     
  3. ObiHann

    ObiHann Loaded Pockets

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    Head over to readioreference.com they will answer all your questions, tons of local boards, as well as topic specific boards.
     
  4. Synaptic Misfire
    • In Omnia Paratus

    Synaptic Misfire Loaded Pockets

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    I am. I use a Yaesu FT-270R for my HT. Still shopping for a mobile rig.
     
  5. NoQuarter

    NoQuarter Loaded Pockets

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    I have an older Yaesu vx5r tri-band 2m/440/6m I sometimes edc simply becase of it's size, it screams "edc".
     
  6. tower
    • In Omnia Paratus

    tower Loaded Pockets

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    In Yaesu, I had the FT-8500 (with potato mic) in the Tahoe. Handheld, I have a pair of FT-50R's and a VX-5. I also have 3 handheld commercial Motorolas. I have always found good value and lots of features for the money with Yaesu. The 2 16-Channel Bearcom Motorolas are the ones I use the most, but they are not readily user programmable.
     
  7. greyhound352

    greyhound352 Loaded Pockets

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    Good luck on the exam. I have a Yaesu FT-60 for my HT.

    Here is a link that has tons of reviews of varies radio equipment. http://www.eham.net/reviews/
     
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  8. Skipperbrown

    Skipperbrown Loaded Pockets

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    Follow the link greyhound gave you. Ham radio is great but there are so few hams now that cell phones have gotten much more reliable. That said, during the last hurricane here, ham radio was the only way to communicate. My little ham net of local guys has all but vanished. You might try a HT unit and add a hand mic and put a car antenna in your vehicle. With 5 watts and a decent antenna, you should be able to hit most of your local repeaters. If you are budget constrained, just get a 2m HT. Then you can start looking around for a 50w 2m on the cheap for your vehicle. I have a 2m 50w Icom that I had in my boat I am trying to get rid of but the case shows considerable evidence of salt spray so I'd be hesitant to offer it to you without you closely examining it. Good deals are out there. Good luck with your license.
     
  9. CaptainBob

    CaptainBob Empty Pockets

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    Thanks gents,

    I have been looking at various radios, one that caught my eye is the Yaesu VX 8R.

    I am also looking closely at Icom or Kenwood for mobile vehicle radios.

    I appreciate the input thus far from all of you, the links have been most helpful as well.
     
  10. G.T.

    G.T. Loaded Pockets

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    May want to consider an Icom 706 series for your mobile setup.

    CaptainBob, congrats on your desire to get your technicians ticket.
     
  11. Fird

    Fird Loaded Pockets

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    I use all Yaesu handhelds myself, VX-150 (an older model) and the ever popular FT-60, it's just a great little radio, could probably hit it with a truck and it'd survive. I would REALLY REALLY encourage you to pick up a good mobile unit as your first radio, why? Because the hams invented the phrase "can you hear me now?" loooooooong before a cleaver cellphone company used it. Handheld radios with their limited power and antennas are going to make it feel like the whole world of radio is so.. limited. Granted, I use my handheld on a regular basis, and I love it, just make sure to remember that there's so much more to be offered with a lil more antenna and a lil more power.

    Good luck with the tech test!
     
  12. HOMELAND SECURITY HAM

    HOMELAND SECURITY HAM Loaded Pockets

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    Hi CaptainBob,

    Be careful with your choice of radios I don't want to tell you what to buy, but, unless you are a really technicial person you will want to throw the VX-8R away real fast and never use it. Call Ham Radio Outlet, and Ammatuer Electronics Supply (they are on the web) and talk to their salesman. Ask them which radios are simple to field program and use. You do not want a radio that is not user friendly. I have 2 Yeasu mobiles 1 is always screwing up whenever I accidentally touch a wrong button I need the manual, the other is sitting on my wall unit, it is in like new condition, but I am not technicial enough to enjoy it and I have been a ham for about 18 years. If you touch the wrong button it is in la-la land and you need the manual just to get it back where you had it in the first place.

    I have a Yeasu VX-7R it is almost great but it is complex and I never want the VX-8R I would need to walk around with the Manual and could not read the book and program it in the car while driving or while out in the rain, and with the manual it is a nightmare.

    Most of the radios you will find are not easy to field program, They take a loooooond time on some of them just to add a frequency and then imput the tones and then select a channel location and then get it to imput. Also some of the manuals stink and are hard to understand and are difficult to figure out at best. Forget about anything with GPS or other esoteric features. Programminng GPS on a ham radio is not like on a Garman, Magellan or Tom Tom these are ham radios not GPS units and you will be cursing at the radio and losing interest in it real fast.

    My base radio is a dual band Icom mobile. My favorite HT is a County issue Motorola 2 meter radio. It is simple, it will never lose its programming it is seriously weather resistent and if you ever drop it, I'm sure it would still work perfectly. Be very careful as over technicial radios are the reason that a lot of hams give up their licenses and never pick up their radios. Most of the quality radios that are available today have programming software available for them so you do not have to field programme the radio from the keypad, but that does not make the radio user friendly.

    BY THE WAY, believe it or not, you already have a ham radio. While you are studying for your license download ECHO LINK into your computer. After You Install it, you just click on any location in the world first by country Germany , Israel or United States for example, then there is a drop down for the area, like if you chose United States all the states would drop down. Click on the state and all the repeaters in the state will come up and click on the area you want to talk to. Your computer speakers become the radio speaker, the push to talk bar is the space bar on your key board and you just plug in a usb microphone to talk (when youget your license). The other day I talked to a station in Long Island New York and to some guy driving around in Tel Aviv Israel from my computer (I am in Florida).

    There is a system Called IRLP (International Registration Licensing Programme) You can do the same communications with the touch tone pad on a walkee talkee that I just described with ECHO LINK. You just say your call sign accessing IRLP node number 1234 (for example) press those numbers on your key pad and you would be connected to that area of the world. When you are done with the conversation say you call sign dropping the link and hit the # sign.

    Most of the good repeater systems in the world all have computers hooked up to them and it gives them world wide access. HAM Radio is also fantastic in emergencies. When nobody else can get through the HAMS do. Frequently durring disasters there are HAMS in all the dispatch centers, Emergency Operations Centers, police cars, fire trucks and ambulances taking over emergency communications giving assistance to the agencies. There are federal programs you are licensed to get involved with like ARES Amature Radio Emergency Service, and RACES Radio Amature Communications Emergency Services, both of these are linked to assist all emergency services up to and including CD Civil Defense (Homeland Security).

    Most EOC's Emergency Operations Centers and CDC's Central Dispatching Centers either have HAM Radios in them for a HAM operator to man in an emergency or the space dedicated for a HAM radio station in them. I know one city that told me that in order to get authorazation to put up their 330 foot tower, they had to place an antenna perch at 100 feet for a RACES station on it or the FCC Federal Communicatioons Commisssion would not allow the tower to be errected. The tower is up, the perch is on the tower, but there is still no no HAM equipment at that agency.

    It is a great hobby. Also look up the ARRL American Radio Relay League, they are a great source of information. The ARRL is dedicated to ammatuer radio.

    Good luck with your selection for a radio.

    Cliff
     
  13. Vulcan

    Vulcan Loaded Pockets

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    I am also a Ham. I have had good luck with my Yaesu VR5 but I have to agree with some of the other posters....the radio is very complicated with most buttons doing triple duty. You really need the software on your computer to program the radio with the repeater settings. Once it is set up you are good to go.
     
  14. greyhound352

    greyhound352 Loaded Pockets

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    The local clubs are a great source of info and help on programming your radio. Most clubs also have weekly or daily nets where the hams can check in and practice getting use to the radio.

    Here is another link to find a local radio club in your area. http://www.hamdepot.com/
     
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  15. BillMPL

    BillMPL Loaded Pockets

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    I'm a no-code Tech, N9XEW. I used to have a full Kenwood rig, but it just wasn't getting used. I sold everything but my Kenwood dual band handheld which I'll keep for emergencies.
    I think the internet killed ham radios.
     
  16. Finnigan

    Finnigan Loaded Pockets

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    Another ham here. I have a couple mobile rigs and a handheld. I use the mobile rig most days talking on local repeaters during commutes or traffic nets. I use the handheld mostly at home to hit my clubs repeater. I have not bought a new rig yet.

    Mobile rigs:

    Icom IC-V8000: 2m. It is a nice sturdy rig. I traded an old paintball gun (value ~$80. a good deal) for it used. I was going to sell it, but my Wife has expressed an interest so it is in a drawer waiting.

    Icom IC-2700H: 2m/70cm. I LOVED this rig!!! It is a "true" dual bander. It was given to me by a club member with a bad microphone (had a strange IR remote mic). I wired a Motorola mic and used it mobile. You could monitor both bands at the same time, and control both volume and squelch for both bands independently. It also gave visual graphs for all of those settings at the same time on the face which was nice. Unfortunately age and abuse caught up with it and the faceplate (detachable) started acting wacky. A friend from the club took it to see if he could repair it in his spare time. I melt solder, but He is a technician by trade and it is all surface mount stuff; beyond me.

    Yaesu FT-1500M: 2m. My current mobile rig, also given to me by a club member. It is a nice little rig and more compact than the Icom IC-V8000. This is my current mobile rig. The only thing I do not like about this rig really is the lack of a knob for squelch. You set the level of squelch in the menus and it is not easy to change on the fly. Sometimes you drive past a noise source that blasts through your squelch. I personally like to tweak the squelch often, but I've learned to live with it because otherwise it is a nice little rig and fits well in the tray in the dash of my Toyota.


    SGC SG-2020 ADSP2: 10m-160m CW & SSB. I liked this little rig as well. It was used a bit mobile and at home, but I really didn't get to use it much. I live in a small apartment with the family and can't leave a station set up, so whenever I wanted to play radio I would have to set it up and tear it down. I recently sold it because I didn't use it and had better use for the money. One nice thing about these is the features you get without having to buy any aftermarket parts like Ikensu(Icom/Kenwood/Yaesu). Too many to list and explain here, but things like variable bandwidth and filtering and DSP and such.

    HT's:

    Alinco DJ-100: 2m. My first handheld. It was an ebay buy. It worked, but felt a bit flimsy. The batteries it came with were weak. I did get a AA battery pack with it, but it had some heat damage I had to fix. Very simple to program. Not a lot of features. Just the basic simplex and duplex with PL tones. I don't remember if it handled odd splits. Eventually this gave up the smoke.

    Yaesu FT-33R: 220Mhz. I bought this used on eBay because some club members were messing around with 220 and had a local repeater up. I got it cheap with a keypad, but without a battery or antenna. I had it powered up using allegator jumpers to a battery but never made a contact with it. When I tried to separate the keypad from the radio I discovered someone had done some creative wiring in it. It has pretty much been sitting in a drawer since. I may pass it on to those guys still playing around on 220. Basically, I got burned.

    Alinco DJ-162: 2m. Another eBay buy and my current HT. MUCH sturdier than the DJ-100. Again, it is simple without lots of crazy features. It does simplex and duplex PL and odd splits. I think I got it for $50.

    Base:

    Yaesu FT-107: 10m-160m all mode. This is the first HF rig I bought and believe it or not I hoped to use it mobile. I basically had the same issues with this as with the SGC that replaced it. I sold it for as much as I paid. Nice old rig, but didn't fit my lifestyle at the time.

    So that is pretty much my ham radio experience and probably more than you wanted to know. I use the clubs' Icom IC-718 for contesting with the club. It's a nice rig and we have fun with it. I have had my hands on other stuff as well at the club that other members bring down like a number of Ten Tec rigs and Kenwoods.

    TLDR:
    Try to join a local club! You could easily benefit from the experience, make friends in person, and have access to other equipment and other people's experience to help guide your purchases. Many clubs also hold hamfests, white elephant sales or auctions as well.

    Don't be afraid of ebay, but be careful. I didn't want to spend bags of money on gear so I bought older equipment that could still do what I wanted.

    Before you make a purchase, find out what is active in your area. Why pay $100 more to have 6m FM on your handheld if there are no 6m FM repeaters in your area? The same goes for 220Mhz (1.25m I believe.) Around me 2m and 70cm are most active.


    Have fun and good luck on the test!
     
  17. pistolsnipe

    pistolsnipe Loaded Pockets

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    i have been looking at getting a nice portable ht to get back into ham, and to have in my bag. really want a wide band receive and 2/3 band transmit, which looks to me to be the yaesu vx-2r at the moment if i can find a deal on the bay.