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Old 01-27-2014, 10:37 AM   #1
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Ham Radio advice needed

Yesterday I passed the exam for the Technicians license. Now I am trying to decide on a radio. My purpose for having a ham radio is primarily for vehicle-to-vehicle communication on the occasions when I am traveling with a group and secondarily to be able to communicate in case of emergency, though I already have a SPOT Gen3 for extreme cases. At first I thought I should get a full-featured handheld like the Kenwood TH-F6A or the Yaesu VX-6R and install a DC power line, external mic and a vehicle-mounted antennae but now I am not so sure. The drawbacks I can see are things like being limited by the low power available in a handheld radio, difficulty operating the radio while driving and I don't really have a need to be able to walk around with the radio (for now). A better alternative might be installing something like Tapatio's Yaesu FTM-400DR and then if I need a handheld, picking up a cheap one like the Baofeng UV-3R.

I look forward to hearing your opinions.

Steve in L.A.
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Old 01-27-2014, 02:34 PM   #2
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Re: Ham Radio advice needed

Congrats on the license. You will probably be listed on the FCC database by the end of the week.

Here is a link to my answer to the same question in 2012. I don't think it has changed much.
viewtopic.php?p=91708#p91708

If you are already leaning towards the Yaesu 400 that Tapatio has, that is not a bad thing as it looks to be a great radio. Having the built-in APRS mode is extremely helpful for the overland travel we do. I hear the 400 is is much improved over the older 350. The only complaint I have heard has to do with its memory management. That's were Yeasu's FT8800 excels but it is a poor APRS platform. (You just can't find "the perfect" radio. Kenwood is offering the new version of the D710 (the G model) which is also an excellent APRS radio.

If digital is in the cards, take a look at the new offerings from Yaesu. They are able to automatically switch back and forth between digital and analog.

So write down your priorities. It will make the decision easier, then just jump in. If you want to do it in baby steps, buy a $100 mobile off of Eham just to get you started. Let me know if I can help.
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Old 01-27-2014, 03:21 PM   #3
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Re: Ham Radio advice needed

Welcome to the world of Ham radio. I got my technician class license last year. I was learning how to use my radio quite well when I lived in Vegas. Then I moved to Wyoming and the repeaters up here are quiet. There must not be very many hams in my neck of the woods.

I have a Baofeng UV-3R as my secondary radio. I would not recommended it as your primary radio. It does not come with instructions on how to program it. You can get program information off of the internet, but it is very complicated to program. I would recommend you get a Yaesu FT-60. It is very easy to program and use.

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Old 01-27-2014, 10:08 PM   #4
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Re: Ham Radio advice needed

Congrats. I like my 8800. If I buy another radio it will most likely be a kenwood and modify it (some how). Clubs are a big help to learn and get used gear.
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Old 01-28-2014, 07:31 AM   #5
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Re: Ham Radio advice needed

Agree with Charlie that APRS and Crossband are important features. That narrows down the choices considerably - Kenwood TMD710A.

The Yaesu FTM400DR does not support xband right now but I've read it will be added in future firmware updates. The first version violated some FCC rules or something. I didn't realize it until after I bought the radio. It's an advertised feature!

[EDIT]
Called Yaesu this morning and they have a manual workaround until the firmware will support menu based configuration.

FTM-400DR Cross Band Repeat:

Initial setting
• Set [A] band, [B] band in different band VHF/UHF or UHF/VHF.
• Turn the APRS MODEM setting OFF.
• Set signaling in CTCSS or DCS, as desired possible [A] band, [B] band individual treatment setting.
• Start Cross Band Repeat mode movement while pushing the DISP + F + GM key when I do power supply ON.
• During Cross Band Repeat mode, it becomes a mode for exclusive use of the analog.
• The cancellation of Cross Band Repeat mode, while pushing the DISP + F + GM key when I do power supply ON.
• There is no setting of the CW ID transmission in Cross Band Repeat mode.
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Old 01-28-2014, 09:33 AM   #6
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Re: Ham Radio advice needed

I am back to thinking that I should start small and work my way up. The Yaesu FT-60 looks like an ideal place to start. Fortunately (or unfortunately) I am close to hamcity.com's retail location. Thanks for all the advice so far.
Steve in L.A.
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Old 01-28-2014, 09:52 AM   #7
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Re: Ham Radio advice needed

You will enjoy your FT-60. Program in all of the repeaters for the LA area and all of the areas you frequent in your SMB. I have all of the repeaters programmed in for Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and So. California and just listen in (and sometimes speak) to whatever repeater is in the area I am traveling.

Also, don't forget to get the 18" whip antenna for your handheld. I also have a 4' magnet antenna on my SMB that I plug into when I am traveling.
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Old 01-28-2014, 10:05 AM   #8
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Re: Ham Radio advice needed

Steve thats a great idea.

I have a Icom V8000 I just pulled out of the van and replaced with a Kenwood TM 281 from HRO that was on sale for $140 and is real easy to program on the fly.

I like having a forward facing speaker on the radio and both these units have that but the Icom just had to many buttons to remember what to do with.

I would also suggest a HT of the same brand your mobile is just because they should be similar to program and you can use it in the house to get comfortable with repeaters and the does and dont's while talking on one.
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Old 01-30-2014, 07:33 PM   #9
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Re: Ham Radio advice needed

I have a FT8800 and a FT60 ... But I would get a Baofeng (there's a new one that's a tad better than the UV5R). You can add a good handheld antenna and one for the vehicle and power to the cig lighter or whatever and still be less than the FT60. I love mine, but it's not tremendously easier than the Baofeng and the price is a ripoff. If you're gonna spend that much these days you should get built in digital modes and GPS.

I really, really would like APRS to work, but in the boonies I can't hit repeaters so it's kinda useless when I'd really need it.

Anyway, welcome.

73
Rob
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Old 01-30-2014, 08:27 PM   #10
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Re: Ham Radio advice needed

Well, I am now the proud owner of a Yaesu FT-60R. I also bought a 12V DC adapter, a hand speaker microphone, a replacement antennae and a magnet antennae for the SMB. This weekend, I'll drive to the highest of Woodland Hills' hills and take a listen to whatever is out there! Thanks for all the help.

Steve in L.A.
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