Ham Radio equipment (1 Viewer)

Joined
Nov 25, 2007
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1,277
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Divide, Colorado
I am planning on taking the HAM test on March 5th. So the next step will be to get some hardware. I have been looking around the web here and there for HAM radio's and I don't know what to get. I like to buy cheap but I want something that will work great and last a long time.

So maybe it is time for myhamies to post up what kind of gear they are using and to make suggestions.
 
Joined
Feb 13, 2006
Messages
136
Location
Colorado Springs
 
 
Congrats, Chuck on your endeavor - its well worth it. But for good, cheap equipment, not sure those 2 terms can be used in the same sentence. Ham Radio Outlet, on E. Iliff, Ham Radio Outlet, is a good place to start for both new and used equipment. They have all the major brands of 2M equipment. The big 3, Icom, Yeasu and Kenwood all offer comparable mobile as well as handhelds which will keep the techno-geek happy for years. All offer dual mode models which incorporate 2M and 70cm capability in a single unit. When you take your test on Mar 5th, ask the folks there about upcoming ham fests, which are a good source for all manor of used equipment in new to near new condition to the other end of the scale, boat anchors. Pay attention to displays, and what the angle of viewing range is, and when you mount the rig in your vehicle, straight on always looks good, but what about when you are in the drivers seat, and are looking over at it, how does it look? Most trancievers will have 3 selectable power outputs, like 5w, 10w and 50w. Pick a good antenna. Can't go wrong with a Larsen, as they are the gold standard, IMHO, but they are a little pricey. A 5/8 or 1/2 wave will give good coverage. Also, on tranceivers, most have a disk and RS232 cable, maybe USB by now, that allow you to program your repeater selections, using a pc/laptop, and yes there are quite a few. Doing programming by hand can be a little cumbersome but on a single unit it isn't too bad. On some, the programming is intuitive, and on others its anybody guess on how to do it - and thats with the manual in your hand.

Like anything else, the initial plunge can be a little intimidating, but once you're in, it gets better.
 
Joined
Aug 25, 2008
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Good info Darryl! I too am taking my test this year. Been carrying around my Ham radio study book for two weeks reading all the dang test questions. I am also taking the April classes, I want to pass the test as well as know how to use my equipment.

I will be buying a handheld unit like my book recommends for my first radio. I just have too many darn vehicles to buy mobile units for all of them. might eventually get a mobile for the 'Cruiser though.

Good luck Chuck! let me know how the test goes :)
 
Joined
Feb 13, 2006
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Colorado Springs
 
 
Luke, good to hear you are going after a ham ticket. You will enjoy it. I forgot to mention, if you are looking at older, used radios, handi-squakies or mobiles, make sure they have on board CTCSS tone capability. Just about all repeaters use tones to cut down on interference at repeater sites. All new equipment have tone. I have an old Icom IC-2AT which is 100% manual, and no tone, so I can't work repeaters with it. It montors repeaters fine, and works simplex fine - Andy has it right now. And with an external 2m antenna, you can easily work repeaters or simplex with a lot better range. I have a 1/2 wave mag mount on the FJ40, right in front of the windshield, on the cowl, and it works great!
 
Joined
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Fairview Heights, IL
 
 
I am partial to Yaesu equipment, just a preference, If your looking for a 2 meter rig I would suggest the ft-2800, ft-1900 (newer model) $139.00 from universal radio 55 watts. If you'd like a dual band radio VHF, UHF I would go with the ft-7900 for $289.99 and it comes with a detachable faceplate kit free, so you can put the face on the dash and keep the body of the radio somewhere else. These radios are strong and rarely give any problems, the new ones are fool proof also, if they don't have the correct antenna or you forget to hook up the antenna it will reduce the power down to where you won't smoke the finals on the radio...(some of these mobile radios put out up to 75 watts). If you decide to go with a handheld, I would hook it up to an external antenna, most of the handheld radios also have a wide band receiver, I usually put my handheld on the VHF frequency we will use on the trail and on the separate VFO I will put the CB channel we will operating on ( I can't operate on CB, but I can listen). Just my 2 cents.
 
Joined
Sep 10, 2008
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Calirado
 
 
Dang, a guy goes out of town for week and look what happens! HAM happens. I would second Yaesu for a couple of reasons. There seems to be some free and others have cheap aftermarket software for programming (other brands may have, I don't know). Rising Sun has a lot of Yaseu users and that is good for support/problem solving, borrowing cables and getting the all important files to save you time programming. I got files from Rui and Dave from Rising Sun. I have the 7900 dual band and it has a wide receive range if you are interested in listening in on things like air traffic and other bands. The 8900 has cross band repeat. Some models are more rugged than others so you should keep that in mind. See Rising Sun link below. The models Rui mentioned are basic and rugged, may be just what you are looking for.

If you are going HT think about the range issue. You will need another antenna besides the rubber duck for mobile use and hitting long distance repeaters. Good news is you can build a twin lead j-pole cheap and easy, portable to boot. I can show you Neil's HT VX5 on our next outing an let you try it out with different antennas and compare to my 7900 with a permanent roof install. Better than mag mount if you are trying to squeeze out every mile of range.

Here is a link to the Rising Sun Ham forum, maybe one of the best sources for mobile HAM info.

Ham & CB Radio Corner - Rising Sun Member Forums

You'll find HT topics there.

They post up Craigslist ads of interest

Ham and 2-Way Craigslist Thread - Page 8 - Rising Sun Member Forums

A thread I started with similar questions to yours.

Newbie radio question - Rising Sun Member Forums

Take your time. Also, HRO aka "The Candy Store" is a cool place. Wouldn't mind a trip up there sometime.
 
Joined
Sep 8, 2005
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301
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Colorado Springs CO
 
 
 
There are 3 major brands. Icom, Kenwood and Yaesu. I know people that have any of the brands. You will find that you get into the "Brand Wars" very quickly. If you go with any of the big 3 you will have lots of aftermarket parts and good quality. The difference is just features and price differences. I like Kenwood and even have 2 HTs in Yeasu myself and have friends that like Icom and Yaesu. Just look around, go to the meetings of the local ham clubs and ask questions.
 
Joined
Nov 25, 2007
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Divide, Colorado
I think the Yaesu FT-2900R will get the job done but the Yaesu FT-7900R with the ability to locate the unit in a remote location may work better for the install in the 60. It costs $100 for that flexibility.
 

Bighead

Veteran of the Psychic Wars
Joined
Nov 4, 2003
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Florida
 
 
 
I am planning on taking the HAM test on March 5th. So the next step will be to get some hardware. I have been looking around the web here and there for HAM radio's and I don't know what to get. I like to buy cheap but I want something that will work great and last a long time.

So maybe it is time for myhamies to post up what kind of gear they are using and to make suggestions.
Where are you taking the test at?
 

Bighead

Veteran of the Psychic Wars
Joined
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About a mile from the house. I didn't know they did the test there....thanks.
 
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Noob question here, heh/ what I get one and "forget" to pass the test- I do enough reading for my job...
 
Joined
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Colorado
 
 
Noob question here, heh/ what I get one and "forget" to pass the test- I do enough reading for my job...
You don't want to do that. Most people who are into ham radios are pretty serious and will turn you in. You would have to make up a call sign number, which could realistically be done, but if anyone ever checked, the FCC might not find it so funny. I am the king of "to hell with the rules" and I am actaully going to get a license, you should too.
 
Joined
Dec 21, 2005
Messages
141
Location
Monument, CO
 
OK I'm not really sure why but Karen wanted me to post up here that she passed her Ham test today. Woohoo!

It's probably going to be a bit before we get a radio. We just had to dump almost $2K into my Tacoma. It doesn't drive too well with a broken front strut. :crybaby: We're trying to choose between a hand held or truck mount radio.

Oh yeah I guess I should mention that I passed the Ham exam as well. ;p
 
Joined
Aug 25, 2008
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2,440
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Colorado
 
 
Great job to both of you! Pretty cool that most of the club is going to be HAM licensed now, that should change things a bit on trail runs-- especially the X-mas tree outings.
 
Joined
Feb 13, 2006
Messages
136
Location
Colorado Springs
 
 
New Hams!

Congratulations, Karen and Jeff on getting your tickets. Its a neat thing to have. And Jeff, get a handi-squakie, as well as a mobile rig. You will use both - since both of you are now licensed. You can have mobile 0, as well as port 0.

Luke, as I recall you will be testing soon - next weekend?

Having a tech, or higher, ham license opens all sorts of opportunities up for assistance in this area. When we get those 30" snows at times, ham operators with 4WD can assist in helping folks get home, to hospitals and all sorts of things. This is through ELPaso and Teller countys with an assist from ham control centers working with the county disaster centers. It works well, as last time we had a really big snow, ('97) all the cell traffic brought that medium to a crawl. But hams were able to pick up the slack, and provide assistance.
 
Joined
Dec 21, 2005
Messages
141
Location
Monument, CO
 
Darryl and Luke, thanks.

I haven't really spent that much time looking at radios yet. There are positives about handie-squakies and mobiles. I'll have to figure out which one will best to get first. It will probably be a couple of weeks before we decide anything.
 

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