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Old 02-08-2011, 3:56 PM
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Post First Ham Radio, What is good?

Greetings,

I know this will be a loaded question but it is a place to start. I am working on my technicians license and will be purchasing my first Ham Radio very shortly, I have six kids and four have also endeavored on this journey with me... we shall see if it lasts. Anyhow I would like to by a radio that will give me the full gambit of the ham frequencies and is something everybody could enjoy.. which is somewhat durable and time tested. I have pretty much ruled out the portable and am leaning toward a base type radio, although I am not opposed to a mobile. I plan on going at least to the next level with the license so I don't want to buy another radio in 2 years because I got bored, but that probably will happen anyways.

Could i get some feedback on good radios to start out with that are feature packed, durable, and solid?

1) good brands
2) bad brands

etc...


Thanks for the input!

-arktisfox
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Old 02-09-2011, 4:51 PM
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I'm perplexed by the amount of money that you can afford to spend on a radio.
I feel for you because I came from a family of 6 children and a father that had to be tight to be able to provide for all of us.

My answer - (and I am a newbie also) would be to buy one really good radio - which you all can share .
I have my eye on a ICOM IC 746 Pro
The one I used last weekend was awesome with a beam type antenna and a antenna rotor in a very clear location - (local Airport).
The built in antenna tuner worked great and other then some issues with the stock mic and small speaker was a awesome unit to work DX.
I will guarantee you - that when I get my license - it is going to be the first radio that I will buy.

I have a Uncle that is generous beyond comprehension, that has offered to give me his old radio - a Heathkit - SB 101
I am beyond words that someone would actually give me a radio and even offer to take it to the shop and have it rebuilt before he sends it to me.
He is a very busy man and repairs microwave transmitters for a living and I am sure that it will cost more to rebuild it then what it is worth - but he wanted me to be interested in communications and is willing to go out of his way to help me get my start.

My opinion is to start small and work up from there.
Get all your family members to get a license and then you could invest in some of those economical Handi Talkies and join a club - and then you would be able to use their repeaters.
If a club membership is $10 or $25 a year - it would be well worth it in my opinion.
You don't have to invest a lot of money to get into communications if you buy the right radio's.

I would stay away from anything on EBAY unless you are well versed in electronics and have the time and the equipment to make your own repairs and can afford to loose what you spend on the radio, if the radio is no good.
73's

Last edited by Daniel_Boone; 02-09-2011 at 4:55 PM..
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Old 02-10-2011, 1:00 AM
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Several months ago my 20-year-old IC-725 was overheating, so I got an Icom IC-7000. Along with a new PSU and a mini-manual I spent just over $1500.

The radio covers HF, 6m, 2m, and 440. I dont have an antenna setup for <80m, 6m, or 440, and have never used 60m, but for everything else it's very nice - I'm a CW person with occasional (rare) 2m repeater use. Haven't tried SSB on this radio yet I don't think.

So far I'm very happy. Was thinking of setting up a 6m/2m/440 antenna later in the year, and getting a new Signalink so I can do some occasional PSK-31 again.
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Old 02-10-2011, 3:01 AM
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deleted - missed the part about not wanting a handheld
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Old 02-20-2011, 10:15 AM
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Be it handheld or mobile, a dual band will be your best bet, as idk if 2 meters or 440 is prominant in your area. This way you will have the best of both if you travel also. In our area, 2 meter/440 is equally used, but I know some areas its either 2 meters or 440. I bought a Kenwood TM-221A mobile, which is a 2 meter radio and old, but its built like a tank.

The Chinese Wouxun dual band mobile should be coming soon, you you may want to keep an eye out for it. I know the Wouxun KG-UVD1P 2m/440 HT, you can get the radio & all accessories for $177

Either way, check out QRZ.com on the forums also and they can help also. Plus, once you get your tech, and dabble in VHF/UHF, you will be ready to upgrade to General & get those HF privileges. I'm working on getting my extra now. Enjoy your ham ticket and hope you can get on the air soon!
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Old 02-21-2011, 10:32 PM
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In all honesty, all the major players are excellent brands so I can not list any as a bad brand.
Yaesu, Kenwood, Icom, and Alinco are golden. Some may build better HT's than another, and one may build better mobile rigs than others, base units, so on and so forth blah blah blah.

If you want ONE radio to rule them all, you're gonna start off at a high price tag, if you don't mind that, look up the Yaesu FT-857 and FT-897. These are "full power" models. If you want low power, then the FT-817 but you may be disappointed as it will operate like a portable/HT as it puts out just as much power, 5 watts. These start at $600 on up to just under $1000.

On Kenwood's side, you've got the TS-2000 line, the standard version being around 1500 to 1600 bucks.

Icom has the IC-7000 which is around $1200 or $1300. Soon they'll have a IC-9100 out that will be nice with rather FAT price on it I'm sure.

I would highly suggest you consider starting off slow with a 2 meter/70cm dual band mobile radio. You can set it up as a base or mount it, heck, buy two, one for the car another for the house. In that case, you can't go wrong with a Yaesu FT-7900R, $260 to $280.

You can also look at finding used equipment.

The absolute best and well organized list of OLD equipment is on Universal Radio shortwave, amateur, scanner and CB radio since 1942
At the bottom of their product lists, they have a "Discontinued Models" link for each section and there you can look up older equipment an find something you may want on eBay, at a hamfest, or where ever (QRZ.com, radioreference classifieds, etc, etc).

As far as where to go to buy your radio, I'll leave that for another discussion.

Good luck!
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Old 02-22-2011, 8:14 AM
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I think your best bet is to list the attributes you want a radio to have (bands covered, etc.) and then start looking at the used market. That requires the 'usual' precautions about buying anything used, but it certainly opens up more possibilities.
For VHF/UHF stuff, having the ability to send DTMF tones isn't really an option anymore, it's a necessity. Keep that in mind.
I think it would also be smart to limit that used market to radios made in the last 5 or maybe 10 years. The chances of it having the 'necessary' abilities is just more likely.
After that, it's a matter of preference as to brands/models, which is hugely variable. I'm a Kenwood fan so would suggest looking at them. But, most brands offer at least the same features in general. Your preferences are probably not the same as mine, so you decide what you like.
Good luck.
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Old 02-22-2011, 9:34 AM
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Default Wouxon pricing...

QUOTE:
The Chinese Wouxun dual band mobile should be coming soon, you you may want to keep an eye out for it. I know the Wouxun KG-UVD1P 2m/440 HT, you can get the radio & all accessories for $177
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Correction: The current price of the Wouxun HT is between $110 and $129, with accessories. Shop around if you want one and you will do very well on price.
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Old 02-22-2011, 11:17 AM
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I noticed that you were interested in an Icom 746. They are no longer manufactured but can be obtained used (but not abused) for a decent amount. If you are going to be upgrading your license, this is a good rig as is the Yaesu 897. If you are going to stick around as a Tech licensee for a while, the above recommended Yaesu FT 7900 is a solid radio. I have one in the mobile and used a lot. Once you upgrade (when you are ready) it makes a super mobile rig. Like others, I am awaiting the new Wouxun dual band mobile. While I do like their HT models (144/220 and 144/440), It is hard to comment on a rig I hae not used. If the quality and type acceptance is there, it could be a very cost effective addition to your shack.
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Old 02-22-2011, 2:23 PM
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Firest question back to you is, "What do you want to do with your new radio?"

Look at all the features, yes, even one the radios that you feel are out of your price range. This way you get to understand what the various possibilities are. Next, check what repeaters are in your area, and area that you will be traveling in or visiting. You may find that a tri-band or quad-band is more the radio for you. If they are too expensive to start out with, a less expensive dual band (I'd recommend at least 2m and 440) a decent start as you build up funds for that bigger-better unit.

Then ask fellow hams in your area what they use, like, and why.

Oh yes, and review the comments above they all have great point to ponder and consider.
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Old 02-23-2011, 2:48 PM
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Hey arktisfox,

I agree with tekshogun, I would choose one of the Yaesu radios (FT-857 or FT-897). I think the best choice is the FT-897 because it covers all bands, can be used as base or mobile radio and with the built-in accu it also can be used portable on a field day or on holiday. The only disadvantage is that there´s no built-in antenna tuner. But as far as I know it is sold as an optional unit to mount it on left side of TRXs housing.

73s, Dany
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Old 02-23-2011, 5:21 PM
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arktisfox, you have certainly asked a loaded question There are almost as many right answers as there are possible answers.

However, based on your description, "a radio that will give me the full gambit of the ham frequencies and is something everybody could enjoy", "I have pretty much ruled out the portable and am leaning toward a base type radio", and "I plan on going at least to the next level with the license so I don't want to buy another radio in 2 years because I got bored" I really think you should look closely at the Kenwood TS-2000. Want to work satallites? The TS-2000 will do it. Want to shoot the breeze on the local 2 M repeater? Yep, it will do that. Want to work HF? Ditto. Want to work weak signal 2 M or 70 cm? Also ditto. In fact, my very first EME contact was with a TS-2000X, of course with a fairly beefy amplifier and a quad bay of 39 foot KLM 20 LBX yagis.

The TS-2000 does all modes on all ham bands from 160 meters to 70 cm except for the 222 MHz band. The TS-2000X model includes 1.2 GHz. The radio has a built in antenna tuner that works 160 to 6 M. The radio is a true duel recevier / duel transmitter above 6 meters, meaning, for example, you can be listening to your favorite 10 M freq and also your favorite 2 M at the same time. Better yet, this also allows it to cross band repeat so that if you have a 70 cm hand held (or 2M, or 1.2 GHz with the X model) you can use that as a remote and talk on any band from your hand held. So, you can be on the 40 M swap net while setting on the back porch with a 70 cm hand held.

While many radios do part of what the TS-2000 does (example cover 160 M to 70 cm) very, very few do all of what it does. And fewer yet do it all as well. But, keep in mind it is NOT the best single receiver in the World, good yes, better than anything eles I have used with the same features, yes, but not as good as a dedicated HF only contest rig, or a dedicated weak signal 2 M rig.

I have two of the TS-2000X models, one I use as a mobile (with the RC-2000 display) and one my wife uses at the house. It can be used mobile, since it operates on 13.8 VDC, but it is pretty big, I mounted mine under the back floor in the SUV and have the small remote control head on the dashboard.

T!
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Old 02-25-2011, 10:45 PM
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The only thing I could add is that he is child rich and money poor.
Most any radio that we select - will probably be the wrong option for him because he probably cannot afford it. I would add to that - that it wouldn't be in his best interests to buy a all band radio until he gets his general license. There is too much temptation to start broadcasting before you get your license - which would get you into enough trouble that the fine if caught would probably cost as much as the radio.

The Wouxun - I saw on a web site - I think it was called The Poor Ham or something for $100 + shipping and handling.
You don't need all the extra's right off the bat.

For anyone that has been listening to the WAN network or the Echo Link or the All Star repeater nodes - you will realize that in most communities there is at least one repeater that is going to someday be connected to the nodes.

With all of that power / radio over IP - you don't need all that much of a radio anymore.
Radio over IP - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A hand held walkie talkie is now capable of talking clear around the world.
I was very fortunate to be privy to all the technical side of the conversation - sitting in front of my computer 10 hours a day, studying for my General license with the radio on and the tech's talking back and forth.

Early morning and early evening is the best times to catch the out of country and out of state calls.
It is nothing to listen to someone from ( Australia VK7NMH ) or from ( ZL4CEL) ( Canada VK4RKP) or (Alaska AL4S) or ( Florida K4KWQ) from Pennsylvania talking on the system.
License Search - Advanced License Search

As a matter of fact - the less powerful radios actually does just as good as a high priced rig on the 2 meters right now. You don't have as much problems with tone or mic volume as you would with a radio that is normally used traditionally over the repeater.

With that set up - you can actually log onto your computer and see the call signs of who you are talking to and who is logged into the system and talking or even just standing by - waiting to talk to you.

You would be surprised at the number of people who has logged on for the first time this week who said that they have owned their radio for years and they just happened to turn their radio on and actually heard talking over the repeaters and decided to say hi and found out that they could talk all over to all different sorts of people and fell all over themselves trying to talk to someone from Australia - Tanzania - Germany - Alaska - Canada and even one guy who worked for CBS in Los Angeles / W6CBS was his call sign.

There is nothing wrong with starting out with something small and working your way up a little at a time.
You would be surprised by the number of people who takes the test to get a ham radio license and then never talks or even owns a radio.
I would believe that it is because it is such a expensive hobby.
Especially if you cannot do any of your own work and you have to buy everything that you need.
Especially if you start out with nothing like I did!

Do you realize that even with a $500 mobile radio - you might have another $250 into a good power supply and another $ 150 - $250 into a good antenna / antenna's for dual band and another $100 just into the coax wire.
Add a couple hundred for a tower and another $500 for a good rotor and another $500 for a used beam antenna for the higher bands and your initial investment could end up in the ten's of thousands of dollars.............

Why do you think that most retailers doesn't include the price of the radio in the ham magazines?
Because they don't want any competition!
Their price is usually set in stone and they usually get about 30 - 50% mark up on everything that they sell.

Like others has said, add in a linear amplifier, a antenna tuner, a SWR meter / a field strength meter and all the accessories and there is a couple more thousand dollars.

It ain't like going out and buying a fishing pole and a row boat and going fishing.
There is a lot of expense into getting into this hobby.
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Old 02-25-2011, 11:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel_Boone View Post
a couple more thousand dollars.

It ain't like going out and buying a fishing pole and a row boat and going fishing.
There is a lot of expense into getting into this hobby.
I mentioned my "20-year-old IC-725" before - that wasn't mine, I purchased it from a club member in about 1998 who was selling equipment to me and another club member.

I had just gotten my license, there was no EchoLink for 2m at the time, so for DX there was only HF. So being 14, I spent most of my Confirmation gifts plus gave up a Christmas. Bought the radio for $500, plus whatever I spent on the cable, antenna, and PS. I didn't buy an antenna tuner until recently, as the antenna I had didn't need one but would be limited in coverage.

I suggest artkisfox do the same - ask club members if they want to sell used equipment and/or help you put your station together. In fact, I ran into trouble setting up my antenna system and got some help from some club members. Can't hurt to get involved locally and make new friends in the process - new hams are always welcome!
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Old 02-27-2011, 5:09 PM
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I am a new Ham also, after much research and consultaion with more experienced Ham operators I purchased an Icom IC-T70. It has gotten very good reviews in a recent edition of QST magazine. It is a dual band handheld with lots of good features and seems easy to operate.

I had been looking at more complicated radios but was advised that the more you ask an electronic device to do, the poorer it does them so keep it simple. It is only slightly more expensive than the Wouxun but with so many people using the name brand radios it is easy to get help if you get jammed up.

Good luck in your search
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Old 02-28-2011, 9:42 AM
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If your budget allows, the Kenwood TS-2000 is _fantastic_ and my most often recommended for those who can afford it. It will literally allow you 99% of what there is to do with the hobby in a single radio.

The new Icom IC-9100 is more than twice the price and not even out yet so no information on it yet.

For a lower priced intro, you could split the VHF/UHF FM duties into something like an FT-7900 or FT-8800R and then add an entry level HF rig like the FT-450. The combination will cover a lot of ground until you figure out what part of the hobby interests you the most. The TS-2000 covers all this ground and more though so that's why I like it so much.
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Old 02-28-2011, 4:25 PM
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Post Thanks for the suggestions!

Many fine suggestions have come through, thanks to all for taking the time to reply... I certianly have much to think about. I am leaning towards a mobile/base for the time being... possibly Yaseu 597D, we shall see. I am excited to get going and rekindle an interest in radio and electronics which I once had many years ago. Thanks again for the input!

Regards.


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Old 02-28-2011, 5:06 PM
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I forget about the 857D, it does a TON for the money, it's just not all that advanced in features.

This one would be good in that you can get a taste for a lot of things with it and move it into your mobile if you decide to 'upgrade' to fancier rigs.
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Old 02-28-2011, 5:49 PM
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FT-450D if doing HF only, I just got one and LOVE it!

FT-897 for a nice mobile, base, and camping radio that will do all HF+6+2+70cm, all modes!

TS-2000 if you have the money!
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