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Old 09-12-2017, 4:35 PM
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Default First HT and Mobile cross-band repeater for newbie

First time poster, still studying for my technician license but wanted to start looking for my first pair of radios, yes pair keep reading.

I've been a long time listener and done some custom programming on my Pro-96 scanner and have a fair amount of experience with CB/FRS/GMRS radios but ready for the next level. I would consider myself an experienced novice in the world of radio, capable of learning quickly.

My goals include participating in volunteer events, ARES, learning about digital signals, data transmissions and communicating with with a couple organizations I regularly interact with (they are on VHF or UHF business bands FM simplex and FM repeater) who have already allowed others to bring their own radio.

Mobile Cross-band repeaters are of particular interest to me as I am in Colorado and regularly go camping/hiking in a area where there is a business VHF GM repeater available, we have taken one of their radios with on almost all our trips, we can hear the repeater but cannot transmit to it from the HT (yes it foes work when we get closer so its a tx power limitation). I'd like to investigate a solution where I can use a HT to tx on a band (amateur UHF I think based on what I've read would be appropriate) to a mobile cross-band repeater at my car that can re-transmit on the VHF business band using high power (hopefully reaching the input on their repeater). I would then like my HT to be able to RX on the output of the business VHF Band repeater (i.e. not allowing the cross-band repeater to reverse though as it would the send business band over amateur frequencies as unidentified signals) since we know we can hear the repeater output direct already. Not sure what the tx in one band, rx in another feature-wise would be called or the cross-band repeater feature name that would cause it to work in a "single" direction only.

Not sure if this is even possible (or legal) but something I would like to investigate or even consider going purely within amateur frequencies for other things like events as I would likely be away from my car with a low power HT. Being in Colorado many of the mountain based events I can imagine would need higher power to be effective, as such I would assume I could use a similar configuration.

In any case I am looking for recommendations on 2 radios:
- Mobile (car mounted) radio cross-band repeater combination functionality
- HT with as much tx power as I can get (its still hiking in Colorado so it seems prudent to have as much power as I can, I've seen some HTs with variable output as high as 25watts but typically 8-12 seems common)
- Antenna/amplified/etc as needed/recommended for both

Features I would like (but could live without, unless you tell me otherwise):
- tri/quad band seems prudent to give me options (dual is required as best I can tell for cross-band repeating)
- some packet data features
- some trunking features (I read trunking is starting to come to some amateur frequencies but not sure if this really something I should purse or not)
- Bluetooth is a define plus
- GPS is also a plus
- Anything else I should add to my wish list?

I've seen some that appear to be budget model HTs under $100 but that seems too cheap for something decent, however being my first that could also be a great solution for me

Thanks in advance and apologizes if this has already been covered elsewhere or if this post is not appropriate for this forum, I can't wait to get on the air and start making new friends.
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Old 09-12-2017, 8:21 PM
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If you just want analog equipment for X-Band Repeat and such, I have some excess equipment. By that I mean HT's and a Mobile radio which can cross band repeat. Have both UHF and VHF HT's (ICOM) and an ICOM mobile. I don't use them any longer I mostly use digital modes.
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Old 09-13-2017, 11:09 AM
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BJB...,

While my cross-band experience is limited here are my thoughts.

Cross-banding in the ham bands is found on many mobiles. I'll not cover IDing during cross-band as that horse on many threads soundly beaten to death.

You might find cross-band from ham band to non-ham band radios, but my first impression is not a good idea and may be stepping over a legal line.

Cross-banding has a high transmit duty cycle for the mobile. You might come back to a car with a dead battery.

You might find that ham repeater coverage is better than you are aware and you HT might be good enough depending on location. Majority of HTs are 5 watts and I recall a few can do 7 watts. I'm not sure the 2 watts will help unless on the very fringe coverage.

Grow into your objective with the HT first and see how it works in the field. Talk with others to find out what they are using and how well it works.

Good Luck,
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Old 09-13-2017, 5:21 PM
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Thanks for the replies, I have read many of the cross-band threads here already. Interesting thoughts on cross-band repeating, I will take that into consideration and look to start smaller.

Given that, is there a good "starter" HT I should consider that a newbie can handle but still have some advanced features allowing me to "grow"?

I'm not opposed to used equipment to get started but seems new may have some more features to "grow" into.

Thanks,
AJ
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Old 09-13-2017, 9:10 PM
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Which HT to start with has always been a difficult recommendation.

I enclosed a link that makes it easier to compare radios for functions and price. Their prices are not always the best, but they have a good webpage design and layout.

https://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/ht.html
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Old 09-14-2017, 5:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AJBelayer View Post
Thanks for the replies, I have read many of the cross-band threads here already. Interesting thoughts on cross-band repeating, I will take that into consideration and look to start smaller.

Given that, is there a good "starter" HT I should consider that a newbie can handle but still have some advanced features allowing me to "grow"?

I'm not opposed to used equipment to get started but seems new may have some more features to "grow" into.

Thanks,
AJ
The features you listed are not newbie features. Forget trunking with ham gear, that is not a thing, at least right now.

To get the packet, Bluetooth, and dual band, I suggest the Kenwood TH-D74. This model was introduced in about the last year, so it is not the least expensive radio, but they make solid gear.

Forget about cross-band outside of the ham bands, unless you want to get into some pricey options, which are not ham gear. There are a number of technical and legal issues with using modified ham gear out of band, as well as introducing non-human signals into the ham bands. (There are a lot of threads on the topic of modified gear, if you want to read the arguments.)

Someone mentioned killing your battery with two-way cross-band, which the Kenwood TM-V71 offers a way avoid. It can be set to repeat just one band onto the other, which works really well, if you can listen to the other side with your handheld. (I have set this up when assigned to an ambulance, during a bicycle event. I could hear the 146 MHz repeater on my handheld, and configured my TM-V71 to repeat a simplex 440 MHz onto the repeater. It worked really well.)

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Old 09-14-2017, 10:18 AM
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Also, don't discount the idea of a better, more efficient antenna on your handheld. That can do wonders and can be more effective that a small bump in wattage. a fold up yagi, a hoisted, roll-up J-pole in a tree or, at the very minimum, a tiger tail might get the added range that you need to hit the repeater.
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Old 09-14-2017, 8:10 PM
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Let's start with the cross band repeater. It is illegal to cross band from a ham frequency to a business (or otherwise out of band) frequency. If it's not in the ham bands and you have a ham license (or not), it's illegal. Also, the ham radios are not FCC certified to transmit out of band.

Secondly,
Handheld that are advertised to transmit more than 5 watts are in my book bogus. They are cheap Chinese radios (aka CCR on this site) and they offer no more coverage than a nice Yaesu FT60.

My .004 cents. Take it as you like

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Old 09-15-2017, 3:54 AM
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... introducing non-human signals into the ham bands.
That was supposed to be non-ham. I didn't catch the suggested text insertion, but non-human signals could be an issue, too.

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Old 09-15-2017, 5:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KK4ELO View Post
Secondly,
Handheld that are advertised to transmit more than 5 watts are in my book bogus. They are cheap Chinese radios (aka CCR on this site) and they offer no more coverage than a nice Yaesu FT60.

My .004 cents. Take it as you like

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Are you saying my ICOM V82 isn't a 7 Watt HT? Oh well as I said I am hardly on analog anymore anyway.
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Old 09-15-2017, 7:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eaf1956 View Post
Are you saying my ICOM V82 isn't a 7 Watt HT?
The ARRL review (QST, June 2005) shows 7.2 watts using the supplied battery pack.

That said, 7.2 watts vs. 5 watts is about 1.6 dB increase. That might make the difference between effective comms and it might not.
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Last edited by W9BU; 09-15-2017 at 11:33 AM.. Reason: Corrected calculated value
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Old 09-15-2017, 8:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by W9BU View Post
The ARRL review (QST, June 2005) shows 7.2 watts using the supplied battery pack.

That said, 7.2 watts vs. 5 watts is about 3.2 dB increase. That might make the difference between effective comms and it might not.

Maybe I need to go back to school. The last time I did any RF calculations on RF power, in order to get 3 db increase of power, you had to double what you originally started with. Starting with 5 watts, a 3 db increase would be 10 watts.
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Old 09-15-2017, 10:25 AM
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I have a Yaesu VX-8R which appears to have all the features the OP is looking for. Its a great little radio and I use it for APRS and when out in the boonies I use a Yaesu FT-8900 mobile as a cross band repeater to extend my range. If you don't need a quad band mobile there are probably better mobiles for cross banding say 2m to 440.

In my opinion anything over about 5w in a handheld is a waste of battery power and will severely limit your choices of some excellent radios.
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Old 09-15-2017, 11:32 AM
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Maybe I need to go back to school.
No, I do. I was using a voltage ratio rather than a power ratio. I've corrected my post.
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Old 09-15-2017, 2:44 PM
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I use a Kenwood D710A in the vehicle for crossband repeating when needed. I set it for 5W and rarely set it for 10W. (Never at 50W for crossband)

For handhelds when doing this I use a Kenwood D72A or F6A that can also control the D710 remotely, beyond just repeating through it. Hmm...actually you can use any HT to remotely control the Kenwood mobile, as long as it has DTMF functionality.

Someone mentioned the V71A and I would think that radio can do the same thing as the D710. The difference between them is the control head and body shape, as the V71A can become a D710A with the latter control head.

A Kenwood D74A would work as well on the HT side, but for the price of that new handheld radio you could pick up a used V71A and either one of the Kenwood HT's I mentioned.

My recommendation would be a D710A or AG (mobile) and the D72A or D74A (handheld) because of your request for packet data features. All of those radios offer that. A GPS can be added to a D710, whereas it is built in to the D710AG. Either of those radios will do Winmail via a PC and if there is a station nearby. Those radios also handle APRS, but again you will need a GPS for the discontinued D710A model. I use a Green Light Labs GPS which you should not pay more than $100 for.

I also find myself in mountain areas here in California and the remote repeater feature comes in handy. Still, I recommend you dig around and program local/regional amateur radio repeaters into your handheld and mobile. You might reach them fine.

As to that 8 watts from an HT, I turn my power down to 1 watt and step it up as needed from there. Battery life is critical. I also do not use the stock antennas on my radios.

(I believe my Yaesu 400XDR and FT1XDR will also do the above, but I have yet to test them)
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Old 09-15-2017, 4:18 PM
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Thanks for all the great information, I will look into the Kenwoods, seems they have been mentioned a couple times. With the "Remote Control" feature does that mean you can change the frequencies being cross-banded remotely? That sounds great and opens up more possibilities of reaching a repeater.

I checked repeaterbook.com (seems reliable but I don't know yet), the nearest repeater to where we hike is about 20 miles, the repeater is at ~ 7,000 MSL (on the side of the mountain, not the top unfortunately) and we hike at ~8-9,000 MSL but there are 2-3 12,000+ MSL ranges between us, which doesn't leave me with alot of confidence a HT will reach a repeater direct, but will give it a shot anyway as its good to know.

As for cross-banding to the the business bands sounds like that's bad juju all over so we will just take one of the commercial HTs with as it may still have the best chance of reaching someone in the event of an emergency. Yes they do really happen, of our 12+ years of hiking in the area we've assisted in at least 5 Search and Rescue calls and over 12 other calls that the commercial group was able to provide the needed assistance without Full Search and Rescue call out. My wife and I both have EMT and Wilderness medicine training so we are prone to help when its needed.

What about HT and car mount antennas? Are magnetic mount antennas still used at all (not sure my wife will let me drill into her car)?
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Old 09-15-2017, 4:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by W9BU View Post
The ARRL review (QST, June 2005) shows 7.2 watts using the supplied battery pack.

That said, 7.2 watts vs. 5 watts is about 1.6 dB increase. That might make the difference between effective comms and it might not.
He was saying that any HT claiming more than 5 watts was Cheap Chinese Junk. Icom may be Japanese but not Chinese.
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Old 09-15-2017, 5:19 PM
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I have a V71A. My brother also has one and recently purchased the 710 head for it and it connects to the same deck. It provides additional features, mainly related to APRS. The V71A will do cross band repeat as is.
Understand though that using it in crossband mode increases its duty cycle tremendously so setting it to lowest possible possible is the wise thing to do.
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Old 09-16-2017, 12:21 AM
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- Typically, a magnet mount on the roof of a vehicle is better than using the antenna on a handheld.

- You should read the manuals on the Kenwood models and see what will fit your needs
TM-D710_CD-ROM_Ver2.1_English.pdf is the name of the document for the D710 mobile model that advises about the repeater and remote control functions.

- You may be better served to purchase a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) https://www.amazon.com/ACR-PLB-375-R.../dp/B006JXY0CQ
While radio communication may better suit one situation, having a PLB is a solution when you cannot afford to fool around and time is critical for a life threatening condition.
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Old 09-16-2017, 4:39 AM
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Yes you can get a mag mount and put any whip,and coil,or commercial antenna you want, I use the 74 A with the 710 ga , it will allow gull remote control and also has a secret 3 digit number as an added level of security over and above TSQL or DCS so no one accidently gets on your link repeater , thd 710 can also identify in morse or a voice to announce your callsign ,and it a gully remote head radio out of the box so the rig can go in trunk or under seat and just kount the head eere its convient, the 710 goes on sale for the holidays I picked a second one up last year new for $509 which is s great price for that much radio Kenwood still gives you everything you need in the box whereas with Icom mobiles you need to buy everything extra like mounting brackets how did the become optional ? Or the radio will go in your trunk but be prepared to shell out $70 bucks for the mic cable, unless you plan on sitting in the trunk to talk (LOL) , YOU can't go wrong buying more radio than you are you are going to use when you 1st get it , maturing into other features of your current rig is preferable to buying a new radio when you do want those features, kick the tires ask questions we don't bite and get yourself s great rig without any buyers remorse !

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