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Railroad/Railfan Monitoring Forum This is the place to discuss monitoring railroad communications.

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Old 12-17-2013, 7:26 PM
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Default Buy ham radio or wait?

I am going to update my scanner soon; my home county is going digital and an adjacent county already is. This got me thinking about selling my Pro-97 and either using it towards a new scanner of a dedicated ham radio for railfanning. The 97 and RH77CA is a good combination but I know a ham radio still has me beat in most instances.

My concern is will it be fruitless to buy a ham radio only to watch the NXDN switch over the next two or three years? Any scanner I buy will still pick up RR frequencies, but not as well as a ham radio. I'm only getting trackside once a month or less right now and I spend most of my time around the NS Pittsburgh line if that makes a difference.
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Old 12-17-2013, 7:50 PM
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First are you a licensed ham? If not I would purchase the scanner. With that said you can purchase the Boefang radios for about $35-40 a copy, on Amazon. I would not suggest purchasing a two way radio unless you are licensed, because if you transmit on the radio you open yourself up to adverse action from the FCC. The average fine is about $10,000. Get a good digital scanner, and enjoy it until such time your area changes operating modes.
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Old 12-17-2013, 8:05 PM
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I was the same way back a couple years ago and ended up going ahead and making the switch over to a ham radio to listen railroads like you were saying on your scanners. I figure once they switched I could sell the ham radios and get whatever I could to put towards new NXDN radios.

I use FT-250R when track side and it has been excellent radio. Only downside I would give it is doesn't allow you set up channel banks. If that something you'd like to do then the FT-270 would be a better fit. I've also heard good reports about the Kenwood TH-K20A from few other train related websites. And if looking into mobile/base the Kenwood TM-281A is also great radio. I use three of these for my rail feeds.
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Old 12-17-2013, 8:22 PM
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ir buy an icom 3151 which is a commercial radio but it is nxdn capable with a chip install yea the price is a little steep but its a great radio
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Old 12-17-2013, 8:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lars128 View Post
I am going to update my scanner soon; my home county is going digital and an adjacent county already is. This got me thinking about selling my Pro-97 and either using it towards a new scanner of a dedicated ham radio for railfanning. The 97 and RH77CA is a good combination but I know a ham radio still has me beat in most instances.

My concern is will it be fruitless to buy a ham radio only to watch the NXDN switch over the next two or three years? Any scanner I buy will still pick up RR frequencies, but not as well as a ham radio. I'm only getting trackside once a month or less right now and I spend most of my time around the NS Pittsburgh line if that makes a difference.
Buy the ham radio. I suggest the new Yaesu FT-252. It's around $100. Until you actually see the massive move to NXDN, I wouldn't even give it a second thought.
Talk about ALL railroads going to NXDN at one time, is as bad as all the conjecture about what the new Uniden and Whistler scanners are going to be like before they even hit the market.
If you have followed the thread about NXDN and railroads in this forum, you'll get a better understanding.
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Old 12-17-2013, 9:24 PM
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Great advice from N811A. NXDN is years away and an awesome ham unit like the Icom ICV8 is around $100.00.

Go for it. Life is too short. You will get many years of enjoyment out of your ham radio before NXDN ever kicks in.

The reception on the rail bands with a good ham or commercial radio is far superior to any scanner on the market.
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Old 12-17-2013, 10:35 PM
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You all are doing a good job of convincing me.

Does anyone offer a ham radio, new or used, that runs off of AA batteries? I think I would rather use eneloops rather than being bound to a proprietary battery.
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Old 12-18-2013, 7:41 AM
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Most of them have an accessory battery pack that you can buy separately that will hold AA batteries.

Most ham radios come with a standard rechargeable battery pack and charger.
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Old 12-29-2013, 9:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lars128 View Post
You all are doing a good job of convincing me.

Does anyone offer a ham radio, new or used, that runs off of AA batteries? I think I would rather use eneloops rather than being bound to a proprietary battery.
ICOM IC-V80 Sport. The model is being discontinued so it might not be in stock.

Icom V80 Icom IC-V80 HT 2 Meter
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Old 12-29-2013, 10:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lars128 View Post
You all are doing a good job of convincing me.

Does anyone offer a ham radio, new or used, that runs off of AA batteries? I think I would rather use eneloops rather than being bound to a proprietary battery.

The Yaesu FT-250r does and I carry it as back up just in case. Also another feature that I also like is the 250r has manual squelch knob. Also the process to program in frequencies in manually can be little pain as it set of steps to repeat, but once you get the channel step set-up it goes pretty fast. They have program CD to buy, but if your not planning a lot changes i'd save the money.

I also replaced the factory antenna with MFJ-1717S while lot taller it helped a bunch on reception.

Last edited by Eng3ineer; 12-29-2013 at 10:24 PM..
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