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Old 06-28-2017, 9:07 PM
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Smile Recommendations for 2m/70cm Dual Band 50W+ Mobile Transceiver

Hey all,

Trying to get back into the ham radio scene.... When I first got my license in 2008, I picked up an ICOM 208H. After college started to pick up....I kind of lost time and interest, and sold it. Fortunately that's all done and over with.

Much to my chagrin, ICOM doesn't make any radios like it anymore. It had such an intuitive interface, and 50/55W of power. They have double Tx/Rx radios like the 2730H (which I don't want), and the 4100A which doesn't have a wide spectrum scanner like the 208H (wtf???). I seriously do not understand the latter, as my 208H could monitor pretty much every frequency from the double digits into the 900's. The 2730 only receives from 118–174 and 375– 550MHz.

Are there any dual band transceivers out there that are built rock solid, have as much power, and have a control interface as intuitive at the 208H? I say that because I'm more of a casual operator...and don't really want anything too complicated. Just something simple, powerful, easy to use, and has auto-repeater offset functionality (not sure if all radios generally have this).

Thank you in advance!
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Old 06-28-2017, 11:08 PM
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Control interface comfort is an individual thing. Once you get accustomed to one manufacturers interface, it can seem foreign to go to another brand. When I got my amateur ticket the first few radios I purchased were Yaesu. After about 10 years, I started using Icom. Big difference, but I grew to like it. Later, I switched to Kenwood amateur gear, and it was another learning curve.

My own -opinion- is that the Kenwood radios have a nice interface. Ask someone else and they'll have their own opinion. Ask 10 different people and you'll get at least 11 different opinions. It's all an individual thing, like Ford versus Chevy. People will argue it to death (especially amateurs).

What I'd recommend is to go to one of the larger amateur radio stores (if you have one nearby) and try them for yourself. Only you can decide what you are comfortable with, and the only way to know that is to try. Ham Radio Outlet, Amateur Electronic Supply, and probably a few others have brick and mortar stores where you can get your mitts on a radio.

I've long since sold off all my amateur gear and switched to commercial gear, however if I was going to purchase another amateur mobile radio, my own personal choice would be a Kenwood TM-D710. I had one for many years, and it was a nice radio. It's dual band, has a nice display and will do APRS. The hand microphones are very similar to the mics they use on their commercial radios, and they are built much better than Icom or Yaesu (again, MY opinion). Since you'll spend more time holding the mic that any other part of the radio, make sure the microphone is a style/design you can live with.

As for the wide spectrum stuff, sure it's nice, but it comes with a drawback. The wide spectrum radios don't usually have really good filtering on their front ends. If they did, it'd reduce the wide band receive function. Instead, they are very wide and the radios can get easily overloaded by strong nearby transmitters, even stuff outside the amateur bands.
While it may not seem like a problem, if you live in a big city, the intermod can quickly drive you nuts.

If you are not in the city, then don't be too concerned.
While the amateur transceivers with wide band receive are a nice option, you can always get a dedicated scanner. The scan speed is much faster than an amateur radio, and the newer ones will do P25, DMR, NXDN and more. Things an amateur radio won't be able to decode.

As for a less complex radio, the Kenwood TM-V71 is a nice radio, same RF deck as the TM-D710, however the control head doesn't have all the functions, no APRS, etc.

I was mostly pleased with the Yaesu FT-7800 (now discontinued) I had in one of my trucks. Fairly wide band receive, easy interface, low cost. Might be a good option, too.
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Old 06-28-2017, 11:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmckenna View Post
As for a less complex radio, the Kenwood TM-V71 is a nice radio, same RF deck as the TM-D710, however the control head doesn't have all the functions, no APRS, etc..
mm is right on target, I also have TM-V71 and they work great. Gigaparts has them on sale.
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Old 06-29-2017, 5:14 AM
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MM is dead on, about the interface choice. Using smartphones as an analogy, iPhones are supposed to be user friendly, but they frustrate me beyond belief. I can get an Android phone to do almost anything I want, in seconds. Most current models use menu systems, to access features, so checking if that system makes sense to you is a good idea.

If you are not near a brick & mortor store, ask around at the local club(s). Someone might be willing to let you try their radio.

I like the V71, as well, but it might not suit you.

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Old 06-29-2017, 7:11 AM
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The Yaesu ft-7900 is dual band and has wide coverage receive, 108-520, 700-1000.
There's the quad band Yaesu FT-8900r which will tx/RX 10m, 6m in addition to the 108-520 and 700-1000.
There are also the TYT th-9800 and Wouxun KG-uv950p which do similar things.
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Old 06-29-2017, 1:02 PM
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+1 on the Kenwood TM-v71a and the TM-D710ga... Both are excellent, dual-band/dual-receive radios with lots of capability.

The Yaesu FT7900, a dual-band/single-receive radio is the successor to the popular but older FT7800. The FTM-100DR is a newer analog/digital (fusion) radio... also dual-band/single-receive.

Suggest you check out the many reviews on eHam.net, or better yet... try to check out some models in person.

John AC4JK
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Old 06-29-2017, 1:56 PM
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Thank you all for the input so far.

Is there any objective consensus on whether Kenwood or ICOM builds a more robust radio? None of the hams are made to "MIL-810" spec like the commercials all appear to be. Call me paranoid, but it'd be nice for radio that would survive a relatively jostling SHTF scenario.

It seems like the contenders are:

Kenwood TM-D710GA
ICOM ID-4100A (which succeeded the ID-880H, that was an update to the 208H)
Yaesu FT-7900R (only does 40W on 70cm as opposed to 50W)
Yaesu FTM-100DR

Decisions, decisions.....
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Old 06-29-2017, 2:53 PM
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Another plus on the Kenwood...It also has cross band repeat. Very nice feature for using an HT around the house or an event that is not capable of making it to a Repeater. Once set up properly, the range of your HT will be the same as your Kenwood rig.
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Old 06-29-2017, 2:57 PM
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The two Yaesus you list are one-band-at-a-time radios. That is, they can only receive on one "side" of the radio at a time. The Kenwood TM-D710 and it's TM-V71 brother can receive two signals simultaneously, one on each "side" of the radio. For example, I have a TM-V71 and I'm a railfan. When I driving around, I scan the local 2m and 440 repeater frequencies on one side of the radio and scan railroad frequencies on the other side of the radio.

I think that the Icom ID-4100 may be a one-band-at-a-time radio, too. The ID-4100 will do D-STAR digital voice and it will do analog. If you aren't looking to get on D-STAR, then I'm not sure the ID-4100 is a good buy.
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Old 06-29-2017, 3:00 PM
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The Kenwood's have always been excellent radios; if you want APRS abilities as well as the potential to play with "SkyCommand", you can't beat the Kenwood TM-D710GA; if you just want a rock solid 2-Meter and 70-CM dualbander, the Kenwood TM-V71A is a excellent choice.

Do yourself a favor, avoid the Yaesu FTM-400 series radios; they have numerous PA final issues, the software and firmware are severely lacking and Yaesu's quality control and support is terrible. While it does APRS, it's now here near as versatile as the Kenwood TM-D710GA.

Another good choice, but expensive is the ICOM ID-5100 radio; this includes D-Star but lacks APRS abilities; it's a great radio if you want to play with D-Star digital; but if not, I'd go with the Kenwood hands down! I have two of the TM-D710GA radios as well as two of the TS-480 HF radios; best bang for the buck.

Also, avoid any temptation of the cheap Chinese radios; while they are cheaper, you get what you pay for and I will leave it at that!

Good luck and 73...

Jerry, W2GLD
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Old 06-29-2017, 3:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by K9RNW View Post
Thank you all for the input so far.

Is there any objective consensus on whether Kenwood or ICOM builds a more robust radio? None of the hams are made to "MIL-810" spec like the commercials all appear to be. Call me paranoid, but it'd be nice for radio that would survive a relatively jostling SHTF scenario.
Mil-spec 810 is a range and there are multiple parts to it. Manufacturers claiming MilSpec 810 without any details are not really saying much. Technically any radio can have an 810 rating, what matters is what level of 810 rating is has. Is it rain proof? Splash resistance? submersible? There's a lot more variables than just having 810 or not.

Quote:
Originally Posted by K9RNW View Post
It seems like the contenders are:

Kenwood TM-D710GA
ICOM ID-4100A (which succeeded the ID-880H, that was an update to the 208H)
Yaesu FT-7900R (only does 40W on 70cm as opposed to 50W)
Yaesu FTM-100DR

Decisions, decisions.....
Kenwood.

And the reason is their microphones. Most of the Yaesu microphones I've had have failed. They are a design that is not very ergonomic, and the multitude of buttons/switches is cumbersome. This is -my- opinion only, but in my own personal experience Yaesu microphones suck. Goes all the way back to the first FT-2400 mobile I purchased.

Icom isn't much better. When I used to use their commercial stuff I kept a stock of replacement PTT switches. I'd have to replace them every year or so. I think I still have some in my shop.

The Kenwood microphones are based of their commercial/public safety grade mics. I have yet to have one fail. I'm running about 100 Kenwood mobiles at work and have never had a microphone fail. The ergonomics are way better than Yaesu or Icom (_my_ opinion!).

If durability is your concern, there is no contest.
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Old 06-29-2017, 3:31 PM
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Quote:
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And the reason is their microphones. Most of the Yaesu microphones I've had have failed. They are a design that is not very ergonomic, and the multitude of buttons/switches is cumbersome. This is -my- opinion only, but in my own personal experience Yaesu microphones suck. Goes all the way back to the first FT-2400 mobile I purchased.

Icom isn't much better. When I used to use their commercial stuff I kept a stock of replacement PTT switches. I'd have to replace them every year or so. I think I still have some in my shop.

The Kenwood microphones are based of their commercial/public safety grade mics. I have yet to have one fail. I'm running about 100 Kenwood mobiles at work and have never had a microphone fail. The ergonomics are way better than Yaesu or Icom (_my_ opinion!).

If durability is your concern, there is no contest.
When I first bought my Yaesu FT-8900, I had mic problems. If I breathed on the button, the transmitter keyed up. The button was waaaay too sensitive, I was afraid to even handle the mic. I took the mic apart and shaved a cam on the button that activated the microswitch and now it works like a charm.

I learned on RR that this is a common problem. Fortunately, it had an easy solution.
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Old 06-29-2017, 3:42 PM
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When I first bought my Yaesu FT-8900, I had mic problems. If I breathed on the button, the transmitter keyed up. The button was waaaay too sensitive, I was afraid to even handle the mic. I took the mic apart and shaved a cam on the button that activated the microswitch and now it works like a charm.

I learned on RR that this is a common problem. Fortunately, it had an easy solution.
Yeah, that was one of the problems…
The other one was that after a while the case started to fall apart. Had to glue a few back together. Had to reterminate a few RJ connectors.

After a while, I just gave up. I expect more from my radios.
Considering the microphone is the part of the mobile radio we handle the most, I never understood why amateur radio manufacturers didn't put a bit more effort into designing them.
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Old 06-29-2017, 4:51 PM
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Quote:
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Considering the microphone is the part of the mobile radio we handle the most, I never understood why amateur radio manufacturers didn't put a bit more effort into designing them.
You make a great point!
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Old 06-29-2017, 5:38 PM
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You make a great point!
One of a few reasons why I switched to commercial gear. Holding a nice Motorola or Kenwood microphone is a much nicer experience.

Wouldn't take much for Icom and Yaesu to bring their mics up to snuff.
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Old 06-29-2017, 8:03 PM
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To get the BEST front end, buy the oldest radio you can find

The radios have been getting steadily worse for a number of years so they all suffer intermod and desense like never before
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Old 06-29-2017, 8:32 PM
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Spark gap transmitter!
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Old 06-29-2017, 8:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by K9RNW View Post

It seems like the contenders are:

Kenwood TM-D710GA
ICOM ID-4100A (which succeeded the ID-880H, that was an update to the 208H)
Yaesu FT-7900R (only does 40W on 70cm as opposed to 50W)
Yaesu FTM-100DR

Decisions, decisions.....
Just my two cents worth....the FTM-100DR has an extented recieve of 108-999. Solid radio. Good luck on your decision.
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Old 06-29-2017, 10:10 PM
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I have read a lot of these questions on numerous posts. The Kenwood’s seem to be favored more. Personally, I like the Yaesu and have used FT-8900 for 15 years without mic problems or other problems. I recently went to the FTM-400 because of Fusion and have had no problems. Yes, the APRS is not as functional as the Kenwood, but to transmit and receive positions, which I wanted it to do, it is fine. I did purchase a TM-710 a couple of years ago, and finally got around to programming it and installing it. This past weekend I used the FTM-400 for voice and the 710 for APRS. Then I scanned with both and noticed that the 710 picked up more interference [both radio have the exact same frequencies programmed]. But this is preliminary and I will have to use a lot more before I can confirm but just initial impression. As for mics, again it is preference. I like the Yaesu mics and have had no problems with any of them. I did find the Kenwood mic “chunky”. Further use and I might get used to it as well. And I believe I read something about a clicking sound when using the 710 which may be a mic problem in older mics.. But I haven’t transmitted too much with the Kenwood yet. If you haven’t looked at eHam.net yet, do so but you will probably find similar comments as hear but not comparisons.
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Old 06-29-2017, 11:52 PM
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I understand, some don't have an issue with the mics. I've been using commercial gear for a long time and I just find the skinny Yaesu and Icom microphone annoying and uncomfortable to hold.
Glad to hear they are working out for you. I did like the Yaesu radios I've owned.
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