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Alinco DR-138T

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k6cpo

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I'm looking for information on the Alinco DR-138T VHF mobile transceiver. I've been tasked with gathering information on radios to equip a couple of Maintenance of Way vehicles for a local railroad museum.

Although, it's listed as an amateur transceiver, the Alinco DR-138T is Part 90 certified and narrow-band capable. I'm not interested in a discussion of the legalities of these radios. We have all the necessary licenses and already operate a number of mobile and handheld radios on the proper frequencies.

I'm interested in any information on the DR-138T, including ease of operation, convenience, programming and durability.

Thanks.
 

mmckenna

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What I can tell you about them has to do with them being both amateur friendly and part 90 compliant.

The two don't always go together well.
The FCC Part 90 rules are pretty clear about the user not having controls to change the frequency of the radio. This usually translates into the VFO function being disabled in such a way that the end user can't mess with it and get off frequency.

If the VFO is locked out and the end user can't add frequencies that you are not licensed for, and it's got Part 90 certification, then it's probably OK.

Where I'd question it is how well it handles high RF fields. Some of the amateur gear doesn't do well with strong pager systems, they'll pick up a lot of crap. Since I haven't used one of these, I really can't say, but it would be one of the big questions I'd want answered first.

Personally, for the reasons you listed "Ease of operation, convenience, programming and durability", I'd look at something else. Kenwood, Motorola, Icom, etc.
The Alinco microphones never impressed me. I'd be worried about the beating they'd take in the real world.
A good used Motorola CDM-750 or CDM-1250 will fit your needs. You can pick these up used for $75 - $150 on e-Bay.
Several of the Kenwood models would be good choices, TK-7180, NX-700, TK-780, etc. Kenwood would be easier/cheaper to program and they are very durable.

Not sure I'd go cheap. I understand the desire for cheaper programming, but the tradeoffs of using an amateur grade radio in real world service might not make the best financial sense in the long run.
 

k6cpo

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Thanks for the input. You made some good points, especially about the microphone. I have an Alinco 6 meter mobile and I'm not enamored of the microphone.

The operator would need to have the ability to change between two frequencies, one for our yard and another for the main line. Other than that, everything else would be locked out.

One of the issues here is cost. It comes down to what the museum is willing to pay and the radio is going to be used on an open vehicle that cannot be locked up when not in use. It would have to be either removable or inside some kind of lockable enclosure. I would hate to lose an expensive Motorola to theft.

It would not be operated in a high RF environment because there is no one else using this particular stretch of railroad except the museum.

I need to do more research.
 

mmckenna

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Last Motorola CDM-750 I bought I paid $75.00. Not quite "disposable income", but I wouldn't lose sleep if something happened to it. I've got one mounted out in the open in a Polaris Ranger.

If you do a remote head install, all you might risk loosing is the control head and mic.

Easy solution I've seen done before is to use something like this:
NEMA Enclosure - 12x10x4 Clear Door Latch Locks

R4 electrical enclosure with a clear door. You can lock them easily. Still allows view of the radio.
 
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