Another Newbie Question

RockyBennett

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Hello All,
I am very new to the amateur radio hobby and I am just putting together my first rig. I am a senior citizen on a very limited budget, so the equipment that I buy has to be easy to program and also allow me to have years of fun.

With that in mind, especially the ease of programming part, I am considering two different radios as my first (and maybe last) radio. I am looking at the Kenwood TMV-71A and the ICOM ID-4100A. My main interest is the 2 meter band with access to a local repeater (Los Lunas, NM) and possibly some local simplex communications, but I would like to keep options open for 70 cm as well.

So my main question is really about programming. I want to get the radio and be up and running with as little fuss as possible. As a senior citizen my knowledge of computers is very basic, but I do have a couple of decent Windows 10 systems. Also, because I am not much of a home handyman, my proposed antenna is simply a roof mount dual band J-pole antenna, such as the Arrow OSJ 146/440. That antenna should be easy to mount on an existing mast and I should be able to figure out how to route the wire to my rig.

Any ideas or suggestions are greatly appreciated. Because I have not purchased anything yet except a power supply (TekPower TP30SWII), I am open to suggestions. Remember, I am old and I want simple.

Thank in advance for any ideas and information.

Rocky Bennett
 

ladn

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Welcome to the hobby and RR, Rocky!

am considering two different radios as my first (and maybe last) radio. I am looking at the Kenwood TMV-71A and the ICOM ID-4100A. My main interest is the 2 meter band with access to a local repeater
Based on your stated interest, needs and level of technical expertise, I think the Kenwood would be a better choice for you. The Icom is a D-Star radio which means it has a the D-Star digital mode, in addition to conventional FM. This really isn't a simple radio. The Kenwood is a conventional, dual band, FM only radio. It has all the basic features you'd need or will be likely to use.
So my main question is really about programming. I want to get the radio and be up and running with as little fuss as possible. As a senior citizen my knowledge of computers is very basic, but I do have a couple of decent Windows 10 systems.
You can program the Kenwood directly from the radio/microphone, but it's a lot of keystrokes. You are better off with software programming. RT Systems is the standard. The software and cable should be around $50. The software is an easy install and using it is like working with a simple table or spreadsheet. RT Systems has pretty decent online help as well.
because I am not much of a home handyman, my proposed antenna is simply a roof mount dual band J-pole antenna, such as the Arrow OSJ 146/440. That antenna should be easy to mount on an existing mast and I should be able to figure out how to route the wire to my rig.
You will likely get a diversity of opinions on your antenna. You will need to give careful consideration to your coverage and distance requirements. Based on what you have posted, I think you will be happier with an antenna like the Diamond X50A dual band. You will also want to feed it with quality cable and connectors. Depending on how long your cable run is, Times LMR-400 would be a cost effective choice. It is a top quality cable, with low loss. You can purchase it pre cut with connectors professional attached from vendors such as the Antenna Farm (The Antenna Farm, Your two way radio source). This is also a good vendor for your antenna purchase. And, don't forget lightning protection (Polyphaser)!

73!
 

vagrant

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The advice above from ladn is pretty solid.

1. The Diamond X50 cost slightly more than the Arrow, but you will enjoy the TX/RX gain upgrade when using it for simplex and distant repeaters. It is a single piece antenna that does not require tuning and should bring you years of enjoyment. There are bigger and better, but you noted you were on a limited budget and the X50 is a fine antenna.

2. I prefer the RTSystems software, but I have multiple radios and the software easily allows me to copy and paste mostly the same frequencies. If I had time on my hands and one radio, I would program it by hand. It is extremely doubtful repeaters in your area will change much and you can also easily program in most of the VHF/UHF call and simplex frequencies into the memory as well. The Kenwood V71A is not that difficult to program one memory at a time. Perhaps save the $50 and spend it toward the coaxial cable.

3. LMR-400 is good quality coaxial cable. The cable run from your radio to the antenna is probably 50 feet or more and that is where a good coax type shines. There are different quality coax types, but they could reduce your signal by half or more, especially when using UHF.

4. Lightning protection is also a good recommendation and Polyphaser is a great brand. I use them myself. Still, if there is lightning in the area one should also disconnect the coax from the radio. Some people put their Diamond X50 in the attic if it will fit vertically. The signal TX/RX strength is reduced, but one avoids having to worry about the elements. (Mine are outdoors on masts)
 

RockyBennett

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Thank you both for the information. I already knew that the Arrow antenna was really a compromise but easy to install. I will look at the Diamond antenna and see if it is something that I can install.

I was actually leaning towards the Kenwood based on the research that I have done. I think that this radio will fit my needs and not be too complicated. Of course the additional software is something that I will buy right away.

Thanks again for the ideas and recommendations. I love this forum and it has helped me a lot.

Rocky Bennett
 

ladn

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You will find the Diamond X50 to be as easy, and probably easier than the Arrow antenna, to install on a mast.

Neither @vagrant nor I mentioned proper sealing of the outdoor coax connectors. This is a frequent topic on RR. Here's a thread that should be useful Coax Connector Sealing Options. There are also several threads dealing with how to install a lightning protector and associated grounding.

You also didn't ask about a power supply for the transceiver. You'll need one. I have both Astron (RS-25) and Alinco models. I prefer the Alinco for semi-portable use as it's fairly light weight and compact. The Astron is considerably heavier. I've also heard good things about Samlex power supplies. Even though it's a bit more than you need for the Kenwood, I'd recommend a 30A power supply. Some of the newer designs have USB ports for charging phones, etc. Nice if you'd find them useful, but not deal breakers.
 

vagrant

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The Diamond X50 connection is inside the tube, so it is reasonably protected. Still, I do use a bit Scotch 33+ tape on it though...because moisture. To join coax connections though, I do use Scotch 33+ and some coax tape as they are inexpensive yet critical. I also secure the coax to the mast close to the antenna to reduce/eliminate any strain of the coax pulling on the connector.

Rocky noted he did have a power supply, but your examples are good for whomever may stumble into this thread from a search. A Samlex switched power supply has served me well, but I now use a 35 Amp linear Astron as I have HF radios and other stuff I power simultaneously using a distribution block.
 

jaspence

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Check out the Ed Fong antenna. I have had one up for several years with only a change of coax, and it still gives me a 1.4 SWR. Good price, durable, and the money goes to a read cause. Ed's Antennas
 

RockyBennett

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Thank you all very much. The antenna suggestions and info regarding moisture in the coax is greatly appreciated. This is an evolving project and I will definitely be asking more questions as I get into the actual hands on aspect of installing the rig and setting up the programming.


I will continue to study and watch YouTube videos before I actually use the PTT button for the first time, but I am really excited,

Thanks again.

Rocky
 

k6cpo

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Another vote here for the RT Systems software and cables. I have their software for eleven different Yaesu Radios and it's worked flawlessly for me.
 

chief21

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I was actually leaning towards the Kenwood based on the research that I have done. I think that this radio will fit my needs and not be too complicated.
Welcome to amateur radio.

The Kenwood V71 is a solid dual-band radio. The display is relatively large and good for aging eyes. At one point, I owned four of them.
 

wa88it

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Check out the Ed Fong antenna. I have had one up for several years with only a change of coax, and it still gives me a 1.4 SWR. Good price, durable, and the money goes to a read cause. Ed's Antennas
i also purchased two of Ed’s antennas almost 7 years ago where one has been installed on my residence’s roof since and occasionally used w/FT 2900 but primarily w/the FT 60s w/o any noticeable deficients...

and used RT sw with ease.
 

TailGator911

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If you can navigate Windows 10 you should find RT systems software easy to use. Once you learn it, it's as simple as plug n' play menu driven. It is so much easier to program your radio via PC and then load the radio from the computer. Like anything else, repetition is the key. You'll soon be doing it like second nature. I'm old and it works for me. At first, I thought I'd never grasp the concept of programming the SDS digital scanners, but I surprised myself. Believe me, you're not the oldest dog around here trying to learn new tricks :)
 

BLPen163

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I can't speak for the Diamond antenna but the Ed Fong served me very well. Currently an Arrow OSJ 146/440 is on my 30' mast and it's working fantastic. When I put the Arrow up I switched from RG58 to LMR 400. I'm now hitting receives 30+ miles further out than I was before and the signal is significantly better.
 
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