Buying my first radio, lots of research done, looking for advice

Status
Not open for further replies.

KD2DLT

Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2014
Messages
5
Location
Cayuga County, NY
Since this is my first post, Hello! I received my technician license about a year ago and I’ve been lurking on this site since then. I recently got motivated to finish my research and get a radio. Many of my questions had already been posted, so I’ve found a lot of useful information already. I’m going to a radio club meeting next week and I’d like some input before I go.

I’ll be spending most of my time in Cayuga, Tompkins, Cortland and Onondaga counties in NY. My research on this site and the local club site tells me that a 2m or a 2m/70cm radio would connect with local repeaters and seems to be what I would want in my area.

After thinking about how I would use the radio I’ve decided that I would like to get a handheld radio. I don’t want a home base simply because I have too many other things that need my attention at home. I looked seriously at mobile units but they still look too big for me to want to take with me boating, kayaking or hiking, so I think I would leave it in the car and not use it as much. Since I have to sacrifice power with a HT, I would like to make sure I get a good quality radio.

At this point I’m down to either the Yaesu FT-60R 144/440 (HRO price $150) or the Kenwood TH-F6A 144/220/440 (HRO price $295).

It looks like the Yaesu would meet my needs, but maybe spending more on the Kenwood would be a good investment. Or is the Kenwood way more than I need right now?

The accessories and antenna for each seem to be about the same. I’ll need everything: radio, antenna, mounts, connectors, adapters, cables, etc. I’d be interested in having an upgraded antenna for the HT in general, and another connected in the car. I’ll drill a hole in the car if needed.

Anything from your general thoughts to a complete shopping list would be appreciated.

Mike KD2DLT
 

WB4CS

Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2005
Messages
899
Location
Northern Alabama
Welcome to the forum and to the hobby!

While I am most certainly a Kenwood guy, I would go with the FT-60. I own one and I'll tell you it's a very well made handheld.

The Kenwood Tri-Band is a nice radio, but unless there are any 222 MHz repeaters in your area (there are NONE in my area) then I feel the Kenwood would be overkill. Sure, the Kenwood does allow you to monitor the HF and Shortwave bands, but from what I've heard, the radio isn't that great on receiving the HF bands. Also, a personal gripe of mine is the Kenwood triband is just too darn small of a radio.

The FT-60 has a great receiver, the transmit audio is clear, and it's a good size HT - although it is a little heavy due to the battery. It will also receive from 108 - 1000 MHz, so you'll be able to monitor the 222 MHz ham band, but not transmit on it.

Good luck!
 

N0IU

Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2009
Messages
800
Location
Wentzville, Missouri
Personally, having a radio with 220MHz capabilities is not worth twice the price of a 2m/70cm radio. One of the other things that will really come in helpful is a programming cable. It isn't necessary to buy programing software since the CHIRP program (Home - CHIRP) will work with the FT-60R and it is free!
 

W9BU

Lead Wiki Manager
Super Moderator
Joined
Jul 18, 2004
Messages
5,894
Location
Brownsburg, Indiana
While the Kenwood is a nice radio, it's 10 years old. Technology wise, that's a century. Go with the Yaesu.
The Kenwood TH-F6 was released around 2001. The Yaesu FT-60 was released around 2004. Not really much difference and we're 10 years down the road for both of them.

The more important point is whether or not the OP needs the 222 MHz band. If so, buy the Kenwood. If not, buy the Yaesu.

Other points are the user interface. Having owned both, I think it's a little easier to navigate the menus on the Kenwood, but the buttons are certainly larger on the Yaesu.
 

KD2BMU

Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2009
Messages
80
Location
Heuvelton, NY
I would buy the VX-6 Yaesu over the 60.
I have the Yaesu VX-6R and have loved using it. I bought it used from another ham and it has worked great since I got it. I've never had any issues with it. There is a program software for it called VX-6 Commander. Its free and real easy to use.

Dave
KD2BMU
 

LtDoc

Member
Joined
Dec 4, 2006
Messages
2,145
Location
Oklahoma
Best advice I can think of (and the hardest to do in most cases) is to get your hands on various models and see if you can 'deal' with them, or if they are too difficult for you for whatever reason. That club meeting is a good place to do that 'hands-on' thingy, hams always like bragging about their stuff, you know? Another little 'gem' is that I know of very, VERY, few hams who haven't tried a different radio at one time or another, ain't no biggy.
Good luck.
- 'Doc
 

N2MWE

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jul 30, 2001
Messages
2,461
Location
New York State, Land of King Putz
I own a Kenwoof THF6A. I like having the third band. There are some upstate 220 machines that are active. I used one outside of Horseheads when I went to the Finger Lakes last summer. Is it a little pricey? Yes. Is it worth it? YES!
 

elk2370bruce

Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2002
Messages
2,052
Location
East Brunswick, NJ
For about the same money as a single band unit, you can get a slightly use (but not abused) Yaesu FT7800 or the replacement FT-7900 that is almost identical. 220 Is getting stronger in many places so a decent tribander would be a good acquisition if you have the washingtons to do so.
 

KD2DLT

Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2014
Messages
5
Location
Cayuga County, NY
Thank you everyone for the replies, it is extremely helpful

WB4CS- thanks, I looked a little more and found out that RR lists no 222 MHz repeaters in my area. They are listed in Chemung and Broome counties, but I don't travel there too much. I found 2m/70cm in most places. Also, I thought the Kenwood might be small for my hands.

N0IU- I downloaded chirp, excellent thank you.

I would get probably get the Yaesu VX-6R or the Kenwood TH-F6A if there was a 222 MHz repeater in any of my regular areas.

The comments about the 222MHz band helped me decide I should just save the extra cash for now and get the FT-60. If I outgrow it I know someone who has expressed an interest in ham radio and they'll get it as a nice gift.

The next big thing to tackle is understanding antennas a little better. I suppose there's FT-60 threads out there since it looks like a popular radio.
 

popnokick

Member
Joined
Mar 21, 2004
Messages
1,904
Location
Northeast PA
Just as you will get the best performance from your handheld in the car by connecting it to an external antenna mounted on the vehicle, the same is true when you are at home. So in addition to a mobile antenna, you should plan a dual-band base antenna for the roof of your house. This is going to boost your ability to get into distant repeaters, and increase your simplex range.... particularly in the rolling hills, valleys, and sometimes mountainous terrain in your part of Upstate NY. I was first licensed when I lived there (1968-1975) and know the area well. There are a ton of 2m/70cm base antennas available, and the other hams reading will probably suggest their favorites. Ringo Rangers were the rage when I was there, but the eHam reviews say the Diamond and Comet dual-band base antennas are better. My own experience with all three makers would bear that out as well.
 

KD2DLT

Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2014
Messages
5
Location
Cayuga County, NY
Thanks popnokick, that was on my mind. I was thinking of waiting until I knew more and maybe had help from the club before I installed a home antenna. I figured there was less for me to get wrong with a car antenna.
 

vagrant

ker-muhj-uhn
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Nov 19, 2005
Messages
941
Location
California
I have the TH-F6A and it is wonderful to have 5 watts in a small radio. I use a Diamond RHF10 and bang the local repeaters all day long, but that is my location. A Diamond SRH77CA will definitely help if you're in a more remote area, but as mentioned an antenna on your vehicle and house roof will be a dramatic improvement. Should you need a little more power to hit a repeater, or want to work simplex, you could purchase a 2 meter amplifier and use that in the car with an external antenna. (Make sure the antenna can handle the extra wattage from the amplifier.)

That being said, you should probably go with the Yaesu FT-60. While I do not believe it offers simultaneous dual receive, that probably won't be a deal breaker for you as a new ham. The F6A is a nice radio, but as far as wideband receive capability, it sucks. Connect a proper HF antenna to it and voila...I found it overloaded from local AM broadcast stations. Again, that's my location. You've already been told about the 220 Mhz part.

There is something I should bring up and that is the antenna connection. If you're going to use this in the car, as an HT, and in the house, you will be switching out antennas on it often. Therefore, you should purchase a quality SMA to BNC adapter for the radio and just use BNC antennas/connectors. Cross threading that antenna mount on the HT would probably not be fun.

Remember the radio and the antenna are a system. A mediocre radio with a great antenna is better than the other way around.
 

K5MPH

Member
Joined
Jul 16, 2003
Messages
1,298
Location
Brownsville Texas,On The Border By The Sea.
Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_2_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8C148 Safari/6533.18.5)

I have a friend that has the kenwood and he loves it I think it has better audio than the ft-60, I use a ht also as a mobile I hook it up TP a amp and use as mobile and when not mobile I use as a portable go's both ways, good luck........
 

w2txb

Member
Joined
Sep 22, 2006
Messages
194
Location
Central Upstate NY
Thank you everyone. I ordered the FT-60 with a BNC adapter and Diamond antenna to get me started.
Gee, had I known of this thread, I would have recommended the VX-8DR... four bands (50, 146, 220, and 450 mHz), APRS/GPS, and a ton of other features, although it is more expensive. :wink:

The FT-60 is one heck of a radio... lots of them around and on the air, and they work great. Enjoy the radio and have fun (maybe see you on 147.000 or one of the other nearby repeaters)! :D
 

yaesumofo

Member
Joined
Jan 4, 2003
Messages
314
Location
los Angeles
That is a very good starter radio.
If you get the srh77ca antenna you will not need an adapter.
Yaesu sells a Primary AA battery pack which lets you use duracell (or your own rechargeable) AA batteries. This battery pack is great for camping trips and emergency/disaster operations (one of the primary uses of amateur radio) being able to operate without having to recharge is a big PLUS when the electricity is out.
If you can, Join a local amateur radio club, if none are close by join the ARRL.
The local RED CROSS often has an amateur radio section and is a good option.

Enjoy you Call sign.
73 de W6JHC
James aka Yaesumofo
 

Otis413

Member
Joined
May 10, 2013
Messages
67
Location
Cass WVa
If you're not sure if you need a 220mhz radio I'd recommend the Baofeng UV-82X 2M/1.25M (The UV-82 is 2M/70cm) I just got one today from Amazon for 50 bucks and am rather impressed! I ordered it because I didn't want to sink the money into a good 1.25m mobile and then find I had no use for it.
Around here, 70cm is not used, and there are two 1.25m repeaters, so I think I'm going to like it, it's a big step up from the UV-5R, and the dual PTT button (press top for A, and bottom for B) is a nice touch.

KD8VBV

L to R; UV-5R, UV-82X, Bf777s and Motorola HT1000 (VHF)
 
Last edited:
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top