Entry Level VHF Radio

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kf5qgf

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So I'm becoming a hardcore scanner enthusiast, with wires strung across my room, and a solid plan for one for the roof of the house, but I want to get into the transmission end of it as well. I know I need a license from the fcc, which after a bit of studying and a quick test I'm sure won't be a problem, but my question is what would be a good radio for me to start with? Preferably reasonably priced, and if anyone knows any places to score one kinda low, that'd be great too. :) I know this question has probably been asked a thousand times, and for that I apologize. I've been on RR for a couple of months now and I know that everyone gets tired of seeing the same questions asked over and over, but perhaps some leniency here. :) Thanks.

Craig
(Call sign soon to follow)
 

LtDoc

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Craig,
There are two 'schools of thought' about "entry level" radios. One 'says' that you get something very basic, no bells-n-whistles, and that it will cover the frequency bands that you have privileges for. The other 'says' get the best that you can afford and learn to use all those bells-n-whistles. Both schools have merits, which do you think would suit your situation best?
Then you get into what bands you have privileges for, as in class of license. Best advice there is get at least the General class license, it gives you privileges on -all- bands. If you don't want to use any particular band, who says you have to? But then, you still can if you change your mind. None of the license classes are really difficult now. It will typically take more study, but you are given the answers to all the questions to start with, how hard is that? Just do it.
Lots of things you will only find out from being around the hobby for a while, that's normal too, right? so, get your start and go as far as you want to go. The only thing that limits you, is YOU.
Have fun.
- 'Doc
 

SCPD

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I've discovered that amateur radios are like Fords and Chevy's. Some people prefer one over the other for various reasons but they all tend to be good overall. Currently,Yaesu seems to have a better variety and selection in equipment. I've owned "the big three" as well as other brands and I prefer Yaesu and Kenwood. I've had problems with all three brands, mostly just performance/personal based, but nothing major.

If you can get to a ham radio store, with a radio demo area, give them all a try and see what works best for you.
 

LtDoc

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That's probably the best advice you'll get right there. Get your hands on them and see what they will do, how you like them. Unfortunately, it's also the hardest advice to follow, at least for some of us not near any of those 'candy stores'.
- 'Doc
 

ropin4gold

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I would look at the Kenwood TM-271. Since they came out with the 281 I have seen these sell on qth.com from 100-125bux. I like this radio because it has a front facing speaker and higher power than most 2m rigs (65-70 watts). There is a ham I know in Mineral Wells that taught me a lot about the hobby. PM me and I will give you his contact info.
 

N8IAA

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I would recommend the Kenwood 281 too. I've owned my share of Yaesu, Icom, and Kenwood mobiles. I've always loved the transmit/receive of their mobiles (including their commercial models). The next 2m rig I get will be the new 281. Icom really needs a brain check with their IC-2300 at a price of ~ $250. Who are they kidding:confused::confused:
HTH,
Larry
 

LtDoc

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I don't want to get in to the 'Ford/Chevy' thing (and I'm a Kenwood fan). The best radio for you is the one that suits you the best. I do have to say that I recently acquired a '281' and I'm impressed with it's receiver. I find I can hear a few repeaters that were just not 'there' with other radios. I also like the price!
I do wish it were dual band but it serves the purpose I got it for.
-end of commercial-
- 'Doc
 

kf5qgf

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Thank you everyone. LtDoc, I know what you mean, I initially bought a pro-404 to break into the hobby, fun, interesting, but immediately saw the error in my ways and bought a pro-163 so I could trunk, now I want a pro-197 so I can trunk, have analog and conventional systems, and have p25 systems. Wish I'd only spent the money on the 197 from the get go, and had all my bells and whistles from the start. However my current budget doesn't allow for a luxury radio right now. Ropin4gold, i'm about to pm you as soon as I send this. Thanks for the connection. I've got a ham at work, but haven't really had much time to sit down and talk with him. I always value a new fount of information. Thankyou everyone for the advice.

Craig
 

grogan

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Nov 7, 2006
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Kenwood 281 nice radio and dont forget with a roof top antenna and power-supply run some coax, you can run as a Base rig.
 

k7ng

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CN73
Kind of late putting my 2 cents in, but I agree with the idea that you should get a radio that does more than you immediately require, otherwise you'll be buying another one sooner than you think. I do, however, think that "top of the line" might be overkill since there might be a lot you'll NEVER use, and often the instructions and methods you need just to manage the radio get intimidating unless you've been doing it for a while.

I also suggest that if you are going to get a radio, get one for base/mobile (as about everyone who has replied seems to have advised, though not directly), rather than a handheld, as people who are just getting started might be frustrated when they keep bumping into the range limitations of a handheld.

There are really four brands of basic to middle-range radios: Icom, Kenwood Yaesu, and don't forget Alinco.

The advice to put your hands on any model and try it is the best you'll get. There are detail differences between the radios, but much of what makes it or breaks it for you is how well the radio 'makes sense' to you. I have done radio for many years, both as a hobby and as a profession, and I can say that at least half of my personal preference for any radio is whether it 'feels' good to me. I have owned radios by the above four manufacturers, and many many commercial radios of other brands. I have some brand preferences based on reliability & performance specs but again, lots on how well I mesh with the radio.
 
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