first radio

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I'm sure this question gets asked ALL the time but i will try an put in as much info as i can so its not just another.. "whats the best radio" post...

I am working on getting my tech license and hope to start taking the test at the end of this month or in july.
that being said i want to go ahead and order my radio and install it in my truck.. one day I will get a base unit. but for now I want this question to be for in my truck mobile unit only. I travel for work a lot. I live in north east Texas but on any given day i might go from Dallas to Houston to new york state... and everywhere in between.. I spend A LOT of time on the road.. CB radios give me NO reward talking to truckers and i really want to get into HAM radios. I won't list all the obvious benefits here.. so now you no i will be mobile.. and not just mobile in the same region .. i might be on the longview Texas repeater one day and on a repeater in north PA 2 days later... i of course will get want to get my general i am sure as soon as i can study and learn it.. I am thinking on a budget of around 500.00 for a radio or less..
and i want as many options as possible .. i don't want to have to buy a new radio in 6 months or 2 years how ever long it takes me to learn my generals.... i have a small general idea of how ham radios work when it comes to distance but without getting too technical i want maximum range... reason being if i get into a good conversation i want to be able to keep it going while driving.. and when meeting new friends talk to them if possible from all over the US... ( i understand this won't always be possible ) but i want the equipment to do so when it is...
so i hope that gives you all enough good info to make the right recommendations for my first radio so i can order this sucker, install it and start listening and learning while i am working on getting my call sign!
thanks in advance
JD
 

vagrant

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Kenwood TM-D710GA if you think you might enjoy APRS and having the radio transmit packets showing your location, as well as receiving the location of others using APRS. If not, then the Kenwood TM-V71A is a fine radio. Kenwood provides free software you can download, or it may even come on a disk with the radio. You can use the respective radio software to program in the various repeaters you may use as you roll down the highway. (You will need to purchase a cable to connect the radio to the computer.) As both of these radios are dual receive, you can have one channel scanning through the frequencies you programmed in, while the other sits on the 2 meter national call frequency.

Yaesu makes fine radios as well, but no free software to program the radio. (Before anyone chimes in about CHIRP, I have more misses than hits with that free software. I do wish it success, as it would be nice to use one software program for all of my radios.)

You wrote of obtaining your General license in the near future as well. While I recommend separate radios for VHF/UHF and another for HF stuff like the Kenwood 480SAT, you may find that the Yaesu 857D is a one radio multi-band solution that may work best for you. LDG makes a fine tuner for that Yaesu.

Finally, we come to antennas. That is going to depend on your vehicle and what would suit you best, as well as how you plan to use the radio, or radios. A Tarheel, or Tarheel Jr. may work for the HF side of things. For VHF/UHF Diamond should have an antenna and mount solution that will work for you.

I own the Kenwood TM-D710 and the TS-480SAT which has a built in tuner. I prefer to have separate radios, but that may not work best for your setup and needs. Because these radios have remote head units, I am able to mount the radios under a seat, yet still have control. The Yaesu 857D also has a control head you can mount away from the radio.

Take your time and think it through. Remember the responses you'll receive are radios and antennas that work best for those individuals, for their specific setup and tastes.
 
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Amazing answer exactly what I was looking for! .so in your opinion do you think I Will be happy with a VHF/uhf only radio for the kind of talking I want to do? Maybe I won't ever news to Get my generals..remember I am still new to this..I am about to look up those kenwoods now! Thanks for the info buddy!! Oh and antenna info as well

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kayn1n32008

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+1 on the TM-v71a I have had one for a while now, it replaced a FT-8800, and I have not looked back.

For an antenna, I would recommend a Larsen NMO 2/70 with the open coil. Good solid antenna.

Regardless of what anyone tells you here, go to an amateur radio supplier and play with the offerings from the various companies, figure out what radio YOU like. In the sub $500 range there are a few options. Even Anytone, and some other cheap Chinese offerings have dual/multi band offerings.


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vagrant

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Amazing answer exactly what I was looking for! .so in your opinion do you think I Will be happy with a VHF/uhf only radio for the kind of talking I want to do? Maybe I won't ever news to Get my generals..remember I am still new to this..I am about to look up those kenwoods now! Thanks for the info buddy!! Oh and antenna info as well
If you're not sure you will test for your General license, then avoid the Yaesu 857D and save money.

Re-reading your initial post it seems the Kenwood TM-V71A may be the solution for you. The cost is around $370. As far as range, that will depend upon each particular repeater, your setup, and the setup of the other person.

There is also the option of purchasing an ICOM VHF/UHF radio that has D-STAR. This is a different type of setup. While you can still program repeaters into the radio as previously mentioned, this system can also connect you to others who use D-STAR in another state, or country. The Icom ID-880H is an entry level radio into D-STAR and there are other improved ICOM radios that you can upgrade with a D-STAR type module. I do not have any personal experience using this system, but it is an option you should consider based on your requested needs. Please note that you will still need to be in range of a D-STAR repeater to use those particular functions. There's probably a web page that maps that out somewhere. Hmm...I think there are some ICOM radios that will automatically program the repeaters into the radio using GPS.
 
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thanks guys! i looked up the Kenwood TM-V71A last night and did a search on youtube as well on it and programming it and everything looks great! even for me with zero experience looks like i could use this radio in no time!. i almost want to order one UNTIL you told me about D-STAR.. one thing I don't understand just yet about it.. looking around the net it says you need t be hooked to a computer? or am i reading that wrong? if thats the case I wouldn't be able to be mobile with D star on a base unit? not sure if i am understanding that right because the ICOM model you recommended looks like a mobile unit.. is it that the repeaters are on a computer? or do you have to have a computer in your car? If all you have to do is have the radio like the Kenwood TM-V71A then this might be worth looking into as i did a search and there is a Dstar repeater near me several in fact... i just don't understand what exactly it is yet...got to do some more research.. if you guys or anyone else could give me the dumbed down run down on it in a nutshell that would be great! and helpful.. in the meantime back to the research.. ( half the FUN!)
thanks again! I'm enjoying getting into this hobby already and getting excited about getting my first radio and license..
 
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hmmm i am liking the ICOM IC-2820H i understand it will oat another 189.99 to actually make it run D-STAR if i want it too but looks like a pretty darn good radio .. what do you think? ..almost had me sold on the ken wood lol now i don't want to make a mistake because this icon looks way more complicated but does look stout! duel band as well plus for only 189 bucks more i can add D star if i decide i want to go that way
 

AK9R

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I would only consider the Icom IC-2820, or the ID-5100, which seems to be the IC-2820's replacement, if I wanted to do D-Star. If I didn't want D-Star, and wanted a full-featured dual-band mobile, the Kenwood TM-V71 or Yaesu FT-8800 would be the choices I'd consider.

Before you make a decision about D-Star, see if you can find any D-Star repeaters and see how much D-Star activity there is in your area. Here is one source for that information: D-StarUsers.org Your Source for D-Star Digital Amateur Radio Information!
 

vagrant

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1. You do not need a computer to operate that ICOM radio.
2. There's no dumbing it down. You will need to research and see if that fits your needs. It is more involved then that Kenwood.
3. I personally prefer to use a computer to program my radios, but the computer is not needed to operate the radio.

You should also know that when a digital signal drops, it drops. With analog you can typically still carry on a conversation, but the audio quality is reduced. Now, that D-Star radio does both analog and digital, so you can talk with others on regular repeaters. It is just that D-Star may offer more options that you might enjoy.

Some HAM's have found that they never use the D-Star option and end up selling their radios. There are various ICOM D-Star radio options, so look at them all and compare with analog. It is usually the added expense that turns operators off to the D-Star option.

Don't rush into anything and read read read. Study and pass your test...that's the more important part. :)
 

LtDoc

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Unless you have a 'D-Star' repeater system near you you would be wasting money (in my opinion). I'm a Kenwood fan so guess which/what I would recommend!
- 'Doc
 

KC8ESL

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John -

Jumping directly into D-Star for a new ham seems a bit excessive, but that is only my opinion and yours may differ.

I'm all for the TM-V71A, and as the others have said, if you want to try APRS, which as a trucker, would be of real value to see who is sitting on .52 simplex if their radio is identifying the other VFO on their radio the D710GA would be a great rig, when accompanied by a serial GPS device.

I'm not offering to sell anything, but have you considered a used rig? Often cheaper, might have a few scratches, but hey, its going in YOUR truck where a new radio will have the same scratches in a few months anyways. Just suggesting...

I'm assuming you mean you have a big rig (KW, Freightliner, Volvo, etc etc etc) and most of those cabs are completely fiberglass so an NMO mount is out of the question. The only thing I could see for a 3/8"x 24 is the MFJ 1414 antenna. Run one side as CB, the other side as a 2m/70cm antenna, no phasing harness.

Have you considered going absolutely crazy and buying an HF/VHF/UHF all-mode rig? In the middle of no-where, 10m can be awfully fun when it is open.
 
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No no no big rig for me lol I work in oil and gas and I well integrity engineer.. basically I run diagnostics Wells.. I drive a Ford f150 crew cab.. Get a new one every 120k miles lol so I'll be remounting this thing every 2-3 years or so.. yeah Longview my hometown does have D star but I have pretty much decided on the Kenwood TM-V71A. Unless someone else comes up with a better debate...I figure learn everything there..then take my generals and Get another radio that covers all bands and probably use that first radio in my personal truck that I only drive local..so it won't really go to waste... I'm learning about linked repeaters on 2meters right now and Longview and Shreveport happen to have one it looks like..also Dallas and Houston have them and I am there a lot with work..so that could be FUN! looks as though I have 20 repeaters all within 25 to 32 miles away so that might be some good fun to learn with my tech license

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APRS.. so when driving all over Texas and the US I could see all on simplex within range that are sending out their location?? Hmmm could really be interesting and nice tool to find new people traveling to chat with! Just don't understand it yet..back to researching!!!

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KW4HKY

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Spend $140 on a new Yaesu 2900. 4 power levels and the best audio on any price radio.

440 is next to dead in most areas. Do spend the money on a 5/8 wave antenna. Mag mount is fine to start with. $250 and you have the best possible 2 meter rig. Don't go nuts to start . like me. I'm back to Ic 8000 in my home and vehicles. Just wanted one radio and one set of software. You will have plenty of chances to check out what's on the market. People love to show new hams their rigs.

I learned the hard way to avoid used gear except for Icom still under warranty. It transfers.

People pay new prices for used rigs. Just check ebay. Stupidity.

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MeddleMan

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mine

In my ranger, I employ an Icom ic208h dual band radio over a Uniden pcl122 SSB radio. Couldn't insert a pic a with my Android.
 

w2xq

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Just a suggestion about 440. You may find a number of wide-area linked systems in your travels. Around here: W3BXW, N3KZ, W2NJR, W3LAN all on 440 cover huge areas from NYC to DC to wPA. There are monster systems in the west too. Might be worth investigating. HTH.
 
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I am learning that.. but one thing I am having trouble figuring out is if any of my local 440 frequency repeaters are linked? How do you find out?

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w2xq

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Aside from the national resources like the ARRL and repeaterbook.org and RR itself, look up local repeater call signs on qrz.com to find info and perhaps web sites describing the repeater(s) setup. Search for "Texas amateur radio repeater lists" to perhaps find some locally-prepared lists, or look on area ham radio club sites. All you need is a thread to pull on that old sweater, and you'll be on your way. HTH.
 

K7DDQ

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I have both V71A and D710, both are great. The V71A is an exceptional radio with great features. You will not be disappointed. For traveling, APRS on the D710 can be fun if you can afford it. Those of us with the older 710s have either no GPS or an external GPS. The D710GA has GPS included but now we're getting out of your budget. There is something to be said for consistency and while this doesn't directly relate to your question, it is a vote of confidence... I have three Kenwood mobiles and need another. I'm thinking of keeping one, swapping out two, adding a fourth and having four identical models. It will be either the 71 or 710 for sure! I just have to decide which one or possibly the D710GA. That would mean four new radios if I did the GA, a bit out of my price range right now but I sell the used gear either on eBay or ham forums with buy sell trade areas. That can be a good place to look for a used D710 with GPS within your budget. See, I brought that back around to being relevant.

Oh and 440 may be dead in some areas but not most of the more populated areas and if you travel, I think you'd miss not having it, even just knowing there is something else out there that I can't get to would bother me so I would definitely recommend dual tuner and dual band such as either Kenwood mentioned here.

Oh and if you have any interest in monitoring other services, police, aviation, etc, look for wide band receive and other modes such as AM. I use mine for scanning several other bands. I do program with a computer with the add on cable and no, the computer is not needed all the time, just program and disconnect.

I avoid DStar. I like Kenwood and am too lazy to learn other companies menu systems. My wife's Yaesu HT infuriates me. I cannot use it. Also I don't like the idea that it is a proprietary system so I have just avoided it. I feel it violates the traditional ideas we learned about no encryption, not obfuscating meanings of our transmissions, etc. I know that this is not exactly what DStar is doing and I'm not trying to start a DStar debate, I just have not gone that direction for these reasons.
 
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