HT for a newbie.

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KD0LWU

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I plan on taking my test Saturday, just to have another tool in the tool box. I don't plan on talking much, but want to if I need to.
Now before we go down the "mobile is better for a newbie" path, I have a GREAT ham shack close, I can get linears used, 5 in 50 out, $60-$75 all day, and a mobile antenna, or a base antenna and be good.I want compact, portable and all inclusive.
I've about written off Icom because of the reviews I've read, and the prices, I can't see paying that much, and not getting anything better for it.
I started with the Yeasu VX-7 dream, but don't like the idea of having to buy the software, the output audio, and what I've heard of the problems programing it. Now they have the VX-8r quad that is REALLY tempting me!
The Kenwood TH-F6A, I like as well, but I've heard i can be a bear to program as well.
These three are also more than I really wanted to spend, I'd like to be around $200 for the radio, I'll spend more if I think it's worth it.

What I think I want/need (newbie remember),
Wide band receive (this is HUGE to me!!)
10-12hours of receive time.
6+ hours of talk time
Dual band, or more.

What I'd like.
Alpha numeric would be nice for labeling channel's
Dual tuners
Scanning

I've looked at so many radios I've forgotten what I've looked at! My ham dealer is really pushing the FT-60R, it's nice, but I'm not sold on it's durability yet, and I am hard on things, not because I want to be, but I just am! So I'm not sure that's the ticket for me!
Ideas, suggestions are welcome! PLEASE!
 

N8IAA

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FT-60R. It has wideband receive, free software, an adapter to run the radio on 12Vdc in the car(don't have to overcharge the battery), Excellent on receive, and transmitting. Accessories are inexpensive compared to other Yaesus, and the rest. 10 banks that can be linked, or, scanned on their own. Alphatags (combo of only six letters and #'s). Had one, sold it. Bought another. Missed it a lot:D Believe it or not, it is my only ham radio that I use with any consistency:)
Larry[/SIZE]
 
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canav844

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The route I'm going is instead of a FT-60 I'm doing a FT-270 + FT-277 Accessories match, I had a VX-170 and stupidly sold it and it took a beating and this is supposed to be a more rugged platform and louder (and it's already passed the Rx in a bucket of water within 6 hours of opening the box test, I haven't given it the tumble from my hand and fly to pavement test yet though) accessories match between the units and there's plenty of battery options, including the fact that if I keep them charged I've always got a spare in the other radio. It means two radios, and less scanning abilities, but I've got a scanner for scanning and if you know what you're going to be working you probably won't need both radios. My long term plans include setting up a cross band repeat at the house so I can have the HT with me anywhere and still be able to hit the more distant repeaters.

Basically I reached the point with the VX-7 that you did with the Icom gear where I just didn't feel that for my intended use it was worth $300+. I compared a few options after selling the 170 and I have to say the FT-60 did not impress with interface and I'm not a fan of the belt clip and how they handled the external mic jack. Some of the Icoms appeal to me but like the VX-8 for the limited roll out of local D-STAR, while it would expand things for me, it's just not a justifiable investment when I'm looking at a minimum $400 to get on the air and even more if I actually wanted to get out of simplex range.

The FT-270/277 are commercial grade frame and able to take the beating while being amateur easy and amateur priced; and both can be had for under $300 OTD; so it's what I've found a lot of value in personally.
 

KD0LWU

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I see why you recommend the FT- 270/277 radios, nice, but no dual band, and no wide band receive. I don't want to carry two radios!
I've also seen the VX-3R and on paper it's bad! But no full keyboard makes me leary of it! I do good to program something with a full keyboard, I wonder how miserable it would be without one!
 

hcpholder

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I'll tell you, its a hard decision. I sat down, priced a couple of HT's, added the accessories needed to use in the car and in the house, and it's actually cheaper to go mobile rig. Then you have to figure out which mobile rig! Hard on a newbe! And when you finally got your ticked, and have had it a couple of months your're itching to get it on! What's a guy to do!

And you really got to watch those Ebay items close. I've already gotten one item that was mis-represented. Was supposed to be a 70cm amateur operational ht, ended up being a 450-470 Mhz rig. Talk about a let down!
 
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W2NJS

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Battery life for an HT

The OP stated he'd like a battery good for 12 hours of monitoring and 6 hours of transmitting. The standard method of rating portable batteries is to state the percentages of listening, talking, and standby, and these numbers are commonly given as 5%, 5%, and 90%. You're asking for a 66%, 34%, 0%, which in today's technology is impossible.
 

KD0LWU

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Sorry, I didn't word that clearly, I want 12 hours of monitoring OR 6 hours of transmit/monitoring time. I know both isn't realistic.
But after monitoring the bands on a scanner for the last week, I'm not even sure it's worth the effort! It's dead as dead around Wichita KS!
 

JeremyB

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Sorry, I didn't word that clearly, I want 12 hours of monitoring OR 6 hours of transmit/monitoring time. I know both isn't realistic.
But after monitoring the bands on a scanner for the last week, I'm not even sure it's worth the effort! It's dead as dead around Wichita KS!
Try monitoring the sats, I can pick up AO-51 on every pass almost with my vx6r with the rubber duck antenna(I am sure most HT's can pick up this sat). You can enter your location at AMSAT - AMSAT Online Satellite Pass Predictions and use a compass to find where the sat is going to enter your horizon(AOS), maximum elevation and azimuth, and where it with be when it leaves(LOS). There is a video here(How to work amateur radio satellites with your handheld (HT) radio on Vimeo) on how to set up your frequencies to compensate for doppler shift. The downlink frequency for AO-51 is 435.300, but because of doppler when the sat is at AOS you need to listen at about 435.310 and by the time it reaches LOS you are listening at 435.290, and you need to rotate your antenna some because the satellite is tumbling through space and its antenna orientation is constantly changing. And be sure to have the squelch off so you can hear everything

I've been hearing a little girl from OK on AO-51 usually on a morning pass and last night a Puerto Rican station was on.

To find local time(for the amsat site) subtract 5 hours from UTC for Central Daylight Saving Time.

If you do get a HT, get a programming cable for it(I think there is free software on the internet for about every radio), I kept having to go back to the manual for different things and I can usually program a scanner, alarm clock, DVD recorder and other things without even having to look at the manual

Good Luck on the test
 

KD0LWU

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I passed the technician, only got 19 on the general, not bad for less than a week of study time. I think I want to get the general for sure next time around.
The 19th of June the Radio Shack/Ham shop is having a "sidewalk sale" it's like a mini ham fest in the parking lot, sometimes great buys, sometimes junk. I'm going to hold off for that and see what I can pick up there, if anything, to save a few bucks maybe.
 

D00D

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The FT-60 is what we recommend to most new licensees in the area (I'm a VE). Something I don't think anyone has mentioned is that it's one of the few HTs that will run full power when on the AA battery pack. That's a great feature. Most run at reduced power when not on their standard battery.
 

elk2370bruce

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If you are on a limited budget, the new Wouxun radios are a quality choice for the price. There is a 144/440 version and a 144/220 version. Radio, antenna, wall wart and desk charger for about $ 110.
If you add the heavier duty (1900 MaH) battery and programming cable (recommended), you're still just under 150. The more recent radios shipped to USA have been part 90 certified and they work well.
 

KD0LWU

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Got my call sign, now I have to learn it LOL! They could have made it more difficult I guess!

I've looked at the "China brand" radios. Yes, good bang for buck, but from what I've learned they are not really built for any type of repair, they just disintegrate when taken apart. Then you either get a good one, or you don't so buy a couple and hope.
I'm leaning more and more towards a dual band HT and a dual band mobile then cross band them. I can sit in the house using a half watt and trigger the mobile at the higher wattage. But then I read how HT's really don't like to be talked on that much, then they get hot, and the batteries don't last long, then they get even hotter with a battery eliminator etc.
So, since starting this thread, I'm feeling further behind than I was when I started it!
 

KD0LWU

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Well my equipment situation is under control for now at least! I was in the area of the local Ham shack for the heck of it. They had a used VX-7R, waterproof mike, drop in charger and the AA battery pack. All of antenna pieces. Looks like new and works great, for the price I couldn't pass it up. I have to find a belt clip, the only thing missing.
Now I have to learn to use it and most certainly get the data cable for it!
 

webley445

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Just FYI,
If you had a mobile radio you could configure different cords that are easily interchangeable.
Make one for use on 12v cig plug in the vehicle, one permanently attached to a power supply.
Can use a cheap low power supply if just monitoring, remove the mike to be sure you never accidentally tranmit. Check radio specs for amp draw on monitor.

You can make your own 12v battery pack or get a sealed lead acid battery and run the mobile rig QRP, 5 or 10 watts, just look at the specs and see what the draw is. The 13-17amp draw which is stated for a rig is usually for max power. Usually 2-3 amp for 5 watts out.

I have a mobile with a pigtail for easy switching between between my Astron in the house or the cig plug in the car. Got one for the 12v 9amp SLA battery I pilfered from my daughter's unused Barbie Jeep.
I use 10 watt setting in the car as for me and the area I'm in that is more than adequate for all of my local repeaters. NEver run more than 10-15 watts on a ham radio plugged into a vehicle's cig plug.

Would be worthwhile to get yourself an Astron or other power supply, at least 15-20 amp. You will be able to use it to power miriade of devices. Comes in handy.

You can get a cheap antenna and it will do you well as long as it is tuned for the band and you get it up as high as you can.
I have a really cheap ladderline slimjim, but its tuned 1.1/1 on center of 2m band. Threw paracord over a tree limb and got it hanging up 25 feet in the air.
Bought a cheap $20 mag mount from Grove for my car. Got a $10 SWR meter on ebay and used it to trim the mag mount down 1.2/1 and it works great whether on trunk or roof.
Just some food for thought, maybe for consideration for the future.

I don't talk much on the radio and was set on just getting HT when starting out.
But despite my low useage of my radio I found myself upgrading,
I bought the HT used but by the time I finished up with accessories and finally an amp (because 5 watts was not cutting it) I ended up spending more that the mobile.
Nice thing about the mobile is that its all in one. And using 10 watts really gets me through where 5 watts did the job but was always told that my signal had noise when getting signal check.

I like my Mirage amp as it draws low amps on 12v but gives me 25-30 watts out on mid power with my FT-150 so I'm not running it hot all the time.

You can get by on the cheap with just an HT, but the one thing I would suggest to anyone going that route is getting an efficient antenna.
It will make the world of difference on rx/tx.
Look up the call sign of N9TAX and look at the antennas he sells. I bought two of them, made with feedlines attached and use one permanently mounted and one for portable use. I highly reccomend them ( and no I am not affiliated with him in any way, I have just found, for me, that his product is affordable and efficient).
And get that antenna as high as you can, the higher the better..."height is might".

73
 
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N2MWE

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One of the nice things about single band radios is the fact that if one goes south, you still have another band to work on. Use a dual or tri bander and one band goes, the radio goes. As you grow into amateur radio, you'll eventually have more radios than you know what to do with! Good luck, and welcome to an awesome hobby!
Kieran
N2MWE
 

D00D

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FT-60R.It has wideband receive, free software
Larry,

I'm curious. What free software are you using for the FT-60? The only apps I've seen are those from RT Systems and G4HFQ (which I prefer).

One of the nice things about single band radios is the fact that if one goes south, you still have another band to work on. Use a dual or tri bander and one band goes, the radio goes.
Well, generally the whole radio isn't shot but I see your point. I'm just not one to really like carrying two radios. I wish my XTS3000 were dual band. imho that would make it the perfect radio.

As you grow into amateur radio, you'll eventually have more radios than you know what to do with!
Ain't that the truth!
 

webley445

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Something I have done is bought a really cheap old used scanner that runs on batts. Get something that is pre-trunking and you got a bargain receiver good for monitoring the ham bands and saving battery life on the HT.
Learning to DIY in ham radio goes a long way in saving money plus you get the satisfaction of knowing you did it yourself.
 

D00D

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Probably the FT-60 Commander software -> Jim Mitchell - KC8UNJ

It's the only software I ever used for my FT-60 for 4+ years. Great package.
Well I'll be. I use Jim's VX-5 Commander and never even paid attention to the fact that he's got the FT-60 covered also. I'll have to download that. Thanks.
 

KD0LWU

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Half way through the owners manual, WOW! This thing is smarter than I am! I was listening to a local repeater but afraid to change anything because I wasn't sure if I could get back! I'm getting better with it, slowly LOL!
I ordered the cable and programing software and a new belt clip today, he's getting in some Comet MH-510 antenna's and I may try one of them out on it. I have an old Radio Shack discone antenna I am going to use for a base antenna for now and may pick up a mag mount for the truck.
Still to scared to talk on it yet, but warming up to it.
 
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