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ICOM IC-F621TR as GMRS Radio???

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K9RNW

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Hey all,

What are your opinions on an Icom IC-F621TR as a mobile GMRS radio? I've been trying to find 40-50W GMRS radios for the family since I cannot get them to exert the effort in obtaining an amateur's license. The only current production one I've seen is the Midland MXT400, but it just seems to be pretty expensive for what it is...a featureless mobile that doesn't even have NOAA bands.

A buddy of mine knows someone with a couple IC-F621TR's he's willing to sell with a mag-mount Antenex TRA4503 for $100 each. It's seems like a pretty rugged radio that still does everything a current production GMRS radio would do. I have never programmed a radio before...but it probably shouldn't be too hard to learn the basics of the PC software. The thing I'm really not sure about is whether it'd be simple enough for non-radio types to use.


F621TR UHF trunking radio - Features - Icom America

F520 / IC-F521, F620 / IC-F621 Downloads - Icom America


Thank you in advance for any help!
 

K9RNW

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Not part 95 certified.. https://fccid.io/AFJIC-F621-2

But looks like a nice radio for the price. Supports wideband , and what you need. Might be a learning curve for you, but not all that hard,
That's interesting. I've read some posts around here where established members who seemed to be advocates of following regulations suggested this radio, and a few others very similar for GMRS.

One thing I find extremely odd, is ICOM refused to sell me the software necessary to program the F621TR on Windows 10.... The reason they gave is that "some channels they can access are restricted" on commercial radios. Maybe this is actually a thing that will keep me from getting these radios....but I haven't read anything on here that suggested the software was restricted.
 

N4GIX

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I would point out that those won't tune NOAA frequencies either, since they are all VHF...
 

mmckenna

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That's interesting. I've read some posts around here where established members who seemed to be advocates of following regulations suggested this radio, and a few others very similar for GMRS.
Many of the older Icom mobiles were indeed Part 95 certified. This radio apparently isn't.

One thing I find extremely odd, is ICOM refused to sell me the software necessary to program the F621TR on Windows 10.... The reason they gave is that "some channels they can access are restricted" on commercial radios. Maybe this is actually a thing that will keep me from getting these radios....but I haven't read anything on here that suggested the software was restricted.
Icom seems to be hit or miss on this. Depends on who you talked to. I've heard reports of them refusing to sell software before. I never had an issue getting it, but I was buying from a dealer.
 

K9RNW

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Does anyone have an opinion with regards to which is the better radio between the following two: ICOM F621TR, and ICOM F6021 ?
 

K9RNW

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Better in which way?
That's a good question, sir. No specific criteria really, just which one is the overall "better" unit. I'm not really certain what the advantages of either are, but I've been given the choice between the two.

I guess I should frame it simply as "Which would you personally opt for?".
 

luckygecko

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Sorry, I misread the model number. Everything I listed was about the F6061

FCC ID: AFJ318001 for the F6021. Sorry for my confusion.
----------------------------------
Orginal




I have several of the F6061's with digital module. AFJ298001 (note the 1 on the end) version tunes into the ham bands (406-470 thus also GMRS although not part 95) and supports NXDN. Solid radio, front facing speaker,alpha display. Analog version has been going for around $100 on ebay, and I have had one come with the UT126H (NXDN) upgrade without being mentioned in the eBay ad. (It was labeled IC-F6061 --analog-- but at some point received a field upgrade. The factory digital model is IC-F6061D)
 
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mmckenna

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I guess I should frame it simply as "Which would you personally opt for?".
Kenwood.

But that's just because I'm immersed in them at work.
You'd need to look at the specifications for the radio and decide what was important to you.
The newer 6021 might be better in some ways, but if your consideration involves pricing, then the 621 might be better.

Honestly, though, look at the specs and decide, then consider the cost of programming software, programming cables and any/all accessories you need.
 

RFI-EMI-GUY

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I am seriously disappointed in the Midland MXT400 and Midland GMRS radios in general. These are narrowband only radios so you give up range and fidelity. If I had to choose between a current production narrowband only radio and any of the reputable LMR manufacturers products that will do wideband +/- 5 KHz, I would have to choose those wideband capable radios despite only being Part 90. In truth, if you search high and low, you can find dual certified Part 90/ Part 95 radios, however the selection is getting narrow as the models age out.

I am using Motorola Systems Saber radios because they are dual certified. It is a bit of a mystery why Motorola certified those radios for part 95, but there they are.
 

KK6ZTE

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Most Kenwood UHF mobiles are dual certified. The TK-8180 is a fantastic radio and excellent for GMRS.
 

K9RNW

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Thanks again to everyone who shared their thoughts on a radio.

Does anyone have suggestions on a low-profile, NMO/mag mount antenna that'd pair well with a 400-470 Mhz radio? They seem to either be rated for 420-450 or 450-470. Can't really seem to find something that'll cover that range more broadly, let alone one for even just GMRS freq's in a low profile with medium (5 db) gain.

Not sure how dipping into 430's or 440's on the 450-470 Mhz antennas would effect SWR....but I probably wouldn't be using these radios for 70cm amateur transmissions except if the world melted down and was left with no other choice.
 

mmckenna

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There are options, but you need to change the way you look at it.

Low profile and 5dB gain are not going to go together well.
On 460MHz:
1/4 wave is about 6 inches. = 0dBd.
5/8 wave is about 14 inches = 3dBd.
To get 5dB of gain, you are going to need a colinear antenna design with a phasing coil in the center. Those are involve multiple 5/8 wave radiators, so figure 3 feet tall to get something close to 5dBd.
Not very low profile.

Also:
As the antenna gain goes up, so does its length.
As gain goes up, useable bandwidth goes down.

So, putting all that together:
you want a "low profile", 5dB gain antenna with wide bandwidth.

Good luck….

Don't focus so much on antenna gain and you you'll be able to achieve what you want.
While antenna gain will raise your ERP, it does that by flatting out the antenna radiation pattern and focusing more RF energy towards the horizon. That's good in some cases, like repeaters, base stations, etc. It can work in mobile environments, but unless you live out on the plains, it can sometimes work against you.

On the flip side, using a lower gain antenna, like a quarter wave, will easily get you the bandwidth you want. A simple $10.00 NMO quarter wave antenna will have no problems covering the 70 centimeter amateur radio band as well as GMRS.

A $10 antenna won't break the bank. Give it a try and see how it works for you. If you need more gain, look at a 1/2 wave (2.1dBi with a ground plane) or a 5/8th's wave (3dBi). Those might fit into your "low profile" scenario.
 

mmckenna

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Just 2 cents here
i use Icom IC-F420 for GMRS use. Nice tough, sturdy, worker.
Bought it on eBay for $40
I used to have quite a few of those, both the F-420 (32 channel) and the F-420s (4 channel).
Decent radios for the price, weakness was the basic microphones, still have a bunch of replacement PTT switches here in the shop.
F-2020 was in my personal truck. 160 channel upgrade, remote head, nice radio.
Before I got out of the GMRS radio thing, I was also starting to use the F-221 mobiles.

All of those are getting pretty cheap on the used market now.

I've still got a few of the F-320s VHF radios in use. One is mounted on a UTV and getting the crap beat out of it a few times a year. I've got a spare for it, but it's just collecting dust. Once it was upgraded to the higher tier microphone, it's been a decent little performer.
 

K9RNW

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No 5 db gain without going 5/8 wave? Oh well. I'm just not sure what type of vehicular antenna is best for road-trip (car to car), or car to base use. I'm considering a dedicated UHF antenna for the attic (for base to car GMRS) alongside the dual-band amateur radio antenna, but that's a whole other topic. Maybe I've gone too far down the SHTF prepping rabbit hole for my own good. I digress...

As far as NMO mount antennas for the car (NMO can attach to a mag mount base, right??)...I've come across these. The Phantom Ultra seems cool as its range starts from within 70cm ham and goes well past GMRS, but it also has the highest VSWR (2.5:1). Though Laird claims the phantom is "superior to traditional antennas in most applications", which I guess they're referring to 1/4 and 1/2 waves. I really haven't a clue whether that's true.

Laird Ultra Phantom 430-500 Mhz - https://www.lairdtech.com/products/utra4301s3nb

Laird UHF Phantom 450-470 Mhz - https://www.lairdtech.com/products/TRAB4503 , https://www.lairdtech.com/products/ETRA4503


Of course...we have the old quarter wave:

https://kollmanradio.net/product/laird-technologies-qwb450-450-470-mhz-unity-gain-14-wave-black/


And...the slightly higher gain 1/2 wave:

Laird B4502N | 12.5 Inch UHF Whip Antenna with Chrome NMO Base - 450-470 MHz | Arcadian Antenna


Suffice to say, I am completely lost as to which antenna is the best. Don't really want something 20-30" long, and a slightly more expensive antenna is cool with me so long as it's worth the cashola. All thoughts appreciated :confused:
 
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