New to Amateur Radio

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ltginrage

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Hi, I've been scanning and listening to local repeaters for a few years and I'm looking to test for the technican license, could someone recomend a Handheld or base stations (W/antenna) radio. I would like to use it on both UHF and VHF.

Thank you
 

K4EET

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I'll second the Yaesu FT-60 as an entry-level HT. Depending on your budget, you could go with other models too. Anything Yaesu is a good bet IMHO. Please stay away from the Baofeng brand. I have one that I tested for FCC rules and regs compliance. Like has been found, it fails on spectral purity on VHF and people tell me my audio sounds terrible. I think I'll stick to Yaesu, Icom, Kenwood and Alinco and a few others but not Baofeng. Sooooooo... Let me ask a few questions.

1. Are you visiting any local ham clubs and do they favor any particular digital modes? That determines manufacturer brand...
2. Do you have a budget as I mentioned earlier?
3. Have You been favoring any particular brand or model?

We are here to help you so don't hesitate to ask questions. Digital modes are starting to become popular in some areas although the radios do tend to be a tad more expensive. I just want you to consider all of your options.

73 my friend, Dave K4EET
 

danesgs

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Your choice of radio is wide open but I would not buy a handheld. Why? power. 5 watts is great outdoors and walking around. Yes you can get into most local repeaters until the battery expires. I would buy a mobile to use as a base for a few bucks more at 25 watts. The FT-60 is a great handheld and the Yaesu name is reliable but your going to spend 150+ for that when 90-100 will get you an Anytone 778 mobile at 5 times the power. YOu can either buy a cheap mobile mag mount or build your own base antenna for pennies to go with it. You have lots of options here, look at all of them before you decide.
 

n5ims

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I second the "Don't get a handheld as your first radio" argument. While it sounds like a good idea (one piece, complete with antenna and portable to boot) unless you're very near your local repeater you'll probably get frustrated quickly and wonder just why you got into ham radio. With a handheld you'll often break up getting into the repeater even though you can hear it just fine. You also may get in great for a bit (one transmission or just a part of one) and then be nothing but noise. The phrase you'll hear most will be "Please increase your power or improve your location."

I recommend that you start out with a fairly low end radio (dual band is OK but a bit more costly). You can even get a fairly recent, but used one at a good price, but verify that it works correctly since things that are troublesome aren't always obvious visually. This will generally be a mobile radio so you'll need a DC power supply. This will add cost, but not all that much. It should put out 13.8 vDC and at provide least 20% more amps than your radio requires (should be listed in the specs for the radio. Often they'll be rated at around 12 amps so a good 20 amp supply will do just fine. More is OK (perhaps even better since it'll allow you to use it for more than 1 radio when you expand your station).

You'll also need an antenna. This is one of the most important parts of your station so think hard about what you want. For best all-around results you probably will want a dual-band (VHF/UHF) vertical gain antenna mounted outside, in the clear, and as high as you can get it. It should be well grounded (for both lightning and operation) and there are several threads on doing so correctly. That said, you may not need all of that for your first radio. If you live fairly close to local repeaters (think a few miles here) you can get by with something smaller, cheaper, and easier to mount. Things like a j-pole (one popular source can be found by searching for Ed Fung Antenna) that can be mounted inside (taking care to not have it too close or running very high power for RF Exposure issues), outside, or perhaps even in your attic. This would be a good first antenna since when you upgrade, you can keep it handy as an inside antenna for bad weather operation!.

Another antenna to think about is getting a mag mount (dual band again if you need VHF/UHF coverage) and just place it by a nearby window stuck to a steal cookie sheet or pizza pan. The RF Exposure note above is valid here as well. It can also be stuck on a steal filing cabinet, refrigerator, or whatever. The big plus here is that if you get a second power cord, you can easily move your station between the home and car by simply unplugging it, and attaching it to your car (being careful to have it where it's secure to prevent injury during an accident - you don't want a metal object flying into you at high speed).

It isn't that hard, just think about mounting (keep it safe, allow airflow, and easy to get to both for use and to move if you share it with home and car). Make sure that your antenna is in a safe location where people or pets won't touch it. Good luck and most of all, have fun!
 

n5ims

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Now for some suggestions. I kept it separate since everyone has their "best" radio.

First off, unless cost is no object, ignore the fancy stuff like digital, APRS, etc. That will really jump your cost and add to the learning curve. If your used radio has it, fine, but don't worry about it just yet if you have to pay for it. Also note that a dual band radio is often a fair bit more than the same brand's single band version so it's good to think about if you really need both bands. Personally, I find it good to have both, but if most of the repeaters in your area are only on one of the bands you may be able to save several bucks.

Second, try to stay with the "big three" brands, Icom, Kenwood, and Yaesu. You'll end up with a quality radio and most clubs (or even repeater groups) will know and understand them and be able to quickly and easily help you out with issues. You'll generally pay a bit more but will probably find it will be worth it. Be aware though that each brand has it's own way of laying out the radio, especially the menus. You may not need to access them much once you program your radio, but there'll always be a time when you need to make that one change in the field with no manual around. Further down is one solution to this.

Avoid a commercial radio as your first radio. Sure Motorola, Kenwood (professional series), and others make great radios that work well, take abuse pretty well, and many folks say are the only ones you should ever use. There are some real down sides though. They're designed for untrained users that only know two things, push the mic button to talk and release to listen, and select between the few programmed channels only when you must (and always return to dispatch when you're done). They're hard to program (folks often will be happy to help with this though) and you can't use it for anything but exactly what's programmed (I'm ignoring FPP - Front Panel Programming here since it's rare or a hacked option in many cases). If you need to make a change (even for temporary use) you'll need to break out the programming software, interface, and cable and make your change (and hope you don't mess anything up in the process). They also have fairly few channels you can program and scanning is slow and often doesn't work as expected.

There are some low-end radios that may work. Often they are lower power and have the same limitation of only what's programmed can be used. Basically they're the mobile version of those cheap Chinese handhelds folks have already warned you to avoid. Unlike the handhelds though, they're priced much closer to the "big three" prices for their starter radio line.

There are some options for programming your radio using a computer. Note that when I say a computer, this generally means a Windows based computer. No Mac, No Linux, no Netbook, a real Windows computer (generally Windows 10, but often 8 or even 7 will work fine, the further back you go the less luck you may have). Chirp is one example and it handles many different types of radios, but may not have each and every feature or menu item programmable using the software. Some of the "big three" offer free programming software as well they generally are model specific but will allow you to program every option (but many call them difficult to use). You can purchase software that's designed specifically for a single model of radio from RT Systems that's good software but if you change models you'll need to buy new software. For the commercial radios, you'll need to purchase their expensive software, their expensive interface box, and their expensive cable. Many of these are specific to one type of radio so you may end up needing to get several expensive things to get your mobile and handheld to work like you want. Be aware that if you get old commercial radios, you may also need to find an old (perhaps very old - think 1980s models running straight MS-DOS) and the software, interface, and cable may no longer be available. Some have found it online and a few even got versions that were virus free! Like I said earlier though, some hams do have the needed hardware and software to program them and many are happy to do so at no charge for hams that agree to their standard loads or (if you ask really nicely) have a well organized and fairly short list of everything that needs to be programmed.

I hope this helps!
 
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Hit_Factor

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Hi, I've been scanning and listening to local repeaters for a few years and I'm looking to test for the technican license, could someone recomend a Handheld or base stations (W/antenna) radio. I would like to use it on both UHF and VHF.

Thank you
I suggest making contact with your local Amateur Radio Club. They will tell you what's available in your area.

I bought Yaesu HTs when first licensed and they were a mistake (no fusion in our area). Turns out in my area an Icom ID-51A Plus 2 or Kenwood TH-D74 are the perfect HTs because we have lot's of DStar in SW Michigan and very good repeater coverage.

Turns out one of the two Icom repair centers is two blocks away from my house.

Seek advice from locals on what will work well in your area.

 

ltginrage

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Thank you all for your advice. I will go ahead and get in touch with a local Amatuer Radio club. Most likely it's gonna be KARC (Kishwaukee Amateur Radio Club) in DeKalb County, Il because of location compared to me.

Lee County Amateur Radio Club (LECARC) Lee County Amateur Radio Club (LECARC), Dixon, Illinois. 429 likes. The LECARC meets on the second Thursday each month at KSB hospital in Dixon, IL at 7:00PM on the second floor in conference room 3
I know this club's repeater is out of service. But I don't know if this club is still existent.

Is TYT a good brand for base station? I was looking at this TYT TH-9800 for a base station.
 

k9wkj

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as a technician licensee you can not use the 10M band of that radio as it is FM only and tech does not include those privledges
I also do not recommend that radio as the 3 of them local hams have all 3 have failed to last 1 year without issues
if you have Yaesu system Fusion repeaters in your area then the FT70DR and or the FTM-7250DR are both good dual band choices
if you have Dstar repeaters in your area then a Dstar capable radio is a wise choice. If you have DMR machines then a DMR radio is a great choice
 

Hit_Factor

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Is TYT a good brand for base station? I was looking at this TYT TH-9800 for a base station.
No, it's not a good brand, TYT is the low end. We call these and other like it (Baofeng) CCR, Cheap Chinese Radios. They might be a gateway into the hobby, but they will have less and less appeal the more you learn. That's when you will realize you wasted your money. Icom, Kenwood, and Yaesu are the way to go.
 

WB9YBM

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Hi, I've been scanning and listening to local repeaters for a few years and I'm looking to test for the technican license, could someone recomend a Handheld or base stations (W/antenna) radio. I would like to use it on both UHF and VHF.

Thank you
I've had reasonably good luck with the Wouxon UV-3D for an H.T.; I've also had good luck with Icom (H.T. & mobiles). It all depends which radio has the features/capabilities that you want. As for antennas, the best & highest the budget will allow (at least for decent range; for local work a bit less mighty do). It all depends on what range you're aiming for.
 
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Is TYT a good brand for base station? I was looking at this TYT TH-9800 for a base station.
No. Forget that it's offered at, supposedly, "a great price". I bought one just to investigate what they were all about. I donated it later.
In the end, you'll be better off saving for one of the "big three", Icom, Kenwood, or Yaesu. You'll be happier in the the end. I've used all three and could never in clear consience recommend TYT, Anyone, Baofeng or any of the "Cheapies".
 

ltginrage

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Thank you all for steering me away from the TYT, my local club said a VHF/UHF Motorola HT would be best as both repeaters are conventional.
 

krokus

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Thank you all for steering me away from the TYT, my local club said a VHF/UHF Motorola HT would be best as both repeaters are conventional.
They make good radios, bit are overkill for most ham users. Also, as a professional series of radio, take specialized setups to program. Plus, very few of their models offer a way to program from the keypad, taking away from the flexibility that a ham oriented model offers.
 

sloop

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The following is what I suggest to people that have inquired about "how much does it cost to become a HAM?"
1. Kenwood TM-281 ($130), Arrow 144/440 jpole ($50), MFJ pwr supply ($100), coax (approx $25 for 50'). This will cost abt. $350 (inc. tax) for a new, 'rock solid' 2 meter station that will last a long time and will be simple to operate.
2. I let them know to shop around for best prices, that they don't need "all the bells and whistles" to start with, that you can go cheaper by buying used (but stick to name brands, not CCR's), and by building their own antenna.
3. Be sure to check with the locals, some of them might have used equip. that they want to part with.
Good luck on your test.
 

ladn

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@ibertrang - Welcome to the next level!

As @krokus said, Motorola radios aren't the best choice for a first radio. High quality, yes! Easy to program, NO! Manufacturer support, depends (but probably not).

I like to recommend the Yaesu FT-60 for a first handheld. It is a solid performer, has all the basic features needed and has a strong user base. It's programmable via direct key entry or through several software packages (RT Systems, CHIRP).

Any of the Big Three (Icom, Kenwood, Yaesu) conventional FM only base/mobile radios should serve you well. While a handleld is essentially self-contained, a base/mobile radio will require a power supply and external antenna (including feedline cable). My current mobiles are an Icom 2730A and Yaesu FT-8800.
 

ltginrage

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Thank you all, I have one more question. I was told by a friend that you can report incidents to your dispatch center through Ham radio. How does that work? I'm in north central Illinois if that helps.
 

RBMTS

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Probably not. Maybe your friend was referring to if a ham repeater had phone patch capability that you could place a call to police/fire/ems. But since almost everyone has a cell phone, most repeaters owners have done away with phone patch equipment (and expense).

The other possibility is that some villages, cities, and counties have EMA departments and some might be staffed by ham radio operators. If the EMA station is put into service (for example during a severe weather event), they can take reports from other licensed amateur operators and pass them on to the dispatch center. But those stations would not be active 24/7.

And it goes without saying that your amateur license does not give you the right to use any public safety frequency to contact dispatch centers directly.
 

ltginrage

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So what are these repeaters for

146.97000146.3700082.5 PL82.5 PLN9JWILee County Emergency Services/SKYWARNLee

147.16500 147.76500 N9ECQ RM146.2 PLN9ECQ/R Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, Whiteside, Stephenson, Carroll Counties Northern IL Emergency Services Repeater System (ARES Net Tuesday 21:0 FM Ham
 

RBMTS

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Those are repeaters that would be used by ARES or Skywarn weather reporting (by amateur radio operators) for special events or foul weather activation. They are most likely not monitored by any dispatch center. When not used for any event, they are open repeaters for any amateur radio operator to use for conversations. Those repeaters have nothing to do with any PSAP or dispatch center.
 
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