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ok ok i know i covered this but, whats a good handheld radio??

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nattybohhoe

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ok like i says, im ready to buy a cheap handheld radio. and i was told that a vertex was good for RR bands. so whats a good one? just for RR freqs? thanks.
 

N9JIG

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Yu have many choices. If you are looking for a two-way to talk in the RR band then you can get several models from companies linke Motorola, Vertex-Standard or Kenwood to name a few. These radios may also be programmed for receive only if you are not going to use them for transmit. I am presuming however that you only want to monitor.

You can also use a ham HT to monitor railroad freqs but you are not supposed to use these for transmit outside the ham band.

If you are just monitoring I would suggest a scanner. Just about any Radio Shack or Uniden scanner will cover the railroad freqs. I use a Pro-83 I got new for $60.00 for railroad monitoring, it lives in my camera bag.There are 97 US and Canadian railroad freqs in the 160-161 MHz. range, this pretty much fills out 5 banks of this 200 channel scanner. By programming the freqs in the proper channel locations you can easily go to a channel referenced in many sources or on the air ("Go to Channel 79 to talk to the CN Dispatcher" for example)

Using a professional HT for railroad monitoring has the advantage of less intermod and other noise that will sometimes plague scanners. Usually they however only allow you to scan a limited number of channels, often don't have enough channels for effective wide area monitoring and are more expensive to own, program and accessorize.
 

Nasby

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Get the Yaesu Vertex VX-150. About $140.00. Includes charger, antenna, rechargeable batteries, etc.
 

Thayne

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The commercial radios seem to be getting away from so many channels, but there are some kenwoods that will do LTR trunking and can be programmed for 250 conventional channels. I have one (TK280) that is completely loaded up and it will hear much better than my pro-96. I had them both with me a few weeks back and I was listening to some forest service freqs (VHF) and I could hear them good on the Kenwood and had to open the squelch on the pro-96 to even hear a little bit. So they do work a lot better.
 

mass-man

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All very good advice!!! It depends a lot on $$$!!! A scanner is the less expensive way to hear the RR stuff...program in all 100 freqs. and off you go. I think that is the right number!!!

You can find something on sale at RS almost any weekend...you might also try the Uniden online store for refurb units. I met many RR fans earlier this year that got their units from there and it has worked well for them.
 

Dorpmuller

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Get a VX-150, hands down! Also get the Pryme PR-97 antenna with the SMA connector. (Ham Radio Outlet- www.hamradio.com )

I am a railfan photographer, have had every radio in the book over the years... that VX-150 is a pretty unbelievable receiver. It hears trains when it is clipped to the truck window that a scanner with an outside 1/4 wave whip won't even break squelch on.

I have picked up detectors 20 mi. away and heard trains calling signals over 25 mi. away, all of this in the mountains of central Pa.

Rich
 

n8abd

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Vx-150

Dorpmuller said:
Get a VX-150, hands down! Also get the Pryme PR-97 antenna with the SMA connector. (Ham Radio Outlet- www.hamradio.com )

I am a railfan photographer, have had every radio in the book over the years... that VX-150 is a pretty unbelievable receiver. It hears trains when it is clipped to the truck window that a scanner with an outside 1/4 wave whip won't even break squelch on.

I have picked up detectors 20 mi. away and heard trains calling signals over 25 mi. away, all of this in the mountains of central Pa.

Rich
The VX-150 makes a good general coverage radio for 140 to 174 MHz, too.

I would also recommend the Yaesu VX-2. It is a VHF/UHF radio with coverage from 500KHz to 995 MHz straight through, however the Cellular Mobile frequemcies are blocked (of course). The size of the little beastie is just a little smaller than a pack of cigarettes, so footprint is not a real big deal with this particular one, either. I think it will hold 999 channels, if you have that many frequencies to look at. Also, it is not all that expensive. However, I would recommend that you get a beter antenna for it than the original rubber duckie that comes with it. AES has some good antennas made by Diamond that screw on in place of the original Yaesu antenna, and work a lot better than the original. It can be set up for narrow band FM, normal or wide-band FM. It also makes a far to middling aircomm receiver with plenty of sensitivity. THere is no product detector, so using the radio as a SSB or CW receiver is out of the question.

Although, I must admit that it does look kinda weird to see that little dinky radio with a full-sized antenna sticking out of the top of it that is by far larger than the radio itself.

I have both of them and they are pretty darned good for the price. Got them from Amateur Electronics Supply here in Cleveland, Ohio.

73 de
 
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BigLebowski

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At the risk of suggesting something too expensive....

I have used the following for Railroad Monitoring:

Motorola MT2000 A7
Motorola MT2000 A4
Motorola HT1250
Motorola GP68
Motorola MT500
Motorola MT1000
Motorola Saber II
Motorola Systems Saber
Vertex VX-150
Icom IC-V8
Kenwood TK-290
Kenwood TK-780
Kenwood TK-880 (EOT's among other things)
Realistic PRO-2022 scanner
Radio Shack PRO-76 scanner

As far as sensitivity is concerned, the Motorola GP68 and MT2000's have blown all the other portables out of the water. The GP68 is field programmable, but does not have an alpha display (CH 1, CH 2, etc is what you see). They are hard to find in the US and only have 20 channels, but they scan all 20 at once. The MT2000 A4 model supports 48 channels, and the A7 model supports 160 with a 14-character alpha display. For my purposes, I had all 96 AAR channels in the MT2000, and my display for AAR 56 read "56-56 NS ROAD ". That being said, these are not cheap radios, expect to pay $175-400 for these. Programming for the MT2000 is done by RSS on a computer and is fairly complex as well.

I used a Vertex VX-150 for quite a while, but I found the audio to be weak. I have always referred to the VX-150 volume knob as the "distortion control".

Just my personal opinion from my own experience, but I would go with a Motorola MT2000 A7 with the wideband antenna, and also a 5/8 wave mobile to connect to the radio while in a vehicle if you don't have a mobile radio already.
 

KG4ZPD

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Actually the VX-150 sells for $109-120. Comes complete. You can get it online or from an ham radio dealer. I have one and it works great.
 

mikegilbert

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ATF1224 said:
As far as sensitivity is concerned, the Motorola GP68 and MT2000's have blown all the other portables out of the water.
I'll second that.

I'd also look into a Motorola MTX838 in VHF. They're a bit tricky to find, but will do 99 channels via the top rotary switch.

The MT2000 or MTS2000 would be a great selection; batteries/accy's are everywhere.

MT2000/MTS2000 get my vote. Plus I've got a great AAR codeplug for a MTS2000.

-Mike
 

W4KRR

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nattybohhoe said:
thanks man... think im going to the vx150
You might also look at the VX-170, which is like the successor to the VX-150. The VX-170 has more or less the same coverage and features as the VX-150, but is more rugged (IMO) and is also waterproof. I've had both, and I like the '170 better. Not that there's anything wrong with the '150, but look at them both before you decide.
 

icom1020

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Plus I hear the 170 is really loud. I have the vx150 and FT60 which are both good, but once you head down the road, the audio isn't all that loud. But then my avitar shows which radios are my favs
 

OpSec

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A properly aligned commercial radio will blow the doors off the average hammy radio, mobile or portable.

For the non-ham railroad listener, there is nothing wrong with a radio like the VX-170 as long as it's used responsibly...ie not using the ham freqs as a chit-chat channels. Some may think I need to find the decaf again, but there were a few non-hams around here that went to AES, bought ham portables for rail scanning, and just randomly picked 2m freqs to talk on without a ham license while chasing trains.

I support the use of commercial radios for two reasons. First, they perform much better than off-the-shelf hammy gear. Second, they can programmed for RX-only and then the non-hams don't have to worry about TX'ing on unauthorized frequencies.

The Motorola Genesis line (HT600, MT1000), Jedi line (HT1000, MT/MTS2000) and Saber line are all great radios. I've got a VHF ASTRO Saber that will hear a bug fart 10 miles away, which is becoming a railroad scanner once it's replacement is online. I've recently been introduced to the Kenwood commercial family, and so far it looks like their products are good too.
 

Dorpmuller

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stateboy said:
A properly aligned commercial radio will blow the doors off the average hammy radio, mobile or portable.

For the non-ham railroad listener, there is nothing wrong with a radio like the VX-170 as long as it's used responsibly...ie not using the ham freqs as a chit-chat channels. quote]

The hottest radio I ever had for the RR was a Motorola MX with the preamp. The VX-150 comes very close to that. For a ham-oriented portable, the audio seems fine to me and I hear it well enough (hand held, not clipped to belt) as trains are passing after I've shot my photo. VX-170 is not as sensitive and software controlled squelch sucks. Nice audio and commercial build quality though.

I love Sabers but the state police have those... don't want the hassle. Let's just say I choose to avoid any Imperial entanglements...

As far as using ham simplex freqs on rubber ducks in the boondocks, who's gonna hear you and who cares anyway? No flames from the radio cops please. JMO.

Anyway, all of us out in these parts give each other heads-ups on cellphones. No railfans I knew in 25 yrs. experience ever used two-way anything, and fans in my area never knew about the VX-150 before they saw mine.

I get a real kick out of it when my VX hears trains 20 mi. away and their toy scanners don't even break squelch. :D

Rich
 

RF1

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Hey Mike! I'm a new guy to radios and it seems you know your stuff about the mt2000. I recently got hold of a mt 2000 and would like to program it to be an all purpose radio. ie: I am a boater, so I'd like to use it as my marine radio tx and rx all the normal marine freq's plus weather, also my son is a wsp'r so I'd like to scan th wsp freq's and local Pierce county sherriffs freqs. It seems the radio is capable of all the necessary freq's but actually filling in the blanks is the scary part. I've heard if you get it wrong the radio becomes a brick. I've got the hardware but I get an error when reading the codeplug. The error is that the codeplug in the radio is too new for the application. It reads the 38 blocks without error but does not record the data and gives that message at the top right. I think if I started with a code plug thats in the radio I could just exchange freq's with the ones I want. Any help you could offer would be great. Don't assume I know anything. I have read everything I can get trying to figure this out, again I am not a radio guy, but a quick study. Thanks for any help and welcome to Seattle.
 

BigLebowski

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You need a newer version of the MTSX software. I always use MTSX Ver. 6.07.00.

Also be sure you are using an old slow DOS computer and programming with the correct hardware (RIB, cables, etc)
 

icom1020

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yes, don't throw away your 'old' 486 which is the only thing I have for programming earlier Icoms and Vertex'
 

Bolt21

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Dorpmuller said:
Get a VX-150, hands down! Also get the Pryme PR-97 antenna with the SMA connector. (Ham Radio Outlet- www.hamradio.com )

I am a railfan photographer, have had every radio in the book over the years... that VX-150 is a pretty unbelievable receiver. It hears trains when it is clipped to the truck window that a scanner with an outside 1/4 wave whip won't even break squelch on.

I have picked up detectors 20 mi. away and heard trains calling signals over 25 mi. away, all of this in the mountains of central Pa.

Rich
Having had my VX-150 for almost a week, I can vouch for Rich's claim. Like Rich said - UNBELIEVABLE!

However, toss the stock duckie and get a Diamond RH77 or Pryme RD-98 antenna. If you already have either of these in BNC form, get the Yaesu CN-3 adapter (BNC to SMA).
 
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