Seeking 2m Mobile Recommendation for Receive Only...Kenwood 281A, Icom 2300H, etc

MDScanFan

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I have a 281A that I am using for rail band reception. I have done a number of side by side tests and I am very impressed with its sensitivity and selectivity. Biggest gripes are its relatively slow scan speed, its limited 6 alphanumeric characters, and its clunky interface (typical of 2m mobiles). I am considering getting another 2m mobile for a different vhf reception setup. I am debating another 281 or something else. Preowned models are fine. I would like it to be a single band radio from Kenwood or Icom. The first thing that comes to mind is the 2300H.

Does anyone own both the Icom 2300H and the 281? If so, how do they compare?

Has anyone used the 281A and found anything better in terms of reception?
 

tweiss3

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What about looking for a used commercial Kenwood (7150 or similar). I have a 8150 and it's display is better than my 281A, but I do love my 281A. For the price, the 281A is great, and I do use the weather alert feature. Neither do scan quickly, so you might want to look into a scanner if that is one of your key points.
 

MDScanFan

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Thanks for the reply. I moved from a scanner to the 281 for my vhf rail setup because it does not exhibit intermod issues, its more sensitive, and its audio is also much clearer. I did complain about the slow speed but I rank the previous three attributes more important.

Regarding a commercial radio, I want to stick with an amateur mobile over a commercial mobile because I don’t want to have to deal with programming software.

What about looking for a used commercial Kenwood (7150 or similar). I have a 8150 and it's display is better than my 281A, but I do love my 281A. For the price, the 281A is great, and I do use the weather alert feature. Neither do scan quickly, so you might want to look into a scanner if that is one of your key points.
 

tweiss3

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It's hard to beat the price point of the 281. As far as 2m only, the following are available at DX Engineering:
Yaesu FT-2980R
Icom IC2300
Alinco DR-B185HT
Yaesu FTM-3100R
Alinco DR135TMKIII

There are also a ton of dual band, but you pay more for a dual band.

I have no experience with any of the above radios, just noting what's available, all are sub $200.
 

N4DJC

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I had a 281A, and still have a 2300H. The Icom is more compact and the display is easier for me to read, the front facing speaker of the 281A might be better for mobile applications. I don't think the scan speed is any faster and the alpha numeric is still six characters, so no differences in that respect. The Icom menu system is typical Icom, fine if you've owned Icom over the years, a learning curve if you're not... I'm not a fan of the Kenwood software.
 

MDScanFan

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I did not mention it earlier but this would be for a base station. Do you have any insight into the sensitivity and audio clarity of lower level signals between those two radios?

I had a 281A, and still have a 2300H. The Icom is more compact and the display is easier for me to read, the front facing speaker of the 281A might be better for mobile applications. I don't think the scan speed is any faster and the alpha numeric is still six characters, so no differences in that respect. The Icom menu system is typical Icom, fine if you've owned Icom over the years, a learning curve if you're not... I'm not a fan of the Kenwood software.
 

AK9R

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The ARRL Labs have tested both radios. According to their test reports, they measured the Icom IC-2300H sensitivity at 0.12 µV and the Kenwood TM-281A sensitivity at 0.14 µV both for 12 dB SINAD.

But, there are other considerations besides raw receive sensitivity, some of which can be objectively measured and some are more subjective.
 

MDScanFan

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Thanks for the numbers. I used to place more stock in sensitivity specs but after running side by side comparisons of real monitoring and comparing sensitive specs I now place less focus on it. I do know the 281A receiver “works great” from my testing. I was hoping to find someone that has performed a real world reception comparison of it against the 2300H or other similar 2m mobile.

The ARRL Labs have tested both radios. According to their test reports, they measured the Icom IC-2300H sensitivity at 0.12 µV and the Kenwood TM-281A sensitivity at 0.14 µV both for 12 dB SINAD.

But, there are other considerations besides raw receive sensitivity, some of which can be objectively measured and some are more subjective.
 

mass-man

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If you move onto a KW commercial rig you’ll be happier with the performance! You’ll never get SCANNER scanning speed...the commercial radios are made to higher specs!
As well some rail ops are moving to NEXEDGE(which you probably know) so a KW would be a good investment! I’ve programmed Motorola n KW rigs n the KW software is very easy! Plus there’s several good KW folks here to help you!
 

kayn1n32008

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Those specs are only valid for 144-148MHz. Most ham stuff suffer seriously degraded performance once you leave the ham band.

The ARRL Labs have tested both radios. According to their test reports, they measured the Icom IC-2300H sensitivity at 0.12 µV and the Kenwood TM-281A sensitivity at 0.14 µV both for 12 dB SINAD.

But, there are other considerations besides raw receive sensitivity, some of which can be objectively measured and some are more subjective.
 

AK9R

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Those specs are only valid for 144-148MHz. Most ham stuff suffer seriously degraded performance once you leave the ham band.
For the IC-2300H:
1601335876235.png

For the TM-281A:
1601335962580.png

The left column in both panels is the manufacturer's specification while the right column is the ARRL Labs test results.
 

N4DJC

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I did not mention it earlier but this would be for a base station. Do you have any insight into the sensitivity and audio clarity of lower level signals between those two radios?
I don’t recall much if any difference. From my location, I either hear the train communications or not at all. The Icom R30 was the best railband RX I’ve owned. I could hear transmissions that wouldn’t break squelch on regular scanners or two meter rigs.
 

WB9YBM

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Biggest gripes are its relatively slow scan speeds.
Since scanning is not the primary focus of ham gear, it's not going to be a priority in how it's designed to work. You might need to use an actual scanner. (At least that's what I've noticed in the equipment sitting in my radio room.)
 
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