Suggestions to find a good mobile amateur radio

K9DWB

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Howdy RR Forum,

I currently hold a Technician's ticket and am testing for General later this month. I currently only have a Yaesu FT3D HT, and am considering a mobile radio. I'm considering radios that may be a good choice worth buying. I want either a Yaesu, ICOM, or Kenwood. I'm not exactly brand loyal, but I think I'd prefer to stay with these 3 brands. I have little to no loyalty to digital types at this time, and I am not sure there's much locally of any digital anyway. There is a little on Fusion, but I've not invested interest in one over others yet.

Regardless of what's chosen, I'd have to get an installer. I used to DIY it, but my several disabilities I have make this decision for me. I know that a mobile antenna would need mounted on the vehicle. I think a trunk lip mount may be OK. I'm not so sure a mag mount is good enough, and I don't want to drill holes in the body. Inside the car, mounting a radio is a different story however, adding mounting brackets if done well will be fine.

Bottom line: I'd like to have HF up to VHF, and I'm not sure UHF is required on this next radio. To make sure we're on the same page, I think 2 and 6 Meter are VHF, below this is HF. What would you choose for the radio, antenna, mount? What aspects do I need to consider to choose good products for this?

Thanks in advance and 73s.
 

AK9R

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If you really want HF through VHF, your choices are limited. Yaesu FT-818 will do HF through UHF, but it's a small QRP rig intended for backpacking and only puts out 6 watts. Icom IC-7100 is HF through UHF with 100 watts on HF though 6m, 50 watts on 2m and 35 watts on 70cm. The form factor of its control head is a little odd which may present some mounting challenges. There aren't any other mobiles that cover HF through 2m.

If you can settle for HF through 6m, the Yaesu FT-891 is a mobile that covers those bands.

For just 2m and 70cm FM, most folks here will recommend the Kenwood TM-V71.
 

AK9R

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So a curiosity question, what's normally looks at for mobile use?
Not sure I understand the question. However, biggest issue in modern cars is where to mount a mobile radio especially so you can avoid having the radio in the path of the airbags. You do not want your radio to become a projectile in crash. You may have to get creative or use a remote control head. For example, in my Ford Expedition, I have the body of a Kenwood TM-V71 mounted under the passenger seat and the control head is mounted on top of the dashboard.

Other issues are display readability. Most radios use LCDs and they may get washed out in bright sunlight or become invisible while wearing polarized sunglasses. User interface is a concern and some radios have addressed this by putting lots of controls on the microphone. The problem with that is having too many buttons on the mic may result in you inadvertently pressing a button while holding the mic.

Don't forget that you'll have to route a power cable to your radio. You'll have to find somewhere to tap into your car's electrical system that can provide 12-20 amps of DC power (depending on the radio). And, that power cable will need to be a 10 or 12 gauge pair. And, you'll have to route your antenna cables.

It might be a good idea to talk to a local 2-way radio shop in your area to get ideas about how your radio can be installed. They will have experience mounting antennas, routing power wiring, etc. If you can't find a 2-way shop, try a car stereo installer.
 

mmckenna

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Bottom line: I'd like to have HF up to VHF, and I'm not sure UHF is required on this next radio. To make sure we're on the same page, I think 2 and 6 Meter are VHF, below this is HF. What would you choose for the radio, antenna, mount? What aspects do I need to consider to choose good products for this?
HF + VHF is going to come with some limitations.
Yes, there are radios out there that will do that just fine. I used to work with a ham that had an Icom in a Mini-Cooper running HF - 440MHz.

Antennas:
HF mobile antennas are big, and you will have issues with magnet mounts and even trunk lip mounts. My co-worker removed the stock am/fm/satellite radio antenna and mounted a screwdriver antenna in its place. Yeah, it looked goofy, sort of like a bumper car with the tall antenna on the back.
To do what you want, you'll need to look at something like a screwdriver antenna, or else you'll be out swapping whips or coil taps every time you want to change bands.
You could run a separate 2 meter/70 centimeter antenna from the HF antenna...

Power:
Depends on what radio you go with. If you want a 100 watt HF radio, then you'll need a healthy power feed, and that'll need to come directly from the battery.

Two way radio shops might be some help, but most of them will not have the experience with HF antennas. Other hams may be of assistance if you can find some in your area, but after seeing a lot of ham installs done by hams, I'd not let 99.9% of them touch my vehicles, never mind let them at it with a drill/velcro/double sided tape or whatever they use.

I know you are a new ham and looking to really get into the hobby, but I'd recommend taking a step back and think hard about what you want to do. Running HF mobile can be fun if you are on the road a lot, but it requires a dedication to doing a proper install, antenna system, grounding and power. It's not a simple job, and well outside the experience of stereo shops.

I'd say start slow. You'll do well by installing a simple 2 meter or dual band radio and getting some experience with that. That's a pretty easy install for a good two way radio shop, more in line with what they are used to with VHF or UHF commercial radios. They should be able to run your power correctly and do a proper install. It'll be worth the money to pay a professional to do it. Avoid the urge to do a slapped in install with cigarette lighter and magnetic mount antennas. Do it right the first time.
I know permanent mount antennas can be a touchy subject, but if you are serious about this, it's the only way to go. It'll pay off in the long run to have a properly installed NMO mount placed on your roof top. The correct grounding at the antenna base and excellent ground plane will work very well.

After you've done VHF/UHF for a while, reconsider if you really want to go with HF. You might want to, and adding an HF only radio with a dedicated antenna may make some sense if you already have a dedicated VHF or VHF/UHF radio in place.
 

K9DWB

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Actually, there's very good advice to slow down even stop for a bit on this. I think that'd be the best action right now. I'll put mobile anything on hold and use what I've got. So a sincere thanks to suggestions, but it's best to pump the brakes on mobile. Not out of anything but wise decision making.

I'll upgrade my ticket to General and buy a handheld mic for the FT3DR then that's all the buying for a while. Thanks for the comments.
 
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mmckenna

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I'll upgrade my ticket to General and buy a handheld mic for the FT3DR then that's all the buying for a while. Thanks for the comments.
That and an external antenna, even a mag mount if that's what you are comfortable with. Even with 5 watts, getting the antenna outside the vehicle will have a large impact on performance. In many cases, 5 watts will easily get you into all the repeaters in your area.
 

K9DWB

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Yep, I put together the Tram 1480 on the Ultimate Support 110B that prcguy suggested. I paired that with ABR Industries LMR-400UF at 50'. That's how I got that first QSO. Even my 5 watt-er can do some if I give it good ears. About the only other thing I may consider is making the tripod antenna a bit higher with a piece of 6-8' mast grafted between antenna and tripod.

BTW don't take it that my feelings are hurt or anything. I took your good advice to heart, and am pumping the brakes on this for a bit. I need to enjoy the scenery with what I've got already. And I have other areas that need some financial attention as well.

A hearty 73 to ya.
 

ladn

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Anytone 578 will do VHF and UHF FM and DMR.. Great little radio for the money
Good radio, with still a few bugs. BUT the big issue for (me, at least) is it doesn't have a removable front panel (called split mount). You have to mount the whole radio in one spot. With split mount radios, you mount the small control head in a convenient location, and put the actual radio box under a seat or in the trunk.
 

K9DWB

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A split mount would be better able to mount it with greater flexibility. I would count it important. I have bought myself lots of time to consider what to do mobile as I think I'll hold off for a few months and revisit.
 
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