Opinions on first mobile radio for new ham?

Discussion in 'Discussions, Opinions & Editorials' started by KF5TJC, Feb 10, 2013.

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  1. KF5TJC

    KF5TJC Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've got a Baofeng UV-5R ht that I'm using with an Arrow II handheld antenna right now, but I want a radio for my house and I'm not sure what to look for. I don't know if I want a dual band or a single band. I certainly do believe in the "do one thing and do it well" rule, but most of what I see is dual band. Anybody have any advice? I've seen a couple of radios on the For Sale forum that are all mode single bands and in my price range, such as the Yaesu FT-290R II and the Yaesu FT-790r II, which are 2m and 70cm respectively. Should I stick with a dual band and save money or go with a single band? Also, I have no clue whether folks around here use SSB on 2m and 70cm or not. The local club apparently self destructed a few years ago, so I would have to drive 20 minutes just to join a club and they've told me they might move to a location even further away, about 40 minutes. So.....single band or dual band? What would you recommend?
  2. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    The dual banders are likely all "FM" only units. The old FT models you referenced are multi-mode. Huge difference.

    Whether a dual band FM rig is a good choice depends a lot on local repeater activity, and where everyone is.

    SSB and other "weak signal" work on VHF-UHF is all done using horizontal polarization (not vertical), and that's a big difference, too. If you install a very good VHF-UHF FM antenna, it will be vertically polarized (as is "everything" for VHF FM work) and not effective at all for SSB work -- you may not make a single contact, or even hear anyone, on SSB with a vertical. There are good reasons the "weak signal" (like SSB) work is done using horizontal polarization, and most users who are at all serious about it are using beam antennas on rotators.

    Of course, there's also satellite work, and there are some good low-orbiting sats that use FM; for that, a popular approach is a small hand-held beam (or one that can be easily supported by a small tripod set up in the driveway or backyard) used to "track" the sats.

    If your interest is mostly FM/repeater work and there is local activity on both 2m and 70cm, a good dual-bander can be had pretty cheaply and dual-band omnidirectional vertical antennas are readily available. Trick then, to be most effective, is to get the antenna as high as possible above ground (outdoors) and use good, low-loss coax connected to it.:eek:
  3. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I did a search on your callsign on the K5EHX web site and it came up with 25 repeaters in your area. At least one of them is in the town you're listed in and it's on UHF. I see quite a few UHF repeaters in the region, though the two meter ones outnumber them. It's hard to say where you might find more activity. The UHF machines tend to be newer, and the groups that run them typically are, too, though that is a pretty broad generalization. In some areas, the old timers are on UHF.

    If you do any travelling, I'd spend the extra money on a dualbander. I find lots of places with more action on UHF than on 2 meters.

    A SSB capable radio would open up some more possibilities for you, but I don't want to oversell it. I think it would probably take a pretty impressive station to make many contacts on VHF SSB from there, except for 6 meters during a band opening. I think where you're located, getting on HF would be the best option.
  4. N5PAR

    N5PAR Ham Member QRZ Page

    If you can afford a dual band go a head and get one, especially if it has dual band repeater capability. With dual band repeat you can use the radio as your own personal repeater. We have several UHF repeaters in my area, some of which have excellent range but there is almost no traffic on them. So even though I have a dual band VHF/UHF I rarely use the UHF side unless i am using cross band repeat.

    You can use your Baofeng to transmit to your dual band and use repeaters you would not normally be able to access with just your HT. It is really a useful feature especially if you get into helping do communications at special events.
  5. K4SAX

    K4SAX Ham Member QRZ Page

    I agree with this. I have been using a Yaesu FT-1802 for a while, which is 2m only. I got the Yaesu FT-8800R last week and LOVE using the crossband feature. I can use my HT around the house and hit the repeaters that are 24-30 miles away by using the rooftop antenna I have. I even hit one that is 52 miles line of sight! I have an MFJ1750 antenna ($39.99) on a 30 foot mast and it is connected to the new FT-8800R. Crossbanding is awesome. If you can put a few extra dollars together to get a dual bander that crossbands, I would go for it.
  6. KF5TJC

    KF5TJC Ham Member QRZ Page

    I found a Yaesu FT-290RII on the for sale forum and thought about getting that. It does SSB and I learned today that there are many around here who do that. However, I also learned that in order to set the tone squelch for repeaters a person has to take a panel off the radio and set some dipswitches. Not fun. SSB sounds kind of interesting. Any suggestions on that one?
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