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2m & 70cm base station recommendations

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Equipment Reviews' started by KJ4GUM, Sep 15, 2018.

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  1. KJ4GUM

    KJ4GUM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I would like to get input from more knowledgeable HAMS about solid, easy to use, and reliable radios that I can use to hit both local and distant repeaters as I expand antenna setups over the years to come. I really don’t want to spend a ton of money, but would like something a lot better than my 2 handhelds. I did have some old police midland radios that a friend programmed for repeaters and they worked great. But when I moved I couldn’t use them any longer because I didn’t know how to reprogram them. Thanks for any insight you can provide.
  2. WB2LBV

    WB2LBV Ham Member QRZ Page

    Are you planning to work FM/repeaters only, or other modes? Any digital (D-Star, Fusion, DMR)? The answers to those questions will determine the available choices of equipment.
    For strictly analog FM, a dual-band mobile from one of the big 3 (Yaesu, Icom, Kenwood) along with a good power supply will serve nicely for base-station use with the option to go mobile as well if you choose.
    There are cheaper Chinese alternatives but for the best user experience I'd suggest sticking with the traditional ham-market stuff. If cost is an issue there are always good used radios available here in the QRZ classifieds for prices well under retail.
    As for ease of use, that will vary but all of the modern radios are menu-driven and PC-programmable so there will be a learning curve. Programming without a PC is possible but can be tedious if you have a large number of channels to set up.
    If you have any interest in the digital modes, that complicates things a bit as they are mutually exclusive between the manufacturers so you'll be looking at different ones depending on the mode-
    Fusion/C4FM is a Yaesu-only mode.
    D-Star is Icom-only (Kenwood has the D-74 D-Star handheld but no mobiles yet)
    DMR will put you into the Chinese radio market as there aren't any ham-brand DMR mobiles currently. There are also commercial DMR radios (Motorola) but those are single-band only, more expensive and more difficult to program.
    Do some research into the available radios and modes, reach out to local hams and clubs in your area to get their input and sample their equipment hands-on.
    W0ASK likes this.
  3. KJ4GUM

    KJ4GUM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thank you very much for your input. At this point I want to solely work FM/repeaters only. I have only worked analog and have no idea about digital. Can you enlighten about the digital mode? Thanks again.
  4. VE3CGA

    VE3CGA XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I used a FT60R with a 30W amp into a 4 element home made quad vertically polarized
    Had a blast working local repeaters and ones on the other side of the great lakes
    The FT60R will also work the FM satellites AO-92, AO-91 as its dual band.
    has a great scanner from air band up into uhf
    Pretty versitile handheld
  5. KJ4GUM

    KJ4GUM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I actually have the same handheld. Never occurred to me to amp up the antenna. Some good ideas. Thank you for your input.
  6. G3YRO

    G3YRO Ham Member QRZ Page

    If you're only interested in working FM (and personally I think that the digital modes are very bad for the hobby, as they are so devisive and offer no better perfromance), then I wouldn't even consider a brand new rig.

    VHF/UHF FM rigs from the main manufacturers haven't changed much from model to model over the past 25 years, and they tend to be very reliable.

    I bought a Yaesu FT2800 about 5 years ago secondhand for only £30, which gives you 60 watts output. (I use this as a base station)

    Similarly, my 25 year old Kenwood TM-231 installed in one of my cars still works great !

    Roger G3YRO
  7. AG6QR

    AG6QR Subscriber QRZ Page

    The FT-7900 is a 50 watt mobile with very close to the same feature set as the FT-60. I have both, and find it very easy to go back and forth between them. The Chirp software will program both, and it's not hard to copy memory contents from one to the other.

    An amp might work fine, but having a mobile radio dedicated to home use can help keep cable clutter under control.
  8. K3UJ

    K3UJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    With a mobile you will get;
    larger display, bigger speaker (that will sound better), better ergonomics (you are holding a microphone, not an entire radio), more robust antenna connector.
  9. KV4JW

    KV4JW Ham Member QRZ Page

    You're definitely going to want a VHF/UHF mobile instead of trying to use an HT with an outside antenna hooked to it. Sure it will work in a pinch, but it's not optimal. Some decent VHF/UHF mobiles can be had sub $200 range.

    TYT 7800 is $189 at R&L right now. Kick around the QRZ classifieds and you can probably find something even less expensive that's in good condition. If you don't already have one, you'll need a decent sized power supply. Most higher output transceivers are going to require the better part of 20 amps on high power. You may never need to use high power, but it's also best to not be pushing your supply at 90-100% of it's duty cycle either. If you need an outdoor antenna, consider building your own. It's relatively easy with a little math, a few items from the hardware store, and an afternoon. I've built several 2 meter groundplane antennas that perform well, at the cost of about $4 each.

    Why not post a "Wanted" ad for a nice, clean, dual band mobile in the classifieds and see who replies? Be careful of scammers, a legitimate seller will be glad to furnish all the proof you need to be comfortable in purchasing from them.
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2018

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