Another new guy, with more questions...?

Discussion in 'Becoming a Ham - Q&A' started by HELLCAT77, Dec 7, 2009.

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  1. HELLCAT77

    HELLCAT77 QRZ Member

    I'm sure grateful for a forum like this to help me and my son who are trying to get started in this great hobby!

    It's something I always wanted to do since I was a kid but never was able to get past getting my speed up in CW.

    We are studying for the technicians license now, and high command at home wants to know what I want for Christmas, and I told her a mobile ham radio I can use with the local Skywarn Club, and she said which ham radio do you want?

    Can you guys wiegh in on what are some good choices for a good mobile? I guess Skywarn runs mainly on the 2 meter band? I'd like it to be flexiable enough to do more if we decide to go for the General test down the road.

    Again thank you so much to both you and this forum for all you help and expert advice!


  2. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    If you want a radio you can 'grow into', here are some general ideas:

    1. Before you buy anything, it would be a really good idea to get acquainted with some of the local hams and find out what's around in your area. Two meters isn't for everybody, and it's not useful everywhere. If you're close to a major city, chances are that there is activity there. If you live out in the boonies, it's less likely. For most people, the goal should be to get on HF eventually, so it's usually better in terms of overall cost to start with something that will do both, or start with something cheap for VHF and add an HF rig later.

    2. Don't buy an HT - an HT should be an accessory not your main station. We require at least a 50 watt mobile radio for SKYWARN around here.

    3. You can get a good 2 meter mobile radio for a little over $100. There are several out there in that price range. You will also need a power supply, an antenna for the house and the car, and coax cable. A cheap SWR bridge like the Vanco SWR 1 is also a very good thing to have if you can't borrow one from a local ham.

    4. A dual band mobile rig can give you more capability, but will cost more and will also require a dual band antenna. Likewise the triband or quad band radios. I would avoid the 6 and 10 meter FM-only rigs unless you know for certain that there is activity in your area there. The Yaesu FT-7900 is a nice basic dualbander covering 2 meter and UHF FM.

    5. If you want more than just basic FM capability, you need to look at the current crop of 'all-band, all-mode' rigs. While a lot more expensive than the single band rigs, these radios can serve you at all levels of ham radio. These would include the FT-857, IC-706 MKIIG, and IC-7000 mobile radios. For Technicians, they will give you SSB capability on 10 and 6 meters, and CW on the Technician HF bands if you choose to use it. You can use it to listen to the HF bands at night after the repeaters go to bed, until you get your General.
  3. K0CMH

    K0CMH Ham Member QRZ Page

    All the manufacturers make about the same radios, with the same features, at about the same price. Look at any of the Ham internet stores (some advertise on this site).

    About the best advice is to join a local Ham club. Folks are always ready and willing to let you see and check out their radios. There is nothing like being able to "test drive" a number of different radios.

    There are a few "levels" of radios:

    Simple "plain jane" 2 meter radios (vhf) that will work well for Skywarn (provided skywarn in your area is on 2 meters. Some are on 70 cm [uhf]). These run between $100.00 and $175.00.

    The next level up are the dual band (vhf and uhf) radios. They operate on both 2 meters (vhf) and 70 cm (uhf). Some are pretty simple while others have lots of whistles and bells. Some will work like a repeater (called "cross band repeat). They run between $200.00 and $400.00.

    The next step up would be an HF radio. We are now in a totally different price range. No known skywarn nets run on HF. "Entry level" HF radios start at about $550.00 (Icom 718) and go up to over $10,000.00 (yes, ten thousand).

    Another group of radios are the "all band, all mode" rigs. These have vhf/uhf and HF all in one radio. There are expensive "base station" versions ($1,000.00 +) and there are some very interesting mobile units (IC706Mark IIIG and Yaesu 857D)

    As far as a recommendation, I would suggest you look over the Yaesu FT8800R. It is a dual band (vhf/uhf) radio with many great features. Its sells at about $380.00.

    However, if you budget is bigger, the Yaesu FT857D is a all-band, all-mode rig (vhf/uhf/hf) that also has many nice features. This is agreat radio to start out with and then grow into as you get the General License. I know of any number of persons who run the FT857D as both base and mobile radios. This radio sells at about $750.00 - $800.00 (maybe better if you catch a sale).

    However, starting out with a nice 2 meter mobile and then purchasing a "better" radio later is never a bad choice. Hams seem to never run out of using multiple radios. And a 2 meter mobile also works great as a base radio. In fact, a very large number of Hams use these nice little 2 meter radios as a base station radio also.
  4. HELLCAT77

    HELLCAT77 QRZ Member

    Thanks so much for the great detailed repies guys! It gives me alot to chew on and think about! I'll take your advise and check out our local ARRL club here:

    to see what these gents are up to, and keep studying for the exam!

    Thanks again for your kindness and good advice!


  5. KC5AKB

    KC5AKB XML Subscriber QRZ Page


    Hey I sent you a pm has a few videos and links on his page . If you need help finding hams in your area let me know .
    kc5akb @
    Ric kc5akb
  6. W1WDW

    W1WDW Ham Member QRZ Page

    [Post edited to get KC0REY off his soapbox so he doesnt blow a gasket}

    HELLCAT77 - Apologies that a few people had to ruin a good thread with their less than ideal examples of helpful radio amateurs, good luck in finding the perfect rig for yourself and son.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2009
  7. KA9MOT

    KA9MOT Ham Member QRZ Page

    How did you use it as a fire fighter?
  8. W0IS

    W0IS Ham Member QRZ Page

    He used the past tense, so it doesn't matter.
  9. KA9MOT

    KA9MOT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Sure it matters. He has been a ham for exactly 6 days and already he shows his pride in operating his radio illegally.

    He will happily use it illegally again. Is this the kind of new ham we need?

    HELLCAT77, Sorry to crap in your thread but, KJ4QXZ is the kind of ham nobody needs.

    We have rules, and these rules should always be followed. If nothing else than to keep Amateur Radio from becoming CB radio.

    Some would argue that it already is and in some places that is true, but only because of scofflaws who think they can do what they wish.
  10. HELLCAT77

    HELLCAT77 QRZ Member

    Thanks again for the great info folks, I think I'll take your advise and try the local ARRL Hame club that meets about five miles away from me in Cottage Grove MN here:

    For now I'll be standing by taking notes, and studying for the tech lic with the software I just picked up from;

    I also have; Now You're Talking 5th edition on it's way in to pick a part as well!

    Like the old saying goes.......Knowledge is power!


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