Discussion in 'Becoming a Ham - Q&A' started by HELLCAT77, Dec 7, 2009.
I will try to answer you last questions directly.
1. The biggest differences between the FT8800 and FT7900 are:
- The FT8800 can cross-band repeat. That is, it can receive a signal on one side of the dual band function and retransmit on the other side of the dual band function. Recive a signal on 70 cm and transmit out on 2 meters, or vise-versa.
- The FT8800 can receive two signals at the same time. The FT7900 can only receive one signal at a time, either only vhf or only uhf. The FT8800 is like two radios in the same cabinet. Both sides can be set to work on either vhf or uhf. Thus one side could be receiving to a repeater on 2 meters and at the same time on a repeater on 70 cm. If both sides are set to the same band, it can receive two different signals on that band. You will hear them both at the same time.
Also, the FT880 has a few more whistles and bells that most hams don't use very often.
My personal opinion is if you do not have a specific use for cross-band repeating, then go with the 7900. I have the FT8800 because I wanted the cross-band repeat for emergency purposes. I wanted to be able to go to a location with my HT (where a vehicle would not be permitted or could not go) but be able to transmit and receive with the power and sensitivity of a mobile rig with a good antenna. If you don't see yourself wanting or needing that function, then save the $100.00 for other stuff.
Any nuber of manufacturers (Comet, Diamond, MFJ,etc. ) make a dual band mobile antenna that is about 39" tall. I personally chose the Comet SBB 2 meter/70 cm antenna (about $55.00 for just the antenna without mount or coax). However, I also have the similar one made by MFJ, in a mag mount style, (does not need a separate mount and comes with coax and connector) that costs about $35.00. Both work very well on my vehicle.
If you need to start out really inexpensive, you can get a quarter wave 2 meter mag mont for about $18.00. It will also work on 70 cm (contrary to waht some will say -- it is a usable multiple of the 70 cm band in lenght, and will load and operate ok. I did it for a year with my FT880 and did absolutely no harm).
Many, many hams start out with a j-pole for a base antenna. Some put them in their attic, some on masts. There are dual -band j-poles that are easy to build, or that can be purchased. I recommend the Arrow company's dual band J-pole for about $45.00.
If you keep your coax run under 30 feet or so, RG8X will work good enough. Google "50 ohm coax" and you will find sites that list the loss for all kinds of the 50 ohmn coax cables available. Regular RG8 is not much more expensive and has a little less loss. Others are a little more expensive and have less loss. UHF is the most suseptable to coax loss -- VHF is less.
Also, if you google search for "dual band antenna" you will have a ton of selections to look over.
Don't forget, to operate from the house, you will need either a "12 volt" power supply, or a decent battery. Most folks will recommend at least a 20 amp power supply, so that it can grow with you. MFJ makes a nice 23 amp supply for right at $100.00. I have one and like it. Beware of the real cheapies. They can cause noise in your radio due to cheapened circuits. (be aware that most "12 volt" power supplies acutally put oout about 13.8 volts. Some manufacturers label their units that way, instead of "12 volts")
So, total costs to do what you want:
FT7900 - $260.00
Mobile antenna (dual band mag mount that comes with coax) - $40.00
Dual band j-pole antenna - $45.00
Mast for j-pole - $30.00 (or basically free if mounted in an attic)
30 ft or more of RG8 coax (with connectors alread on both ends) - $40.00
MFJ 23 amp power supply - 100.00
Mis for things like some hook-up wire, a bracket or two, etc. - $20.00
TOTAL = $535.00
Yes, you are correct, but remember that I had said in the beginning of that post that it was a little "over simplified". Yes, Ham radios are not "type accepted", but it was easier to just use the same term than to go into yet another long explaination of the difference. I was trying to convey basic concepts, not percise definitions.
I am sure our new friend will learn all those fine points as he progresses in the hobby.
I have a particular friend who, when I don't understand someting, explains things to me in very basic, simple terms. Then as I learn more about it, I sort out the fine details. This is particularly true regarding computers -- I sturggle with them, but am deep into the digital modes, so have to learn about them.
Don't forget dual RX. V/U, U/V, U/U, V/V. I use it everyday.
Many of the 100W HF rigs require 20 or more amps. I recommend at least a 25A Continuous PS. You may want to upgrade in the future. There is also the possibility that you would want to run a small AMP on the frequencies you have privileges for.
Your station accessories are just as important as the rigs in your station.
The above statement is incorrect. I cite the following quote as an example, from page 22 of the Winter 2009 edition of Ham Radio Outlet's catalog (in fine print, located directly beneath the description for the Yaesu FTM-350R):
Icom has also recently printed similar text in some of their ads for their new rigs as well, while specifically mentioning the FCC in the disclaimer.
I had an experience here a couple of years ago. I Frito Lay salesman that I talked to all the time in a store came in one day wearing a VX-150. I ask him if he was a ham and the answer was no. I am a volunteer fireman. I told him the radio was illegal for that and the reply was his chief said it wasn't illegal but was cheaper than their radios.I told him his chief had no clue what her was talking about. The next week he said he talked to his chief again whom said I didn't know what I was talking about.
I told him if he got caught I would see him when he got out of sing sing.
I think some rural fire chiefs who allow illigal radios to be used should be taken to task for ignorance of the FCC rules.
Enjoy the hobbie
Before you buy a $50 antenna, look around on here and the 'net for plans for home built stuff. A great antenna can be constructed for cheap if you're that kind of person. Dual band stuff is nice, it opens options and it's probably well spent money initially (unless times are tough) to get a dual bander.
BTW, way to stay on topic and fight for your answers....
To my knowledge, you can own and carry and receive on an amateur service radio, with no license, without a violation. If a volunteer fireman wants to carry an HT with a wide band receive, one that covers his desired monitoring frequencies, what is the issue? Volume of production will drive down the price of HTs vs. scanners, so it makes sense that buying a ham unit saves some money for other gear that might save your behind.