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New Ham here, looking at a HT, 4watt or 8 watt

Discussion in 'Mobile Radio Systems' started by WC5OU, Jan 1, 2015.

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  1. M0GVZ

    M0GVZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Only in your mind. Its half a S point. It won't increase your range at all on VHF/UHF.

    This is the REAL REASON why you noticed a difference. Height is everything on VHF/UHF. I can reach a repeater on a tower 500ft above sea level clear line of sight and talk through it with no problem with a couple of watts.
  2. VE3KUT

    VE3KUT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Keep the FT60 as the primary & buy a GT3 as a beater. I've got a boofang GT3 - Tough unit, but more prone to intermod & other nasties that my better HT (Kenwood THF6) doesn't have. Still a great buy though, just not as refined. 5W vs 8W won't make more than a mosquito-fart difference in signal.
  3. K4ISR

    K4ISR Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have tested them and 4W vs 8W makes a big difference, I am talking simplex, not 500ft tall repeaters halfway across the state or 200 ft antennas 5 miles away.
    It is not just in my mind, if that was the case then I would see the same distance, but 4W at S2 and 8W at S2+3 as you claim, which is false. Here are the reports back from Elmers in their 70s and 80s (their age) that have been licensed for longer than I have been alive.
    Baofeng BF-F8HP, Nagoya NA-701 antenna, 3800mAh battery. About me and my testing, I am 6'5", radio held at my face, standing while talking, top of antenna would be approximately 6.5ft (6'6") above ground at transmission time.

    4W, S2, 10 miles;
    4W would not come through with their squelch wide open at 18 miles;

    8W, S5+5, 10 miles;
    8W, S4+2, 18 miles.

    Since the BF-F8HP has 1W, 4W and 8W output power options, I did not have to change between radios, antenna or locations for the testing. But I did do a separate test back in December that tested 3 different Baofeng antennas, between the 2 different radios. Antennas like usual make a big difference as well, and the usual stock antennas that come with the UV-5R series are junk. May as well use $5 FRS radios for all the stock ones are worth.

    But while talking about repeaters: Same radio as above, repeater (a new Yaesu fusion, antenna is 150ft above ground) is 15.9 miles due north of me with nothing but trees, no buildings between my test spot and repeater. 4W does not reach it, 8W opens it and can have short conversations, signal is not the strongest but I am audible.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2015
  4. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    That's pretty lousy. 16 miles with no real obstructions and 4W doesn't reach it? Sounds like something isn't quite right there.

    We have a lot of repeaters around here, some stand-alone and many part of multi-repeater "systems."


    If you look at that map, I'm about six miles south of "1/2/17," the Oat Mountain site which has three repeaters on this single system co-located. I can get into those "dead full quieting" at 100 mW to a "rubber duckie" inside my home.

    But I can also access the repeater sites shown as "4" (Saddle Peak, 12 miles from me) with 100 mW; "13" (Mt. Lukens, 15 miles from me); and "8" (Mt. Wilson, 25 miles from me) with 100 mW and the same rubber duckie. And I can access "3" (Santiago Peak, which is 70 miles from me) if I bump it up to 5W and the same rubber duckie. That's 70 miles, waaaaaaay over the horizon from here.

    Now, these machines are all on hilltops which of course helps. But I'd think 16 miles with a repeater antenna on a 150' tower and no real obstructions should be easy with 4W, or even with 1W unless something unusual is going on.
  5. K0BG

    K0BG Ham Member QRZ Page

    I agree with Steve. The 146.04/64 here in Roswell, NM, is a scant 50 feet up. I can reach it from 30 miles north of town with a 3 watt handheld using the stock dummy load antenna. I would suspect that either the repeater is suspect, or perhaps your tone board isn't set up correctly.
  6. K4ISR

    K4ISR Ham Member QRZ Page

    That is where you ignore my original post... "no real obstructions". Your location and situation is 100% polar opposite to mine, You have no real obstructions, so you have the capability to reach some distance over the rooftops of buildings. In my case it is literally 16 miles through nothing but thick pine tree forest and slight hills between me and the tower, and soft wood trees are well known to be much more of an RF sponge than most buildings, and somehow thats lousy? This isn't the open plains, or the open California valleys where you can stand in your yard with binoculars and see dozens of towers 15-20 miles away, or a repeater on top of a 3000ft peak, this is fairly level ground and the RF signal having to travel through 16 miles of pine trees, so getting ANY HT to do that is a nice feat. Most mobile stations in their vehicles tend to run 30-75W just to get any distance through these trees.

    You cannot compare your signals traveling through open air (through maybe one thin wall of your house) going 6 miles, with an almost solid 16 miles of pine trees. With this forest, people either need an antenna 30-50ft above the ground, or be within 5-7 miles of the repeater (and outdoors) to use their 4-5W HTs, this is EVERYONE here. Not just the Baofengs but the $200 Yaesu HTs and every other low power radio at ground level.

    I had an elmer stop by a few weeks ago with a $500 antenna tester to help me check a few things. Even with his mobile radio set at 75W output and $400 specialized 2m antenna on his vehicle, he could barely open the 2m repeater close to his QTH which is 26 miles away (returning squelch tail came back as S2 on his radio). He spent decades as a radio/TV communications and tower systems worker and admin. I would trust him a lot more than I would someone that is not familiar with my area. Your 100mW would not get an eighth of a mile through these trees to the main road much less the repeater 5 miles away. 4W barely reaches the repeater 5 miles away unless I connect it to my antenna that is 35ft up.

    With my 4W HT connected to my antenna 35ft up, I can reach up to 20 miles southeast (possibly further, but not really a way to test since beyond that is the Gulf of Mexico, and unless I get a response from a boat...), and that is only because it is a few miles of trees then open water beyond that. Otherwise it is a weak signal into that repeater 16 miles north, or decent signal (S4) 12 miles southwest.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2015
  7. WA6MHZ

    WA6MHZ Ham Member QRZ Page

  8. K4ISR

    K4ISR Ham Member QRZ Page

    If you live in a mostly open area, then sure get the 4-5W radios... but if there are lots of forested areas, then the 8W makes a big difference. Everything is circumstantial.
  9. N1EN

    N1EN Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    It'll increase your range "a little".

    I worked one bike race this year after I picked up a high-power Baofeng. There was terrain and vegetation between my assigned rest stop and the repeater being used for the race.

    Having the extra HT power and a beam meant I didn't need to lug a mobile and a bigger battery over to the rest stop. 5w with the beam only had me marginal into the repeater.

    There are obviously downsides to the higher power (increased battery consumption, RF exposure concerns, etc.), but there are some circumstances where it could come in handy....albeit not as many as someone might initially think.

    I wouldn't necessarily want a Baofeng to be my one and only radio, but having one on hand as a spare isn't necessarily a bad idea. And if you were attracted to the higher power models because of specific circumstances you could see the power being useful (rather than a general "moar power = good" sentiment), it would be a reasonable choice to make.
  10. K0BG

    K0BG Ham Member QRZ Page

    Well. Conor is correct! Depending on the deviation, lack of any Fresnel zoning, and a clear field of view, it takes about 10 dB increase to double the distance. 3 dB? Not much if any help when using FM.
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