2 meter radio recommendation

Discussion in 'Survival Communications' started by whynot, Jul 1, 2015.

  1. whynot

    whynot Monkey+++

    Kenwood TM-281A or Yaesu FT-2900R ? Working on my tech licence and already have a baofeng UV-5R. Pro's / Con's other suggestions?

    Planning on using in the house as a base station to hit the local repeaters and as a vehicle/base camp radio in the desert.

    I give the Kenwood a slight edge but know just enough to know I don't know enough.

  2. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Kenwood does make quality Radios, and I have a bunch of them.... I am using the TM-D-710a for Base Radio, and another one in the Rhino, for mobile. I am looking for another Control Head for one of these, as I have the BlackBox T/R Unit for it as a Spare, should one of the others get blown out by EMP, or whatever. If I can score a Control Head, then that unit will go in AlaskaChick's Red toyota 4X4 down at her folks house in the Flatlands. We also have a Pair of TH-D72a Handhelds to use for Portable Comms. (All the above are Dual Band VHF/UHF Radios) For HF the Main Radio is a TS-590, and the backup is a TS-690. with a TS-450 in EMP Proof Storage if needed. Been Looking for a B-2000 Kenwood for the Red Toyota, for a Mobile HF Rig, but haven't found one at my Price Point just yet. I already have the AutoTuner for it. (SEA1612B) I gave away the two TS-430s that I had as HF Rigs, prior to the HF Radios I am running now. They both went to good homes, of deserving folks..... and the TM-D700 went to another Good Home, when I installed the TMD-710a in the Cabin. My opinion, YMMV....
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2015
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  3. stg58

    stg58 Monkey+++ Founding Member

    In terms of longevity I have been using two Kenwood TM-261's for 15 plus years without a hiccup.
    Operated out of band during my Navy-Marine corps MARS days.

    Kenwood makes solid gear.
    Marck and Yard Dart like this.
  4. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    The 281a will serve you well, but it is 2M only. May not keep you happy for very long. Might want to look at a dual band machine. Your tech ticket will allow some other band use.
    Marck likes this.
  5. Airtime

    Airtime Monkey+++

    For not much more money you can get a dual band radio. From a prepping perspective, you probably will want to perform the mods to expand the transmit range even though you will likely never use that function. Why then? For example, in SHTF/WROL while illegal, you may need to transmit to a few teams equipped with handheld GMRS/FRS radios. A 70 cm radio modified for out of band operation can do that. Many business band radios including many used by the public services (police, fire, DNR, etc.) operate on frequencies just outside the 70 cm ham band. You can generally monitor all those frequencies even with no mods on the radio.

    Many ham clubs have repeaters on both 2 and .7 meter bands. If one is crowded you have the other to consider. You may also find UHF frequencies function better in some environments (sometimes urban) and 2 m VHF better in others (heavy woods) and dual band radios give you both options.

    Lastly, some dual band mobile radios can also function as a cross band repeater. You want this feature even if you don't think you do. You want it because you can now walk away from your car with a small .7 m HT unit in your pocket. Then communicate back to your car radio and have it retransmit on 2 meters a stronger signal with a much higher gain antenna. This can be very handy if say you are in a rural area where a hand held with duck antenna can't remotely hit a repeater but the car system can. Stay within range of the car and it's like having a 50 watt amp and 4 db antenna in your pocket.

    Marck, kellory, ghrit and 2 others like this.
  6. Airtime

    Airtime Monkey+++

    Oh yeah, forgot to mention.... A superb mobile antenna for a dual bander is the Comet CA-2X4SRB. This antenna has excellent performance on the ham bands yet is so wide it delivers very good performance outside the ham bands. I have a couple and like them. Designed for people who need to work ham and other public safety frequencies such as during emergencies or SAR operations. A good MFJ magnetic mount works well with it. You'll find good reviews for this model. Not cheap, about 60 bucks without a mount, but worth it in my book.

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  7. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2015
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  8. falmike

    falmike Monkey+

    I really like my Yaesu. I hang a slim Jim dual band on the wall inside and it hits all local repeaters.
  9. William Warren

    William Warren Monkey+++

    Any of the "big name" radios will work fine, but the best advice I can give you is to spend of lot of time on your antennas. If you're planning a station out in the desert, you'll need an excellent omnidirectional antenna, and maybe even a beam antenna, since preparedness means you'll be operating simplex and won't depend on repeaters - or least not ones you don't control.


    William Warren
  10. Rockyriver

    Rockyriver Ham Extra Class

    I own quite a few radios and the best radio to have for 2 meters only is IMHO the ICOM IC-V8000.
    It beats the Kenwood TM-281 hands down and barely edges out the FT 2900.

    My ICOM IC-V8000, 2 Meter only perfection.


    My FT-2900, Notice the cooling fan I placed on top of it too keep it cool.


    Kenwood TM-281 is as simple bare basic a 2 meter only radio as it comes.


    If you want the best radio to get that is a dual band get a Kenwood TM-V71, Its the best all around radio to get and is simple to use and will make you a happy camper on how well it performs. Get this radio and you won't be disappointed.

    Marck likes this.
  11. William Warren

    William Warren Monkey+++

    I've used them, and they're good for "picture perfect" in-dash installations, but I never liked having to worry about dismounting the RF Deck and the head and marrying them together if I had to switch vehicles.

    No pain, no gain.

    William Warren
    Rockyriver likes this.
  12. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    I like the radios I have, listed above, simply because after the CAP/MARS Mods, they become Universal Radios. (Wide-Bandwidth and Wide and Narrow FM Modulation, on both VHF and UHF, with 1000 Memories, to hold 1000 Channels, plus the VFOs for both Bands...... The same is true for the HF Radios.... Basically DC to 60Mhz.... Not Legal, or Type Accepted on ALL Frequencies, but good enough for .GOV Work, to the point that the difference can't be determined without a Physical Inspection.....
  13. Idahoser

    Idahoser Monkey+++ Founding Member

    don't know about these specific models, but it was a big surprise to me to learn that the Kenwood TM-D700A cannot be used as a single unit, the face plate cannot be mounted to the front of the body. For home use, that was kinda inconvenient. For mobile that's likely how I'd have done it anyway.
    The Icom 706 series (and probably others) can have the face plate mounted to the front of the body, so that the entire radio is a single box.
    I agree with the advice I've heard elsewhere, that VHF takes up way too much of your attention at the stage of license you're currently at. It's too easy to just stop there and think you're done. HF is where real ham radio lives.
    So you might consider whether you're going to end up with separate HF and VHF radios anyway, or if you'd spend the money better to go ahead and get something with all of the above already built in (such as the Icom).
  14. Rockyriver

    Rockyriver Ham Extra Class

    Just my .02 cents worth, Don't get an all in one radio. Make your HF radio do HF only and let your VHF and UHF go together on a dual band radio. We talk all the time on VHF and HF at the same time, Using VHF to help other hams local make contacts to others in foreign lands on HF. Not to mention if the one radio goes down you are down on all frequncies.
    Example while on VHF local: Joe bob goto 14.313 and listen to the guy in Canada calling CQ CQ CQ and log him.
    PLA likes this.
  15. William Warren

    William Warren Monkey+++

    No offense, but I disagree. Hams need to be ready to operate on any band which will be used during a disaster, not just HF. My view is that it's too easy to say "Well, I've got the Extra, I'm done!"

    There's always something more to learn, and new modes and bands to try. EmCom is one of the reasons Hams still have bands to use, and we need every operator to challenge himself to be ready with many different skills when we're called upon.


    William Warren
  16. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    About ready to pull the trigger on a TM-V71, looking here for reasons why not. The use will be in the pickup in travel status and in the shack for weekly 2M club nets. (My h/t is marginal in hitting the repeaters for the nets. Works most of the time, but now and then conditions keep me out, and the rest of the members miss out on my pearls of wisdom.)
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 9, 2015
  17. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    @ghrit .... You will enjoy the TM-71 Radio a lot.... My TH-D72As use the same Transceiver Hardware, and just use a different Control Head. Also if you want to upgrade it to a TM-72A, all you need is to buy the RC-72A Control Head, that adds the Buitl-In TNC and APRS/GPS Firmware...
  18. scpn

    scpn Monkey+++

    I am different than most of the hams I know (and people in general) , incl. a lot of the ones here. HF is less of a priority for me (however I did just order a SWL SSB radio that I can listen in on). My initial choice was between ICOM VC-8000 or Yaesu FT-2900R. I got the 2900, had it 5 years, and am more than satisfied - it is my SHTF lifeline comm unit. 2m is where 99% of the activity is in my area so 440 is not necessary (cheap Chinese HTs like UV5R give local 440 capability w/o paying extra). You won't need an added fan for the 2900 unless you are a broadcaster (no offense RR); it will stay cool if you let off the TX button once in a while. You need at least a 12-15 amp battery to TX at 75W but smaller gel cells (i.e. 7-9amp) will work up to 35W. Car batteries are fine except for being too heavy (deep cycle of course is preferable). The ICOM would be fine, but I would buy another 2900 if/when I have the loot to spare because 2is1....
  19. William Warren

    William Warren Monkey+++

    It just occurred to me that I'd really like to have a feature where the radio announces what frequency and/or channel it's on when I push the "Up" or "Down" button on my microphone. That way, I never have to take my eyes off the road to switch repeaters.

    William Warren
  20. whynot

    whynot Monkey+++

    Baofeng and a $25 mobile antenna on the patio roof have me hitting all the available repeaters at this point. Thinking about saving pennies for a Yaesu FT-857. Any thoughts on that Yaesu?

    Already planning on buying 2 or 3 more of the Baofeng's. They are a great deal for about $50 a shot with a Nagoya antenna. No tears either if I break it or lose it. :)

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