Advice...first Mobile Radio/Base Station

Discussion in 'Survival Communications' started by Bandit99, Mar 20, 2019.

  1. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    In January, I passed my Extra Exam. Last week, I got a J-Pole antenna (1/2" copper, needs a bit of work) and I have on order or have the items needed to put it on a 15-20 foot mast but I will probably move it to the top of the house to get maximum height at a later date. I ordered some good LMR-400 cable to install it. Currently, I have three (3) handheld VHF/UHF radios (Baofeng 2 each UV-5R and 1 each 8FHP) which I have been using lately after putting a mobile antenna on the roof (magnet mount since my roof is metal).

    I would like to hear recommendations for a VHF/UHF mobile radio. I intend to purchase a new one, I am in no mood to wait around to find a good use one and anyway, I prefer a new one. I figure I will use it as a Base Station and later it will end up in my truck.

    I am leaning towards iCom, since I have every intention of purchasing a IC-7300 in the future when I decide to go HF, and, of course, Yaseu. So, here we go...

    1. Please recommend a VHF/UHF mobile rig taking into consideration cost, functionality, the changing state of amateur comms (SDR, digital), your experience with unit, etc., basically anything supporting your recommendation.

    2. Would you think it wiser to invest a bit more money, about 2X more, into something like the Yaesu FT-857D that does HF/VHF/UHF (all bands) and has good power also? It doesn't have an internal antenna turner which sort of sucks and adds cost... Remember this will go into my truck at some future date...I just don't think I would ever do/need HF in a truck but perhaps you can talk to that also.

    Anyway, as usual, I am having a tough time deciding so all input, advice, experience, recommendations would be greatly appreciated.
    snake6264 and sec_monkey like this.
  2. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    I run Kenwood Gear, and run a TM-D710A/AvMapIV at the Cabin, and a TM-D710GA at the new place.. Both are Dualband Vhf/Uhf @ 50 Watts 12 Vdc, and nice Base or Mobile units.. The 710GA has a builtin GPS in the ControlHead, which allows for APRS right out of the Box... This makes for a nice Small base or mobile Install with the T/R Unit mounted out of sight, and the small Control Head mounted for best accessability... adding a small EXTERNAL GPS to the 710A will bringit into the same situation as the 710GA for APRS... We use the APRS for Text Messaging between the two Cabins, as well as to track our Rhino. 660 which has another TM-D710A installed, with an AvMapIV that provides GPS and Mapping Screen, for tracking locations.. All these have been installed for many years, used Daily, and have yet to have a failure... All Units are Opened, and have Multiple Radio Service frequencies Programmed.. I also have two Backup T/R Units, already Programmed and ready to go, but have yet to need them... There is one more TM-D710A/AvMapIV that is installed in our ‘06 White Toyota 4X4 Pickup Truck that lives in Seattle, and is our FlatLander Ride...
  3. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Ah, yes, analysis paralysis. We KNOW about that, yes we do.

    Anyway, I can't speak to much other than Kenwood, but I can say that --
    -My TM281 is serving well as my base 2M rig on a horizontal dipole. (Not a lot of use for uhf in this nekka da woods.)
    -My TM V71A is doing excellent service in the truck (2 band, 2 vfos)
    I am using my TS480SAT as a base hf rig, but it will eventually go into the vehicle, after I get some better antennas up and something akin to a TS 990. At this point, there are some xceivers out there that will do hf, vhf, uhf and maybe even more, but those will have to wait until I run a comparo on the various mfrs wares.

    It's a fair bet that the mag mount on your metal roof will work well for both the 281 and 71, since they are designed for that very antenna type, and I have used both of them in the pickup successfully with a Browning mag mount.

    I've yet to hear a bad word about the Yaesu 857, but it is an older design and you MUST provide space for air circulation.
    snake6264, oldman11 and sec_monkey like this.
  4. Congratulations! Icom came out with D-Star, Yeasu , Fusion. Kenwood adopted D-star. Are either in use by you? Here in the bight, both are used somewhat. Old adage I heard somewhere, A good radio won't put out a good signal with a poor antenna.
    snake6264 likes this.
  5. Tevin

    Tevin Monkey+++

    This statement jumped out at me. An 857D runs somewhere around $800.00. If $800.00 is 2x more than you were hoping to spend, then your real budget is $400.00.

    Unfortunately, $400.00 will not get you a new HF radio that will fulfill all your requirements. In fact, the 857D is kind of at the bottom of the price range.

    I personally use and recommend Yaesu radios, but in truth any of the "Big Three" (Icom, Kenwood, Yeasu) are solid rigs. None of them are truly junk and I think you'll be happy no matter what you get.

    Sorry for my non-answer but I hope I've taken some of the stress out of the process.
    snake6264 likes this.
  6. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    @BTPost Wow! I guess you are really sold on Kenwood as they certainly have served you well and continue to do so. I will indeed do some research on them and thank you for taking the time!

    @ghrit Yes, I admit it, 'analysis paralysis' is one of my many vices, seems I can research things to death sometimes without getting any closer to a solution even when I use what we were taught like 'define your objectives,' 'justify your costs', etc. etc. etc....LOL!
    So, you're a Kenwood guy too! I will do some research on them this evening... Thank you! And, thanks for the tip about 'air circulation' for the FT-857D.

    @Marvin L. Steinhagen I think D-Star was actually developed by a radio club in Japan, Japan's version of ARRL. It's Open Source as opposed to proprietary Yaesu's Fusion and Motorola's DMR. I truly think D-Star will be the future as Open Source as proven time and time again with many different disciplines to come out on top. It was another reason why I was leaning toward iCom and now, with the glowing reports from BTPost and ghrit, Kenwood. Yeah, I am still playing around with this J-Pole but it's a lot of fun but will probably get a good dual band antenna this Spring/Summer.
    snake6264 and Tully Mars like this.
  7. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    There is a Dual Band version of the Home built jPole floating around... might just be what you need...
    snake6264, ghrit and Bandit99 like this.
  8. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    @Tevin "Unfortunately, $400.00 will not get you a new HF radio that will fulfill all your requirements. In fact, the 857D is kind of at the bottom of the price range."

    No, you misread or more likely I didn't write it very clear, I do not really want to go into HF just yet and would prefer sticking with VHF/UHF at the moment. My thought on FT-857D was simply that it is a good reliable radio which would do all bands for $800... And yes, I figure I can get a very good VHF/UHF radio for ~$400 but if no - well - I really don't have a hard budget and will spend whatever is necessary to try and do it smart...maybe that 'smart' is to purchase an 'all bands' radio maybe not - I dunno - but I don't think so especially since I have already made up my mind to purchase a SDR radio for HF in the future, an IC-7300, when I have more time to get the antenna installed and mess around with it. I have a lot to do this Spring/Summer and just got enough time to get a VHF/UHF rig up and running. Anyway, long story short, my priority right now is a good quality VHF/UHF rig. That Kenwood TM-D710GA costs ~$550 and is pretty sweet looking and a lot of radio for the money!
  9. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    Strange enough, I was just looking at that and it is what I need. What Base Station antenna are you running for yours?
  10. techsar

    techsar Monkey+++

    For a vhf/uhf mobile unit, I've been using a Yaesu FT-8800. No digi modes, but it does have a data port that can interface with a sound card modem or tnc and can monitor two frequencies simultaneously. This replaced an older Icom IC-207h that was dual band, but only one at a time.
    For a base unit, I used an Icom IC-821h for several years. Again, no digi modes.
    The current base unit is an Icom IC-9100 with the D-STAR module and it replaced the 821 and the Kenwood TS-480Sat that was used as a base for a few years. The TS-480 is replacing the Alinco DX-70 in the mobile.
    Digital modes have not impressed me a bit. Sure, you can "talk round the world" on vhf or uhf, but not if the internet is down. So C4FM, DMR and D-STAR are low, very low, priority for me.

    So, to directly address you original question I would not hesitate to recommend the FT8800 for non-digital comms...and will throw in a thumbs up for mobile hf, too.

    ETA: I wouldn't discount the Kenwoods, either.
    Bandit99 likes this.
  11. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    I bought a DualBand Verticle Base Antenna from Amazon for $60US for the new place... Haven’t put it up yet, because I need power to run the Soldering Gun, for the. Coax. Connectors, and the Powerhouse is still winterized... It is temporary going to sit on the top of a pair of 20’ 1 1/2” Pipes coupled together, that will support it and the Cellular 4G Wilson Booster Antenna... This is so AlaskaChick will have Comms back here, when she is moving into the new Place.. This summer I will be putting up a 60’ Rohn 25G Tower, and then will move these Antennas to that Tower... along with the center of a 160 Meter Inverted V Dipole, driven by a 200 Watt Kenwood TS-480HX and a Manual Roller Coil Tuner for HF... I need to get 60Ft of #4 Wire to bring the 12Vdc from the cabin’s Solar Charged 12Vdc Battery to the Three Comms Systems... (Wilson 4G Booster, Kenwood TM-D710GA, and Kenwood TS-480HX). I plan on having a pair of new L16HDs, in series, installed later this summer for the Comms, with a 200 Watt Solar Panel & MPPT Charge Controller, as well as a 30 Amp 120Vac PowerSupply that will charge the L16s, whenever the Powerhouse Gensets are running... When this place iS winterized, the Solar will float charge the Batteries, and keep them from freezing, and during the summers, the Solar plus the Power Supply, will keep the Comms up and running... I have a. Kenwood TS-2000x with an RC2000 Control Head, ready to replace the TS-480HX that is installed here, as my Backup HF Radio, when I move it up to the new place...
    Bandit99 likes this.
  12. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    @techsar Yaesu isn't selling the FT-8800 anymore. It appears it was replaced by the FT-7900R (dual band, $290) and/or the FT-8900R (Quad band, $330). The Yaesu that I am looking at is a FTM-100DR (digital dual band, $310), lots of good reviews - a lot. I like their power spread of 50W-20W-5W, makes more sense than most. But yes, those Kenwood are nice radios, real nice... I think what is selling me on the Kenwood is I cannot find anyone saying a bad word about them! I might actually end up with one of those.

    @BTPost That Kenwood TM-D710GA is a hell'va nice radio, but, to be honest, I am not sure I need that much radio because it is doing a hell'va lot I don't know about. It sells for $560... What do you know about it's baby brother TM-V71R? It doesn't have the GPS but most everything else, also a 50 watt radio, and sells for $355.
  13. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    That radio uses the exact same T/R Unit as the TM-D710A, and can have an intergural Control Head or a Remote Control Head... All the APRS stuff is in the RC710 Remote Control Head, and only requires one to switch Control Heads to complete an UpGrade between the two Models... Kenwood also makes an upgrade Kit that makes the Intergrual Control Head, into a Remote Control Head...

    Another thing to NOTE, here, The two 710A versions of the 710A Control Head and 710GA Control Head are NOT interchangeable, and the T/R Units are also NOT interchangeable... Each only works with it’s coorisponding T/R Unit...

    Also if ANYONE sees a TM-V71A Control Head, “For Sale” PLEASE let me know, as I would like in buy two of them. to outfit my two spare T/R Units....
    Bandit99 likes this.
  14. Tempstar

    Tempstar Monkey+++

    I too am a Kenwood fan, but have tried them all. My shack radio is a TS-2000, the one radio I have owned that I would never part ways with. I also have a Yaesu FT-991a travel/Field Day radio. Kenwood TS-480SAT in the Bronco, and a 690S at work. I run TM-V71a dual band radios in all of the vehicles except the work truck which has a TYT MD-9600 which I love. I do DMR and we have a DMR repeater for work at 1600', and that little TYT does a great job.
    I have owned about every brand, and none have the sound, both transmit and receive, of a Kenwood. You'll also notice I no longer own any Icom gear. Not that it's bad, just not for me.
    Bandit99 and snake6264 like this.
  15. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    You are definitely in the throes of analysis paralysis. At this point, I recommend pulling the trigger on something, almost anything, and get off the dime. Start with the idea that your rig MUST have capabilities that you don't know how to use; if the rig can't do more than you can, your learning curve will be, at best, stunted, and you'll be sending more money out on upgrades and more hardware.

    You have, with little doubt, heard that "ham" is an acronym for "have alotta money"? The trick is spending enough, but not more than you need to. Get ahead of it by doing something, even if it isn't quite exactly what you think you need.
    Bandit99 and BTPost like this.
  16. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    @ghrit "your rig MUST have capabilities that you don't know how to use"
    Well, that won't be too bloody hard will it! LOL!!!!!!!

    "Get ahead of it by doing something, even if it isn't quite exactly what you think you need."
    I have come to the same conclusion; however, the damn problem is the industry is in a total upheaval, it's a mess! Everyone has their own standard(s) and only a few are embracing software defined radios which truly is the future.

    I spent all yesterday and last night and this morning researching this and - no matter how much money I throw at it - there is no right or wrong answer. At this point, it is either going to be the Kenwood TM-V710GA (Truly leaning in this direction but pricey $560) or the Yaesu FTM-100DR (great reviews, mid-priced $310) or some entry dual-band Yaesu that I can simply shout into...

    Right now, I need to walk away from it so I can think clearly but it seems it is better to spend a few hundred more up front, like on the Kenwood, and have more than enough rather than spend less and not have enough - I mean - this will be a life long hobby so...

    EDIT: As far as I know, there are no amateur digital repeaters in our area. I asked at our Amateur Radio Club in our area and also a professional that makes his living doing mobile comms for businesses. There are some on the commercial side, DMR, but none for amateur; however, I am sure that will change in the future.
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2019
  17. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

  18. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    OK bandit, one more thunk for the record. You said it, the industry is balls wild now, nothing is cast in concrete so far as the industry's direction and new standards are concerned. So go simple with an eye to expanding. HF is no more mysterious than the alphabet, you gotta start somewhere. Right now, you are focused on SDR, and that's fine. But methinks doing it by hand will teach you more than letting the 'puter do it. Besides, the 'puter will change it's alleged mind tomorrow, and there you will be without a means to get around the BSOD.

    You have the extra ticket, that, like tech and gen is nothing more than a license to learn on more freqs. Gopher it, learn something, see if you like it and switch curricula if you don't.
    Bandit99 likes this.
  19. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    That's a good deal! I'll check it out. I don't think this one has a GPS in it...not sure if that matters at this point. yeah, I have been watching QRZ but it doesn't have any search functions (that I can find) and man-oh-man anything that is listed there sells about as fast as it is listed.

    BTW @BTPost can you recommend me a good Power Supply to go with that Kenwood TM-D710. Kenwood sells a KPS-15 Switching Power Supply (23 amp, $120)...but maybe there is something better and/or I would need something stronger for future use? A guy at the club recommended an 'Astron SS-30M' (30 amp, $150)

    @ghrit " gotta start somewhere."
    That's it. There is no correct answer. I've been reading about the SDRs for years. Would you believe that I was given a White Paper about them way back in the 90s and be tracking it ever since? iCom is coming out with a Dual-Band IC-9700 that does direct RF sampling just like it's HF model (IC-7300) but I don't think its even at manufacturing yet if so then that is what I would get - end of story. One can purchase a IC-7300 now for $1000.
  20. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    What I use as a Power Supply is a 12Vdc Battery, and a Regulated Power Supply of some sort that can be set to a Float Voltage of 13.4Vdc... for just a TM-D710 type 10 Amps will be good enough, If you add a 100Watt HF you should get a 20 Amp Regulated Supply... Since I need my Comms to operate 24/7/365, wheather the Genset is running, or NOT, I use the above system to power my Cabins 12Vdc Comms Buss that consistes of a Pair L16HDs in series, charged by a 30Amp Regulated Power Supply set at 13.4Vd... The Power Supply is on whenever the Genset is running... I have No Solar here as I run the genset 10 hours a day during the winters, and the Cannery’s 3.5 Megawatt Powerhouse runs 24/7 during the summers... The Power System for our New Place is outlined in Post #11 above...
    Bandit99 likes this.
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