Ham Radio Recomendations. Radio ideas and local shop?

AngryRooster

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Over the weekend I went for my first tests, passed the Technician and General. I didn't take the Extra because I haven't even looked at the questions yet. My Extra book will be here on Monday. I'll do the same thing with it that I did the other two, read the book twice cover to cover then take the practice exams. I'll probably test for it in a couple weeks.

Right now I have 2 of the Baofeng UV-R5+ radios I bought to toy around with, one for the car and the other for the house. I'm looking for something a little better for both uses. I'd like something that I won't have to upgrade as I learn more and get used to things.

Is there a shop somewhere in the East Central part of the state that carries equipment and can offer reliable advice? I'd like to get a decent antenna for the vehicle as well, cutting and drilling are not going to be options though.

As far as the radio, to start I'd like something that can be used in the vehicle and the house. I thought about a good hand held such as this one Amazon.com: Quad-Band Yaesu VX-8DR Submersible VHF/UHF Amateur Radio Transceiver: Electronics or maybe this one Amazon.com: Tri-Band Yaesu VX-6R Submersible Amateur Ham Radio Transceiver (144/222/440): Electronics.

Possible this one as well with a 12V system in the house Amazon.com: Yaesu FT-857D Amateur Radio Transceiver - HF, VHF, UHF All-Mode 100W: Electronics.

I'm also in the Eastern part of Randolph County and there is jack squat on the 2m and 70cm around here. I'll get around to building antennas for the home as soon as the pole barn is built and I can put up a tower behind it.
Any recommendations or suggestions?
 

Duke Short

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I am a Ham New-B myself and can offer little help. But my XX Brother in law is advising me and is pretty deep in it. He is out of the Greenfield area. His recommendations have been all 12 volt equipment and keep deep a cycle battery around and a solar charger then you will always have power. The antenna is the "heart" of your equipment and get good coax. An amp. not so much inside due to possible smoking of your base equipment . Good Mag mount on antenna on vehicle soooooo many suggestions and combinations. Go to the hamfest's and get good used equipment usually sold reasonable. I understand one is coming up in Ft. Wayne area soon. Get with a radio club in your area and find a seasoned buddy. Not much help here but hope it is aleast a little help . CQ
 

Sailor

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Get an FT-1900 or 2900 if the size of the radio is not a concern.

Those HT's are gtg but have so many features packed into such a small platform it can be intimidating to learn. The FT-270 is much simpler, but 2m only.

FT-857 is my go to radio. Add an LDG z-100 tuner, signalink usb, for digital work and the cat cable and and you are gtg. Will need the interface cable for the ldg also. Using ham radio deluxe on your computer to operate the radio for digital work is nice.

My Diamond X200 does well as a dual band base. Talked 20.5 miles on it last week with one watt of power. Simplex base to base.
 

Krogo

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I have a Yaesu VX-6r HT and love it. A good buddy of mine has the VX-8r and loves it. I prefer the more ruggedized platform of the 6r, the 8r is still a remarkably solid radio, it's just my "feeling". In the cars I have FT-8800's and an FTM-350AR for the motorcycle(still haven't installed that one, winter project). I have the FT-897d and my good buddy had the 857d, another buddy has my old FT-100D. I can speak for all of them. Fantastic radios.

As far as antenna preferences, asking people is like asking AR vs AK. Find a moderately priced antenna, and antenna mount, and run with it. If it doesn't work for you, move on. eHam.net has an excellent equipment reviews section, really.

DIY antennas are lots of fun, dig in and experiment. I have an excellent DIY 2M/440 base antenna in tutorial form if you want it.

Edit: Forgot to mention Ham "Stores".. Close to you that I can remember....None. R&L Electronics is in Cincinnati and I consider them mostly D-Bags.....You are closer to Mecca,, Hamvention in Dayton. Next year May 16-18..
 
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AngryRooster

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Get an FT-1900 or 2900 if the size of the radio is not a concern.

Those HT's are gtg but have so many features packed into such a small platform it can be intimidating to learn. The FT-270 is much simpler, but 2m only.

FT-857 is my go to radio. Add an LDG z-100 tuner, signalink usb, for digital work and the cat cable and and you are gtg. Will need the interface cable for the ldg also. Using ham radio deluxe on your computer to operate the radio for digital work is nice.

My Diamond X200 does well as a dual band base. Talked 20.5 miles on it last week with one watt of power. Simplex base to base.

I have a Yaesu VX-6r HT and love it. A good buddy of mine has the VX-8r and loves it. I prefer the more ruggedized platform of the 6r, the 8r is still a remarkably solid radio, it's just my "feeling". In the cars I have FT-8800's and an FTM-350AR for the motorcycle(still haven't installed that one, winter project). I have the FT-897d and my good buddy had the 857d, another buddy has my old FT-100D. I can speak for all of them. Fantastic radios.

As far as antenna preferences, asking people is like asking AR vs AK. Find a moderately priced antenna, and antenna mount, and run with it. If it doesn't work for you, move on. eHam.net has an excellent equipment reviews section, really.

DIY antennas are lots of fun, dig in and experiment. I have an excellent DIY 2M/440 base antenna in tutorial form if you want it.

Edit: Forgot to mention Ham "Stores".. Close to you that I can remember....None. R&L Electronics is in Cincinnati and I consider them mostly D-Bags.....You are closer to Mecca,, Hamvention in Dayton. Next year May 16-18..

Thanks for the ideas guys, I'm sure it will take me awhile to choose a radio. I really don't want to upgrade radios several times. The wife isn't interested in getting her license so a permanently mounted radio in both vehicles isn't needed. A nice hand held will suffice for walking around the farm. I'm considering building a small office/shack/reloading area in the pole barn. It would be great if I could transfer one radio from there to my vehicle since I'll be the only one using it. I kind of like the All Band mentioned above but have read a few complaints of the lcd screens going bad and being several hundred dollars to repair. The menu system to access all the features sounds like a nightmare as well. I guess I would be better going with a dual band system for the car and a different system for the barn.

Krogo - That DIY antenna plan sounds good, I'd like to see that.
 

Krogo

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AngryRooster,

If you are worried about the FT-857d, Don't be.. It's a Great radio. Any of the All-band All-mode radios will cost a bunch to fix. For Example.. I picked up an Icom IC-706MKII in 2011. In early 2012, while hauling lumber (like all good men do in the center console of the car), I had to stop quickly and a 2x4 nailed it. $250 for a new faceplate. But it was my fault.. Lots of guys out there like to hop in the car in the dead of winter or heat of summer and kick the radio on. The displays don't like that, and will fail eventually. You need to let the LCD's warm up or cool off first. Don't let a few negative reviews steer you away. It's astonishing how many of these radios are actually out there.

The Menu system is Fantastic once you learn it. Most of the folks who complain about it are generally knob turners (folks that are used to or want a knob or button for every function, similar to mouth breathers). It's the technological progression of things, the more features you add, you need more buttons, or menu items. You'll learn which ones you use and you'll start accessing them quickly.

I really do recommend some other radio for the vehicle. You'll get tired of moving a radio from the house to the car. One way to accomplish this easily is to get the SMA to BNC adapter for the HT you plan to get. Grab a corded speaker/mic as well. Install a sma to bnc adapter on the stock antenna or better yet get a new larger antenna with a BNC connection. Install a 5/8 wave 2 meter/440 antenna on the vehicle and put a PL to BNC adapter on the coax. When you get in the car, quickly, disconnect the antenna on the HT, and connect the coax from the external antenna.. Whamo! You'll be amazed how far you can go on 5 Watts!

And I'll PM ya the link to the Base Antenna.
 

Grizhicks

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AngryRooster,

First & foremost, CONGRADS on getting your 'ticket'.

My guess is, the closest shop to you is R&L Electronics (www.randl.com), in Hamilton, Ohio (north of Cincinnati). Place is somewhat of a dump, but they have tons of stuff and are helpful.

My current radios are:
Icom IC-V8, 2M H/T (have 2)
Yaesu FT-60R, 2M/440 H/T (have 2)
Yaesu FT-8800R, 2m/440 mobile (dual-band, dual receive)
Icom IC-706MKIIG, HF/2M/440 (multi-band, multi-mode) w/ LDG Z-100 tuner and using Ham Radio Deluxe

I really like the FT-60R; nice size, easy to program, and at $150, not too expensive.

The FT-8800R has worked well, and I wanting to get 2 more (other truck & home).

Hope this helps..... Greg / K9TLA
 

AngryRooster

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Thanks Grizhicks. My Extra book got here yesterday, I haven't had a chance to get into it yet but soon. Hopefully it won't take too long to go through it a couple of times. There are a few tests coming up in Anderson over the next couple weeks, maybe I can make it to one of them.

Found a radio I like but would like opinions before I order it. Yaesu FT-8900R: Ham & Amateur Radios - Equipment, Parts and Supply | AES.

Any opinions on the dealer or the radio? I liked the features of the Yaesu FT-857D but it's pricey. It looks like the FT-8900R will do mostly the same thing and with the price, rebate & free faceplate mounting kit it sounds pretty good. I'll probably try this one out later on this week unless there is anything bad I should know about this particular radio or dealer.

Thanks again everyone. Your opinions are valued. There aren't many people or places to learn about this stuff first hand where I'm located.
 

Hogwylde

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Stay away from magnetic mount antennas if you run high power and want to keep your paint. Mag mounts use capacitive coupling to ground the antenna to the body of the car and can ruin the paint running high power. Besides, no matter what, it will always scratch your paint there too.
 

AngryRooster

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Stay away from magnetic mount antennas if you run high power and want to keep your paint. Mag mounts use capacitive coupling to ground the antenna to the body of the car and can ruin the paint running high power. Besides, no matter what, it will always scratch your paint there too.


2013 4Runners, NO magnetic mounts, NO drilling. Thinking about a clamp on that mounts to the top luggage rack cross bar. Either that or a cookie sheet in the front seat with the antenna going out the sun roof in the summer.
 

Krogo

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AngryRooster,

The FT-8900 is not a substitution for a proper HF rig like the FT-857. There is a wonderful and enormous world down there in HF land that the 8900 won't get to.

I'm not trying to say that you need to get an 857 right off the bat, however, don't think that it "will do mostly the same thing". There is an enormous difference between the two. As a General, you have access to the HF bands, and they are Fantastic. I realize that the prices are scary, try to find one second hand, got to a couple hamfests and find a deal. They are out there. I sold my FT-100D for $400. It's the predecessor to the 857, and in some ways a better radio than the 857. In some ways not. But there are no glaring differences between the two.

I'm not sure what your goals are ie.. , Just local work, Medium distance, etc... I'm just making observations.

When you are looking for an antenna mount, look at the mounts that quickly fold down or have a quick detach antenna. You'll be thankful when you forget that thing is up there and end up at the airport parking garage with a mast that's a pain to lower.
 

Grizhicks

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AngryRooster,

The FT-8900 is not a substitution for a proper HF rig like the FT-857. There is a wonderful and enormous world down there in HF land that the 8900 won't get to.

I'm not trying to say that you need to get an 857 right off the bat, however, don't think that it "will do mostly the same thing". There is an enormous difference between the two. As a General, you have access to the HF bands, and they are Fantastic. I realize that the prices are scary, try to find one second hand, got to a couple hamfests and find a deal. They are out there. I sold my FT-100D for $400. It's the predecessor to the 857, and in some ways a better radio than the 857. In some ways not. But there are no glaring differences between the two.

I'm not sure what your goals are ie.. , Just local work, Medium distance, etc... I'm just making observations.

When you are looking for an antenna mount, look at the mounts that quickly fold down or have a quick detach antenna. You'll be thankful when you forget that thing is up there and end up at the airport parking garage with a mast that's a pain to lower.

I agree with 'Krogo', with the FT-8900 you're only getting 10M/6M/2M/440, and only FM. While there is some activity on 10/6 FM, most will be on SSB. Yes, it's only $30 more than the FT-8800, but you'll be hard pressed to find an antenna for all 4 bands (ie. more $). Just my :twocents:. -- Greg
 

indysafe317

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OK, here goes, I've been on the forum on and off for years and have dabbled with HAM, that's to say, a couple of years ago, I studied online and took my technician test and passed, bought a Yaesu FT-60 and never moved on. I posted a few times and talked to a few people who said they could help me out and they were great guys but didn't get what I was looking for. Please don't say go to some club meetings, I've done that as well and met a couple great people but after chatting a little, I still left really no better off. Call me backwards, introverted or whatever but here is what I'm looking for. Would like to pay someone to spend and hour or two walking me through my radio and making and receiving transmissions. Preferably someone familiar with the Yaesu FT-60. I know once I get past this hump, I'll probably get more involved but I know the way I learn and do things and showing up to meetings is just not going to help me in the beginning. First, that's not my learning style, second. my schedule is a nightmare and the 1st Tuesday of the month or other varied meeting times just never work out.

I've had people offer and say don't worry about the money, but life usually takes over and they get busy or want to meet at a club meeting where it's not individualized and I'm still nowhere further. We could meet at a public place, that's not a problem at all. I'm a firefighter for Indianapolis and live in New Palestine. Happy to talk to you ahead of time so we are comfortable with each other. I would really like to move forward with this and potentially get a mobile rig to practice more.

Again, I've meet some great people who I know want to help but for whatever reason, things fall through. I want to treat this like a business transaction or a tutoring situation so please don't feel bad. I'm wanting to pay for one on one instruction just like music lessons. With that being said. I will offer 30 per hour for you to show me how to use and navigate through the channels and use the local repeaters. Im thinking an hour or two to start and that might be all I need to get me off and running. I'm also willing to pay someone 20.00 extra to program my radio with the basic stuff. I have the cables and can download the programs we need.

Again, please don't guide me to some websites or you-tube or local meetings. That has not worked for me. Call me stupid but it is what it is. I've had people tell me to swing by a store to have it programmed. I cannot find any such stores. Each lead I've been given has fallen through. I would rather pay someone for their time.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts or ideas and I hope I'm not coming off the wrong way but I really want to move to the next step and this is the only way I see myself moving to the next step. Hopefully someone out there can help me out. Thanks again.
 

PistolBob

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If you live in an area with no repeater coverage on UHF or VHF, then you will most likely be disappointed in the performance of the hand held radios out there today. Even though most will push 5w on VHF, that rubber duck antenna it comes with won't do you much good unless you're on a platform above the terrain and trees. VHF and UHF is pretty much line of site so if the little radio can't "see" a repeater, you're not going to get very far. You could build a VHF/UHF antenna...look up Dual Band Open Stub J-Pole, you can build one for about $20 in parts...or you can buy one from Arrow that has everything you need for about $50 inc shipping. If you are communicating on a simplex freq between say, tractor and house, that ought to be fairly reliable...if you have two licensed radio amateurs around.

Buy a mobile capable of 50w minimum, and set it up as a base station. With the right mounts you can swap it in and out of the vehicle with relative ease. If your vehicle has no place to mount an antenna though, you're going to have other issues. I prefer a trunk lip mount on my mobile antenna. The FT 1900 is a cheap radio, usually under $150 and I believe it is 60w, the FT 2900 is about $20 more and it's 75w. Run either of those to a homebrew 2m beam or that open stub j-pole up about 35 feet and you probably won't have any problems hitting repeaters in Fayette, Rush, Wayne, Madison, Delaware or maybe even Hancock Counties...when the band is open you can also probably get into Dayton, and Indy.

Open Stub Dual Band J-Pole DIY Model - not for HF
 
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