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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

Dual Band Handhelds

Stephen T. Reynolds (W4CNG) on April 26, 2002
View comments about this article!


Hand-Held Dual Band Portables (HT's)

3-24-2002

W4CNG A.R.E.S. DEC Metro-Atlanta Ga.

The following statistical Brand/Type Radio information was pulled from the Winter 2002 Ham Radio Outlet Products Catalog.

From time to time all Hams want to upgrade to the Best/Latest/Greatest radio's, in hand-helds (HT's) to HF Fixed/Mobile/Portable, to VHF/UHF Fixed and Satellite base stations. This report will deal with Dual-Band Hand-held portable radio's, operating in the 144 and 440Mhz bands. The statistical data is just that, what is published that the radio will do. The comparisons are just that, measure one against the others, and all against each other. Radio's of similar specifications are measured against one another. This case is Dual Band Hand-Helds.

In the quest for what measures up ine Best for the Most the following parameters were weighed.

1. RF Power output at a given voltage. Is this radio a 6-8 volt radio and requires adapters to operate from 12VDC or is it a wide range power input radio and will take 6-12VDC direct input (no special adapter just cigarette lighter plug to radio plug.

2. Battery options available. NI-CAD, NIMH, Drycell.

3. Battery consumption in RX and TX. What does it draw while doing nothing. How long will the on board battery last.

4. Optional Features Unique to the radio.

Here are the results. The listing is alphabetical by manufacturer not model number or type.

Alinco Brand HT's.

DJ596 Dual Band HT.

RX 75ma.

TX 1.5a. for 4.5 watt output

Volts 6-13VDC Direct Connection for 5 watt output at 13vdc, 4.5 watt output at 9.6vdc.

Options 1.5a 9.6v Ni-MH Battery

Optional Digital Voice Modulation Board

Icom Brand HT's.

IC-T7H

RX 600ma.

TX 1.2a. for 3 watt output

Volts 7.2vdc requires adapter to operate 13VDC car voltage at 5 watt output.

Options 7.2 -9.6v batteries at no more than 900ma.

Kenwood Brand HT's.

TH-G71A

RX 70ma.

TX 1.2a. for 2.5 watt output 6 watt output at 13.8vdc.

Volts 6-12vdc.

Optional 12vdc battery for 6watt output (600ma battery).

Yaesu Brand HT's.

FR50RDHP

RX 200ma.

TX 1.5A at 6VDC

Volts 6 volt radio.

Optional battery gives 5watt output. DC adapter required for 13VDC.

The standard battery for all of the above radio's is 700-900ma, at nominal voltage of 6-9.6vdc. Let's check the stats here for just receive.

Alinco: 75ma with 800ma battery =9 hrs rx.

Icom: 600ma with 800ma battery =1+hrs rx

Kenwood: 70ma with 800ma battery =9hrs rx.

Yaesu: 200ma with 800ma battery =4 hrs rx.

That is listening, we have not yet said the first word. For some of these radio's you are almost dead out of the gate receiving. Yes some of us carry Gel-Cells in our ready bags for extended time service. This test is just for what you brought with you on a daily basis. From the first look there are 2 close comparisons to deal with. The Alinco and Kenwood radio's based on current draw on receive.

Let's move to the second tier of comparisons special features. The Alinco DJ 596 has the same rx and better than tx battery drain as the Kenwood radio. The Kenwood requires a special optional 13.8v battery for hi-power output, which is standard with the Alinco at 9.6vdc to produce 4W power. The Alinco has an optional Digital Voice Modulation board that offers secure voice communications between like equipped units. No other HT manufacturer has this option. Add to that the low rx draw, almost full power tx (4W) using the standard battery pack, (there is no signal difference between 4-5-6 watts), and the Alinco DJ596 is the winner. Alinco also offers a low cost 1500Ma Ni-MH Hi-Cap battery as an option. Couple that with the same digital modulation capability in their matching DR-135-435 mobile-APRS capable radio's and you have a winning team for all uses including A.R.E.S. uses. The other radio's simply do not match up either in specs or dollar value. Run with what you brought with you to the scene. There are a lot of better choices out in the market today.

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
Dual Band Handhelds  
by W4CNG on March 30, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
The Alinco Dual Band HT also has the BNC antenna connection instead of the SMA connector, which is a real pain. You cannot buy an SMA connector to connect to any RG58 style coax at Radio Shack or any other place .com.
Steve W4CNG
 
Dual Band Handhelds  
by WF0H on April 26, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
You're comparing apples to oranges and not doing that correctly either!!!

According to the ICOM website, the receive current on the ICT7H is 180 ma. AT THE RATED AUDIO OUTPUT OF 500mW, not the 600 mA you claim. The Alinco is rated at 75mA SQUELCHED. The Icom is rated at 500mW audio output - the Alinco can only produce 200 mW audio out at 13.8Volts - a very big deal if you operate in noisy environments like cars! I don't see a SQUELCHED current drain for the ICOM, but I suspect it would be very similar to other two, maybe even lower. At full audio output, it draws 1.7 Watts. If you assume 50% efficiency for the audio amps (probably generous), the receiver is consuming less than 0.7 watts without the audio amps - about 72 mA.

I can't find the current consumption specs on the G71, but it looks similar to the Alinco - that is certainly a SQUELCHED value, not a working value at full volume.
Unsquelched at full volume, I suspect the Kenwood and Alinco would be much closer to the ICOM, although the higher audio power rating of the ICOM would lead to increased consumption if the radio is run at full volume all the time.

I think you need to re-do your evaluation.

73 de K0RGR
 
Dual Band Handhelds  
by N2XE on April 26, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I agree with the previous post, apples and oranges and not very well either.

But more importantly... what's your point?
 
Dual Band Handhelds  
by 9V1SM on April 26, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Out of curiosity, why were'nt the Yaesu dual banders taken into account for this comparison? I would have loved to see that too.
73
Sasi
 
Dual Band Handhelds  
by KC0IEE on April 26, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I carry an Icom T7H all day everyday at work, and it will last all day and most of the next day with no problem. Of coarse thats mostly RX with intermittant TX but thats how most handhelds are used anyway. I simply plug in the charger when I get home at night and I'm ready to go the next morning.
Also the T7H will take 12V direct with no adaptors.

Chris KCŘIEE
 
RE: Dual Band Handhelds  
by NA2A on April 26, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Would you like me to ship you a SMA to PL239 connector?
 
RE: Dual Band Handhelds  
by N6JSX on April 26, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Finding SMA to BNC adaptors are easy to find at most good sized swap meets that have vendors attending.

I wish all HT's would do away with BNC all together and go to TNC (like Motorola did) or go all SMA. TNC/SMA are far better RF connection with less loss and positive center pin connections.

The BNC will eventually wobble back and forth making for elongated/intermittant center pin connections. Or got to a THREE pin BNC model and eliminate wobbling of the common BNC!

In general I find the trend to smaller HT's a pain due to the battery pack size also is reduced and has shorter life span. I wish the manufactures would go to Lithium Ion packs (like most all Notebook PC's and cell phones) you can top off the charge any time and never fear memory. HAMdom is really way behind in rechargeable battery technologies!!

Also never buy an HT that does not have a DTMF keypad - the dumbest thing I did last year was buy a Icom Q7 at Dayton - a really worthless radio unless the repeater is within a mile of your location! No DTMF and no power - 300mW. The only way I use the radio is to change out the antenna to a nice ling one and as a scanner sitting next to my TV chair.
73, Kuby, N6JSX /8
 
Dual Band Handhelds  
by KB9YUR on April 26, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Ok, but none of the major companies offers an HT with SSB transmit/receive capabilities.
Why is this such a problem !?!
 
Dual Band Handhelds  
by W4CNG on April 26, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
All please re-read the article for the published and compared Facts. I compared published information from HRO Catalolgues. Just that, plus additional features of all radios. The SMA connector is very good for fixed connections that will not change, ie. hook it up and tie it down. There are many references here and elsewhere about SMA antennas and connectors that have failed due to field use/re-use, they break after a few uses. Check battery capacity against what is published. And what other manufacturers have an "Open Code" digital modulation option that will let you pass first person traffic point to point. Apples and Oranges, there are many apples and oranges. Knowing how to present them in a plain test environment is priceless..!!!

 
Dual Band Handhelds  
by KZ1X on April 26, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
This isn't meant to be an Icom commercial. However, I need to correct some misstatements, and then draw attention to related issues. I cite specifics only to provide a basis for discussion; I am not paid by Icom...

My IC-T7A in 1:4 power save mode draws 31 mA on RX, and when it switches out draws 64 mA, all from a 7.2V 1000 mA/hr. NiMH pack charged in the Icom BC-119 stand. This configuration will run the radio for approximately 2 days, and I have verified this in operation many times.

The ergonomics of the IC-T7 are superior for portable emergency use. Just the physical lock switch alone is an important, yet frequently unmentioned feature. Other radios use a less desirable one or two button 'soft' keypad lock function. The T7 quick monitor button also operates in an ergonomically useful fashion.

Icom stands alone in their ability to reliably encode and decode PL tones. The PL tone modulation index on TX does not waver (that means that the deviation for a given audio tone does not change over the tone range) and the fixed deviation of that tone is always a constant. None of the other ham manufacturers have been able to get this right. (I've tried 'em all, and it's shocking how bad some of them are.)

The Icom T7 PL decode also works far more quickly, and at a lower deviation level, than the other rigs mentioned.

None of the ham market handhelds are without fault, including Icoms, but new hams seem to run out and buy an HT as their first rig these days ... so advice of this sort is very useful. W4CNG is to be commended for helping.

The trouble is, the metrics used to make wise decisions are often not discussed with the new ham by his/her Elmer, and I'm not so certain that using data from catalogs is a good idea - although it seems to be the only data available in some cases. I see new hams deciding which radio to buy based on the number of memory channels, for example. This is kind of like buying a car based on the number of doors it has.

If battery service life is to be a deciding factor is a review of this sort, and that IS a good idea, the statistics should be taken from actual radios and not from catalogs or manufacturer specs.

In addition, important and related data must be discussed. For example, many ham handheld FM radios have selectable power saver modes, which when activated disable the current-hungry AF amp stages after a certain period of inactivity. The correct use of these settings is absolutely critical to proper radio operation, yet, we almost NEVER hear the subject being discussed. The manufacturers don't talk about it, because the default is 1:1 mode (no power saving) - and that lets them sell more and bigger battery packs!

Reviews such as this one would be far more useful if they had such detail. Without it, the "test" results become quite misleading. The 'winning' Alinco in question actually has nearly a 2:1 quiescent RX current penalty to the Icom mentioned, for example, and the Alinco also exhibits a large frequency offset in temperature extremes (bad for public service work), does not support dual-charge-mode batteries (you have to use the kind it comes with), and has excessive DTMF 'twist' on TX. The latter is a show-stopper for many IRLP users, a popular mode today.

By the way, I was the County ARES EC for several years after founding the local ARES group, have been licensed for 23 years (with an Extra since 1984), and am also a professional communications engineer.
 
RE: Dual Band Handhelds  
by K5MAR on April 27, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
In reference to K7IX's comments on the Alinco vs the Icom, a few observations. First, the battery save mode on ANY HT I have ever used is a waste, and a hinderence to realtime, tactical communications. The first thing I do when putting a new HT in service is to disable the battery save mode, as it can lead to garbled or missed reception. If I'm in a situation where battery save won't adversly affect operations, then I'm in a situation where I don't need to turn the HT on in the first place. Second, as a 596 user, I've never experienced the problems with frequency offset that he mentions, and I've used mine in temperatures from the low 20's to the mid 100's. Third, the DTMF "twist" he refers to, (whatever that is) is apparently only a problem "for many IRLP users, a popular mode today." Given that the article is written from a ARES point of view, is IRLP even a consideration? I know I don't have any problems with the DTMF on my Alinco, when using it to activate autopatch or other repeater functions. Finally, as for the "dual-charge-mode", I'm not sure what he's refering to, so I can't comment. I charge my spare batteries using a Maha MH-777 charger, which is much faster than any wall wart, and can be plugged into my car lighter socket. The Icom may be a great HT. I've never used one, so I can't say. I do know the 596 is a great little HT for the price, second only to my ADI AT-600. If only the 596 had simultaneous dualband receive, oh well.

Mark
K5MAR
AEC, Payne Cty, OK ARES

OH, and for KB9YUR: SSB on repeaters? For local, tactical communications? I don't think so.


K7IX wrote:
"Reviews such as this one would be far more useful if they had such detail. Without it, the "test" results become quite misleading. The 'winning' Alinco in question actually has nearly a 2:1 quiescent RX current penalty to the Icom mentioned, for example, and the Alinco also exhibits a large frequency offset in temperature extremes (bad for public service work), does not support dual-charge-mode batteries (you have to use the kind it comes with), and has excessive DTMF 'twist' on TX. The latter is a show-stopper for many IRLP users, a popular mode today."
 
RE: Dual Band Handhelds  
by KC8FRJ on April 27, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Which Yaesu HT are you using in your comparison?

I use a FT-50RD, here are its specs:

Current Consumption:
150 uA (Auto Power Off)
24 mA (Standby, Saver On)
200 mA (RX @9.6V w/500mW AF)
55 mA (RX @9.6V squelched)

It would appear with my MH-FNB-41 at 1050mAh that monitoring times at 24ma would be for quite a while.

Best Regards
 
Dual Band Handhelds  
by KD3V on April 27, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
This "comparison" is USELESS as it makes conclusions based on "published specs" that are for different operating conditions. Some are similar but to put them all together is not valid.

The following are faulty conclusions! Please learn to use specifications that refer to comparable conditions!
--------------------------------------------
"Alinco: 75ma with 800ma battery =9 hrs rx.
Icom: 600ma with 800ma battery =1+hrs rx
Kenwood: 70ma with 800ma battery =9hrs rx.
Yaesu: 200ma with 800ma battery =4 hrs rx.

That is listening, we have not yet said the first word. For some of these radio's you are almost dead out of the gate receiving. Yes some of us carry Gel-Cells in our ready bags for extended time service. This test is just for what you brought with you on a daily basis. From the first look there are 2 close comparisons to deal with. The Alinco and Kenwood radio's based on current draw on receive. "
-------------------------------------------------

Icom HTs last MUCH LONGER than "1+hrs" on receive (I use mine all day) and to conclude that "... you are almost dead out of the gate receiving." shows a serious error in analysis.


A proper comparison for recieve could be under the following conditions:

1. squelched receive, no power save features enabled
2. " " , max power save feature enabled
3. unsquelched audio (white noise?) max volume
4. unsquelched audio " " min volume

This get somplicated for true dualband radios because you can run the tests with only one receiver enabled or both.

BUT! Above all, compare only comparable conditions and do not make a comparison if the "published spec" are not for comparable operating conditions.

The original article is a very poor "comparison".
 
RE: Dual Band Handhelds  
by K1WCC on April 28, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Whaddya mean you don't like your Q7? Heresy!

After careful consideration, I bought one of these last year. Yes, the lack of a keypad is a bit annoying at times, but I actually bought the little rig for use as a scanner first, one that I could toss into my briefcase, then as a hamfest/Field Day/Special Event communicator. It does both tasks well. what's really nice about the radio is it's use of AA cells for power-you can get those anywhere.

I did pick up an SMA-BNC adapter and built a little better antenna for when I'm using it as a scanner, but otherwise it works fine as intended. The 440 and 2 meter repeaters in my town are only a few miles from my home, with the antennas relatively high, so I get into them without too much of a problem. However, I can't use the "talking S meter" repeater function to determine HOW well I'm getting in...no DTMF keypad!

I also own an ADI AT-600 dual band handheld. It was cheap and full featured. Nice value.

Henry K1WCC
 
Dual Band Handhelds  
by K7LA on April 28, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I thank the gentleman for his article, comparisons notwithstanding. If the manufacturers sre reading, I do not care for the trend to very small HT's as I have large hands and they are difficult to operate without undue attention. Therefore I would not consider purchasing most of them. Personal opinion.
 
Dual Band Handhelds  
by KG4KSX on April 28, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
You NOT only missed the boat on the Yaeesu FT-50DRD, you never even got to the wharf/dock!

The FT-50 operates on 4-16 VDC input voltage...no "adapter" is required for 13.8 volt operation, you can get a cigarette lighter plug with barrrel connector from any Radio Shack and plug it in....and go to work!

You need to stick to the FACTS PLEASE!!!!! You remind me of some Professors in "institutions of higher learing" who wish to be published simply to accelerate their bid for tenure..publish any garbage just for the sake of publishing...hopefully, none of the major manufacturers will choose to file suit for libel.

Once again, stick to the facts and don't publish someone else's work without verifying the content or source; the entire Amateur community expects and demands better! I hope no individuals were misled by your "publishing" into making misinformed buying decisions.

End of rant, but you slandered my fine handheld!

73,

John
KG4KSX
 
Dual Band Handhelds  
by WF0H on April 28, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I do not have the HRO catalog available - I got the specs for the ICOM and Alinco HT's from the manufacturer's websites. I can only suspect that the HRO catalog has a mistake or, they are not interested in selling any more ICOM radios. ICOM America is probably having them flogged right now.

I appreciate the effort to provide a comparison, and as I have never used an Alinco radio, I found the comparison interesting. However, when comparing specs between any of the major manufacturers of ham equipment, huge differences in basic specs need to be explained.
 
Dual Band Handhelds  
by KE4SKY on April 29, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
A few comments to add to the fray:

In my experience the SMA-type connectors are fragile, not suitable for frequent disassembly / reassembly as may be desired to connect the HT to a mag-mount antenna or brick amp. BNC connector is acceptable, but TNC would be much preferred.

Dual RECEIVE highly desired, or at least dual-watch function.

Operation of controls should be intuitive, so that an operator can use it effectively without constant reference to the manual.

The display should be readable by anyone over age 50 without glasses, if necessary, in the dark.

Must have earphone or external speaker jack.

Must have external power jack for 12VDC without need for an adapter.

Must have CTCSS encode and decode

Must have ability to use common primary batteries, such as AA alkalines

Must be field programmable from the keypad. Being able to clone or upload a standard frequency list to program many unit alike is an advantage, but you must be able to program a new frequency, odd split or tone in the field without having to use a computer.

Must be simple, rugged, compact, durable.

73 de KE4SKY
Virginia RACES State Training Officer

 
Dual Band Handhelds  
by VE7BGP on April 29, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Hello to all concerned I did check out the HRO winter catalog and indeed found that figure on their list and it did indeed state 600 ma. on receive. I think the author of that article should have used the information from the Icom brochere or on line owners manual before stating the 600 ma. rating on the internet. 600 ma was oviously a mistake on HRO's part. I own a T7H and find it great on battery economey. If you keep the volume at normal listening levels you get several hours of use on rx. I use 1600 mah NIMH batteries in the BP170 most of the time. And Icom thanks for your great website.
73
Gerry
 
RE: Dual Band Handhelds  
by K7LAS on April 29, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
You need to go back to Radio Shack - the SMA / 239 currently connected to my TH G71A was purchased there.

Perhaps your local store does not carry on the shelf but could order?

73

K7LAS
 
RE: Dual Band Handhelds  
by WO6T on April 29, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
kz1x has it " A OK " WO6T Mickey
 
Dual Band Handhelds  
by N6AJR on April 30, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
OK so I own a dual band Kenwood, a dual band Icom, a 3 band yaesu, and 7 other 2 meter Ht's. 4 of those are radio shack Htx 202's with various battery configurations on them. I think 2 more are alinco's and one is an adi , if my memory holds. I keep several for emergency use, they are all charged up and ready to go. some use alkaline batteries for when the rechargables die.

My favorite is the Yaesu vx5r, once I learned how to program it, it is a beautiflu radio. It runs all day and half the nite with quite a bit of tx on it, I have never had it quit in the middle of the day on me.

then I like the htx 202 by rat shack. easy to program and you can buy them all day for $50 to $60 on ebay, ready to run ...I encourage my friends and family to get their tech license and tell them that when they do I will give them a 2 meter HT ( usually the HTX 202) and I have given out several in the last year. When they pass their General I give them a converted CB that is on 10 meters, ( also cheap and very HAMmy!) and tell them up front that this is what happens when they pass the gereral, works as an incentive.


I like the alinco as the have a good screen to view ( I'm an old fart and don't see as well as I used to) and they feel good when you hold them, they have a nice shape.


I am setting up a travel trailer with a HF setup in it and a couple of mobile 2 meter rigs and will have several of my 2 meter HT's in there for hand out use at club functions and emergencies. ( the club supports fun runs and march of dime walks etc) It has a screwdriver antenna, acouple of mag mounts for 2 meters, a 2 meter ringo and a short mast,a couple of solar panels, several deep cycle batteries, a generator, and inverter, a controler for the solar stuff, and a stove , sink, bunk, Ice box, and most important, a porta potty.( not a radio!)

So the best HT is useless if you don't use it, and the worst is ok if you have it in a pinch. I keep most of my ht's with a battery pack and a pack with nicads in it that can come out and be replaced with alkaliens when needed and then I can charge the nicads up again..it works..

I guess my point is that each of them has a good use even the 335 millwatt ones, (great for using simplex near a camp, or inside a public hall and such) and it just depends on what you particular need is and how you fill it. This is about doing whay you want, and helping where you can and sometimes its just a word of encouragement, and sometimes its a gift of a radio and sometimes its using both of those together to save lives.. do what you can with what you have, and enjoy, its not about radios , it about people who use them

73 tom N6AJR and I apploigize for the sloppy typing, my typing finger is sore.:)
 
Dual Band Handhelds  
by JEFF on May 12, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
To the gentleman who claimed one cannot buy sma to
RG58 connectors. I have one purchased from HRO. They have a whole bin of them. Fry's too.
 
RE: Dual Band Handhelds  
by JEFF on May 12, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
I've been buying sma to RG58 connectors at HRO and Fry's Electronics. You need to patronize a higher class of store ;)
 
?!?  
by KD5RFT on July 3, 2002 Mail this to a friend!
Nice cut and paste, but without an introduction it really doesn't make much sense if you read it from beginning to end. :/
 
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