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Author Topic: Best Mobile 2m Rig?  (Read 8228 times)

Posts: 927

« on: July 20, 2006, 12:14:29 PM »

My club members tell me I need to get on 2 meters.  Only have HF now.  I am inclined towards a single bander, about 50 watts or so output.  So many rigs out there, any suggestions on "best" one?

Posts: 1045


« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2006, 12:30:24 PM »

You REALLY want an all-mode 2 meter mobile, unless you already run HF mobile with a rig which has 2 meter capability.  The best 2 meter mobile out there hands down is the (discontinued) Kenwood TM255A all-mode. Read the reviews.

This rig is worth shopping around for to find.  

Posts: 397

« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2006, 12:56:47 PM »

Well, it all really depends on what you are trying to accomplish…

If what are you are wanting for 2m is just a radio to chat on while driving around town, frankly, any of the major manufacturers’ radios will do.  I have owned Icom, Yaesu, and Kenwood radios, and they all work fine.  While I don’t own an Alinco, I know folks who like them, too.  In short, the entry-level 2m monobanders are darn-near interchangeable.  Most of it comes down to personal preference – I bought an Icom 2100 as my first radio and liked it fine.

There will doubtless be some who will point you toward the V8000, a very popular Icom radio (our local radio store sells them by the truckload).  “It’s got 75 watts” they exclaim.  Great!  ~1dB over my 55 watts radio --  That’ll make a lot of difference!  Still, it’s a fine radio, and the front-firing speaker is a feature many people like.

But, if you desire more than just ragchewing, the options get more complex:

If you are interested in APRS, you’ll really want to go with the dual-band (and expensive) Kenwood D-700.  Alinco makes a single-bander with a built-in TNC, but, it is a bit clunky for APRS, I’m told.  

If you want all-mode, there are options out there, too.  But, the sensitivity of those “shack-in-the-box” radios (e.g., Icom 706, Yaesu 857, etc.) on 2m is suspect, at best.

Oh, you’ll probably want an antenna, too!  Smiley

Peter, N4LI

Posts: 1421


« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2006, 01:22:24 PM »

The Alinco DR-135 Mk II is a good value for a plain 2-m rig.  Buy it with the TNC installed if you want to use it for packet or APRS.  My DR-135 has given good service for a couple of years.  A used Kenwood TM-261A in good condition would be another good simple radio to consider.

Posts: 1146

« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2006, 01:31:05 PM »

If you want mobile 2 M for FM repeater and some simplex stuff then why not get something GOOD, simple, and easy to use.  Although like a previous poster mentioned, rigs at this level are interchangable in features and quality, I find the Yaesu rigs to be a little easier to program and setup.  I am not a Yaesu bigot though, my home shack is all Icom.

So, I recommend the Yaesu FT-1802M.  Buy it brand new with free shipping from HRO for $139.  Antenna and power cabling are extra of course.

BTW -- I do not own one, I have the FT-7800 which is also good but it is not single band and a little more expensive.

Posts: 9930

« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2006, 02:32:28 PM »

all are pretty good, but I do like the the yaesu ft1500 and the ic om ic 2100   both available cheep on the ebay..

Posts: 182

« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2006, 03:45:47 PM »

I would suggest you buy a dual bander; 70 cm and 2 meters; you may enjoy the versatility of the option, that is if there a some 440 repeaters  in your area.  The popular manufacturers are all pretty good and equivalent; plenty of used ones available as well.

Posts: 3189

« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2006, 04:48:55 PM »

Instead of telling you the best 2 meter rig I will attempt to describe what I typically look for in a rig.

A real mic connector. Nothing more frustrating than trying to change a microphone on a rig with specialized tools and difficult crimp connectors.

50 watts output. Why bother purchasing a separate amplifier for a rig when all the power you need can already be built in?

Adequate heat dissipation. The bigger the heat sinks, the better. In fact, I prefer if the entire outer shell of the rig is one large heat sink for that matter.

Easy to use while driving. Simple is better in this case. The design of the rig should be easy to use understand and not confusing while you are propelling 1 - 1/2 tons of pig iron steel inches away from other similar projectiles travelling the other direction at 70 MPH.

The user interface should include large buttons and should be uncluttered and uncomplicated as possible. Stay away from mobile rigs requiring a computer engineering degree to operate.

Large non reflective display. It should be easy to see at a quick glance day or night. Backlight should be adjustable if needed.

Plain non amplified DTMF microphone with noise cancelling feature. How many times have you heard people who are mobile and sound like they are in a wind chamber or inadvertently hit the DTMF buttons while driving?

Speaker placement. How many rigs have a speaker on the top of the rig instead of the bottom? Now perhaps it's just me but I prefer not to project the radio audio under the dash behind my spedometer. Be sure to "hear" the radio before you buy. It shouldn't crap out when the volume control is only turned at 1/4 volume.  

More important than the rig itself is a good antenna!  

Don't skimp on the antenna for an expensive rig. In fact, skmimp on the rig for a more expensive antenna!

Don't know exactly what model rig this would be exactly but this is what I look for in one.

73 Charles - KC8VWM

Posts: 927

« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2006, 06:43:09 PM »

Thanks so much for the comments and suggestions.  Very helpful.  John.

Posts: 507

« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2006, 07:16:37 PM »

"The design of the rig should be easy to use understand and not confusing while you are propelling 1 - 1/2 tons of pig iron steel inches away from other similar projectiles travelling the other direction at 70 MPH."

Only 70 MPH, huh? That's slow compared to some of the numb-skulls that drive here in CA on the I-5, or the I-15 blabbing on a cell phone. Smiley

I've used the FT-7800R before with an NMO 2/70 with good results. Had all the local (and not so local) repeaters programed into it and just pushed *scan*, or UP/DOWN on the mic. It was a breeze to use. Had did away with the cup holder on the center console of my truck and used a goose neck to secure the remote head. Arm chair operation, literally. Now I'm using the 706MKIIG in the same location.

Just make sure what ever you choose that it's secured well so that IT doesn't become a 70 MPH projectile in the case of an accident.


Posts: 542

« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2006, 08:07:53 PM »

"Just make sure what ever you choose that it's secured well so that IT doesn't become a 70 MPH projectile in the case of an accident. "

Good advice.

You're going to get responses all over the board as far as what is the best two meter rig.  It's like asking everyone in a crowded room what vehicle they suggest you buy.  Personally, I'm happy with my Icom 2100H, although it's not mobile anymore.  Good radio, takes the heat in the summer, and if you add it to a 5/8 wave antenna, I think you'll get stellar results.

Posts: 80

« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2006, 06:01:49 AM »

I've had an Icom 2100H for years. It's built like a brick... well, it's rugged (hi hi) and is all I've ever needed for 2M FM. 50W and more bells and whistles than I'll ever use, and I picked it up for around 100 bucks at a hamfest four years ago or so, so I'm sure there are some around for cheap. It's also worked great for me on packet and as a base station with a power supply. My favorite feature that many radios have and you should probably look for is the ability to switch memory channels from the mic without looking.. important if you're driving.

For 2M SSB I use a Kenwood TS-700A I got on eBay for cheap. I've made contacts across the gulf of mexico (Tampa to TX) with it when I lived there, and it worked great for satellite work.. analog tuner had no annoying birdies and played nice with my downconverters for AO-40. There was no signal drop out when changing frequencies which I really enjoy. It works just fine on FM, too, with the only problem being there is no sidetone built in. I've seen boards that can be added to give it a sidetone though. As a final kicker for the radio, there is just something fun about keying up the repeater with an Astatic D-104 mic Smiley

Posts: 12

« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2006, 11:37:20 AM »

I suggest the Icom 2100.  Bulletproof rig, slightly confusing programming but OK once you figure out the buttons, and very good for IMD...better than my 706 Mk 2 G by a large margin.

A simple FM box, unless going multiband multimode, is my mobile suggestion.  Looking down is BAD.


Posts: 17484

« Reply #13 on: July 21, 2006, 01:49:52 PM »

Depends how you will be using it.

For chatting around town with other club members, a simple
FM rig should be sufficient.  My thoughts:

Power:  just about any rig these days will have at least
50 watts output.  Unless you are going to be driving through
a fringe coverage area, even 10 watts is usually sufficient.
So don't pass up a good deal on a 25 or 35 watt rig if you
see one.  If you do get a 50+ watt rig, it's good if it
has more than two power options.  Running at 25 watts is
much easier on the radio than 50 watts for those times
when 5 watts isn't quite enough.

Dualbanders:  I have them in two of our cars, but only
because I couldn't find a monobander with a detachable
faceplate.  I use 440 for simplex channels between cars
when my wife and I are driving somewhere.  There are
some 440 machines around, but I rarely use them.  In other
parts of the country, though, they may be more popular.

Intermod:  Out in the country this isn't an issue.  
Driving though a major downtown area, however, will
really separate the good front end designs from the
poor ones.  Where I have the biggest problems in this
regard is when I drive near the local TV Channel 2
transmitter:  a 2m 5/8 wave whip picks up LOTS of channel
2 RF.  (In that case, switching to a glass-mount antenna
enabled me to make contacts on a repeater that I couldn't
even hear on the 5/8 wave due to intermod.)

Later if you decide you want a multi-band and/or multi-mode
for VHF, the simple rig can be used out at the workbench
for monitoring chatter on the club repeater.
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