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Author Topic: TH-D7A (G) Durability? (Water resistance)  (Read 1223 times)
W3RPM
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« on: February 28, 2008, 05:45:42 AM »

Heya. New ham here.

My first HT was (is) a Yaesu VX-7R. Why? Because I knew I was gonna get it dirty/wet/beaten up... It says Submersible right on it and Motorola bought Yaesu. We all know how sturdy Motorola gear is. (I use my work radio, a Motorola XTS-3000 as a hammer, doorstop, self defense billy club, etc.)

I'm getting involved in Skywarn and ARES and I'm setting up my 4x4 with a TM-D710a mobile unit. I'd like to get the matching HT.

I figure they've been making the thing for ten years, it's gotta be good.

The TH-D7A is advertised at having a MIL-SPEC 810 C/D/E Water resistance... What exactly does this mean? Can I use it in the rain/sleet/snow? Out four-wheeling on the trails? On a boat?

How's yours holding up?
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WW5AA
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« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2008, 12:53:44 PM »

I have had mine for a year. I have used it in heavy rain a few times where it got pretty wet. Mine gets a lot of pretty rough treatment. It seems to be holding up very well. I don't know what the water resistance is, however the fact that it is "water resistant" rather than "water proof" means I wouldn't want to test it for very long or very deep. Great APRS radio with a good mobile antenna!

73 de Lindy
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K5LXP
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« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2008, 07:42:38 PM »

I've had mine about 3 years.  I think it is among one of the most fragile HT's I've ever owned.  I also have a Yaesu HT (VX-6) and it *can* get wet/dirty and not miss a beat.  The RX audio on the D7 is very wimpy, it's difficult to manipulate on the go and even with gentle handling the finish is coming off the case, the keypad labels are wearing off and the convex display lens is getting scratched.  I've dropped it a few times and the battery goes one way and the radio the other.    I've got cheap FRS radios that are more sturdy.  I think it is a great HT functionally and I like it for those reasons, but in my opinion it's not up to what I think would be it's primary purpose, which is APRS in the field.  The jacks are fragile and compromise the moisture integrity of the rig, and the battery life short if you run it with the battery saver off (required for APRS).  Put a TNC in a VX-6 or VX-7 and *then* you'd have something.  By the time you accessorize a D7 with a couple rechargeable packs, an alkaline pack, rapid charger and a speaker mike you're well over $500, which I think is a lot to spend just to get APRS capability.  My opinion is you're better off with a tiny tracker and a cheap 2M only rig and dedicate it for APRS.

Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM
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K5LXP
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« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2008, 08:33:06 PM »

I would add that the D7 *does* make a nice radio for working the FM satellites, which is what I use it the most for.  Paired with an Arrow yagi and my palm pilot for sat tracking, I've got a very portable and effective FM satellite setup.  Battery life isn't a problem when it only has to work for a couple of 15 minute passes.

Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM
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W3RPM
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« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2008, 06:00:06 AM »

Does the TinyTracker have the ability to send and receive data messages, weather, status reports, etc?

I thought APRS is a little more than just position tracking.
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WW5AA
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« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2008, 03:33:43 PM »

"Does the TinyTracker have the ability to send and receive data messages, weather, status reports, etc?

I thought APRS is a little more than just position tracking."

No! and that is what you pay for with the TH-D7A. I have mine set up with a WIFI laptop. I can use it for Packet and when at a portable location with WIFI (motels, rest stops, lots of businesses like McDonalds) it becomes a digipeater and igate. I can also send email and Winlink messages using the keyboard and UI-View. I can go to the park with just the HT and sent short messages. Its all in your expectations.

73 de Lindy
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K1CJS
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« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2008, 08:49:50 AM »

Here's an off the wall reply.  If you really want to find out, tie the thing to an outboard propeller like they did to a Timex watch years back.  You'll find out quick if it will survive 'rough use'!! ;-)
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K1CJS
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« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2008, 08:53:53 AM »

The reason I made the above reply is that to some people 'waterproof' means you can use it to paddle a boat or actually use it underwater.  Waterproof in this case just means it is difficult to impossible to damage the unit if using it is a rainy/wet environment.

I agree with some that say people used to have more sense.  Common sense is all but dead today.
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K0JEG
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« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2008, 09:00:21 AM »

No, but the opentracker does, and has a very active usergroup.

I wasn't aware that the TH-d7 had weather station interfacing. Can anyone provide a link, as it isn't in the manual.

I have a d7 (for a couple of years now), and overall, I'm not all that impressed. Yes, it is handy as an APRS beacon, but it leaves a lot to be desired for just about any other use. Kenwood needs to update this unit to reflect modern possibilities. Heck, it doesn't even have a KISS mode (still missing on the TM-d710, BTW). They bet the farm on remote control of the TS-2000 and forgot that there's a lot of other things an HT with a 9600baud TNC could do.
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K5LXP
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« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2008, 10:19:53 AM »

> Does the TinyTracker have the ability to send and
> receive data messages, weather, status reports, etc?

Only in a very limited way.  It only has a 24 character display for text.  You get the position, the icon and message text.  It doesn't decode Mic-E.  Even when used as a TNC, that functionality is limited as well.  It doesn't support the full TNC command set and it has limited buffer area.  Users that try to use it with full fledged APRS programs like APRS+ report lockups, lost packets and other problems.

If you use it within the limits of it's capabilities, it's a neat radio.  But it's not a do-all, be-all APRS station in an HT.  By the time you connect up a GPS, external battery pack and external antenna to it, you end up with a very expensive, pretty fragile APRS beacon.  I also have a tiny tracker that I interfaced to an inexpensive monoband HT.  I ruggedized it and a GPS puck into a waterproof and insulated container, and I let that get cold/wet and I watch all the other stations on the D7.


Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM
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W3RPM
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« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2008, 04:44:22 AM »

N3KQX:

I've seen some reports that the Kenwood units support the KISS protocol, but it's just not documented officially in the manuals.
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K1CJS:

It's kinda hard to talk underwater. Wink I suppose I could still communicate if I knew CW better.

It's more for the "oops" factor. Dropping it in a creek, getting caught in a hard rainstorm, etc.

I bought an aluminum laptop once thinking aluminum is more durable than plastic. Dropped it and realized aluminum bends. Plastic, provided it doesn't break, will return to it's original shape after impact.

After that $1800 mistake, I like to plan ahead for drops and the like.
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