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Author Topic: Need advice on mobile rig choice for 2m/440  (Read 3180 times)

Posts: 16

« on: January 07, 2002, 12:56:53 AM »

Hi all.

I recently passed my Element 2 exam and am eagerly awaiting my Tech ticket.  I currently own an ADI AT-600 dual band HT, with the usual uprated battery pack, antenna, and such.  I am shopping for a mobile rig, and have a few questions.

Yaesu has, in my opinion, questionable build quality, technical support, and customer service right now.  I've read here, and heard on the air, numerous hams talking about their headaches when dealing with Yaesu-related problems.  I was considering the FT-90R until I heard this, and now I'm not sure.

I have yet to hear of any real problems with Icom gear, so the IC-207H is still tops on my list.

Kenwood seems rock-solid, but a but more expensive than I would like to spend.  Their large displays, however, lead to the following issue:

The problem here is that I have a 2001 VW Jetta with little room for a large display to be discretely mounted.  Kenwoods are nice, but if I want one with cross-band repeat, I have to spring for the top of the line dual bander, which pushes the $500 mark.

Everyone I ask says to simply "stay away from Alinco," as they are "behind the times by at least eight years."  They also don't really seem to offer such great "value" as they say, when you look at what their mobile rigs cost and what they lack compared to the big three makers.

So my questions really are:

Is cross-band repeat worth the extra money if I plan to do some search-and-rescue work, or spend much time hiking or at, say, public events in the park.  I know this sounds a bit odd, but it SEEMS useful, I just don't know if it's really necessary.  My HT does it, but it seems neat to have it in the car, on a higher-power radio.

Does Yaesu just suck the way people make it sound?  I'm nervous about springing $300+ on an FT-90R given all the posts and such I mentioned before.

If Kenwood is just the best, quality-wise, should I spring for it?  It seems like I'm almost guaranteed a totally reliable, hassle-free rig if I go for Kenwood.

I understand that these questions are very general, and that they are probably typical of a newbie ham.  I hope you guys can spare a minute to help me out.  Thank you.


Posts: 984

« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2002, 01:41:54 AM »

Do you plan on upgrading? If so, go to the HF/VHF/UHF smaller unit like the IC-706MkIIG. It has almost everything from DC to daylight. That way as you grow in the hobby you can use the same radio you are familiar with. Even if you don't upgrade right away, there are a lot of things to listen to on the little guys. Maybe you can be doing some SWLing when not operating. Open up your options and don't just look at the VHF/UHF radios. Size isn't really a concern anymore with the newer radios. Welcome to the ham bands. Good luck.

Posts: 16

« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2002, 01:45:34 AM »

I'm thinking of a 2m/440 rig for now because of the cost.  I just cannot spend more than about $500 on a mobile kit right now.  I also have an antenna and mount to buy, and that's another $120 for the Diamond setup I'm looking at.  I do hear what you're saying, but for now I must stay within a smaller budget.

Posts: 247

« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2002, 10:00:30 AM »

I just help install a icom 207H for a new ham. I like the radio but it seems to have a couple of
failings for me. No alpha display with hundreds of channels its nice to know more info about the channel.
Second was VERY poor remote head mounting. Icom has a "remote head mount" but you still have to
double sticky tape the actual display to the remote mount. I just doesnt feel solid. Mushy due to the tape. I would have prefered a "solid" mount for the head.


Posts: 21764

« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2002, 12:25:31 PM »

Whatever you decide, I would probably avoid the FT-90R.  It does seem to have a horrible reputation for reliability, even with my local dealer.


Posts: 103


« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2002, 03:54:58 PM »

I currently own the Kenwood D700A and D7AG. Both are
worth every penny and then some. Kenwood makes some
sweet hardware. They also seem more technologically
advanced than some of the other manufactures. This is
especially true of their VHF/UHF offerings. I don't
think you'd be making a mistake by going Kenwood.

Previously, I had Icom gear. I'd probably still have
Icom gear today if it weren't for APRS. All of it has
been rock solid. In the HF world, Icom seems to be
kicking some serious buttocks. The service department
at Icom is amazing. I called on a Saturday and a tech
answered the phone on the second ring. After a few
diagnostic steps on the phone, I ended up sending them
the rig for repair. It was back in under two weeks and
the repair bill was *less* than I expected. Their 706
is a woderful all-around radio.

Yaesu has never impressed me much. I have used their
gear on occasion (never owned one) but it never felt
right. The FT-90R has a horrible reputation. Even if
you choose Yaesu, don't make it that rig.

As another noted, if you plan on upgrading fairly
quickly, now may not be the time to buy a mobile rig.
Since you already have a handheld, you might be
better off buying a speaker mic and cheap brick amp
in the meantime and saving your money for a IC-706
when you get your General.

Let us know what you end up choosing.

Matt (k4mls)

Posts: 26


« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2002, 08:32:27 PM »

Icom 207 is a great rig. Four power levels for fit your needs. Dual band but not cross band.
I own one and love it. It has traveled in a suitcase a lot as well as spends a lot of time in the car when I am home.While an Alpha display would be cool... its not that hard to remember ch/freq settings. I programmed mine with a dead channel to divide the home and travel city blocks. The remote head is not something I use... bit if it does mount with sticky tape... well, radioshack sells the firm velcro which i use a lot for other things.
Remeber too, the antenna is 10 times more important than the radio it is connedted to. I use the Diamond SG7500.
Avoid MFJ antennas

I also agree on the IC-706MKII that it will give you a lot of radio for the buck. I have an original 706 which is mainly for HF use. Work on the code, look for a used 706... win-win!

Enjoy the hobby

Posts: 16

« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2002, 09:59:02 PM »

Well, this is tough.

I've found a couple of hams selling their FT-90Rs for around $250, claiming to have had no problems with them at all after one or two years.  If it didn't have the bad reputation, it would be the perfect fit and finish for my car... easily hidden, easily fits in the dash, etc.

The IC-207H is also a nice radio, but I guess I've been spoiled by my ADI AT-600's alphanumeric display.  And this little HT does cross-band repeat and everything else I need.  It's just tough to use in the car while driving (too many wires coming out of it makes it hard to change frequencies without fumbling around, trying to not unplug all the connectors for power, mic, antenna, etc.)

I really don't kow if I'll upgrade anytime soon.  The Tech license lets me do what I currently want to do... talk to locals, have another means of communication in an emergency, and use my radios for close-range outdoor activities.  Spending $800 on an HF rig isn't really an option right now.

I understand the antenna always matters more than the radio - my HT has taught me that already.

I have read on these forums that running an external power amp with an HT can be a bad idea, especially if you're using its cross-band repeat function.  The story goes that HTs aren't designed for duty cycles much higher than 5-10% and that asking them to drive a power amp at 5 watts all the time can work the final output transistors too hard.  In any case, I've decided the HT doesn't cut it for in-car use.

I guess the FT-90R is just a bad idea.  Then again, buying good stuff like Kenwood should make me happy for a long time.

  -Adam (still waiting for that callsign to arrive) Steffes

Posts: 16

« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2002, 01:36:34 AM »

Well, after talking to more folks, I've ditched the FT-90R idea, and the 207H is quickly losing to Kenwood.

I hear mixed reviews of the Kenwood TM-V7A, but damnit this radio seems to have everything I want.  Any thoughts?


Posts: 103


« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2002, 01:52:25 PM »

> I hear mixed reviews of the Kenwood TM-V7A, but
> damnit this radio seems to have everything I want.

No radio ever has everything you want. {grin}

I have never used the V7A. Only one person I know
has it and he likes it but says that it's a little
more sensitive to intermod than other radios he has
owned. He's had the radio for some time now so it
isn't a show stopper. For your first mobile radio,
I'm sure you will love it. There are a lost worse
radios you could buy.

If you're really going to spend $420 on a dual-band
radio and don't plan on upgrading any time soon, are
you sure you don't want to spend $180 more and get
a Kenwood D700A?

As you probably know, the D700 comes with a built-in
TNC for digital work. It also supports APRS and is
otherwise a really sweet radio. You mentioned doing
search and rescue work and the great outdoors. Our
local ARES/RACES groups (as well as others around
the nation) have standardized on the D700 because of
its APRS abilities in addition to it being a rock
solid radio with the normal high-end dual-band radio
features (cross band repeat, etc.). If you are a
hiker, you probably already have a GPS that will
work with the radio.

Of course, there's also the Kenwood TM-G707A if you
want to punt. At $290, it's much less expensive tha
any of your other options. It doesn't do cross band
repeat. It will not receive two frequencies at the
same time. I have never used the former and the
latter is nice but most of the time I turn down the
side that I'm not listening to anyway.

The G707 has a 4.5 rating on eHam with 24 reviews
online (
That's really good.

Matt (k4mls)

Posts: 16

« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2002, 11:41:41 PM »

Well, I bought my TM-V7A today.  More info to come as I play with it.
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