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Author Topic: New tech looking for solid HT for mobile use  (Read 506 times)
SFD301
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« on: November 01, 2004, 11:33:02 AM »

Hello,

I'm taking my Tech test tonight and I'm looking at getting an HT to compliment whatever base I choose.  I'm looking for something that can take a little punishment, have an external mic, and would be useable on 2m, 1.25m, and 70cm - or at least 2 of the 3 for the local repeater scene.

Thanks for any advice.
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N2MPT
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« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2004, 01:41:31 PM »

2m/70cm (144/440MHz) is the most popular pair for a dual band radio.  look through the "reviews" section here on eham before buying -- that will give you a good idea about which models have problems, and which don't.  don't worry about power output; the difference between 5W and 6W is neglible in the big scheme of things.  

one note: i HIGHLY recommend that you get an AA adapter battery pack for your HT.  this will ensure that you always have a power source -- in a pinch you can even use alkalines or carbon-zinc AA's.  and down the road a few years, after the battery pack vendors have long forgotten about you and your "old" HT, you can continue to refresh your AA battery pack just by purchasing a new set of hich capacity NiCd or NiMH AA's.  

looking back at 13 years of ownership of my "it's still going" Icom 24AT 2m/70cm HT, the AA battery pack was the smartest investment i made.  the other was a constucting a roll-up J-pole from a length of 300 ohm TV lead.  also, get an aftermarket case; the "kangaroo" type seen in the mags is pretty good.

ok, now for the curve ball.  an HT makes a great first radio.  but they make poor mobile radios for a couple of reasons.  if you go this route, buy a proper mobile antenna (comet/diamond/larsen/etc) and connect up to that when you go mobile.  the problem now, as occurred with my "mobile" HT, is that you will eventually wear the HT's BNC out. they are just not designed for daily on-off cycles.  the SMA type on the new mini-HT's may be worse; i don't own a "current" HT with SMA's so i can't comment there.  but i've used enough RF test equipment with SMA's to know that the center pin on the SMA can be trivially broken.  ps: i'm on the third BNC on my 24AT.  

the other issue is the HT's power output; you'll be able to hit some nearby repeaters but depending on where you live coverage could be kind of thin.  you really need 25 to 50W for good mobile VHF FM operations.  i would *not* get an external RF amp for your HT because...

my advice is to look at your new HT as the first step.  buy it. save up and get a good mobile antenna and mount.  then save up again and get a true mobile rig.  even if it's 2m only, it will be worlds better than using your HT in the car.  a 2m mobile radio is only *slightly* more expensive than a 2m power amp; that is why i recommend skipping the purchase of a power amp.

jim / n2mpt
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N3ZKP
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Posts: 2008




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« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2004, 02:24:53 PM »

To throw one more bucket of water on the using an HT for a mobile rig ...

<<  if you go this route, buy a proper mobile antenna (comet/diamond/larsen/etc) and connect up to that when you go mobile. >>

Virtually all modern HTs have front ends designed for use with a "rubber duck" sized antenna. Connecting an external antenna with probably cause front-end overload and make the HT more intermod-prone, making performance worse with the external antenna.

If you must go this route, visit a dealer and try out the combinatgion you are considering. Don't just buy an HT and and external antenna blind.

Lon
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SFD301
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« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2004, 07:54:54 PM »

Thanks for the advice.  The HT now is more to fool around and get going on the local scene.  I just passed the Tech test, and I order the tapes and general book to continue the upgrade by mid january 05.
 
I plan on getting the IC 706 for both mobile (when I travel) and base.  This may happen soon, or in a month.  I was just thinking that the HT would be in the shack eventually, and not a bad purchase to get going now.  Although, it could be the cost of my vertical antenna that I'm looking at.

Too much to think about.
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N3ZKP
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« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2004, 08:05:11 PM »

Congratulations on passing the exam!

Lon
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AD0AC
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« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2004, 07:52:37 AM »

Hey, congratulations on passing your exam!

I just received a brand new Yaesu VX-2R yesterday from AES. Cost about $150 on sale right now. It will transmit on 2/440 and will also receive on many other bands as well. Compared to the old HTX-202 I've been hauling around since I got my ticket 7 years ago, this little beast just blows it away. I love being able to hit the 440 repeaters now, too.

It's easy enough to use, cheap enough to buy 2 of 'em, and it's packed with goodies. The control interface is excellent and it is also WIRES compatible for IRLP, if you want to get into that. The aluminum chassis is rugged as well. If you just want a nice HT to beat around with, go for the VX-2R. There are several reviews in the Reviews section that pretty much echo everything I've said here.
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NH7L
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« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2004, 01:18:35 PM »

An HT isn't a 20- to 65-watt mobile rig, but it easily can be turned into an effective low-power mobile rig if you have reason to operate that way. I do: vandalism where I park five days a week, and a need for a small, light, effective travel vhf/uhf station that works in any rented car with no installation or removal hassles.

I use a Kenwood TH-G71A, a durable little 2-meter/70-cm HT that transmits five watts on internal battery, six watts when connected to a vehicle electrical system. It's powered in the truck by a Kenwood cigarette-lighter DC adapter wired through a (fused) DC distribution panel to the big auxiliary battery I have for HF operation. It could just as well plug into the vehicle's own lighter socket, but in my pickup, it wouldn't charge except when the ignition was turned on.  A non-Kenwood dual-band rubber duckie, normally mounted on the HT via KC2BHO's excellent SMA-to-BNC adapter, mounts on a $15 MFJ gizmo that clips on the top edge of a crank-up window. The window clip is connected by a thin coax to the HT, which sits between the two seats with a little speaker-mike attached. Six watts may not hit a repeater 40 or 50 miles away, but where I live, mountains make distant repeaters unreachable anyway, and I do just fine with repeaters within 10 or 20 miles of me.

Any vhf or uhf HT could be used this way, but I'd suggest avoiding the tiny low-power ones. A tiny "Hershey kiss" mag mount and proper quarter-wave mobile whip probably would radiate better, but you'd still have to carry a separate duckie for out-of-vehicle use, and that whip might overload an HT. I keep a six-inch foldable duckie in my shoulder bag and an 11-inch nonfolding one in the truck. One's more convenient for handheld use, one is less convenient but radiates better in any configuration.
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