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Author Topic: Don't you hate it when you can only listen?  (Read 1062 times)

Posts: 5

« on: September 28, 2005, 11:19:02 AM »

I purchased my first radio recently, an Icom T7H.  It's a great radio and does everything that was advertised and I'm able to pick up a lot of neighboring repeater conversations.  Good audio quality and all that.  Works great.

I also purchased a Diamond antenna to replace the standard one included.  It's a 2m 1/4 wave and 70cm 1/2 wave.

Want to know what I hate?  I can only listen.  Yeah, the 5 watts it puts out is not enough to overcome a lot of my surroundings.  I live in a pretty well built-up area, lots of trees and all that.  I should have thought of that before purchasing this as my first radio.

I'm going to have to install the base station setup I had in mind now in order to talk.  

I am apparently somewhat out of the range of a couple repeaters I've noticed.  One group that was chatting I tried to jump in...they noticed my signal was very faint and could barely tell there was a voice transmission.  It sucked that I could not boost power more.

The other repeater seems to catch my signal, but again, the signal is just too weak.

The only other thing I can do for this HT is to buy the direct DC power cable, but that will only give me 6 watts on 2m.  I don't think that's even really worth it.  

Ah well...a lesson learned.  I don't think I will sell the T7H as it's a great radio and I'm sure will work great when I'm out in a more open area.

Posts: 10248


« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2005, 11:36:45 AM »

If you're a frequent visitor to these pages (and the site), you would know there have been numerous references to the EXACT problem you're having. The short of  it is, that handhelds are a poor choice for a first rig. On the other hand, they are very alluring.

Six watts or no, if you purchase the right antenna, and the right coax to feed it, you most likely will be able to hit the repeaters in question. Since it is FM, a vertical is a good choice, and the Ringo Ranger is about the least expensive, although there are others to choose from. A good height would be perhaps 25 feet up, which a roof top would provide. The coax needs to be a good quality of RG213, and the run to the antenna should be kept short as conditions will allow. In other words, not a bunch of it rolled up on the floor.

If you're mobile, there are other considerations beyond the choice of your antenna, which may or may not have been the best one to use.

My web site has some additional information. Look under VHF Options.

Alan, KØBG


Posts: 5483


« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2005, 12:08:43 PM »

Keep in mind that replacing the antenna still does not net you the efficiency or elevation you need on an HT.  Your replacement antenna is still going to be less than unity gain, and if you're trying from indoors, forget it.  It has nothing to do with power.  6 watts is plenty to communicate line of sight with anywhere.  You need to fix the 'line of sight' problem, not the transmit power.  Try an external antenna, it will be a world of difference.

Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM


Posts: 21764

« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2005, 08:10:48 AM »

I wrote about this in another section of, but it occurred to me I might suggest something:

If you can easily access your roof (of your home), go up there and try it again.  A lot of times this makes a world of difference.

With my 5W hand-helds inside my home, I can barely work anything.  If I go stand on my roof, I can access dozens of repeaters with the same hand-held and "rubber duck" antenna.

Then, of course, if I connect the same HT to my 2m vertical up 60' on my tower, I can start working repeaters so far away I can barely hear them come back, due to all the heterodynes from keying up multiple repeaters.


Posts: 1897

« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2005, 05:21:41 PM »

Several thoughts:

1. Do not sell the HT, they have their place and can be quite useful, just as they have thier limitations.

2. look at getting a longer antenna e.g. Comet SMA-24 (BNC-24 for the BNC version?) or the Pryme RD-98 equiv w/ BNC, 17" whippy antenna or Diamond RH77CA, 15" less whippy, or similar. That radio has a BNC connector if I recall -- a good thing other then they are larger than SMA, hence the shift in recent years as they try to make HT's smaller and smaller.

3. Try installing a simple 1/4 wave groundplane antenna higher up (home made on a UHF panel connector, store bought, mag mount on a metal pizza pan, etc. or a 1/2 wave J-pole (twinlead or copper tube) and see how that helps -- use low loss coax if the run is any significant length (say greater than 25-50 ft).

4. plan on *also* owning a mobile (as base or mobile rig) and a 13.8V power supply to run it. This (or the power supply) doesn't have to be new, or too expensive but should be of fairly recent vintage.

5. plan on eventually owning two mobile radios, one for the car, one as a base if you spend a lot of time driving (or listening/talking at the house).

6. see where the hobby takes you from there, a general and HF; just the tech but SSB (and maybe CW) on 6m, 2m & higher; satellites, other...

Posts: 12

« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2005, 04:00:48 AM »

Try the antenna suggestions first, but if that doesn't work, you might consider an amplifier.  You can pick up FM amplifiers fairly cheap that will give you anywhere from 50 to 200 watts out for 5 watts in (but remember, the more power out, the higher power supply current you will draw).

Posts: 173

« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2005, 03:14:46 PM »

If the replacement antennas you're using still plug directly into the handheld, and do not have any sort of "ground plane", then they're not much help.

You need a "real antenna".  This would be a vertical with some sort of counterpoise/ground plane.  It should be outdoors, not indoors, and the higher the better.  Ten feet high should be enough.

Once you've done that, you will be able to reach nearly any repeater you hear.

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