Call Search
     

New to Ham Radio?
My Profile

Community
Articles
Forums
News
Reviews
Friends Remembered
Strays
Survey Question

Operating
Contesting
DX Cluster Spots
Propagation

Resources
Calendar
Classifieds
Ham Exams
Ham Links
List Archives
News Articles
Product Reviews
QSL Managers

Site Info
eHam Help (FAQ)
Support the site
The eHam Team
Advertising Info
Vision Statement
About eHam.net

   Home   Help Search  
Pages: [1] 2 Next   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: Looking for mobile rig suggestions  (Read 5316 times)
KB8UAQ
Member

Posts: 24




Ignore
« on: September 30, 2010, 09:02:14 AM »

I'm a ham who has been licensed for a number of years, but never got a radio, and never actually was active. I'm now looking to get active, and I figured I'd start with a tri-band radio, 6M/2M/70cm. Because of budget concerns, I was going to try to 'shop around' at hamfests and online, to try to find a good deal, but before I start shopping around, I want to get some suggestions for a radio that fits what I'm looking for:

* Are there any mobile radios designed to be 'dockable'? That is, on laptop computers, there is often a 'dock connector' which combines all the different connectors (power, USB, keyboard, speaker, mic, etc) into a single physical interface, which automatically connects when you physically slide the laptop into the dock. Are there radios which implement a similar dock-mount for connecting up power, mic, speaker, antenna, data (serial, USB, etc), line-in?

   I'd like to be able to take the radio out of my car, and use it in the house too, so that I don't have to buy 2 radios. Obviously I'd need 2 sets of antennas, mic, power supply, and two 'docks' (one a car-mount, and one a desk-mount doc).

* Are there any mobile radios which have a serial or USB interface which allows for the radio frequency, power, keying, etc to be controlled by a computer, so that if I want to try out digital modes, I can hook the line-out from my sound-card (for the actual data signal) plus the serial or USB interface (for automatically re-tuning the radio to other frequencies and keying the transmitter) to the mobile radio to be able to do that easily (once I've installed the proper software)?

* Finally, I'm looking for a radio that is somewhat small, physically, as there isn't a lot of room under the dash or above the dash to mount it, or alternatively, a larger radio with a small 'remote' faceplate, where I could mount the radio itself in the back, or the trunk, and just control the radio from the small remote?

I realize with that set of requirements, I'm not looking at the cheapest possible radio, but I'm hoping that I can find a solution which is cheaper than buying 2-4 separate radios. I'm hoping I can find something like this used (perhaps) like $300-400 (is that unrealistic?) for the radio itself - of course, mounts, wiring, etc would be additional, I realize, but I'm hoping I can get two mounts and necessary cabling for $50 - $100 each?
Logged
M6GOM
Member

Posts: 888




Ignore
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2010, 11:50:04 AM »

Firstly there are no dockable ones. Secondly, you're being completely unrealistic with the price unless you're happy with a 20 year old junker.

i'd look at something like an Icom 706MK2G or Yaesu FT-857D. Both have front panels that can be remote mounted but are compromise rigs as they are a jack of all trades. . I think about the best combination you can get is a Kenwood TS-480 for HF/6 (about the best mobile HF radio by far) and a Kenwood TM-V71e for VHF/UHF.
Logged
KB8UAQ
Member

Posts: 24




Ignore
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2010, 12:00:15 PM »

Firstly there are no dockable ones. Secondly, you're being completely unrealistic with the price unless you're happy with a 20 year old junker.

i'd look at something like an Icom 706MK2G or Yaesu FT-857D. Both have front panels that can be remote mounted but are compromise rigs as they are a jack of all trades. . I think about the best combination you can get is a Kenwood TS-480 for HF/6 (about the best mobile HF radio by far) and a Kenwood TM-V71e for VHF/UHF.

Well, if I gotta stretch on the price, then I gotta stretch on the price. I figured I'd start by asking about the lower figures, because you never know till you ask, right? I'm surprised there's no dockable radios though. Am I the only person who's ever wanted to be able to easily move a radio between car and home? Seems like it'd be a useful feature, particularly for those of us just starting out (you can get a nice collection of radios over the years, even on a budget, if you buy a radio every 2 or 3 years, but a lot of us can't afford a bunch of radios from the word go). . .

Anyhow, thanks for the suggestions. I'll look up info on the models you suggested.
Logged
K0BG
Member

Posts: 9867


WWW

Ignore
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2010, 02:42:08 PM »

It seems if everyone asks for opinions about which radio to buy. About all that guarantees is disappointment. The best radio is one which fits your needs, not mine, not anyone else either. I suggest you go to your closest dealer, and give them your desires, and let them come up with the various models which meet your needs.

Same goes for the antenna.

Logged

KB8UAQ
Member

Posts: 24




Ignore
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2010, 02:57:26 PM »

It seems if everyone asks for opinions about which radio to buy. About all that guarantees is disappointment. The best radio is one which fits your needs, not mine, not anyone else either.

Well, that's why I listed some specific features I'm looking for. . . dockable (which, apparently, doesn't exist. . . or does it?), 6/2/.7 m, remote faceplate, digital interface for automatic control of radio by an attached computing device.

Thing about a dealer is, he's gonna tell me about what he has for sale. He (probably) won't tell me about older models he no longer sells, because he wants to sell me something new, instead of me buying used. He (probably) won't tell me about models from other makers which he doesn't carry, either because he just doesn't know about them, or because he doesn't want me buying from the competition. (Yes, sometimes, you might deal with a genuinely scrupulous dealer who will try to tell you about the best fit for what you are looking for, but you certainly can't count on that).

I figure in the end, the Internet (and in particular, experienced hams on the Internet) know about just about every model made in the last 20 years, so if I specify features I'm looking for, they might be able to suggest radios which have those features (or radios which have all but one of the features, etc).
Logged
KE4DRN
Member

Posts: 3721




Ignore
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2010, 04:37:09 PM »

hi,

Docking station is a good idea but they would sell a lot less radios that way!

Best bet is to visit the websites of the big three and check out the goods.

Are you planning to test for your General or higher license?
This would open up a lot more activity for you, if you want to work HF.

I agree with M6GOM, the ts-480 is a great radio.

73 james





Logged
KB8UAQ
Member

Posts: 24




Ignore
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2010, 05:31:42 PM »

I've been doing a little bit of browsing, looking at radios listed on Ebay. What's sad is, you would *think* one tri-band radio would be cheaper than 3 single-band radios, but I almost think I could buy 3 seperate used radios for about 2/3 the cost of one good tri-band. The tri-banders are running $500-$700, but an older, single-band radio can be had, it looks like, for around 100-200.

Of course, the downside of multiple radios is I have to deal with 3 mikes, and finding somewhere to mount 3 radios. . . That's ok, I'm sure any passengers in my car won't have legs. . . at least, once they've ridden with me at least once, anyhow. . .   Grin

Which, I suppose, explains the cost of a tri-band mobile. . . the convenience.
Logged
K8KAS
Member

Posts: 569




Ignore
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2010, 08:31:27 AM »

I don't mean to be ruff on you, but get some operating time under your belt. I will bet you won't need 3 different bands in your car. Today it's ruff today to find someone on just one band let alone 3 bands.
Try 2 meters first and go from there.
There are some very nice older mono and dual band rigs on the market today at reasonable prices($100 to $200). There are some super sales on new products as well most of the good dealers will be honest with you I have found over the years. The sad thing today is the loss of VHF activity on the bands. Used to be in my area you could have fun on 146.52 all day with all sorts of operators, today
one QSO maybe and the repeaters all 5 of them forget it.. Denny K8KAS 73
Logged
WA8FOZ
Member

Posts: 188




Ignore
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2010, 07:54:06 PM »

Drive up to R&L in Hamilton: ~34 miles from your QTH - I75 to exit 26, 10 miles west to Hamilton. Try out some different rigs -they sell them all, and have a nice selection of tested, waranteed used gear. They are helpful, honest, and decent. We're SO lucky to be near them. Smiley
Logged
K7RBW
Member

Posts: 387




Ignore
« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2010, 08:00:39 AM »

I agree with the "get back on the air for a while first" suggestion. If you can borrow a receiver or scanner, see where the action is in your area and then shop accordingly. Visitung some local HAM gatherings (e.g. club meetings) to see what's going on, is another option.

I'm a newbie to 6M but, I'm thinking that most of the "fun" in that band will be on SSB more than FM (at least for me) so that means you need an HF rig (e.g. ICOM 706 or Yeasu FT-857) and those are going to be about 2-4x as expensive as a dual-band FM rig. FM dual banders are common and up in my corner of the country, that's where most of the action (to the extent the word "action" fits the description) is. Anything else is likely to be something arranged in advance or part of a contest. (That's just my view from the cheap seats, YMMV).

Yeasu makes a quad-band (10, 6, 2, 70cm) FM rig, which is nice, but it's FM only. So that might be what you're looking for, if you're happy to stay FM.

Happy shopping!

--73 de bob
K7RBW
Logged
KB8UAQ
Member

Posts: 24




Ignore
« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2010, 02:12:48 PM »

Drive up to R&L in Hamilton: ~34 miles from your QTH - I75 to exit 26, 10 miles west to Hamilton. Try out some different rigs -they sell them all, and have a nice selection of tested, waranteed used gear. They are helpful, honest, and decent. We're SO lucky to be near them. Smiley

I'm planning to, actually. I called R&L after work on Thur. to go make a visit, but they were just closing. Didn't make it out today, but maybe next weekend (or maybe I can get off work an hour or two early sometime this week). Also, gonna go to the Grant Hamfest next month (although that is, sadly, a month away).
Logged
KI4SDY
Member

Posts: 1452




Ignore
« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2010, 06:23:45 AM »

I agree with M6GOM, the closest radio to fit your requirements would be the Yaesu 857D. If you are interested in QRP, then  the Yaesu 817ND would be a fantastic little radio to move from car to house or anywhere else. Both of these radios can be found used, but I would consider buying new just to have the first year warranty. Check the eHam.net reviews on both of these rigs so you can get a feel for what they are about. The real difference is transmitting power and size. Wink  
Logged
K6LCS
Member

Posts: 1513


WWW

Ignore
« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2010, 07:47:38 AM »

>> ...  I'd like to be able to take the radio out of my car, and use it in the house too ...

That will grow OLD real quick.

Disassemble radio from a safe mount in the car. Carefully disconnect the remote head and its flimsy wire. Disconnect power. Disconnect antenna. Lug it into the house. Connect to a power supply. Hook up the antenna. Plug the remote head back onto the unit ...

After doing that two or three times, either the rig will stay in the car ... or in the house.

Since the home setup will require its own antenna system, don't skimp on the antenna and coax - and think of acquiring a second rig for the house. An efficient antenna system makes a little power go a long way.
Logged

Clint Bradford, K6LCS
http://www.k6lcs.com
KB8UAQ
Member

Posts: 24




Ignore
« Reply #13 on: October 03, 2010, 03:50:59 PM »

Well, thanks for the suggestions. I'm definitely still looking but there's some interesting looking radios in your posts.  I'm thinking that right now, my finances being a bit tight, and looking to go back to school in January (so my finances aren't likely to get dramatically better, barring winning the lotto  Grin ), that I'm gonna settle for trying to get a cheaper 2m/.7m rig for the car, then maybe something like that FT-857D as a home unit a few years later when perhaps I am a bit more flush.

Or maybe I can win one at a hamfest, hehe. Hey, someone wins those prizes, maybe I'll get lucky.

As an aside, when I do get a rig. . . is there some way to safely hook up the power lines for your radio to be switched by the car ignition switch? I was reading the manual for one of the radios (don't remember which one now), and they suggested hooking it up directly to the battery, and had a comment that hooking it up to the ignition might cause power fluctuations/surges of some sort which might damage the radio.  I'm afraid, though, that I might forget to turn the radio off, and come back a day or two later and find my battery dead (if I'm not transmitting, I suppose the radio doesn't use a lot of power, but continuous reception for a day or two might drain the battery enough to not be able to start the car, I'm thinking?)

So, is there any kind of cheap 'surge protector' sort of thing which will protect the radio when starting/stopping the car, but still allow you to automatically cut power with the ignition?
« Last Edit: October 03, 2010, 03:55:24 PM by Jeff Schmidt » Logged
WB0KSL
Member

Posts: 94




Ignore
« Reply #14 on: October 04, 2010, 07:17:43 AM »

Many of today's mobile rigs are programmable to shut the radio off after a specified period of inactivity.  That's the method I use.  It not only avoids inadvertently running the battery down, but also avoids questions from the wife like, "Who is talking in our garage?" ;-)

If the radio you choose does not have this feature, consider a solenoid after the radio's positive lead fuse (should be right at the battery).  These solenoids look virtually identical to a starter solenoid, but are rated 100% duty cycle and are commonly used in light aircraft.  You will probably have to get one from an aircraft parts supply company, such as Aircraft Spruce or Chief's.  DO NOT USE a car starter solenoid.

73 de John - WB0KSL


Logged
Pages: [1] 2 Next   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!