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Author Topic: Amp or more powerful radio  (Read 4015 times)
OLDWORLDER
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Posts: 20




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« on: April 01, 2011, 09:32:24 AM »

I currently own a Ft-250r which is fine for working the local repeaters but I would like to work simplex, however its 5W just doesn't do well for contacts over 10 miles.  Should I invest in a new radio (Ft-2900) or should I get a Amp like the Marage B-34?
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W8JX
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« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2011, 10:38:34 AM »

Money would be far better spent on the new radio.
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AE4RV
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« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2011, 11:11:07 AM »

What's your antenna and height?
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KJ1D
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« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2011, 11:22:07 AM »

New radio
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KB2FCV
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« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2011, 01:16:57 PM »

What antenna do you have? An amp or more powerful radio won't help much if your antenna needs substantial improvement (for instance if you're using the rubber duck on your HT inside...).
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W8JX
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« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2011, 01:36:41 PM »

What antenna do you have? An amp or more powerful radio won't help much if your antenna needs substantial improvement (for instance if you're using the rubber duck on your HT inside...).

 Short of a rubber duck, even a nominal VHF antenna not mounted very high will see a big increase in range from 5 watts to 75 watts. Basically two S units.
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W0TLP
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« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2011, 08:14:55 PM »

I have the FT250r and a Mirage B-34 and use them together. The 35 watts of the B-34 has been enough to hit repeaters as far as 30 or more miles, but elevation and antenna are key. With a Comet CP-1 on a mast on top of my house, I can hit repeaters out to 10 miles or more with 5 watts. If I turn on the amp I get considerably more distance. My house is in the middle of the city but is on the highest of the metro core, so my coverage is good. If you're in a hole or have a bad antenna, it may not be better than the rubber duck.

I do prefer a mobile rig -- I have the FT2900 in my truck -- but for quick portability and versatility, the FT250 and B-34 is a pretty nice set up. It's almost like having 2 radios.

The FT250r and amp are now sort of a "go" kit. I put the amp, some cables and a 7 Ah battery in a backpack. I have a small but very effective antenna and a portable mast -- a topic for another thread -- and have used it on hills to hit repeaters out to 30 or more miles.

If you're on a limited budget, the amp is a reasonable solution until you decide to get a more powerful radio. By then, perhaps you're look at a dual bander to get more power and one more band.
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OLDWORLDER
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« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2011, 11:21:05 PM »

My antenna is a little Diamond RH77CA and I can hit a repeater around 20 miles away with it.  However, I can barley talk to anyone on simplex more than 5 miles or so away.  I might just need a better antenna.

The antenna is a 1/4 wave vetical on 2m.
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W8JX
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« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2011, 08:56:52 AM »

Need more power too. When you get to and above 50 to 75 watts you can a bit of "saturation" and much better coverage and less holes in coverage. 5 watts is pretty much line of site.
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W0TLP
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« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2011, 05:43:22 PM »

On simplex, you're dealing with the efficiency of the other station's setup and yours. Repeater antennas are usually well elevated, so you can often hit them even with HTs. Many amateurs do not have that advantage, so you may not be able to use simplex to talk to a guy 5 miles away who also has an HT or a poor antenna on a base station.
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W8JX
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« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2011, 06:21:42 PM »

On simplex, you're dealing with the efficiency of the other station's setup and yours. Repeater antennas are usually well elevated, so you can often hit them even with HTs. Many amateurs do not have that advantage, so you may not be able to use simplex to talk to a guy 5 miles away who also has an HT or a poor antenna on a base station.

Few use a HT as a base for serious simplex. I use a 60watt mobile radio for that.
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K1CJS
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« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2011, 08:58:40 AM »

Get or make a better antenna.  A HT will work wonders with a better antenna to feed your signal to--and capture the other stations signal.  It is the best, most cost effective way of improving the operation of your HT.

If, of course, you're out in the country or the suburbs, a more powerful radio would help more, but it would also cost more, and it wouldn't do too much better with the quarter wave antenna you're working with.

Remember the rule of thumb--a good antenna is eighty to ninety percent of a good station.
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W8JX
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« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2011, 01:56:52 PM »

A antenna can help a HT for sure but if you are looking for a big improvement in simplex range, you need to crank wick way up. In 90's I did a lot a VHF mobile cross country and out west in great plains repeaters were scarce then. I ran 60 watts with a collinear antenna (5/8 over a 1/4 on 2m) and when you crank power up you could carry out in fringes far further than with lower power levels. With you use enough power you actually get a little backscatter/curving of signal beyond line of sight. 5 watts is pretty much line of sight. 
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K9KJM
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« Reply #13 on: April 05, 2011, 11:31:03 PM »

I agree with those who suggest a better antenna.   At VHF/UHF the antenna SYSTEM (Which includes good low loss coax feedline) is the most important part of a station.

After you have installed the best antenna you can afford, As HIGH as possible, Using the shortest length of the BEST coax feedline (TIMES LMR 400 is good up to 75 or so feet)   If that does not give the performance you need, Then go with a higher power radio.

http://www.texastowers.com/times_lmr.htm

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KH6DC
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« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2011, 09:51:41 PM »

I have a Yaesu (Vertex) VX-7R and I hit a repeater about 50 miles away (Army MARS) at 1/2 watt using a Comet GP-1 base antenna mounted to a chain link fence post.  You're better off getting a better antenna than an amplifier plus the power may fry the rubber duckie which is probably limited to just 5 watts max.
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73 and Aloha,
de Delwyn, KH6DC
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