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Author Topic: Advice about no-frills dual band HT?  (Read 4348 times)
KC8HQX
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Posts: 177




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« on: March 03, 2012, 10:57:51 AM »

I discovered yesterday morning, hours before one of the largest tornado outbreaks in US history, that my venerable little Yaesu FT-50R is dead as a doornail. My backup HT, an FT-207R went missing when I moved last Feb. 

The only thing I disliked about the FT-50R besides the battery drain issue was the form factor; I'd rather have an HT that's a more traditional shape than a pudgy cube.

Though the FT-50R had plenty off innovative features, I didn't really use any of them. I'm looking to replace it with a simple dual band HT (unless I find someone selling an FT-817 dirt cheap).  My only requirements are that it can do 5 watts on 2m, is capable of CTCSS, DTMF (maybe DCS), has a full numeric keyboard and is reasonably rugged. The ability to respond to NOAA WX tones would be nice, but not mandatory. I have no need for ARTS, DC to X-Ray receive, bluetooth, flashlight, back massager, etc. Of course it should perform well: not be deaf as a post, fragile, a battery hog or too susceptible to intermod.

So far the Alinco DJ-V57T has caught my eye as well as the good 'ol Yaesu FT-60R. Both seem to have similar features, but the Alinco is a bit cheaper and a newer design. Both use NiMH batteries (I'm not expecting LiPo on a budget HT), but at least the Alinco can be upgraded to lithium batteries and the accessories seem a bit cheaper than for the FT-60R. I've noticed positive reviews for Wouxun HTs, but I'm wary; the radio needs to work every time without fail. So far, the Alinco only has a single review here on eHam and info on the net is virtually nonexistent.

Any words of wisdom? Used isn't out of the question.


Thanks,

Doug
KC8HQX



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K2OWK
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Posts: 1041




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« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2012, 02:03:30 PM »

Hello Doug, I can vouch for the Wouxun. I have had mine for over two years with no problems. It does all you require and then some. It cost about $100.00 and has a US warrentee. It also has available many inexpensive accessories. Check the Eham reviews for more information.

73s

K2OWK
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K5UNX
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« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2012, 02:10:38 PM »

How about a FT-60R? I bought one in the fall and like it a lot. A new one is about $160-ish.
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K6LCS
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« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2012, 02:55:51 PM »

The Yaesu FT-60R is a GREAT value for anyone looking for a solid 2M/440 handheld. The FT-60R debuted at Dayton in 2004. It was a great bargain then - and remains so today. Among its features ...

-1,000 memories
-receives (essentially) 108mHz to a gig
-large, legible display
-easy to manually program (one-page cheat sheet at k6lcs.com Web site)
-bulletproof case design*
-strongest belt clip of any ham HT chassis on the market
-great receive audio

... as well as a unique battery setup: You can populate the optional FBA-25 AA case with either NiMH cells or alkalines, and have full TX power available (if you really need it).

Clint Bradford K6LCS
909-241-7666

* - OK, the FT-60R isn’t truly “bulletproof.” But several of my audiences have seen me toss one across the stage - literally - during my presentations to show that they stand up to a little abuse ... Do not try that at home, though.
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Clint Bradford, K6LCS
http://www.k6lcs.com
KC8HQX
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Posts: 177




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« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2012, 04:19:55 PM »

The FT-60R is compelling, but it's 8 years old now. I was incorrect about the FT-50s most annoying feature; it was how quickly Yaesu stopped making batteries and how hard it was to find fresh (not NOS) aftermarket replacements. I'm not one to oogle the latest and greatest (my main HF rig is a TS-830S), but HTs these days are in a different animal. Expensive, proprietary, hard to source consumables are not a selling point. I have no doubt that the FT-60R is otherwise a great HT.

I have no experience with Alinco however; they could be worse. This is also my primary concern with the Wouxun radios. The '50R lasted 15 years; what about the next HT I buy?

Thanks,

Doug
KC8HQX

P.S.  I just discovered the FT-50R isn't dead; it's suffering from the dreaded "power button issue". I'll fix it with a dab of conductive paint, but it's still time to replace it. Looks like I have a new backup...
« Last Edit: March 03, 2012, 05:53:49 PM by KC8HQX » Logged
K9KJM
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Posts: 2416




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« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2012, 10:18:11 PM »

The FT60 is a good proven radio. But the batteries for it are kind of expensive, And while it was a very low cost radio when it came out, Lots of better deals are available now.

I have the Wouxun, And it is a solid performer, BUT be sure to get the interface cable with it to program with a computer!  I was unable to even get mine to work with hand programming!

Do rethink if you really truly need the full 5 watts of power!   A number of years ago I got the little micro size Yaesu VX3R and found that it's 2 watts is PLENTY of power to hit local repeaters, And for longer distance stuff I simply do cross band repeat from the mobil Yaesu 8800.

I recently bought the little Baofeng UV 3R and so far just love it.  AND I got it working and talking without even opening up the manual!   A major plus for me!  After reading the manual I easily loaded memory channels etc in to it with no computer needed.
And for 45 bucks, You can buy THREE of them for the price of one FT 60!

PLUS they use the same exact battery as the Yaesu VX3, The very common and cheap NP 60 camera battery. Less than 5 bucks each delivered to your door!

http://www.ebay.com/itm/BAOFENG-UV-3R-Mark-II-UPGRADE-136-174-400-470Mhz-Dual-Freq-Display-/120867680803?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item1c24467223

It seems that many hand held radios nowadays have a constant low draw on the battery. If you just leave them "sit" for any period of time the battery will be dead.  Remove the battery when not in use daily and you will be fine......
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K6LCS
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« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2012, 10:31:04 AM »

>> ... but HTs these days are in a different animal. Expensive, proprietary, hard to source consumables are not a selling point. I have no doubt that the FT-60R is otherwise a great HT ...

No idea what you are talking about. The battery pack for the FT-60R is a popular one, and one that is used on several models of amateur and commercial radios. It is easy to find, and not going away any time soon.

And with that FBA-25 alkaline pack, you can always use NiMH or alkaline cells.

Clint Bradford K6LCS
909-241-7666
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Clint Bradford, K6LCS
http://www.k6lcs.com
KC8HQX
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Posts: 177




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« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2012, 11:44:07 AM »

No idea what you are talking about. The battery pack for the FT-60R is a popular one, and one that is used on several models of amateur and commercial radios. It is easy to find, and not going away any time soon.

Ah, I didn't know this; thanks for the info. The 1400mAh stock battery is attractive, btw.

Thanks,
Doug
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K6LCS
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« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2012, 01:13:25 PM »

>> ... The 1400mAh stock battery is attractive, btw ...

The stock pack is a NiMH pack ... I am using 2700mAH Maha NiMH cells in the FBA-25 case - effectively doubling my time between charges. I charge them in a Maha intelligent NiMH charger.

Clint K6LCS
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Clint Bradford, K6LCS
http://www.k6lcs.com
KG4NEL
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Posts: 373




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« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2012, 09:32:30 PM »

They're out of production, but the Icom IC-W32A can also be used to hunt small mammals if the situation calls for it :p

Batteries are still available from Maha.

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KC8HQX
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Posts: 177




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« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2012, 05:43:27 PM »

I've been thinking about the need for a dual band HT. I can count on one hand the number of times I've had a QSO on 70cm repeater in the last 15 years. The number of 70cm machines in my area is a fraction of 2m systems. The only real reason to justify a dual bander is if I get a mobile that can do cross-band.

 In the context of a 2m HT that's bullet proof and works *every time*, the FT-270R is really attractive. It was a sick feeling watching the events of 3/2/2012 unfold. I'm glad (on many levels) the worse storms passed to the north and south of my location and I didn't need to make a call, but had I needed to, the dead 50R would have been a real problem.

It's a lesson: "Test your gear often".

Doug
« Last Edit: March 07, 2012, 06:17:00 PM by KC8HQX » Logged
K6LCS
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« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2012, 09:03:23 PM »

>> ... the FT-270R is really attractive ...

Only if you want to dunk it in your koi pond ... (grin)

The '270R is a great 2M HT, indeed. Receives 136-174. 200 channels. Water-resistant to the max.

BUT for TWENTY BUCKS more, you can have 2M and 440 ops, 108-to-a-gig receive (essentially), and about 1,000 memories - with the FT-60R.

And if you are really allergic to 440, you can set the FT-60R to MONO BAND ops, and only have it work on 2M. BUT you'll have to turn that back to normal to work the ham FM satellites in "split frequency" mode ... (grin)

Same basic form factor as the '370R (same chassis, essentially). Same battery packs are used by both.

Clint K6LCS
909-241-7666
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Clint Bradford, K6LCS
http://www.k6lcs.com
KG6BRG
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Posts: 117




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« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2012, 07:44:57 PM »

I have 2 Wouxun dual bands, for a couple of years now, sold off all my Yaesu and icom  ht's.  The wouxuns are very capable transceivers.  As mentioned, about $100.00 with li-on  battery and a drop in charger.  18 month warranty with north American support.  Hard to beat and I don't worry too much about it because its only a $100.00 ht.  cheers.
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M5AEO
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Posts: 259




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« Reply #13 on: March 09, 2012, 06:55:47 AM »

Just to add further support to the FT-60.  I have had this rig for a few months and it is the most practical hand-held I have ever had.  The programming is quite intuitive, it gives 5 watts out (although running it on 2w really helps with battery life).  It's also robust.  It doesn't look particularly 'sexy' but it certainly does the job.  I paid £120 for mine which I think is a bargain.
Just make sure you throw away the Yaesu-supplied antenna and get a better one; the supplied antenna really is hopeless!

Jon, M5AEO, London.



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K1CJS
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« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2012, 07:26:46 AM »

Just one 'word of advice' for anyone thinking about the purchase of a really cheap Chinese made HT--you get what you pay for.  Be prepared to tackle just about all kinds of issues with programming, parts availability and just plain quality control. 

Oh--one other word--good luck.
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