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Author Topic: Higher Watts on VHF anf UHF - Worthwhile ???  (Read 21851 times)

Posts: 10

« on: December 30, 2012, 03:32:49 PM »

Newbie here and am looking to concentrate on 2m and 70cm for now.

I bought the Yaesu FT-2900 because of its 75w output, the price and overall reviews. I am baling on HF and selling that rig. What I want to do is get a 70cm radio and am looking at the TYT TH 9000 for it's 45w output, and again, price. Combined between the two radios, my outlay would be around $300.

I should state, I am not interested in a HT.

I have seen the Yaesu FT-7900 which is a dual bander but the output on either band won't match the other radios I listed. This seems to be the case as I look across the lower priced spectrum. They might be multiple bands, but output lacks, compared to 75w and 45w for the Yaesu and TYT combo. But a dual bander would be convenient, one hookup to leave forever.  

So...... is there a solid reason to be looking for the highest possible wattage output Huh I see HTs are typically 5w max. Wouldn't 75w and 45w get me far more range, given same antenna and coax lead used on either Huh

Thanks guys.... I appreciate you input here !!!

« Last Edit: December 30, 2012, 03:35:57 PM by KC9YAJ » Logged

Posts: 14491

« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2012, 04:41:43 PM »

The FT7900 output is 50/45 watts. The difference between that and 75W is fairly insignificant in terms of range. The difference between 50W and 100W is only 3dB, which equates to about half an S-unit on a "standard" meter. The antenna will be far more significant than that amount of power difference so that is usually the best place to put your money.

Now the difference between 5W and 50W is a lot more significant (10dB). In addition, most HTs have rather poor receiver front end filtering and they often overload when filled with strong signals from a good antenna.

Bob  AA4PB
Garrisonville, VA

Posts: 800


« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2012, 05:52:47 PM »

I would abandon FM and get on SSB/CW- that's where the real fun and DX are.
With 500W and a couple of stacked Yagis on 2M you can routinely work 500-600 miles and you don't need no stinkin' repeater.

Just my opinion,

Dale W4OP

Posts: 537

« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2012, 05:59:58 PM »

A good antenna and good coax would be more important than going from 50 to 75 watts.  As already mentioned that is about 3db gain.   An antenna can offer more gain.  Don't forget to factor in the loss in the coax cable. Spend the money on good antenna's and coax.

Randy Ka4nma

Posts: 12619

« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2012, 06:35:43 PM »

On 2m especially it is possible to reliably work extended ranges with brute force/power. Made made noise is basically not a factor and you can work signals into rigs noise floor. Here even 3 db can make a big difference. 

Ham since 1969....  Old School 20wpm REAL Extra Class..

Posts: 17477

« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2012, 08:13:49 PM »

Actually the first thing you need to do is to step back and define what you want
to accomplish, because the answers will vary a lot (as you can see from the
responses so far.)

Do you want to see how long of a distance you can work?  Do you want to
chat with friends on distant repeaters?  Do you want to see how many
repeaters you can work?  Are you operating mobile or from your house?

FM provides great audio quality with virtually no noise (when signals are
strong.)  But to achieve that it isn't as efficient, and it doesn't work as
well when signals are weak.  If you want to cover the maximum distance,
then you should be looking at a SSB/CW rig.   More power is better:  100W
or so is a good start, along with an array of beams on a tall tower.  With
enough power and antenna gain you can bounce signals off the moon to
almost any place on Earth:  it isn't trivial, but it can be done.  Most
propagation modes that provide very long distances will be highly variable:
the moon is the most predictable, while aurora, Es, and topo ducting all
come and go at seemingly random times.  You can spend a lot of time
listening and not hear anything beyond 100 miles or so, then suddenly
the band will open half way across the country.  Many of the stations
will be fairly weak, and FM isn't suitable.

To have the good signal quality of FM, you will be more limited in the
distance you can cover, and the distant stations will be either repeaters
or other simplex stations.  In the former case your coverage will increase
in discrete steps:  there will be a finite number of repeaters that you can
hit, limited by your antenna, power, and local terrain.  At some point
running more power won't allow you to hit any more repeaters, either
because there aren't any more within range, or you can hit them but
can't hear them responding because you are running more transmitter
power than they are.  Remember, you have to be able to hear the other
station as well as them hearing you.)

In my case, I'm in a valley surrounded by hills.  Doesn't matter
much what I do on FM, my signal usually isn't going to get out of
the valley.  (Occasionally I might catch some tropo ducting and work
stations through a repeater 200 miles away, but it probably is on a
hill several thousand feet above me.)  So the terrain puts a distinct
limitation on where I can work, and there isn't much benefit in running
any more power/antenna that what I need to reach the edges of the

Circumstances are somewhat different in flat country where repeaters
are at lower heights on man-made structures, but you still have a
limited horizon for RF.

In any case, as others have noted, raising your antenna makes more
difference than anything else you can do on VHF/UHF, then go to a
beam antenna.  The tallest 2m collinear antennas are about 20' tall
and have 6dB gain over a dipole.  You can build a pair of beams and
mount one on either side of your tower (spaced far enough out to
keep the tower from disrupting the pattern) and get 12dB or more
gain - that's equivalent to 4 or more times the output power, and
you have the advantage that you can aim it in the desired direction
and minimize interference in other directions.

I have a mobile rig with the option of 5, 10, 25 or 50 watts output.
I drive through an area of marginal signals every day, and the 50 watt
position makes only a little difference:  maybe like the difference between
30% copy and 60% copy.  It certainly doesn't bring a signal that is too
weak to copy up to full quieting.  And there are some limitations to
coverage such as multi-path where increasing the power doesn't help
at all.  (In that case, moving the antenna horizontally 3' might make
all the difference.)  So I generally leave the radio at 25 watts when I'm
in the hills, and one of the lower settings when I'm close to the repeaters.

From the house I don't bother with anything over 5 watts, because I can
hit all the area repeaters and cover the county on simplex at that level.

So don't worry about the difference between 50W and 75W - that is
more of a marketing ploy than a useful feature.  If you want the ultimate
in distance, consider SSB/CW instead of FM.  In any case, get your
antenna up as high as possible and use one or more beams with
reasonably high gain with low-loss feedline.  (The choice of feedline
can improve your radiated power more than changing from a 50W to
a 75W radio.)

You can always get an external amplifier for your radio if you really
need more power, but that is about the point where you start
turning into an alligator (all mouth and no ears, meaning that distant
hams can hear you, but you can't hear them responding to you.)
« Last Edit: December 30, 2012, 08:39:48 PM by WB6BYU » Logged

Posts: 1279

« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2012, 09:14:00 PM »

Don't forget a high gain antenna also boosts the gain of the receive signal by the antennas gain. An antenna with 15 db of gain has a two way gain path of 30 db, 15 db gain on transmitt and 15 db gain on receive.



Posts: 10

« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2012, 10:54:19 PM »

I guess I should give you the whole story on my background here.

One night a couple months ago it was quiet and the idea of investigating ham radio ran through my head. I was interested in the idea of ham as a kid, but the cw stopped me back then. When I learned cw was no longer a requirement, I looked further and decided to go for my ticket. I studied the answers for the test, took it and passed with a technician license. Studying the answers didn't teach me anything, unless the question has answers A-D to pick from.  Shocked

After passing I did some research on radios and landed on the FT-450D for HF and this FT-2900 for 2m. I was under the impression, from a buddy, 2m was a joke and anything else was experimental. He gave up his ticket 30 years ago, so as we know, things have changed since then. I looked into antennas and snapped up the 2m/70cm J Pole from Arrow Antenna. That was done because of price, a place to put it, and the excellent reviews I read. I also bought MX400 coax from DX, as I read as has been stated here, coax loss is not worth the cost difference. I also popped on a Diamond meter and Powerwerx 30a power supply.

I knew the J Pole wouldn't work for HF, but thought I could at least listen in a bit. Well, that didn't work for squat, so I took a trip to Antenna Selection Hell to investigate a real HF antenna. As many have experienced, getting the right antenna within space and set back restrictions was almost enough to get me to cash this whole idea all together.

I was close to walking away when I realized the only issue I have is with the FT-450D and an antenna to work it. The 2m radio and J Pole antenna etc are fine. Unlike an HF antenna, I can set that J Pole antenna permanently before winter is over here in Wisconsin. So all is not lost. I decide I am going to concentrate on 2m and 70cm for now and then whenever, look into HF at my leisure. I put the FT-450D up for sale and now looking at how to progress the best in 2m and 70cm, starting with, hopefully the right radio(s) selection.

I see the dualbander as a convenience, one radio, one antenna, one coax, all done! But what I don't want to do is go for "easy" when maybe I should have taken "power" and the extra effort for it instead. You know something like "being penny wise and pound foolish".

So far from scanning the bands, the airwaves in my area appear to be very quiet. Tonight I listened in on a RACES net for my area and then on one for the next area west of me. Reception was good, now that I found when people would be transmitting. I didn't join in on the net, as I had no idea what a net was, so I just listened. So have no complaints there with either the radio or antenna. After I had hooked up the FT-2900 to the meter etc, I did a check and it is putting out 75w at 1:1.2 on the Arrow J Pole. So for starting out, I think for right now I have a decent set up "to at least get me in the game".

My 10 year old granddaughter lives with me and this is a Papa and Danae project for as much as I can get her interested in it. So far she is interested and has scanned more often than me looking for signals to listen in to.

What do I want to do? I have no friends on the air, so I have no specifics there. I'm not much for ragchewing, so not that interested in it. We do have several repeaters here and I should be able to hit those within 20 miles I think. My location is high for the area, so should pick up distance others from my town might not get. What I find intriguing is SATELLITES, the SPACE STATION and now BOUNCING OFF THE MOON just got added to the list from suggestions here.   Grin I realize for that this J Pole won't cut it. But more and different antennas is a bridge I can cross when we get to it.

I have read bits and pieces here and there discussing how 222 and 1.2ghz are starting to come around too. All of these bands my buddy Larry felt weren't worth the time, from his experiences of 30+ years ago. So if these are "emerging" bands, that's where I really want to be.

Maybe that helps you all, to help me with this decision. Thanks again,





Posts: 100


« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2012, 05:11:30 AM »

Chip if you can operate on the HF bands then that is where you should be operating.

Yes 2 meters and 440 can be fun bands, if there are people out there to talk to.
When I got my ticket 20 years ago I started off on 2 meters. Back then there was plenty of action on repeaters. I live fairly close to Lake Erie so with a 13 element yagi at 35 feet I could access repeaters across the lake in OH, PA, then into MI. So there was more than enough people to chat with on 2 meters.

Then I did my upgrades, passed my first code test and got on 75 meters. Well suddenly 2 meters was not that attractive anymore! I still operated 2 meters, but not like I had been before the upgrade.

Then I did my last upgrade on the code testing and the rest of the HF bands were mine to use. Well HELLO WORLD. Now the 2 meter band really didn't look too appealing to me anymore!

The 13 element 2 meter yagi came down and was sold. In it's place I put up a home brewed 5 element quad. That antenna was in use for many years before I replaced it with a dual band vertical (Because I bought a dual band mobile because I wanted to try 440, a band I had never operated on)

Now I have a FT-2500 in the shack. I use it to talk on 146.52 with a couple of friends of mine. I have an Icom 7000 which has the 440 band on it sitting here on my desk. It rarely gets turned on, I use a FT-950 as my main HF rig.

HF opens up a while new world for you Chip. There are so many different modes you can operate on the HF bands. SSB. CW, RTTY and lots of other digital modes. I operate a lot of JT65 which is a low powered digital mode. I have worked stations in VK land on 40 meters with 20 watts to a dipole with that mode.

I strongly suggest you get some antennas up for HF. Simple dipoles will do the trick. Use that FT-450D you have sitting there.

Sure it is nice to be able to chat with the local hams on 2 meters. But HF IMO is the meat and potatoes of amateur radio.

To answer your original question about the 2 meter power. As others have stated 50 watts to 75 watts is not a huge difference on the receiving end. Putting up a yagi will be of more benefit as it will increase your talk power, it will also increase your receive. That repeater that was on the fringe of your vertical will now be one you can access. So put up a beam for added output.

Happy New Year, 73 Rick VE3FMC
« Last Edit: December 31, 2012, 05:17:45 AM by VE3FMC » Logged

Posts: 6252

« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2012, 10:53:20 AM »

AS you can see, Chip, the answers are all over the place--as someone already said.  The one thing that most hams can agree on is this--the antenna system is 90 percent of a good station.  Get yourself a good antenna--one with some gain--and you'll do yourself much better on range and clarity than increasing power from 40 to 50 watts to 75 watts will ever do.

For an antenna for your HF rig, have you considered a simple long wire antenna?  That may be the best and easiest antenna for you to listen to the HF bands with for now.  With a proper antenna tuner and other refinements, the long wire may be a decent transmitting antenna for certain HF bands as well.

Posts: 2644


« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2012, 12:49:56 PM »

Hi Chip,

For HF, have you reached out to the ham community here or locally for some antenna ideas? With a little creativity it's possible to get a workable HF antenna up almost anywhere. I've definitely tossed up some usable antennas with little to work both indoors and outdoors with and have worked around the world on HF. You might get some good input if you give some details on the layout of the land, restrictions, trees, shack location, etc. HF for me is still the bread and butter of ham radio.. plenty of things to do.

On VHF/UHF, it sounds like you may have some interest in more of the experimental aspects. If you're going to get into satellites, Moonbounce, etc.. you'll most likely need a radio capable of SSB/CW - especially for moonbounce. If you're not a ragchewer and repeaters bore you, there is certainly a whole world in VHF/UHF if you're an experimenter. This past summer I put my first moonbounce station on the air on 2m. With a few hundred watts and a good long yagi on 2m you can work stations on EME! I plan on moving to 1296 next with a homebrew dish and other components next (long story).

Posts: 10

« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2013, 09:06:47 PM »

Happy New Year Everyone and thanks again for all the great input !!!

With input here about using more of all modes on VHF or UHF has me rethinking my entire arrangement. I did put the FT-450D up for sale and it has to be shipped now, heading off to Australia. I dropped a few dollars for my mistake, live and learn.

Other than that TYT Chinese thing, I am not coming up with a suitable 70cm rig for a fair price point. I also have found like zero, to get into 1.2ghz, in a free standing radio. Because of the input here on SSB etc, I am now giving some consideration to a Kenwood TS2000X.....if I can find one I can afford. I have my doubts that will happen, which means it might be back to the Chinese ride after all.

The HF antenna nightmare has to do with:
It's winter and everything is frozen and covered with ice and snow.
Lot size is 53X105.
I have set back restrictions to cover a falling antenna/tower on three sides of my lot.
I have building setbacks on all 4 sides of my lot.
RF burns with granddaughter and neighborhood kids.
Radials with no where to put them.

As you all already know, and I just learned, it's about "compromise". It seemed though the more I dove into it, the more "compromising" I saw was going to be needed. As I looked at the various options, at least one of my "obstacles" would shoot the idea to the ground. I did that for too long, before I said "to heck with it". If I end up with a HF/VHF/UHF all in one rig, at some point in the future, I may re-investigate it again.

And yes, I guess "experimentation" would be a good description of what interests me. The local net was tonight and a total of 4 people participated on 2m. They had more than that on the RACES net, so not sure how the local use of VHF or UHF might be. Most of the nets here though do list a "non HF" frequency. All I heard tonight was "hello and Happy New Year", I was expecting more of a community forum than that.

So that is the latest and I really do appreciate all the input !!!



Posts: 21764

« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2013, 11:15:45 AM »

Chip, I think understanding antenna designs, and how they work, is a really important aspect of the hobby.

The 2m/70cm j-pole can't possibly work, and likely won't even receive any signals on HF because at HF it's a "short circuit."  It would work about as well as just sticking a needle through the coax to short it out.

Your property description isn't much different from thousands (maybe millions!) of people who have very effective and safe HF antennas installed.  You can't get RF burns from an antenna that's too high to reach. Wink

When I think antennas, I think "up," and the higher up, usually the better.  If you have a house on that lot, a tripod and tall mast installed above the roof peak is often an inexpensive, safe and effective way to support the center of an HF wire inverted-vee antenna.  The two ends can drop down lower, but always keep them out of reach of anyone (I usually go for at least 9-10' above ground at each end), and then the entire antenna cannot be touched by anyone.  A multi-band inverted vee using parallel dipoles, or traps, or any number of approaches can work really well and maybe cost $100 or so total for the materials.

Then, you'll hear stuff on HF!  And be making contacts as well. Smiley

Posts: 6252

« Reply #13 on: January 03, 2013, 04:51:03 AM »

Another thing to remember is this--The higher you go in frequency, the higher you go in price.  Although it isn't totally true, it usually does ring true.

Posts: 2644


« Reply #14 on: January 03, 2013, 11:06:31 AM »

I checked out your property on QRZ/Zillow/Google, etc. If those are accurate, I think I'd try to use the chimney and the red leafed tree at the street corner to perhaps get an end fed wire up for HF with a feedpoint at the chimney (perhaps a small, light mast to get it up a bit above the chimney). Not sure if you own the trees/property to the left of your chimney if you do that opens more options up between the red leafed tree at the corner and the trees at the left. Might be able to get an antenna that will do at least 40-10m which allows you to operate some great bands. With a wire antenna it's cheap and you don't have to worry so much about setback/falling restrictions. The TS-2000X could be a good radio as you get HF back and open yourself to all modes up on VHF / UHF.
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