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Author Topic: VHF/UHF BASE Transceivers: Are They Still Made??  (Read 5410 times)
KB3ZIM
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Posts: 16




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« on: March 11, 2013, 09:59:03 AM »

Greetings everyone!

I'm a relatively new operator.  Although I've been meaning to get a ticket since I was about twelve years old, I finally got my Technician license last autumn, and just passed my General class exam yesterday!  I'll be sixty years old next month, so yeah...you can certainly say "it's about time!"

Anyway....

I've been operating on 2M and 70CM for a few months using a great Alinco 3-band HT (144/440/1200).  I'm almost ready to get on HF, having purchased over the past few months an Icom IC-7600 and SP-23 speaker, an Alinco power supply, and even a Vibroplex Iambic paddle.  All I need to add is an antenna and some coax.  However, I've discovered that I do enjoy working the VHF/UHF bands, so I'd like to look into setting up a BASE station for VHF/UHF to go along with my HF setup.  However, it appears as though the current crop of radio manufacturers no longer offer any BASE rigs for the VHF/UHF bands.  Of course, many hams run mobile VHF/UHF rigs in their shacks as base stations, but I really don't have much interest in mobile operation, so frankly, I'd prefer to try to get a bona-fide BASE VHF/UHF tansceiver, but there just doesn't seem to be anything out there...or am I wrong and just haven't looked in the right places?  The only rig I've seen that's anywhere close to being "contemporary" is the Icom IC-910H, but that's out of production and has to be found on the pre-owned market.  What other radios are out there that are VHF/UHF base stations that have been made in recent years for which I could search on the used market?

Perhaps I'm "barking up the wrong tree."  If anyone can advise me as to what to look for and where, I'd certainly appreciate it.

Thanks.  7 3!

Bobb in Suburban Philadelphia
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2013, 10:12:02 AM »

For FM work only, nobody makes a "VHF-UHF base station" that I can think of, because the mobile rigs are so commonly used as base stations -- all you need is a 12V regulated power supply, and you have a base station.

There are VHF-UHF "base station" rigs that are multi-mode (FM/SSB/CW/Digital) and they're quite expensive.  The Kenwood TS-2000 is an HF/VHF/UHF base station that is multi-mode and works well on 2m and 70cm, with an option for 23cm (although no 33cm or 125cm) and has been on the market many years (and still is).

You might find a good deal on a used VHF-UHF base station rig, though.  I have a Yaesu FT-736R which I bought new in 1987 and it was discontinued several years ago, but thousands are around.  It comes with 2m and 70cm, and you can add two more band modules to cover 6m/125cm/23cm as needed.  Many of the used ones on the market are already equipped for four bands (mine is).  It works FM/SSB/CW/Digital/Satellites, right out of the box and is "large," with a lot of front panel controls and a built-in AC power supply.

Problem is, that rig cost almost $2000 when new back in 1987.  In "today's" dollars, that would be over $3000 and the market just isn't there.  That's why most FM home station ops use mobile rigs with power supplies and be done with it.
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KB3ZIM
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« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2013, 03:22:31 PM »

Thanks for the response.  I hope I get some more feedback.  Can't have too much advice or too many opinions!  Yes, I'm aware that most operators use mobiles at their home QTH, but as you mentioned, I'm interested in mult-mode capabilities, not just FM, and I would like to have all the VHF/UHF bands, not just 2 meters and 70CM.

It looks like if I want to have the capabilities I'm seeking, I'll have to acquire a rig that has HF coverage as well, even though I desire just the VHF/UHF bands.  I have an Icom IC-7600 for HF work.

Any other suggestions out there?  Thanks.
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W6EM
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« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2013, 07:46:17 PM »

Bob:  Serious VHF and UHF multimode operation from one's QTH isn't as easily done as on HF.  And, unless a great many of us can have towers with good-sized VHF/UHF gain antennas with rotors atop them, little besides local repeater operation is in the cards.  CC&Rs pretty much wiped out anything but disguised VHF/UHF verticals.

As was said, there were quite a few VHF/UHF multi-mode transceivers ten to twenty years ago, but now none are made.  Not much demand for them. 

"Hard-core" VHF/UHF DX contesters use transverters (transmitting/receiving converters) to adapt low band stationary transceivers to that part of the spectrum in many cases.  There are a few all-mode transceivers out there that "do it all" up to 70cM, like the older IC-706-Mk2G and the IC-7000.  Sure, they require 13.6VDC, but all but 33 and 1.25cM are included in the same radio.

33cM is full of cordless phones the last time I had a meaningful discussion about it, and 1.25cM and up is a challenge.

73,

Lee
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VA7CPC
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« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2013, 10:54:00 PM »

. . .
It looks like if I want to have the capabilities I'm seeking, I'll have to acquire a rig that has HF coverage as well, even though I desire just the VHF/UHF bands.  I have an Icom IC-7600 for HF work.
. . .
 

I was thinking that the "shack-in-a-box" rigs -- IC-706, IC-7000, Yaesu FT-897 / FT-857 -- would be a reasonable choice.

They'll do SSB and CW on VHF/UHF.  They may be "mobile" rigs, but that doesn't stop you from putting one on a desk.   Of that pile, the FT-897 is the closest to "desktop" form-factor.

.                Charles
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WB6DGN
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« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2013, 06:04:31 AM »

Depending on your reason for wanting a dedicated VHF/UHF "base station" there may be another solution.  If you wish mainly compactness and aesthetics as opposed to multi-mode operation, Astron (and, probably, others) make a series of their power supplies that mount the radio, semi-enclosed above the power supply making the combination appear to be a self contained unit.  They are often sold for commercial control station use where the customer doesn't want the clutter of separate units and their wiring all over a desk.
Check out the Astron website and/or request a print "catalog" from them to get some pictures of what I'm referring to.
This may be as close as you'll come to a new self-contained VHF/UHF station.
Tom
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K1CJS
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« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2013, 07:57:48 AM »

As others have already said, the closest you're likely to come to a "base" VHF/UHF rig is an multi-mode all-band rig that is basically a 'shack-in-a-box.'  If you want a dedicated rig, you could either get one of those and just use it for the VHF/UHF bands--or go the pre-owned route.  There isn't much of any other choice available.
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WN2C
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« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2013, 08:31:22 AM »

Bob, there is only some 'shack in a box' options available now (new) or you could as others have suggested go with older equipment.  Icom and Kemwood and Yaseu all made single and some multi band capable multimode gear for VHF/UHF.  However they do not make them anylonger.  Your best best bet it to look for a used Icom 820 / 821 for 2m/440 or 551 for 6 and put an amplifier behind it or even some of the other Kenwoods models. (the model #s escape me)  It seems to get on 2 or 70cm SSB these days you have to spend $1200 to $1500 for a Icom 7000 (706mk2g is out of production) or a Knwd ts 2000.  You could also go the transverter route but that too gets expensive.  Elecraft sells transverters kits (or built) for several bands.

Rick  wn2c
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N4NYY
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« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2013, 09:39:11 AM »

I do not think you will ever see them. The manufacturing cost of putting an internal power supply would be far greater than just using a mobile and buying a power supply. You can get good power supplies for $100. It would likely cost far more than $100 per radio to put one in, and your market would be limited. They would be impractical for mobile installs.

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WB2WIK
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« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2013, 10:19:22 AM »

Thanks for the response.  I hope I get some more feedback.  Can't have too much advice or too many opinions!  Yes, I'm aware that most operators use mobiles at their home QTH, but as you mentioned, I'm interested in mult-mode capabilities, not just FM, and I would like to have all the VHF/UHF bands, not just 2 meters and 70CM.



ALL the VHF-UHF bands here in the U.S. include 50-144-222-432-902-1296-2304 MHz.  That's 7 bands.  There aren't any rigs made today, nor have there been any in the past, that do that -- at any price.

What "everybody" does is use a single rig as a baseband transceiver (such as a 10m rig, or the 10m band on a multi-band HF rig), and start adding transverters for the higher bands.  Transverters are readily available from a variety of sources.  A good U.S.-based source is DEMI (Down East Microwave Inc.).  The advantage of this approach is you can add bands as desired, and don't have to add them all at once; and you get whatever features your 10m rig has, including memories, dual VFOs, VOX, IF filtering, noise blanking, all modes, etc. on all the higher bands.

To do that "all in one box" would be so prohibitively expensive I doubt anybody would buy even one unit.

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KB3ZIM
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Posts: 16




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« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2013, 12:28:58 PM »

A big note of thanks to everyone who has taken the time to respond! Smiley

I understand the logic behind each of your answers.  The motivation behind my original question has to do with operational features and form factor.  For example...

1) The majority of mobile VHF/UHF rigs are FM-only, thus precluding SSB and CW operation.  I know not all mobile rigs lack SSB/CW, but most do (at least from my admittedly novice perspective and knowledge).

2)  Mobile rigs are optimized to be "mobile," and as a result, their reduced size also reduces their ease of operation in the sense that many functions are buried in menus or accessed via smaller controls that often share multiple functions.  Radios that were designed for "base" use tend to have more buttons and dials that are dedicated to a particular function, and that's because there's more "real estate" on the face of a "base" radio so that more buttons and switches can be accommodated.  In other words, if a "base type" radio has four different mode buttons and one wants to operate CW, you can push ONE button that says "LSB" or "USB", and off you go without having to toggle through choices of operating mode via a single button.  It may sound silly to some people, but I am just exploring possibilities in terms of ease of use.

I'm not concerned about cosmetics or size.

I've been eyeing the Yaesu FT-857D, and I'm also keeping a lookout for an Icom IC-910H.  As before, I very much appreciate everyone's input.  I'm a "beginner," so I am grateful for every piece of advice I can get.

 7 3 !  Grin
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KB4QAA
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« Reply #11 on: March 12, 2013, 08:22:24 PM »

If not mentioned already, the IC-9100 is the follow on to the IC-910.  It has HF, 6m, all the way to 1.24Gig.   
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VA7CPC
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« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2013, 12:15:19 AM »

Quote
I've been eyeing the Yaesu FT-857D, . . .

I think that's the cheapest new rig that will give you SSB /CW capabilities on VHF.  There are several happy owners in my club.

Two disadvantages:

1.  The FT-857 has a fairly complicated nested menu structure.  I don't think it's quite as bad as the IC-7000, but it's close.

2.  You don't get IF DSP.  If you're serious about CW on HF, you'll be buying a narrow-band IF filter fairly soon.  But it'll still cost less than the IC-7000.

.               Charles
 
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WA3SKN
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« Reply #13 on: March 13, 2013, 06:48:49 AM »

You did not mention price.
The "DC-to-Daylight" rigs kinda eliminated the "single band multi-mode" VHF/UHF rigs.  You might want to keep your eye out for a used one.
With the new IC9100 they started with a VHF/UHF rig and added HF, instead of taking an HF rig and adding VHF/UHF.  It is not cheap, but appears to be a winner for what you are looking for!
Of course, if you only want to do FM/repeaters it is WAY overkill!
73s.

-Mike.
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KB3RHV
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Posts: 41




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« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2013, 07:43:55 PM »

Hi Bob,

As most have posted, there is not much in the way of VHF/UHF radios out there. Even clubs are few and far between, but there are a few out there, like the Pack Rat's in Warmister. You might find some older radios for sale as well as up/down converters for some of the bands you may want to get into.

http://www.packratvhf.com/

Phil
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