eHam Forums => Misc => Topic started by: AJ3O on January 14, 2011, 07:36:57 AM

Title: Just asking for suggestions/advice
Post by: AJ3O on January 14, 2011, 07:36:57 AM
I just got my license in November.

As everyone is aware, prices have been going up in the last few years and it doesn't look as if the prices are going to drop.

My choices:

1) Wait at least another 4 months to raise some funds for a NEW multi-band radio so as not to buy 3 - 5 radios separately.

2) Buy a NEW radio I can afford now, IE: dual or quad band radio, knowing that I would have to spend more for HF later.

3) While the two above are NEW, should I just take chances on somebodies USED equipment that is out of warranty and may or may not have hidden defects that would show up after it was in my possession and too late to do anything about it?

I have read MANY posts in different forums that talk about scammers, and I have been scammed too many times previously. I have been waiting over twenty years to get my ticket, and let's just say I am getting impatient, but don't want to just throw money out the window.

Title: RE: Just asking for suggestions/advice
Post by: KC8IUR on January 14, 2011, 07:48:13 AM
What bands do you want to work and where from? I haven't seen a quad band or even tri band radio that really sparked my interest. A lot of what bands you will use depends on activity in your area. You're going to end up with more than a few radios eventually anyway. The march of technology never stops.

I've not had issues with scammers and I have been buying things off the net since the mid '90s. If you're buying used, you do have to take a chance that the equipment will be DOA. That's not as huge of an issue for me since I can fix it myself. An easy way to protect yourself is to conduct transactions through PayPal. PayPal virtually always sides with the buyer. Typically you will have 30 days to work things out with the seller and still be protected by PayPal.

Title: RE: Just asking for suggestions/advice
Post by: W7ETA on January 14, 2011, 08:13:09 AM
Buy the HF rig and worry about VHF/UHF later.

Title: RE: Just asking for suggestions/advice
Post by: KA0SBL on January 14, 2011, 10:58:04 AM
I've found some great deals on Craigslist, if you're willing to wait for it to show up. Usually the seller can demo the gear, so no DOA. There's no absolute guarantee the gear will be 100% flawless, but folks tend not to scam much when they've invited you to their house. You can check here or ebay to get a fair market value and a review before you even contact the seller.

Resale on ham gear is good, even if it has some issues. So if you're not happy with it, you can always resell it later, just be sure to disclose any faults. Lots of tech folks will still pay for gear with defects, you'd be surprised.

Hamfests can be hit-or-miss, often sellers wants top dollar and don't have it setup to demo. Some unscrupulous types take advantage of the fact you'll likely not see them again ... but there's still good deals to be had. Know what the gear you seek is worth ahead of time and go early!

Ham Radio Outlet, amongst others, occasionally have coupons and specials that are competitive with used gear. Take care of it, keep the original boxes and you can get most of your investment back later if you choose to sell it.

If you buy on ebay, choose a seller with good feedback. One or two dings Ok across many transactions, there's always a malcontent out there, just check for a pattern of problems. Choose a USA seller. Descriptions should be detailed and articulate with good photos. As mentioned, ebay/PayPal will protect you if for example you get a radio described as 'fully working good as new' but the insides were hacked and there's issues. They also protect sellers from buyers trying to pull a fast-one on sellers. 

Happy hunting

Title: RE: Just asking for suggestions/advice
Post by: AJ3O on January 14, 2011, 11:01:48 AM
Thank you for the replies and questions.

I know that there are many repeaters for 2m, 70cm, and a few 6m and 10m all in the areas that I drive. (I drive a lot for work. Construction in 9 - 10 counties of SW PA and they find work farther and farther everyday....  :-[) Seeing as how I am in my truck 4-5 hours a day, it seems to be a perfect opportunity to chat. CB has its place on the road, but not for discussion or general chat. "Unless you want to hear screaming by 30+ year old kids about why only their opinions matter, the frequent obscenities, or to hear the occasional horn blast/duck call over the speaker....

This is why I asked about dual or even the quad band radios. BUT, I would like to get onto the HF bands as I know there has been a lot of skip and I would get to utilize my General license. Especially when high up on the laurel ridge for better signal. I also go to a buddies camp up on MT Davis and figured that would be a great place for HF.

I got interested YEARSSSSSS ago and have put it off until now. Now that I finally have the ticket, you can see why I may just be getting a little hasty on my decision. So, if I can keep a cool head, I would like to get the best bang for my buck to start off with. Yeah, I know that there will definitely be new/more equipment in the future, but to keep my wife at bay for now, I just want to get the best value.

Title: RE: Just asking for suggestions/advice
Post by: KC8IUR on January 14, 2011, 11:07:29 AM
Well here's the deal with a quad band. The FT-8900 has 10, 6, 2, 70cm, but only one antenna is made that covers all those frequencies, and does it poorly. Any HF rig you get will have HF+6, guaranteed. Most HF shack-in-a-box radios have HF+6/2/70 anymore, so why bother with a quad-band? If you really don't want to double up on gear, and don't have cash for HF, get a cheap 2m mobile. Even after you do get a shack-in-a-box, you can always find a use for a 2m mobile radio.

Title: RE: Just asking for suggestions/advice
Post by: AJ3O on January 14, 2011, 11:16:57 AM
WOW! That was quick! lol Thank you.

That is what I was thinking but more along the lines of a dual band (2m/70cm) with a good antenna. Then maybe I could get a shack in the box down the road.

I just keep looking at the Yaesu FT-857D or the Icom IC-7000 and drool.....  :-[  (I am just a bit of the Tech geek and these two amaze me.)

I guess it wouldn't be too difficult to switch out radios when the time comes. I just don't want multiple setups in the truck as I use every bit of space in the cab for clothes, delicate tools, books, prints, and of course, food and drinks.

Title: RE: Just asking for suggestions/advice
Post by: KC8IUR on January 14, 2011, 11:36:41 AM
Bored at work with no customers.

Read before putting things into your car. Lots of good info on that site and he frequents eham as well.

Title: RE: Just asking for suggestions/advice
Post by: NO6L on January 14, 2011, 07:00:30 PM
People continue to overlook the best deal for a new arrival to Amateur Radio,  the Yeasu FT-857D, $699 at HRO right now, with a warranty! Basically four multimode radios that can crossband, crossmode,  cost less than $175 each and also sound good on TX. Meanwhile there's all this constant hype about used stuff on Craigslist and Ebay for "dollars on the penny".

An FM only quad band for almost 2/3 the price of the '857D? That's a deal, if you like jabbering on someone elses radio, a repeater, most of the time without even a chance at real HF and the options of CW, digital, SSB and even AM.

KB3VIM, if you have to save a little longer and go for the new stuff, so be it. Maybe get an HT in the mean time. But the '857 will be worth the wait for a first station that can be moved to the mobile later. Take a second look, it is the better deal. Just get a "Cheat Sheet" while you're at it. The manual sucks.

No, I don't work for Yeasu, but I do know economic common sense, and buying used stuff for a first station is a huge mistake guaranteed to see to the demise of the interest in Amateur Radio. Why? Because not everybody has access to the knowledge or a friend with the knowledge to repair it potentially after delivery and later when something goes wrong. There's plenty of time later to get into the vintage scene, it's not the place to start.


Title: RE: Just asking for suggestions/advice
Post by: K0BG on January 15, 2011, 10:08:11 AM
If you don't need VHF, look at the new Alinco DX-SR8. Its street price is about $625 with the remote kit. All considering its features, it isn't a bad buy, albeit doesn't have any VHF capabilities.

Title: RE: Just asking for suggestions/advice
Post by: AJ3O on January 15, 2011, 12:30:03 PM

I talked it over with my wife once more last night on a last chance whim.... she agreed that it would be better to just go ahead and get a new FT-857D.  :o JUST in time as they go back up $80.00 after today.   8)

Ordered from HRO, and although there were some weird glitches with their online card service, the guys at the VA HRO were on the ball and got everything fixed, corrected, and processed quickly and called me back to confirm that all was good. (There were multiple charges as it seemed that I got stuck in a loop returning an error, then stating that the card was declined. As did others since last night.) Anyhow, I am happy with their CS and can't wait for the shipment to come in! ;D  Thanks to Joe and Steve!

Again, thanks for the replies and advice from all!

Looks like I have another several hours on K0BG's site for my prep.  ;) (Ordered some tinned copper braid to get started before the order gets in....)

Title: RE: Just asking for suggestions/advice
Post by: KC8QVO on January 16, 2011, 07:19:50 AM
Good deal on the FT-857D. That is almost the only radio I use any more, and I have a full shack desk. When I am in the truck is when I operate my radios most of the time. I do get on 2m SSB from the house occasionally but most of my on-air time is during my commutes.

You will like the FT-857D. Spend some time to get to know it. Compared to other radios I find the FT-857D easy to operate. The menu is well laid out and the ABC buttons on the front are nice for quick access back to the main menu.

A couple suggestions I will throw out there are to get the remote control mic (the full featured one, not the DTMF mic) and if you want to do any CW operating get a 300Hz crystal filter. I got my filters from International Radio as they were cheaper than the stock yaesu's and they are the only company that makes as narrow as a 2.0kHz SSB filter. I don't find the SSB filter to make THAT big of a difference, however the CW filter is a must-have in my book.

If you ever plan on taking the radio out of the truck and operating portable the FT-857D is a fantastic radio for this. One modification I made to mine, about a half hour after I pulled it out of the box, is chop off that big power plug on the back and replace it with PowerPoles. Everything I have runs on PowerPoles and there is no need for that big huge connector on such a small radio. For ease of interconnectivity the PowerPoles are the way to go, though there may be some that disagree with their use/quality. I love them.

There is a brown wire back by the power connector. If you short this to ground it puts the radio in a low-power mode. It limits the radio to 20 watts output and also configures the display back lighting to cut out after a few seconds to conserve power. The FT-897D is the same radio - the electronics inside are identical. The only difference is the case size and front panel layout. The FT-897D's case also allows for internal batteries. The brown wire on the FT-857D shifts its operation to what the FT-897D does with internal batteries, if that makes sense.

Title: RE: Just asking for suggestions/advice
Post by: AJ3O on January 16, 2011, 09:46:12 AM
When you say "remote control mic (the full featured one, not the DTMF mic)", do you mean the YAESU
MH-59A8J? If so, that was added to my order along with a dual band vhf/uhf antenna and plenty of 1/2" tinned copper braid.

Also, can you post up a picture or two of the powerpoles? I use the heavy duty connectors in my truck for my inverter, and if possible, I just may get the same and connect the radio that way.

Title: RE: Just asking for suggestions/advice
Post by: KC8QVO on January 16, 2011, 10:49:59 AM
You can see the powerpoles on the radio and power cable in this picture here (

I wrote a blog post on my install when I got my truck, you can read the rest of it here (

I have made a few changes since then but the location of the radio, faceplate, and main wiring is all the same. When I get around to it I need to post an update to that with my cap and rack mount antenna. Right now I use an assortment of whips and an LDG Z11pro tuner.

The MH59a8j is the mic I was referring to. You'll be in good shape with that!

OH - before I forget - I dash-mounted my mic jack (and a bunch of other stuff). Here is a picture: (

If you have any questions just ask. Thats my second "true" HF mobile install. I still have some work to do with it to perfect it, but between this truck and my last one the new install has gone a lot better and smoother with less work.

Title: RE: Just asking for suggestions/advice
Post by: N3JBH on January 16, 2011, 11:18:45 AM
Joe Hook up with these guys.
They have members in your area and they also make regular trips to the fire tower at Mt Davis for contesting etc. But they would be a great place for you to learn and enjoy the hobby the have a spectacular club with tons of activities. Jeff

Title: RE: Just asking for suggestions/advice
Post by: AJ3O on January 17, 2011, 04:49:29 PM
The MH-59A8J is the mike that I had added to my order.

I can see the power poles on the back of your radio, and that would be a nice addition. When I went on Anderson's website they list splitters and other setups. I currently use the SB-50 quick-connect power plugs for my inverter. It makes it easy to disconnect and tuck under the seat, and plug it back in as needed. (I have even used the inverter, a B&D 750watt unit, to power hilti hammer drills, a power saw "Not that good, but it worked", and countless other items for work.) It would be nice if they had, and I did look on their site, a splitter that had the SB-50 connection AND the power pole connections. This way I could mount the splitter under the dash and connect/disconnect things quickly while still keeping it out of the way.

Oh yeah, nice blog on your install. I especially liked the dash mounted jacks!  8)

I will be stopping by the Skyview club sometime soon I hope. Even though I don't have much time for dedicated memberships to any clubs at the moment, I am sure I could use some mentoring. My overall plan is to try and get the kids interested in Ham radio after I get seasoned somewhat.

Thank you for all the help and suggestions everyone!  :)