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Author Topic: Base vs Mobile HF transceiver  (Read 1464 times)
KD0UYF
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« on: October 08, 2018, 02:18:31 PM »

Hello all, new guy here..  Got my license years ago, but an unwanted twist of events has caused me to have to wait until now to start using it..  Anyways,  im looking in to purchasing my first HF setup.  The first (of many, i would imagine) question i have is in regards to Base vs Mobile radios.   Obviously size/portability is the biggest difference, but is there an overall performance difference between the 2 generally?  What are some other things a person should think about when deciding between 1 or the other?   Ill use it in the house mostly, but i may take it on an adventure with me every now and then.  I cant see myself ever mounting one in my car fwiw...
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KE6EE
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« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2018, 03:43:03 PM »

Is there an overall performance difference between the 2 generally?  What are some other things a person should think about when deciding between 1 or the other?

Generalizations regarding "performance" of rigs are among the ideas that can be less-than-useful at any point in your ham experience and are especially so at the start.

What you will be doing, which will be the adventure ("fun") of hamming, is learning how to be a radio operator. This is all about YOU and very little about the gear you use.

You will explore the art of listening and the laws of propagation. You will learn about procedure. You will have the opportunity to design and build simple and effective antennas using wire of various types. You will learn to look at your abode and its surroundings in new and creative ways.

Many of us who began using HF decades ago were forced by rules and regulations to begin with very simple gear. This is an excellent principle to
use, and use imaginatively, now. Fun in ham radio probably has less to do with consumerism than some other hobbies. Especially at first.

So start out with basic, functional gear. The simpler the better because the gear is not what makes you an effective, efficient operator. It's you.

I'd begin with a relatively inexpensive, simple transceiver, a larger model designed primarily for base use. Bigger is better in that controls are likely easier to understand and use. Figure out what bands to begin with (I'd suggest 40, 30 and 20 meters). Figure out how to put up dipoles for those bands as high as you reasonably can.

After a year or two of experience you will have a much more useful idea about what you enjoy about HF. Then you can look more closely at the specific performance features suit your operating interests and style. If you're like most hams, you will want more than one transceiver: a more complex, larger, fully-featured base rig and a smaller, probably QRP, portable rig. With antennas to match.

Have a good trip.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2018, 03:46:02 PM by KE6EE » Logged
AA4PB
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« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2018, 03:50:20 PM »

KE6EE: Excellent advice!
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Bob  AA4PB
Garrisonville, VA
WA3SKN
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« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2018, 04:01:41 PM »

Determine your needs/desires...
Are you interested in desktop, mobile, and/or portable operations?
Modes(s) and frequencies... CW, SSB, FM, digital, etc. ( It sounds like you wish a HF radio).
Then you can start to look at what is available.
Are there any clubs in your area?  There is a lot of good advice to be found there!

-Mike.
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K5LXP
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« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2018, 03:29:54 AM »


Define "adventure" and just what that translates to in terms of portability.  There's a big difference between schlepping a station in your backpack to a mountain peak vs unloading it from the trunk of a car to a picnic table.  My idea of portable is both, and I don't try and make one rig do both.  Nothing says you're limited to one radio but starting out having a swiss army knife radio like an Icom 706 or other HF-VHF-UHF all mode radio will allow you to explore a lot of what ham radio has to offer, and from there you can start getting the more specialized gear tailored to your way of operating.  That being said, my back up rig is an Icom 746 and it is no stranger to being used on Field Day or other field operations from solar or vehicle battery power.  It doesn't draw that much more power than an HF mobile radio and has the benefit of having a built in tuner, good DSP, knobs and buttons instead of menus and a display you can read at arms' length.  But if I was stranded on a desert island and could only have one radio, it would probably be something along the lines of an Icom 706 or 7000 because they are truly versatile radios.  Using a mobile rig in a home station environment with a decent antenna you can begin to discern issues with receiver degradation and working the tiny buttons and small display begins to get old, so eventually you'll end up with a desktop rig for the home station.  But until you know what you want you probably can't go wrong with a mobile rig because it will always be one of the tools in your equipment toolbox.

Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM
 
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KC7YE
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« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2018, 07:21:57 AM »

Simple is best. Hitch up with your local ham club, someone will have an older loaner for folks like you to get your feet wet. The older rigs still do the job and the learning curve should be less then the new rigs ( which are dreams compared to what I started with).
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KD4LLA
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« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2018, 01:19:10 PM »

The best thing you could do is get w/ a local ham(s), and see what is being used there.

Not only is it a question of what "radio", but what **antenna, tuner, power supply, and physical location in house**
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W8JX
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« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2018, 05:15:34 AM »

Hitch up with your local ham club

I see this advise offered a lot but I would not bank on it.
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Ham since 1969....  Old School 20wpm REAL Extra Class..
K4JJL
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« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2018, 05:25:08 AM »

Hitch up with your local ham club

I see this advise offered a lot but I would not bank on it.

I was in a great club when I lived in Atlanta.  They have a huge hamfest, kickin repeaters, and fully catered parties funded by the hamfest proceeds.  When I moved to S FL, all I ran into was cantankerous curmudgeons that only wanted to have how-to workshops for building J-Poles (old hat when you've been a ham for 23 years), em-comm snoozefests, weather whackers, and fights over who didn't chip in for the donuts.
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W8JX
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« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2018, 06:27:39 AM »

Hitch up with your local ham club

I see this advise offered a lot but I would not bank on it.

I was in a great club when I lived in Atlanta.  They have a huge hamfest, kickin repeaters, and fully catered parties funded by the hamfest proceeds.  When I moved to S FL, all I ran into was cantankerous curmudgeons that only wanted to have how-to workshops for building J-Poles (old hat when you've been a ham for 23 years), em-comm snoozefests, weather whackers, and fights over who didn't chip in for the donuts.

There are some good clubs out there if you are lucky to be near one but it is not the norm.
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Ham since 1969....  Old School 20wpm REAL Extra Class..
K4JJL
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Posts: 1124




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« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2018, 08:42:26 AM »

Hitch up with your local ham club

I see this advise offered a lot but I would not bank on it.

I was in a great club when I lived in Atlanta.  They have a huge hamfest, kickin repeaters, and fully catered parties funded by the hamfest proceeds.  When I moved to S FL, all I ran into was cantankerous curmudgeons that only wanted to have how-to workshops for building J-Poles (old hat when you've been a ham for 23 years), em-comm snoozefests, weather whackers, and fights over who didn't chip in for the donuts.

There are some good clubs out there if you are lucky to be near one but it is not the norm.

I finally found one that has electronically competent people who use field day as a small beer & BBQ festival.  We run around with 900 MHz P25 radios on a repeater that has 30+ mile coverage.
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K8POS
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« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2018, 08:53:51 AM »

You are asking a question that I asked myself some years back.
My first HF rig was a Kenwood base tube unit.  You had to tune the tubes each time you switched bands or frequency.  I learned  a lot about antennas and matching from that rig.  While it performed well. I preferred the ability to quickly switch frequencies and bands at will.  I sold it and bought a Yaesu FT-100 mobile unit or Shack in a box.  Covered HF/VHF/UHF.  While it worked great. it did not have some of the filtering and other refinements you may find in a base rig.  Sold it and Moved to a Kenwood TS-2000.  Another shack in a box, but it had all the bells and whistles.  Filters, Memory, Auto tuner.  HF was fantastic, good audio reports, great receive.
In MHO the VHF/UHF side sucked.  It did not hear anywhere near what my ICOM IC-275H could (2M band only).  But I was on the air and could work almost any band that I wanted other than 160 meter. ( just not a long enough antenna for it)
I currently have an ICOM 756PRO that I like the best of anything I have owned.  Looking real hard at the ICOM IC-9700 if it is ever released.

To answer your question.
1) How much can you afford?
2) What type of antenna do you have?
3) will you need a antenna tuner?  Internal or separate from the rig.
4) Are you into HF only, or do you like VHF/UHF as well?
5) Will you need an external DC power supply?

Many mobile rigs have the same functions as a base rig, with many of them buried in menu functions, where a base rig may have a separate button for it.  Mobile rigs take up less desk space than a base rig.  Both will consume the same amount of electrical power, with some base units having built in power supplies.
As others have suggested, try and contact some locals in your area.  Most will be more than willing to show you what they are using.
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