mobile or HT? 2m and 70cm?

Started by kablooie, November 25, 2014, 02:07:20 am

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I was all set to get a yaesu ft60 (HRO for $150)... then read a comment somewhere that a first radio for new user should be a mobile radio, has more power and will allow for more opportunity.  I was looking at the yaesu 1900 (HRO $135/coupons) and 2900 (HRO $140/coupons) early on, but thats when i decided on a HT.

I think for now, all i need is 2m and 70cm.... however, the 1900 and 2900 only do 2m.  so then i looked up the 7900 (HRO $324) as it has more power and can do 2 and 70.

my question: whats the best choice for a beginner like me?    the ft60 is inexpensive compared to the others.  but i also see that the 8800 is $360 after coupons... only $36 more dollars than the 7900.

note; my 12 yr old son will also be studying and learning with me.  he'll be interacting on a radio soon enough.

thanks, louie


Quotethen read a comment somewhere that a first radio for new user should be a mobile radio, has more power and will allow for more opportunity.

I disagree...

Power is not an issue if you have enough, which means a few Watts, maybe ten... A first radio needs to be simple, not necessarily a mobile one. There are some great deals on Ebay for older HF radios. VHF or UHF model are better bought new, since they cost very little.

If you plan on getting the Technician license, you will mostly have access to VHF and UHF bands. Honestly, the General license exam is barely harder, covers the same material, just with a little more details and a few formulas. Kids nine years old have passed it. I would suggest trying to pass both exams the same day, it's really no big deal and a General license would give you access to infinitely more bandwidth.

For VHF/UHF (2m/70cm) you might want a handheld. You can find 2m repeaters almost anywhere. The FT-60R is great. For a mobile, the FT-2900R. A cheap Baofeng UV-5R+ would serve you well for only $50 (With the programming cable). Buy two because if you use the microphone jack it will eventually break, so don't... Except to program the unit through your computer. Other than that, is is an excellent radio. Me, I am looking at the Wouxun KG-UV8D, because it is a cross-band repeater for only $130! The 8800 for a mobile, yes, that's nice. Remember you can always plug a better antenna on an HT... I have a 2m antenna on my roof, and have no trouble hitting all the repeaters around with my HT using 5 Watts.

The really interesting stuff though is on HF. Radios like the MFJ-9420X and MFJ-9440X cost less than $300 new and are great to start on HF. As mentioned before, the Ebay specials are great too, if you know what you're buying... You can find gems for the same price, around $300.

Don't forget Morse code! Even accessible with a Tech license BTW. CW radios are super cheap and portable, though most often found as kits, but for a few exceptions. It's not easy to learn but there is nothing more efficient when it comes to range, current draw and weight. I started with CW, never looked back.

If you want something that does it all, look at the FT-817ND, or the FT-897D. If money is no object, Elecraft KX3. I think the KX3 was tested as being the third best radio in the world, against models that cost thousands.

It all depends on what you want to do, but since you came to a prepping site, I assume portability would matter to you, and that means low current draw. Keep that in mind when reading specs...



Power isn't as important as some people think.  Everything is logarithmic in radio.  Each unit on the radio's signal strength meter (S-meter) is a 4:1 change.  So, an S-7 signal is 16 times weaker than an S-9.  That means a 5W HT is only 1.5 S-units below a 50W mobile. 

If you are starting out on a budget, get the FT-60 (I have one and love it) and a skinny adapter cable to connect to the car's antenna.

Or, spend $35 on a Baofeng UV5R (I have one and like it about as much as the FT-60) AND get a mobile rig.  My Baofeng has a slightly cheap feel, and I won't even try to program it manually, but it works great.


QuoteMy Baofeng has a slightly cheap feel, and I won't even try to program it manually, but it works great.

The programming cable is definitely worth every penny ($10)!



I just went through the same thought process

I ended up with a D700 for $200 from my Elmer but would have gone with the 8800 otherwise.


Thanks KG7OVN for that awesome link. It made some very good reading and raised some salient points. [emoji1]

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