Yes, I took the big step. Just unpacked the goodies from Giga Parts and have them sort of set up. Loaded the programming software, and put a couple antennas together in the back bedroom for now (we've been getting a lot of snow and ice, can't see myself on the roof anytime soon). I have two antennas for the Blazer, one's a Hamstick set up so I can change out antennas as I go, and there are a 2M/70cm "J" loop and 6M ground plane set up in the back bedroom, both from Arrow Antennas. I also have one of their 2M/70cm handheld Yaghi for the Baofeng 5R and it makes a world of difference. If you've never tried their products, check them out, very high quality and not expensive. Since I just finished a 24 hour medic shift I think I'm done for now, I want to get this rig up and running but not at the expense of messing something up from fatigue. I'll just back away for the night and finish programming and testing in the AM after some rest. I'll post as things get done or I hit walls. Wish me luck.
Cool! Have fun setting it all up and playing with it.
So far I've mounted vehicle antennas, vehicle brackets, base antennas, run coax, drilled holes in my Blazer firewall, and figured out how to program several repeaters into the unit. I'm on most every morning and night doing the commute. Very nice unit so far. Does more than I thought and has features I might never use. Now, if the learning curve on the 857 wasn't enough I've also added the VX8-D to the growing collection of commo gear. Right off the bat you can tell there is a difference just by the feel of this compared to a Baofeng. It unfortunately does not program the same as the 857 or Baofeng and so far seems to be more than I expected feature wise.
So as of today the biggest hurdles for me and all these goodies has been installing the radio and getting power in the Blazer and putting the antennas up at the house.
I have a 2000 Blazer LS, s-10 size and there isn't much metal to grab or places to mount things or drill through the firewall. Anyone familiar with the Yaesu FT-857-D knows it comes with a power cord that's long enough for just about anything but has a double fuse holder on one end and a big adapter plug on the other. I figured they would have put both together and just left long wire leads, but not the case. I ended up building a mounting area in the center console under the ash tray and drilling a hole next to the throttle cable through the firewall. I cut the wires in the middle and hooked straight to the battery and spliced/soldered/shrink tubed/ tape wrapped the connections. These puppies ain't getting wet. I ran two antenna coaxes from two mounts, one for the 2M/70cm and one for the HF, both lip mounts on the rear doors down the "B" posts and up under the console to the radio. Looks pretty clean, works well and lets me take the radio out of the truck and hook it up inside. Now for the home antenna issues. I rent. My landlord is cool about a lot of things but I'm pretty sure she'd have issues with me digging a hole and putting in a real tower, so I cam up with an alternate plan. I have a side porch and deck with roof. Instead of climbing up to the second floor and out on the roof to mount something, I built a frame out of PVC that fits on the porch roof and gives me area to mount antennas. Right now I have two up, both Arrow Antenna designs, I love their stuff. I use their 2M 70cm "J" loop and a 6M ground plane right now. I also haven their 2M 70cm take down handheld Yaghi for the HT, and it works like a charm mounted on one of my camera tripods. Today will be spent making sure the antennas are plumb and running the coax. Might not sound like much of a chore, but it is snowing so I'll have that to deal with Once that's done I can sit back, drink coffee, listen and talk. next on my list is get a good key and re-learn code. It's been over 35 years since I touched a key.
The snow stopped long enough for me to get out and finish the base antennas. No worries, I used to ice climb so rope work and slippery sloping things are like second nature. As of now the two antennas are mounted on the PVC frame which is mounted on the porch roof. Antennas are about thirty five feet up and secured nicely. I can flip the PVC base to access the antennas from the deck so tweaking them for SWR issues won't be so bad. Now to bring the 857 in and hook it up to the power supply, get a quick SWR reading and tweak and get ready ready for the local 2M rap session tonight.
The FT857-D and FP-1030A make a great base unit. The Arrow Antennas I have up on the PVC frame on the porch roof work like a charm, I can use 70cm, 2M, and 6M and the SWRs right out of the box were less than 1:1.5. I'm beginning to listen and play around on some of the other bands and have a better understanding of the options the radio has, remarkable unit to say the least. it also works well in the Blazer on the two antennas there and again had SWRs of less than 1:1.4 out of the box. Had one incident the other day, temps in the minus range and the radio lost its memory, probably because of a power issue in the Blazer. If you want a multi band HT the VX8-DR is it. The software included in the cable s is identical so once you program one you can simply program the other too. I'm very happy with these units, can't say enough good about them. I'll probably add an MFJ vehicle power unit (MFJ-4402) in a couple days so I don't have issues in the Blazer again. Seems to be the way to go.