New Ham!

Amateur Radio roster and information on how to get licensed and upgraded for ham radio.
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salad_man
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Call Sign: KJ6GQS
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New Ham!

#1

Post by salad_man » Sat Mar 27, 2010 4:25 pm

Went to the Walnut Sheriffs station today and got tested for my tech license and passed! Now looking into radios, what do you guys think about the YAESU FT-7800R VHF/UHF Mobile Dual-Band Radio? I want a dual band because I would like to run APRS as well :D Would also like to ask what type of computers for you guys that are running them in your rigs, solid state drives,, laptop drives, tough books? Thanks!
93 4Runner, Land Crusier rear coils, BJ spacers up front, 33x12.50 bfg m/t, rear e-locker, armor
Call sign: KJ6GQS

"Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads."
- Doc, Back to the Future

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cruiserlarry
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Re: New Ham!

#2

Post by cruiserlarry » Sat Mar 27, 2010 7:12 pm

Congratulations on earning your ham ticket !!!

Now the fun really begins (not to mention the expense :lol: )

The Yaesu FT7800 is an excellent radio - I would suggest some things to consider before your final decision.
Are you interested in monitoring more than one frequency / band at a time ? This can be common on off-road excursions, as you have a simplex frequency for the trail, and a repeater frequency for others outside your immediate group. If so, a dual band radio that allows you to monitor 2 frequencies / bands at the same time is worth considering - the Yaesu FT 8800, for example. Another item to consider is if you might have an interest in running an APRS (Automatic Packet Reporting System) rig in your vehicle; this is becoming more prevalent for use on the trail, as you can monitor the position and text message between vehicles in addition to voice communications. If so, consider the new Yaesu FTM-350, or (my personal favorite) the Kenwood TM-D710A dual band APRS capable units. Obviously, the choices can be overwhelming - best bet is to check out what others here (and elsewhere) are using, what they like / dislike about their systems, and what fits in your budget. Remember that the antenna is a critical part of the system, so check out your placement and model options for them, too.

Regarding laptops in the rig, I use a Panasonic Toughbook - the same units used by the military, and public service agencies around the globe. While new units can run upwards of $5000, very capable, excellent condition used models can be had for under $1000, and are virtually indestructible; with options like internal GPS, cellular, backlit waterproof keyboards, sealed ports, touchscreen, etc., they are hard to beat, easy to service and upgrade, compatible with virtually all software. There are a few other brands of mil-spec laptops that are also excellent, but most are not in as widespread use, so they are hard to find used for a reasonable price...

Again, congrats, and good luck with your decisions... ;)
Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear really bright, until they start talking

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DaveK
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Re: New Ham!

#3

Post by DaveK » Sat Mar 27, 2010 11:57 pm

Congrats!! Be sure to post your call sign when it arrives.

On the matter of radios, since this is your first, I think you would do well to consider the Yaesu FT 8800. It does cost a little more than the 7800, but not by much, and the features that the extra cost will give you will be worth it in the long run, especially if you want to run APRS. You will however, need to buy some additional equipment in order to run APRS. There is one small drawback if you use the 8800 for APRS and need to use the other band for communication - it is necessary to switch from the APRS band to the other band. Doing so stops the APRS from transmitting and you must switch back in order to make the APRS continue to function. It's a bit of a PITA, but not a real big deal.

You can avoid the need to purchase additional equipment as well as the switching thing by purchasing a radio with a built in tnc. The cost is higher for this type of radio, but there are advantages. If you are considering the new Yaesu FT 350, there have been some reported problems and you would be wise to check it out thoroughly.

On the matter of computers, one of your biggest concerns will be the ability of the hard drive to absorb the shock that will necessarily be a part of your off pavement travels. If you use a regular, non ruggedized computer, they are generally not built to withstand this kind of shock. If the stylus hits the spinning disk, things can come to a grinding halt in a hurry. There are two ways to avoid or reduce the likelihood of this problem - either an ssd or a ruggedized HD. While the prices for ssds are dropping, they are a long way from the prices for even ruggedized HDs. If you have the budget, a ruggedized notebook is a good addition to your gear. Several manufacturers offer a semi-ruggedized version of their notebook computers, at a significantly lower cost, and this may work well for your needs. Check out this topic for some thoughts that might help you in making your decisions, http://oausa.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=39 .

If you are planning on attending Summer Fest/Field Day, you can see several different set-ups and get a chance to see how each works. Good luck!
DaveK
K6DTK


Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.
Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.

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cruiserlarry
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Re: New Ham!

#4

Post by cruiserlarry » Sun Mar 28, 2010 1:19 am

cruiserlarry wrote:The Yaesu FT7800 is an excellent radio - I would suggest some things to consider before your final decision.
A dual band radio that allows you to monitor 2 frequencies / bands at the same time is worth considering - the Yaesu FT 8800, for example.

DaveK wrote:On the matter of radios, since this is your first, I think you would do well to consider the Yaesu FT 8800.
Holy crap, Dave, I think we just agreed on something !!! :lol: :lol: :lol:
Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear really bright, until they start talking

W6LPB / WPOK492

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xtatik
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Re: New Ham!

#5

Post by xtatik » Sun Mar 28, 2010 12:54 pm

Excellent job SM!!
Soooooo, does this mean we get to put you to work on Field Day?

OK, here comes the guy that throws a monkey wrench into your thought processes.
If you've read any of my posts here or elsewhere you'll know I'm not a big proponent of guys only mounting FM rigs in their trucks....Not at first, and not for our activities anyway. For the general purposes of the general public an FM rig is fine. Alot of what I recommend is predicated on the thought that many (not all) on sites like this will want to travel beyond the limits of FM units and the repeater networks.
Here is my point: If you ever plan to upgrade, and your primary purpose for having the radio in your truck is for getting out of a possible jam, now would be the time to buy a multi-mode unit. It'll best satisfy that basic purpose. It'll do several things for you now that an FM rig won't. First, it gives you the primary FM functions for local trail and around town yakkety-yack. Secondly, having passed this test, you already know that your license will allow use of the HF side of the rig if you find yourself in a serious situation outside of FM range. Third, having already made the investment, you'll have more impetus to advance to the standard amateur ticket.
Once you've covered these basics, you can add the less necessary stuff.

A couple of months ago there was an incident involving a guy from No. California who lost his life to the elements in the Bodie Hills north of Bridgeport. His Jeep became either disabled or stuck and he had no useful communications means.
On the offroad forums, it was suggested that had he had a "ham radio" he might be alive today........not necessarily. The term "ham radio" gets used very generically and way too broadly on these forums. Having traveled throughout most of that area, I can tell you that had he relied on an FM only unit the outcome would be no different. If he had either HF capabilities or a Satellite phone he'd have been plucked out alive.
Randy
K6ARW

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DaveK
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Re: New Ham!

#6

Post by DaveK » Sun Mar 28, 2010 2:04 pm

I think Randy's suggestions are right on the money. Depending on your budget, you can opt for both a VHF/UHF radio as well as an HF/VHF/UHF all mode radio. But, one radio, as Randy says, can meet virtually all of your needs.

Quite often, we find our travels take us beyond the range of repeaters and that is where the ability to communicate over hundreds or thousands of miles can make the difference.

In all fairness to the 8800, or any other similar radio, you will be amazed how much range is possible with a little careful planning and the right equipment. There is no substitute for proper trip planning. In the end however, your FM rig will never have the ability to reach out like HF.
DaveK
K6DTK


Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.
Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.

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DaveK
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Re: New Ham!

#7

Post by DaveK » Sun Mar 28, 2010 2:05 pm

cruiserlarry wrote:
cruiserlarry wrote:The Yaesu FT7800 is an excellent radio - I would suggest some things to consider before your final decision.
A dual band radio that allows you to monitor 2 frequencies / bands at the same time is worth considering - the Yaesu FT 8800, for example.

DaveK wrote:On the matter of radios, since this is your first, I think you would do well to consider the Yaesu FT 8800.
Holy crap, Dave, I think we just agreed on something !!! :lol: :lol: :lol:
Twins do that, on occasion!
DaveK
K6DTK


Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.
Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.

User avatar
cruiserlarry
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Re: New Ham!

#8

Post by cruiserlarry » Sun Mar 28, 2010 2:54 pm

xtatik wrote: If you ever plan to upgrade, and your primary purpose for having the radio in your truck is for getting out of a possible jam, now would be the time to buy a multi-mode unit. It'll best satisfy that basic purpose. It'll do several things for you now that an FM rig won't.
Randy makes an excellent argument for choosing an multi-mode VHF/UHF/HF mobile radio (Yaesu FT-857D, Icom IC-706MkIIG, etc). The multi-mode radio doesn't take up much more room in the vehicle, but does requires a usually more expensive antenna system(s), and tends to be substantially more expensive to start with. But, if you ever find yourself stranded far from the reach of an FM repeater, you'll be glad you made the investment. So, if long-range communications, or emergency communications from remote areas are likely scenarios for you, Randy's suggestion is an important one to consider.

In addition to a dedicated 2m/440/APRS Kenwood TM-D710A, I also have a Yaesu FT-857D radio in my rig; I use the ATAS-120A antenna system with it, which can be automatically tuned for the different bands without leaving the comfort of your vehicle, and without adding any additional electronics.

So, there is always the third option - start with a less expensive dual band VHF/UHF mobile radio to get your feet wet and keep your wallet intact, and later replace it with, or just add a multi-mode VHF/UHF/HF radio to your arsenal, if you find you'll be outside the range of FM repeaters during your travels...
Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear really bright, until they start talking

W6LPB / WPOK492

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salad_man
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Re: New Ham!

#9

Post by salad_man » Sun Mar 28, 2010 11:43 pm

I usually wheel with other people so I do not think that more than fm will be needed yet. I also want to keep it on the lower side of costs for now, gotta stay on a budget, he he. My friends dad has the 8800 I believe, and I also like the idea of the detachable head unit. I was wondering how the APRS worked on one band, and communication on the other. On the communication side, will the radio transmit and receive on one band, or do you have to switch between either transmit or receive? I was not sure if there was a radio capable of doing so. Thanks a lot guys, ha ha, I want to get started in the right direction, and I will be attending field day and would be glad to serve!
93 4Runner, Land Crusier rear coils, BJ spacers up front, 33x12.50 bfg m/t, rear e-locker, armor
Call sign: KJ6GQS

"Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads."
- Doc, Back to the Future

User avatar
cruiserlarry
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Re: New Ham!

#10

Post by cruiserlarry » Mon Mar 29, 2010 12:29 am

A radio like the FT-8800 will allow for transmission / reception of two bands at the same time, while the FT-7800 would require you to switch back and forth. APRS is set up to transmit automatically - so you would have the second band free to use for FM voice communications.
Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear really bright, until they start talking

W6LPB / WPOK492

Become a DIRTY PARTS FACEBOOK fan !!!

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