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Old 11-14-2019, 11:22 PM
Augustman Augustman is offline
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An Update:

I got my Yaesu FT-4XR and my Tech license about one month ago. The HT has worked well for me on the whole and is generally solid and reliable.

There are several 2 meter and 440 MHz repeaters in my metro area. Most have antennas 200+ feet above ground. My Yaesu usually does quite well with them. I've made several new friends among the hams in my area, talking on the repeaters. But the little rubber ducky antenna can give mixed results when big buildings or trees are present. I have found 440 MHz often works better in such conditions than 2 meters.

I'm learning that 5 watt HTs with rubber ducky antennas are not so great in simplex mode. My friend with a Baofeng HT and I tested our radios in simplex where I drove various distances down an interstate, got out of the car, and tested the line-of-sight range. HTs are useful somewhere between 1 to 2 miles at 2 meters and less than one mile at 440 MHz.

But, if one of the participants has a base station with a taller antenna and a more powerful (50+ watt) transmitter, the useful contact range can go out to 20 - 30 miles in simplex. I found this to be the case with a couple of contacts I met on the repeaters, and then we went to simplex.

The Yaesu is a solid, dependable HT. But the programming can be quirky. For some reason it was automatically doing a repeater offset for every simplex frequency we tried in the 440 MHz band. I couldn't figure out how to turn off the offset until I got home and looked it up in the manual.

I have ordered a Diamond MR73SJ mobile antenna for use when I am in my car and also for a better antenna when at home. When I get a chance to test it, I will post the results here.
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Old 11-15-2019, 07:30 AM
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Excellent post.

I chose the 2730A...twice LOL. Wanted a 2m/440 rig only for one of the trucks particularly because of the way the radio is separated. The one ton has a center console that doesn't leave much room for the hump mount center console setup I prefer but the Icom works really good. The first one I got last year came with a rebate that almost paid for the mounting bracket. It was the version that came with the separation kit on sale even. Put it in the shack to set up the menus and such, liked it so much I moved the 2m I had into backup status and kept the 2730 in the shack LOL. Got the truck radio this year when rebate time came around.

I like the 2730's dual VFO' a LOT. Big bright, easy to read display works for my old eyes. Robust knobs and button spacing are compatible with my knarled old fingers LOL. I really like the way the controls are the same on either "side" A/B. Getting to the air band is a one button push. I like that and keep it tuned to one of my local AFB's ATIS. WX channels are also one button push. Menus are like they all are these days but not too bad.

As much as I try to keep with ONE "system" I can't do it LOL. Works the same way with guns, gear, radios. I have rigs from Kenwood, Icom and Yaesu. Each has their specialty and a particular function for me. I deal by keeping those Nifty Quick Reference guides with each. I prefer KISS but....LOL, hard to do when you like'em ALL.

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Originally Posted by Lagnar View Post
I gave a good long look at the IC-2730A. The low price was attractive until I learned it doesn't even come with a mounting bracket.

$267 radio at HRO.
$35 mounting bracket.
$50 controller bracket. Mounts head to radio body.
$352 total

I paid less than that including tax and shipping for my FT-8900 which comes with a head separation kit and mounting bracket.



https://www.hamradio.com/detail.cfm?pid=71-001866

I really wanted to like the Icom.

Nits to pick on the FT-8900:

The knobs seem fragile and too small. The display and overall radio is smaller than I expected. The speaker is on the top of the radio and sucks. I had an old computer speaker laying around and I use it for an external speaker which takes advantage of the 2 watts of audio power. The menu system is pretty much the same as my other radios but they replaced the F button with a SET button. All the buttons are unlighted and hard to see with the low contrast writing. I 'think' I will like the dedicated squelch knobs, but not sure yet. The S meter is just a bar graph with no S numbers.

Things I like:

The menu system is much the same as the other Yaesu radios I own.
I like the orange display.
The cooling fan is quiet and only comes on when needed.
The head separates by pushing one tab on the side.
The mic has some programmable buttons.
Dedicated front panel buttons for most used functions.
The channel number is displayed along with the frequency or alpha name.
It's easy to append an alpha name for your favorite repeaters.
799 memory locations seems like overkill.
No computer necessary to program in repeaters or other frequencies.


Here's how:

Press V/M (VFO - Memory)key to get in VFO mode if you aren't there already.
Using the mic, enter in the frequency using the number buttons.
Press and hold the SET key to store the frequency into memory. It will automatically index to the next unused memory location, used ones will flash.
Press the SET key to store and exit.
You can add your PL tones to the frequency before you store it or after using the SET key and menus #39 and #40.

I'm guessing the FT-4XR has a similar menu system. Even though I dislike the 'radio on a chip direct conversion' radios, at $80 for a dual band, the FT-4XR is EASILY a better choice than the horrible baofengs with their near impossible user interface.
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Old 11-19-2019, 11:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Augustman View Post
I have ordered a Diamond MR73SJ mobile antenna for use when I am in my car and also for a better antenna when at home. When I get a chance to test it, I will post the results here.
Yes, a good antenna is everything. The SMA connection on the newer HTs is a bit fragile for something like an end-fed half wave that REALLY gets you out compared to the rubber attenuator that comes on these things.

For a mobile look for a 5/8 wave or 1/2 wave and not a 1/4 wave on 2m. Granted the MR73SJ is much better than the rubber duck, but not optimal.

You want to look at the gain numbers.

https://www.diamondantenna.net/Produ...og/mobile.html

dBi is gain compared to a point in space. dBd is gain compared to a reference dipole.

https://www.m2inc.com/blog/dbi-vs-dbd/

====

I can work my friend 40 miles away over 9000 foot mountains, on 2m simplex running 5 watts and a Diamond X200 antenna. He says my signal is S7 or better.

===

I bought the ANLI AL-800 for my old FT-530 which I no longer have.



http://www.advancedspecialties.net/amateurantennas.htm

Then a BNC to SMA adapter to work with my new radios. 3.2/5.6 dBi.
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Old 11-22-2019, 06:34 AM
Augustman Augustman is offline
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I have ordered a Diamond MR73SJ mobile antenna for use when I am in my car and also for a better antenna when at home. When I get a chance to test it, I will post the results here.
The mobile antenna is giving me good results when I'm in my car, communicating on the 2 meter & 70 cm repeaters. My contacts have told me that my signal is strong and clear. I haven't tried it on simplex mode yet.

Lagnar, I can definitely see your points about using a 5/8 wave antenna on 2 meters instead of just a 1/4 wave. But for me the new Diamond is a considerable improvement, especially on 70 cm. It really helps just to get the antenna out of the car.
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Old 11-22-2019, 06:50 PM
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The mobile antenna is giving me good results when I'm in my car, communicating on the 2 meter & 70 cm repeaters. My contacts have told me that my signal is strong and clear. I haven't tried it on simplex mode yet.

Lagnar, I can definitely see your points about using a 5/8 wave antenna on 2 meters instead of just a 1/4 wave. But for me the new Diamond is a considerable improvement, especially on 70 cm. It really helps just to get the antenna out of the car.
One thing about this hobby is you're never quite satisfied with what you've got. Always looking for a better signal report, farther away contacts, more features, other modes and bands..

Long ago I bought the ARRL Antenna book.

https://www.arrl.org/shop/ARRL-Anten...tcover-Edition

I know mine's here somewhere ....

Anyway it's loaded with good information and plans for home-built antennas. Looks like the latest one is something ELSE I'll have to have.

Quote:
CD-ROM Inside
Includes all of the fully searchable text and illustrations in the printed book, plus utility programs and supplemental content from expert contributors.The CD contains the following software applications for Windows. HFTA: a ray-tracing program designed to evaluate the effect of foreground terrain on the elevation pattern of up to four multi-element HF monoband Yagis in a stack. YW: A program designed to evaluate monoband Yagi antennas. TLW: A program to evaluate and model various transmission line matching conditions.
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Old 11-23-2019, 07:09 AM
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Lagnar is right on two points; a good antenna system outweighs equipment IMO and "it" is never enough, LOL.

I have radios from three manufacturers. Although I miss my boat anchors, ran out of space/time, I don't really because I can focus on other things that are more important to me. My 'newest' HF rig is almost 20 years old, currently tuned to an AM radio station in Nebraska KRVN (which ain't nowhere's around here LOL) but they have pretty good news. No, not going anywhere NEAR that place because its currently 22 degrees LOL. Whatever radio you settle on for other things, learn to use it. Most these days are a bit complicated with their endless menu choices and with Icom on this truck, Yaesu in THAT truck, Icom handheld, Yaesu handheld (several different models LOL) a Kenwood next to the Icom on the desk....LOL. Keep the manuals handy but the best way to get good at it is to USE them!
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Old 11-23-2019, 11:22 AM
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Whatever radio you settle on for other things, learn to use it. Most these days are a bit complicated with their endless menu choices and with Icom on this truck, Yaesu in THAT truck, Icom handheld, Yaesu handheld (several different models LOL) a Kenwood next to the Icom on the desk....LOL. Keep the manuals handy but the best way to get good at it is to USE them!
Truth!

Back when I first got my license (we got them together) me and all my friends were very active. We had the same radios, the same antennas; we talked endlessly about radio, antennas, propagation, joined the nets and so forth.

We LEARNED our radios and learned from each other because we had the same radios. The old Yaesu FT-530 did everything including X-band repeat. I made cheat sheets for many functions.

Today's radios do so much that I doubt I'll ever use all their capabilities. I mean who's going to fill 1000 memories? The more they do, the more complicated their operation.

It's a great hobby and there's some great used equipment out there. Some of the best stuff is no longer made unfortunately. Remember the Radio Shack HTX-202?

Look at the speaker on that thing. Three knobs. On/off-volume, squelch, tune.

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Old 11-23-2019, 01:48 PM
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Oh yes. I might still have one of those stashed away LOL along with some other RS goodies in sealed tins.. I remember Radio Shack very well. There was a time I bought all my radio stuff from them, Allied Radio, Lafayette Radio and Heathkit. Been going through some old paperwork looking for my DD-214 so I can update my DL to one of those stupid travel IDs....found my mom's first CB license...and mine, circa 1970-something LOL.

The new radios are certainly capable. My Icom 756Pro is still my favorite. The ProII and III had updated filters, the original 756 and Pro had some ringing to the filters but I'm getting so deaf it doesn't bother me much. Its still a wonderful radio. One of my good friends works at the HRO and in addition to old home week LOL, he's a wealth of info and I really have to limit my visits otherwise I'd have more new radios LOL. Some of the new stuff is really cool.

I'm still a fan of older gear. My first love was a Kenwood 830S. Second was a 180S which was similar but with solid state finals. Same excellent receiver. The one I have is #3 I think, had one back when, that went to pay bills instead of the 830, bought another at a hamfest later, sold that one, don't remember what I got with the money now I have this one. Had it probably fifteen years, sent it to Burkhardt's for an alignment and servicing and its done solid duty. Have the SP-180, VFO-180 and an SM-220 that is in the feedlines to all the rigs of course. Over the years I've had Drakes, a Swan and tinkered with others but I pretty much got that boat anchor stuff out of my system LOL.
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Old 11-23-2019, 04:21 PM
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Oh yes. I might still have one of those stashed away LOL along with some other RS goodies in sealed tins.. I remember Radio Shack very well. There was a time I bought all my radio stuff from them, Allied Radio, Lafayette Radio and Heathkit. Been going through some old paperwork looking for my DD-214 so I can update my DL to one of those stupid travel IDs....found my mom's first CB license...and mine, circa 1970-something LOL.
Oh my. Allied Radio, Lafayette Radio and Heathkit. I used to get all those catalogs. My CB license was KY*7*71. My buddy's was KNE0160. We used to have the most hilarious skunk hunts where the skunk would hide, give clues over the radio and everybody else would try to find them. Whoever found them got to be "it".

I didn't want to learn code so I didn't go the ham route back in the 70s.

I still have a couple of CBs and my 108" whip - just because I can't throw stuff away. I also have a one tube "heater" that used to live under my car seat.

Those were fun years. Everybody had a "handle". Betty Ford was "First Mama".
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Old 11-23-2019, 11:47 PM
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A stint with the Lost Boyz, couple overseas tours, a nice career after that got in the way for me LOL. Been a ham a little over 20 years now. Didn't get to take the 20WPM test for code. They 86'd that when I got my extra.

CB was cool back then. Not so much these days, every once in a while I tund in to see but its certainly not what it was. Had a hell of a lot of fun with it when it was though.
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Old 11-24-2019, 11:16 AM
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My lottery number was 4. I got my draft notice, took my physical was ready to join the Navy and Nixon ended the war.

I got my tech license in 1990 when the code requirement was removed.
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Old 11-24-2019, 01:44 PM
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Four? LOL, I'da joined the Navy too! Of course, that didn't work out too well for a coupla guys I know, one ran PBR's on the river, the other got tangled up with some helicopter outfit working the same areas but a little to the left....lol.

The 5 wpm was like learning a new language. I choked on the one minute perfect copy, missed two friggin letters. I made it on the multiple choice test after though. The hardest hump was busting 10wpm. After that 13 came easy it seemed and I was almost up to 20 when they did away with code completely. Don't disagree with that.

I got into PSK for a while when it was first popular and had a raving good time with that. Keyboard code just wasn't fun. I've fallen out of practice though, been having way more fun on V/UHF and SSB.
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Old 11-24-2019, 01:55 PM
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I got hold of a little DOS program called Super Morse. I messed with it for a while and was making good progress but eventually lost interest. That was when the general ticket still required code.

http://www.hkra.org/koch/sm.html
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