Results 1 to 9 of 9

Thread: Radio newbie questions

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Posts
    198
    Feedback Score
    37 (100%)

    Radio newbie questions

    Hey guys, new to the civilian comms life, my experience outside of the military with radios is minimal, I have good knowledge of radio's on the .mil side of things, but beyond that not so much. I want to start getting a good radio system in place, I realize that for any kind of useable range outside of a couple miles I'm going to need to get a ham license for bands that have decent range. My question is about the radios themselves. I see the baofengs, anytones, yaesu's and a few others, however I'm lost in the bandwidth, frequencies etc as I'm still studying for my license.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    VA
    Posts
    1,951
    Feedback Score
    0
    I guess the question that comes to mind is what kind of radio do you want to do, and how much do you want to spend? I know .mil doesn't really make this kind of stuff clear since it's more of a "this is your radio, here's how to use it" with most of the engineering already done for you.

    From what you said, it sounds like you want to use the HF bands (6-meter and 10 meter). Those are the long-range ones that get you around the world without using repeaters. To do anything interesting on HF, you need to get the general license, which is the next step up from the technician you're likely studying for. The HF bands cover 3 mhz to 30 mhz, though amateur radio is mostly in the 28 to 29.7 mhz range. The 6-meter frequencies are between 50.0 mhz and 53.9 mhz.

    The radio brands you mentioned all produce a variety of radios, but I would be the most common ones you've seen are all VHF/UHF (2 meter and 70 cm) bands, which is fine for local stuff but not what you're asking about. Those frequencies are around ~145 mhz and 430 mh, respectively.

    When you start talking about long distance HF comms, you have to figure out what kind of comms you want to do. For example, it's a lot easier and cheaper to to CW and lower power (~10 watts)- but that's all morse code. Going to the voice modes, or digital, you're going to need more power. Some people like to challenge themselves with using low power (~10 watt) HF radios over voice. That requires really good antenna knowledge and a transmission location.

    If you want to go the low power CW route, check out something like the Mountain Topper CW radio on the cheap end. If you want to try voice at lower power, the stand-by options are the Elecraft KX2 and Yaesu 818.

    If you want to go higher power, the ICOM IC-7300, Elecraft KX-3, and Yaesu FT-991A are the go-to options.

    For an all-around radio, check out the ICOM IC-7100 since it can do a bit of everything.

    IMO, start with something like the 7100 and use it on the 2m/70cm bands for while. Play with the digital modes to see what you think. I can use the digital infrastructure on a small 2m handheld and talk to people all over the world.
    "Man is still the first weapon of war" - Field Marshal Montgomery

    The Everyday Marksman

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Posts
    198
    Feedback Score
    37 (100%)
    This is awesome, thank you. I'd also like to have a good handheld, but I'd also like to be able integrate the radio's into my current gear for backwoods stuff as well as emergency prep. Can you recommend a good handheld as well? Preferably one that can be used with a PTT and peltors.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    VA
    Posts
    1,951
    Feedback Score
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by danieljmaunder View Post
    This is awesome, thank you. I'd also like to have a good handheld, but I'd also like to be able integrate the radio's into my current gear for backwoods stuff as well as emergency prep. Can you recommend a good handheld as well? Preferably one that can be used with a PTT and peltors.
    With HT radios, like guns, you've really got to lay out how you intend to use it and what kind of budget you're working with. For example, would you prefer to keep it simple and have your HT only receive/transmit on a single frequency? Something like the Kenwood TH-K20A only operates on the 2-meter band, and only one frequency, but it's fairly rugged and accepts two-pin PTT connectors/speaker mics.

    Something like the Anytone AT-D878UVII brings a lot more capability by allowing you to monitor two bands/frequencies at the same time, includes APRS, DMR, and GPS. It also accepts the same Kenwood-style 2-pin connectors for PTT. Of course, it's also Chinese if that's something you're wary of.

    The Yaesu VX-6R trades off some of the advanced features like GPS/digital/APRS to give you a good radio in a very rugged package that's even submersible in water. It has tri-band capability (2M, 70CM, and 220mhz "air band), but can only monitor one at a time. Disco32 makes a PTT for it that should work with your gear.

    So I guess to bring this back to my earlier question, what are you looking to do with the handheld? Is it just a single-frequency team radio? Do you need to monitor and/or transmit on two different frequencies? Think something like a local team net and a broader command net. Do you need digital?

    My thinking would be something like this:

    Basic FM-only radio that you can hand out to a team (no PTT):
    Yaseu FT-65r

    2M Band team radio that accepts a PTT:
    Kenwood TH-K20A

    Ruggedized dual band radio that accepts PTT:
    Yaesu VX-6R

    DMR with GPS/APRS:
    Anytone 878UVII

    Advanced HT radios:
    Yaesu FT5DR
    Icom ID-52A
    Kenwood TH-D74A

    Edit: I wrongly said that the Anytone 878UVII was "entry level." It's not. It's a very capable radio, and is on the high end of amateur DMR radios. I said it was "entry level" only in comparison of price to things like the Yaesu FT5 and Icom 52A
    Last edited by BrigandTwoFour; 04-02-22 at 09:03.
    "Man is still the first weapon of war" - Field Marshal Montgomery

    The Everyday Marksman

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    3,452
    Feedback Score
    6 (100%)
    All good recommendations.

    If I was buying handhelds from scratch I would get the anytone 878, but recognize that it's going to be harder to program then the Kenwood and Yaesu ham focused radios. But will have more capability as it does DMR as well as regular FM.

    In addition to the hf/all band radios mentioned, the yaesu ft-897 and ft-857 are both excellent hf/vhf/uhf radios that you might find used for reasonable prices. They were predecessors to the ft 991, and still have a couple of advantages over that radio even though they are older.

    I have a fleet of TYT MD 380s which are very inexpensive, but are solid little UHF radios for FM and DMR use. They are a better grade of radio than the boefengs and have some aftermarket firmware and similar which improve upon the typical cheap Chinese radio functionality.

    I mention it as for the use you describe you could get started with gmrs/frs and add ham UHF repeaters if you are in an area which has them. I've bought them used w accy for $30-45.

    They are more difficult to set up though.

    HF requires more complicated antennas, etc. You really need to have an idea as to how you're going to use it, who you're going to talk to before you get into it. For proper/backwoods type communication the main utility is going to be on the lower HF bands with nvis shots to get in-state coverage past line of sight.

    But the lowly baeofenf uv5r is still a functional little radio, just make sure you get the one that doesn't have gmrs locked out. IE: it's not a ham only radio.

    A local store had them on sale for 19 bucks each and at that price I had to buy a couple more. People make fun of them with some good reason as they are very simple circuitry and definitely fall into the cheap Chinese radio category. But they work, there are many accessories for them, and the functionality is well worth 20 bucks.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2022
    Posts
    26
    Feedback Score
    0
    A Yaesu FT-65R 5W VHF/UHF or similar is a great start to learn with. A quality mobile unit with a power supply can be used as a base unit as well with a decent antenna. VHF works great in the country and UHF around buildings.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Hoosier State
    Posts
    372
    Feedback Score
    7 (100%)
    Tagging for followup. Thank you Brigand and Pinz for the great info.

    I currently have team comms running on Motorola P25 400mhz and FRS/GMRS for interoperability, but Iím looking to expand.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    VA
    Posts
    1,951
    Feedback Score
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by Boy Scout View Post
    Tagging for followup. Thank you Brigand and Pinz for the great info.

    I currently have team comms running on Motorola P25 400mhz and FRS/GMRS for interoperability, but I’m looking to expand.
    One of the distinctions to be accounted for is the wide gap in "professional" radios like your Moto P25 units and amateur radios. When you say you're looking to expand, then I have to ask, "expand to what?" As I've been learning, it's far less about a specific radio than it is your operating practices.

    I haven't done a write up on it yet, but NC Scout's recent book has a lot of great information. While the book is targeted towards the Baofeng UV5r, it's full of good communications practices that apply to just about anything else. Granted, I think Scout puts a little too much emphasis on partisan activities against an extremely technologically capable adversary (read: governments), but the principles otherwise seem sound for keeping communications effective. I recommend checking it out.
    "Man is still the first weapon of war" - Field Marshal Montgomery

    The Everyday Marksman

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Hoosier State
    Posts
    372
    Feedback Score
    7 (100%)
    Quote Originally Posted by BrigandTwoFour View Post
    One of the distinctions to be accounted for is the wide gap in "professional" radios like your Moto P25 units and amateur radios. When you say you're looking to expand, then I have to ask, "expand to what?" As I've been learning, it's far less about a specific radio than it is your operating practices.

    I haven't done a write up on it yet, but NC Scout's recent book has a lot of great information. While the book is targeted towards the Baofeng UV5r, it's full of good communications practices that apply to just about anything else. Granted, I think Scout puts a little too much emphasis on partisan activities against an extremely technologically capable adversary (read: governments), but the principles otherwise seem sound for keeping communications effective. I recommend checking it out.
    Itís definitely on my read list. When I say ďexpand,Ē Iím talking of the context of broadening my knowledge base and ability to make contacts on different platforms. In the nearest future, probably an SDR setup with a tablet, followed up by HF most likely.

    For the average Joe, a decent dual band HT with front panel programming is about all you need individually; the most important part is someone to talk to and proper procedures.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •