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.5 miles to finish... Crash
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Buing a Radio

Ebay seemed pretty slim to find a good radio, my first one was a Yaesu-1802M Great 2m mobile (wish I went Dual Band), bought it brand new from AES. I did stumble upon the QRZ forums and bought my second radio there, Yaesu VX-2R. Good second hand prices from imho more reputable sources.

Granted I've had my licence for a grand total of a month, so my "imho" needs to be taken lightly. :)

P.S. Field day is the best crash course in Radio Ops!
 

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www.facebook.com/evorally
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Mike,
For what most radios are going for used on eBay, it's probably worth the extra 10-15% cost to just buy new. I looked for a couple of months, seemed like everything was going for 85% of new! I ended up getting a new Icom 2200 for the car. I wanted a dual bander with cross band repeat, so the next time I work an event I can park the car and use my HT, but the budget just wasn't there.

Good luck!
I started the same way spending $159.99 on the 2200H. One rally season later I managed to scrounge up the funds to go up to a yaesu ft8900-r and I absolutely love it!

Now I need me an HT.
 

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L4 into trees
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Alright, I've got an ICOM 208H that I like but I'm ready to step up and get the X-band repeat function so I can get away from my car. Any suggestions for a low-cost decent mobile rig that can do x-band?
 

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Dramamine is for DramaQueens
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The FT8800-R is nice...When it came time to buy though, I decided it'd be best to spend a little extra and get all the way up to the FT8900-R Quad Band/Dual Receiver
The 8800R is my main rig. I also started with a single band 2m and kept it as a loaner/spare rig (yaesu 2800)
Dual band and cross band repeat are definately advantages that I am glad I went to. I also have the Yaesu FT60R handheld and it makes for a nice combination. My advice is to spend the money for a dual band x-band repeater up front because you'll go there soon anyway.
 

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.5 miles to finish... Crash
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However, if you're comfortable with the icom and happy with it, it may be to your benefit to stick with icom, rather than switch horses midstream. The Yaesu is cryptic enough when you're not already used to something else.
Ditto to that. I've seen Mark's rig, very good setup, kinda why I purchased a VX-2, plus once you know how to program a yaesu, you can program them all (yaesus). Also after Ojibwe I will never work a control without x-band, I hated being confined to my car.
 

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L4 into trees
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I do like the ICOM. But the 8800 really seems like one of the better x-band radios out there. I don't know. I may just keep an eye on ebay and see if I can get a decent deal on a used one.

I don't really want to get rid of my icom, I think it'd be a nice spare, but I really want to get away from the car when I can.
 

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which left?
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Not related to the current question, but I was just at the local ham shop today, and I was drooling over this.

Yaesu FTM-10R

I'm just going to cut-and-paste the high points that are new and pertain to what we do.

Rugged Construction - take the FTM-10R/E where the action is!
The main body of the FTM-10R/E is a solid die-cast aluminum sandwich structure. The high quality die-cast aluminum chassis doubles as the heat sink providing more than enough air-cooled ventilation for the power modules. The sandwich structure also provides far better resistance to vibration and shock than many conventional transceivers and radios. The design shields against ignition noise and alternator whine for mobile operation! *The FTM-10R/E die-cast chassis section is not a waterproof structure
Compact and Light Weight
Size: 4.4”W x 1.5”H x 7.0”D. Weight: 2.9 pounds.
Heavy Duty Yet Easy to Operate...Even with Gloves!
Heavy Duty Yet Easy to Operate -- Large Multi-function dial & durable keys that are easy to operate...even when wearing gloves. A minimum number of key buttons on the front control panel, for safer operation during motor sports activities

Industry 1st - Detachable waterproof front panel
Industry 1st - Waterproof/Dustproof* detachable Front Operation Panel to Support All-Weather Outdoor Activity. A high quality 1.1 inch/28 mm speaker is built into the FTM-10R/E detachable front panel; you can operate it like an HT! The microphone and PTT button are built into the front panel. Detach the front panel with one-touch release when transmitting! The detachable front panel may be separated from the main chassis, and attached to a flat metal surface with the magnetic mounting bracket.

Industry 1st - AF Dual Monitor function..also connect your IPod!
AF Dual Monitor Function: Listen to your favorite AM or FM stereo broadcast station, and monitor an amateur band at the same time. Note: AF Dual Monitor Function does NOT permit monitoring two different amateur bands at the same time. **External audio input is also available to connect your iPod!**​
Industry 1st - Intercom to communicate with fellow passengers
Industry 1st - Intercom feature to communicate with fellow passengers

Industry 1st - Automatic Volume Control
Industry 1st - Automatic Volume Control to adjusts the speaker volume relative to nearby noisy environments​
Industry 1st - Receive and Transmit Text Messages
Industry 1st - Text Messages The message function can transmit alphanumeric messages (up to 20 messages/16 characters maximum) with a sender's ID. In an emergency the message can be communicate...even in noisy outdoor environments​
Industry 1st - Unique Delay VOX function
Industry 1st - Unique Delay VOX function – automatic audio delay on transmit to insure transmission of all words.

Event Timer Stopwatch
The FTM-10R/E includes an Event Timer Stopwatch with an interval function to support many outdoor motor sports activities.
$339. There's a version which is 100% waterproof too (not just the detachable face) that I saw in the store, but I don't see on the web.



 

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I noticed the Yaesu FTM-10R when it came out and though it has some cool and interesting features, I decided against it since for only $50 more you can get the Yaesu FT-8800R, which is probably more useful for rally communications since the FT-8800R has simultaneous dual-band VHF/VHF, UHF/VHF, UHF/UHF receive and also cross-band repeat capability. Simultaneous dual receive means you can simultaneously listen to e.g. both stage freq and net control freq, or both timing freq and scoring freq etc.

Also, while I was initially more interested in the FT-8900R which I understand is a great radio too, I actually bought the FT-8800R instead, since the FT-8800R:
- had slightly better reviews on eham.net
- was cheaper (by $50)
- still has both the 2m and 440MHz bands used for rally
- the additional 6m and 10m bands on the FT-8900R arguably have limited usefulness since they are only narrow band FM
- has the same amount of buttons, but less bands, so it may be very slightly simpler to operate

For those interested, the ham radios I bought, in order, and the reasons why, are:

1. Yaesu FT-8800R - full-functioned, full power, mobile, simultaneous dual-band receive, cross-band repeat capability

2. Yaeus VX-7R - handheld, rugged, waterproof, simultaneous multi-band receive so I can also use on both UHF/VHF, or with the FT-8800R for cross-band repeat. Also since I fairly often co-drive for different people it's easy to just throw the handheld in my co-driver's bag.

3. Yaesu VX-170 - handheld, single band 2m only, simple, rugged, waterproof, hi-cap NiMH battery, they were having a special for just over $100, cheap enough for a loaner radio, or for using as a APRS transmit radio, or as a receiver connected to a laptop for APRS plotting etc.

4. Alinco DR-135T MkIII, mobile, single band 2m only, so-so reviews on eham.net but I think most of the less-than-average reviews pertain to the earlier MkI and MkII revisions, bought anyway primarily for APRS since Argent Data Systems makes a APRS/KISS TNC board (T2-135: http://www.argentdata.com/products/tracker2.html) which you can install internally instead of the Alinco TNC, so should make for a simple APRS TX/repeater setup (just add GPS, and power and VHF antenna too of course), since the TNC is installed internally. At around $255 for the DR-135T and T2-135, it's a much cheaper solution for APRS than the Kenwood TM-D710A, though of course not as fully featured. Note: I only got the DR-135T a few months ago, and haven't bought the T2-135 or a GPS puck yet to test it out, but plan to sometime soon.

Yeah, I must admit I went a little overboard on buying radios, but I'm a bit of a techie geek and they're fun to play around with.

Anyway, I'll probably leave/put/use:
- the FT-8800R in my service vehicle for both servicing at and working rallies
- the Alinco DR-135T in my rally car
- the Yaesu VX-7R in my co-driver's bag/or for cross-band repeat when working rallies
- the Yaesu VX-170 as a rally car backup/spare/loaner etc.

For those that are new to ham radio and just want to get started, help work a rally, put one in your rally car for safety and/or to monitor what's going on etc. don't be intimidated by the cost - you really only need a simple 2m mobile (e.g. Yaesu FT-1802M) and a 2m antenna (e.g. Larsen 2/70B). You can have a simple funtional 2m mobile setup that will let you do and enjoy most of the functionality needed for less than $200 out of the door.
 

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LSPR speccie/worker & YBJ fan
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Here's an APRS setup that would be great for dedicated use.

http://bigredbee.com/blgps_2mhp.htm

Minimum amount of cables, very small and rugged. Can be battery operated, or work from 12Volts from the car. Clear view of the sky not required for the GPS, will lock even under the passenger seat. Just two connections, one for power, and the other for an external antenna.

-- Greg
 

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pressing on tirelessly
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Hi Greg,

Very interesting. What's the transmit power on that? Also, is it just a transmitter or can it do a receive check for a clear slot first?

-michel
 

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No, look at the frequency range: 698 to 2700 MHz. This is for cellular,800 MHz Trunking, and WiFi/WiMax only. Not at all suitable for 2m ham.
Mark B.
 

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I think this has been noted before, but if you can accept the extra length a 1/2-wave antenna is electrically complete and shouldn't require a ground plane. Only 1/4-wave (and 5/8-wave) antennas need one, to supply the "missing half" of the antenna.
 

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OK, so I've convinced myself I need to get a technicians license. I've been learning by taking the practice test on qrz.com as will as an Apple app. I've found a place to take the exam. While I've always been a good test taker, and I seem to be doing fine on these online test simulators, I don't really feel like I'm learning much. I'm confident I could pass the test right now, but would be clueless if you sat me in front of a radio at an event. Any online and free resources I should be looking at? Any books I should either grab from the library or amazon? Most of the info I've found is in the form of the test questions.
I've found where I can take the test, and I'm not overly concerned about passing.

I thinking i need more in the way of radio etiquette and such. My only frame of references are from CB's back in the early 90's.

I don't really foresee this being an all consuming hobby, but see it as a good thing to learn, sort of like cpr and such.

Thanks for the help.
 

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Take the test. Pass (easy-peasy). Install radio in car. Listen, listen, listen to net control. You'll pick it up pretty easily. And HAM'ers at events are very friendly and helpful. Most events we don't ever broadcast. Sometimes I might initiate a communications check with net control to let them know who I am (and that the rally car has a radio), especially if the net control frequency set up is unusual. If the rally doesn't publish radio frequencies, send a private email to the organizers and ask for it. It took me a while to understand +/- duplex and access tones and how to set up radio for that but most everything else you're likely to need in a rally is easy. Do make sure that you can't accidentally/unknowingly broadcast - locate the hand controller in a place it won't get bumped or fall off.

It's really nice to be able to listen into the net, especially if there's a delay etc. One time we've used the radio on stage to call in a red cross situation.
 
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