Got a ham question/problem?

Pat, I read in one of the first posts that you made about an HT radio. I have had my call sign for around a month now, but still have no radio or anything. Money is a major issue it you get what I am saying, so what are the main problems with a HT radio?? I know they will not get you much power, but it is one of the only things I can afford. Just wondering your thoughts on this... Thanks
Originally posted by Jayson Prentice
Pat, I read in one of the first posts that you made about an HT radio. I have had my call sign for around a month now, but still have no radio or anything. Money is a major issue it you get what I am saying, so what are the main problems with a HT radio?? I know they will not get you much power, but it is one of the only things I can afford. Just wondering your thoughts on this... Thanks

Jason, congrats on your ham ticket! HT's are OK to start with. I think what Pat is trying to get accross is, at best, an HT is going to put out roughly 5 watts, if that much (depending on the model). This is OK if you are in town and close to a repeater. On a mobile 2M radio, you can pump it up to around 50 watts if needed.

In reality, you should probably be able to pick up a used 2M radio in the $100 range. I bought an icom 229 as a backup for 100 bucks not too long ago, and it works great. Check with a local Ham club as they usually have sidewalk sales once a month. If your funds are limited like you say, this would probably be your best bet.

A pic of the ic-229

[Broken External Image]:

A single band 2 meter is fine. Dual Band (2m and 70cm-440) is nice, but depending on the area you live in, there probably isn't too much happening on 70cm - 440. I think you would be fine with a single band 2 meter mobile. If your lucky, the person selling the radio might also have an antenna they will throw in. Alot of hams are nice this way, and like to help out beginners.

Check out and follow the "clubs" link to find a local ham club in your area.

Good luck!

For the price of a lower end HT, you can get a lower end 2M mobile like the Icom 2100H, Kenwood TM-271A, or Yaesu FT-2800M. All are priced in the $150-$200 range.

HT's are great if you backpack a lot, or live in a metropolitan area with lots of repeaters nearby. But when on the backroads, 5W won't get you very far (10 miles at best). This problem is made even worse if you use the rubber dickie antenna inside the vehicle. They also get quite hot after a moderate length QSO. The other issue with HT's is the audio quality, both on transmit and recieve. The small speaker inside an HT delivers substandard performance. The standard condenser mic isn't quite so bad, but I prefer a speaker mic so my head isn't right next to the HT when transmitting.

Setting up an HT to work well and comfortably can cost more than buying a mobile. A speaker mic adds about $30, and buying a 18" 1/4 wave/ dual band antenna adds another $30. Believe me, you will want to replace the cheap helically wound rubber duckie the HT comes with! Add another $30-$50 for the 12V power cord if you don't want your batteries to die after an hour.

A mobile comes with a decent mic, power cord, and a speaker somewhat better than the one in an HT. The only extra expense is an antenna and mount. I bought a simple 5/8 wave 2M antenna with 3/8x24 thread for $25. A cheap CB bumper mount and length of coax can be had for less than $20 at Radio Shack (you got questions, they got blank stares :D )

Try looking around at a hamfest for a used mobile. You could find one on E-bay, but I've always been wary of used equipment and e-bay in general. Most of the catalog and internet merchants offer used/demo radios with a limited warranty, but you'll only save $20 or so.

If you're saving up cash for a rig, wait a few extra pay periods and get something you'll feel happy with, instead of settling for less of a rig.

Hope this helps. Feel free to ask about anything else, and WELCOME TO THE HOBBY!
:lol: I figure if I'm going to get advice, I might as well get it here. Sorry if I'm being a pain.
I've narrowed it down to either a Kenwood TM-271A, Icom IC-2100H, or an Yaesu FT-2800. Does anybody have experience with these and had any problems, or any type of comment on these? I've looked at a couple different sites for prices, but wondering what is the best site that you know of for buying radios?? I know I have found a lot of off sites, such as the austin amatuer radio store, or other stores such as that. Should I just go with the lowest price that i can find anywhere, or is there an outlet store that should be cheap and have good support.
The way it looks, is that I am going to go with a mobile.. I have found a couple different ones from 175 to 225... I'm better off going with the power and the mobile accessories than with a HT.
I'm not a very big fan of Icom radios, so I can't recommend any of those. The other two are a pretty close match. The biggest difference I see is that the Kenwood only has 100 memory channels when alphanumerics are used for channel names. According to what I read the Yaesu keeps its 221 channels no matter what naming. They both have a wx alert, which I wish I had.

Take a look at the E-Ham reviews and see what you think. Both radios have a lot of reviews.

Yaesu FT-2800M:

Kenwood TM-271A:
That really depends what you use it for. I use my TM-G707A for storm chasing, ham conversation, and fire department calls. So for me, the number of channels is a big plus. Right now I have about 120 channels in my radio. About 20 of those are 440, which you would not have. The majority of the channels are public services such as fire and police. As your chase area expands you will be adding more and more repeaters to your memory. You could definately be happy with 100 channels. I was just trying to say that you might want more channels down the road.

Also another tip: pick up an ARRL repeater guide ($9.00). It lists all the repeaters in the USA which is really helpful while traveling.
I've had an Icom 2100H for four years now. It's been in three vehicles and three residences. It's had coffee dumped into the mic. It's been dropped, hit, bounced off of, and driven with serious mismatches to the antenna. It still works like a champ. I can get pretty hot when running 50W, but I've never had a problem. The reciever is fantastic. It out performs my Yaesu 7100M, and Icom 706MKIIG for 2M reception.

I've never used the other two, so I can't comment either way. I've had abyssmal customer service from Yaesu with my 7100M, but from what I hear, Icom and Kenwood are no better in that department.

Checking reviews, they perform similarly. Choose the one that you think will look best in your vehicle! You'll find as many opinions as radios out there, and some folks are fiercely brand loyal (I tend to prefer Icom and Ten-Tec).

One note if you are doing some research, look at the specs for sensitivity and selectivity. Sensitivity is the radio's ability to hear weak signals above the noise floor, expressed in microvolts and lower numbers are better. Selectivity is a radio's ability to seperate the signal you're listening to from a strong signal on a nearby frequency, expressed in decibels and higher numbers are better.
Thanks to all of you for your help.. You have made this a lot easier for me :D I'll let you know what I get for my final decision and accessories..
I would just add that I have had both Kenwood and Icom radios, both mobile and HT, and I liked them both.

Agree with the other guys, get a mobile unit, dual band if you can afford it, 2m if you can't and if at all possible, a permanent mount antenna as opposed to a mag mount. Skip the glass mounts altogether for anything that broadcasts.

I think if you stick with the major brand names you will probably be happy anyway.
Well, as best I can tell is that I'm going to go with a Kenwood TM-271A mobile 2M radio. I am really trying to be as inexpensive as possible, because funds are quite short if you get what I am saying ;) So, my next step is antennas... That is a whole different story as usual.. :lol: