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ham radio help
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Jeffrey McConnell
ham radio help on 03/14/2011 19:23:02 MDT Print View

Just passed my technician's license recently. I thought it would be kinda fun to take a radio while hiking sometime and I hear there are a good amount of repeaters in SoCal. My father-in-law offered to buy me a Yaesu FT-60R hand held. Would this work alright in the back country? I was thinking of getting a Smiley Super Stick II 5/8 wave telescoping whip to go with it on a friends recommendation. Any recommendations for a new ham?

Dylan DeFlorio
(djdeflorio) - F
Ham on 03/17/2011 14:31:18 MDT Print View

Congratulations on your tech class and welcome to the hobby! First off, the Yaesu FT-60R is a very good choice, although i do not own one, i have used the radio extensively and can honestly say that every new technician that is interested in working local VHF and UHF should own one. It is a solid built radio with intuitive controls and a very rugged appearence. I jhave seen these radios get used, abused and dropped in a pool and they keep on working. As far as specs go, the receiver on the FT-60R is adequate; it boasts a low noise floor without not too much hiss while still maintaining good sensitivity. The transmit audio isnt anything special but it gets the job done, and the range with the stock rubber duck is about 3-5 miles (up to 8 or 9 miles if your in a good location) so you wont have to worry too much about not greaching the repeaters in your area. As far as an antenna goes, the Smiley seems to be a decent antenna from the reviews i have read and the research I have done (unfortunately I do not own one) but if you are looking for reliable, tough, and effective HT antennas, i would look into the company "Diamond". Here is a link toan antenna on the diamond site, its a dual bander HT antenna that I have used with the Yaesu FT-60R. As i said before, you only get about 9 miles tops with the stock rubber duck (and even thats a stretch) but with the RH519 (the antenna in the link) I got about 10 miles from on top of small hill (about 40 feet over the surrounding terrain) and I got good audio and very good signal reports from a repeater 17 miles away (i was on top of a weather observatory about 110 feet taller than anything else within a half mile radius). Of course the final decision is yours, but i definitely would suggest looking at a few different dual-band antennas on the Diamond website before making a decision.

Walter Carrington
(Snowleopard) - M

Locale: Mass.
UL ham radio. on 03/17/2011 15:34:37 MDT Print View

Since this is BP LIGHT, I have to say that a lighter solution would be a Yaesu VX-3r (less power and less weight). This looks like a replacement for my VX-2r which has worked well for me. There are times when the extra power of the FT-60R would be helpful. If you don't mind the extra weight get the extra power of the FT-60r would be nice.

A home made J-pole antenna with a short piece of coax might work better in weak signal areas than either of the other antennas mentioned. I'd just attach it to my backpack and bring some string to put it a few feet up into a tree. I'd also bring the standard antenna.
J-pole directions:

How far you can get depends on the terrain. I can reach a repeater on Mt. Greylock, 65 miles away from my home, but it is line of sight. From a mountain top, you might reach any repeater that is line of sight (or almost line of sight) at more than 50 miles; from a valley, just a couple of miles can be challenging.

Most of these things will also get broadcast FM and weather radio band, so some sort of wire antenna might help getting weather. Experiment.
--Walter, K1CMF