Dual band HAM radio options, narrowing the choices

moose545

Member
Planing to take my test in a few weeks and wanted to poll those more experienced here. The FAQ thread was extremely helpful and much appreciated! I'm shooting for around the $300 mark for the radio, and want as many useful features as I can get. I like the fact some offer built-in GPS, just makes sense to me. Dual receive and repeater access, and APRS for digital is nice too, and much more I just can't rattle off, but the useful options mentioned in the "getting started" thread here.

What I've found was:

ICOM ID-4100A D-Star/GPS

Yaesu FTM-100DR GPS

Kenwood TM-V71A

I don't know much/or haven't found much on TYT, so if there's another radio in this ballpark worth considering please let me know.

Antennae wise, I'm looking at a Compactennae, or possible a Comet or Lancer (?-IIRC) NMO mounted, less than 36" as I'm in the SE as mentioned and need something springy for brush or that folds under the trail circumstances, etc.
 

Billoftt

Active member
I am in the southeast (South Carolina) and I have yet to harm this antenna, no matter how hard I try. https://www.hamradio.com/detail.cfm?pid=H0-000567 Also, with Pulse-Larsen, (like most) you can buy a separate spring.

As far as radios are concerned, don't get too wrapped around the axle on features. I bought a second-hand TM-V71A at a decent price. Also, look into buying used. Go to this website to find a radio club in your area http://www.arrl.org/find-a-club (or just Google your town's name and "Ham Radio Club) to find out if they are having any ham-fests or swap meets. You also may want to ask the guys when you take your test if there is any decent used gear for sale. You might even score a cheap Baofeng for passing your exam. The point is to buy something that is relatively inexpensive at first, but with a wee bit if resale value when you upgrade. It's a lot like your first 4x4 in that after you buy it, use it, see other people's equipment you start to figure out the features that you want and need vs. those that you don't. For example, I have a TM-V71 and one of my trusted off-road friends has an ID-5100. (Actually, many of them have ID-5100s) They are both dual VFO, so we can one side on the group's simplex frequency and the other on a designated repeater. So he leads the group and I trail the group and if somehow we get too far apart to talk, I call him up on the repeater. Another guy has an FTM-400 so he can post the APRS track for the group.

Now, if you want to start simple and inexpensive, here are some basic VHF single-mode models.
I often see them going for $60-$80 at swap meets. Once you think you need more radio, you should be able to get the same amount at a swap meet OR you can "loan" it to a friend that you are trying to persuade to convert from CB to Ham.

This is a more affordable dual-band radio that does cross-band repeat and does not feature any digital modes, GPS or APRS. One feature I particularly like about this radio, and if I had known about it I would have purchased this one over my TM-V71A, is that the microphone can plug into either the radio body or the control head.

At any rate, you really can't go wrong with any of the "Big 4" brands; Kenwood, Icom, Yaesu and Alinco. One word of advice about Alinco, if you decide to perform the MARS/CAP mod, it WILL void Alinco's warranty. The other three are okay with it unless you do something to really mess it up.
 

Frdmskr

Adventurer
Planing to take my test in a few weeks and wanted to poll those more experienced here. The FAQ thread was extremely helpful and much appreciated! I'm shooting for around the $300 mark for the radio, and want as many useful features as I can get. I like the fact some offer built-in GPS, just makes sense to me. Dual receive and repeater access, and APRS for digital is nice too, and much more I just can't rattle off, but the useful options mentioned in the "getting started" thread here.

What I've found was:

ICOM ID-4100A D-Star/GPS

Yaesu FTM-100DR GPS

Kenwood TM-V71A

I don't know much/or haven't found much on TYT, so if there's another radio in this ballpark worth considering please let me know.

Antennae wise, I'm looking at a Compactennae, or possible a Comet or Lancer (?-IIRC) NMO mounted, less than 36" as I'm in the SE as mentioned and need something springy for brush or that folds under the trail circumstances, etc.
Spend the few bucks for the TMD710GA. It’s the best analog APRS dual bander you can get. If, however, you want digital as well with the APRS then the FTM400 (Fusion) or ID5100 (DStar) are excellent. At that point choose based on the digital mode most popular near you.

Note: the 5100 does DPRS which is different than APRS in that it only works on the DStar network.


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I would recommend that run away run away fast from the Icom. The screen is the worse ever for a mobile radio. Washes out in bright sun light and if you wear polarized sunglasses you will not see the screen. This is coming from a diehard Icom mobile fan. Take FTM100DR as it has dual receive. Icom doesn't. You may not think you need it now but one day you will be glad you have. The radio I use everyday has dual receiver I set one side on local 2m repeater and the other side works 2m APRS. Yes I do sometimes have drop outs on repeater receive audio but it is very brief during beaconing position.
 

moose545

Member
Great info thanks to you all. I'm not really looking to drop that much yet but we'll see what I can find used maybe, FTM-100DR doesn't look bad either. I was hoping to find some sales over this holiday weekend but wasn't anything out there really. Dual receive is definitely something I want.
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
Great info thanks to you all. I'm not really looking to drop that much yet but we'll see what I can find used maybe, FTM-100DR doesn't look bad either. I was hoping to find some sales over this holiday weekend but wasn't anything out there really. Dual receive is definitely something I want.
Dual VFOs cost money. The FTM-100 isn't strictly a dual VFO radio but it pushes the dual watch feature to almost be as good. It's a good radio without a doubt but if I was buying a non-digital mode radio right now it would be a TM-D710 or TM-V71. I know Yaesu is selling a fair number of Fusion radios but I have a feeling that most of them are still only operating analog and the ones doing Fusion are mostly into hot spots.
 

moose545

Member
I've narrowed it to Kenwood vs ICOM, 5100 screen sucks, and 4100 doesn't do what the more expensive TM-710GA would do, but D-STAR seems to be prevalent along the east coast a good bit, but the ease of use and ability to grow into and become more accustomed to features and use of the Kenwood seems more appealing. Is eBay the only spot online for used radios? Yaesu seems hit or miss, and I don't like the fact I'm at Kenwood prices by the time I buy a cord and bracket and something else the ICOM doesn't include~
 

dreadlocks

Well-known member
Ebay, Ham Events, check consignments at local Ham shop if yer lucky enough to have one.. I got my first radios starting off at an Estate sale my parents drug me out too.. might keep an eye on those as HAM's are dying off quicker than they are being replaced it seems.

APRS is a higher priority for me at this point than digital, especially mobile.. if I get me a digital radio it'll be a handheld, since I'll be using it w/hotspots mostly and the power/range is kinda moot.. This last holiday weekend I sent two friends my APRS.fi link, told em they were welcome to join us.. I then drove deep out into the mountains far from any cellular coverage, and to my surprise both of em showed up at camp Friday night and Saturday morning.. I didnt think either would show up, but the'd of never had found me w/out APRS as even I didnt know exactly where I would end up when I left the house.

One of my friends got 2 flat tires on his stupid lil Chevy Volt, using SMSGTE I was able to keep in contact with him after he left w/the tow truck back to Gunnison.. didnt know if he'd even find a tire shop open.. luckily he got fixed up and I didnt have to come rescue him a 2nd time.
 
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DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
Ebay, Ham Events, check consignments at local Ham shop if yer lucky enough to have one.. I got my first radios starting off at an Estate sale my parents drug me out too.. might keep an eye on those as HAM's are dying off quicker than they are being replaced it seems.
Watching for silent key estate sales is always a way to find old gear but please be nice and don't try to take advantage of a widow who knows nothing about radios and make reasonably fair offers.

FWIW, the rate of growth in FCC license issues seems to be pacing slightly faster than the growth in population, which I thought is interesting since it's looked down upon to some extent in pop culture.

 

moose545

Member
Great info and resources, thanks to you both. I'm leaning towards the Kenwood but like the ICOM too, both the 4100 & 5100, cost is appealing but the TM-710GA is really feature rich, we'll see what I can find.
 

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moose545

Member
Spend the few bucks for the TMD710GA. It’s the best analog APRS dual bander you can get. If, however, you want digital as well with the APRS then the FTM400 (Fusion) or ID5100 (DStar) are excellent. At that point choose based on the digital mode most popular near you.

Note: the 5100 does DPRS which is different than APRS in that it only works on the DStar network.


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Saw that you're local, in this area and other places I'd see myself going like CO & NM, or in the NorthEast US, doing a search on repeaterbook for either D-STAR or EchoLink repeaters on 2m or 70cm seem to have equal repeaters around for either, which seems the best route for here/NoVa? Sidenote: I've got a 12' GX460, which shares a lot with the 5th Gens, if you can show me how you have your mobile stuff setup one day I'd appreciate it. I have to install my rear bumper soon once I find some help, usually around though. Exam in 2wks in Sterling.
 

kidphc

New member
Most of the repeaters locally are DStar, or FM. There are a couple of Echolink nodes locally. For echolink I just downloaded the apps for it. Out here in Rockville, MD it is FM or DStar. Up north towards Frederick and Columbia there are a couple of Fusion repeaters. One 70cm fusion repeater in D.C. that I know of. Out towards Winchester mix bag of Fusion and FM repeaters. Up the 15 corridor into PA it seems to mostly FM unless you get towards the cities then it is back to Dstar/FM repeaters.

Good luck on the test. You'll pass it with flying colors.

https://www.nvfma.org/ (more on the Tyson's corner side of VA.
 
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