Which Model Kenwood or Yaesu Mobile 2m/70cm To Buy On a Budget?

Hey gang. So Im fairly confident that Ill pass my technicians exam in a few days and as a treat for passing Id like to get a mobile rig for my car. Right now I only have a boiler plate Baofeng UV-5R(several of them actually). Im looking for the following criteria:
-No more than $270 so I can also buy an antenna
-Dual band 2m/70cm
-Id REALLY like dual receive as well but its not a deal breaker
-The easier to program and operate all fuctions the better. Im not a total dummy, but since Ive only been able to monitor and my laptop is broken I havent been able to reprogram, use Chirp or really dig into the functions of my handheld.
-I would really like to program and pick up local emergency, police, fire, ems, etc frequencies. Im a worst case scenario, waiting for our country to implode kinda guy lol.

So I always read people say to get a Yaesu or a used Kenwood, but which ones dp these things? I know not to expect toget something like dual receive on a budget radio but maybe there are a couple? Recommendations for a good antenna would be awesome too. I have a roof rack with metal crossbars by the way. Will I need to remove that because itll cause too much feedback? Thank you in advance!


Expedition Leader
I think several items are going to be difficult to fully achieve so you may have to prioritize. One big being the ability to monitor emergency services since many are moving to digital and some are encrypting. You can listen to unencrypted traffic by getting a P25 or in a few cases a DMR radio but that is an esoteric and more expensive option. You're looking at surplus Motorola, Vertex, Hytera, Kenwood typically and won't be great matches as a ham radio. They can't be programmed from the front panel, are usually single band, limited in channel storage, etc. They are bulletproof radios but lack the flexibility of modern ham radios. I have Vertex and Motorola radios for various things but wouldn't really use one exclusively or suggest one as a first radio.

So that said, I'd probably recommend new you consider the Icom ID-880 and Yaesu FT-7900 are really the only two that can meet all the rest of the items. They both can receive out of the ham band so whatever traffic exists on VHF or UHF you can hear. That would be FRS, GMRS, analog governmental that is still there, etc. They are dual band, single receive and would be at or very near your price target. You'd have to sit in front of both and pick the one that better matches for you, some people prefer the menu scheme of one over the other, the button layout, display. I'm a Yaesu person but the Icom is a solid radio.

If you can stretch the budget the Icom IC-2730 is a dual band, dual receive that right now goes for $300 with rebates.


El Gringo Spectacular!
I've used several Yaesu radios, and am running an FT-7900 now. I like the ease of mounting options with the remote head kit; although I've found I don't use 70cm much locally.



Yaesu Ft-7800 or 7900 (nearly identical) would be great dual band radios but they are "one band at a time" so no dual receive or cross band repeat. I have the Ft-7800 and it's a great radio, no complaints. It has a very easy to read screen and nice large well illuminated buttons.
For a dual band rig the Icom 2730 would be the one to get for sure.
I've had nothing but bad experiences with Kenwood radios.
Also, don't forget about Alinco. Their 635, 638 or the new 735 would all probably work well for you.


What sort of experiences did you have with the Kenwoods? Just curious, I went from an icom ic-208h to a d710g and a v71a and I really like the Kenwoods.
Awesome info guys thank you! I took my technician exam today and I passed! The point is one of the testers told me Hes been selling off all His surplus gear. He said He just sold some $900 mobile unit to a guy for $350. Its a shame the exam wasnt a couple weeks earlier cause Id have jumped on it.

Also as far as the emergency services, Ive been able to pick up one of my local ems/fire dispatches. Radioreference.com still has that, a couple other jurisdictiins and even state police here. It said most of them moved to something called STARS but they still have lots of frequencies listed. I read about the police frequencies being encrypted years ago so I never bothered trying to find them but it turns out a lost of 911 services are still using the "analog" tech.

Ill keep my eyes open for a transceiver but what I really wanna know is whats a kickass antenna I should get for my mobile setup? THATS whats gonna help the most. I want to get the most out of my transceiver and even the top of the line unit wont do much good without a really good antenna. Thank you again, everyone.


aearless, My first mobile rig ever back in 1993 was a Kenwood TM-241A. It went back to the factory for a repair, I made a repair myself, it had another problem I was just living with. This was all in less than a year.
Fast forward to a few years ago. Someone donated a Kenwood TS-2000 to our club. When testing our "new" radio I discovered it had no power output on HF, 6 meters, or 2 meters, only on 70cm. It went to the factory for repair. After that the "multi" knob that dials thru the menus went haywire; off the repair place again. The "multi" knob is getting bad again and should be replaced again. Also, the mic cord became intermittent and had to have the plug cut off and put back on.
In my 24 years of being a licensed ham I've had 9 Yaesus, 4 Icoms, and 4 Alincos. These 17 radios had a total of 1 factory repair, 1 failure, and 2 minor problems.

Johnny, I would recommend Diamond or Larsen antennas. I haven't had good luck with Comet. I've had a few of those break when hitting tree limbs. Haven't had that problem with Diamond. If you operate in mountainous areas where the repeaters are up on the tops of mountains I would recommend a 1/2 wave antenna. They have an "upward" radiation pattern like a 1/4 wave but with a bit more gain. Also, since they don't really need a ground plane you can hoist a 1/2 wave up on a rope over a tree limb to gain some height and range in a pinch.
The really high gain antennas work well if you're trying to get maximum distance over relatively flat areas. In order to get the gain of a 5/8 wave or something similar they "squash" the radiation pattern. This makes it flatter so it radiates out further but not up as much.


Very happy with my Kenwood D-710. Not a budget radio but is very easy to use in the field. With that said get Chirp or the hi priced commercial programming software to make your life easy. Both Yaesu and Kenwood are good. Although I don't have decades of experience with any brand.
Hahaha Ill keep that in mind. I already have Chirp installed on my new laptop. Unfortunately im already having problems with it trying to program channel mode in my UV-5R, but thats all in another thread Ive made here. I passed my Technicians exam last Saturday so Id really like toget my handheld issues sorted before I get a mobile rig for my car. The mobile rig was going to be my "Treat Yo Self!" gift for passing. I failed the General pretty bad but I was there for the Tech and damnit I deserve nice things!


New member
You can check craigslist in you area for a good used radio. If you see one new or used in your price range check eham.net for a review.