This is a great HT. It has 5 Watts output and even with that I can hit my local repeaters 25 miles away with the stock antenna or a Radio Shack 36” telescoping dual band antenna. The radio is also capable of cross band repeat, which acts like a miniature repeater. This radio is very rugged and dependable and I use it as a backup due to its dependability. I have two battery packs for the ICOM, one is a NI-CAD, and the other is a NI-Mh, they both work really well. Just make sure you charge the batteries slowly.
I have had this radio for almost a year and a half now and I really like it. It is very easy to use and setup. The display is great even during bright sunlight. The unit is a dual bander – 2m and 70cm. It has a max power rating of 50 Watts on 2m (VHF) and 35 Watts on 70cm (UHF), with 4 different choices of power on each band. The memory banks have a total of 262 locations that can be rearranged depending on what band you use the most. I use a Diamond dual band antenna mounted to a Diamond door lip mount. I have mounted the head remotely with a homemade separation kit. The front end of the radio is now in my reach without having to move at all in the seat. Almost all the functions of the radio can be controlled from the DTMF mike. There is a lot of discussion on this radio and the quality of workmanship. I have not experienced any problems with this radio and it has been in use for almost everyday since I got it.
I saved up for six months to buy this backpack HF/VHF/UHF all mode radio. It was well worth the wait. It is a QRP rig that puts out only 5 watts on all frequencies. I use it as my base station for now, connected to the ground plane antenna that I made, which is mentioned below, until Melissa and I move from the Condo. I bought the 2000 mah battery from W4RT electronics, it lets me operate on high power, 5 watts, on 2m or 70cm for the whole day before it needs charging. I recommend the programming software for this radio. It is very time consuming and monotonous trying to program the memory channels through the radio.
I love this handheld. It is a dual band radio operating on 2m and 70cm along with having built in APRS and a TNC in one small package. The ability of APRS in a handheld is very useful. It gives the operator the ability to send his exact location, with a GPS unit attached, in the world to the worldwide APRS frequency so that anyone interested can track his movements. The operator can also see where nearby stations are. I explain APRS and its usefulness on it’s own page here.
The Yaesu VR500 is a communications receiver capable of receiving everything from short wave to 1.2 Ghz, minus cellular of course, with the appropriate antenna. I use the VR500 for listening for long periods of time to many frequencies without tying up one of my handheld radios. The VR500 has excellent battery life for what it does. It is easy to program and work as well. It’s nice small size and low weight makes it easy to carry around all day or carry on your hip without noticing.
The Yaesu VX5RS tri-band radio is capable of transmitting on 6m, 2m, and 70cm. I got this radio primarily for ARES, Amateur Radio Emergency Service. The small size, ruggedness, and long battery life makes this my radio of choice for ARES events. The radio is water and vibration resistant. The radio has all band receive including 800 Mhz and police/fire. I can work an event all day and never have to change batteries. The aftermarket antenna partly shown is a Premier RD-98 SMA. The antenna helps tremendously along with a 19 inch section of twisted copper wire attached to a ring terminal. This then gets slipped over the connector and secured when the antenna is tightened to the radio. This completes a proper ground for the antenna that your body is supposed to make.
MFJ frequency counter
The freq counter is used to determine what frequency a certain object is transmitting on if you are not sure. It can also be used to get really close to a transmitter with proper attenuation and get a pinpoint signal. These are quite cheap and very useful. They typically have a range of about 200 – 300 feet with the stock antennas. If you were to attach a directional antenna such as a beam or quad, you will get much better range and accuracy.
2m ground plane
The antenna I use is the ground plane antenna (PDF) mentioned above as well, that I made from the ARRL Antenna Handbook. The antenna took me almost an hour to make, but works really well from inside the Condo. The antenna can be supported by 1 ½ inch PVC as shown, with the feedline going through the center. I recommend picking up a copy of the handbook. There is a lot of useful information contained and also includes a CD-ROM with helpful antenna modeling programs.
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