Monday, September 15, 2014

More new gear

I've been playing with my new Yaesu FT-60R HT a bit. Works great at home. And works fine in the mobile. I have ordered a headset to use with it while I'm driving. But even without the headset I was able to use it while driving with the top down on the freeway today. Although it was a little hard to hear. However the audio is quite good.

My involvement in ham radio has dramatically increased since getting the new HT. Mainly as a result of trying harder. Rather than simply tossing out my call sign and hoping someone will come back to me (which they rarely did). I am now attempting to come back to others who come on the air wanting to talk. Really, for that to work I just need to be willing to talk to anyone. And honestly, that's great practice for life in general.

As a result of my renewed interest and increase in activity, I decided to go ahead with my initial plan to replace my ICOM base (IC-208H) with the Yaesu equivalent shown below (the FT-7900R). I'll be running it on low power (5 watts) using a 1/2 wave mag mount stuck to my metal desk. This is a setup that I already know works quite well for the local repeaters.

I figure I'll use new FT-7900R for my base unit at home, and my HT for mobile use... with a mag mount and a headset. I've decided that I'm definitely a Yaesu fan.

One of the issues I've been wrestling with is the idea that an SMA connector on an HT is not designed robustly enough to withstand repeated and frequent swapping back and forth between antennas. So my thought was that I need to stick with either the normal HT whip, or a pigtail for connecting to an PL-259, but not normally switch between both. So that means if I default to using it for mobile/base use with a pigtail, then I generally won't be using it as a portable.

While this is a little bit of a disappointment, considering how nicely the FT-60R works as an actual "handheld". The idea of having a radio that is strictly for handheld use is not that feasible either. Because it would rarely get used. Although it's hard to anticipate my usage habits. As I get more involved, my past habits are not necessarily useful for determining future usage.

I have thought of the idea of perhaps getting a second FT-60R. I already have all the accessories. But how doofy would it be to have a second radio just so I don't have to swap antennas. I will continue to ponder this.

The eBay auction where I was selling my old ICOM IC-208H closed yesterday for $282. That should cover the new radio. I like the top-facing speaker. That means I might get away without having to use an external speaker on my desk.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Ham radio equipment fun

I haven't been that into ham radio since moving out of Salem. I knew folks in Salem. The further away I move, the lower the percentage of people on the radio I actually know. In addition... my involvement/usage declined quite a bit after getting married. Funny how that happens when you actually have someone to talk to (as opposed to when you don't).

A couple of months ago I sold one of my two mobile radios and my HT to help offset the cost of the new PC that I built. This left me with one mobile radio, which I was using at home as a base. Since I use this radio with an indoor antenna, I don't go above low power (5 watts). But that's no problem because I can hit all the local repeaters with that just fine.

The HT I sold was a Kenwood TH-F6A. Widely held (at one time) to be the best HT out there. It's a tri-band radio that will transmit with a full 5 watts on 220. It has dual-receive and all sorts of nice things. I never liked it. The main reason was the lack of a physical squelch adjustment, and an inconveniently located volume control. To me, those two things totally deserve their own physical controls that are easy to manipulate.

After selling these two radios, it wasn't too long before I was kinda longing for a Yaesu FT-60R HT. I've had one of those before and really liked it. And it has nicely-placed squelch and volume controls. It's also very well-built.

So a couple of days ago I did it. I bought the FT-60R along with a number of accessories. I've always had spare batteries and quick-chargers for every HT that I've had. So I wanted to do that again. But this time instead of going with cheap knock-off accessories, I went with the name-brand Yaesu battery and quick-charger. Add to that a factory Yaesu speaker-mic, a Diamond after-market antenna, and an antenna pigtail/adapter so that I can use the HT with standard external antennas.

After this purchase I started thinking that, dang, I like Yaesu products! Maybe I should sell my ICOM IC-208H base rig and replace it with a Yaesu too! However I also started thinking that, dang, that new Yaesu HT was spendy. My poor allowance is going to be in the hole for awhile on that one.

That's when I made the decision to sell my ICOM base rig and use the new Yaesu HT for both base and mobile. No replacement necessary. I already have two really good mag-mount antennas. One for use at home and one to use in the car.

One really nice aspect to using an HT and a mag-mount for mobile use is... no installation. Slap it on and go! No issue with where to get power. No issue with where to mount the antenna. Perfect! Of course I won't be able to work weak repeaters with that mobile setup. But it seems to me that the benefits are totally worth that tradeoff.