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Old 16-08-2016, 11:25   #1
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VHF/UHF HAM Recommendation

Quick background: Since I'm not yet retired from the 9-5, my sailboat is mostly used for day trips and occasional overnights (Puget Sound). No long-range stuff, and little need for SSB at this point. Aside from sailing, one of my other interests is backcountry exploration (by vehicle and bicycle). This last week, on a backcountry trip to Utah (well out of cell coverage), I realized that a UHF/VHF radio would be a good thing to have.

Anyway, that experience has got me thinking about getting my HAM license and buying a 2M/70CM radio for my 4x4 (and probably a HT for bike/hike). My research is pointing me to the Kenwood line, and I was originally considering a TM-V71A. But I then stumbled across some discussion on Cruisersforum of the Kenwood TM-D710 series (GA current model). This model is quite a bit more expensive than the TM-V71A, and it has features that I don't even understand at this point (APRS, Digipeater, Echolink, Skycommand, etc.), but based on other thread comments (particularly from Nick - S/V Jedi) these features seem to be useful for marine use (and I assume for vehicle use as well).

Of course, this also means that I'd need to buy 2 radios - one for the boat, and one for the vehicle. And I would predict that a home station would not be far behind. Oh well, it's only money.

Anyway, would I be making a mistake to buy the Kenwood TM-D710GA as a brand-new HAM? Any other comments or advice?
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Old 16-08-2016, 11:34   #2
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Re: VHF/UHF HAM Recommendation

To get started a handheld baofeng uv5r would be hard to beat at the price
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Old 16-08-2016, 17:26   #3
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Re: VHF/UHF HAM Recommendation

g'Day Rusty,

Well, this is a bit embarrassing to admit, but what the hell...

Some years ago I went down this route myself. I was an active m/m ham, full time cruising, and thought it would be good to have a 2 m hand held for occasional use ashore (my main rig covers 2 m for on board use). I bought a Kenwood dual band with lots of bells and whistles (though likely fewer than the current models) and it worked pretty well. BUT, I found that it was too bloody complicated for occasional usage, in that when I hadn't used it for a couple of months, I could not recall all the schemes required to get it up and running... had to get out the manual and refresh my memory, every damn time! It had lots of very small buttons, each with three functions, and marked in low contrast print. In the long run, it has set in a locker unused for several years now... too much hassle for this old fart. As I said, kinda embarrassing...

So, examine any such radio very carefully, and evaluate whether all those functions which you don't need actually make a positive contribution to your operation. For me, a very simple one would have been far better adapted to my usage. YMMV.

Jim (N9GFT/VK4GFT)
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Old 16-08-2016, 22:45   #4
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Re: VHF/UHF HAM Recommendation

Good reality check guys - I do tend to get a little carried away sometimes. With lots of things.
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Old 17-08-2016, 00:18   #5
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Re: VHF/UHF HAM Recommendation

Quote:
one of my other interests is backcountry exploration (by vehicle and bicycle
you do you plan to call / talk too if you need help?

a delorm inreach / spot would likely be more usefull
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Old 17-08-2016, 00:47   #6
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Re: VHF/UHF HAM Recommendation

Rusty,

We have an SSB radio on the boat which never gets used, there isn't anyone to talk to anymore, let alone someone listening if you have an emergency. Get a cellphone and VHF, forget about the ham.
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Old 17-08-2016, 01:18   #7
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Re: VHF/UHF HAM Recommendation

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Originally Posted by Kenomac View Post
Rusty,

We have an SSB radio on the boat which never gets used, there isn't anyone to talk to anymore, let alone someone listening if you have an emergency. Get a cellphone and VHF, forget about the ham.
Another informed opinion. Ask a ham, not Ken for opinions about the joys of ham radio.

Jim
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Old 17-08-2016, 01:53   #8
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Re: VHF/UHF HAM Recommendation

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Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
g'Day Rusty,

Well, this is a bit embarrassing to admit, but what the hell................ In the long run, it has set in a locker unused for several years now... too much hassle for this old fart. As I said, kinda embarrassing...
......

Jim (N9GFT/VK4GFT)
So I am not alone......?
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Old 17-08-2016, 02:04   #9
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Re: VHF/UHF HAM Recommendation

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Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
Another informed opinion. Ask a ham, not Ken for opinions about the joys of ham radio.

Jim
I honestly can't see any joy being extracted from a device sitting in a drawer unused, or turning it on and listening to nothing but static.

Hello, hello.... Is anyone out there?
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Old 17-08-2016, 02:17   #10
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Re: VHF/UHF HAM Recommendation

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Originally Posted by Kenomac View Post
I honestly can't see any joy being extracted from a device sitting in a drawer unused, or turning it on and listening to nothing but static.

Hello, hello.... Is anyone out there?
Jim and I are talking about HTs that need tiny fingers and excellent eyesight ( and an even better memory ) to use..... not HF.

Even with Ham HF I would suggest people start with a simple radio such as an Icom 718.

Nothing but static? Trust me... there is a heap of stuff out there on both Marine and Ham bands... and that is only the english language nets.
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Old 17-08-2016, 04:18   #11
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Re: VHF/UHF HAM Recommendation

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Originally Posted by Kenomac View Post
I honestly can't see any joy being extracted from a device sitting in a drawer unused, or turning it on and listening to nothing but static.

Hello, hello.... Is anyone out there?
Not much out there on ssb in the Med.

Ham is very much alive and well

Also, for the OP, once you n have a ham license you'll have access to hundreds of repeaters all over the world via the Internet, Google echolink.
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Old 17-08-2016, 08:09   #12
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Re: VHF/UHF HAM Recommendation

According to the web, there are a couple dozen repeaters right around my home area, and I suspect the Salish Sea is loaded, but I don't know how much traffic they have. I assume that a cheap HT like Conachair mentions would enable me to listen in? I've read a little about echo link- not sure I completely understand it, but it sounds like it would let me participate in nets without any radio hardware at all? (Just a computer or smart phone). Is that right?

Back to useful marine features: it looks like one of the main things that the high end mobile units can do is APRS, which (among other things) enables GPS tracking. But for marine use, there seems to be lots of overlap with AIS, so I'm not sure how big a deal that would be. I guess I'm circling back to the Kenwood TM-V71A, at least for the boat. The TM-D710GA might make more sense in the vehicle.
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Old 17-08-2016, 08:23   #13
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Re: VHF/UHF HAM Recommendation

I'm a part-time sailor but full-time ham. You're not going to get a lot of value out of APRS for marine use. The main reason is very few boats will have hams on them sending their position using APRS, so it is very likely you'll be the only one showing up on the maps. About the only value would be to your friends/family that could see where you last were spotted.

I don't believe that Kenwood radio has a GPS built-in. Make sure it does, otherwise it is just "APRS ready".

Before you take the plunge into ham radio, find a local club and look for a local ham to help you out. They will be familiar with your area and the activity there. If you want to go big, look into an Icom 706 that will do HF all the way through UHF.

The suggestion to get a handheld ($30-$50) from Amazon is a good place to start - see if you are interested at all in the local repeater traffic.

Best of luck, PM or post more if I can be of help.
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Old 17-08-2016, 08:54   #14
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Re: VHF/UHF HAM Recommendation

Funny you should mention that, I just checked out my local club yesterday, and they have a meeting this weekend which I'm planning to attend. They're also administering a licensing exam next month, so that's the one I'm shooting for.

The high-end Kenwood radio does have GPS built-in, but it's pricy.
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Old 17-08-2016, 10:00   #15
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Re: VHF/UHF HAM Recommendation

We find 2 meter repeaters great while cruising coastal waters... HF is alive and well and we make contacts daily. I do agree that the new, smaller handhelds are overly complicated, at least for me. I don like the yaesu FT270, larger but easy to hold, program, and use.

The cheap Chinese rigs are great when they work but they are equally complicated...
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