Author Topic: Handheld recommendation?  (Read 11092 times)

Offline Alan Georges

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Handheld recommendation?
« on: March 01, 2014, 06:15:37 PM »
I need a recommendation for an 2m/70cm HH that is easy (or at least practical) to program using just its keypad.  Under $200 would be nice, though I could squeak out a bit more if there's a night-and-day difference.  Main thing I'm looking for though is ease of programming via its keypad in the field.

Now for the background:

I've got some events (bike tours with ham support) coming up for which I won't usually know some of the repeater frequencies until I get there.  I don't have a laptop, and my computer's an old desktop Mac which I can't get to work with CHIRP.  But even beyond these events, I want to be able to program the HH without a computer.

I've got a Baofling Baofeng UV-5R which is about to drive me around the bend.  I finally did get one channel loaded in today, but all totaled in watching youtube how-to's, downloading and reading guides, and poking at the damnthing, I've spent more time screwing with it than I care to admit.  More importantly, the idea of me quickly programming in a new repeater from the keypad while away from my desk is improbable at best.  At the next ham club meeting I'll get one of the guys who has CHIRP to load in the local repeaters, so it's not a total loss.  In fact, I kind of like the little puzzle-box.  But it's not suitable for what I need here.

I'm looking heavily at the Yaesu FT-60R, but am a little concerned about its keypad programming as well.  Any other recommendations?  I know nothing's going to be iPod-easy, but I'll take "challenging yet still practical" at this stage.  Anybody got a particularly easy to program HH to recommend?  Thanks.

Offline Canadian Prepper

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Re: Handheld recommendation?
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2014, 07:10:09 PM »
I wish I had the answer WRT the FT-60R, since I had to take my FT-270R to the dealer to get help loading a couple repeaters onto it, but my mind can be stubborn when it comes to these things!

I should point out that the FT-60R does work with Chrip software, and combined with it's reliability record is undoubtedly worth the extra cost. I'll be watching this thread with interest as well....

Offline cpf240

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Re: Handheld recommendation?
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2014, 07:42:55 PM »
I have an FT-60R, and really like it.

I think that *any* HT is going to be a pain to program via the keypad, but the FT-60R, while tedious, is not that bad. The function knob on the top makes it easy to find the selections you want. The only real problem I have is remembering what all the abbreviated names in the menus are, the screen is only so many characters wide. There are nice laminated menu reference cards you can buy as well.

That being said, I *have* used the keypad to program mine, but was much happier once I got the programming cable and free software! I will say that I used the keypad a lot while learning what the program I was using did with the fields in the spreadsheet. Again, not really a problem, especially with the manual or reference card handy!

Offline SCWolverine

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Re: Handheld recommendation?
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2014, 06:30:20 AM »
http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_10_22/661377_The_HT_thread.html

recently archived...but some good info there.  I'm a Wouxun guy so I'm no real help.  I will offer the Kenwood TH-F6A has a good rep regarding finger-pressing programming.

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: Handheld recommendation?
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2014, 11:34:50 AM »
The FT-60R is not hard to program via keypad, certainly very doable when no other options are available.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Handheld recommendation?
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2014, 07:44:22 AM »
Thanks everybody, I knew I could get some good answers here.  Looks like FT-60R it is, just as soon as I figure out my taxes and see how much money I have left.

http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_10_22/661377_The_HT_thread.html
Oh man, I could fall into those links for days...

Offline cpf240

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Re: Handheld recommendation?
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2014, 09:47:23 AM »
This is a link for the pocket reference cards I mentioned: http://www.niftyaccessories.com/Yaesu_cards.htm

Offline J

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Re: Handheld recommendation?
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2014, 02:01:17 PM »
I'll invade this thread instead of making a new one since it's regarding handhelds.

Back in 05-08 Yeasu made the VXA 700 that had 2m and aviation AM capabilities. Anyone know if I could get a hold of one anywhere yet? Quick google searches have turned up almost nothing for me.

Reason being:

1)I'm heavily involved in the Aircraft world, I'm complex and Hi-po rated and I've got enough IFR experience that I might as well get the dual time to get IFR rated as well.

2)Also since I've finally got some time I'll be taking my HAM general test. It's something I always wanted to do through college but just never had time  ;D I've done some studying for the tech level and breezed through everything, haven't had a chance to hit the general stuff yet.

anyway...I digress.

The 2m capability will allow me to talk to guys local/back home, local rally events, and is going to be one of the best things to have when SHTF. Being as involved with the aviation community as I am, I'd like to have communication capabilities on the AM bands as well. I have several other survivalist friends down in TX that if needed are willing to provide extract for me at various locations (its awesome when a U206 has a 5 hour range at 180mph). In an effort to KISS I'd like the VHF and AM capabilities. If I can't, then so be it. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing something!

EDIT

Alas after doing some looking it seems that there's really nothing out there at all. Seems as though the VXA700 did it even minimal at best....Looks like I'll just be getting a 2m/70cm radio along with Airband.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2014, 02:26:33 PM by J »

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Handheld recommendation?
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2014, 03:51:48 PM »
This is a link for the pocket reference cards I mentioned: http://www.niftyaccessories.com/Yaesu_cards.htm
Yes, definitely.  It's on my list, along with a card for the Baofling.

Offline AngusBangus

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Re: Handheld recommendation?
« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2014, 08:44:04 AM »
Does Nifty make a Baofeng card? EDIT: Nifty DOES have a laminated wallet-sized trifold Baofeng Operating Guide

@AG, I have a Yaseu VX-8R and 2 BF UV-5REs. Both are non-trivial to program via keypad. However, I was using my VX-8 heavily from remote locations (from a computer perspective... like a beach/boat/helicopter) back in 2010 when I first licensed. With practice/repitition, you can get pretty quick entering in repeater info into the VX-8. From what I've seen so far, the UV-5R is equally tricky unless you know the steps by heart ... at which point it becomes cake. A quick reference (maybe even a custom quick reference that you make and laminate) with the steps as you understand them would be good to keep with your spare battery, etc.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Handheld recommendation?
« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2014, 05:43:51 PM »
All, thanks.  Got the tax refund in a couple of weeks ago, and the FT-60 was on my front porch yesterday.  Reading the manual now and poking at it, the programming cable should be in tomorrow or thereabouts.  Again, thanks to all.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Handheld recommendation?
« Reply #11 on: May 09, 2014, 03:31:20 PM »
Alan,

I'm also eyeing the FT-60R.

Did it in fact turn out to be tedious to program from the keys? 

Did you end up using CHIRP or other software?

Would a cable like this work: http://www.amazon.com/ExpertPower%C2%AE-Programming-FT-10R-FT-40R-VX-210A/dp/B007NPVUYU/  ?

Offline cpf240

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Re: Handheld recommendation?
« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2014, 11:15:56 PM »
Programming the FT60, or just about any HT, from the keypad is not fast, depending on how many entries you are making. Of course, those without full keypads would probably be more work. I don't mind adding a few entries from the keypad, but for whole lists of frequencies, etc, I'll use the cable and software.

That cable *looks* like it will work for the FT-60R, though I bought a different one, which came with several other cables. Figured the price wasn't bad for the ability to work with other radios.

For software, I used the free FT60 Commander software http://www.kc8unj.com/ft60.html

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Handheld recommendation?
« Reply #13 on: May 10, 2014, 08:41:05 AM »
Did it in fact turn out to be tedious to program from the keys? 
Smurf Hunter, it's not bad at all.  OK, slightly tedious, but compared to programming a Baofing this thing is a snap.  The Nifty card is a big help in this, being more concise than the full manual.  Maybe the best thing about programming this vs. a Baofing is that it does not time out between steps.  On a Baofing, it tosses you back to the previous menu if you aren't continuously punching buttons, which is supremely annoying when you're just figuring things out.  The Yaesu waits while you consult the manual.

Quote
Did you end up using CHIRP or other software?
I tried!  Chirp could download what I'd programmed in, but I could not get it to upload stuff to the radio.  I guess I got my money's worth out of chirp... (i.e., it's free).  But it does work great on a Baofeng, where it's really needed.  BTW, I'm running on a four year old Mac, so it probably all works fine for you Windows folks out there.

Quote
Would a cable like this work: http://www.amazon.com/ExpertPower%C2%AE-Programming-FT-10R-FT-40R-VX-210A/dp/B007NPVUYU/  ?
You need this one: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0092CU7PK/ref=oh_details_o03_s00_i01?ie=UTF8&psc=1  It plugs into the microphone port.

OK, so where am I now with this thing?  Still trying to get chirp to upload (maybe there's a new version this week, will check in a minute), and trying to figure out the memory partitioning feature.  That looks useful for setting aside different groups of channels, say one group for home, one for BOL area, another for simplex operation.  It's just a lot to learn.

On the larger 2 meter front, in the past week I've put up a copper pipe slim jim antenna in hopes of hitting some repeaters 25-30 miles away.  And it worked with the FT-60, sort of, I have adequate height for a line-of-sight path, but the handheld's 5 watts wasn't enough power for reliable comms.  So... back to the HRO store for a 75 watt(zzzt!) FT-2900.  (Meh, Friday was payday and they're having a $40 off sale on the things.)  There is nothing quite like adding 12 dB to your signal to make stuff work, had a half-dozen solid contacts an hour after unboxing.  So now I'm sorting out how to program that thing, and it's not so bad either.  Does get a little warm on the high power setting though.

Back to the FT-60, I still like it and will be using it, even though it won't reliably hit some of the repeaters I want to use.  I'll definitely be using it on organized bike rides that have ham club support, and one of the reasons I got it was to be able to program in their repeater frequencies on the fly.  With that Nifty mini-manual, it's perfect for that.  So I've come a long way with this, but still have a longer way to go.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Handheld recommendation?
« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2014, 10:39:51 AM »
good tips.

regarding the "slim jim", I heard this seller was recommended:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/110943811469?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649


I hastily priced building one myself,  but the savings aren't that huge.  It's also nice to start out with confidence in your gear before the hacking starts :)

If I hadn't mentioned, I live in the hilly foothills of the cascade mountains.  Good news is lots of repeaters (big population between Tacoma and Seattle), and it's relatively easy to get to high ground (1000ft+).  Bad news is it's easy to end up in a deep valley and I've no idea how that might affect my H/T and mobile situation.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Handheld recommendation?
« Reply #15 on: May 10, 2014, 11:57:52 AM »
Hah, Smurf Hunter, that's exactly the one I put up last weekend!  I ordered directly from his site for the same price: http://www.jpole-antenna.com/shop/2-meter-slim-jim-antenna/  Dunno how much ebay charges him in transaction fees, but I'd rather him get a couple of bucks more.

I hastily priced building one myself,  but the savings aren't that huge.  It's also nice to start out with confidence in your gear before the hacking starts :)
Exactly my view on both points.  The guy seems to be building and selling these more as a labor of love than a get-rich-quck scheme, and I do appreciate it.

Quote
If I hadn't mentioned, I live in the hilly foothills of the cascade mountains.  Good news is lots of repeaters (big population between Tacoma and Seattle), and it's relatively easy to get to high ground (1000ft+).  Bad news is it's easy to end up in a deep valley and I've no idea how that might affect my H/T and mobile situation.
That is soooo different than my situation.  Flat, flat, flat, and low elevations.  High land around here is 30-ish feet.

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: Handheld recommendation?
« Reply #16 on: May 10, 2014, 12:05:30 PM »
On the larger 2 meter front, in the past week I've put up a copper pipe slim jim antenna in hopes of hitting some repeaters 25-30 miles away.  And it worked with the FT-60, sort of, I have adequate height for a line-of-sight path, but the handheld's 5 watts wasn't enough power for reliable comms.  So... back to the HRO store for a 75 watt(zzzt!) FT-2900.  (Meh, Friday was payday and they're having a $40 off sale on the things.)  There is nothing quite like adding 12 dB to your signal to make stuff work, had a half-dozen solid contacts an hour after unboxing.  So now I'm sorting out how to program that thing, and it's not so bad either.  Does get a little warm on the high power setting though.

Been there, done that, and even started a thread on it (somewhere around here).  I should have started my 2m career with the FT-2900, too, having that power made all the difference for me.


regarding the "slim jim", I heard this seller was recommended:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/110943811469?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649


I hastily priced building one myself,  but the savings aren't that huge.  It's also nice to start out with confidence in your gear before the hacking starts :)

If I hadn't mentioned, I live in the hilly foothills of the cascade mountains.  Good news is lots of repeaters (big population between Tacoma and Seattle), and it's relatively easy to get to high ground (1000ft+).  Bad news is it's easy to end up in a deep valley and I've no idea how that might affect my H/T and mobile situation.

I've got a lot of hills and mountains in my area, also.  I had a hell of time hitting repeaters using an HT from my home in a shallow canyon, and even direct line of sight when I climb a hill is iffy half the time.  Going from the FT-60R to the FT-2900 was literally like night and day.

If you're looking to buy a slim jim, check out the N9TAX antenna, it's half the price of the one you link to.  They're extremely well made, and you can't beat the form factor and portability.  I hung one in the closet and hooked it up to the 2900 and it's performance is amazing.  I can't imagine what it would be like if I actually permanently mounted outside.

http://www.2wayelectronix.com/
http://www.n9tax.com/Slim%20Jim%20Info.html


Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Handheld recommendation?
« Reply #17 on: May 10, 2014, 12:52:11 PM »
Been there, done that, and even started a thread on it (somewhere around here).  I should have started my 2m career with the FT-2900, too, having that power made all the difference for me.


I've got a lot of hills and mountains in my area, also.  I had a hell of time hitting repeaters using an HT from my home in a shallow canyon, and even direct line of sight when I climb a hill is iffy half the time.  Going from the FT-60R to the FT-2900 was literally like night and day.

If you're looking to buy a slim jim, check out the N9TAX antenna, it's half the price of the one you link to.  They're extremely well made, and you can't beat the form factor and portability.  I hung one in the closet and hooked it up to the 2900 and it's performance is amazing.  I can't imagine what it would be like if I actually permanently mounted outside.

http://www.2wayelectronix.com/
http://www.n9tax.com/Slim%20Jim%20Info.html

Looks like I can get the FT-2900 shipped for $159 ($40 rebate until 6/30/14)

http://www.aesham.com/2m-144-mhz/yaesu-ft-2900r/

That's the same price as the FT-60R (at that store at least).  I've already got an assortment of 12VDC SLA batteries that I've powered a scanner with. Not ideal amp hours for transmit, but I can improvise a bit in the near term if I need to power a mobile like the FT-2900 outside the home or vehicle.
I liked the "idea" of throwing a radio in my pocket or BOB, but without experience I've no idea how feasible that would be.   

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Handheld recommendation?
« Reply #18 on: May 11, 2014, 07:43:56 AM »
Smurf Hunter, Ham Radio Online has them for $10 cheaper.

About batteries, according to the manual this radio draws 4 to 15 Amps when transmitting, depending on your TX power.  Depending on your batteries, you might not be able to transmit at 75 watts, but you ought to get 5 or 10 watts easily.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Handheld recommendation?
« Reply #19 on: May 11, 2014, 09:58:44 PM »
Smurf Hunter, Ham Radio Online has them for $10 cheaper.

About batteries, according to the manual this radio draws 4 to 15 Amps when transmitting, depending on your TX power.  Depending on your batteries, you might not be able to transmit at 75 watts, but you ought to get 5 or 10 watts easily.

I see:  http://www.hamradio.com/detail.cfm?pid=H0-010078
Thanks for the tip.

Assuming all goes well with my exams, I might use the excuse of father's day and my birthday (one day apart) to treat myself to the FT-2900.  I might start out with the N9TAX  antenna, as it's cheaper and compact.   I could still get one of the copper pipe slim jims for permanent exterior mounting later.

I do see a substantial battery bank in my future :)

Offline SCWolverine

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Re: Handheld recommendation?
« Reply #20 on: May 12, 2014, 04:25:46 AM »
While I'd normally recommend the FT-1900 over the FT-2900, with that price (unless one is needing the most compact unit between the two), it seems to be a no-brainer. 

N9TAX makes good gear, as does Ed Fong: (http://www.ebay.com/itm/Dual-Band-VHF-UHF-Ham-Commercial-MURS-and-GMRS-versions-Base-Station-Antenna-/121336615107?pt=US_Radio_Comm_Antennas&hash=item1c4039d0c3)
make sure whichever antenna you choose, it is rated for the avail power of the 2900!