Author Topic: FT-8800 vs. FT-8900 vs. something else suitable for mobile HF  (Read 8483 times)

Offline occeltic

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FT-8800 vs. FT-8900 vs. something else suitable for mobile HF
« on: December 16, 2010, 08:16:37 PM »
I am in the midst of a struggle, trying to decide what to do about some good fortune that came my way last weekend. I attended a repeater system breakfast and entered a raffle for an FT-8800....and won!! ;D
Now, I am in the process of obtaining my general, and want, if possible, to acquire a radio with HF features. The 8800 is a great dual band, and the reviews state that. The only recurring disappointment that I see is the lack of back-lighting on the keys. Perhaps that is common with Yeusu. Right now I have the opportunity to take the radio back to HRO and upgrade to a different one if I so desire, and the FT-8900 looks like it might fit the bill. I have to stay close to the purchase price of the 8800, so I can't go hog wild on a more expensive unit. But....I am open to suggestions!

Thanks!

Occeltic 

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Offline TANK

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Re: FT-8800 vs. FT-8900 vs. something else suitable for mobile HF
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2010, 08:44:10 PM »
I have a FT 8900 love it beyond discription. The down fall of the FT 8900 is the Quad Band radio. I use my 8900 as a moble, and a quad band antenna is very expensive when you hit a low overhead with it and it breaks, I know I did it. The question is are you going to use it as a moble or a base. The FT 8800 will be my next dual band radio I have two FT90's that I don't like. The FT8900 and FT8800 are both great radios. It depends what you are looking for.  Bye the way congrads on the win

Offline occeltic

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Re: FT-8800 vs. FT-8900 vs. something else suitable for mobile HF
« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2010, 12:04:47 AM »
Thanks Tank...the more I think about it, the more I am convinced that I will get allot more use out of a mulitband/quad band unit if I use it only as a base station. I believe most folks out there on HF are doing it from a base station and not a mobile unit. The 8800 has many great features and will make a excellent mobile radio. Perhaps down the road I will be able to pick up a great deal on an HF rig at a hamfest.

Thanks for your input!

Occeltic

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Offline buffalojustice

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Re: FT-8800 vs. FT-8900 vs. something else suitable for mobile HF
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2011, 01:08:37 AM »
Congratulations! That is an excellent radio, I have the 8900 and really love it. That said, and you have probably figured this out already, it is FM only. Yes you get six and ten but it is really for repeaters and the few simplex FM'rs out there. I hope that if you don't have six and ten meter repeaters in your area that you did not pay up for the extra "HF" function as it really isn't. For the little extra cost I bought the 8900 for more flexibilty, and I don't use it at all. What I do use is the cross band repeat, which is awesome. I like that I can walk around with an ht and still hit distant repeaters. Just another take on the two radios you've mentioned. BTW, both have excellent audio and work extremely  well. 73

Offline occeltic

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Re: FT-8800 vs. FT-8900 vs. something else suitable for mobile HF
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2011, 09:33:30 PM »
Thanks for the comment buffalojustice. :) I am going to go ahead and keep the 8800 and perhaps find another radio for HF a little further down the Ham radio road. All I have to do now is find someone skilled in radio installation and a way to mount the antenna on the roof of my truck without making a hole. I do have a magmount, but I'd like to be able to run the cable without having it run out the window. I wonder if there's a roof rack small enough to attach to the top of an F-150.

Occeltic

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Offline TANK

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Re: FT-8800 vs. FT-8900 vs. something else suitable for mobile HF
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2011, 09:09:32 AM »
Install. use a mag. mount ant. I have never had a problem with any mag. mount. and they can be transfered from vehicle to vehicle. also with a piece of metal such as a file cabinet, metal chair can be used inside to place the ant. I have tried several type of ant. mounts including making holes. I still like the mag. mount.

Offline buffalojustice

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Re: FT-8800 vs. FT-8900 vs. something else suitable for mobile HF
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2011, 12:38:37 PM »
I cheated on the power lead on mine since I didn't have a lot of spare time when I mounted the radio. I took it to a car audio place to have them run the heavy cable I used. 4 gauge is overkill but I also have a mobile hf rig that may eventually go in there and I like that I get virtually no voltage drop. I would recommend 8 guage with 10 gauge at a minimum though as you want to supply the radio with as much voltage as you can, automotively speaking of course. I have seen many trouble setups that used a quality radio, good coax, good antenna and mounting scheme but the factory supplied power cable. In those cases upsizing the power leads made the difference. If you have a good straight shot from the battery to the radio I wouldn't worry about it though, my wrangler only had six foot of power lead and the factory wire was sufficient.

I don't know about the F-150 but my 02 Ram had access plugs between the cab and the bed at the bottom. You would still have the wire hanging down from the roof but you wouldn't go through the door. It would make it more difficult to swap the mag to another vehicle though so maybe not ideal. The magnet will pick up magnetic dust/particles in the air and eventually cause a ring and/or possibly rust on the roof. NMO mounts when properly installed will seal moisture out and last for years. If water ingress and roof damage are your concerns with drilling then that's something to think about. Another option is a bracket for mounting between the quarter panel and the hood. The cable is then run into the cab near the wire harnesses.

If you have a radio club in your area go to a meeting and ask a few guys to see how they do it. If you find a nice clean setup then ask if that person would be willing to help you or lead you to the person that helped with theirs. Many town PD/FD use a shop or trusted technician for their vehicle installs so you may be able to find someone there with that info. That one will cost you money but it may be worth it.

I have been meaning to document how I did mine but after a year I still haven't. If I get around to it I will add it to the how to section. Just don't hold your breath as I am not promising anything at the moment.

It's really not that hard it just takes time to do it right so don't rush it. If you don't have a large chunk of time then you would be better off doing it in smaller parts at a time.


Offline occeltic

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Re: FT-8800 vs. FT-8900 vs. something else suitable for mobile HF
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2011, 04:40:09 PM »
Thanks for the advice in regards to installing my mobile. Since I do want it done right, I will be seeking the assistance of someone who knows what they're doing. A fellow ham has offered to assist, and he also mentioned the importance of having a direct battery connection. I would have the antenna installed through the roof, but I am not sure if I will be keeping the truck. Because of that, I would like to find some sort of rack/bar that could attach to the bed of my truck with an extended arm or arms that reach out over the cab. I will be searching the net to see what I can come up with.

Occeltic

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Offline WestTx753

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Re: FT-8800 vs. FT-8900 vs. something else suitable for mobile HF
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2011, 03:43:18 PM »
For the price difference between a 8900 and a 857 I would take the 857 every day. Then you have all band all mode when you can use it.

Offline occeltic

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Re: FT-8800 vs. FT-8900 vs. something else suitable for mobile HF
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2011, 10:26:17 PM »
Well it has been a few weeks now since I acquired the 8800R, and I have decided to keep the radio and have it installed in my truck. Now I am looking for recommendations for a dual band antenna that will be mounted on the roof. Some recommend Comet, and some Diamond. Some also talk about the best antenna for different terrains. Any takers? :)

Occeltic

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Offline TigerDragon

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Re: FT-8800 vs. FT-8900 vs. something else suitable for mobile HF
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2011, 12:45:23 PM »
Diamond and Comet both make excellent antennas.  Are you looking for a magnetic mount or a drill-n-install mount?  If you are leaving it on your roof, a magnetic mount might be better in the long run (in case you ever decide to sell the vehicle... a hole for the drill-n-install would be bothersome to fill in.)

The mag mount we bought for use with my FT-60R was a Diamond MR-77 which is pretty short (little over a foot tall) but doesn't have as strong of a magnetic base as you might like.  The up side is I can quickly pull it off and in if I'm driving through an area with lots of low hanging branches that brush the roof of my car.  It's a nice antenna, but it has been repurposed for use with the scanner for the internet stream of the local ham club primary repeater and is sitting on a popcorn tin in my office.

But as already stated, both companies make excellent antennas.  Go look at what is available, and pick one that is aesthetically pleasing to you :)
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Offline buffalojustice

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Re: FT-8800 vs. FT-8900 vs. something else suitable for mobile HF
« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2011, 01:05:38 AM »
Sorry for the late reply, I thought I had notifications on but I guess not.

I have a differing opinion from TigerDragon on the mag versus drill mount. I recommend the NMO drill mount for most installs. If you plan to sell the vehicle you can just put an NMO cap on it and no one will notice, those that do generally won't care. I don't have a problem with mag mounts except they will most likely cause a rust ring on the roof. The magnet will pick up metallic particles, you will get road grime on the roof and the magnet will ever so slightly shift around acting like sandpaper on the roof. This will mostly be in the paint surface and not actually in the roof metal so it's going to be cosmetic "damage." A properly drilled and installed NMO mount will not leak or rust. If you go with the mag mount lay it down or remove it before running through low overheads as the damage from the mount itself  can be more severe than the damage to the antenna of a drilled mount. The mag mount is an excellent choice for HT's or if you plan on moving it to different vehicles/locations.

As to what antenna to buy. I have have great results from the Larsen NMO 150 (5/8 wave 2m single band) and their NMO 2/70 (2m/70m dual band) open coil version. If I have to gripe on the Larsens it's the center pin in the base, it's a spring tab that sometimes binds when removed. Just make sure to check it when replacing the antenna. Having said that there are probably thousands of  Larsen antennas being used today that are older than all the  vehicles I have owned combined. I have had good results with Antennex/Laird antennas as well, and their center pins are rock solid. You will find that Comet, Larsen, and Laird will all be good antennas.

You asked so what kind of terrain are you working with? You will be somewhat limited by going dual band but that's not a big deal in reality. If you live in Mountainous terrain the 1/4 wave may work out best for you. The 1/2 wave is best suited for mag mounts as the vehicle ground plane, and the weaker coupling of mag mounts,  is just added bonus. In the flat lands a 5/8 wave will be an excellent choice. That's all based on single band antennas though and the choices in a dual band are more limited. The Larsen NMO 2/70 is a center loaded, "shortened", 1/2 wave on 2m and two phased 5/8 waves on 70cm. It has a noticeably weaker signal on 2m but kicks ass on 440.  2m is still usable and not really lacking. Any multiband antenna is going to be a compromise on one of the bands but it's worth it if you need both of them. I don't use the 440 repeaters much but I do use the crossband repeat function alot and that alone outweighs the weaker signal by a ton.

Sorry if I rambled, its been a long day and my brain is taking a break.


Offline TigerDragon

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Re: FT-8800 vs. FT-8900 vs. something else suitable for mobile HF
« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2011, 10:34:47 AM »
As pointed out by buffalojustice, there are downsides to the mag mount.  We never left ours on all the time (only used it when the hand held was going with me out of town in the car that didn't have a mobile installed.)  There is maintenance involved to keep it from turning into sandpaper (have to wipe off the grit regularly) but if you aren't using it all the time, only putting it up when you go out, the "can cause rust" becomes moot as long as you keep the roof and the base of the mag mount clean.  If the magnet isn't strong enough, it may slide around some which can cause scratches (especially if you get the whip bent back by a low hanging limb or similar) so practice awareness while driving and if you are headed into the woods, take it down first :)

NMO mounts are nice, but they are better if you can hide any drilling done by NOT putting them on the roof directly.  The vehicle that has a permanent mobile installed uses a bracket with an NMO connection.  The bracket is off to one side rather than on the roof, and bolts into the inner lip next to the hood.  If we decide to sell later, the bolt on mount can be removed, rust proofing applied to the holes, and with the hood down, you'd never know there used to be an after market antenna on the vehicle.

Both mounting options have benefits and down sides, so you'll have to weigh your needs against these and choose accordingly.  Regardless of which you choose... get one up and operate!   ;D
The security lifecycle:  observation, awareness, planning, and action.
The spheres of security:  personal, family, home, city, community
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The first rule of ninjutsu:  don't get hit.


Offline buffalojustice

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Re: FT-8800 vs. FT-8900 vs. something else suitable for mobile HF
« Reply #13 on: March 19, 2011, 10:43:48 AM »
If you do drill your roof, time it so that you finish as your wife gets home. With the drill in hand say "oh good your back I just got done drilling my roof and I'm ready to start on yours."  ;D The look is priceless, however, do NOT do this if she is carrying something heavy or sharp.

Offline occeltic

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Re: FT-8800 vs. FT-8900 vs. something else suitable for mobile HF
« Reply #14 on: November 17, 2012, 05:41:28 PM »
It's been ages now since I started this thread....and believe it or not, with moves, job changes, etc., I still have my 8800 in the box! I know, poor excuse. The info you all shared with me was awesome and greatly appreciated. Moving forward, I want the radio to double as a base since the distances to local repeaters make good communication with my HT a pain. I am looking for some advice in purchasing a switching power supply for home use, and perhaps some sort of power supply/battery backup ideas as well. Thx! :)

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Offline buffalojustice

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Re: FT-8800 vs. FT-8900 vs. something else suitable for mobile HF
« Reply #15 on: November 18, 2012, 12:37:35 PM »
I'm on my phone so I'll be brief. If you want backup power in the house you could use a car battery and charger instead of the power supply. I did this with my base station and it works as well as my roommates power supply. I'll post more later when I get to my laptop

Offline buffalojustice

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Re: FT-8800 vs. FT-8900 vs. something else suitable for mobile HF
« Reply #16 on: November 19, 2012, 12:46:45 AM »
Ok so your original question was on power supplies. For a simple FM mobile rig I would recommend a switching supply due to weight and size, they will work great. If all you're running on it will be the Yaesu then a 20 amp will be more than sufficient. There are some with a lead for an automatic battery back up but they will cost more and don't come with a battery. I cannot give you an actual recommendation on power supplies as I have only used one, very short term, and it wasn't mine. Astron is known for great power supplies and that is the brand I did use on both my 8900 and my Icom 7000. It was a switching type and did not cause any perceptible noise incoming or outgoing on either radio. One of my elmers used a giant behemoth MFJ transformer type that could power all three of his radios and his patchwork stereo as well, I think it could have doubled as a jack stand, guy wire anchor and cornerstone. perhaps all at once. It was probably as old as I am and never once hiccuped, the amp meter would rise but the volt meter barely budged. I cannot speak to the newer MFJ stuff as I have heard good and bad, the one redeeming factor is that their customer service seems to rock. Then there is Jetstream, I have heard many bad things about problems with their electronic products and cannot recommend them.

I went with a "nonventing" battery, optima yellow top. I already had a battery charger/maintainer so that allowed me to connect the battery to the radio and the charger which allowed me to charge the battery and power the radio without any need for some sort of in between. It has worked out great, the battery is only 55 amp hours compared to much cheaper deep cycle batteries that cost about half as much. I can't give you exact numbers but I was able to get three or four days of fairly heavy talk time at night on a charge with the charger unplugged. If a storm developed I felt better running a net with the charger unplugged to disconnect the circuit from the grid and all the dangers that entails. It could have cost me much less than a standard power supply if I hadn't gone with the optima brand name. If you go this route and plan on having it inside the house I highly recommend going with gel cell batteries and specifically batteries that will not off vent gasses. My station is in the garage so I don't worry about it too much.

I will try and get some pics of the arrangement up for you to see but it's pretty straight forward. hound me a bit if I forget.

73


Offline occeltic

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Re: FT-8800 vs. FT-8900 vs. something else suitable for mobile HF
« Reply #17 on: November 19, 2012, 09:30:58 PM »
Thank you very much for your advice buff..it is very much appreciated! :)
I have seen supplies that also offer a dc plug that would make it easy to transfer the radio back and forth from the truck to the house. However I'm wondering if using the cig lighter plug is a good way to power up the mobile. Only having my ticket for a couple of years has not given me a lot of experience in this area, and anything I can glean from knowledgeable folks such as you is tremendously valuable!
What are your thoughts on using deep cycle golf cart batteries along with a charger? The charger I use for keeping my cycle battery charged, moves to a trickle state once the desired voltage has been reached.
Occeltic
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Offline buffalojustice

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Re: FT-8800 vs. FT-8900 vs. something else suitable for mobile HF
« Reply #18 on: November 19, 2012, 11:22:01 PM »
The golf cart batteries would be excellent, you can do a calculation to see how long you'll run with them. My charger operates the same way and it does a great job. So that takes care of the house.

For the mobile you can use a cigarette plug but it's not ideal. The radio at full power only pulls 9ish amps IIRC. The lower power outlets in most vehicles is 10 amps so they are capable of supplying the power but the wiring may be minimal and you may not get the full voltage to the radio. Having said that, it is how I have mine at the moment since I have a new to me vehicle and I'm not sure how/where to install it yet. If you went this way and you had a 20 amp outlet I'd use that. I use anderson powerpoles for quick connect, you could get another t plug though, and in my Cherokee I was able to remove the radio in about 30 seconds. That included the remote head, speaker, antenna and power connections.

What vehicle are you in now?

I feel I need to give a couple disclaimers. I've only been in this since 2009 and I have only done three or four ham installs. My biggest strength is that I do a ton of research and take my time figuring out exactly where and how best to install things for the safest and best placement.

Disclaimer 2: In my above post I talked about operating in storms. DO NOT OPERATE YOUR RADIO IN THUNDERSTORMS. Having said that you will probably be OK running on battery and having the antenna inside or in the attic. I only did it when running or participating in skywarn nets.

Offline occeltic

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Re: FT-8800 vs. FT-8900 vs. something else suitable for mobile HF
« Reply #19 on: January 18, 2013, 02:33:59 PM »
I've spent the morning doing further research on what I need to do to use my 8800 as my base, and really enjoyed reading through the previous posts. I was wondering what I could do to set up an antenna in the backyard, but on a telescoping type of mast that I could easily raise and lower if needed. I live in an HOA that might restrict any visible antenna, so I thought I could keep it low during the day, and raise it up at night without anyone really taking notice. I have been looking at the J-pole antenna that can serve as both 2m/70cm and appears to be easy to install, and efficient to use.
I also want to purchase a good power supply that will work well with the 8800, and not be too costly. Buffalo Justice mentioned the Astron switching supply; has anyone else used this for powering up a mobile?

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."
Abraham Lincoln

Offline ID_Joker

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Re: FT-8800 vs. FT-8900 vs. something else suitable for mobile HF
« Reply #20 on: January 18, 2013, 02:50:35 PM »
You're an American-loving citizen right?  Aren't your neighbors?  They wouldn't object to a flagpole would they?  ;D

Offline occeltic

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Re: FT-8800 vs. FT-8900 vs. something else suitable for mobile HF
« Reply #21 on: January 18, 2013, 02:56:46 PM »
As a matter of fact, once we put up our flag out, and left it flying year round, the neighbors began to show their patriotism as well! :D
What I am hoping to do is place an antenna at the back of the house outside of the master bedroom. Perhaps I could add a flag to that too! I really don't think the people behind me...who never actually seem to step out into their backyard...will even notice.

Occeltic/AZCeltic...now that I'm in AZ!

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Abraham Lincoln

Offline occeltic

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Re: FT-8800 vs. FT-8900 vs. something else suitable for mobile HF
« Reply #22 on: January 18, 2013, 03:00:51 PM »
Since I seem to have gotten this thread moving again, does anyone have any thoughts on the amount of amperage needed to power up the FT-8800? Do I really need a 20A power supply? Can I go with something less than that?

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Abraham Lincoln

Offline buffalojustice

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Re: FT-8800 vs. FT-8900 vs. something else suitable for mobile HF
« Reply #23 on: January 18, 2013, 05:37:14 PM »
Sorry, I'm using my phone again. There are a lot of people that insist on doubling but I think the actual number is %80 of the supply's rating. I would still use a 20, personally, because you aren't pushing the supply very hard at that point.

Offline occeltic

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Re: FT-8800 vs. FT-8900 vs. something else suitable for mobile HF
« Reply #24 on: January 24, 2013, 07:45:37 PM »
I am trying hard to visualize the best way to set up my station, and wonder if it would work just as well to have a deep cycle battery, a meter to monitor the charge, and a battery charger plugged in and ready to use, instead of purchasing a supply at this point. Would doing so, and not having a consistent DC voltage to the radio cause damage? How is it done on Field Days, etc.?
I'm looking back now at the subject of my post, and wonder why I thought either of the two radios could do HF! That will be my next radio.

Occeltic

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Offline buffalojustice

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Re: FT-8800 vs. FT-8900 vs. something else suitable for mobile HF
« Reply #25 on: January 25, 2013, 09:23:50 AM »
That is how I had my base setup. I had a spare optima yellow top that I connected to a Walmart charger. The nice thing about chargers today is that they have a microprocessor controller to run the charge cycle. They will charge the battery properly then switch to maintence mode to constantly, and safely, float charge the battery. If you want a power meter harbor freight sells a basic voltage tester for a few bucks.

I have used this exact setup with an Icom V-8000 (2M rig), Yaesu FT-8900, Kenwood TM-V71 (VHF/UHF rig) and Icom IC-7000 (all band all mode). They all worked flawlessly on the battery. We used this setup on multiple radios during field day.

In reality the HF radios probably prefer this to a switching supply as the electronics in them can inject noise at certain frequencies. The battery is really nothing more than a massive capacitor supplying a nice even voltage and more than enough current to run all those radios above during simultaneous key down, albeit only for an hour as that's roughly 55 amps. There won't be a voltage surge when the charger kicks on because the battery will absorb it and rise in voltage evenly. I leave the charger on at all times so the voltage never drops too far. The lower the voltage the lower your radio's output power.  Draining a battery too far will also shorten its life considerably.

Again, if this is to be inside the house I highly recommend a maintenance free battery, one that doesn't have the water filler holes on top. If in the garage or shop then I wouldn't fret it too much. 
Hope this helps, rambled a bit since I can't see most of what I typed on this phone.