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Musing on equipment choices...


wayoverthere
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So it occurred to me to come back and add some updates to this:

  • Added a 2nd (used) vx4207, packed the nos one away for now. 2nd got installed in the truck feeding that tram browning antenna, and mxt115 went on the shelf. Btech back in service next to the icom in my office.
  • Added a vhf vx-p829 to the pile, now have p25 on both bands 😁 also grabbed a dual band signal stalk to have something dual band and smaller than the comet 2x4sr.
  • Didn't listen to my own advice, and been trolling eBay...after a week or so of debating, I have a vx4204 on the way (vhf twin of my 4207), which will take up residence on my desk, the 4207 will join it, and the icom will go to the truck. The fan noise of the icom was the deciding factor. Have some mics inbound as well, both for the handhelds and the mobiles, and a diplexer.
  • Midland may find it's way back to the truck to join the icom, or I may move the btech out and run the two base radios on separate antennas (so the 4207 can do 70cm and gmrs...doable with just an antenna swap on the mount.
  • Have some vacay shortly and looking forward to running up the hill and seeing what distances I can reach some repeaters. Have my eye on one that's a good 120 mile shot, but looks like I should have line of sight, and I could hear it last week a bit scratchy, so I'm hopefully I can do it line of sight across the valley.
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9 hours ago, wayoverthere said:
  • Added a vhf vx-p829 to the pile, now have p25 on both bands 😁 also grabbed a dual band signal stalk to have something dual band and smaller than the comet 2x4sr.

I found a good deal on a Kenwood TK-5320-K2 on eBay a while back on an auction. Now I'm looking around for the VHF version. It took a lot of looking and waiting to find the UHF radio.

https://comms.kenwood.com/common/pdf/download/TK-5220_5320_Specsheet.pdf

If you never used the digital half the analog FM half of the radio is really nice.

The same can be said for the NX-200 and NX-300. People have been getting the older NX-200 and NX-210 for railroad monitoring, "railfan" activity, since more of the communications is taking place on digital NXDN. I have two of each in my collection. The two NX-300-K2's I sent out, due to low power issues, and had them fixed with alignment done on them. I couldn't just send them to any radio repair shop since they were the "intrinsically safe" models. Only a few Kenwood shops are certified to work on them.

https://rcsonline.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/NX-200_300.pdf

I believe the NX-300-K's have FCC Part 95 certification while the NX-300-K2 don't, if that really matters to anyone. Otherwise they are the same radios but with a different band split.

For anybody interested in SHTF situation and wants some measure of security the radios come standard with a basic 15 bit digital scrambler function. Also an add-on digital encryption board can be installed too, expensive, and requires a special "key loader" to write the encryption keys to the radio.

I looked at the brochure for the VX-829. If I read it right there are only two band splits available. One looks like it covers the lower part of the UHF band 380 MHz to 450 MHz, and the other higher 450 MHz to 512 MHz spilt. Do the VX-829's allow you to enter out of bounds frequencies? The Kenwood's will do so with a warning window that pops up every time. The Motorola XPR6550's I have won't, period. One has to be very sure to buy the radio with the desired band split.

https://www.motorolasolutions.com/content/dam/msi/docs/vertex-standard/legacy-products/vxP820_p25_series_na_en.pdf

 

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3 hours ago, Lscott said:

I looked at the brochure for the VX-829. If I read it right there are only two band splits available. One looks like it covers the lower part of the UHF band 380 MHz to 450 MHz, and the other higher 450 MHz to 512 MHz spilt. Do the VX-829's allow you to enter out of bounds frequencies? The Kenwood's will do so with a warning window that pops up every time. The Motorola XPR6550's I have won't, period. One has to be very sure to buy the radio with the desired band split.

https://www.motorolasolutions.com/content/dam/msi/docs/vertex-standard/legacy-products/vxP820_p25_series_na_en.pdf

 

The ones I have seem to be 403-470 for the UHF gear. Haven't tried out of band with the vx's, since they cover everything I want them to (70cm, and keeping an ear on gmrs). I know the evx, the software flat out refuses anything out of band, similar to your motorola (Tried frequencies in the 440's with one of the 450-512 evx). Ive seen hints that hex editing can get around that, but that's one of those back burner projects....if I could get them down to 440 i'd be happy.

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 2/11/2021 at 2:14 PM, tweiss3 said:

Yea, the most overlooked thing GMRS and HAM operators forget is power levels and RF exposure. Even if you are NOT required to maintain a RF exposure calculations, you must still maintain safe distances and power levels.

 

IMO, stay away from Anytone, I have their 878 and it has some serious desensitize issues, even after being replaced under warranty. They claim part 90, but I'd avoid them.

+1 stay away from ALL CCRs...

If you want to keep it to a single band radio you could try using a transverter, which would allow you to operate in a different band...

G.

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5 hours ago, gman1971 said:

+1 stay away from ALL CCRs...

If you want to keep it to a single band radio you could try using a transverter, which would allow you to operate in a different band...

I've been tempted by the anytone, simply for the vast amount of experience out there, but held off so far. Stumbled on a NOS vhf version not too long ago, just waiting on FedEx for that. Current idea is to try dmr with the EVXs, and just find a local repeater instead of the hotspot.

On the range testing (really just an excuse to go for a drive), I managed 75ish miles to one repeater from the handheld, with a signal stick antenna, the other was a bust from there. However, I went poking around another spot that's home to a dozen or so towers and who knows how many antennas, from ham to public safety to commercial FM. From up there managed to hit that 2nd repeater at just shy of 120 miles out, basically over the top of the valley. One of the handhelds (yaesu ft4x) may have defended a bit, but still usable. The vertex seemed unaffected, was picking up a p25 repeater 100 or so miles away a mag mount antenna.

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@wayoverthere

LOL... been tempted... I was tempted... sadly, and still own (I am still stuck with) multiple Anytone POS radios that nobody wants to purchase for anything that will mean a huge loss, ... an AT-578 and x3 Alinco MD-5 (AT-878 clones) .... all garbage, compared to the XPR7550e and XPR7550e.... 

Yep, Vertex Standard radios are pretty darn nice radios... anything commercial grade or LEO grade is going to offer great range in situations where a ham repeater is not handy to make a CCR turd reach more than 1/4 mile... 

@Lscott

Totally, the XG-100p seems like a very nice radio, however, aside from the much higher price tag.. I think there is a lack of components and cheap replacement parts for it... also I've been told the radio is not very robust... certainly 

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On 12/15/2021 at 3:45 PM, wayoverthere said:

I've been tempted by the anytone, simply for the vast amount of experience out there, but held off so far. Stumbled on a NOS vhf version not too long ago, just waiting on FedEx for that. Current idea is to try dmr with the EVXs, and just find a local repeater instead of the hotspot.

On the range testing (really just an excuse to go for a drive), I managed 75ish miles to one repeater from the handheld, with a signal stick antenna, the other was a bust from there. However, I went poking around another spot that's home to a dozen or so towers and who knows how many antennas, from ham to public safety to commercial FM. From up there managed to hit that 2nd repeater at just shy of 120 miles out, basically over the top of the valley. One of the handhelds (yaesu ft4x) may have defended a bit, but still usable. The vertex seemed unaffected, was picking up a p25 repeater 100 or so miles away a mag mount antenna.

DMR is quite interesting. I use the local repeaters, but I also use my hotspots. I recently added the TGIF DMR network on my D-Star hotspot. I also bought a SL7550 (DMR only) for around the house hotspot use, its smaller and runs 1/3W, and cost me something like $50. Still, DMR is secondary to most of my conversations.

8 hours ago, Lscott said:

I saw a mention of a Harris XG-100P. Looks like a nice multi-band HT. Used ones I saw on eBay are going for around $1200 more or less. A bit out of my price range. For info the brochure can be found here.

https://www.northeastcommunications.com/harris/downloads/xg-100p-datasheet.pdf

I recently saw a few threads on the XG-100P. Nice radio, but seems problematic, but if used on amateur radio, should be simple.

 

So I've found that while VHF is important to me, it isn't important in a HT. Since carrying the XPR7550e for 6+ weeks, that Skywarn is simulcast on UHF, ARES is on UHF, I have great DMR coverage by repeaters in the area, and the other few repeaters I talk on often are all UHF. For carrying around in an emergency, I'm not concerned with VHF. I also enjoy the 26+/- hours of battery on a single charge (I now have 5 batteries).

 

I did just buy a Retevis 9000D for 220, only because I literally couldn't get anything else for less than $500. I hate it. It's only been up a day. If I could come across another 220 radio for a reasonable price I'd be return it in a heartbeat.

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3 hours ago, tweiss3 said:

DMR is quite interesting. I use the local repeaters, but I also use my hotspots. I recently added the TGIF DMR network on my D-Star hotspot. I also bought a SL7550 (DMR only) for around the house hotspot use, its smaller and runs 1/3W, and cost me something like $50. Still, DMR is secondary to most of my conversations.

I recently saw a few threads on the XG-100P. Nice radio, but seems problematic, but if used on amateur radio, should be simple.

 

So I've found that while VHF is important to me, it isn't important in a HT. Since carrying the XPR7550e for 6+ weeks, that Skywarn is simulcast on UHF, ARES is on UHF, I have great DMR coverage by repeaters in the area, and the other few repeaters I talk on often are all UHF. For carrying around in an emergency, I'm not concerned with VHF. I also enjoy the 26+/- hours of battery on a single charge (I now have 5 batteries).

 

I did just buy a Retevis 9000D for 220, only because I literally couldn't get anything else for less than $500. I hate it. It's only been up a day. If I could come across another 220 radio for a reasonable price I'd be return it in a heartbeat.

If you like digital voice modes most of it is on UHF anyway. Fortunately there are a lot of used UHF Part 90/95 radios available for reasonable prices. I’ve been trying to find some good deals on them. Currently l’m looking for a Kenwood TK-5220 analog FM/digital P25 VHF HT for a really good price. I scored a good deal on the matching TK-5320 UHF model a while ago.

https://pdfs.kenwoodproducts.com/18/TK-5220&5320Brochure.pdf

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8 hours ago, gman1971 said:

@wayoverthere

LOL... been tempted... I was tempted... sadly, and still own (I am still stuck with) multiple Anytone POS radios that nobody wants to purchase for anything that will mean a huge loss, ... an AT-578 and x3 Alinco MD-5 (AT-878 clones) .... all garbage, compared to the XPR7550e and XPR7550e.... 

Yep, Vertex Standard radios are pretty darn nice radios... anything commercial grade or LEO grade is going to offer great range in situations where a ham repeater is not handy to make a CCR turd reach more than 1/4 mile... 

@Lscott

Totally, the XG-100p seems like a very nice radio, however, aside from the much higher price tag.. I think there is a lack of components and cheap replacement parts for it... also I've been told the radio is not very robust... certainly 

Yeah, ive had the very slight temptation for a dmr mobile too, but it wouldn't really fill any needs, and the only thing it has that I don't is dmr...if I do grab one, 95% chance it'll be a vertex. And no point in spending on that until I get set up on/figure out dmr to begin with..made some effort with cheap stuff and no success, so...back burner for a bit, and I'll come back to it. Will probably try on a repeater instead of hotspotwhen I come back to it.

4 hours ago, tweiss3 said:

DMR is quite interesting. I use the local repeaters, but I also use my hotspots. I recently added the TGIF DMR network on my D-Star hotspot. I also bought a SL7550 (DMR only) for around the house hotspot use, its smaller and runs 1/3W, and cost me something like $50. Still, DMR is secondary to most of my conversations.

I recently saw a few threads on the XG-100P. Nice radio, but seems problematic, but if used on amateur radio, should be simple.

 

So I've found that while VHF is important to me, it isn't important in a HT. Since carrying the XPR7550e for 6+ weeks, that Skywarn is simulcast on UHF, ARES is on UHF, I have great DMR coverage by repeaters in the area, and the other few repeaters I talk on often are all UHF. For carrying around in an emergency, I'm not concerned with VHF. I also enjoy the 26+/- hours of battery on a single charge (I now have 5 batteries).

 

I did just buy a Retevis 9000D for 220, only because I literally couldn't get anything else for less than $500. I hate it. It's only been up a day. If I could come across another 220 radio for a reasonable price I'd be return it in a heartbeat.

I was eyeing the retevis and it's clones for the same reason (I think it's sold under one or two other brand names, but the same radio), but hold off because theres not much here on 220 that isn't linked to something else (a lot more on uhf than vhf here too). Btech has a triband mobile with just 5 watts on 220 and it's near $400, DXE lists a Bridgecom monoband for $240 as a special order item, and The Alinco has been discontinued.

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10 minutes ago, wayoverthere said:

Yeah, ive had the very slight temptation for a dmr mobile too, but it wouldn't really fill any needs, and the only thing it has that I don't is dmr...if I do grab one, 95% chance it'll be a vertex. And no point in spending on that until I get set up on/figure out dmr to begin with..made some effort with cheap stuff and no success, so...back burner for a bit, and I'll come back to it. Will probably try on a repeater instead of hotspotwhen I come back to it.

DMR isn't too bad to understand. If you understand P25, its not much different. Though I did buy the MOL software, so I won't hesitate to buy more Motorola radios in the future. 

 

10 minutes ago, wayoverthere said:

I was eyeing the retevis and it's clones for the same reason (I think it's sold under one or two other brand names, but the same radio), but hold off because theres not much here on 220 that isn't linked to something else (a lot more on uhf than vhf here too). Btech has a triband mobile with just 5 watts on 220 and it's near $400, DXE lists a Bridgecom monoband for $240 as a special order item, and The Alinco has been discontinued.

The Alinco is discontinued, and Bridgecom was removed from Bridgecom's site, and DXE no longer has it in stock, I doubt it will ever arrive if I order one. I'm not buying a "base" radio for 220 that does the same 5W my D74 puts out. I'm pissed off I couldn't find a Kenwood.

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1 hour ago, tweiss3 said:

DMR isn't too bad to understand. If you understand P25, its not much different. Though I did buy the MOL software, so I won't hesitate to buy more Motorola radios in the future. 

 

The Alinco is discontinued, and Bridgecom was removed from Bridgecom's site, and DXE no longer has it in stock, I doubt it will ever arrive if I order one. I'm not buying a "base" radio for 220 that does the same 5W my D74 puts out. I'm pissed off I couldn't find a Kenwood.

Yeah, I didn't make it clear enough that that 5 watts on the Btech is pretty much a joke, like it's just there so they can technically claim triband.  On the bridgecom, I didn't catch that they no longer list it on their own site, but it jibes with dxe having it as "special order".

DMR, not sure what I was missing, but with no success either direction other than the parrot channel, I'm clearly missing something. I'll come back to it when time permits.

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I own a lot of personal Motorola equipment, but still have one Harris XG-100P Unity handheld that was sold to me as a demo unit many years back now. Used, they are decent, but as others have stated, they are not very durable. Then there is the programming software, cable, and needing to have a dedicated computer for that software. Radio Program Manager is not like Motorola CPS, you can't just load it onto as many computers as you wish, each computer must be registered on the Harris server to be then used to program a Unity, or many other models included Harris radio. 

Better to buy something you can readily get programming software for, and is more popular and able to find parts to repair if it breaks. UHF Motorola radios, commercial or public safety grade is a very good way to go for GMRS use. I use an older XPR6550, but sometimes test XPR7550e radios work has given me to try out. Even HT-1250's do well, and at a lower cost than the XPR7550e, but higher cost than a Chinese made radio. I must admit to owning some Chinese radios for GMRS as well though, GM-30, Radioddity DB20-G, Anytone 878.

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9 hours ago, PACNWComms said:

I own a lot of personal Motorola equipment, but still have one Harris XG-100P Unity handheld that was sold to me as a demo unit many years back now. Used, they are decent, but as others have stated, they are not very durable. Then there is the programming software, cable, and needing to have a dedicated computer for that software. Radio Program Manager is not like Motorola CPS, you can't just load it onto as many computers as you wish, each computer must be registered on the Harris server to be then used to program a Unity, or many other models included Harris radio. 

Better to buy something you can readily get programming software for, and is more popular and able to find parts to repair if it breaks. UHF Motorola radios, commercial or public safety grade is a very good way to go for GMRS use. I use an older XPR6550, but sometimes test XPR7550e radios work has given me to try out. Even HT-1250's do well, and at a lower cost than the XPR7550e, but higher cost than a Chinese made radio. I must admit to owning some Chinese radios for GMRS as well though, GM-30, Radioddity DB20-G, Anytone 878.

Good info on Harris, I've seen them in my eBay searches for p25 stuff (other than dmr, that's probably the most common digital mode here in central CA). And I think most (if not all of us) have tried the lower priced stuff and learned through experience why a lot of it is cheaper to buy, be it poor performance, poor durability, or a manufacturer trying to build its name.

Other than the lockdown method, I can't really complain about the Btech 50x1 I have, and do have a couple of uv5r variants...not a bad scanner for $25, and one has recently been paired with a mobilinkd tnc3 to try playing with APRS via radio..already poked at it a little strictly from the app/internet side.

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On 12/17/2021 at 1:18 PM, tweiss3 said:

The Alinco is discontinued, and Bridgecom was removed from Bridgecom's site, and DXE no longer has it in stock, I doubt it will ever arrive if I order one. I'm not buying a "base" radio for 220 that does the same 5W my D74 puts out. I'm pissed off I couldn't find a Kenwood.

I probably bought one of - if not the last - Bridgecom 220 radios! They had a sale on them about a year ago for $120 discount, so I immediately grabbed one. Although I've programmed it, I have yet to actually install or use it. I suspect the reason for the "fire sale" was because they weren't selling as many as they expected. Sale goes for the 220 HT I bought four years ago. Both have gone the way of the do-do bird. 🙃

I also bought an Anytone AT-5888 UV III tri-band mobile radio. The high power is 50w @ 144 MHz, 25w @ 220 MHz, and 40w @ 440 MHz.

The 220 band has 25w/15w/10w/5w selectable power output.

This is a true dual transceive radio with separate volume/squelch controls for the A and B sides. The 220 frequencies may only be programmed for the A transceiver however. I have been extremely pleased with this radio!

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