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Kenwood TK-8180(-H? -K? -HK2?) vs Icom IC-2730a

Guest NuGMRSguy

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Guest NuGMRSguy

I could use some feedback and advice between a setup based around the Kenwood TK-8180 line (leaning towards TK-8180-HK2) or the Icom IC-2730A.

I would like an above-average, somewhat budget mobile starter setup (aka no-midland) that gives me as many expandability options as possible. I live in a suburban area but within short driving distances of rural areas and I regularly spend my weekends in more rural areas (think mid-atlantic rural terrain with frequent trips into the allegheny and shenandoah). I also use parking garages frequently enough that I will be using a setup that doesn't require me to constantly take the antenna off. This will be going on an SUV and I've decided on an nmo mag mount placed in the middle of the roof (also lets me move them between cars). The radio will also be wired into the vehicle's interior fuse box (likely on a constant on fuse), but it looks like they both use quasi-molex breakaways.

I like that I can do true multi-band dual receive with the Icom and I have the option of (somewhat) adjustable tx power. Regulations aside, the option of being able to use it as a cross-band repeater with a gmrs ht for an emergency use is really appealing to me. For more day-to-day it would be cool to have noaa weather alert capabilities but I already run a CB with that feature, so more of a "nice to have" if for whatever highly unlikely reason I decide to pull the CB. Given the mounting options in my vehicle, I also like that the head-unit/faceplate is detachable so I can hide as much of the electrical and coax cabling as possible on the base unit while keeping the controls easily accessible.

For the Kenwood setup, the front firing speaker means that I could theoretically "stack" my CB underneath it (CB is currently mounted using 3M dual lock at about knee level) and not have to worry about blocking the speaker. Also from my research, Kenwood's commercial radio build quality is significantly better than any "ham-centric" gear. I have some concerns about people (trolls) being able to use preprogrammed stun codes in either their GMRS gear or a similar Kenwood and soft-locking my unit but not sure how realistic that is. Lack of dual-band aside, it also seems that the Kenwood isn't that field programmable? I know that both units can use keypad mics with DTMF but I haven't been able to find much info on if with the Kenwood I could use that to dial in tones for repeaters or any other similar use-cases.

On the topic of antennas and dependent on the radio (and all things being equal with antenna tuning, placement, etc.), I am split between the Tram 1174 and the Larsen NMO150/450/800. With the Larsen being a multi-band antenna, it gives me significantly more options but the height can make it less parking garage compatible. The Tram 1174 does not have that problem, but it's a gmrs-only antenna. From where I'm sitting, I'm leaning towards the Tram-1174 and keeping a significantly taller multi-band UHF/VHF antenna in my trunk for those just-in-cases (something like a 3', 4', or taller so I could get better performance on those bands), but I'm open to other ideas.

Thank you all for your feedback, help, and taking the time to read.

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Icom IC-2730A- I know is not compliant for gmrs and requires a modification for it to work.  Not sure how many people will be willing to answer that question publicly. However it you break the rules this is likely a good option.

I prefer non Midland products due to being able to have 2 - 4 preprogramed repeaters or simplex stations all at the same time so I can reply to many without changing channels to hear one at a time.  The above is 2. Btech has some that are 4. So it is worth looking at others if you do like me.

Likely I can't answer antenna questions, as I am just now looking at multiband antennas.  But I know one of mine will work the HAM side and GMRS, as well as part of the 150 range.




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7 hours ago, Guest NuGMRSguy said:

It’s not a concern. You have to specifically enable it in a radio AND have to put in the particular code to do it. Leave the code out and “turn the feature off” NOBODY will have the ability to stun or kill your radio. That’s the case for every Kenwood radio I’ve programmed.

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Yes the Icom IC-2730, and most Icom radios, can have the MARS mod done to open them up. It requires removing at least one diode from the main board. Youtube has plenty of videos showing how to do this. I know quite a few guys who have done the MARS mod to their Icom radios even though the radios will never be GMRS certified. Just make sure you have both your amateur and GMRS licenses if you decide to do so.

I can recommend the Comet GP9 base antenna and the Comet 2x4SR NMO mobile antennas. Both work well for 2m/70cm and GMRS. The Comet 2x4SR is around 40 inches long so it might not work if you have height restrictions. Most shorter, 20" or less, dual band antennas don't work very well for GMRS.

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