CAP Talk

Operations => Tools of the trade => Topic started by: umpirecali on December 22, 2015, 12:22:19 PM

Title: Truck radio
Post by: umpirecali on December 22, 2015, 12:22:19 PM
I am comms novice and have recently ordered some study material to get my technician HAM license.  I am a member of one other SAR group besides CAP and wanted to purchase a radio for my truck. I already have a hand held radio.

I have been looking at the band charts but don't yet know how to interpret them.

http://www.arrl.org/files/file/Regulatory/Band%20Chart/Hambands_color.pdf (http://www.arrl.org/files/file/Regulatory/Band%20Chart/Hambands_color.pdf)

I need the radio to cover 148-156 and 462-468, and dual-band at minimum, but other common bands would be good for when I get my technician.  I plan to run them off 2 12V deep cycle batteries in parallel.  I'd like at least a 25W output.  Can someone recommend any models under $500?
Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: Mordecai on December 22, 2015, 01:11:38 PM
To be honest, hang on to your money until you have around $800-$1000.

I got my technician license and owned 0 radios. I then bought (in order) A wouxun kg-uv6x (handheld), A Yaesu 897D (base station/vehicle), and a Baofeng Bf-f8. I then got issued an EFJ radio for CAP.

I spent $900 used on the 897D, and got several extras as part of that deal (AC adapter, battery packs, and some other fun parts.)

The CAP radio and the wouxun are the ones I most commonly use.

If I was going to redo everything, I'd start with the baofeng, since it costs at most $50 for the radio and programming cable. It will also give you the opportunity to learn a lot more about what works/doesn't work for you before you spend lots of money on another radio.

If you find out where your local ham clubs are, you'll find out when the local ham convention is. At that point, you'll have a higher probability of getting a good deal on used equipment.

One note of caution: If the price for a base station/truck radio seems too good to be true, it probably came from a smoker's residence/truck. Expect to smell cheap cigs whenever it gets warm. Fortunately I learned this from someone else's experience and not my own. Be sure to ask when buying used if the radio was in a smoker's household/truck.

The HAM radio hobby is one that you can literally open a hole in the ground and just pour money into. Starting with an inexpensive radio first to make sure you don't have any regrets is a very good idea.

Also, chances are really good your comms officer is a ham radio licensee and has forgotten more than you currently know. Reach out and ask for knowledge/tips.

I will also say that wouxun warranty support is excellent if you order through their US distributor site at powerwerx.com.

I have no knowledge of warranty support on the baofeng (too cheap for me to care if it breaks, especially since it is over a year old now) and Yaesu (bought it out of warranty period.)

I will close with mentioning that I STILL have very little idea with what I'm doing with radios. To advance my knowledge I'll probably try teaching a class on radios next year to cadets.

In review, for your current purchase plan, I'd seriously consider saving a bit more money. If I HAD to buy a new radio in the $500 range, I'd say to examine the big brands out there for what might be available on the compliant summaries portion of the NTC site: https://comm.capnhq.gov/equipment/equipment.cfm (https://comm.capnhq.gov/equipment/equipment.cfm)
and then look at reviews of them on eham.com.

That isn't necessarily the be all and end all, my 897D is not CAP compliant for example, but here are the eham reviews for it:
http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/2432 (http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/2432)

Digging through the eham reviews will help you out of making some costly mistakes down the road. And leverage the knowledge of those who've been in the game longer than you, while taking everything with a grain of salt (Brand advocates especially. If they tell you to just by Brand X, ask them specifically what model and what it gets you for your money.)
Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: Mordecai on December 22, 2015, 01:23:51 PM
Also, for your technician license, a much better list of usable freqs:

http://www.arrl.org/files/file/Tech%20Band%20Chart/Tech%20Band%20Chart.pdf (http://www.arrl.org/files/file/Tech%20Band%20Chart/Tech%20Band%20Chart.pdf)
Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: umpirecali on December 22, 2015, 01:49:32 PM
I already have a Baofeng BF‑F8HP.  If I got issued an EFJ from CAP, I'd give that brick (EFJ) back.  Nice chart but I still don't see which band 148-156 is under on that chart.
Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: Mordecai on December 22, 2015, 02:07:00 PM
I already have a Baofeng BF‑F8HP.  If I got issued an EFJ from CAP, I'd give that brick (EFJ) back.  Nice chart but I still don't see which band 148-156 is under on that chart.

That's because your technician license gives you privileges between 144-148.

It looks like you are looking at MURS frequencies: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multi-Use_Radio_Service

That is governed by a different part of the FCC rules.

Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: umpirecali on December 22, 2015, 02:19:01 PM
I checked the MURS link and I am not using those frequencies.  Even though both the CAP and VDEM frequencies are freely available on the internet, I won't post them due to FOUO.  I will send you a PM of some of the frequencies I need.  Maybe that will help you find the name of the band I need.
Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: SarDragon on December 22, 2015, 02:30:21 PM
That band is most commonly referred to as the two meter band. Broadly, it encompasses both ham and government frequencies. As noted, the ham portion is 144-148 MHz. The remainder belongs to the gummint, and is NOT freely available for general use. Some of the CAP frequencies are below 144 MHz, and some are above, all of which require a compliant radio, and a CAP Radio Authorization to use.
Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: Mordecai on December 22, 2015, 02:33:58 PM
That band is most commonly referred to as the two meter band. Broadly, it encompasses both ham and government frequencies. As noted, the ham portion is 144-148 MHz. The remainder belongs to the gummint, and is NOT freely available for general use. Some of the CAP frequencies are below 144 MHz, and some are above, all of which require a compliant radio, and a CAP Radio Authorization to use.

This. The good news is, if it is your intent to purchase a radio for use with CAP, your choices are on the NTC website. Punch those into eham.com, then check with your comms officer to get authorization before throwing money at the problem... and just try and get an issued radio if you can.
Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: umpirecali on December 22, 2015, 03:59:50 PM
We don't have a competent comms officer at the squadron or group level.  I only know the wing officer by name.  I am not interested in joining a HAM club, I just want recommendations on radios.  I am not buying a radio "for CAP" per se.  I don't want an issued radio.  I don't really care if its on the "approved CAP list" because I get called out for my other SAR group about 15 times for every 1 of CAP. My Baofeng isn't on the list but I have used in several mission with the other SAR group. I am buying a radio for SAR and other things.  I was looking for recommendation for radios that meet those frequencies.  So far, I seen 1 radio recommended (Yaesu 897D) but not in my price range. 
Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: THRAWN on December 22, 2015, 04:09:00 PM
We don't have a competent comms officer at the squadron or group level.  I only know the wing officer by name.  I am not interested in joining a HAM club, I just want recommendations on radios.  I am not buying a radio "for CAP" per se.  I don't want an issued radio.  I don't really care if its on the "approved CAP list" because I get called out for my other SAR group about 15 times for every 1 of CAP. My Baofeng isn't on the list but I have used in several mission with the other SAR group. I am buying a radio for SAR and other things.  I was looking for recommendation for radios that meet those frequencies.  So far, I seen 1 radio recommended (Yaesu 897D) but not in my price range.

Try this then: http://www.buytwowayradios.com/products/wouxun/kg-uv920p-a.aspx (http://www.buytwowayradios.com/products/wouxun/kg-uv920p-a.aspx)
Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: Mordecai on December 22, 2015, 04:14:23 PM
Erm...

If you aren't using it for CAP and you don't have an FCC license, you using your baofeng on several missions may have put you in violation of FCC rules.

Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: THRAWN on December 22, 2015, 04:16:03 PM
Erm...

If you aren't using it for CAP and you don't have an FCC license, you using your baofeng on several missions may have put you in violation of FCC rules.

Unless he is covered in some way by his "other" SAR outfit...
Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: Mordecai on December 22, 2015, 04:17:21 PM
Erm...

If you aren't using it for CAP and you don't have an FCC license, you using your baofeng on several missions may have put you in violation of FCC rules.

Unless he is covered in some way by his "other" SAR outfit...

A possibility, which is why I said "may."

The world of radio regulations is chock full of carve-outs, but one should be able to confidently state how they are covered by the FCC/NTIA for whatever it is that they are doing.

The fun giant chart of radio frequency allocations: https://www.ntia.doc.gov/files/ntia/publications/spectrum_wall_chart_aug2011.pdf (https://www.ntia.doc.gov/files/ntia/publications/spectrum_wall_chart_aug2011.pdf)
Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: umpirecali on December 22, 2015, 04:24:27 PM
I know the limitations for use of the radio and I was within them. I didn't say CAP missions, I have actually never been called out for a CAP ground team; only aircrew.
Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: umpirecali on December 22, 2015, 04:31:07 PM
The Wouxun KG-UV920P looks like a good option.
Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: Mordecai on December 22, 2015, 04:31:52 PM
Well, I'd suggest reaching out to these people: http://www.vacache.org/ (http://www.vacache.org/)

It sounds like they have a good idea of what radios work for your area, and if you know what their inventory is for vehicle radios, having one with interchangeable parts with your state radio cache is never a bad thing.
Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: Mordecai on December 22, 2015, 05:28:22 PM
So in the Chinese Age of Radio, it looks like some things no longer cost an arm, a leg, and a kidney.

http://www.amazon.com/LT-898UV-10watts-Standby-Programming-Transceiver/dp/B00VFDLWRQ/ (http://www.amazon.com/LT-898UV-10watts-Standby-Programming-Transceiver/dp/B00VFDLWRQ/)

The good: Price (under $100), meets your freq requirements.
The bad: only 10 watts where you want 25.
And the amazon reviews aren't bad. The one really negative review had a clarification added later indicating user error.

Assuming it actually has FCC acceptance, I might pick one of these up for my car. Hmm...
Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: THRAWN on December 22, 2015, 05:59:11 PM
So in the Chinese Age of Radio, it looks like some things no longer cost an arm, a leg, and a kidney.

http://www.amazon.com/LT-898UV-10watts-Standby-Programming-Transceiver/dp/B00VFDLWRQ/ (http://www.amazon.com/LT-898UV-10watts-Standby-Programming-Transceiver/dp/B00VFDLWRQ/)

The good: Price (under $100), meets your freq requirements.
The bad: only 10 watts where you want 25.
And the amazon reviews aren't bad. The one really negative review had a clarification added later indicating user error.

Assuming it actually has FCC acceptance, I might pick one of these up for my car. Hmm...

Huh. Not bad. Might have found my gift to myself...

Then there is this one: http://www.amazon.com/Juentai-JT-6188-136-174-400-480MHz-Transceiver/dp/B0149KUE84/ref=pd_sim_422_5?ie=UTF8&dpID=51kMLhgl0EL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR160%2C160_&refRID=097BMP5QFD4FA9VQZ7ME (http://www.amazon.com/Juentai-JT-6188-136-174-400-480MHz-Transceiver/dp/B0149KUE84/ref=pd_sim_422_5?ie=UTF8&dpID=51kMLhgl0EL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR160%2C160_&refRID=097BMP5QFD4FA9VQZ7ME)

Looks like it has the output the OP wants.
Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: EMT-83 on December 22, 2015, 11:39:19 PM
I'm from the opposite school of thought. Rather than buy a cheap Chinese piece of crap, buy it once and buy it right. There are decent radios from the big three (Icom, Yaseu, Kenwood) available in your price range. Check eBay and the QRZ forums for used equipment, and eHam.net for equipment reviews.

My mobile radio is a Yaesu FT-8900R quad band, but that's a bit more than you need as a Technician. BTW, after you pass your Technician test, jump right into General while your brain is still in radio study mode.

I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss the idea of joining a radio club. Hams really do like to help out new guys, and they may even have equipment to loan out. You can read books and study on-line, but nothing beats some face time with some experienced operators.
Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: umpirecali on December 23, 2015, 12:44:54 AM
I don't have time for it.  Between family, church, work, CAP, and another SAR group, I am tapped out.  I always hear people put down the cheaper radios, but I have yet to hear someone explain why.  For instance, why is the Wouxun KG-UV920P-A or  Juentai JT-6188 a bad radio?
Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: SarDragon on December 23, 2015, 06:32:23 AM
I don't have time for it.  Between family, church, work, CAP, and another SAR group, I am tapped out.  I always hear people put down the cheaper radios, but I have yet to hear someone explain why.  For instance, why is the Wouxun KG-UV920P-A or  Juentai JT-6188 a bad radio?
Two words - durability and support.

The big three build quality, dependable, long-lasting radios, and provide support for their products. The Chinese products aren't known for either, although Powerex seems to be an exception for the stuff they sell.
Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: THRAWN on December 23, 2015, 07:55:49 AM
I don't have time for it.  Between family, church, work, CAP, and another SAR group, I am tapped out.  I always hear people put down the cheaper radios, but I have yet to hear someone explain why.  For instance, why is the Wouxun KG-UV920P-A or  Juentai JT-6188 a bad radio?
Two words - durability and support.

The big three build quality, dependable, long-lasting radios, and provide support for their products. The Chinese products aren't known for either, although Powerex seems to be an exception for the stuff they sell.

Disagree. I own a couple of the Chinese HTs and they have been just as reliable and durable as any of the majors.
Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: umpirecali on December 23, 2015, 09:05:47 AM
But at 1/10 to 1/3 the price of the model SarDragon recommended, one can afford to have a unit break over time and get a new one.
Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: EMT-83 on December 23, 2015, 09:28:49 AM
The complaints I hear about the Chinese radios are with performance. Poor receiver sensitivity and selectivity, along with poor RX/TX audio quality.

Personally, if Iím going to invest several hours of my time to install a radio, Iíll make sure itís worth the effort.
Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: THRAWN on December 23, 2015, 11:22:30 AM
The complaints I hear about the Chinese radios are with performance. Poor receiver sensitivity and selectivity, along with poor RX/TX audio quality.

Personally, if Iím going to invest several hours of my time to install a radio, Iíll make sure itís worth the effort.

Earlier models had some issues. They have pretty much worked them out in the newer units. Again, my units work as advertised in all conditions that I have used them...
Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: Mordecai on December 23, 2015, 02:59:21 PM
Most of the issues I had heard of with chinese radios revolved around a lot of 1st gen radios that didn't always bother with silly things like FCC type acceptance or quality control.

That has significantly changed.

I mean seriously, the Baofeng is a rather solid contender now for a HAM's first radio. There is still some caveat emptor out there (check for reviews and use tests) but you can buy a chinese radio with a high degree of confidence in performance today. And if it fails, you are out the cost of 20% of what the regular Big Names would have charged.

I'd be hard pressed to invest the money in a brand new Yaesu/Kenwood/Icom today, and pretty much the only way I would is if I was getting the base station to end all base stations that also happened to be NTIA compliant for CAP use along with all the bells and whistles.

I should note that neither my wouxun nor beofeng have had any issues, and that wouxun was very, very close to becoming a staple of CAP communications with its attractive price point and features until stuff happened...
Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: SarDragon on December 23, 2015, 03:40:31 PM
My dad told me years ago, that when it comes to buying tools, you either pay now, or pay later - quality stuff now, or repeated purchases of cheap stuff later on. To me, a radio is just a different flavor of tool. YMMV.
Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: Mordecai on December 23, 2015, 04:07:33 PM
My dad told me years ago, that when it comes to buying tools, you either pay now, or pay later - quality stuff now, or repeated purchases of cheap stuff later on. To me, a radio is just a different flavor of tool. YMMV.

Time for me to drag out my soapbox...

Personally, after making sure the base radio can do the job, I'd put more concern into throwing money at the antenna and associated items to mitigate things like motor whine for example.

It's just as important to understand why you are paying more for something than to just "pay more for quality."

If you are looking at 2 radios, one costs $200 more than the other, and you find out that the reason is for APRS functionality that you don't use, there is no reason to buy the $200 more expensive radio.

Also, if you know you are going to be using the radio in such a fashion that it might be taking a beating, packing your $1000 radio might not be on your list of things to do.

Finally, these companies have been pushing the same radios at the same or higher prices for year after year until the chinese radios started showing up.

The contender for my first handheld was the Yaesu FT-60R, which everyone told me should be my first radio. It cost twice as much as the wouxun. I bought the wouxun.

Interestingly enough, look at this:

http://camelcamelcamel.com/Yaesu-FT-60R-Handheld-Amateur-Transceiver/product/B004P4PDAO?context=browse (http://camelcamelcamel.com/Yaesu-FT-60R-Handheld-Amateur-Transceiver/product/B004P4PDAO?context=browse)

Yaesu has dropped their price to the point of being just slightly higher than the KG-UV6X now. Thank China for bringing capitalism and the free market to the world of radios.

[/soapbox]

Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: umpirecali on December 23, 2015, 11:47:48 PM
There is truth on both sides.  I believe in quality.  I shop at REI and other quality retailers when needed.  Tomorrow, I am picking up a $310 bike for my 10 year old because I don't want to get the $120 cr@p bikes on amazon or target. But sometimes there is name brands and advertising.  Is a Lexus ES a nice car?  I bet, but the Camry will get me to work.  It might not have the horse power, nice gadgets and gizmos, and fine interior, but it will get you down the road reliability.  The Lexus is $38k and the Camry is $23k new.  Will the Lexus last longer? Maybe, maybe not.  Will the Lexus perform and look better? Yep.  But the Camry does get you where you are going.

I remember when I was shopping for a diamond engagement ring, the salesman was trying to push the "hearts on fire diamond" the "worlds most perfectly cut diamond".  They were really nice looking (especially under all their special lights).  But they were 3x's the price of the non-name brand diamonds of similar cut, carrot, quality and color.  In that case the difference in price was pure marketing.   

Are the cheaper radios any good? I don't know yet, but we can't disqualify them just because they aren't the fanciest model out there or the biggest name brand.
Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: Brad on December 26, 2015, 11:35:00 AM
TYT TH-9000D: http://www.amazon.com/TYT-TYT-TH-9000D-Two-Way-Radio/dp/B006QMM9XM (http://www.amazon.com/TYT-TYT-TH-9000D-Two-Way-Radio/dp/B006QMM9XM)

Great for ham use and it is also Part-90 certified for LMR use: https://apps.fcc.gov/oetcf/eas/reports/ViewExhibitReport.cfm?mode=Exhibits&RequestTimeout=500&calledFromFrame=N&application_id=35VkYYbvhcdcuY1vPk0mpw%3D%3D&fcc_id=X24-MOBILE-V (https://apps.fcc.gov/oetcf/eas/reports/ViewExhibitReport.cfm?mode=Exhibits&RequestTimeout=500&calledFromFrame=N&application_id=35VkYYbvhcdcuY1vPk0mpw%3D%3D&fcc_id=X24-MOBILE-V)

Runs 65 watts, 25 watts, and 10 watts.

$113, I have one as my base station, not for CAP use of course. Can also be configured to recognize Motorola Quick-Call II tones. They come in VHF and UHF varieties.
Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: umpirecali on December 26, 2015, 09:33:10 PM
The TH-9000D seems ok but it doesn't support the GMRS band.
Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: Disenchanted on December 29, 2015, 01:20:00 AM
I wanted to add my info about the cheap import HT.  I don't own one, but I talk to anyone that I see that has one.  The folks that have owned them stated in the beginning a major problem was programming them.  I think  that problem has been fixed with better support and online help.  For the price I don't see how they can be beat.  Everyone that I talk to praises the imports functionality and sound quality.  The hand mics and larger batteries that are available are praised also.

Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: ee1993 on January 20, 2016, 05:25:54 PM
The biggest problem with the Wouxun and Boafeng  is receiver overload.  These radios use a direct conversion receiver technique with limited input filtering to give a wide-band receiver.  This works well most of the time but can fail in a strong signal environment.  One national staff CAP member found this out when he brought his, at the time compliant, Wouxun to a NASCAR race.  The receiver was overwhelmed by all of the string VHF transmitters in operation.  That radio was subsequently removed from the CAP compliant list.

If CAP is the main objective for a vehicle mounted, consider a good used EF Johnson 5317 like CAP uses.  They are well built commercial grade radios with 50W output and can be programmed for 2M ham along with standard CAP programming.  They can be found on EBay for about $200.  However, you will need support from you comm officer or wing DC to program for CAP. 
Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: spacer on March 08, 2016, 01:07:10 PM
If you're worried about mounting space, and are a Tech, the FT7900 from Yaesu is a great little unit. I mounted mine in the back of my HHR, and have the control head hidden in the dash-top storage compartment. All I have to do is pop it open (the lid only goes up a little, and doesn't interfere with vision) and there it is. Plenty of room in there to rest the mic, as well.
It's a great little radio, and well within your budget.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/velojym/18795746524 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/velojym/18795746524)

I also have a couple of Baofengs and a Yaesu FT60. They all work great, though the latter does "feel" like a much better radio, I use the former as spares at work and home.
Programming isn't too difficult manually, but there is software out there to simplify it now.
Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: C/SrA Ravlin on March 11, 2016, 04:41:16 PM
take a look at the comms website in eservices.
Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: SarDragon on March 12, 2016, 12:47:23 AM
take a look at the comms website in eservices.

As the 35th post on the thread, your post seems a little too general to be of much use. Which post are you referring to?
Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: C/SrA Ravlin on March 14, 2016, 03:06:20 PM
On the bottom tab in Eservices is a link to the comms website. If you go there and look in the equipment compliance list and look at those radios. Many of them are great, cheap radios. Please PM me with any questions. 
Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: Turbine 33 on February 12, 2017, 09:05:09 PM
Capt. Cali,

Lynchburg Composite here. Which Group is 060 in?

If you want dual band have a look at this. https://powerwerx.com/db750x-dual-band-commercial-mobile-radio (https://powerwerx.com/db750x-dual-band-commercial-mobile-radio). I cannot speak on any aspect of this radio. Just came to mind and though I'd present it.

We have had issues with some of the comms folks in NoVA being unreachable which I find terribly ironic.

I hope you have been able to track down an answer to your needs.
Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: SarDragon on February 13, 2017, 02:30:32 AM
Is it in  the NTIA compliant list on the NHQ Comm site?
Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: Brad on February 13, 2017, 12:17:36 PM
Holy necropost, Batman!

Read back on page 1 guys, this is for non-CAP/ham use radio recommendations.
Title: Re: Truck radio
Post by: radioguy on February 16, 2017, 12:27:15 AM
The biggest problem with the Wouxun and Boafeng  is receiver overload.  These radios use a direct conversion receiver technique with limited input filtering to give a wide-band receiver.  This works well most of the time but can fail in a strong signal environment.  One national staff CAP member found this out when he brought his, at the time compliant, Wouxun to a NASCAR race.  The receiver was overwhelmed by all of the string VHF transmitters in operation.  That radio was subsequently removed from the CAP compliant list.

If CAP is the main objective for a vehicle mounted, consider a good used EF Johnson 5317 like CAP uses.  They are well built commercial grade radios with 50W output and can be programmed for 2M ham along with standard CAP programming.  They can be found on EBay for about $200.  However, you will need support from you comm officer or wing DC to program for CAP.

+1

Over the past few years, I have owned a number of chinese radios and the two biggest issues I have encountered are 1) most receivers are (very) easily overloaded... some even to the point of non-usability, and 2)  most are very difficult to program, since they use parameters and methodologies not typically seen in other radios.  Proceed with caution before you spend your hard-earned money.

John