Calgary Amateur Radio Association
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Sorry so long winded:
First I wouldn’t rely on an HT even if attached to a mag mount. Yes, it may be heard, but a lot of the time it is broken. For general use this may or may not be OK but when working a public service event, the last thing net control needs is to have is to try and pick out what someone is trying to say. If CARA uses their portable repeater, this will make an HT useful as was the case with the Cochrane Winter Rally. However, for most on the Kananaskis Rally, the HT would have been useful only for cross band repeat. And I did use an HT for both these functions but used for cross band at the Kananaskis rally. For the MS Bike Tour, I only use HT for cross band.
I know a lot of people are promoting D-Star and Fusion for emergency use. But when the internet goes down, I doubt if these digital modes will be that useful as they both rely on the internet. A possible more useful digital mode would be the HF digital modes that don’t rely on internet. Or some digital modes like Fidigi on 2 meters.
D-Star to me is a little complicated to set up but once set up is OK. I find the quality a little bit less than desired but useable. And there are a few repeaters in Calgary, Airdrie and SW of Calgary. Fusion, I believe only has 1 repeater in Calgary and a couple of simplex frequencies, 1 on 2 m and 1 on the 220 band. Much simpler to use. I can’t really comment on DPRS except it will not beacon with the Kenwood or Yaesu APRS directly.
As to radios, you have had a couple of responses on RadioReference. Personally, I find the Yaesu FTM-400 much easier to program and use than the Kenwood 710. I like the Yaesu as most of the functions including scan start and stop, can be done on the microphone [Kenwood has programable on mic as well but no scan]. And with distracted driving I can use the mic easier to do what I need the radio to do without having to view the display or even look at the mic. [I won’t get into distracted driving with more than the PTT on the mic]. The Yaesu mic has 8 programable buttons while the Kenwood has 4. While the 710 has a decent display, the display on the FTM-400 is great.
The APRS function on the Kenwood is far more complicated but one can do far more with it. For my need, all I require is for it to beacon my position and to receive others. I do not use it for messaging although both can do this.
The Kenwood has more functions on how cross band repeat can be set up. It allows some functions that are not necessary in Canada such as being able to automatically identify. But I find the 400 very easy to set up and has served my need well in all the functions I have used it.
Comparing receive on both, I seem to get more QRM on the Kenwood. In fact, it will have interference when the 400 doesn’t. The 400 will display the volume on the display whereas the 710 doesn’t however, the squelch setting on the 710 is displayed and the controls are on the buttons on the display head whereas the squelch on the 400 has to be changed by going into a menu. But I find I am always changing the squelch on the 710 but only need to change it on the 400 when I need to turn it down.
I have had good luck with all the Yaesu radios I have used with little if any problems. I haven’t used Kenwood radios long enough to give my opinion. And I really like the idea of programming the 400 with a SD card vs having to take a computer and cable out to the vehicle to program the 710.
The 400, if using an external speaker, requires a special connector that is included with the radio, or having to use Yaesu external speaker. I find overall, the volume output on the 400 louder than the 710 through the external speaker. I haven’t compared them using just the speaker in the radios. The microphone does not come with an extension for the 400 but it is easy to make. All other extension wires are included with the 400 but may need to buy a kit for the Kenwood. One deal breaker for me [but may not for others] the 400 can listen to the AM Air Band 118-136 on both bands whereas the 710 the AM air band is only on the A side.
As others have said, use a very good antenna.
Great Info thanks I think when i get back from work next week ill grab the TM-710. Peter you mentioned most have two mobiles in their trucks? what for?
Your equipment isn't the end all be all. Minimum requirements are generally a radio with VHF/UHF capabilities and a decent antenna. 50W output? Great. Mobile capable of cross banding? Bonus. APRS? Nice. Extra HT? Awesome.
One of the things I like most about the hobby in general, is that it's members are masters of being able to work with anything. So if you volunteer at an event with the bare basics, I guarantee that they'll find a place for you that will make the most what you are capable of.
Aaron, It would be really great to have the radio Peter described on his wish list. I have a TMD710 - before they added the GPS, so it is connected to an old Nuvi 350. I haven't figured out how to do APRS messaging yet.
Besides the radio, also consider what antenna can get access from remote service locations. For everyday use, my mag mount about 20" tall hits local repeaters & can get into my garage. For most of the events I've worked, the 20" antenna works on Med power, but to hit the event repeater RYC from the south end of Powderface Trail needed a 5/8 whip.
Just another piece of the puzzle. Welcome to the hobby!
To help out with local events, choose the Kenwood or Yaesu 50 watt amateur mobile, which has UHF, VHF, cross band, APRS, and GPS features. Also required is a dual band handheld. Most experienced HAMS have two mobiles in their vehicle.
ICOM digital not used in local public service events that I have heard of.
Thanks. Is there much use for the digital modes? Also to help out with local events/ares. What are the requirements for a radio?
The Kenwood tends to be more user friendly to use, though that is always a matter of opinion.
An advantage of the Yaesu is that it uses an SD card which allows the user to program channels on a PC in the home and then take the card(s) out to radio(s) in vehicle(s). Handy. Also, I think there is a Bluetooth headset available for use while driving. Handy, again. And the Yaesu has a large color screen. Nice.
I have no experience with the ICOM unit.
It all comes down to user preferences like a vehicle. Chevy vs. Ford, vs. Dodge, vs. Toyota, ...
What I'm personally waiting for is a HAM mobile VHF/UHF/cross band/APRS/GPS/"Bluetooth two-way data exchange" radio that interfaces with an app for a tablet that beautifully displays intuitive APRS screens with maps, positions of other APRS units, text messaging, and all the other APRS functions available. Judging by the Kenwood web site for Japan, this sort of radio and app are under development.
Hope this helps, Aaron. Welcome to the amateur radio hobby! :-D
Hello New member and have a question regarding a new mobile. Stuck on what to buy and researching on the internet is making it more difficult. I'm currently looking at Kenwood TM-D710G, Yaesu FTM-400XDR or the ICOM ID-5100. I see there are both DStar and fusion repeaters in the area. any comments on that? for an extra $50 over the Kenwood id have the option of Digital. Main question is what are most guys running locally? I want to start helping out at events and volunteering for an ARES group possibly? so what are the requirements for those? Heard good things about kenwood's APRS not as comparable is yaesus APRS and ICOM has DPRS? Thoughts? THX