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Baofeng Sales Ban Countdown

Discussion in 'Communications & Tech' started by Weedygarden, Aug 1, 2019.

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  1. Jan 30, 2020 #121

    Bacpacker

    Bacpacker

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    Good luck with the testing. You'll get there for sure. Sounds like a good group that is trying to help new guys get into the hobby.

    Yes you will need a better antenna regardless what radio you buy. None of the HT factory antennas are very good. I have used several HT's over the years, never had a Icom, but some friends that did and like them greatly. I've got a TH-D7 Kenwwod, it's got the APRS capability built into the HT. It's a decent radio, but to me it is a lower quality than the Yeasu's I have. I have both FT-50's and FT-60's. To me they are better made, seem to have a better quality send /receive capabilities, and are easy to program. Just have to learn the menu's if you don't use the programming software. I have a couple Befongs as well. They are lower quality, but still perform well and are a cost effective alternative and make good back ups.
     
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  2. Jan 30, 2020 #122

    SheepDog

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    Can you use a Yagi antenna on those hand held radios?
     
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  3. Jan 30, 2020 #123

    Haertig

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    View attachment 33807
    That's exactly what they do when fox hunting (trying to locate a hidden transmitter), which is one of the ham activities that sounds interesting to me. I want to give that a try.

    [​IMG]

    foxhunt.jpg
     
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  4. Jan 30, 2020 #124

    Haertig

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    I have a question for you experienced ham radio experts. My house is on top of the highest hill in the area. I have great line-of-sight in all directions except the North - to NorthEast quadrant. That is because there are two water towers sharing the hilltop with me. They are tall enough that I will not be able to get over them with an antenna. And they are blocking my line-of-sight to a repeater I want to hit. This repeater has something I haven't learned about in class yet, called "voting receivers", that I'm guessing are some kind of auxiliary input into the repeater. I can easily hit one of these voting receivers from my house with no obstructions. So I think I can talk to the repeater. My question is, will I be able to listen to it? I'm assuming that these voting receivers are only a mechanism for me to send signals to the repeater, but offer no help in receiving signals. So since my line-of-sight to the repeater is blocked, I'm thinking I may be out of luck in receiving signals from it. But maybe not - I don't yet know how much the radio waves will reflect and potentially bounce around the water tower.

    Below are pictures of my location with respect to the repeater. The bearing from my house to the repeater is 355 degrees, and you can see in the second picture below (satellite view) that this bearing goes straight through the offending water tower. FWIW, my bearing to the closest voting receiver is 307 degrees, which is free of obstruction.

    So, question for you experienced experts, do I have a ghost of a chance of talking to this repeater? Even though there are many other repeaters I have a clear shot to, I would like to hit this specific one because it is the club repeater for the club I want to join. If the water tower was not there, I would be able to look from my hilltop down to the repeater with zero obstruction of any kind - I would be able to see it (if my vision were good enough to resolve an antenna at 15-1/2 miles, that is!)

    LongView.jpg

    ShortView.jpg
     
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  5. Jan 31, 2020 #125

    Bacpacker

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    I can't say for sure, but I bet you could transmit and receive to the repeater ok, maybe just some noise on the signal. Hills, mountains have a large effect, but even at that you can get some signal in some cases. Lots of variables.

    Fox hunting is a lot of fun and really helps develop you skill on locating signals. One tip, when you get close to the fox, remove your antenna and just listen with the stub. It really gets selective that way. The antenna will tend to be too broad.
     
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  6. Jan 31, 2020 #126

    kd4ulw

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    I agree with everything @Bacpacker said above. You didn’t say anything about how much power you were thinking you would be transmitting or what type of antenna you would be using but you might be surprised with what your signals can do, even with the water tower mostly blocking you.
     
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  7. Feb 2, 2020 #127

    Haertig

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    I am researching radios and antennas now. I have not decided on what I want yet.

    I know I will have the Baofeng handheld (because the club gives it to me for free!) That's only 5 watts. I have bought a better antenna for it ("Signal Stick" https://signalstuff.com/antennas/ ). I also bought their SMA-M to SMA-M barrel adapter so I can use the antenna on other handhelds such as Yaesus and Icoms should I eventually purchase one of those.

    But I'm probably not going to be hitting repeaters at ten miles out with a handheld, I know that. So I am looking for a different radio for home use. This is what I am still researching. Since I'm just starting out I will stick with a 2m/70cm rig initially. And an inexpensive one at that (no $1000+ radio to start out with for me, that's for sure!) So I'm looking at mobile rigs that I would use in-house with a power supply. Most of those are 50 to 65 watts. As far as antennas - I'm still learning this, but maybe a J-pole dual-band mounted on a mast above my chimney? Or possibly a 1/4 wave 2m vertical (e.g., mobile mount style) with added ground plane up on that chimney mast? I don't know yet. I will be discussing antennas specific for my location/needs with the club's antenna guru in a few days I hope. I did find out in class tonight that many of the repeaters that surround me are linked, and if that's the case, those water towers to the north of me may become a non-issue. I'll be talking to the club's repeater expert to ask about this on Monday night.
     
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  8. Feb 2, 2020 #128

    bkt

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    Power is less important than antenna placement. I can hit a repeater 30+ miles away from me using an HT because the repeater's antenna is elevated 3000+ feet (on Bristol Mountain).

    My BTech UV-50x2 puts out ~75 watts in VHF and ~35 watts in UHF and I'm using a copper j-pole (https://www.jpole-antenna.com/tag/copper/) in the peak in the attic which puts it about 28' up. There's a clear difference in the way I sound using the mobile versus the HT, but the HT will reach out pretty far.

    Another option might be getting an amp for your HT: https://www.amazon.com/BTECH-AMP-V2...z-Compatible/dp/B076H972DH?ref_=fsclp_pl_dp_1

    And you're right that the closest repeater may not be the one to use. Go with what you can hit. If it's networked, so much the better!
     
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  9. Feb 8, 2020 #129

    Haertig

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    I aced the Technician test today. My General class starts in two weeks. At this time, I don't have any plans to go for Amateur Extra. Maybe sometime in the future if it turns out I like HAM radio and get into HF and lower bands.

    To start out, I will use the Baofeng that my newly joined club gives out to us student-graduates for free. I bought a Super Elastic Signal Stick ( https://signalstuff.com/antennas/ ) for it. Adding this antenna to the Baofeng (or any other handheld) reportedly greatly improves performance. One thing I have learned about the Baofengs - they output all kinds of spurious emissions outside of your carrier frequency. So they waste a bunch of power broadcasting this spurious stuff. An 8 watt Baofeng might only manage 4 watts of usable output power with the rest going to spurious junk that causes interference for other radio users. A higher end radio might be rated at 5 watts, but you get the full 5 watts on your desired frequency and not as wasted RF noise outside of your intended transmission. This spurious junk on transmit, and a relatively poor receiver is what separates the Baofengs from the higher end radios. That, and ease of programming. But remember, the Baofengs only cost $20! Compare that the the Yaesu brand I mention below at $139. Hmmm...

    I also bought the adapter so I can use the above antenna on a better handheld when I buy one. I may buy one sooner rather than later (like, maybe even later tonight or tomorrow!) I've done some research and I'm heavily leaning towards a Yaesu FT-60R ( https://www.hamradio.com/detail.cfm?pid=H0-007323 ). These are currently $139 from HRO with a couple of their promos knocking the price down from the standard $155 price. One of those promos ends tomorrow, which is why I might just go ahead and buy the dang thing now.

    I am also considering buying a mobile 2m rig. Those transceivers are pretty inexpensive too. I'm thinking the Yaesu FT-2980DR ( https://www.hamradio.com/detail.cfm?pid=H0-015771 ) at HRO (only $109 thru Feb 9th with all their promos!) is a decent offering in the budget category. Remember that you have to purchase an antenna for it, and if you plan to use it at home, a power supply. A power supply will run you close to the same cost as the transceiver itself. For car mounting you already have the power supply - your car battery.

    I am also looking at different makers J-Pole antennas for use on 2m/70cm to mount at home. These are pretty inexpensive. $35 to $60 typically.

    I just bought an RTL-SDR.com "Software Defined Radio" (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B011HVUEME/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 ) . This is an inexpensive receiver that you use in conjunction with a computer. Many different software programs can control it (several of them are free). I don't have any planned use for this, other than "a toy". Something fun to play and fiddle with. But if you want to listen (but not transmit) to VHF/UHF radio stuff (including the ham bands) then something like this might be just what you need for emergency listening. You don't need a license to listen. Since it is controlled by your computer, the emergency better not include a power outage though.

    Decisions, decisions. For now, it will be the Baofeng. Unless I decide to hit the "buy now" button on the FT-60R later tonight!
     
  10. Feb 9, 2020 #130

    bkt

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    Congrats, Haertig! I hope you do end up enjoying it. Originally for me, this was just a means to point-to-point communication without reliance on anyone or anything else. Now, it's a hobby.

    That Yaesu mobile is OK, but it's VHF only. You can probably get a clean mobile rig that does both VHF and UHF for about the same price. Just something to consider.

    The RTL-SDR is great to learn on. You can experiment with receiving and decoding all kinds of digital modes. Just a 50' horizontal wire is fine for receiving. This will help if you ever get into HF and want to jump into digital because you'll already be familiar with the software.
     
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  11. Feb 9, 2020 #131

    Curmudgeon

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    Are those a direct attachment, or is some adapter needed?
     
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  12. Feb 9, 2020 #132

    kd4ulw

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    Wonderful news @Haertig, welcome to the hobby! Here is a dual-band mobile that isn’t too much more than what you were talking about with VHF only.

    TYT TH-7800 Mobile Transceivers 50W Dual Band Ham Radio 800CH Amateur Radio https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DC2FCGN/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_A2gqEb85XFXZH

    Programming is way easier with Chirp software. Will do most radios, and its free.

    I’ve had good luck with distant repeaters with an inexpensive 5/8 wave antenna in the attic. The only restriction is that it only works on VHF.

    https://www.gigaparts.com/mfj-1740....V4dXsTA7LtuvtfHoD2O1CQY7C6utn4uxoC7DgQAvD_BwE
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2020
  13. Feb 9, 2020 #133

    Haertig

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    The Yaesu FT-60R is dual band, both 2m and 70cm.

    [edit] Oh, wait. You said the "Yaesu mobile" (the FT-2980R and not the FT-60R). You are correct, that mobile is 2m only. Sorry, I mis-read your post. [/edit]

    For a single band 2m handheld, I like the Kenwood TH-K20A.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2020
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  14. Feb 9, 2020 #134

    Haertig

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    You order them with the connection that you need. For the Baofeng, you need an SMA-F connector. For the Yaesu, you need an SMA-M. I ended up buying an SMA-F antenna with an SMA-M to SMA-M adapter so I can use it on either the Baofeng of the Yaesu. I ended up choosing the female antenna with the male-to-male adapter instead of the male antenna with a female-to-female adapter simple because of aesthetics. To my eye, the combination I chose looks "prettier" when the adapter is in place. You can also get the antenna with a BNC connector. I haven't seen many BNC connections on newer handhelds, but they were very popular once upon a time. You can't beat them for speed. Several people in the club I just joined buy only BNC antennas (or use an adapter to make the antenna BNC), and then adapters to convert each of their radios to BNC. While this works, to my eye the stacked adapters look pretty ugly. So I didn't go that route. Chances are, when I buy a handheld - Yaesu or whatever - I will just equip it with a native connector antenna. Removing/installing an antenna between handhelds will probably get old really fast. It's not like these Signal Stick antennas are outrageously expensive - they're only about $20. Adapters are $3.50.

    p.s. - The Kenwood TH-K20A I mentioned above reportedly comes with a very good antenna, that does not need to be immediately replaced like most other brands of handhelds.

    p.p.s - In class, the experienced ham's said if you have to conserve money, conserve it on the radio and not on the antenna. They report that a cheap radio with a good antenna will significantly outperform an expensive radio with a bad antenna. Does that mean that a Beofeng with a good antenna installed will beat a Yaesu/Icom/Kenwood with a cheap antenna? I don't know how far this goes, but if I end up with two or more handhelds, I'll definitely do some comparisons and report back.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2020
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  15. Feb 9, 2020 #135

    Haertig

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    The reasons why I am considering the Yaesu FT-2980R mobile, even though is 2m ONLY, are: (1) It is dirt cheap right now, (2) It uses a massive heatsink for cooling, not a fan - I seem to have bad luck with fans that are noisy or quit working, (3) It has an actual squelch knob, many radios these days are abandoning that for menu-based squelch control, which seems like it would be tough to use safely while driving, (3) Many repeaters in my area link 2m and 70cm, so no matter which band you come in on, you go out on both bands. I don't have a lot of tall buildings and downtown areas that I routinely visit where UHF might provide better performance.
     
  16. Feb 9, 2020 #136

    dademoss

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  17. Feb 9, 2020 #137

    Curmudgeon

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    Thank You Sir! That's what I thought when looking at them, just needed a little confirmation.
     
  18. Feb 9, 2020 #138

    Bacpacker

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    Congrats on getting your ticket. Antennas make a huge difference in how well your radio works. Brand of radio doesn't make that much difference compared to it IMO.
    The FT-60 is a great price. I paid $225 for mine several years back, then $150 for a used one.
    The single band mobile rig will serve you well, in particular if you have linked repeaters in your area. But to me the big drawback in not getting a dual bander, you can't use it in cross band repeater mode. A lot of folks don't need that. But it sure is handy if you do. I found in invaluable working with EmComm.
    Have fun with the hobby. Thats the main thing.
     
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  19. Feb 9, 2020 #139

    Haertig

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    I seem to remember seeing that one (and only one?) model of Baofeng uses a different antenna connector. I think it was the model UV-3R? I've never heard of that model. Never seen it for sale. If you have the very common UV-5R, then that one uses the SMA-Female antenna.
     
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  20. Feb 9, 2020 #140

    Haertig

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    Just to be clear, I don't have any personal experience with my Signal Stick antenna yet. I bought the antenna based on the enthusiastic recommendation of my class instructors, and after researching and reading reviews on the internet. So I have the antenna sitting in front of me right now, but I don't have a radio to attach it to yet. But I have played with it mechanically. You can bend the snot out of it and it just pops right back, straight as an arrow. Pretty impressive!

    The guy who makes these antennas, Richard, seems like a very decent fellow. He also runs the hamstudy.org website. That site provides flashcards for people to use when studying for their ham exams. That website is free, but you can also buy a smartphone app for $3.99. I found this website and app extremely useful. I contacted the website with a question, and rapidly had followup from Richard. Well, after lots of friendly back and fourth and me making a few suggestions, Richard granted me access to the development part of the website and I will be working with tagging of the questions so that users can organize their study differently (e.g., organized by chapters in the ARRL book - so you can say, "only ask me questions covered in chapter 3" for example). I plan to start into that work for Richard tomorrow. He seems like a really nice and helpful guy, his study website is excellent, and I'm sure his antennas are every bit as good as users say they are. I always try to give back when something has been given to me. My class instructors were stellar and went over and above to make the class a great learning experience. So I will "give back" to other new hams by trying to help out with the fantastic hamstudy.org website.
     
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  21. Feb 13, 2020 #141

    The Lazy L

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    I just checked Amazon and the radios are still for sale. What am I missing?
     
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  22. Feb 13, 2020 #142

    SheepDog

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    Marketing ploy?
    Acting on information that the FCC released but have never acted on?
    I have never had to show a license to buy any SW radio, do you have to do that now?
     
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  23. Feb 13, 2020 #143

    Weedygarden

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    I have seen that too! It was a sales technique! I found the information on Survivalist Blog, James Wesley Rawles. I think I'm going to let him know and see what he can find out.
     
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  24. Feb 14, 2020 #144

    Curmudgeon

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    All over Ebay as well, I just bought some.
     
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  25. Feb 14, 2020 #145

    Haertig

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    I'd be willing to bet that somewhere it was said that "It is illegal to use these radios on certain frequencies that they can transmit on" (which is true), and then someone embellished that and said "These radios are banned". Then the next person said, "You will go to prison if you own one of these radios". Then the next person said (probably from prison), "The government will take your firstborn if you attempt to buy one of these radios". And so it goes...
     
  26. Feb 14, 2020 #146

    Haertig

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    My callsign showed up in the FCC database today, so I'm legal to transmit. I immediately applied for a vanity callsign because I'll never remember the one they assigned to me by default.

    I've been listening on my SDR ("Software Define Radio") for a few days and that's been very good at teaching me about typical radio controls, spectrum displays, waterfall displays, setting filter width, etc.

    I will be given my Baofeng handheld next Wednesday at the club meeting so I can get on the air. I'm still researching what to buy for my first station - I held off on buying the Yaesu FT-60R I mentioned earlier. I still may end up with that radio, but no need to jump in too fast and potentially make a purchasing mistake. I'll take my time and research more first. The Baofeng will hold me over for a while. Plus, with the SDR, I can view my Baofeng transmissions and see for myself if it is as bad with the spurious emissions as it is alleged to be. I have a friend who will let me borrow his FT-60R to do some testing in my house and the areas I frequent. See which repeaters I can hit, and which I can't. Get some feedback on my transmission quality. Then I can make a more informed decision regarding if a handheld will suit my needs, or if I'll need to step up to a more powerful mobile instead.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2020
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  27. Feb 14, 2020 #147

    bkt

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    No, you don't need a license to buy a transceiver. You need a license to legally transmit on amateur bands.
     
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  28. Feb 14, 2020 #148

    bkt

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    Congrats on getting your call! I got a vanity call sign, too, and the process was free and quick.

    Getting your rigs set up is an incremental learning process. You have an HT, so you upgrade the stock antenna to a Signal Stick or similar antenna (which you already did). As good as that is, you realize you need something better so you get a J-pole or slimjim or some other dual-bander and mount it up higher. Then you get a mobile with more power and use your big antenna mounted either outdoors on the roof or in your attic. Then you decide you want point-to-point communication (without a repeater) with your ham buddy who lives some ways away and you look at raising the antenna height even more and going with a directional antenna. Then you realize that upgrading to a General license and setting up an NVIS antenna pretty darn close to vertical gets you the reliable coverage you wanted on 2m so you get a mobile (or base) HF rig, dipole antenna, tuner, etc. Before you know it, you have a pretty impressive shack! Been there, still doing that. :)
     
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