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Discussion Starter #1
Thought I would share some of my recent testing with 2M/70cm radios



Prior to this test, I was/still am heavily 'invested' in Yaesu radios I own 4 Yaesu radios. I just recently picked up a Kenwood. 3 Yaesus and the Kenwoord were all purchased weeks of each other about 6 weeks ago.



Read the full posting to see why I may be somewhat disappointed where my cash has gone.



Overall, the Yaesu's are a nice radio with a more updated UI (but still somewhat illogical). If robustness, TX/RX performance is more important to you, take a very hard look at Kenwood radios.



Summary Results



Antenna:



A 1/2 wave antenna offers superior performance when attempting to hit repeaters that are roughly at the same elevation or lower than current location.



The 1/4 wave vs 1/2 wave in the valleys offered little appreciable difference in performance when on the fringe. The long issued guidance of "1/4 wave in valleys to reach mountain tops vs 1/2 wave" does not seem to hold. I was able to test this with my Sprinter using two of the same radios, but with different antennas on mag mounts (effectively simultaneous testing)



A Hustler CG-144 was the clear winner. It is a co-linear 5/8 over 1/4 wave antenna resulting in a low angle radiation pattern - but it needs a ground plane and is ~7' tall. I'll use this (with a duplexer) with my TM-71A when used a xband repeater for 'mobile - base station' use in fringe applications.



Mounting Location



A 1/2-Wave Diamond 770 works EXTREMELY well when mounted just off the driver side fender on a SS mount.



Mounting on rear corners, tire carriers, license plate mount, windshield pillar mounts, all offer SIGNIFICANTLY worse performance in FRINGE applications. I tested 4 different antennas in these locations over a period of several days attempting to hit repeaters 150-300 miles away. I was on various mountain ridges in the Sierras (6500-7500') near Gold Lake surround by other mountains that were the same height or slightly higher...so some of this was line of sight and some wasn't quite line of sight.



Testing:

Antenna setup (front fender, license plate mount, tire carrier mount, center of hood with mag mount). Mounts remained stationary through testing. Antennas were moved, radio connections were moved.

Radios were directly connected via 6' of #10 to my 100aH Aux battery. Aux battery is connected to vehicle body at a seat mount. All comparisons conducted within an hour of each other (lots of permutations initially, but I narrowed it down pretty quickly).



Results did not vary significantly while the engine was running or not, solar producing full power or not (so the input voltage did not seem to matter much. While transmitting, battery voltage would drop to ~12.4-12.5V).



Testing occurred 3-4x per day - early morning, mid-day, late day, late evening.



I repeated the test with mag mounts and antennas on my sprinter. The difference in height was not really all that notable (Sprinter roof is ~9.5' tall)



One example of stark differences between radios and/or antenna location with one permutation :



FTM-100DR / Diamond 770 / Fender / full quieting into a San Jose repeater, Antenna location: Front Fender. FTM-400XDR white noise & popping, but still audible.



FTM-100DR Diamond 770 / tire carrier - could hear a San Jose repeater, but not hit it - audible, but some white noise. FTM-400DR - completely deaf.



Kenwood TM-71A / Tire carrier mount /Diamond 770. Could hit & hear the San Jose repeater off tire carrier.



Opening & closing the doors dramatically alters performance (both good & bad). Bottom line : if you need to hit a repeater/simplex and you're fringe, open & close some doors/tailgate.



Antennas Tested:

1/2 Wave Diamond770 Dual Band

1/4 Wave Comet 2m/70cm Dual band mag mount

1/4 Wave Tram 2m/70cm mag mount

5/8 over 1/4 Hustler CG-144 (monster antenna about 7' tall)



Antenna differences:

No differences in the 1/4 wave antennas



The Diamond overall did extremely well.



The Hustler was the clear winner with a reduction in white noise; more full quieting achieved, was able to hit & hear further repeaters.



Angle of antenna & ground plane significantly alters ability to hit fringe repeaters based upon position relative to nearby peaks. Sometimes you need the antenna to be tipped slightly down, sometimes slightly up.



Radio Results



Kenwood TM-71A

-True dual band radio, single antenna connection

- Consistently the best radio of the bunch for transmit and rcv capability & clarity. When asked folks to compare clarity/quality of the Kenwood vs Yaesu radios : Kenwood was consistently 'better'. No difference between FTM 100/400.

- Runs warm, but not hot during x-band operation; consistently better audio reports. 70cm power set to low.

-Least amount of bells & whistles. Interface feels archaic compared to the Yaesu radios.

- Mic is slightly heavier, buttons are far easier to press (especially one handed), Key switch feels better.



Yaesu FTM-100DR

- 2nd to the Kenwood for transmission strength and rcv sensitivity.

- Dual band, single rcv radio

- Same mic at 400; buttons can be hard to press, visibility at night is not as good at Kenwood; is smaller/lighter than Kenwood; does not have the same quality feel.

- This radio is easy to use and will be the one I install in my wife's car (she also has a ticket)



Yaesu FTM-400XDR

- True dual band, single antenna radio

- A distant 3rd for transmit & rcv capability.

- Frequently out-talked itself. Consistently could not rcv as well as any of the other mobile units. I had two different 400XDRs (one in my Sprinter and one in the Jeep) and the results were the same. Not believing the results, I swapped them on a couple of occasions to see if it mattered - it did not.

- Runs very hot as x-band repeater. 70cm power set to low. At one point, concerned the unit may shut down.

- APRS consistently does not function as well as the FTM-100DR or Kenwood TM-71A w/ Mobilink APRS. Transmit intervals appears somewhat random even when set for fixed operation - (not small variations either).



- Of note : I had one 400XDR fail within 1-2 days out of the box. (I own 3 FTM-400XDRs). Some HRO stores have good customer service, some have crappy. I am a huge fan of the Anaheim store and not so much of my 'home' store, Oakland.



HTs Tested



Baofeng UV-5r w/ 6" or 18" Nagoya

- Nice solid little radio; dates from 2014/2015

-Crappy menu system, difficult to program



Baofeng GT-3 w/ ~6" Nagoya

- Supposedly later gen than the UV-5r. Not seen/heard/felt a difference between 5r and GT-3

- Popping consistently noted

- I've had 2-3 fail in various ways over the years (Mostly 2M fails)

-Crappy menu system, difficult to program



Baofeng UV-8HP w/ Nagoya ~18" antenna

- Best rcv and transmit; best battery life.

- No difference in audio reports (at full quieting) between the Baofengs.

-Crappy menu system, difficult to program



Yaesu FTM-70D w/ SRH77CA ~18" antenna

- Relatively poor battery life when compared to the Baofeng units when configured the same (dual watch off, scanning off, etc). The Yaesu battery life gets downright abysmal when more features are turned on.

- Rcv sensitivity is slightly better than the 8HP.

- Purchased the radio with the hopes of getting a 'real' radio. Overall, somewhat disappointed. Would not spend money on it UNLESS you want C4FM (Fusion).

- Consistently did not sound 'as good' as the Baofengs, a but more hollow is how it is described

- Very easy to use relative to the Baofeng radios.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
I've been having a pretty good discussion with an experience comms engineer on another forum...The cliff notes:

The FTM 100/400 are analog AND digital radios that are relying on DSP and filters to clean things up. If you're looking for the best analog performance, stick with a purely analog radio. The specs do illustrate the differences as to why the Kenwood performed better than the Yaesu.

He did say that the digital modes should provide greater 'range' however.

Dedicated 2M rigs:

We started discussing the more powerful Yaesu 80W FT-2980r vs the 65W Kenwood TM-281A : the Kenwood has a much more sensitive rcvr and supports the claims of some friends about the FT-2980r out-talking itself. The Kenwood is only 15W less powerful than the Yaesu, so that will likely make zero difference in the overall scheme of things, but the Kenwood's more sensitive rcvr will ultimately yield better overall performance. HOWEVER, the FT2900 / FT-2980 series radios are well thought of in the RACES/ARES circles for being bullet proof.
 

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Seriously doubt digital modes provide greater range. When you get into a fringe area, digital will start having trouble with the decode. When that happens, they stop. You brickwall. One point your receiving great, next, nothing. Analog will keep on going. Lower volume, muffled/scratchy, but it's still there, and with concentration by the user even readable. Digital is all or nothing.

If I had to choose for serious communication work, not hobby, I'd take analog.
 

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@vtsoundman thank you for reporting your testing. I think if I read this correctly your results for the Diamond 770 indicate that fender mounting will provide a slightly better range (better antenna gain). - Which would confirm antenna modeling results I have seen for vehicles.

I have a Comet CA-2x4SR which is a phasing coil design, like the Diamond 770, and have had very good results with it.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
@Leadnut - the difference in performance on the fendor vs the rest of the locations was not slightly better range, but it was proundly improved. This is even after I used grounding straps all over the place on my jeep. Bottom line is there is too much metal in the lift glass supports, the tire itself for 2M to work properly. The reception was so bad, I thought I might of pinched the antenna wire, so I swapped it...no change.

I could only hit nearby and direct line of site repeaters with the license plate tire carrier, and windshield pillar mounts. (I was at 6500-7500' and had line of site to some distant repeaters).

The front fender mount mount that I am referring to is this one...I drilled it out to accept an NMO antenna mount.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Seriously doubt digital modes provide greater range. When you get into a fringe area, digital will start having trouble with the decode. When that happens, they stop. You brickwall. One point your receiving great, next, nothing. Analog will keep on going. Lower volume, muffled/scratchy, but it's still there, and with concentration by the user even readable. Digital is all or nothing.

If I had to choose for serious communication work, not hobby, I'd take analog.
This is what I thought too - but he argued that this was one of the main reason public safety switched to digital (security & ease of getting the voice onto networks). His argument was all the radio has to detect is a bit state switch and it is therefore overall much more sensitive than the analog - similar to CW and CW can be intelligible at far lower signal strengths than full voice...Dunno. I'm not a comms EE and it has been a while since I sat in a comms class.

In my work, we use both secure digital and analog (I'm just a user - clients furnish the radios - mag mount antennas and radios in a box) mounted to my Jeep or Van. We're not going for max distance - but when we run into issues, satellites get involved....so i don't have good comparison.
 

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His first argument is somewhat plausible, security. Might be easier to direct the stream over a network using digital. One reason PS switched was trunking. This allowed a more efficient use of frequencies, and added to security.

Digital can be more sensitive, and some modes can receive down at the noise floor, or even below, but they are all data, none of them are voice. And none of them are fast.
 

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The long issued guidance of "1/4 wave in valleys to reach mountain tops vs 1/2 wave" does not seem to hold.
This has been my experience as well here in Utah where I am surrounded by mountaintop repeaters. In my own testing, performed in my own driveway, I had identical Yaesu FT-7900R radios in my Jeep and my Mazda Protege sedan. The TJ has a Larsen NMO2/70B 1/2-wave antenna mounted on the left fender, while the Protege had a Tram 1/4-wave antenna mounted in the center of the trunk ground plane.

One day, I tried to hit a local mountaintop repeater in the car. I had to go to high power (50w) just to get the machine to respond. Even at the next step down of 20 watts, I couldn't reach it at all. Shut the car off, hopped in the Jeep, and my default (programmed) 10w setting let me hit the machine every time and gave me good signal reports all the while. Even dropping to 5w still allowed me to get in.

Maybe if you're sitting directly at the base of the mountain, it might make a difference... maybe. But in the real world of my area, at least, the 1/2-wave design is the way to go.


Thanks for sharing all your testing and information.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
One thing I will have to test next time out is a 5/8 2m antenna to see the difference between the 1/2wave and 5/8. The 5/8 would have to be mag mount in the center of the hood for a proper ground plane, but it would be a comparison nonetheless.

I'm in the process of looking at some beam style antennas (yagi etc) and evalating them for portability...

For those that say ham is a waste of money for EM Comms, I used to be one of those people...no more. Had two issues and the ham radio saved my bacon twice.

(1) Once in the sprinter, I blew a hose and belched PS fluid all over the place. A fellow ham heard my call and saved the day...he drove an hour off the mtn down to a gas station to get some PS fluid and then ran it back up.

(2) Dog got a stick impaled (or so I thought) in his paw. Was able to communicate with my wife in the SF Bay area (175 miles away) via repeater!! ...she told me which way to go to get to a vet ER...NO cell service. It would have been an 1.5hr difference if I went the wrong direction. Dog turned out to be OK - the stick was jammed/cemented with sap, but his paw was covered in blood.
@Sherpa thx for sharing your experience. My testing and experience often yields different results (sometimes slightly, sometimes polar opposite) than the group think on forums...
 

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For those that say ham is a waste of money for EM Comms, I used to be one of those people...no more.
:thumb:

My testing and experience often yields different results (sometimes slightly, sometimes polar opposite) than the group think on forums...
What's that old saying? In theory, theory and practice always produce identical results. In practice, they rarely do.
 

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GIGO. Antenna pattern modeling on vehicles is not the easiest thing in the world to do. The model fidelity and many approximations make the results suspect. Basic things like the best place to put the antenna are somewhat easier.
 

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Great Write up VT!! I'm just getting back into amateur radio after 30 years and have forgotten most of what I knew.

I've been mulling back and forth for 4 weeks now on what rig to put in the JK for SHTF and just yaking on the bands. What do you suggest for a rig?

I've been looking at Yaesu FTM-400D, Icom - ID5100, IC7000, IC 7100,Yaesu 857-D.


I have an old 857 but am looking at some of the newer rigs with more capabilities and flexibilities and detachable head.
 

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Great Write up VT!! I'm just getting back into amateur radio after 30 years and have forgotten most of what I knew.

I've been mulling back and forth for 4 weeks now on what rig to put in the JK for SHTF and just yaking on the bands. What do you suggest for a rig?

I've been looking at Yaesu FTM-400D, Icom - ID5100, IC7000, IC 7100,Yaesu 857-D.


I have an old 857 but am looking at some of the newer rigs with more capabilities and flexibilities and detachable head.
FWIIW, I went with a Kenwood TM-D710G as my mobile rig. I love the true dual radio and the APRS. I run my APRS all the time. I have it setup up to email my wife from the radio using RF as well. Fun experimenting. :)
 

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FWIIW, I went with a Kenwood TM-D710G as my mobile rig. I love the true dual radio and the APRS. I run my APRS all the time. I have it setup up to email my wife from the radio using RF as well. Fun experimenting. :)


Huh that’s very cool! Thanks for the input.

Yeah I’m so back and forth on which way to go there are so many rigs and so many options to look at and consider it’s crazy! Not to mention the RE-learning curve with the new tech.
 

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Huh that’s very cool! Thanks for the input.

Yeah I’m so back and forth on which way to go there are so many rigs and so many options to look at and consider it’s crazy! Not to mention the RE-learning curve with the new tech.
Another thing I am looking to experiment with is the Cross Band Repeater function. I want to test as a repeater for my HT out on the trail. HT out - Mobile in on A band - Mobile out on a B band with full 50 watts and vehicle mount antenna. I am pretty sure that there are other radio that can do APRS and CBR in addition to the 710.
 

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I just pulled the trigger on a IC-7000 I found at a good price and very clean. So I'll do some pics and posting of the mounting and install.



Thanks for the help!
 

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Just got my call sign finally.
Was very informative testing results.
I purchased an Icom 2300 to put in my '94.
Also have a BF 8HP.

2 meter is very popular in this part of Washington.
Having a hard time figuring out a good place to mount the Comet SSB224 antennae.
YJ's cant use the same fender mounts as other models.
So I will have to fabricate something myself.
Is mounting to the crossbar on my front bumper tube as effective as a front fender mount ?
 

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Congrats on getting your ticket!!



I went with the fender mount under the hood bolt. Works really good. I'll have to grab some pictures, life's been busy lately for sure!
 

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Congratulations on getting your ticket.

I also use a fender mount that bolts using a hood bolt on my JK for my Larsen.
 

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