NorCal FJs

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I've noticed that the only place people use CBs anymore is at Hollister and on the highway. It seems like everyone in the Sierras has moved on to 2m ham.

So I'm going to go with a ham rig. I'm not worried about the exam, since I already have an FCC 605 license, but the equipment is a question.

I'm going with a Boztec ham mount, and he conveniently makes a list of stuff to buy. So no worries there. But I need to get a transceiver, and should I just get a 2m unit like an FT-1900R, or should I go dual-band (2m/440)? Does anyone make a rig that combines 2m with CB?

Any and all advice would be helpful and appreciated.

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Replies to This Discussion

I like the dual band because those usually have removable faceplates. This makes for a better install.

I highly recommend the yaesu Ft7900
I have a FT-7800R its a good rugged set. They are 2M /440 but single RX. I don't imagine they changed much to the current model FT-7900. I have a ICOM 706MKIIG that I use for 2m/70cm at home mostly because its all mode. Those are out of production too so the current is the IC-7000. For FM only I like what I have in the FJ, a Kenwood TM-V71A. Its dual band, dual RX, dual color, ton of memory. All of them mentioned are detachable face. A lot of guys are using the MURS band. In the FJ I have 2m, 70cm, marine band, MURS, FRS, GMRS, and many of my police and fire emergency freqs.

As for 2m and 11m in one... FT-100, FT-857, ICOM 703/706/7000 series, if you do some research you might find some interesting facts...

I'll do a write up on mine or you can message me if you have any questions. I have done a ton of builds. I'm the president in one radio club and a director in another.

Any preference for brand, whether Yaesu, Icom, Kenwood, or other?

I will most likely be buying the transceiver at Ham Radio Outlet, since they're a local dealer for all of those.

A removable faceplate would be great: can I mount the faceplate on the dash, and mount the transceiver under the seat?

7900 mounts really well. Easy to hide all the cables and transceiver under the drivers seat. I have some pics in my pictures and can send tips if you want.
For the price yeasu rigs tend to get you the most bang for the buck. Get at least a dual band rig the FT-7900 is a great radio or the FT-8800 which allows for simultaneous dual band receive is also a great choice. The next rig I'm personally going to get is the either the FTM-350ar or the new ftm-400.

Depending on when you have to have a radio you might want to wait for Pacificon which happens in Santa Clara October 11-13th. They some times have good show deals,not always but you can check out all the toys.

The Boztec recommendations are good, and I especially agree with his coax recommendation.

There are no combined ham/cb radios.

If you are on a budget, just get a 2m xcvr as I almost never find myself using 440. If you do the Rubicon, there is a 440 repeater at Spider Lake (linked to a 2m repeater with wider coverage), so get dual band. There are quite a few 440 repeaters in the Sierras, so it could be nice to have (but I never seem to use it).

If you are not on a budget, then get a dual band radio with APRS just because it is fun to play with.

I don't know anyone with a FT-1900, so check reviews. For just a little more, you can get the FT-2900, which I have heard good things about from several people.

Since you probably don't know enough to know what you will use or will want, another option is to just get a Baofeng UV-5R dual band HT at first (<$50) and use that for awhile until you really get into it. It has plenty of power for trail communications, and allows you to take it out of the truck with you when spotting, or just watching others do an obstacle. With only 5W of power, it may have troble hitting repeaters from remote locations, but will have plenty of power to talk to everyone in your group on the trail. Even if you get a mobile radio, the HT is nice to have when out of your truck.

If you do any fishing, having a mobile and an HT can be nice, because you can park your truck on a ridge top, and go fishing in the canyon. Then you can use the mobile in your truck as a repeater for your HT and have enough range to talk back to town.

Sorry for the rambling reply, but the answer can get quite complex. I still didn't touch on features such as Dual Watch vs. Dual receive, or Cross band repeat. Ultimately, I would start out simple and just use a dual band HT, or maybe get an inexpensive 2m mobile (and an HT). If you really get into it, then expand, otherwise keep it simple.

My gear: Yaesu FT-470 HT, Kenwood TM-D710A dual band mobile, Baofeng UV-5R+ dual band HT

Looking at HF mobile gear for the future.


Wow, that Baofeng is cheap as dirt. I've had hamburgers that were more expensive.

So, Baofeng UV-5R or Baofeng UV-5R+ ? The difference seems to be about ten bucks.

Do I need any of that other stuff to start (e.g. handheld speaker/mic, programming cable, upgraded antenna)? Or can I just drop $43.66 or less on the radio kit and have at it?

A speaker/mic is nice if you are hooking it up to an external antenna (the coax is not so flexible), but then it is not as convenient to take it with you when you get out of the truck, because you have to swap to the portable antenna. I don't know how good the Baofeng speaker/mic is, but it gets good reviews on Amazon.

Some consider a programming cable to be essential. They are cheap enough, and you can't give the frequencies alpha-numeric labels without one (I do not have one). You may have to search for the correct driver as many of the cheap Chinese programming cables use a pirated usb/serial chip, and the real driver (Windows) can sometimes refuse to work with the pirated chip. If you are using Linux, the driver will work with the cheap cables no problem (usually). 

An upgraded antenna really helps you reach repeaters, but if you are just going to use it for trail coms, the one it comes with will probably be ok. Also, swapping antennas when you get out of the truck is a hassle. It's still not a bad idea to have a mag mount dual band antenna in case you need to call out to a repeater. Or if you plan to do a mobile later, mount a permanent antenna and have it ready for the new radio when you get it. If you are going to use an external antenna, then the speaker/mic becomes pretty useful.

The one thing you will learn is that ham radio can get pricey, but I agree with Scott a good dual band HT is a great way to start.

I still think if your going to get a mobile radio a dual band is your best option since there are a lot of good open repeaters. And the CARLA radio system which runs on mainly 440 links most of Northern California.

Make sure you check out the NorCal FJ band plan for what we use on the trail.

I've looked at the band plan already. I was just wondering if anyone uses 440 in reality.

A lot of people use 440 I have used it almost exclusively for 20 years. The Carla system is amazing and open. Go to their site to check out the coverage.

I did not know about the CARLA system.  Pretty sweet.  I'll have to give it a go sometime.




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