Ham Radio update!

Wow, been a while since I had any update regarding Ham radio.  Well, I added a new radio to the stable!  What brought that on you ask??   In NH, most all of the local traffic was on the 2 meter band (146 mhz).   I talked all the time going to and from work (and in between).   I had checked out the UHF 70 cm band (440 mhz) and it was near dead.  Therefore I bought my 2 VHF radios as single band (2 M) rather than the more costly Dual VHF/UHF units.   If ever needed, I had UHF on my handheld.


Fast Forward to GA.   Once here I found almost no traffic here on 2 Meter.   I monitored the prime Savannah repeater (146.970) but seldom heard anyone.  It was so quiet, when I bought the Ram truck, I never put the radio back in.   A few weeks ago, I talked to a fellow up in SC from the home unit and he informed me that most of the traffic was on a UHF repeater on 442.700.   I checked it out with the hand held and sure enough, the traffic reminded me of being back in NH.   It felt good, but participating exclusively with a handheld had issues, low power, limited range and battery life.

I decided to acquire a dual band mobile unit that I could run off my power supply and connect to a more substantial antenna.  Years back I coveted a Yaesu FT 8800 which addition to dual band offered what is known as cross-band repeater operation.  It allows me to use my hand held on UHF, talk to my Mobile/Base radio which then re-transmits under higher power to the main 2 meter repeater.  This is great when you are remote such as working an event or emergency.  I was able to find a used unit at a good price and ordered it before I went to Disney.  It was coming out of Alaska and would be delivered here the day after I arrived.  This is a stock photo of what I bought….


It arrived on Tuesday 9/8 and upon un-boxing, it all looked in great shape.   I have looked into some dual band antennae but for the time being, decided to use the magnet mount from the truck.  I mounted it on a cookie sheet and placed it up upon the bookecase used to hold me lenses!  I also borrowed the power pole cable from the 2900 to use for this radio.


I hooked up the radio and tested it out, seemed to be working but was unable to raise anyone.   The next morning I monitored traffic on VHF and later on spoke to a couple hams.   I was confidant it was a good purchase and for now the antenna would work for me.


I configured the radio for Xband Repeat operation and it seemed to be working fine.   I would test it Thursday during the weekly A.R.E.S. Net.   I set it up so I could send from my handheld and transmit to the Savannah 2 M repeater with the 8800.   It appeared to be working.   When Thursday arrived, I had a little trouble hearing the Savannah Repeater on the handheld so went in and switched it back to direct 2 M.   Afterwords, I discovered I had a setting wrong and when I adjusted it worked Perfect!

I had also decided to get a shelf so that I could more neatly arrange the hardware on the desk.   Also picked up foam as a riser and made a new power cable so both radios could operate simultaneously.   The old radio (FT 2900) was hooked up to the original J-Pole antenna. All parts were here Saturday the 12th and everything properly installed.


All has been working fine and on Saturday I monitored activity on VHF 2 M for a road race in Savannah and on Sunday I participated in the Coastal Amateur Radio Net on VHF.   I will have to decide down the road if I wish to install a radio (Dualband) in my truck again now that I have found frequencies to talk on.





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