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.