Amateur Radio Set up

Submitted: Sunday, Jun 15, 2008 at 12:31
ThreadID: 58800 Views:9734 Replies:12 FollowUps:16
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Hi all,
I'm shortly picking up a Toyota LC200 and am trying to sort out communications. I'll be heading off for the Kimberley with the family. I will complete the Foundation Licence in about a month.
It has been suggested that the Yaesu FT857D is the way to go. It has also been suggested to stay away from the Yaesu auto tuning antenna.
Can anyone offer advice on radio and auto tuning antennas please?
I'll also probably have to pick up an autoscanning UHF CD for car to car stuff etc.
Any advice or views would be greatly appreciated!


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Reply By: Mike Harding - Sunday, Jun 15, 2008 at 12:50

Sunday, Jun 15, 2008 at 12:50
The FT857D is an excellent radio at a very good price – I have owned one for over two years and have no criticism of the radio worth mentioning.

There is an active FT857 mailing list here:
FT857 mailing list
with some very knowledgeable people posting.

The radio may be easily widebanded to cover VKS737 by performing the mod here:
Wideband mod for 857

I do not have the experience to comment on the Yaesu autotuners but I have not noticed any particular problem being mentioned on the mailing list – I suggest you search the list archives.

FAMPARC do an excellent HF tapped whip here:
FAMPARC radio club
and you could use a dual band 2m/70cm for the other frequencies. My 857 is not mounted in the vehicle (I have an FT7800R for 2m/70cm) and I use a wire inverted vee with a LDG Z100 autotuner (a wire antenna will beat a vertical on HF any day) – excellent unit, imported from the USA for A$180 including postage from here:
US radio supplier

Mike Harding

AnswerID: 310082

Follow Up By: HSEQ - Friday, Jul 04, 2008 at 22:10

Friday, Jul 04, 2008 at 22:10
Hi Mike,

Is it easy to do the wideband mods? Are the jumpers pull out type or does it require a soldering iron?

I'm a little nervous about playing with a soldering iron inside a new rig!

Do you know anyone in Perth that can help?


FollowupID: 579964

Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Saturday, Jul 05, 2008 at 18:15

Saturday, Jul 05, 2008 at 18:15
Hi Mike (this could get confusing! :)

Glad you have your 857 - you'll find it an excellent, if initially, somewhat complicated rig but then you can't have that level of flexibility and sophistication without some complication.

The wideband mod is easy to do (see link above) _providing_ you have some experience with soldering very small components, a temperature controlled iron and some thin solder. If you have any doubts about your ability to do this then I suggest you take it to your local TV repair guy and ask him to do it - it's a five minute job, probably less - $20 or a slab of beer should do the trick.

However I recommend you hold off doing anything to it for a month or two. Modern electronics tend to fail either in the first few weeks or not at all (long term aging and random failures account for the others).

Spend a little time getting use to the rig, you can still listen to VKS737, and you may decide the Amateur community is sufficient for your needs - many of us have. Having said that VKS737 is a fine operation and for those without Amateur licences far more valuable than the $80 or so subscription.

I do have a couple of contacts in Perth so will ask around for you.

One thing well worth doing is to download a PDF of the 857 manual and have it spiral bound by Office Works etc - about $10 and one hell of a lot better than the Yaesu perfect bound manual.

Mike Harding
FollowupID: 580081

Follow Up By: HSEQ - Saturday, Jul 05, 2008 at 18:38

Saturday, Jul 05, 2008 at 18:38
Hi Mike,

Thanks for you great advice.

The Yaesu and uniden UHF are both installed and working. I have a Terlin wide band whip on the bullbar. Have not yet checked for SWR but am waiting for a new meter to arrive from Andrews.

Had a play last night and got used to the controls and menus. Doesn't appear to be that difficult. Reduced power output to 10 watts :-( and changed some other systems.

A little lost with the band plans at the moment and changing the Terlin for the right frequencies. Didn't seem to be a lot happening so I'm assuming the aerial needs a little work.

Has a listen around the 10 and 11 metre bands but couldn't pick up much?

Any contacts for the solder job will be approeciated. Probably could easily do it....just scared...;-(. Hate blowing things up!

Will do the training course and exam in about two weeks.

Might look around for apower supply and a base wideband vertical like the comet. (can't fit a wire in).

Thanks again,

Mike (WA)

FollowupID: 580085

Reply By: Member - John (Vic) - Sunday, Jun 15, 2008 at 14:10

Sunday, Jun 15, 2008 at 14:10
Mike this topic has been dealt with in some detail before.

Maybe have a read of this thread that was done sometime ago which is well written and will not doubt give you a balanced view to consider.

HF Radio Thread
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Reply By: HSEQ - Sunday, Jun 15, 2008 at 14:27

Sunday, Jun 15, 2008 at 14:27
Hi Mike & John,

Thanks for your help.

I did see the previous threads however they all seem to be a 'debate' over the merits or weakeness of the various types of communication i.e. amateur versus the other networks.

I've already decided to go amateur and will expand the radio as Mike has suggested to gain the extra frequency ranges and capture some of these networks (and probably join).

Mike - the aerial concerned was the Yaesu ATAS-120 - here is the discuussion - issues with moisture etc.

Someone else suggested the Codan 9350. I don't have a lot of knowledge at the moment regarding aerials, but am looking for a self tuning device that will give me maximum frequency spread.

I have fairly well decided on the Yaesu although others are saying Kenwood... (Toyota vs Landy :-) ) Issues that seem to be raised include menus versus channels, ease of use whilst mobile etc etc

Thanks for your ideas guys...

Mike Burton
AnswerID: 310095

Follow Up By: Member - John (Vic) - Sunday, Jun 15, 2008 at 14:45

Sunday, Jun 15, 2008 at 14:45
"I did see the previous threads however they all seem to be a 'debate' over the merits or weakeness of the various types of communication i.e. amateur versus the other networks."

A debate on the issues is the relevant point.

Amateur radios are severely limited when used for outback travel as pointed out in the attached link I posted above.
You are already finding that you have to "compromise" the radio of your choice by changing the aerial to one that would be possibly be "Fit for Purpose".

Why not obtain a type approved set (Codan, Barret) which is better built for the rigors of outback travel and able to be used on the VKS network without major modifications??
These set can also have the respective amateur frequencies enabled so you can also use it to chat to other hams.

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Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Sunday, Jun 15, 2008 at 14:46

Sunday, Jun 15, 2008 at 14:46
Your link refers to this thread Mike?

In regard to antennas; trying to do HF to 70cm with the one antenna is not a great idea - a Screwdriver antenna will do that but it ends up being a compromise on all bands. The 857 has two antenna sockets (one for HF and one for 2m/70cm) so far better to use two antennas.

There are a few radios available similar to the 857, the Icom 706 Mk2G is another, they are all much of a muchness and whichever you buy I'm sure you'll be happy with. They will all have more memory and capability than you'll ever use and none of them are simple to use when driving.

IIRC Yaesu are offering a three year warranty on their products so there can't be too much wrong with the antennas? Check out the Yahoo mailing list.

Mike Harding
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Follow Up By: Member - Footloose - Sunday, Jun 15, 2008 at 15:57

Sunday, Jun 15, 2008 at 15:57
John, some people never learn. Let's see this thread again after an emergency.
I wonder if the poster is aware that it is illegal to operate on a land mobile network without authority?
Oh well.
FollowupID: 576137

Follow Up By: Member - John (Vic) - Sunday, Jun 15, 2008 at 16:05

Sunday, Jun 15, 2008 at 16:05
To true Footy to true.
There is already concerns about overheating the radio in its installation not to mention what will happen when the "Cooling fan" sucks the radio full of nice red outback dust or it shakes itself to bits on the nice smooth outback roads.

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Follow Up By: Member - Footloose - Sunday, Jun 15, 2008 at 17:05

Sunday, Jun 15, 2008 at 17:05
A bit like taking your average Commodore across the Plenty Highway and back. It might survive the journey but it won't do too many more.
FollowupID: 576158

Reply By: HSEQ - Sunday, Jun 15, 2008 at 14:56

Sunday, Jun 15, 2008 at 14:56
Hi John and Mike,

Thanks very much once again.

No John, I don't want to debate this issue, it is not the point of my enquiry. I'm aware of all those issues, I have seen the previous threads and have no wish to start another similar thread over old heated debates - I have alread made up my mind on this, thanks anyway.

Thanks Mike - will look at the two antenna option. It sounds like you support the Yaesu ATAS-120 so i will investigate further. A lot of Americans seem to have had issues with it. I'll review the Yahoo thread when I gain membership.

There are a couple of Australian whip manufacturers as you have suggested. I've also been told of an operation here in WA - Terlin.

Mike, I also would like to mount the Yaesu as a temporary fixture so that it can be removed for home base use. Would something like the glovebox do, do you think?

Thanks for taking the time,

Mike Burton
AnswerID: 310099

Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Sunday, Jun 15, 2008 at 15:11

Sunday, Jun 15, 2008 at 15:11
Hi Mike

>It sounds like you support the Yaesu ATAS-120

Noooo... I really cannot comment either way upon it as I don't own one and don't personally know anyone who does.

I hear good things about Terlin for tapped whips.

>Would something like the glovebox do, do you think?

Hmmmm... I'm not keen on it :( At 100 watts the radio is dissipating quite a bit of heat (although SSB usage minimises that) and should have good airflow around it, although the 857 does have a temperature controlled fan. Are you aware the 857 has a detachable head? So you could put the body under the seat and "Velcro" the head on the dash etc. You'll need (to make or buy) a separation kit.

btw I would strongly recommend buying the "Remote mic" MH-59A8J - a very useful piece of kit. Also it's well worth downloading a PDF of the manual and having it spiral bound, much easier to use than the "perfect binding" of the included manual.

Mike Harding
FollowupID: 576126

Follow Up By: Member - SNAKE QLD - Sunday, Jun 15, 2008 at 22:48

Sunday, Jun 15, 2008 at 22:48
Hi Mike B, For what its worth Ive been running a High Sierra HS Pro 1800 Antenna on my 4X for a couple of years without any problems.Tunes 3.5-30 Mhz with the 6ft whip and goes up to around 55Mhz without the whip.Will handle 1Kw so if you upgrade to a full call it will take 400W no worries.Also works quite well mounted on the shack roof with a few radials spread around. Cheers Snake and Josie
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Follow Up By: Ronnie - Monday, Jun 16, 2008 at 20:43

Monday, Jun 16, 2008 at 20:43
Nothing wrong with the ATAS 120,but it will not tune below 7mhz so no good for 5455 mhz.
Regards Ronnie
FollowupID: 576402

Reply By: MEMBER - Darian (SA) - Sunday, Jun 15, 2008 at 15:23

Sunday, Jun 15, 2008 at 15:23
I'm out of the HF amateur debate. Re the UHF - recommend the Icom 400 pro ..... quality maker...a host of features - good scan options / choices including the repeater 'sniffer' sold me.
AnswerID: 310102

Reply By: mr fixit - Sunday, Jun 15, 2008 at 17:11

Sunday, Jun 15, 2008 at 17:11
Hi Mike,
I have a Yaesu FT-857d installed in a Prado with the yaesu remote kit and I am very happy with it. The aerials are a vhf/uhf multiband whip and a FAMPRC multi-tapped whip for HF. The system works well. The radio is modded for wide band coverage TX on HF.
I have a GME uhf CB as well as the yaesu don't cover past 470Mhz.

I had a screwdriver aerial installed and it fell to bits with the vibrations.
I check into various nets when travelling and always get good audio reports etc.
I have held a advanced amateur licence since the mid 70's

Hope this helps

AnswerID: 310125

Follow Up By: HSEQ - Sunday, Jun 15, 2008 at 17:30

Sunday, Jun 15, 2008 at 17:30
Hi Mr Fix It,

Thanks for your assistance - it is just the info I was after. It reinforces what Mike said earlier.

I'll chase up this set up and start buying the bits. Where is the Yaesu fitted in the vehicle? I can't fit an overhead console as the VX comes with a 'moonroof' which you can't option out!

Is the mod the switching jumpers? Thanks again!

FollowupID: 576174

Reply By: HSEQ - Sunday, Jun 15, 2008 at 17:25

Sunday, Jun 15, 2008 at 17:25
Thanks Darian and Mike, I'll check out the Icom , they have a reputation of being a good radio. The remote mic sounds like a good option.

I don't know what is wrong with these 'land mobile network' extremists. They must have chips on their shoulders. They keep dropping unnecessary and uninvited comments on this thread when it was expressly requested that we avoid this debate - the decision on this matter has been made. It is a little like the Toyota/ Nissan/ Land Rover arguement - no one can win or will be right.

It seems to me after a little research that the Amateur radio whilst not built like a Sherman Tank has a much wider frequency range (0.1-56 MHz, 76-108 MHz, 118-164 MHz, 420-470 MHz) with the operator requiring to be properly training and licensed.
From what I can see for the land mobile networks, you pays ya money and it entitles you to use 5 channels without any training or competency testing. Of course further channels are available should you want to 'buy' them. All of this is also available to the trained VK6 with a flick of the VFO and a purchase of a land mobile call sign (available to anyone)? I also understand the the the new Landcrisers shouldn't leak red dust and have climate control, with a pretty slick suspensio system - therefore the Yaesu shouldn't 'suffer' too much.

Thanks again for your help guys!

AnswerID: 310129

Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Sunday, Jun 15, 2008 at 17:53

Sunday, Jun 15, 2008 at 17:53
>I'll check out the Icom , they have a reputation of being a good radio.

The three main brands; Icom, Yaesu and Kenwood have a _lot_ of experience in making radios over many decades and have millions of sets out there - recently I was chatting to an Amateur who has driven his Yaesu FT101 all over Oz in his Land Rover for the past 20 or so years as has another Amateur friend of mine - no big surprise you may think... but the FT101 is a _valve_ set! Both people report their sets have never had a problem. I think you'll be OK with modern solid state sets :) I managed to drop my FT857D from over 1m onto a stone floor when it was one week old! with no ill effects.

Talking of "checking out the Icom" I have been having a little lust of late (stop it Harding! you'll go blind! :) over the Icom IC7000:

Eham review
Andrews pricing of Icom

it's about A$700 more than the FT857D and may be a bit big for mobile mounting but it is a lovely radio, it'll even receive VHF TV, although why anyone would want to watch it is beyond me! Maybe it will do slow-scan?

Mike Harding
FollowupID: 576182

Reply By: Member - Mal B - Sunday, Jun 15, 2008 at 20:24

Sunday, Jun 15, 2008 at 20:24
got my foundation licence last year had the amateur bands fitted to my coden ngt with auto tune aerial works good you can have all the hf channels as well. my only prublum is the amateur people seem to talk amost themselvs not interested in foundation members not like the vks and hf radio club. safe driveing mal.b
AnswerID: 310187

Reply By: Tony MD - Sunday, Jun 15, 2008 at 21:43

Sunday, Jun 15, 2008 at 21:43
Hi Mike. An advanced welcome to Amateur Radio.
It is a rewarding & interesting hobby. To get the most out of it, try to upgrade once you have the feel for it.
Have you yet studied the regulations for your foundation license?
The LCDs require that you operate at a maximum power level of 10watts PX (PEP).
With this low power level and any mobile HF antenna (short HF verticals are not efficient) you may struggle to be heard!
Any improvements in the antenna department will improve received & transmitted signals. With an auto tune antenna, it is a lot more simple to extend the whip top with a length of wire than to run out a dipole antenna - less gear to pack in the car too!
I looked at the Yaesu auto tune antenna at a demonstration at our club. Looked a bit flimsy to me - also very short.

The 100 watts PEP output permissible for VKS / RFDS use will be much more reliable.
The travelers net on 20 metres is a shadow of its former self. You are not licensed to use 20 metres anyway. The service provided by VKS - particularly with outback traveling, is far superior to anything offered by amateur radio.

Why not use a type approved radio, register for VKS and have an amateur option fitted? RF power control will be required.
These radios may not have all the features of an amateur radio but are specifically designed for your intended purpose for use by non technical operators (read other members of your family).

My experience with HF mobile radios fitted to my LC80s are.
Yaesu FT747 fell apart
Yaseu FT100 fell apart (probably in pre delivery)
Icom 7062g still running well but relegated to the work van. The Icom 706 _Affordable_Storage_Drawers.aspx abour 2 amps on receive & gets VERY hot. The menu system is clunky if you want to change VFOs and switch from memory to VFO mode. Much easier to use in the memory mode whilst mobile.
Codan 8528 with 9350 auto tune - still going well.

Cheers, Tony - two amateurs in the family.
AnswerID: 310208

Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Monday, Jun 16, 2008 at 17:16

Monday, Jun 16, 2008 at 17:16
Goodness me!

Going on your experience regarding radios costing $1000+ it's astonishing the bush is not knee deep in $200 UHF CBs which have fallen apart - especially since, probably, 90+% of 4WDs which go bush have one and probably 99% of station vehicles.

Mike Harding
FollowupID: 576366

Follow Up By: Tony MD - Monday, Jun 16, 2008 at 20:46

Monday, Jun 16, 2008 at 20:46
Why would this be so Mike.
It is just a fact that some equipment is built better than others.

The FT747 suffered from plug in vertical circuit boards that would punch through the mating circuit board on the contact pins. This was on the local oscillator & crystal filter boards. Also dry joints in the PA stage, crook band pass filter relay contacts....

The FT 100 was a dog from day 1. Deaf as a post, went back under warranty on immediate return from a trip into the Simpson (only 3 weeks old) and 4 months latter I took it back again & requested a full refund - which was done with no problems & bought the Icom.

I have 2 x Electrophone TX4000 radios arond 17 years old that, apart from display lights, work well.

So what does this mean?

That cost does not necessarily imply quality.
That a purpose designed and built item will be more reliable than one which is more of a compromise - in this case when used in harsh terrain. ie the Military spec design on my FT1500m...
Dare I say that some equipment may be put onto the market without adequate testing - a bit like certain computer operating systems.
That the UHF CB, based on volumes of sales, must be pretty well constructed as the bush is not knee deep with dead ones.

Off on the Anne Beadell & Connie Sue Hwys next month, will see how everything holds up with the reported corrugations.
Cheers, Tony.
FollowupID: 576403

Reply By: Member -Signman - Monday, Jun 16, 2008 at 08:44

Monday, Jun 16, 2008 at 08:44
My set up is simple, robust & effective. I use a Codan 8528 with the Amateur option EPROM- with a FAMPARC antenna (VKS & Amateur taps) and a EAT300 manual tuner.
Gives me all the benefits of VKS737 (Selcall and RadPhone)- the flexibility of the Amateur HF bands, and other receive frequencies as required...

AnswerID: 310271

Reply By: HSEQ - Wednesday, Jun 18, 2008 at 16:50

Wednesday, Jun 18, 2008 at 16:50
Thanks Mike and others for your advice. I had a hard drive crash so have been absent making repairs!
The big issue after all, does appear to be the debate between the network type radios and amateur equipment. The proponents of each appear to be one eyed and extreme with their views. I actually visited Barrett in Perth and spoke to them. The main issue seems to be complexity of use. Network radios are simple to use and are 'push button' driven. The ruggedness doesn't com into it on the inside of something like the LC200 for 6 weeks of use travelling in the Kimberley. The downside of the Network Radios appears to be the frequency range is restricted for the amateur, although they can be somewhat expanded.
I've decided for my use, I'll go with the Yaesu and look at the terlin/ other whips. I'll also pick up an Icom or Kenwood UHF rig.
I'm finishing the Foundation course in a couple of weeks and yes to those that asked, I do know the Foundation rules, regulations, power restrictions etc...

Thanks to all and any further advice will be gratefully received.

AnswerID: 310783

Reply By: Dave B (NSW) - Saturday, Jul 05, 2008 at 18:26

Saturday, Jul 05, 2008 at 18:26

have a very thorough discussion with your Toyota Dealer about how and where to install.

An LC200 Sahara owner in Canberra had a mate install a UHF CB and when he tested it, while driving, all 12 airbags went off because he tapped into the bus system for power.

There is a wealth of info on the LCOOL website. Join that an soak it up.


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AnswerID: 314029

Follow Up By: HSEQ - Saturday, Jul 05, 2008 at 18:44

Saturday, Jul 05, 2008 at 18:44
Thanks Dave!

All fitted and working (no airbag incidents yet!).

The Yaesu is fitted on the dash where the old hazard switch was. Fitted with velcro for eacy removability. The hazard switch relocated to the driver's bank of switches.

Ther Uniden UHF has been fitted down low on the glove box side (very unobtrusive) i.e. can't see it or kick it! both radios use remote mics screwed into either side of the centre console.

Added a Kenwood DDX8032BT screen with sat nav and bluetooth. Unbelievable unit - superb! Stuck in two independent HITV headrest units for the kids with a PS2 games controller.

The guy that did this is a true professional. Added a Rotronic duel battery system with an Odysee yellow top GEL and a frnt and rear reversing camera plugged into the screen.

So far so good. I can't recommend Brian of Audiotainment more.

FollowupID: 580088

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