Summer 2007 Issue


FM VHF at Dayton 2007

By Bob Witte, KØNR

Photo 1. The Yaesu FTM-10R remote head mounted on a motorcycle.

After several years of not being able to attend the Dayton Hamvention®, this year my personal and work schedules aligned to allow my attendance at the world’s largest ham radio convention. I was really looking forward to getting back to Dayton, and I wasn’t disappointed. In this column, we’ll take a look at Dayton activities with a FM VHF emphasis.

New Radios

Dayton is a great place for radio equipment manufacturers to show off their latest products. In particular, there were a number of new dual-band FM 146-MHz/ 440-MHz transceivers, a popular type of rig for utility-mode ham radio. The ham equipment manufacturers are always looking for ways to differentiate their latest equipment and offer us that new rig.

Yaesu presented its new FTM-10R transceiver, shown in Photo 1 mounted on the handlebars of a motorcycle. Yaesu says this rig’s detachable front panel is waterproof and dustproof, ideal for installations exposed to the weather. The rig has an optional Bluetooth® wireless headset for hands-free operation. The radio supports FM broadcast receive in stereo along with an input for an external CD player or MP3 player. Clearly, Yaesu has put features into this rig with the aim of being the entertainment center for your ride.

At the ICOM booth, we found the IC-2820H, the latest dual-band transceiver with optional D-STAR and GPS capability (Photo 2). The rig includes a diversity receive mode that is intended to improve reception while mobile in the face of varying signal strength. Diversity reception uses two separate antennas spaced a small distance apart, each grabbing the signal at a different physical location, increasing the odds that one of them will hear the signal well. Although this approach is well known in the communications world, it is the first time I’ve seen it used in a VHF amateur radio. It will be interesting to see how much better diversity receive works in typical mobile situations.

Most dual-band FM rigs have a lower power output on the 70-cm band (compared to the 2-meter band), but the IC-2820H has a full 50 watts output power on both bands. The UT-123 option adds D-STAR capability and a GPS receiver to the IC-2820H. This is not just a GPS interface; this is a full-GPS receiver built into the rig, including an external GPS antenna. The GPS positional data is shown on the large transceiver display, and the transceiver can be configured to transmit position information at preset intervals. This is basically a D-STAR version of APRS, but not compatible for traditional AX.25 packet-based APRS.

Kenwood introduced the TM-V71A dual-band transceiver, also with a full 50 watts of transmit power on both bands (Photo 3). This rig includes features aimed at making Echolink operation more convenient. For the Echolink user, ten DTMF memories are there to store your favorite Echolink nodes. Just as important, Kenwood made it easy to set up this rig as an Echolink node, with the right computer interfaces built into the rig (optional PG-5H interface cable required).

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