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Old 05-26-2010, 03:23 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Question on the HAM radios.

The handheld is much cheaper than the mobile mounted unit.
My big question is what is the difference in range capability?

I checked the website of the manufacturer and saw no stats regarding range to compare the two.

Just curious if the handheld one is a waste of money with limited range compared to the other one.

Thanks for any quick feedback, only have a couple days to make up my mind here.
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Old 05-26-2010, 03:54 PM   #2 (permalink)
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A Hand-held usually has a 5-watt max power output, where as a mobile is usually around 50-watts. So there is a considerable difference in the range between the two. As far as how that would affect you would depend on how you plan on using it. Around town, for example, you are usually within range of a repeater, so hand-held coverage is extended by the power of the repeater. Out on the trail this can be a different story, as we are not always blessed with good repeater coverage. That being said, the Rubicon does have good hand-held coverage on the "805" repeater, thanks to the recently added Spider link, but in order to hit this repeater you will need a dual band hand-held (or just a 440 HT).
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Old 05-26-2010, 04:18 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Excellent explanation, Slowmo.

I would add that in the ham radio world it isn't always about power output. A good repeater (with a good antenna and RECIEVER) is more important.

The whole idea behind VHF/UHF repeaters is to build the repeater so that the transmitter and receiver are balanced (what it hears can hear it). Most repeaters are balanced for eaither handheld coverage or mobile coverage, depending on what they are being used for. The 805 system and the Spider repeater is designed for handheld coverage, and therefore a handheld will work in *most* areas of the trail. The exception might be the fringe area between the Spider repeater and the Tahoe reciever on the tahoe side of the trail, and to some extent in Wentworth Springs.

If you spend a lot of time in WWS, you might want to get the mobile, otherwise the handheld should work pretty well. Most folks who use it in the Rubicon are using handhelds most of the time. I have both because I find that more convenient and i'm a radio geek
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Old 05-26-2010, 04:22 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by resqme View Post
I have both because I'm rich.

The twofold increase in price is a huge factor for me at this time.

Aside from the Rubicon, our history with the outdoors includes exploring all the other areas in the backcountry, away from cell signals. Deserts, coasts, etc.

Anyone have a rough guess on # of miles, in range, for these two radios?
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Old 05-26-2010, 04:43 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Wealth is in the eye of the beholder, I guess I've been called worse things...

Your question has a dozen answers, all of them correct. If you have line of sight to the other person, a 5 watt handheld with a good antenna can talk thousands of miles (the space shuttle talks back to the earth with 20 watts, VHF and a good antenna). Realistically, in mountainous terrain like the Rubicon, a handheld can talk from the Springs to Spider, Spider to Observation, or Spider to Walker, but once you drop behind the hills, you need the repeater. Mobile to mobile will help (that's as much about antenna as it is about wattage), but not a tremendous amount. It's all about line of sight.

Effective ability to hear is measured in S-units. It takes 3 dB to increase the quality of the signal by one S-unit on a meter. A good mobile antenna can add 7 dB over a quarter wave antenna (a handheld). The rule of thumb for wattage is that you have to increase your wattage by ten times to increase by 3 dB.

When I'm at Spider I have my radio set on the low power setting, or 1/2 watt and the small antenna...it saves power and that's all I need to work the repeater.

No matter what, either the mobile or the handheld will have better range than a CB.
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Old 05-26-2010, 05:36 PM   #6 (permalink)
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A friend of mine (Dave Gross) has added an external antenna and mic set up to his handheld radio and it really extended the useable range of the unit. He was able to get out to the 805 from Hell Hole Bridge which he could not do before. Not terriably cheap, but something that can be added at a later date to increase the effective range of the hand helds. The parts in quesation ar for a Yaesu FT-60 which is a pretty popular unit with local folks




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• SO-239 base with 13.5' RG316 Teflon coax cable
• Includes SMA to UHF adapter
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Old 05-26-2010, 05:36 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Wonderful feedback. And forgive the "rich" comment, the furthest thing from my true intention is insult!
In the future my funds may allow me to spend more. I suppose worst case, I could always sell the handheld to recover a portion of money spent on it.

Thank you for the education. I feel I can make a more informed decision at this point.
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Old 05-27-2010, 12:20 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Just another thought.
If you add a 19'+ piece of wire to the outside ring of the antenna connector
(tailing down)
and use a better antenna than the rubber dummy load that usually comes with a hand held ( I like http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/1268 ).
You can markedly increase the range of a handheld.
That is all.
J.B.
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