Monitoring 147.270/R and 145.670/S(FM/DV) and 442.750/DV in Toledo, Ohio

Current Equipment

Here are pictures of my primary mobile shack - 2009 Toyota Tacoma.

Here are pictures of my primary home shack.  The XYL kicked me out of a spare bedroom, and I moved to the basement.

Here's a detailed list of my equipment in the shack (along with all the other stuff in there). I keep this updated when I acquire new items and it's in order of acquisition date.

  • December 2009
    • Yaesu VX-8R - 6 meter/2 meter/1.25 meter/70 centi-meter - Portable HT
      • This was my first "Ham Radio".  I went against the grain and got this radio rather than a base station because I don't like to be tied down to any one location and this would let me stay agile, while allowing me to get started working with some real equipment.  I love the APRS/GPS feature and capability to even run 50Mhz and 220Mhz from this unit if I want to.  It's also weather-proof so that's a plus and a nice unit to have in a grab and go kit.
      • My only real dislikes (and this applies to ALL HT units), is if I don't use it, I tend to forget how to access some functions and have to consult the manual.  A good user interface should not require the manual at all!  Programming software is a must for getting frequencies into the unit - all manufacturers should sell software rather than relying on the outside community to do this.
  • August 2010
    • Diamond X-30A - 2 meter/70 centi-meter antenna
      • At this point I dedicated myself to the hobby and figured I needed an antenna that was better than the standard "rubber ducky" that comes with an HT and this would allow me to quit fighting with some of the local repeaters.  I also got an SMA to SO-239 adapter to work with my VX-8R and I essentially used this as my FM ham shack unit for months (and still do).
  • September 2010
    • Kenwood TS-120S - 10-80 meter HF (with SP-120) - Can be used mobile if needed
      • I wanted to experience HF frequencies and the fun of hunting down DX stations, and I figured I could go spend $700+ dollars on a new mobile-HF rig or try an older gently used rig.  I went this route for a couple of reasons.  I wanted something I could experiment with and if I "fried it" I wouldn't be out much cash and also allowed me to service the unit if I needed to.  I acquired the Kenwood HF rig from the estate of a silent key for a fair price.  I figure it's a good backup radio and will get me started on the HF bands of 80/40/20/10 meters so I can make some world-wide contacts.
      • This unit works great, but listening to HF without a DSP to filter out the noise can get rather tiring for me.  That is something I'll look at for my next unit.
    • MFJ Versa Tuner II 948
      • I got this tuner with the Kenwood unit and it's pretty simple to use, but kinda clunky at the same time.  I don't really trust what it's telling me or how it acts so I've got to have an Elmer help me out with this and "debug" the unit.
  • December 2010
    • Yaesu FTM-350 - 2 meter/1.25 meter/70 centi-meter - Mobile/Base Station
      • Since our family loves camping and like everybody else in America, our cars/trucks are our second home, so I wanted a unit that could be tucked away with just a control head and have APRS capability for messaging and tracking and be entirely mobile for those long camper towing trips.  This unit is awesome!  I love it and don't have any real complaints at all (except I'm not sure what the "lock" feature does on the microphone).  I expect a "lock" function to prevent ALL functioning of the mic (as I want to prevent triggering the transmit key on the mic from accidentally engaging).
  • January 2011
    • Wouxun KG-UVD1P - 2 meter/70cm - Portable HT (my backup HT)
      • You'll definitely want to read the manual and if you're going to load a lot of frequencies, get the programming cable - the programming software is free.  This transceiver is literally about $100 for a dual band radio, you can't beat it.  I'm going to use it camping, bike riding, etc and essentially just use it places were I probably wouldn't take a radio.  If it gets damaged, I'm not out a chunk of change.
      • It seems to work well and is an EXCELLENT unit for the blind operator as it has voice prompts (in English or Chinese) and this radio can transmit out of the ham bands if you purchase an oversees version (or reprogram it), but I don't like visits from the FCC, so I purchased mine from PowerWerx and they locked this down so there is no danger of that dreaded $10,000 fine from the FCC! (yes it really happens many times a year - they don't mess around with the radio spectrum!)
      • There are some menu's I don't like the way they behave, and I don't like that while scanning memory channels the backlight stays on.  You can turn that off, but then the backlight feature is always off.  I'd rather have it off while scanning, then when it locks on a station or you touch the keypad, it turns on.  That way it saves the battery - but I found that you get at least 10 hours of battery which is amazing for an portable HT unit.
      • Overall, I can live with the quirks (no ability to scan aircraft frequencies, 6 meter, etc) as it's only a $100 radio...I'm still reviewing this unit and I'll post more about it later, but overall you can't beat the price/performance curve.
    • Yaesu - FT-8800R - 2m/70cm - Base/Mobile
      • With the FTM-350 being an APRS mobile unit, that's in my Toyota Tacoma for mobile operations, the FT-8800R is my primary base VHF/UHF rig and backup mobile rig as it's got cross band repeater functionality.  The FT-8800R is also being used for digital communications via the Signalink USB terminal node controller and the computers in my ham shack - this gives me the ability to handle digital as well as voice communications.  Yes, the absence of front-lighted buttons is the only downfall of this unit - a refresh by Yaesu would be terrific!
    • Tigertronics Signalink USB - TNC (Terminal Node Controller)
  • February 2011
    • Kenwood TK-981 (900Mhz FM Transceiver)
      • What am I going to do on 900Mhz? Is there even any activity there? Sure is! The problem is there is no available "ham" hardware out there that is readily available for 900Mhz. You've got to "hack" commercial equipment. It's legal to do so, and we are allowed to operate in the 900Mhz spectrum (902Mhz to 928Mhz) which is shared with government and private parties. So we do some practically in a "do not disturb" others type capacity. Now, you've got to understand that as you go higher up in frequency you've got to be even more aware of what you're doing. You don't want to "nuke" yourself by operating 50 watts with your 33cm antenna! I'm currently retro-fitting this commercial rig I got for about $100 to work on the amateur bands and will keep you posted on my progress.
  • March 2011
    • ICOM IC-7000 HF/VHF/UHF All-Mode
      • It's my birthday - and my family rocks! They got me the ICOM IC-7000 HF/VHF/UHF All-Mode Transceiver. One of the greatest radios in the world! It'll be my first ICOM product and I'm currently in the process of reading the manual. I'll keep you posted!
      • Update - March 29, 2011 - I finally got the Power-Poles - I had to use 45 amp due to the thick wire even though the fuses are 30 amp, but as long as it's fused I'm good.  I put a quick 15/20 meter di-pole in the attic and it works, but still not happy with the performance - I think I'm doomed on HF - I might have to do a flag-pole antenna.
    • LDG IT-100 Antenna Tuner
      • I got this as I plan on doing field day and some camping this summer - and not really sure what will be around as far as stringing up antennas or long-wires (or even short-wires) - so this will keep the SWR low no matter what antenna I have (if the Tuner will tune it).  For those that don't know, all a tuner does is electrically "fool" a transmitter into thinking the antenna is longer/shorter than it actually is so the radio isn't damaged by a crazy SWR.
    • LDG 4:1 and 1:1 Balun
      • I got these also when I got my tuner due to the fact that a long-wire/short-wire antenna is totally not resonant and this will allow the impedance to work correctly.
  • May 2011
    • MFJ Enterprises Ham Sticks
      • I was at Dayton and there were no real bargains and I wasn't shopping for much anyway.  Just down there to see the sights and sounds.  I picked up a couple ham sticks for both 20m and 40m operations as they'd eventually go on the truck for mobile operations.  I've even used them while camping and even on the side of the house doing PSK31 and they work great.  Easy to tune and handles a maximum of 200 watts.  So quite capable.
  • July 2011
    • Alinco DM-330MV Switching Power Supply
      • This is probably one of the most economical, yet well-built power supplies on the market.  It performs great, has many features, adjustable voltages and 32 amp continuous rating.  It has performed quite well for my main station as well as rugged enough for my HF go kit.
  • December 2011
    • Comet CAA-500 Standing Wave Analyzer
      • There's been a TON of instances that I've needed an antenna analyzer.  It really should be the #3 item in everybody's shack (behind a transceiver and an antenna).  This helps me build, check purchased, and even help in routine maintenance and diagnosis of antenna issues.  This is a new unit by Comet and has been selling quite well.  I figured I'd try it - as I've used MFJ's units and weren't that impressed.  The build quality just seemed a little weak...that's why they're called "Mighty Fine Junk".
    • GRE PSR-800 Digital Scanner
      • I've always been a fan of Uniden scanners, but needed a new one since a lot of the surrounding municipalities and counties are going all digital - Project 25, MARCS, etc.  It's been a while and I've always enjoyed listening to public service and I've really needed this to keep up with the game.  It's really a cool unit - it makes it a little too easy.  I like to punch in frequencies, but really the ability to record, and playback and even get special LED and LCD alerts make listening more fun.
  • January 2012
    • Yaesu Ft-857D HF/VHF/UHF All-Mode
      • This will be going into the mobile once I figure out how I want to configure the antennas and tuner situation.  I'm considering the ICOM AH-4 (yes an Icom tuner with a Yaesu radio), an SGC 237, or an ATAS-120.  I want something I can automatically tune and will work on all bands.  The AH-4 will give me some additional use with my IC-7000 if I ever want to hook that up.
    • ICOM ID-880H VHF/UHF D-Star Base
      • I've been a nay-sayer for D-Star for years.  My approach was you need to build up a repeater system first, then people will follow.  Well over the last couple of months, TMRA and another organization put up a 440 repeater in Toledo.  So no DVAP or Dongle needed.  That was the turning point for me to get into the D-Star.  It's been fun so far.  Glad I did it.
  • March 2012
    • ICOM ID-880H VHF/UHF D-Star Mobile
      • I had money saved up to purchase an ICOM ID-31A at the Toledo hamfest on March 17.  A fellow ham struck a deal with another local ham that was getting out of D-Star and called me on March 15 and offered either the 31A or the 880H.  The pricing on the 880H (only a few weeks old) was unbeatable, so I took it.  Now I need to start saving for the 31A - looking to purchase at Dayton in May.
    • ICOM AH-4 80-6 Meter Tuner
      • The family knew I was looking for something, and I finally committed to finishing the HF setup in the mobile.  So got some HRO gift certificates from the wife/daughter and in-laws.  They're the best!  Just placed an order.  I'll keep you up-to-date.  That's going to be a wiring chore - mostly grounding from what I hear.
    • ARES Equipment
      • I'm in the Lucas County ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) and this month was prep your go-kit month.  I'm also on the ADAT (ARES Disaster Assessment Team) for the county.  I purchased a few adapters, and mag mount VHF/UHF antennas at the local hamfest so I can be better equipped for that incase we are deployed.

As you can tell, my ham shack is pretty small as I'm just getting started.  If you've got equipment you want to get rid up, fire me off an email and I might be able to help you out.

Why don't I have more equipment?  Well my XYL (wife) doesn't appreciate the hobby like I do and frankly at some point we have to listen to the boss.  I also live in an antenna restricted development, so I have to do everything "stealth" which can be quite difficult when working with antenna wavelengths of 40 and 80 meters.  You really have to come up with some creative antenna solutions.

I like Yaesu's mobile units, but I've done quite a bit of research on ICOM's equipment and would love to get an ICOM IC-7000 rig to do be my go-to base and mobile rig for data mode communications as well as phone VHF/UHF - I just can't find a rig similar to that from any other vendor - it really is a sweet ride.

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