The best VHF UHF radio for every ARO-needs editing

An opinion by K4BR
john@k4br.com

GeorgiaARES® says that a new amateur’s first equipment purchase should be a 2 Meter / 70 cm Dual Band FM Transceiver “mobile radio” with a minimum of 50W of output power.  I


ARES® and I further agree that a new amateur’s first equipment purchase should not be a handheld, and I’ll add to that “especially not a ‘cheap plastic handheld‘.” 

 

Icom ID-5100A 2M/440 Transceiver for D-STAR & Analog FM

Because Georiga ARES® has adopted the D-STAR digital mode for ARES® and hospital operations + there are four D-STAR reflectors just for Georgia (REF030A, B, C, & D) and the added fact that anyone can get on D-STAR repeaters and reflectors with or without a radio (e.g. a ThumbDV™ D-STAR DV USB dongle), it is my fact-based opinion that:

 

Maybe, if you can afford a few $$ more beyond a “regular” FM 2 Meter/ 70 cm dual band transceiver, your first or next purchase should maybe be a 2 Meter / 70 cm Dual Band D-STAR / FM Transceiver with 50 W out power ( like the ICOM ID-5100A pictured above).

 

NOTE:  I can get on D-STAR without a radio because I have a Northwest Digital Radio ThumbDV™ D-STAR DV USB dongle (pictured below). It works great and, at only $120, it’s a great way to get into D-STAR.  More on this little device in a post later this spring.

Northwest Digital Radio’s ThumbDV™ – $100

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  • I recommend that you consider a digital rig – FM only transceivers are currently being replaced by combination digital / analog transceivers.
  • You’ll probably keep your radio a fairly long time.  The way I look at is that I don’t want to get stuck with old technology when for a few $$ more, I can own the up and coming technology that “Georgia” is going to.
  • 2m/70cm mobile rigs have the power to reach out to our repeaters from a much greater distance – handhelds do not
  • The 444.1 Waynesboro repeater is D-STAR enabled – more D-STAR repeaters are expected in the CSRA very soon.
  • A D-STAR radio will give you world-wide coverage because of our and other repeater’s connections to the Internet and therefore D-STAR reflectors all over the world.
  • In a communications emergency, you’ll feel a lot safer knowing that you can connect with other ARES operators all around the CSRA and the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) in Atlanta.
  • When an FM analog 2M/440 50 watt mobile rig is barely getting into a repeater or to another station directly, it is very “scratchy,” has a lot of noise on top of the voice, and, when the radio is at the very limits of the repeater’s footprint, the noise may nearly or completely cover up the voice signal.  On the other hand . . .

.

D-STAR IS ABSOLUTELY AMAZING

WITH D-STAR YOU HAVE EITHER

A PERFECTLY QUIET SIGNAL INTO THE REPEATER OR NO SIGNAL INTO THE REPEATER!!

THERE IS NO “IN BETWEEN” MEANING NO NOISY SIGNALS WITH D-STAR

.


THERE ARE SO MANY COMPELLING REASONS TO RECOMMEND A PARTICULAR MODE,

A VERY SPECIAL TRANSCEIVER AND A PAINLESS WAY TO GET ON D-STAR TO YOU


  • BEST MODE FOR GEORGIA ARES® AND EMCOMM AROs AND,
    IN MY OPINION, FOR ALL OTHER AROs, TOO
    Nominees
    : Analog FM, D-STAR, DMR, P.25, MOTOTRBO/TRBO, C4FM

BEST mode for ARES® & general communications: 

⇒⇒⇒⇒⇒ D-STAR ⇐ ⇐ ⇐ ⇐ ⇐


  • BEST FIRST (OR SECOND) 2M/440 TRANSCEIVER:
    NOMINEES: All transceivers by Yaesu, Motorola, Kenwood, Icom, Alinco, TYT, Anytone, Wouxun, Baofeng

BEST First or second transceiver:

⇒⇒⇒⇒⇒ The Icom ID-5100A Deluxe D-STAR & FM 2M/440 MHz 50-watt transceiver ⇐ ⇐ ⇐ ⇐

MAYBE THIS COULD BE YOUR FIRST OR NEXT RADIO?

Click here to read the QST Magazine review of the ID-5100A (.pdf)


  • EASIEST & LEAST EXPENSIVE WAY TO GET ON D-STAR:
    Nominees:  All manufacturers of any device that will allow you to get on the D-STAR network/reflectors/repeaters

Easiest and least expensive way to get on D-STAR: 

⇒⇒⇒⇒ Northwest Digital Radio’s ThumbDV™ USB dongle ⇐⇐⇐⇐


PRICE DROP for the Icom ID-5100A Deluxe on March 31, 2017:

Icom ID-5100A Deluxe from Gigaparts.com$489.00 + Free Shipping & no sales tax — ships from Huntsville, AL!

Icom ID-5100A Deluxe from HRO/Atlanta$489.00 + Free Shipping, but, if you live in Georgia, you pay Georgia sales tax!

This price drop may or may not last through 2018.

The discounted price tag of $489.95 delivered is the lowest price I’ve ever seen on this particular rig.


Also, you may need some of the following items to go with your new mobile radio:

  • a 25A power supply or a good gel cell battery and charger for the house – again, with Anderson Powerpole connectors or you may connect directly to your car’s battery terminals.
  • if you’re operating at home, an outside “dual band” antenna, preferably a Yagi (beam)
  • if you’re operating mobile, a good quality mobile antenna on your car
  • If you’re a BARC member, there’s no need to buy the programming software & cable.  I’ll program your radio for you!
  • Also, The DV/FM repeater list function assists you in accessing near-by repeaters, even when you are visiting an area for the first time. The function searches for near-by repeaters using the repeater memories with the GPS position information.  The ID-5100A will be shipped with a limited number of repeater memories pre-programmed – we’ll help you program more!
  • Anderson Powerpoles
    • Hook up your radios to power supplies/batteries including your car battery with Anderson Powerpole connectors
      • Anderson Powerpole connectors allow you to easily move radios back-and-forth from the house’s power supply to the car’s battery power
      • The rule is all HROs are to connect their radios to power sources with Anderson Powerpoles.
        That way . . .
  • when you’re in the “field” with other folks, you will be able to connect your radios to other folks’ batteries and power supplies
    and
  • when you’re in the “field” with other folks, you will be able to let others connect their radios to your batteries and power supplies

Highly recommended:  Always check eham.com reviews before buying any radio, antenna, etc. to make sure it will work for you!


When an incident occurs or you’re involved in a public service event or even for everyday use, a 25-75 watt mobile radio will be much more useful compared to any handheld radio.