Alfonso Faustino: Yaesu VX-6R and FT-857D — Perfect HAM Transceivers For Me (K6ASF)

I got hooked on Yaesu with my first HAM transceiver, which was the hand-held Yaesu VX-6R.  When I got into the HAM network, I didn’t have any guidance.  I did my research on my own by reading reviews online and reading books I purchased at the bookstore.  Consistently, iComm, Kenwood, Motorola, and Yaesu came up as good, reliable, and durable transceivers.  All the reviews I read about these transceivers averaged 4.4 stars out of five stars.

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Ultimately, I went with the Yaesu VX-6R hand-held transceiver.  The main reasons I picked this hand-held transceiver  was performance coupled its water resistant and drop-protection features.  I wanted a transceiver strictly for my bug-out pack; and, it had to be tough, reliable, and water resistant while being able to perform its primary task — TX and RX.

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After about one week after using the Yaesu VX-6R, I dug it so much, I started looking into Yaesu’s other products.

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I wanted a HAM transceiver that had more power and HF frequencies.  I only searched for Yaesu products because of the positive experiences I had with my own Yaesu VX-6R.  I wanted a transceiver that had more wattage and was portable, mobile, and something I can use as my home-base.  I am a minimalist in my lifestyle; hence, I did not want my man-cave to look like a radio station.

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My man-cave accommodates lots of my interests; and, I wanted to make certain, one interest didn’t over-take my other interests during my stay in my man-cave.  (The picture, below, is not my man-cave.  It’s my work-station in my kitchen.  My man-cave is under construction at this time — I will post pictures after it’s completed.)

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Therefore, my base-station HAM transceiver had to have all the features and power of a dedicated HAM transceiver base-station; but, it had to be compact, so I can carry it with me out in the field or use it in my Ferraris or Mercedes.

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The cockpit in my Ferraris are very small, and wiring a HAM radio into my Ferraris was NOT an option.  Also NOT an option was mounting any antennas on the body of my Ferraris.  These NOTs also applied to my Mercedes-Benz.

So, I set my eyes on the Yaesu FT-857D.  The Yaesu FT-857D does everything a dedicated home-base HAM transceiver does, but is uses a smaller footprint and not taking up a lot of real estate in my man-cave and desk-top-surface.

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About a week after I got my Yaesu VX-6R, I picked up my brand new Yaesu FT-857D from Nick at the HAM Radio Outlet in Oakland, California.  Along with it, I purchased a Diamond antenna to use when I’m operating from my penthouse deck or roof-top.

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It is a powerful transceiver.  It has 100 watts giving me the punching power I need to get my signal out to any repeater or simplex. I have seen this transceiver used to talk to astronauts in the NASA space station, other HAM operators in Italy, Greece, Spain, Japan, and Norway, and other HAM operators within the United States.  With a proper and quality antenna, proper environmental conditions, proper elevation, and proper settings, this transceiver can communicate anywhere in the world and into space.

It has all the frequencies that’s available to the HAM communications network: HF, UHF, and VHF.  It also has AM and FM bands to listen to general public radio stations.

It is rich with tons of useful features — more than I will ever need and beyond my HAM capabilities at this time. I can grow into this transceiver; and, it has endured the span of time — I believe this transceiver came out in 2005 for around $700 — now, the price of this transceiver is north of $800.

Most importantly, in addition to being a powerful and rugged transceiver, it is 100% portable and mobile.  It has the option of being wired into any vehicle; and, with an external battery, it can be carried around in a pack, case, or back-pack to be set up anywhere.   The external battery I selected was the LiFePO4 battery made by, Bioenno Power, which I also picked up from Nick at Ham Radio Outlet in Oakland, California.

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According to my research, this battery best suits my needs with regards to weight, safety, sustainability over time, constant draw from full charge to low charge, and compact in size.  It’s a smart battery in that it won’t over-charge if left on the charger over-night nor does it have a charge memory.

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The way I am about my cars is also the way I am about my home.  I am meticulous and picky about the way my home looks; hence, exterior antennas or dishes is OUT of the question.  So, what to do about the Diamond X50 antenna?

Well, I’m in the film industry; and, I’ve been exposed to lots of set equipment; and, I’ve watched the lighting guys work on anchoring lights and reflectors; so, I drove over to JCX Expendibles, and I spoke to Zach, and he set me up with lighting rig, which I can also use as a portable antenna rig.

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Zach recommended the Matthews tripod — strong, durable, stable, portable, weather-resistant, and salt-air and water resistant.  It is sturdy and hefty — not flimsy and unstable like some of the dedicated antenna tripods I checked out at various hardware stores and HAM stores.  Also, this tripod looks very cool and quality made.

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It has three telescopic poles that can extend out — I haven’t measured its full extension; but, believe me, it’s longer than I ever need, especially, with the added height of the Diamond X50 antenna, which itself, is about 5’6″ or so.

When collapsed, the tripod is about 29.5″ in length.

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After I’m done with it, I can neatly store it in my home.

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The really cool thing are the heavy-duty rubber clamp components.  These clamps are heavy- duty — they are able to hold heavy-duty film lights on-set and on-location without the risk of coming loose and dropping the lamp — unless, of course, the user didn’t operate them properly.

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So, the adjustable screw down rubber-grip clamping components are more than strong enough to hold my antenna, which is equivalent to a toothpick when compared to the weight of the film set lamps the clamps normally hold.

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The clamps allow me to orient the antenna to any angle; but, for this antenna, it’s designed to be oriented straight up vertical.  For other horizontal-based antennas, the clamps can accommodate them.

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The tripod’s brackets are designed to accommodate sandbags for stability in high-winds or loose ground, like sand on a beach.

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Because of my interest of portability and function, this is the best antenna set up for me to use at my home or anywhere I decide to travel and set up my portable HAM station.

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So, if your interest is in portability, and you are a minimalist like me, then consider the Yaesu FT-850D and drop by JCX Expendibles and figure out a portable antenna rig for your own needs.

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Check 6!

/s/ Alfonso Faustino (K6ASF)

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