I’m a commitment-phobe; hence, I seldom like anything that’s permanent nor anything that restricts my movement. I like to be able to switch in and out of stuff and come and go as I please. So, I look for HAM equipment that can move with me — to borrow the phrase from my favorite US Navy Fighter Intercepter Jet, the F-14 Tomcat and my favorite US NAVY Fighter Squadron: VF-213: The Black Lions: “Anytime…Anywhere, baby.”
Ever since I entered the HAM community and posted my HAM activities on various social media sites and my BLOGs, I got tons of text messages, emails, and private messages welcoming to the community and equally, tons of people asking me about getting their licenses and the types of equipment they should get.
The most frequent questions I get are “What [HAM] [transceiver] should I buy?” “What’s the best equipment for me?”
I’m going to answer these two questions by telling you my lifestyle and the choices I made to accommodate my lifestyle.
- Quality: In all my purchases, from my cars to my socks, I ONLY purchase quality stuff. I believe in making the initial investment of buying quality stuff; because, in the long-run, purchasing quality stuff in the beginning, is more cost-effective throughout time. All the stuff I purchased lasts a very long time and nicely designed — so, the style wears and functions well through time. All the stuff I purchased are feature-rich, which means I can continuously use the products from yester-year to today. I don’t ever buy cheap stuff or knock-offs, I have pride of ownership in every single thing I purchased in my lifetime, and I never recommend stuff to people unless I have purchased and used the product myself; hence, to date, all the products I recommended to people, they purchased and had positive experiences.
- Portable: I’m portable. I don’t like being locked down into one area. I like to move around and have my equipment move with me with simplicity, durability, reliability, and ease. My equipment must have all the possible features that I might need while I’m portable.
- Home Base-Station: Even though I’m portable, my equipment must also perform as a home base-station. It must do all the stuff the dedicated home base-station rigs do, but it must do those things in a small footprint — in other words, it shouldn’t take up much surface area on my desk-top.
- Power Sources: I’m also concerned about power sources. My rig must be able to plug into any wall socket within and out of the United States. If I travel to Europe and decide to bring my rig, then I must be able to power up through Europe’s power grid. Most importantly, if I go portable and out in the field, I need a long-lasting portable battery.
So, what happens if I’m out in the field, and my portable battery runs out? How will I power up? It’s not like I can just plug my rig into a power out-let in Arizona’s Grand Canyon or along Aspen Colorado’s Roaring Forks while I’m fly-fishing.
Power Redundancy: To address the redundant power situation, I purchased a solar panel and solar control charger to charge up my portable battery in the event I drain it while I’m out in the field.
Now, you know my lifestyle; hence, you can follow the path of my purchasing choices:
- Yaesu VX-6R Hand-held Transceiver (You don’t need to get this hand-held — I got it for my bug-out pack for emergencies. The Yaesu FT-857D is the only radio you need to get if you are deciding between this transceiver or the Yaesu FT-857D.)
- Yaesu FT-857D Portable and Mobile Transceiver
- Bioenno LiFePO4 Portable Battery (BLF-1220A)
- PowerWerks Transformer
- L-shape Connector
- Power connector with two in-line fuses
- Silicone Non-adhesive Coax Wrap
- Bioenno Solar Charger Controller (SC-1224JUD)
- Bioenno LiFe 28-watt Solar Panel
All these items fulfill my requirements of being portable and being home-base.
“What if I’m on a lower budget than the items you purchased?”
Simple…the answer is to get the best you can afford by purchasing quality-named and reputable bands. For example, you don’t need to spend $849 for Yaesu FT-857D transceiver if your primary interest is mainly or strictly 2-meter or 70-centimeter communications: VHF and UHF, respectively. Yaesu and other quality and reputable brands sell transceivers in those band frequencies in the $200-$500 range — you might not ever want to transmit in the HF range; so, you can get a quality and reputable transceiver for that price-range.
The reason I chose the Yaesu FT-857D is I want to transmit in the HF range when I get my license to do so; and, I wanted that range all in one transceiver — I didn’t want to purchase and additional transceiver in the future.
The same holds true with the cases and packs. You might never transport your comm gear on a plane, train, automobile, or boat; so, you don’t need a Pelican case , soft bag, nor back-pack; and, if you end up going with a strictly home-base station transceiver, you won’t need a transformer.
The same holds true for the portable rechargeable battery. You don’t have to spend $200 on a Bioenno LiFePO4 like the one I purchased. You can get a reputable brand-named SLA or gel battery for under $100; but, it will be a lot heavier in weight, and you might have to do extra safety measures when transporting or storing your battery for an extended period of time. For me, I wanted safety in a battery; and, since I’m portable the battery has to be compact, light in weight, long charge storage capacity, solar-charge-compatible, and constant charge rate from full charge to discharged; hence, the Bioenno LiFPO4, mentioned herein, was the perfect fit for me.
If your lifestyle is the entire opposite of mine, then just purchase the equipment that is opposite of mine. So, if you aren’t a portable HAM, look at the home base-stations and home-base mounted antennas. You won’t need all the other stuff on this list if you are not portable.
/s/ Alfonso Faustino (K6ASF)