Alfonso Faustino: “Why so many transceivers?” (K6ASF)

I once asked Wayne (K6WSA), “Why would you have 10 transceivers?”  I could not comprehend, at the time, the reason that so many HAM operators have more than two transceivers.  Now, the reason for two is usually because a HAM operator would have one handheld and one base station.

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As it turns out, most HAM operators have several base stations, which cover different frequencies bands based up on their band usage preferences; then, they have a mobile transceiver for their vehicles and handheld transceivers for when they are out on foot.

It also turns out that HAM operators like to collect various transceivers much like cigars aficionados collecting several types of cigars; or, wine collectors collecting their favorite brands of cabernets.  Some of the transceivers I saw from various HAM operators date back to WWII — amazing stuff; and, the stuff still works — of course, the frequency band isn’t as wide as today’s transceivers, but they still work and do the job well.

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I have six transceivers: Yaesu FT-857D, Yaesu VX-6R, Motorola CP-200 (VHF), Motorola CP-200 (UHF), Motorola 1550 XLS, and Motorola 1250 LS,   which was given to me as a gift from my fellow HAM operator, Ryan (KG6CWE).  I have six transceivers because:

  • I want broader frequency bands that HAM transceivers don’t offer due to FCC regulations, such as 403-470 MHz (UHF), 430-470 MHz (UHF), 450-527 MHz (UHF), and 136-174 MHz (VHF); hence, I purchased Motorola hand-held transceivers;
  • I want certain frequencies that Yaesu offers that Motorola doesn’t offer, such as HF; and,
  • I want to familiarize myself with the Motorola platform, since, for the most part, it is an exclusive communications tools used by military, federal government, law enforcement, fire departments, special agents, secret service, aviation, marine, and so on.

I really dig my Yaesu and Motorola transceivers; and, for now, I have the coverage I need from all these transceivers based upon my operational needs. My family and I are covered with respect to our emergency communications needs.

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One of the groovy things about my Motorola transceivers is that I can execute GMRS and FRS simplex and repeater frequencies without having to purchase another transceiver, and the coverage distance within the city isn’t pretty impressive — my sister, while inside her house, can reach me while I’m playing tennis at Joe DiMaggio’s — the distance is about 1.1 miles in the city with tall buildings.

Those civilian over-the-counter bright yellow or other fancy colored walkie talkies, which tout a 35-mile coverage are not useful to me AT ALL.  Sure, theoretically, you can get 35 miles if you’re in the Arizona dessert with a clear LOS; but, realistically, that operating environment ain’t gonna happen for most of us — definitely not I; because, most of us live in the city with tall buildings, and you’d be lucky to get half a mile out of the alleged 35 miles.

With my Motorolas, CP and HTs, in the city, without the use of a repeater, using GMRS or simplex, I can get a good solid one mile transmission while my sister is in her house, and I’m out playing tennis at Joe DiMaggio’s.

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Motorola isn’t a HAM transceiver — in fact, as far as I know, I could not find any marketing literature or specific use literature directly from Motorola that mentioned HAM communications — of course, third-party sellers will often mention HAM use when selling their Motorolas in order to capture the interest of HAM operators.

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Rather, Motorola focuses on business, military, marine, aviation, law enforcement, federal agencies, and fire department communications, and they do it well — their antennas, unlike HAM hand-held transceivers, do not need to be replaced with after-market antennas.  Motorola antennas are finely made and tuned to the frequency band of their specific transceivers; and, their transceivers, unlike HAM transceivers, are finely tuned and peaked for that specific frequency and band — Motorolas are, to me, the Ferraris of the radio communication industry.

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Because Motorola specifically works on making their particular frequencies optimum, most of their models are either VHF or UHF based upon the user’s needs.  So, this is the drawback of Motorola’s transceivers for the HAM community…you have to purchase one band over the other band — unlike my Yaesu’s I have HF, VHF, UHF, and 2.5 Meters all in one unit; so, I don’t have to carry four different transceivers to cover each frequency band.  Of course, the downside to having all those frequencies all in one transceiver is lack of a quality signal and some bleed over when compared to Motorola’s frequency quality — this is also more apparent and common in the lower brand and lower quality transceivers.

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To supplement my Motorola, my Yaesu VX-6R hand-held transceiver gives me the other frequencies should I get asked to hit a VHF or 2.5 meter frequency, which has not happen to date.

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In my time of HAM operations, I find that I use the UHF frequency bands the most; hence, I use my HTS1550 XLS, HT1250 LS, and my CP200 (UHF) the most.

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So, carrying my Yaesu VX-6R and Motorola HTS1550 XLS while on foot covers all my HAM operation needs.

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When I get home, I use my awesome kick-as Yaesu FT-857D to throw signal out miles and miles away — even across the pond if I wanna.

Check 6!

/s/ Alfonso Faustino (K6ASF)

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