Originally Posted by Thorny
What were your reasons for going with the Kenwood? Did you install the optional noise filter? Thanks!
No noise filter was needed. I did install ferrite chokes on the mic cord extension (cat 5 patch cord with RJ45 coupler), and on the radio head extension cable. But that is all, it's what the manual recommended.
I bought two roadpro 5 watt external speakers which are resting behind the dash cup holders for now. Without these I could not copy well at all while traveling down the highway--just too much road noise. For $20.00 I'm happy with them.
For the radio I wanted a dual band (2M / 70CM) radio with cross-band repeat functionality and I like that the Kenwood has 50 watts on both sides of radio. I was considering APRS but was not necessary. The radio also reviewed really well on eHam.net All the buttons are back lit as well. The radio can also be remotely controlled using an HT (handie talkie).
Used in this configuration I don't need to install a radio in my house and I can leverage my mobile radio with great antenna and power. I leave the mobile radio powered up in the truck (connected to aux battery) and use the cross band repeat to access repeaters while I am in my house. In the house I have an old icom IC-T2H that an elmer gave me and I use it on low power to transmit to the truck and from the truck it transmits to the distant repeaters. It works great!
The Kenwood also has Echolink which is more widely supported than other advanced features (DStar, WIRES) it seems. With Echolink you can access a repeater that supports it and using your raido you can "link" your local repeater to any other Echolink node in the world that's not busy. For example, last night I was listening to a repeater on Palomar Mountain (35 miles North) and I heard someone link that repeater to one in Australia!
Echolink is more of a novelty for me but I think it's really cool. There is even an app for the android phone. Using the Echolink app on my phone and my data connection, I can monitor [and transmit] on any repeater that supports it anywhere in the world. I have enjoyed monitoring the 147.33 machine in Big Bear from the comfort of my couch in San Diego. Any licensed HAM can use Echolink, it's not exclusive to Kenwood...
I've learned a lot since installing the radio, and I've come to understand that 50 Watts of power is largely unnecessary for most UHF/VHF comms. Antenna placement seems to be more important. So if you're shopping, don't get too hung up on the power specs. For example, with my truck in the right places in San Diego, I can easily hit repeaters 114 miles away like the Mt. Wilson 447.700 UHF machine with only 10 watts of power. It's mostly about line of sight.
Here are some pics of my install:
I declined to mount the radio head. Instead I just put some velco on it and when it's dark I stick it on the dash, or it just sits next to the shifter when it's sunny out. This lends itself well to if my wife is driving and I am shotgun I have easy access for control. I could even work the radio from the back if I had to.
I pulled out the drivers seat and mounted the body with zip ties under the seat.
Larsen 2/70B antenna mounted to Bajarack light tab.
I ran 10 gauge wire from the Auxillary battery in the bed along the frame (and the coax) and came up through a gromment right under the drivers seat.
Installing was fun, but let me tell you. I pulled an all-nighter to get it done because I had no time due to work and family duties!
I'm still very new to the HAM world so everything I wrote is based on my very limited experience.