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Premium Member
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142 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
It's me again.

This time we are doing VHF. Unlike the CB, I actually need the VHF. I use the FJ for SAR and we predominately use VHF for communication. Also, unlike the CB, I need to communicate for long distances without repeaters. This means a good sensitive setup with a good antenna system.

Since I use it for SAR duty I also need it to be reliable.

So let's see... Reliable, sensitive, robust, and CHEAP! We can do that!!!

First and foremost, the transceiver. Though I love the dual/tri/quad band setups this would totally blow my budget. Also, though I am a fan of the Chinese stuff, for this application I want high quality. Luckily there's ebay to the rescue:
kenwood tk 790 | eBay



The Kenwood TK-790 is a professional, mil-spec rig. These radios do duty as fire-fighter radios, police and other ES. They are really really well built. They are also usually well taken care of. When they end their tour of duty they are sold as surplus. Troll ebay and you can get one of these for less than $100 (I got mine for $65). Also, you can get the service manual that lists EVERYTHING including schematics and circuit layouts. This is great for learning how these radios work and for trouble shooting.


You do need to add a couple of other stuff:
Dual fused power cable ($17):
Kenwood Radio Power Cable TK 690 TK 890 TK 790 G TK880 and More USA Shipping | eBay

Kenwood microphone ($35):
kenwood 12 pin microphone | eBay

KPG-43 programming cable ($25)
KPG 43 Programming Cable for Kenwood TK 890BK TK 790K TK 690H TK 5710H TK 5810H | eBay

Antenna ($13):
VHF 2 Meter 144 152 MHz NMO Quarter Wave Whip Antenna Chrome | eBay

NMO mount with RG-58 cable ($18):
New Antenna NMO Mount 3 4" Hole with RG58 Cable Mini UHF Connector | eBay

and yes, YOU NEED TO DRILL A HOLE IN THE ROOF IF YOU WANT A GOOD ANTENNA.

Speaker (cheap $13):
Kenwood Style External Speaker Ham CB Communication | eBay

OR
Speaker (awesome Kenwood KES-5 -$60)
Kenwood KES 5 External Speaker with Bracket | eBay


I cheaped out and bought the CB speaker and it seems good enough. The Kenwood speaker is awesome and is on my to-buy list.


Less than $190 and you got a super high quality VHF rig. Can you get VHF for less? Probably. But not for much less and not better quality. I'm happy. On to installation!
 

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142 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
First up - we need to program the radio. Unlike amateur rigs, you cannot key in your frequency. This radio requires you to program the frequencies in. Yes it's a pain but realistically I only use 10-20 frequencies and I know those in advance. I can also program local repeaters and the usual VHF simplex frequencies. In use I have not felt I am limited by the radio.



One nice thing about this radio is that you can detach the head and remote mount it. You can get a $100 separation kit or you can go the DIY route and 3D print your own ;)






I did have to solder on the separation cable. Bit of a pain but at least I know the connection is solid and secure.





Works great!
 

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Premium Member
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142 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
To the CAR!!!

Yes, you have to drill a 3/4" hole in the roof. :eek:
Once you get past that stage removing the headliner and fishing the antenna though is super simple.
The advantage is that you get a super clean, reliable and high performance ant mount. Done right it will not come off, will not leak, and will not rust.







 

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Premium Member
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142 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Power comes directly from the battery. The leads are fished through the firewall and I used good quality terminators. This radio uses up to 13A while transmitting. You need to make sure you got good quality power coming to it. Just make sure it's off when you leave the car :)



And now you see the end result! Nice and clean. Works great.




I have not yet found a good location for the main unit. Looking for suggestions. Meanwhile I stuffed it in the cubby box.
 
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