I have been searching for the right emergency communications (Emcomms) radio for my go-kit. I need a radio that will at least cover the 2-meter, 20-meter, and 40-meter bands. It needs to be able to transmit at least 35 to 50 watts of power. It also needs to be small and easily transportable to a deployment site and set up quickly.
I already have a 50-watt dual band 2-mater / 70cm mobile radio but it does not cover the HF bands. I will be installing this radio in my van that I am setting up as a response vehicle for any ARES or RACES deployments.
For an Emcomms radio it needs to have the HF bands so that I have long-distance communications to the mainland along with the local on island communications with the 2-meter.
While searching for the past couple months through all of the various radio options available, one model stuck out from the rest, the Yaesu 857D.
The Yaesu 857D covers all of the bands that I need and then some and has 100-watts of transmitting power, which is more than I was looking for but will give me that added bit of power if I need it in an emergency situation.
The 857D is normally a little over $900 but I was able to find a used one on Amazon for $400 that comes with a 3 year warranty. With the savings on the radio I was able to spend a little more on an antenna so I went with a Super Antenna MP1DXMAX Dual HF plus 2 meter Bands SuperWhip. The MP1DXMAX antenna will work on all of the bands that the 857D will cover except for the 70cm band which I won't be using for Emcomms anyway so this combination should work well for my needs.
When choosing a radio for Emcomms you need to know what bands you will need to have coverage for. If you will be working with ARES or RACES you will need to have a radio with a minimum of 35 to 50 watts of power, so that rules out some of the cheaper mobile radios unless you also want to add on a linear amplifier.
By the time you buy a less powerful and therefore less expensive radio like a Yaesu 817, and add on an amplifier to get the power up to the 35 to 50 watt range you have spent more than you would have for the 857D. Plus you have an additional item with additional weight to consider if you will be installing the radio in a go-box.
Think about what you are needing, what you will be using it for, and how you will be using it. Don't just purchase the first radio you see, or find on sale. Make sure that the radio will suit your needs before you buy it. This will keep you from being disappointed and feeling like you wasted your money on something that you did not need.
As I start installing the radios and equipment in the Emcomms go-box I will do an update episode with a video showing the final setup.
I Am Now An ARRL Licensing Instructor
In upcoming episodes we will take a look at Morse Code, Antennas, Handheld UHF/VHF Radios, and Mobile UHF/VHF Radios.