HT Guides by Joel Sampson / N5LXI
These are one page guides for the handheld VHF/UHF transceivers I own. They are not made to replace the manual or programming software. The goal is to clearly document basic operations for field use. For example, how to program a frequency, offset and PL tones and enter it into memory. If I don't do that frequently enough, I forget. Not to mention modern HT's can be very complex. They guides are in PDF form. I hope they are of use to you. If you have corrections or commens e-mail via this web site.
Unless you live in area with only a few repeaters, software programming an amateur radio is a must. We have over 100 working repeaters in the Dallas / Fort Worth area. Plus I sometimes want to monitor railroad frequencies (I'm a rail fan) and marine frequencies when I visit the coast. Throw in a few service frequencies and I can easily have 400 frequencies entered. That's also why alpha tags are important to me. Plus an easy way to toggle between alpha and frequency display.
I use an older PC in the shack which runs Windows XP and has a real serial port on the motherboard. If you have a more modern PC without serial I/O, you will need to get a USB to serial port converter. Some of the newer radios are supporting USB directly.
I listen much more than I talk on a HT. The receiver, scanning ability and non-ham band reception is important to me. User interface is very important. The Dallas Police and Fire are not trunked, so a standard receiver works great fine for listening to local public services. Many police and fire departments are trunked and require a Bearcat or other trunking scanner.
All of these radios have a Yahoo Group, which is a good source of help, files and other information.
The VX-6 is probably my favorite HT. It has great scanning abilty. It covers 220 MHz with 1.5 watts output. The VX-6 displays very large text and it's easy to toggle between alpha and frequency display (the [MONI] key on the side below the PTT). The keys perform up to three functions and it's not the most intutitive HT, at least for me. It has 900 memory locations and very sophisticated scanning ability. The wide receiver coverage works excellent with a proper antenna.
The free VX-6 Commander is great and a must have! Features of the software include the ability to move an entry up or down, useful when you need to insert a new frequency. You can also mark, copy and paste large blocks of multiple frequencies, which is very handy. You can easily setup the eight groups for great scanning ability.
Download my free Yaesu VX-6 Quicksheet.
The Kenwood TH-F6 has a good user interface and 5-watt output VHF, UHF and 220 MHz. The built-in bar antenna does not work very well either. It has 400 memories. The "A" section is ham only and is excellent and the "B" section is a very wide receiver but not very sensitive. It only transmitts on the "A" side but receives on both "A" and "B".
The free Kenwood memory software works well, but you have to move one memory location at a time (no block moves).
Download my free Kenwood TH-F6 Quicksheet.
The Icom IC-W32A is an older technology full-sized HT. It has two independent receivers and is a good choice to work the FM satellites. It's a large, heavy HT that feels good in the hand and has dual volume and frequency control. Simple and easy to use. The original Ni-Cad battery is poor. It transmits on VHF and UHF only. You can open up the receiver without a hacking the hardware. The IC-W32A is longer in production.
I use older serial software from RT Systems on my IC-W32. The software allows you to easily move an entry up or down and works well. Their new software seems to only support their USB radio interface.
Download my free Icom IC-W32A Quicksheet.
I bought the little China TYT TH-UV3 radio in June, 2012 for $70 with a USB programming cable. It's quirky but cute! For a few local repeaters and listening, it is excellent. You can directly enter a frequency, which is better than most tiny handheld radios. It transmits VHF/UHF only. It also receives FM broadcast radio. It has 128 memories plus more for FM broadcast.
I'm still learning the radio. The software is quirky but thanks to forums and help from others I have a few hints. When you upload or download from the radio, click the OK box. To allow a programmed channel to scan, change the "Scan Add" column from DEL to ADD. And a fellow ham helped how to program the Alpha tags. Click on a programmed memory channel and then click "Channel Edit", which is the 4th over from the left on top. A tool tip will pop up to tell you have the correct icon. Click on Channel Edit and type in an Alpha Tag in the Name field. To display the alpha tags select "Option Function" on the left and change the Mode Field to "Chs Freq".
I also used the software to set the multi-function key: Key 1: OFF and Key 2: Monmome. Now the 1 key functions as a light switch and the 2 key does what 1 used to do. It's red and on the bottom, much easier to find. I hated the "alarm" function.
Download my free TYT TH-UV3 Quicksheet.
I use a variety of third party rubber duckies on my HT's. The stock antenna is often poor. A good choice for two meters is a simple 19" flexibile whip. It will load on UHF fine and have gain over almost all rubber attenuators.