Survivalism & Self Sufficiency Topics > Amateur Radio Gear Reviews

Help comparing Yaesu 857d and Elecraft KX3 from a preppers point of view

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23skido:
New ham with general class. I would like to get started with some HF equipment. I am looking at the Yaesu 857d and the much more mobile( back pack mobile) Elecraft KX3. I do not necessarily want to get away from VHF and UHF but more correctly stated want to add HF to my 2m and 70cent. I know comparing these two units is apples and oranges to some extent. The Yaesu gets the 2m amd 70 cent where the KX3 does not. The Yaesu get 100 watts in theory and the kx3 10 watts. Keep in mind there are add- ons that can be added to the kx3 that will bring it nearly to the level of the Yaesu. They offer a 100 watt amp and a 2m accessory. Neither of which is cheap mind you. What I really like about the kx3 is that it runs on 8AA batteries and weighs only 1.5Lb ! Where as the Yaesu is 4.5 Lb plus you will need  a 12v battery that will weigh about the same. That is a big difference if you are on the go! The kx3 has some strong reviews in the ham world too.
Here is where you experienced preppers/hams out there can help me. On a practical down to earth level. What are the pros and cons of each of these systems. I really like the idea of having only one radio ( except maybe a hand held). I really do not want to amass radios for different purposes. Keep in mind I be interested in some volunteer search and rescue with my radio in the near future. What about grid down and political/social unrest scenarios. Will the 2m repeaters even be allowed to function in these conditions? What frequencies are best suited for local and long range comms during such scenarios?How might such examples guide the radio one chooses?

Canadian Prepper:
As I have only used my 2m handheld and hope to get an HF rig in the coming weeks I'd hesitate pretending to be able to give advice on the relative merits of both radios. I'm seriously looking at the 897 for my first radio, but with the price of the batteries made to operate with it, I can appreciate the extra weight posed by having to carry a 12V battery.

For all of the handy aspects of the K3, I still wonder about what kind of antenna set up would best be able to take advantage of such a portable transceiver. Aside from a few wire dipoles that can be put up in a tree, or perhaps a few relatively mobile vertical antennas, that might be a bigger limiting factor than the relative weight of both radios. How the 10W transmission would work with the antennas I can only guess at. If anyone could figure out a way to set up an easy to carry transceiver with a whip antenna that allows them to keep walking, I'm truly interested.

Alan Georges:
23S, first, congratulations on the new General ticket.  That opens a lot of doors.

There's been a lot of discussion centering on the question "which HF go rig?", a bunch of them right here on this site.  Over at the Prepared Ham site, here's a recent discussion: http://www.preparedham.com/forums/general-discussion/choice-on-a-emergency-go-kit-using-a-yaesu-ft-817nd/
The main take-away from it is that you need 100 watts for reliable emergency comms.  QRP might work on a good day, but it's more a hobby than anything.

Now, look at the Elecraft's weight PLUS the weight of its amplifier: 1.5 + 7 lbs for the amp = 8.5 lbs.  That's a lot more than the Yaesu.

If you're running 100 watts with either rig, you're going to need serious batteries.  Here's a recent post about using LiPo4 cells.  I don't have any experience with them, but they do look like the way to go.  http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=46880.msg530853#msg530853  I'll be looking into these in the very near future.

BTW, Yaesu offers a very similar radio, the 897, which uses an internal battery pack or an external battery.  But it's limited to 20 watts on the internal batt, and it's married to a proprietary battery pack that uses aging technology.  Personally I'd pass, but YMMV.

Local comms will depend on your locals.  My answer locally is CB, since it's so unused around here and most of the people I want to stay in touch with can't or won't get their ham tickets.  Again, YMMV.

Long-range comms can mean a lot of things, from two-towns-over to intercontinental.  For me, 80/40 NVIS plus a 20 meter inverted V is a good mix.  It gives good two-states-over coverage plus the ability to long-throw outside the SE region.  The associated wire antennas were affordable, and they can be stowed easily before a hurricane.  If you want to get an idea of the problems with long-range emcomms, check these two threads over at Prepared Ham: http://www.preparedham.com/forums/announcements/on-air-roundtable/  and http://www.preparedham.com/forums/propagation/propagation-modeling-for-weekly-roundtable/  BTW, one of the guys over at that forum thinks very highly of Chameleon HF antennas for backpack rigs.  He uses it for in-state work frequently, but it won't go much farther.

Word is that the local repeaters didn't stay up after Katrina.  Gas for their backup generators wasn't a priority.  But I wasn't a ham then and have no direct knowledge here.

23skido:
Allan, thanks for the in depth answer to my question. I am so busy I just finally read the replies. I did end up with the Yeasu857. I will certainly check out all of your links( when I find time!).

Pukwudji:
  I recently picked up the 857d also.  As to weight and portability, other than the hobby aspect, I'm not sure I really see the usefulness in most situations.  If you are walking, say home from the office during SHTF, you'd get more help from a 2m handheld to be able to talk to locals.  In that situation what possible need would you have to talk to someone 5000 miles away?  If its just to get information from outside an affected area you'd probably be better off with a portable SW radio.
  As was mentioned, being able to power a radio to transmit uses pretty much the same amount of power so if you were trying to pump the power on the kx3 you'd drain those 8 AA batteries in just a couple of minutes if you were trying to power the amplifier with them. 

  I think you made the right choice.  I finally got my 857d after a couple years of procrastinating and saving up.  I now need to save up for a decent antenna and a tuner (I'm going for the LDG YT-100) so I can put it in the truck where I want it.  I'm thinking either going with the Little Tarheel or just going with hamsticks and swapping them out when I want to change band.

-Brian

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