Ham Radio 360: Shopping Show #4 with the entire 360 gang

Happy Thanksgiving!

George, Jeremy and John pulled me up to the barn just in time to get a shopping show together for your Holiday Listening pleasure!  Actually, we’d planned this all along-knowing that so many of you enjoy the insight and conversation between friends.

This is our 4th Shopping Show and it’s always the highlight of our yearly podcasting adventures. While we have a load of fun doing these shows;  it’s our hope we can help you make informed choices regarding big and small purchases this Christmas Shopping Season!

Handi-talkies, Mobiles, Portables and Packables all get time in this episode along with some insight on budget and starter gear.  There’s room for everyone, even if you’re still stuffed full of turkey!

So, take us along as you brave the crowds for overnight shopping!  Plug us in one ear while you’re forced to sit through another lame 3-hour Commercial..I mean Thanksgiving Parade.  Share us with the in-laws, you know they love hearing about your ‘weird’ radio hobby!  Whatever-just don’t miss out on this episode!

We’re all Thankful for the time you spend with us and truly hope you and your family enjoy the brightest of Seasons!

73 Y’all
Cale, George, Jeremy and John

Click above to shop thru the K4CDN Amazon Affiliate Link-thank you!

Show Notes and Links in order mentioned-

Handi-Talkies:    4: 39

VHF/UHF Mobile Rigs:    23:00

 Budget Buys:     1:51:15

Stocking Stuffers:     1:56:10

Help-A-Ham   1:09:53

And if you have anything left over (or maybe even before you begin)  Please consider helping MTC Radio and their Help-a-Ham charity giveaway!

You can nominate a Ham Radio Op that is need of some Equipment Help and/or Donate Money to pay directly to the cause of putting gear in a Ham’s hands this season!  More details here: Help-a-ham

Merry Christmas Y’all!



  1. Cale,

    I just listened to your Shopping Show and wanted to address your comments about the Yaesu FT-891 as well as the Raspberry Pi 3. I actually have those working together doing FLDIGI as seen in the attached picture.

    I really like the FT-891 for picnic table portable ops. I’m not a backpacker (anymore) and don’t need a super light-weight rig although the 891 isn’t very heavy. I also really appreciate the extra transmit power available but rarely run it at more than 50w. I use a sealed lead acid battery or AC power when available at my favorite picnic pavilion. It draws about 1A on receive contrary to Yaesu’s spec of 2A. I generally use a G5RV Jr strung in the trees and a manual tuner/balun but sometimes use an end-fed 20m antenna if I know I’ll be sticking to 20m.

    I also have an FT-897 and the 891 has a way better receiver and more features even though it is smaller. Of course, it doesn’t have VHF and UHF. I studied the QST test reports for the Elecraft KX2 and FT-891 pretty carefully and the 891 is fairly close in performance to the KX2.

    I’ve used the FT-891 portable in RTTY contests and for casual FT8 and occasional SSB ragchewing. I generally use an old Windows laptop for the digital stuff because the 7in screen on the Raspberry Pi doesn’t have enough pixels for WSJT-X although I have managed to make it run by tabbing to where the off-screen buttons are. FLDIGI fits nicely and works great. I use a wired mouse and Bluetooth keyboard with the Pi. I have powered the Pi with one of those USB charger Li-ion battery packs. In the picture I didn’t have the CAT interface working properly but it does work. I added a small fan to the Pi case but it probably isn’t necessary. Note that I use a SignaLink for the sound interface. The 891 does not have a built-in soundcard but amazingly it does have true FSK (as well as AFSK through the soundcard, of course) and it has built-in 5 memory CW keyer AND a 5 memory voice memory keyer. I’m looking forward to exercising those at Winter Field Day.

    Yes, the 891 has a lot of menus as any rig with lots of features and few buttons/knobs but the menu structure is much more logical than the FT-897 and the main options are available by cycling between a couple of screens. The deep menus are very clearly labelled and grouped logically.

    I started with Heathkit rigs I built in the 70s, graduated to Kenwood, and have settled on Yaesu since getting back into the hobby about 10 years ago. The accessories, cables and mics are compatible between the 891, 897 and my FTDX-3000 saving some money and hassle. I’m happy with the product line and have been pretty successful DXing and casual contesting with only 100w and dipoles with those rigs.

    I really enjoy the 891 and can recommend it for portable ops. I haven’t tried it mobile but I’m sure it would work well. The Raspberry Pi and touchscreen work fine but keep them a little away from the rig because the plastic case and exposed cables let in the RF and can lockup the Pi. I haven’t noticed much RF noise from them.


  2. The TH-D74A review on #4 Christmas Shopping show was a bit disappointing. Now it IS true that I was literally listening to that review as I took the dog out for a walk and the UPS man was delivering a sub-500 dollar Cyber Monday 74A. But it wasn’t just that 🙂

    First good catch to Jeremy on the difference between dual receive (which the radio does have) and full duplex, which it doesn’t. And while John is right that the FM satellite guys are unhappy that full duplex capability is lacking in the 74, a wee bit of snooping on the internet would have revealed that the satellite guys still have a lot to be happy about.

    1) This is about the first handy talkie that makes for a competent downlink receiver for portable linear satellite work. This is kind of a portable linear satellite Holy Grail. Until now, a pair of 817’s has been the de facto portable rig for linear transponder work, but that configuration weighs over 6 pounds and is a nightmare to backpack. Replacing an 817 with the 74A almost cuts that weight in half – not quite as easy to tune but for the first time competent for that because unlike the TH6, the 74A has adjustable IF selectivity, and narrow enough to make a huge difference.

    2) the 74 has GPS – key for locating grids

    3) the 74 has SD card recording – so you can record your satellite pass and sort it later without an external recording device – anyone that’s pointed an Arrow, tuned a couple of radios while wired to a headset and a recorder and tried to use PTT can appreciate the benefit of this 🙂

    4) The radio has APRS – useful for tracking the location of folks grid hopping, which is sometime very helpful to both the hunter and the hunted – if APRS is in range

    …..and I don’t even fiddle with D-Star (yet)

    In summary the radio is a perfect example of George’s point about radio price reflecting a feature set – a big set here, even if not always implemented as slickly as another manufacturer. At the sub-$500 Cyber Monday price I finally did it, and so far am pretty happy about it.

    And a final bonus point – because it claims to have real IF selectivity (seems to be right, although a written description of what exactly is going on is lacking) – even down to 300 hertz for cw – and full HF capability, it makes probably the nicest handheld HF receiver to date. Performance seems plenty good to take out with a homebrew 2 – 5 watt cw rig.

    I mention all this only because I think the review was a bit biased weighted by a less than perfect D-Star user interface, and the price – a valid point for sure, but not a radio performance issue – and lots of good features ignored, so maybe just a little more research/balance would have been in order?

    Keep up the great work, really enjoy the show(s)!

    73 Scott ka9p

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