I’m looking for some advice on 2m handhelds, for SOTA and non-SOTA use. I currently have a Baofeng GT-3TP and a Yaesu FT817ND.
For my first two activations I used the Baofeng and only managed one contact on each so no SOTA points. However, I did contact two stations on Black Combe in the Lake District from outside a holiday cottage near Caernavon in North Wales last week. This is about 90 miles which seems pretty good for a handheld (although the cottage is at about 300m and Black Combe is 600m). So, for £30, the Baofeng is clearly quite capable. I have two concerns though: will it survive rain and the front end is reputed to be wide open so wont’t be great with an external antenna and will also suffer on summits with commercial masts.
For my next two activations I used the FT817 with a slim jim made from 300 ohm ladder line hanging from a 4m fishing pole. From Snowdon I managed 9 contacts and from Great Orme I managed 5. Great Orme is infamous for breakthrough from the masts there so the FT817 must have managed OK. However, I’m not sure I want to be using it in the rain. I’d also like to keep my HF and VHF equipment separate so that I can set up both together.
One option would be to get the Yaesu FT270 which is waterproof and is said to have a decent frontend. But it’s 2m only and 70cm is useful for non-SOTA repeater use. I could use the Baofeng for that but it would make sense to have a decent handheld that was suitable for both. I’m interested in the Yaesu FT1-XDE which also includes Fusion so could be useful for the digital repeateers. I’m not sure how water resistant it is or what the front end is like.
So, for anyone who’s got through the above ramblings, what do you suggest? Do you use the FT1-X (or earlier models) or can suggest what I should use? Do Icom or Kenwood make anything suitable?