9/23/07 Today, I spent the morning removing an Icom 706 mkII and AH4 tuner from my main commuter vehicle (Toyota Camry) and replaced those item with a Yaesu FT-857 (non -D) and Atas 120 antenna. I purchased these items a few years ago to put in another vehicle, but the vehicle was sold before I got a chance to install them. First, let me say that I like the ergonomics and display on the IC-706 better than the Yaesu, or maybe I am just used to the 706, but I don't know why Yaesu put half of the function keys on top of, and around the VFO knob, which makes them difficult to use while mobile. Second, Yaesu should have copied Icom and included a microphone connection on the face plate, it was a nuisance having to run a second cable for the microphone.
Nevertheless, on receive the noise reduction circuits seem to be much more effective in the FT-857 than my version of the 706. The process that the ATAS-120 antenna uses is the cats meow for moving from band to band, and is duplicatable with available interface boxes and other motorized antennas. Nevertheless, the ATAS is good from 40 meters through 70cm, and re-tuning happens in a matter of seconds once you tune the antenna on all of the bands. In my installation, I run a separate antenna for VHF/UHF, so I have the 857 set up to only use the ATAS on HF and 6 meters. If you use the ATAS for all bands, a duplexer is required to combine the two antenna ports from the FT-857. I will post more information about the performance of the FT-857/ATAS-120 after I have spent more time using this combination.
Otherwise, there is not much else going on right now with my amateur radio activities. My main home station is still in the process of being set up as I have time (which is very limited), but I still need a few more minor items for the shack before I begin to focus on my antenna system.
Nevertheless, I am also in the beginning stages of considering which tower I should purchase for my station. I have narrowed the choice down to a Heights Tower Systems HD 68 foot crank up with the fold over kit (FOK) for a total of 72 feet. You can view more information about this tower here: http://www.heightstowers.com/telescoping_crank_up_towers.htm Or a US Towers HDX 572, http://www.ustower.com/. The Height's tower appears to be beefer, has a 10 inch wider foot print, it is rated for a higher wind loading, and is made out of aluminum. However, I have read several reviews on e-ham where Heights Towers and it's customer service has not received very favorable reviews. On the other hand, the US Towers has received better reviews but not perfect, and the tower is rated for less loading. I am really on the fence about which tower to purchase. I like the advantages of aluminum and the wider foot print of the Heights, but US Towers appears to provide better service and also builds a quality product. I will research both towers more in-depth when I get closer to the purchase date, probably mid-year 2008.
I also have 60 feet of new Rohn 25G and a Glen Martin Hazer that I will install at a later date, but I want to get the main tower up and running first. I also have a lead on a new-in-the-box Cushcraft X-9, I had an X-7 for a while, and was pleased with its performance, hopefully my lead for an X-9 will pan out.
73 from AB4D.