For years it has aggravated me that commercial two-way radios cost so much and have relatively few features when compared to amateur radios. Recently, one of the sheriff's deputys showed me the amateur radio he had in his car. It inspired me to look closer at amateur radios as a replacement for the VHF radio I've used for the last several years.

I found that it is a simple and common modification for most amateur radios to expand their transmit bands to include the public service band (150-160MHz). My next step was to find a radio that had the features I wanted. One of the features I required was digital PL tones (DCS). Most amateur radios don't have these, so that thinned the choices for me.

After looking for a few weeks I decided on the Yaesu FT-2600M from Amateur Electronic Supply.

A quick overview of this radio's features are:

- 60 watts
- 170 channels
- alphanumeric display
- CTCSS/DCS/DTMF tones
- a full-featured microphone
- multiple scan modes
- frequency and tone searching
- front mounted speaker and mic connection

The box...

...and the contents.

A closeup.

The microphone.

Update - After a few months of using the Yaesu I took it out and put the RELM back in. The Yaesu had nice features, but sometimes when I'd turn on the truck the radio would unprogram itself. This has also happened to two friends of mine, and lots of people on the internet. Yaesu says it's because this radio has EEPROM memory and is sensitive to voltage fluctuation. It doesn't use a battery backup like 99% of radios. Yaesu's recommended solution was even more pitiful..."shut the radio off before you start your vehicle". How pathetic is this!! This radio is supposed to be MIL-SPEC! Yaesu 'updated' the radio, but it didn't help. I was also disappointed in Amatuer Electronic Supply. Their answer was to send it to Yaesu, but they wouldn't take it back, even in trade.

I noticed there are a couple features that commercial radios have that amatuer radios don't seem to. One is priority scan, and the other is the ability to have different PL tones on send and receive frequencies.

I recently purchased another Yaesu radio...an FT7100. There was a factory rebate of $150 so the radio only cost $300. It is dual band and has a remote head along with other nice features. One of these days, when YAESU GETS THEIR HEAD OUT OF THEIR ASS AND DISTRIBUTES THE PROGRAMMING SOFTWARE I'll install the radio and make another webpage. Click here to see the FT-7100 radio.

Click here to see how to modify and program this radio.

Click here to see the radio installation.


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