Mobile Radios

Mobile Radios

Mobile Radios have a distinct advantage over fixed base radios in that they are smaller (easier to conceal), they have almost the same features and options as fixed base radios, and they can be used as fixed base radios simply by connecting them to readily available 12 volt power supplies. Mobile radios and even fixed base radios can readily be used for portable operations.

Mobile radios will generally operate in the VHF/UHV1 range and are best for localized operations. Depending on the gain of the antenna used in mobile operations the area of coverage for mobile radios can be anywhere from 1 to 5 miles. Should a survivalist incorporate HF or High Frequency radio in their communications gear then they can expect to dramatically expand their area of coverage.

Of particular interest to those who want a comprehensive communications system is the fact that quite a few amateur (ham) radios incorporate HF & VHF. For instance, the Icom model IC-746PRO covers the amateur bands between 1.8 and 29.7 megahertz. Along with these frequencies theIcom IC746PRO HF/VHF/UHF IC-746PRO has a general coverage receiver which encompasses the frequencies between 0.030 and 60 megahertz. An additional receive only band of 108 to 174 megahertz also comes standard in the IC-746PRO. One more attractive feature of the IC-746PRO is that in contains an onboard antenna tuner. An antenna tuner’s function is to insure the antenna connected to the IC-746PRO is matched (tuned) to its optimum. Antenna tuners protect the transmitter of radios as well as improve the received signals. Even though the IC-746PRO is considered to be a fixed base radio, it is well suited for mobile and/or portable operation.

Portable Operations

We touched briefly on using mobile radios and base station radios in portable operations. One might wonder about the differences between that of mobile radios and portable radios. The radios themselves are no different when it comes to portable operations. It is the surroundings that differentiate between fixed base, mobile, and portable operations. Portable operations generally use a large and/or more permanent antenna system than a mobile radio would require. Portable operations generally are running on either generator or solar energy as the power source for the communications equipment. The antennas used in portable operation tend to be either verticals stuck on a pole or a series of tuned wire antennas strung between structures such as trees.

No matter what radio gear a survivalist chooses they need to consider the probability that they will be using mobile or portable radio setups at one time or another.


1VHF/UHF indicates the radio equipment operates in the VHF, Very High Frequency, or UHF, Ultra High Frequency, ranges.


Yaesu Radios

Along with Kenwood and Icom, Yaesu makes up the big three of amateur radio equipment. There are other brands but none approach the market shares of these three companies. As far as being a source of communications gear for survivalists (and preppers too) Yaesu is number one. All of the radio manufacture mobile radios and of course hand-held radios (HT) which are valuable to survivalists and preppers alike. But Yaesu provides portable radios that are ideally suited for the low profile needs of a survivalist. Yes, Icom produced the IC-703 and similar radios but they are no longer in production.

The three most popular Yaesu portable radios which survivalists and preppers will find attractive are listed below. The Yaesu FT-817 is billed as the “Ultimate Backpacker” which in itself will let survivalists know it is well-suited for their needs. One highly sought at feature is that the FT-817 is HF, VHF, and UHF. Not only that but it has the following modes:
  • SSB, voice transmissions of course.
  • CW, Morse code, a great asset when conditions aren’t the greatest.
  • AM, think CB receive as well as other benefits.
  • FM, VHF/UHF of course but both 6 meter FM and 10 meter FM as well.
  • Packet, for digital communications.
The FT-817D also sports the 60 meter band. A self-contained (rechargeable) battery allows the FT-817 to operate completely portable operations out in the field. Some people will take issue with the fact that the FT-817 only runs 5 watts (which is known as a QRP rig). Yet they don’t realize the drain a 100 watt (or even a 50 watt) transmitter will have on battery consumption. As with any communications plan the antenna will either make or break the performance of a radio.

Next in line is the FT-857D, a radio which Yaesu bills as the “world’s smallest HF/VHF/UHF mobile transceiver” with the word “mobile” separating it from the FT-817 series.With dimensions of 6.1” x 2” x 9.2” one would assume Yaesu is correct about the FT-857D being the world’s smallest 100 watt transceiver. Being a mobile style radio allows the FT-857D the capability to run in several configurations. As a base station using a power supply, in a true mobile installation, or portable operation using an external battery. The display and large tuning knob are both attractive features when running out in the field. Frequency options are similar to the FT-817 listed above.

Rounding out the selection of Yaesu radios for survivalist communications plans is the FT-897D. This radio is a sort of a combination between the FT-817D and the FT-857D. It can run completely portable using internal batteries at a lower RF output of 20 watts. Or it can be operated at 100 watts using any available 13.8 volt external power source. It too shares the bands and modes listed in the FT-817D paragraph above.

As with the other big 3 the Yaesu line has many other mobile, base, and handheld radios but the emphasis on this post was to provide folks with equipment that will fit their communications plans. The most pressing issue of course is the size the the transceiver so that would rule out the base station sizes.

Vertex-Standard Radios Yaesu Radios