How Much Does That Second Band Cost?

I encourage newly licensed radio amateurs to go ahead and get a dual-band FM rig…handheld, mobile or both. I think the additional cost of the dualbander with both 2 Meters (146 MHz) and 70 cm (440 MHz) is justified by having the ability to operate on the additional ham band. I have noticed that the price of the single-band 2 Meter mobiles are pretty low, less than $200… a real bargain in terms of technology. This made me wonder what the price premium for the second band (70 cm) really is.

I pulled all of these prices from the same major ham radio web site, trying to keep some consistency among the price of the various models. (I ignored specials and coupon pricing.) I looked at a basic 2 Meter FM rig and any comparable dual band models from the same manufacturer. I tried to stick to the basic transceivers and not include models that had advanced features such as D-STAR and APRS in them.

The data is captured in the table below. Note that I differentiated between a single receiver (one frequency at a time) dual-band radio and a two receiver dual-band radio, since the latter variety is much more expensive. I calculated a percent premium for each of the dual-band transceivers, calculated as the percent increase in price over the single-band radio from the same manufacturer. I think this is the most objective way to describe the extra cost of a dual-band radio.

Transceiver Price Bands Percent Premium
Yaesu FT-2900R $185 2M
Yaesu FT-7900R $330 2M/70cm 78%
Yaesu FT-8800R $460 2M/70cm Dual Receiver 149%
ICOM IC-2300H $260 2M
ICOM IC-2820H $670 2M/70cm Dual Receiver 158%
Alinco DR-135T $170 2M
Alinco DR-635T $320 2M/70cm Dual Receiver 88%
Kenwood TM-281A $145 2M
Kenwood TM-V71A $395 2M/70cm Dual Receiver 172%

It is worth noting that only Yaesu and Alinco offer a single-receiver dual-band rig. These two radios are 78% and 88% more expensive than their single band counterparts (less than twice the cost). The two-receiver dual-band radios are consistently more expensive, with a price premium ranging from 149% to 172%. While these rigs are often described as having two radios in one, they are more than twice as expensive as a single-band radio.

Although I appreciate the extra utility of the two-receiver radios, it looks to me like the best value is with the single-receiver dual-band rigs.

What do you think?

73, Bob K0NR

Bob Witte, KØNR, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Colorado, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

6 Responses to “How Much Does That Second Band Cost?”

  • Bill - WA8MEA:

    What’s sad is that there isn’t even enough activity here in South-Central Michigan to warrant the purchase and use of a two meter xcvr….let alone a dual band. 440 is even more sparse than 2 meters….

  • Byron N6NUL:

    I, too, gave up on 70cm here on the California Central Coast. For myself, I decided to standardize on the FT-7900 over the 2900 because of the data DIN connector for APRS and packet mail. Just more convenient than the mic connector.

    The price increases over the past year and half, though, have me reconsidering that decision, but none of the other current offerings really stand out in my opinion.

  • Tom. Kb3hg:

    AnyTone AT-588UV Dual Band Mobile 275.00

    ImportCommunications.com

    This is not a bad deal.
    What you did not mention is the cost of the programming cables and software. that can be a real killer.

    The accessories can cost as much as the radios so it seems. The new duaL BAND WOUXUN is too over priced the FT-7900 or the FT-8800 makes more sense.I have rigs from the big 3 and then some, next may be the AnyTone AT-588UV.

    Tom

  • Paul - W3FIS:

    I travel a lot, so having dual band capability is important, especially with an HT. For local nets, here in DE, most of the stuff is 2 meters, which is what I originally did, which was a mistake.

  • Stephen G0PQB:

    I recently bought a Yaesu FT7900 because I wanted dual band capability as in my home location to the north west of London, there are ten 70cms repeaters accessible and only five 2m repeaters. One of the more distant 2m repeaters has IRLP capability and this has enabled me to have QSOs with W6 and ZL1 stations. My son lives in the west of England and so dual band capability is essential when I am down there. This rig cost £240 sterling including the seperation kit YSK8800 and fits in my Diahatsu very well. To me it is worth every penny.

  • jeff n1kdo:

    Hmmm. A couple things…

    I could only find one manufacturer with a 70 cm **only** mobile rig, and it was $289. If you wanted to be able to listen to two bands at once, the DR-635 is not a bad deal. In fact, the FT-8800 is still cheaper than two radios.

    With that said, IMHO, the best deal going is the quad-band FT-8900, $499 at HRO

    For a little more than the FT-8800 (which you showed at $460) you could have a two-receiver, 4 band radio.

    Now 10 FM may not be the most interesting band, but when it is open, it is a lot of fun… Same for 6 meters. Both of these low-VHF bands seem to cover better on direct (not through a repeater). And there are some pretty good 6 meter repeaters on the air.

    Based on your $185 for one band, the FT-8900 is at 67% “band premium”… Pretty much the best deal out there.

    (OK, OK. I’m a bit biased, as I’d love to see a lot more 6-meter FM operating going on. But I do like the FT-8900 — I have two. HRO bundled the separation kits on both. you can program the 799 memories with the free software package “Chirp”. What’s not to like?)

    Jeff N1KDO

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