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Best HF Transceivers - Used Bargains

James Benedict (JAMES_BENEDICT_EX_N8FVJ) on July 23, 2001
View comments about this article!

Ever wanted a flagship high performance HF transceiver as offered from the manufactures such as a IC-781, TS-950SDX, OMNI VI+, FT-1000D or newer Yaesu FT-1000 MP series?

Of course, everyone wants the best. The issue is what is affordable! Well, for around a thousand dollars I have good news for you if one can get by without a few 'bells & whistles' and/or a second receiver in one box.

The big picture as I view it is most amateurs like to trade HF radios a lot. For amateurs with limited budgets the option of a 'Top Gun' radio was not available a few years ago. I believe refinement of most transceivers took place around 1990. The transmit and receive specifications were excellent. The build quality was at high and the radios were very expensive in 1990 dollars. Today, everyone wants better performance with 1990 price tags. (You know you are driving the manufactures crazy). Anyways, I have studied transceivers that are closely related to new radios today. I have not found any special technology that clearly sets a new performance standard. For example, DSP does not make or break a fine receiver. If you have to have it buy an 'add on' unit. I will list new HF transceivers to remarkably simular products available on the used market. My research has included a mix of personal use, product reviews and feedback from other operators. I also informally reviewed the repair backgrounds and all listed below are good performers. These used radios are very good products.

ICOM IC-781 & IC-765 (Receiver data was measured on 20 meters).

XmitSpur XmitIMD MDS BDR IMDDR eHam Review

781: -63, -37, -134, 133, 100, 5.0 Reviews-9

765: -64, -40, -142, 147, 96, 5.0 Reviews-12

(BDR corrected to positive -ed.)

KENWOOD TS-950SDX & TS-850S (Receiver data was measured on 20 meters). XmitSpur XmitIMD MDS BDR IMDDR eHam Review

950: -40, -35, -142, 132, 101, 5.0 Reviews-6

850: -64, -28, -141, 148, 99, 4.4 Reviews-19

(BDR corrected to positive -ed.)

TEN TEC OMNI VI+ & OMNI V (Receiver data was measured on 20 meters)

XmitSpur XmitIMD MDS BDR IMDDR eHam Review

VI+: -43, -26, -133, 123, 97, 4.6 Reviews-23

V: -48, -30, -136, 135, 97, 5.0 Reviews-5

YAESU FT-1000D & FT-990 (Receiver data was measured on 20 meters)

XmitSpur XmitIMD MDS BDR IMDDR eHam Review

D: -45, -36 , -136, 154, 98, 4.8 Reviews-16

990: -40, -38, -129, 131, 92 , 5.0 Reviews-12

The data above is to be deciphered as the larger number is the better number. The (-) sign only refers to 'dB down' thus a -136 is better than a -129. All of these performance numbers are good to excellent numbers. The eHam Reviews are typical of many other reviews in that the more a product is reviewed, the rating usually becomes slightly less. Also, the personal reviews are ones' acceptance factor with a value rating. In other words, a TS-140S is not even close to a TS-850! Test data can be viewed as excellent performance from the radio (XYZ) listed below.


XYZ: -45 , -35, -135, 130, 98

The xmit IMD number is so much better than some new midpriced radios such as -23 or -27. This produces some inband IMD most noticable on SSB. Ever heard the phrase 'Great Kenwood Audio' ie, TS950 series. The MDS of -135 is at the level of the noise floor of the HF bands. Any receiver of -135 or better is very good. I would have to include 3rd order intercept point data and charts to justify a higher number, so -142 can be desirable, but in most cases not necessary. The BDR of 130 is very good, a BDR in the high 140s is a very serious performance number. IMDDR of 98 is very good. Calibration & alignment can vary the measured data 2 to 3 dB. The radios listed above are difficult to compare directly to each another as the 'hands-on' operation is different. For example the OMNI V does not have RIT. Ten Tec expects use of seperate VFOs. (An after market mod can add this feature). I have already purchased an OMNI V and also want a IC-765. I view the radios listed above as great used bargains. Perhaps its time to place the old FT-747GX in backup service, or move into the hands of a new ham!

Member Comments:
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Best HF Transceivers - Used Bargains  
by K5YY on July 23, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Did you really mean a MINUS (-) BDR for the Icom and Kenwoods? Think you meant that to be a +, like Ten Tec and your subnote. Very good to have articles like this compiled from several sources, need more stuff like this. Agree the 1990-94 radios seem to have more "real" meat to what counts for QSOs. Newer rigs are real compromises for most part. The FT1000MP MarkV is exception, a very nice rig, utilizing new technology without sacrificing performance. Again, good thread here! 73 San K5YY
Best HF Transceivers - Used Bargains  
by K3SUI on July 23, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
I agree that this is a VERY good topic and nicely done. Equipment prices are a factor in people steering clear of Amateur Radio. Articles like these show that there is a lot of very high quality gear out there at reasonable prices. Much of my equipment is used ... sometimes only a few hours. Ham gear is a lot like cars in that respect. Once it's out of the showroom, the price drops dramatically.
Best HF Transceivers - Used Bargains  
by KA4WJA on July 23, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for a great article!
BUT, what about "older" gear????
The Drake TR-7 qualifies as one of the "Best HF Tranceivers" as well!
I know it drifts a few Hz until it's warmed up, BUT
as you have noted with your article, the numbers don't lie.... so here they are:

Drake TR-7
xmit spur / xmit IMD / MDS / BDR / IMD DR / eham review

-52 / -33 / -133 / >120 / 94 / 4.4

Note that the BDR measurement was actually written in text of the ARRL product review as "in excess of 120db". Whether that means that they didn't have the equipment capable of measuring greater diferences OR
they just assumed that anything "in excess of 120db" was almost perfect, is your guess... Mine guess is both! (Remember that was 1978!!!)

One spec you failed to mention is the 3rd order intercept point of the receiver.... a VERY important spec for comparison...
The TR-7's 3IMD point is +23dbm (although not measured by the ARRL in 1978, I saw a review a few years back comparing receivcers, and the TR-7 was used as a kinda
"benchmark" regarding the 3IMD...)
BTW, that +23dbm 3rd order intercept point is more than 10db better than most of the "$1000 used" or "$3000 new" HF transceivers that are mentioned here!
AND that is an old early model from the factory... Improvements were made, and some re-tuning was done to
raise that figure to at least +26dbm or higher!!!
That is VERY impressive indeed!!!! (you might want to look at DK5VP's eham review of the TR-7...)

You might want to re-think that Omni-V, hi hi ....

Thanks again for a very nice article!
John, KA4WJA

P.S. I've had my TR-7 for over 23 years, and it's still the bset rig I've used... Definately one of
the "Best HF Transceivers"!
Best HF Transceivers - Used Bargains  
by K7LA on July 23, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
It's amazing how many of these fine rigs become available due to silent key (estate) sales, divorces, lifestyle changes (downsizing for a change of residence) and the like. Unless the selling operator is a hard core smoker or contester, many of these rigs can be had in almost pristine condition. The two things a motivated seller wants to hear is that (1.) You have cash, and (2.) You can pick up the item in person.
The price usually drops very quickly. 7 3 de K7LA Jim
RE: Best HF Transceivers - Used Bargains  
by JAMES_BENEDICT_EX_N8FVJ on July 23, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
The BDR for Icom and Kenwood is a (+) not (-) as shown in the article. Tnx for correction. Jim
Best HF Transceivers - Used Bargains  
by N4ZOU on July 23, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
The Kenwood TS830S transceiver has the best receiver of any of the transceivers you have listed. Go and do a check of it and you will see just how good it was, and for the lucky few that have them still is! I had the entire 830 line about 10 years ago. The TS-830S, VFO-230, SP-230, AT-230, MC-50 MIC, and the PC-1A phone patch. It was a real killer station but my wife who is also a ham refused to operate it, too many buttons and you had to "TUNE IT" ! So it got sold which was a very dumb thing to do on my part. I should have boxed it up for later use. I then got a IC-735 and the automatic tuner to match it. My wife used it one time and then lost intrest in HF operating. The equipment I run now is an IC-761 with all the optional filters installed, a heathkit SB-1000 amplifer, and Heathkit SA-2060A antenna tuner. The IC-761 is almost as good as the old 830 but still better than the 756 and 756 pro transceivers. It's real hard to get a better transceiver than the IC-761 and IC-765 transceivers. These have four stages in the recever where as the 756/756-pro has three stages.
Best HF Transceivers - Used Bargains  
by K9AY on July 23, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Excellent discussion! Let me add a couple of technical comments. First, additional factors must be considered, such as IF isolation (blow-by), filter quality and phase noise. Some of the "lesser" rigs have pretty good measurement numbers, but just aren't in the same league as their big brothers. Fortunately, there is a strong positive correlation between the rigs with best dynamic range performance and overall subjective quality. As W7ZOI put it, by happy coincidence, all the things that improve measured IMD dynamic range help out in other areas, too.

Next, intercept point can be directly computed from MDS and IMD dynamic range numbers. Assuming a square law mixer (typical diode ring or FET switches), IMD DR is 2/3 of the difference between Intercept Point and MDS. Turning the equation around, Intercept point is [MDS + 3/2(IMD DR)]. The numbers given for the IC765 work out to an intercept point of +2 dBm. Of course, the '765 has five input gain settings (preamp, straight-through, and 10, 20, 30 dB attenuation). The 96 dB IMD DR can be shifted up and down over a large signal range. Adding another step of attenuation often makes "crud" disappear...a nice feature.

I have two IC765s and am quite pleased with their performance. Few current rigs are as good, fewer still are better in their basic RX function.

73, Gary
Best HF Transceivers - Used Bargains  
by KA4WJA on July 23, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Gary brings up some great points that I neglected..
Filter blow-by or "ultimate selectivity" is very important, (the TR-7 is excellent in that area) AND if you looking for low phase noise, well then look for a non-PLL rig... (you know the Drake TR-7 isn't a PLL rig)...
Hmmmm, I don't sound like a Drake salesman, do I ???
{I'm not, just a happy TR-7 onwer}

Thanks Gary for bringing up some VERY important points!

John, KA4WJA
RE: Best HF Transceivers - Used Bargains  
by W4ZV on July 24, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
John KA4WJA...If you operate CW, have you ever listened to your TR-7 with another receiver?
Most have extremely bad clicks. I lived close to N0RR in the 80's and we did everything we
could to try to eliminate his clicks with no success. More recently, WW2Y used one on 160
and would wipe out the DX window with his clicks (fortunately he no longer uses it). I can
recognize a TR-7 by ear because of their distinctive clicks. The TR-7 might have a good receiver
but please check out its transmit signal...especially CW.

73, Bill W4ZV
Best HF Transceivers - Used Bargains  
by EI2JC on July 24, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Great discussion-but my fear is if I buy one of these fine older radios,(and I am considering)that after six months it dies only to find out that some model-specific part is no longer available(assuming you can get an answer from the 'service' dept.).Over this side of the pond FT1000D/MP or TS950sdx etc still can be as expensive as many new rigs,for example the going rate for 1000MP would buy a new(and warrantied!)TS870 also a good radio.

73,Noel Ei2JC
Best HF Transceivers - Used Bargains  
by W6ZO on July 24, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Great article! I agree - there really are some bargins in used high-end radios to be had.

That is why I just brought a used FT1000 with the BPF and plan on loading the empty filter slots (it has SOME extra filters) with ones from Inrad.

I also have the complete TS830S setup here - including the SM220 and TL922, and a Drake "C-Line" with a R4C with all the Sherwood Mods. Both radios have Inrad filters, and both are probably 2 of the best 10 RX ever made in the last 40 years - but they are not convienient to operate for quick band changes during a contest. Also, they don't have computer interface to contesting software - a nice feature. Also have an IC740/R71A set-up with a PW-1 - the 740/R71 have some pretty good RX numbers too, but no PC control.

So why the 1000? Compared to "new" high-end rigs, it has equal or better RX performance (DSP that I have tried has left me under-whelmed). I studied all the past ARRL reviews and those of other sources of all the older radios - TS930/850 IC761/765/781, etc, and came to the conclusion that bang for the buck - it was hard to beat the 1000.

With a slight and simple modification the 1000 (with the Band Pass Filter for the Sub-Rx that was standard in the 1000D) it opens up the possibility of using the sub RX for mults on another band off a single feedline Tribander or the 2 ele 40 or a RX vertical at the other end of the house that feeds an active RX distribution box with RX protection - and a simple button push to grab that mult, something that I could not figure out how to do (simply) with ANY other radio(s). Close to SO2R without all the interface issues of 2 radios.

Condidering they still are selling NEW 1000Ds for $3800, the $2300 - $2400 I will have in this radio will be a bargin - AND (bonus!!!) the Top-ten devices page has an application note for interfacing the band data output to the Icom AMP!!!

The only draw back to all these radios in the shack is the antenna switching needed so I can route antennas with the throw of a switch or two instead of a patch panel - I should have brought stock in Alpha-Delta!

Don Melcher
Best HF Transceivers - Used Bargains  
Anonymous post on July 24, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Its good to see that there are hams that are able to understand and put into exercise the pertinent technical details of receiver design when it comes to selecting a transceiver. It is also refreshing to see honest reviews based on scientific criteria rather than "latest is greatest and worked 1000 countries" type of nonsense. Now only if we could educate more to have such a critical eye, then maybe you wont have some of the terrible radios being sold today

It also good to see you guys know what most serious receiver reviewers have known for a long time. That is that ham radio receiver design has been lagging the commercial markets for a long time. It is interesting to observe that military receivers of the 80s were delivering 3rd order intercept points of +30dbm. Too this very day we still dont have a ham radio transceiver that meets this benchmark. Even though you can buy such a mixer off the shelf today. It is most refreshing to see you guys have a critical eye when it comes to selecting a radio.

Now all we need is a S meter calibrated in dbuv, a tracking preselector and then we getting somewhere. Now how you going to educate the Japanese designers to this kind of thinking. Looking at the current three top line radios there is only one with HF potential. It seems color TVs with poor receivers make more sense to others! WHo is right and who is wrong? Maybe it will take Elecraft with the K2/3 to teach these guys some basics.


RE: Best HF Transceivers - Used Bargains  
by KA4WJA on July 24, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
I don't know if I'm just lucky but, I've never had any problems with key clicks.
I've actually gotten very nice comments on my signal,
BUT not on my "cw fist"... unfortunatelly I'm not that good... hi, hi... (my mind seems to work faster than my wrist, and I end up making "misspellings" a lot...)

I used my TR-7 on 40m + 15m CW when first licensed and had no troubles.. AND more recently I (mostly)
use my TR-7 for CW thru my transverters for 144mhz EME (moonbounce) and weak signal work, and have no problems, even when running 1KW out on 144mhz.
Other uses now are mostly SSB...

But here is what I HAVE noticed:
If you advance the "carrier" control too far past the point of the start of ALC, the CW waveform becomes fairly steep (little slope, very fast rise time) and it may, at that point produce key clicks, BUT at that
point, I'd call it operator error instead of a poor transmitter....
I should mention that I do NOT have my TR-7 adjusted to run "flat out" (150 - 175 watts) the way many hams do... I usually run 110 - 125 watts out on HF.... I assume (but haven't tested) I have a bit "cleaner" signal...
I might be old fashsioned but, I think there is still a place in the shack for a good o'scope....
For example: I used a 2 meter rubber duck antenna on the vertical IN of my scope to adjust the "carrier" control, my transverter amp, etc. just to be sure that I had no problems on 144mhz EME, etc... (not for a casual evening of operating, just for testing...)

I do have an older heathkit "monitor scope" that I disconnected a while back during some "renovations", and I will be putting it back in line soon. I will do some checks on HF CW and I'll let you know if I find anything wrong...

Until then, 73.
John, KA4WJA

BTW, I hope you ALL agree, "there isn't just one 'Best
HF Transceiver'... rather there are many..."
Best HF Transceivers - Used Bargains  
by W0KDX on July 25, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Liked your comparison. More dollars doesn't make a transciever "great performer". I have noted over the years that many "mid-scale" transceivers hear and work weak signals as good as FT-1000's, et al. The only real difference is what additional "features" does one get for the additional 2000-3000$ ? That is something that must be weighed when purchasing a high dollar radio. The TS-850 as an example, is a top notch performer and at today's used dollar cost, is an exceptional find. I would never dream of buying the latest 1000 series Yaesu or the 756Pro simply because I can't justify the cost based on the reported performance. To many of use, the sensitivity, blocking dynamic range, etc., just aren't that significant to warrant $2K additional dollars.

To me, the major issue in a set up is not the transceiver in most cases, but the antenna, location and height of antenna/sea level that makes or breaks a station.

Thanks for the info.
RE: Best HF Transceivers - Used Bargains  
by JAMES_BENEDICT_EX_N8FVJ on July 25, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
I am aware of the TR-7 performance. Another performer is the TEN-TEC Corsair I, not II series. Has some faults like audio derived AGC, but for base receiver performance & $350-450 this is the best 'poor mans' receiver around.
Best HF Transceivers - Used Bargains  
by WB2WIK on July 25, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Interesting article, and well thought out. Good comments thus far, also.

Having owned nearly all the rigs referenced, and many more not referenced, I'd have to say that many of the performance factors untested, including ones that are difficult to rate objectively, are more important to me as an operator: Like, how's the noise blanker work? Or, how intuitive is the rig to operate without referring to the manual or setup instructions? Can I change settings of things like mike gain, keyer speed, IF filters and power output without having to use a menu (like, uh, can I just turn a knob, or push a button to accomplish these adjustments -- and is the knob on the front panel)? To me, as an operator, these are very important factors that can easily outweigh performance statistics.

Another REALLY important feature is whether the rig has a "monitor" function for SSB work, e.g., can you hear yourself in your headphones (with a level adjustment) when you transmit, so you actually know how you sound on the air? REAL important feature, omitted in many radios.

And to beat a dead horse (since I already mentioned it -- but it bears a repeat), "How's the noise blanker?" If you can't hear 'em, you can't work 'em, and one thing that can definitely keep you from hearing 'em is noise. The kind of noise that CAN be greatly reduced by an effective blanker, but often isn't because the amateur receivers' blankers are so darned ineffective. The NB-7 noise blanker in my Drake TR-7 (24 years old and counting) is the best blanker I've ever used; nothing even comes close. It can take an S9 noise level down to dust and NOT cause distortion on received signals -- all at the same time! Amazing. None of my JA-origin receivers can seem to do that.

73 de Steve WB2WIK/6
Used bargains only for the well-heeled  
Anonymous post on July 26, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Best used bargains in HF transceivers? I gaze at the list and get weepy-eyed. I didn't know you could get these rigs for bargain prices! But maybe you can't? You did not indicate what typical selling prices are for these rigs.

Realistically, people pay what their budget allows. I have actually done some pretty good DXing with a garbage radio - the TS130S from Kenwood. Nasty early solid-state receiver, loaded with filter blow-by, all you had to do was THINK about having a neighbor on the air and the RX saturated. Very ugly. However, operator skill got me 125 countries from an apartment during my college days with an indoor antenna!

Now with house payment and family - what I can pay has not gone up. I paid $650 brand new for that Kenwood. What can I get for $650 today - even used? Certainly not one of the rigs you mentioned.

Sadly, a poor experience with a rig will sour one's ability to even look at another radio from that vendor. My TS-130S experience makes me wary of Kenwood. Although, this past FD, I got to operate a TS-870, which seemed pretty decent, other than bad TX phase noise wiping out our other stations. I couldn't sort out how to get the filters to neck down enough for my tastes. But I don't think it's a top-line rig, either. I remember seeing a brand-new Ten-Tec rig (Argosy, maybe?) in a radio store about 1980. It was turned on, and tuned to a cw signal on 40 meters. Curious, I reached toward the rig to tweak the tuning dial - and it drifted as my hand drew near. I pulled my hand back, and it settled back to where it had been. It was drifting perhaps 50Hz - not much, but no radio should drift at all simply from an operator's hand moving near it. Sadly, I have to say that has kept me from looking seriously at Ten-Tec again. Further, the fact that I can't demo one at my local ham store keeps me from looking. I saw them at Dayton, and they did not have the ability to turn one on and let me tune around. I'm not about to plop down bux for a rig I can't test drive first!

So - for the well-heeled, this article is fine. For those of us for whom the entire station (include coax, mast, antenna tuner, power supply) had better cost less than $1000 (I like fast cars and can have a lot of fun for less than a kilobuck with them!), I suspect I'll have to pass....and keep on dreaming.
RE: Used bargains only for the well-heeled  
by JAMES_BENEDICT_EX_N8FVJ on July 26, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Responce: The article states around $1000 some a little more, others a little less. I am very careful not to set a price standard, however, I have found a few TS-850S for $750 with some optional filters and an antenna tuner! Even $900 would be good deal. I believe the best prices are in the summer thus the timing of this article.
Best HF Transceivers - Used Bargains  
by KD6NXI on July 26, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
The TS-930S is a very very nice radio. It was the first all solid state digital rig and kenwood did a great job on it. I got on recently that had hardly ever been used. It's got some nice noise/static killing controls and has that classic military green styling that the older kenwood radios all had. It's also built and weighs much like a tank.
RE: Used bargains only for the well-heeled  
by WD0CT on July 27, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
This is great stuff. I never realized the TR-7 was that good. Have owned the Kenwood 940--strong front end but both blankers suck--and the 830--nice but no paragon of dynamic range.

One thing I have noticed concerning non pll type rigs--example Omni D--is even though they overload very bad I can still hear enough of the audio to hear a station very near a rock crusher signal. Many on the same antenna collapse into phase noise under the same conditions--you hear nothing but hiss. The 870 I have now is ideal for me even though it's not a paragon of dynamic range either. I'm just a ragchewer and being able to hear ALL of the other guy's audio--from 0-6000hz on ssb if I want--is just great. The same guys sound lousy through the 2.1 filter in the old KWM-2.

The 870 is for sure cheap right now. Many must be dumping them for TS-2000?

You receiver guys should take a look at the little blurb at the end of the qst test of the TS-2000. Shows how some of these rigs do at + or - 5khz dynamic range. Elecraft and Omni 6+ look real good. If a kit rig like the Elecraft is this good why are we getting second rate stuff from Yaecomwood?

73 Steve

RE: Best HF Transceivers - Used Bargains  
by JAMES_BENEDICT_EX_N8FVJ on July 27, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
The TS-930 did not make the list due to some solder joint problems and a PLL failure issue. Perhaps only related to early models, however, feedback from some ham owners kept this model off the list. Does anyone have further comments on this?
RE: Best HF Transceivers - Used Bargains  
by WA4YZD on July 27, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
I have a friend interested in ham radio, he is looking at purchasing a ts830s or a drake t4xc and r4c . He is new but seems nostalgic for the quality of the older rigs, so here is my question . So many good old radios out there , which one should he choose? I would take both to the shack, but that is me without a budget. Looking forward to comments..............I know the newer rigs have great features but the old ones have a warmth that that is hard to resist.
RE: Best HF Transceivers - Used Bargains  
by JAMES_BENEDICT_EX_N8FVJ on July 28, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
The Kenwood TS-830 has a good receiver. The Yaesu FT-902 also has good receiver. A real good receiver that most do not know about is a Kenwood TS-530, I am not saying TS-520! The TS-530 is as good as the TS-830 and FT-902 but $200 less expensive. If you can get this ham to go solid-state, get the Ten-Tec Corsair I, not the Corsair II!
Best HF Transceivers - Used Bargains  
by N1JM on July 28, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
A TR-7 is a PLL radio and the phase noise in that radio is terrible. My vote is for a TS-850 and IC-765.
RE: Best HF Transceivers - Used Bargains  
by KA4WJA on July 28, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Please allow me to clarify things a bit.
If you are having a problem with your TR-7, it might need a little repairing, but I doubt you can blame the trouble (whatever it is) on "phase noise"
{or any NOISE for that matter!!! the TR-7 is a VERY quiet receiver!!!}

The Drake TR-7 is NOT a DDS-PLL rig, it does NOT have a PLL-syn VFO, it's oscillators are fairly "claen"..

By today's standards, the TR-7's freq control is a bit complex...

First on the receive side there is no rf amp, just a hi-level DBM (double-balanced mixer) with a 48.05mhz - 78.05mhz
VCO injected into it... mixing with 0mhz - 30mhz signals, yields an first IF of 48.05mhz..

This VCO is synthesized and referenced to a 40mhz CRYSTAL osc on the PBT/Reference Oscillator board!
There is a 13.695mhz CRYSTAL oscillator (VCXO) and a 8.05mhz CRYSTAL oscillator which are also used through the PBT board and elsewhere to produce a 2nd IF of 5.645mhz, (where the noise blanker and crystal filters are used)and also a 5.05mhz - 5.55mhz PTO (permeability-tuned oscillator) is used...

The ONLY synthesized oscillator is the 48.05mhz - 78.05mhz VCO!!!! It is referenced to the 40mhz CRYSTAL oscillator, and tuned with a filtered control voltage derived from a phase detector which compares the frequency and phase of the reference (500khz) from the reference oscillator (40mhz crystal) and a 500khz signal from the "translator" module (translator module
combines the 40mhz CRYSTAL reference signal and the 5.05mhz-5.55mhz output of the PTO... this is then filtered, amplified and applied to a programmable divider... the output of which is exactly 500khz){divide by N... hence 500khz "bands"...}

There are a 40mhz CRYSTAL ocs, a 8.05mhz CRYSTAL osc,
and a 13.695mhz voltage controlled CRYSTAL osc, but only one "synthesized" oscillator (the 48.05mhz - 78,05mhz VCO) and the "phase/frequency" comparison (PLL) is VERY well done, VERY far away from the operating frequency, VERY well filtered, etc...

Although, I do NOT have the phase noise specs for this oscillator, I'll bet it is VERY low!!!!

If you have a problem with a TR-7, I don't believe it can be blamed on "phase noise".... Maybe your TR-7 needs a little repair???

As you can see, the TR-7 has crystal oscillators that DRIFT!! Yes, these rigs will "drift" a bit during "warm-up".. (mine drifts about 200hz, from "cold", room temp to "warm", operating temps)
this "warm-up" takes about 10mins or so....
I suppose if you wanted to modify the TR-7, by adding crystal ovens, and keeping them powered all the time, you could get rid of this "drift", but that's another discussion!!!!

N1JM, I hope this helps clear up a little confusion into what type of oscillators the TR-7 uses.

John, KA4WJA

P.S. There are other "complex" features in the TR-7...
freq. control and otherwise.... If you're
confused, don't worry ~~~ I've owned mine for
over 23 years, and I'm still "a bit confused"
hi, hi....
RE: Best HF Transceivers - Used Bargains  
by KA4WJA on July 28, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
I forgot to mention that the TR-7 uses a 48.05mhz crystal filter (8khz wide, 4-pole) after the DBM (first mixer).... This is the only crystal filter in the 1st IF... although there are tuned circuits and a low-noise fet IF amp, etc....

This makes for a nice "tight" front-end, etc...

(note that this filter is called the "AM filter" in the TR-7a brochure/spec sheet... Drake simply bypassed the 2nd IF filter board on AM receive, with the TR-7a!
so they got another IF bandwidth to include on the spec sheet....) (a redesign of the transmitter pre-driver, and some surge protection, are the other diferences between the TR-7 and the TR-7a...)

John, KA4WJA
Best HF Transceivers - Used Bargains  
by WB9YCJ on July 28, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
FT-102 w/ relay change deserves at least an honorable mention here. Great RCV and robust TX. Delist FT-990 - to much annoying receive audio hiss. Agree w/ 781, 765, 1000D. I was told to stay away from basic Ft-1000's even if you install all the optional add ons (bpf,filters). Told still not the same as a factory "D". Who else supports this ?
RE: Used bargains only for the well-heeled  
Anonymous post on July 29, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
I guess you haven't bought many cars either with your paycheck either. Heck if you feel this way about radios (saw a problem with a Ten Tec, won't look at one again, etc.), how do you feel if your car breaks down?? Won't you ever buy another chevy or ford because it had problems or maybe broke down on you???

Back to radio....

What can you buy for $650?

Kenwood TS-570S and S(G), TS-850, TS-830S
Icom IC-706 MK II and possibly a MKIIG, IC736, IC738
Yaesu FT-100, FT-990, FT-920 (possibly)

I didn't name all the models, but I'm sure you get the general idea. Trader nets, ham classified, usenet are all places to look for these, be wary of EBay prices, radios seem to be a bit higher than they're worth at times.

Most models listed above are reasonably late model rigs that will 'hold their own' on the ham bands. You have to also realize that there will be times due to overcrowding and propagation that no ham rig will be able to handle the conditions without a signifigant antenna system and possibly some extra power to help bust through the pileups. I remember reading about a ham that just made honor roll with a TS-130V (5 watts), so serious DX'ing with these 'inferior' rigs can be done and has been done more than once. (oh yeah, if I remember correctly he didn't do it with the "packet cluster or his friends pre-loading qso's" with the rare DX for him either, it was all done by 'being there') Now to be fair the guy making honor roll had a 4 element quad at 125 feet, so he did have an excellent antenna system to work with, but if you read his story he started with a HW-8 and a vertical and did some DX'ing with that and worked quite a bit. I remember seeing his story a few years back in one of the major ham rags.

IMHO, most guys spend too much time looking at spec's and ultra micro-comparing every little thing about radio gear and how it works compared to model B. In most cases, if you have a decent antenna system and a reasonably good rig, you can work just about anything you can hear. If you didn't work him, start asking why. What could you have done to work that rare DX faster? What can you do with your rig to make the QSO a bit better? Go over the manual and check to make sure you understand how the split operation works. Is your antenna as high as you can make it? Is the coax in good condition? Is the antenna well matched?? Was propagation in your favor? Ask these questions and you'll find out quick enough it's the op, not the gear that works the rare ones.

Something else to think about.... I know a few guys that have the Lexus and Jaguar cars, oh yeah, they're nice and ride well, and full of all types of gizmos, but when it's time to fix them, look out, I'd have to take a loan out to put brakes on a Jag. So just because it's more, doesn't always mean it's better.

For ever $1 you spend in the hobby, put 99 cents in the antenna and feedline. It's what pays off the quickest in QSO's.

Good Luck.....
RE: Used bargains only for the well-heeled  
by KA4WJA on July 29, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Mr. Anonymous,
I agree with most of what you wrote....
Especially putting 99 cents / dollar into the antenna!!
AND over analyzing spec sheets!!!

Only one problem ~~~~ Why did you post anonymously????

I'm not putting you down ~~~ just curious as to why??
I believe that most will just ignore anonymous posts and that many hams probably won't take it seriuosly, if they bother to read it at all.....

I could be wrong but, that's my 2 cents worth... (I've got to keep the other 97 cents for my antenna!!!)

John, KA4WJA

P.S. I also forgot to mention how inherently stable
the crystal oscillators are in the TR-7... after
a little warm-up... they're "rock-solid"!!!

RE: Used bargains only for the well-heeled  
by KA4WJA on July 29, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
That's Mr. anonymous #2...

(you see how confusing it is to answer an anonymous post)

RE: Best HF Transceivers - Used Bargains  
by JAMES_BENEDICT_EX_N8FVJ on July 30, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Responce: FT-990. The audio filter will remove almost all of the audio hiss. I would only remove this radio from the list if one must wear headphones, listen to AM a lot or want SSB HI-FI. The FT-990 is a great radio in its own right. I might pick a IC-765 first, but Yaesu fans may not agree. Another interesting issue is the Product Review on this site, a perfect 5.0 I would not advise removing the radio from the list, although your audio comment is correct!
Best HF Transceivers - Used Bargains  
by VE7BGP on July 30, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Let's not forget the Icom IC-751A I bought a used IC-751A a year ago and I rated it a 5 star radio and I still rate it a 5+++ star radio. I had a IC-735 for 9 years before getting a 751A, the 735 is also a real good little radio I think on HF it is way better than the IC-706MKII G The 751A has Icom's preminium FL44A SSB filter and the 500 hz cw filter is standard. The big feature of the IC-751A I really like is the nice big knobs and all the adjustments including for vox is up front or on top of the rig. You don't need to remember what menu to look for to switch vfo's and a lot of other adjustments. I participate in a ssb/cw net on 75 meters in the morning and we switch between ssb and cw it is so easy with the 751A to go between the 2 modes just push 2 buttons and you are there. Interfacing the 751A for PSK 31 can't be easier you make up a molex connector to go from the accessory socket to your sound card and set the 2 volume controls 1/4 the way up be sure to turn down the front panel mike gain and you are on psk 31 or sound card RTTY. Molex part # 3-06-2242 and the male pins are .062 you connect into pin 5 audio in and pin 8 ground pin 3 is for PTT I haven't hooked that up yet I use the transmitt switch or the PTT bar and lock on the Turner desk mike to switch the rig to transmitt. I just hold the bar when i am calling cq. I hope you realize you overlooked a great one the ICOM 751A. 73 Gerry
RE: Used bargains only for the well-heeled  
Anonymous post on July 30, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Greetings again,

To answer your question about remaining anon is due to where I work part time. I work on the other side of the 800 number or behind the counter if you're at the store. I won't name the company I work for, so it's not being seen as 'free advertising' but as to make this known, that these are my opinions and not the companies. Also, the company has a strict rule about using their name on the internet and lists my call in their ads. So let's leave it at that.... If people choose to ignore me, then that's fine too. Everyone has their own opinion about radios and light beer... (ha, ha)

Regarding used gear, as I said before there are tremendous values these days in used gear. Rigs that would have cost you well over $1000 ten or more years ago are available for $500 - 650 or so if you look around. But I'd expect a ham who's been in the hobby for a while to have some experience or idea what he/she was looking for when they ask me about used gear. The main point I was trying to make is that there is a lot of good used gear available with all the necessary bells and whistles to do just about any type of DX'ing or contesting these days. You don't have to go into hock to get on the air. But again, I still feel that it's the op and not the radio that works the DX, or get's the winning score in a contest. Again, put 99 cents of your ham dollar in the antenna, the payoffs can be amazing....

Oh yeah one more thing... when I'm talking about antennas, you don't have to put up a 250' tower with stacked monobanders to make DX QSO's, just make sure what you have is fed with good coax that's sealed well and is up in the air as high as you can feasably make it. I've made QSO's on my dummy load with very local hams as a hoot, and I've made tons of QRP QSO's with little power, so again, use what you have and constantly evaluate the situation and figure out what you can do to improve your station besides going into hock for another rig. I had a buddy of mine who lives in a restricted neighborhood make 5BDXCC and WAZ with a 'hidden' vertical and an amp that he sparingly uses, so it can be done without big beams and towers!!

One last thing... If you love your Yaescomwood or other rig, great!!! I've had and played with most everything at one time or another and really, when it comes down to the bottom line, they all do just about the same thing equally well, some a bit better, some a little worse, but in a lot of cases, it's the antenna system that you're hooked up to that really makes the difference... Hams made contacts for years with rigs that most guys would scoff at today as nothing but a door stop or boat anchor, but if you listen on 40 and 80 meters you just might hear one of these old classics on the air even today putting out a great sounding signal... They don't have digital displays or 5 VFO's nor do they have 1000 memories, DSP, multiple stacked filters, but they do work, and sound great!!

Remember it's a hobby that's supposed to be fun and isn't supposed to put you in the poor house.

Fire up that rig, there's DX a waitin'

73 to all....
RE: Used bargains only for the well-heeled  
by N0TONE on July 31, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Anonymous#2 wrote:
>>I guess you haven't bought many cars either with your paycheck either. Heck if you feel this way about radios (saw a problem with a Ten Tec, won't look at one again, etc.), how do you feel if your car breaks down??<<
That's really quite different. I didn't say the Ten-Tec rig had a reliability problem. What it suffered was a blatant design flaw that resulted in unstable operation. I used several of that particular model later, and they all behaved the same way. I have also used Century/21 radios, and the Argonaut, and all three had some very bad design decisions in them that caused them to be unpleasant to use. I have nothing to say about reliability of radios - basically the only times I've had to repair a rig was when I did something stupid to nuke it, so my hat's off to all the manufacturers for durability.

As far as cars go (off the topic, but it answers your post), I basically buy the best combination of size, gas mileage, "fun to drive" and safety that I can. I never pay more than $1000 for the vehicle. I donate it to charity when I'm done with it, typically 3-5 years later. I refuse to pay more than $300 for a repair - that's when it gets donated. Most of the time, I pay less than $500 for a car. Today I drive a 16 year old two-seat sports car that's exhilarating up and down the coastal highway and stops on a dime, thanks to good brakes, and competent tires. I paid $175 for it because it didn't run, and put a $25 part into the distributor. That was six years ago.

>>Won't you ever buy another chevy or ford because it had problems or maybe broke down on you??? <<
Like radios, cars are so well built these days, that reliability usually is not how I make my decision.

>>Back to radio....
What can you buy for $650? <<
Follows a nice list. I don't know anything about these rigs. I can, of course, look up ARRL test reports, but one must put one's hands on and twist to see how entertaining they really are. For now, I don't see a lot of reason to consider replacing my B-line and IC-736. I can't imagine buying an HF rig without a test drive, and the places you listed to buy them from generally mean you have to purchase sight unseen. Not that I don't trust hams, but would I really like the ergonomics of an unknown rig?

>>>You have to also realize that there will be times due to overcrowding and propagation that no ham rig will be able to handle the conditions without a signifigant antenna system and possibly some extra power to help bust through the pileups. <<<
I can probably bust all the pileups I need with my current setup. What would encourage me to replace the rigs is if something more pleasant to use was available. A receiver with more filter flexibility, but without the PLL noise (yes, a TR-7 is a PLL radio - I dumped mine due to excessive phase noise, and Drake even had it in the shop once and they told me the noise is "normal" and to expect that from modern technology) of the early SS rigs. My 736 has dreadful PLL noise, but it serves as a mobile-only radio, so mediocre RX isn't a major deal to me on that one. Extra power, of course, is very cheap, and I do have a few converted CB amps here - you really can do good things with $5 items from garage sales. Before you guys jump on me for that one, yes I did measure their IMD and did appropriate circuit mods to get them into FCC compliance, and you ought to at least thank me for getting them out of the hands of CBers who shouldn't be using them.

>>I remember reading about a ham that just made honor roll with a TS-130V (5 watts),..<<<
Indeed; I made my first 280 confirmed with a random wire 15 feet high and 35 watts. That's what I had to do to keep TVI down! And that was in a day when there were no packet clusters. As I said - replacing a radio is something I'd do if the new rig was more fun. Operator skill alone is enough to get through 95% of the pileups. A super-hot high-dynamic range receiver will only get you the last 5%. But it might make casual operating a lot more fun.

>>>In most cases, if you have a decent antenna system and a reasonably good rig, you can work just about anything you can hear.<<<
Rarely a problem on that. But read your statement again. If you can't hear them, you can't work them. The real need for better rigs is better receivers. It's amazing how much my "aging" Drake R-4B can hear that my Icom IC-736 can't. The Icom has a more sensitive receiver, but the phase noise from the PLL makes the whole band sound like it has more noise. Signals that are inaudible on the IC-736 are often as clear as you'd ever need on the R-4B. The more crowded the band is, the more this is true.

>>>For ever $1 you spend in the hobby, put 99 cents in the antenna and feedline. It's what pays off the quickest in QSO's.<<<

I don't know if I get this math quite right. So, if I spend $1 in the hobby, 99 cents should go to the antenna and feedline, leaving 1 cent for the rig? So if my total ham hobby budget is $1000, I can only spend $10 on the radios? Does that include the new key I wanted to buy? I have two antenna supports, both 20 feet above what's legal in my county (thank goodness for understanding neighbors). One of them is insulated from ground and serves as a vertical, and there is a horizontal wire between them. They are as far apart as any two supports can be on my lot. How can I spend more money on an antenna? I'm already over-legal! On this small lot, any other wire antenna would be close-field to the one that already exists, so they won't operate as two antennas. Also, thanks to understanding neighbors, the ground screen for the vertical extends WAY past my own yard, going for many hundreds of feet along the fences that neighbors allow me to use! So how could I possibly put more money into this antenna system? Tower? Not in this neighborhood. Beam? Not without a tower.

So I guess there you have it. Since there isn't a way to put money into my antenna, and 99 cents out of every dollar spent has to go into the antenna, I can't spend any on a radio!

And for those who complained about my anonymity - many apologies for that, but it is necessary for professional reasons. If that doesn't satisfy you, then accept my apologies. If it does satisfy you, then I thank you for your understanding.

RE: Used bargains only for the well-heeled  
Anonymous post on July 31, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Greetings again,

After reading your second message, I have to agree that you're getting every dime out of what you have and it's obvious that you have the best possible setup in your particular situation for what you're willing to spend.

Yes, I agree that buying a rig sight unseen/untested is a real challenge (roll of the dice may be a better term) these days due to the lack of ham stores and dwindling hamfests. I'm sure for someone that wants a particular HF rig especially in your case where you wish to 'test drive' it completely for preformance and ergonomics, can be a real problem. Frankly I don't have the answer to that one... Outside of visiting local hams and trying the rigs out that they're using.

I've also had a B line, was a very nice radio. Sorry I sold it (more than once...BTW). I remember when I was active in the Drake List, they were in very high demand. Usual for sale ad lifetime of a working B line on the list was less than a couple of hours.

Regarding the antenna system comments (99 cents/1 dollar) I made that comment because I've seen too many guys come in and buy the latest brand new toy and bitterly complain that they're not working anything different or still have the same problems with noise, etc. The reason I stated that is because a lot of guys forget the antenna system once it's in the air. They'll be using the same coax for 10 years even though the outside jacket really takes a beating with the UV, and/or the connectors start to get water in them, etc. It seems that in your case, again you're using the best possible antenna's in your situation. Each ham's situation is different, and with the antenna restrictions these days, it's amazing that some guys can actually get on the air at all.

From the station you're describing, again it seems that you may have the best rig/antenna system for this moment that you are willing to purchase and be able to use. I tip my hat to you, it seems like you've done the homework and have both a good rig and antenna system to work the DX that you've done. Like I said before, just because it's new and/or more $$ doesn't mean it's better....

Anon #2
RE: Used bargains only for the well-heeled  
by KA4WJA on July 31, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Well guys, I'm really quite busy the rest of this week but, I just "had" to post once more!

Phase noise.... Yes, all oscillators in amateur gear have some phase noise!
Phase noise IS the "noise sidebands" of an oscillator!
and ALL oscillators in our rigs have some amount of phase noise!

I realize that this original article didn't mention "phase noise specs" but, it's become sort of the "swr debate" of the 21st century, don't you think!

Inherently stable oscillators of quality design, properly filtered and provided stable power, will generaly produce the lowest phase noise specs.....
Crystal oscillators (of decent design/construction) fall into that category!!

Synthesized oscillators "can" be designed/built to closely match the phase noise specs of crystal oscillators BUT, usually don't measure up!
{now I know you're thinking, just some guy's opinion...
well, maybe but, try reading QEX from '93/'94 regarding phase noise OR look at a whole section in the ARRL Handbook about osc phase noise.... I think you'll find it interesting...}

As far as differnt rigs "phase noise specs".... You can find an interesting (and fairly accurate) way for we "average" hams without $100,000 worth of lab equipment, to test our rigs for phase noise, in the ARRL Handbook....

I have NEVER found my TR-7 to have "high phase noise"... I've NEVER had high "band noise" that was caused by too many signals/noise.....
I made a cursoury test of my TR-7, using the 000.0khz
frequency test... found the "noise sidebands" / phase noise to be VERY low and VERY close to the filter skirts!!! I've looked at the 48.05mhz-78.05mhz VCO design and was impressed... I've talked to an engineer at Drake 12 - 15 years ago,,,, he said that the one thing they were proudest of was the TR-7's front-end, the 1st mixer and VCO were "damn near perfect" (his words, NOT mine!!!)
The TR-7 is a VERY quite receiver! I've had friends say they thought it was "dead" because it had no hiss coming from the speaker and almost no s-meter movement on a quite band.... That's the nature of the beast!

TR-7's that sound "undead", actually "lively"... AND that scares me! {There must have been somebody screwing around with things, in there..} I've seen TR-7's that have "birdies" all over.... I've seen TR-7's that have been advertized as "modified".... I've seen Tr-7's that look INSIDE like they went through a war! I've seen some without the inside covers (IF/RF sheilds) and some with "repairs" all over... I even saw one with some wires running from board to board..
(remember the TR-7 has multiple boards standing vertically, plugged into a "mother board" with sheilded
What I'm trying to do here is to come up with some sort of a reasonable explaination for some hams having a "phase noise problem" with a TR-7...
It just doesn't make sense to me!

Bottom Line: "clean" oscillators = low phase noise
"trashy" oscillators = high phase noise

Okay, that's a simplification but, like I said up front, I'm very busy this week... hi, hi....

I hope I've done a better job this time of explaining
phase noise (and defended my trusty TR-7...)

I hate to agree with an anonymous post (again) but,
If you guys have a problem with a particular radio please DON'T pan all of those radios.... It could be a
"model specific" problem, you could've gotten a "lemon", OR it could be that it needs proper REPAIR! ....

As I jump off my high horse and land back down on the ground, I wish you all a good day!

John, KA4WJA

Best HF Transceivers - Used Bargains  
by KA4WJA on July 31, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
One last point.
I hope we all (myself included) don't lose sight of the original title of this article...
"Best HF Transceivers - Used Bargains"

I do NOT want anyone to think that a rig designed/built over 25 years ago (a la TR-7, etc.), costing between $500 - $1000, will out-perform 21st century technology hands down, everyday....
But it can happen...

It all depends if you're comparing apples to apples, or to old apples, or to rotten apples, or even to oranges....

Someday, when I've got the time, I'd like to have an open discussion of ALL of these rigs, topics, specs, personal gripes / preferences... etc...
It'd be fun!

John, KA4WJA
RE: Best HF Transceivers - Used Bargains  
by S53S on August 4, 2001 Mail this to a friend!

read the article with great interest. I share many of the toughts with wb2wik/6 and n8fvj. To the list already mentioned i would like to add two radios which in my opinion and A/B comparisons fit well into the bargain category.

Those are Kenwood TS930S and Yaesu FT902DM.

I own ts930s and i am very, very happy with the receiver and everything else i might need for cw.
I paid 480US$( roughly 1000,00 dem) after i sold the Yaesu FT1000MP fully loaded. What i would like to see,
is the straight comparisions between oldie as ts930s
and new radios. Why the ARRL and RSGB are that shy in doing test? Probably the results and findings would be a slap in the face of current trend. Guys, is that the shame that the tiny, elecraft K2 being a single super heterodyne run circles about machines which costs 5 or 6 times more. What the hell are doing marketing department of Yaesu, Kenwood, Icom?

The last thought, take a look at the picture of last year winner SOAB CQWW 2000, N6KT on Galapagos isl. He use a pair of TS930S. So....

Regards, Nermin S58DX
Best HF Transceivers - Used Bargains  
by G3RZP on August 6, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Phase noise has slowly got recognised. I did a paper on the subject 'Phase Noise, Intermodulation and Dynamic Range in Receivers' at RF Expo in 1986, and again, by invitation, at RF Expo East in November that year - and the following day, again by invitation, in Cedar Rapids.

Good phase noise and good intermodulation performance are required, together with low spurious responses. You can equate phase noise and IMD, and that was done in a paper presented at the IEE in London in 1996 - SYSTEM DEMANDS IN PERSONAL RADIO SERVICES
Peter E. Chadwick, MIEEE & Chris R. Shepherd C.Eng, MIEE.

The FT102 was mentioned. The FT102 is quite a good rig BUT........

1. The key clicks on most of the various production series are such that it is unfit for human consumption. That can be cured. Yaesu's mod for this still leaves awful performance.
2. You need a matched set of three PA tubes. (that can be cured with a separate bias pot for each tube)
3. The handbook circuits, maintenance handbook PC board layouts, and the radio you have may not match up.
4.Some variants have an 'anti flash over diode' in series with the PA screen grid feed. An ideal way to get run away in PA plate current when the tubes age.
5. As it comes, the 'CW' position gives SSB selectivity, while 'CW Narrow' cascades all the CW filters. This is easy to cure to give something like 800Hz wide in CW and 250Hz in CW Narrow. (assuming you have the filters!)
6. There are receive spurs on 3.5 and 7.0 in the CW bands. A strong signal on around 3500 - 3501 just blasts through even when you're tuned up at 3505. This too is fixable, but you have to be prepared to be rather brave as you rip bits out, and refit other parts!
7. The relays in the front end suffer from oxidation and tarnishing, especially when used by operators who smoke. That can be cured with few resistors to bleed some DC through the contacts from the 24 volt line: this breaks the oxide film, and is easier than changing the relays.
8. A number of the ICs used in the counter and synthesiser are now obsolete, and expensive. The custom IC in the VFO is made of 'unobtainium': so is the display.

I suppose my qualification of it as a good rig really means 'after you've dealt with these problems, it's a good rig!'

On the plus side, the minimal level of integration means that it's maintainable, since you can always get around failures, although it might take a lot of effort. You're not stuck with a failed, unobtainable custom ASIC that kills the rig. All the various reviews have given it very high marks on its phase noise performance, although looking at the circuits, I cannot for the life of me see why it is as good a performer on phase noise as it is. It's renowned for getting good audio reports, too.

I still haven't found anything good enough for me to consider getting rid of mine - especially since I've fixed the above problems!

Best HF Transceivers - Used Bargains  
by W7ITC on September 1, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Yes this is a good topic. I am always getting the
statement when people find out I am a Ham, "oh I can't
afford to do that". The get a real education at that
point. There are a bunch of really good radios out
there that can be had for a very reasonable cost.
The one caution I have for new HF'ers is if you get
a tubed final rig PLEASE, PLEASE!!!!! ask for help
from somebody who knows how to pilot one. It really
simple once you learn but I have seen to many fine
old radios detonated.

Taking about a hybrid rigs I really think the best right now are the Kenwoods.
TS-520, 530, 820, 830. There is also the somewhat rare TS-599, and 600 twins.
Yes there is the Yaesu FT101, B, E, F, the FT101ZD
is a cheaper version of the FT901 and not really a
true 101, the ZD and the 901 have 6146B finals and
they really are pretty good radios, but the receivers
still aren't up to the Kenwood.

I pick the Kenwood for the many reasons better receivers, 6146B finals, etc. But the major reason
is the Kenwoods seem to be aging better then the Yaesu's The guality of the circuit boards on the
Kenwood are much better then the FT101, and I suspect the parts on those boards follow the same pattern,
The major reason that I discourage New HF OP's from
getting the FT101 are the finals, have you priced a
pair of 6JS6C, holy cow!!! The gang switches on the
Yeasu 101 are a nightmare if you ever have trouble
with then. However If you get a really good deal on an FT-101 go for it the best of the true 101's is the F model. if you do get one be sure to get a set of the Fox-Tango Bulletins from These are the bible of the 101 mucho better then the manuals.

What was My first rig? A Ten-Tec 525 Argosy I paid
300 bucks for it 6 years ago, and while it really has
some rough edges in the receiver, all of which can be fixed, you would have to pry it out of my cold dead
hands to get it. I really think a Ten Tec is a fine
first HF Rig broad band transmitters, solid state,
Ten-Tec still fixes them, etc, and they are tough radios.

Ken de W7ITC
Best HF Transceivers - Used Bargains  
by KA4ETR on June 4, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
The best bargain in the market right now, new or used would have to be the Yaesu FT-840, when you find it on sale for $499! I bought one this year and it's a nice radio. How can you beat $499 brand new in the box with a warranty? I've seen FT-840's advertised used for $550 plus shipping! If you shop around you can find the FT-840 for $499. I won't mention the dealer I bought it from, but it's a national dealer and their regular price is $579, but they put this transceiver on sale for $499 a couple of times a year.
When Yaesu quits making this model, all dealers will drop the price to $500 or below. As far as the old stuff goes, I bought a MINT Heath HW-101A a few years ago for $350 and added a Palomar digital Freq. readout and I was very much surprised in the lack of drift in this rig. It's very stable only after a few minutes warm it! I don't know if this is typical of HW-101A's, but mine is great!
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