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Entry Level Radios

Paul Allen (ZR1PJA) on July 18, 2017
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I have been a ham since 2003 and maybe because I have entered the hobby where transceivers are more advanced and easier to operate.

What I find a little odd and maybe not correct is when the term Entry Level is used.

Most so called Entry Level radios are far more advanced than those rigs of old.

In this computer age where youngsters are so advanced it hardly takes a few hours to get familiar with these new rigs.

The term Entry Level should be replaced with the word Affordable.

Those Affordable rigs are top quality and good value for money.

I used an Icom IC-718 with a good antenna and got better reports that the guy down the road on 500w.

Affordable and Practical should rather be used instead of Entry Level.

Many shacks only have affordable and practical rigs and nobody complains that it is not a USD $1500 rig.

An affordable car is driven on the sane roads and freeways as an expensive car.

I believe that more affordable rigs will lead to more hams instead of discouraging people to join the fraternity because of perceived high costs of initial investment.

Member Comments:
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Entry Level Radios Reply
by W6HB on July 18, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Good thoughts...
 
Entry Level Radios Reply
by KA2UFP on July 18, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
entry level radios are not cheap...u kidding? never happen this hobby has nothing to offer. got your share of nonsense on bands by old miserable ppl that troll, cheat on tests, non tech skills, cheap ppl who cry poor mouth, and the ARRL doesnt RESPECT or SUPPORT .. A Hands , Palms up Group that ONLY Worry about Photo Shoots and $ 49 BUCKS. Hams are CHEAP PEOPLE
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by K9MHZ on July 18, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I don't know that I'd call youngsters "advanced" at all. They're very tech reliant and comfortable with technology, but not any more tech savvy than many older folks.

 
Entry Level Radios Reply
by W8BYH on July 18, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
The term 'entry level' in ham radio has been in use since the day Hiram Percy Maxim first connected an antenna to his spark gap transmitter. It won't go away if for no other reason that it's an effective marketing tool.

But I get the point. There's a lot of great 'entry level' rigs that are no less capable than many of the $2,000 + rigs. The real difference is the feature set. The more expensive rigs may bring more features to the table, but the station at the other end usually doesn't know (or care) if you are on an Icom 718 or an Icom 7851.

I've been licensed since 1995 and have had a steady stream of HF rigs flow through my shack. These days I'm using an Icom 7200 and a Yaesu 891, both of which are considered 'entry level' by the pundits. But both of these radios get the job done quite nicely, particularly when paired with good rig control software.
 
Entry Level Radios Reply
by N0AH on July 18, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
there has been an ongoing thread on FB on Amateur (HAM) Radio for a couple of days now on this very topic- The Icom 7300 leads the pack of dozen of responses.......This SDR radio has a ton of features and possible modifications- The US dollar is strong and we are seeing what used to be $2,000+ rigs for under $1,400- You can get an Icom 7300 for $1,299 US dollars, what do they go for in EU?
 
Entry Level Radios Reply
by K1KP on July 18, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
The Heathkit HW-100 was introduced in 1968 at a selling price of $249. If you factor in inflation, that represents $1788.67 in today's money. (source: https://www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm)

It was an entry-level radio that had basic features close to an Icom IC-7300: multiband HF CW and SSB transceiver, 100W output. But the IC-7300 has so, so much more, for a lower (inflation-adjusted) price!

Entry-level costs for other hobbies are similar. Go figure out what a basic scuba diving course and equipment costs, or an 'entry-level' DSLR camera and lenses.

So the 'entry-level' price is not as high as you might think.

And another thing:

People always say 'Hams are Cheap'. This is also a bit of an unfair comparison. 'Hams are Cheap', because they often prefer to make things much less expensively that they could otherwise buy. In the very beginning of Ham Radio, making things was the ONLY way you could get on the air. In the '60s and '70's, that changed when manufacturers discovered that Hams would actually pay for a high-quality commercially built piece of equipment. Some hams are still able to build their own antennas, transmitters, and receivers (many are not). But like many traditions of ham radio, the reputation for being 'cheap' has remained as many hams would prefer to spend less to build their own equipment.

If you factor in the time they spend building their own gear, at any reasonable labor rate, you would be saying 'Hams are Extravagant'!

The satisfaction of building it yourself is worth the time investment. That's part of why the HW-101 is probably still the most popular transceiver ever sold.
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by N3HKN on July 18, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
The SDR radio is the best answer. It captures the technical interest, is low cost, and uses that computer that now becomes part of the Ham mix.

The 7300 is not an amazing rig. It is an over priced SDR with an expensive display.. Compare it to the Softrock. Pick a single band and show where the $1300 radio out performs, on receive, the Softrock on a decent PC/soundcard. SDR is no mystery. It simply grabs chunks of the incoming signal and turns that chunk into a number. Software takes over and creates the sound, removes as much of the noise it can safely do and narrows the bandwidth down to as little as 25hz. Why SDR radios have to be so costly is beyond me. Look at the Softrock schematic. 10 years ago the chips to do the sampling were expensive. Now they are not.

Once you go beyond a single band the requirements are quite similar to traditional radios. Lots of switching diodes, coils and capacitors associated with high power transistors and their balancing transformers. The real cost seems to be in multiband SDRs where the required filtering (in & out) drive up the cost and increase the size. The core is cheap. The attendant filtering ans switching is not.
 
Entry Level Radios Reply
by KB2DHG on July 18, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
My idea of an entry level radio/transceiver is a nice old Yaesu, Kenwood, Icom radio from the 80's-70's.
Find a good working one and you will be very happy! Most go for about $400 or less.
 
Entry Level Radios Reply
by AH7I on July 18, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
There are plenty of ways for a new USA ham, with a modicum of knowledge in electronics or physics and basic tools(soldering iron, needle nose pliars, screw driver, knife) to get on the air. A decent kit-brew station will set him back under $200. For under $500, older gear will get him on the air. If this is too much, he can pay by the hour and use a remote station over the internet.

Where will this money come from?
Adjust priorities.
Give up some alternative entertainment.
Do some work you've been paying others to do.
Don't dine out, pack a lunch for work.
Take on a part time job. 200 hours at minimum wage will buy a decent ham station.

Ham radio is not a practical endeavor for someone with no money and no desire to understand radio or electronics. There are plenty of other ways to meet people and have enjoyable conversations.

73, -bob ah7i/w4

 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by K9MHZ on July 18, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
"It simply grabs chunks of the incoming signal and turns that chunk into a number. Software takes over and creates the sound, removes as much of the noise it can safely do and narrows the bandwidth down to as little as 25hz. Why SDR radios have to be so costly is beyond me. Look at the Softrock schematic. 10 years ago the chips to do the sampling were expensive. Now they are not."

Eh, good point, but maybe too simplified. SDR isn't a one-time A/D conversion technology, static in time and development. Advancements over time have resulted in lessening/removing the need for externals to process the digital signal. SDR (A/D) chips and their attending firmware chips have seen remarkable advancements in recent years in the layering of registers. So many are now packed onto a chip that it's become a statistical exercise, to see what percentage of those on a given product will perform as desired. It may seem that it's a one-time A/D concept, but as with most things, there have been tremendous underlying technologies developed even just recently.

Packing all of that new A/D and firmware technology, along with a display, front ends and a power amplifier for the desired bands for $1300 is actually pretty remarkable rather than merely "overpriced."
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by AA4PB on July 18, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I agree with MHZ. Young people today are often savvy tech USERS but most of them have little understanding of the technology behind the devices they are using. It's pretty much the same as it's always been. Most people are pretty comfortable driving a car but relatively few know how to perform any maintenance on their car.

 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by W1JKA on July 18, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
"Entry Level" is nothing but sales hype.
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by K9MHZ on July 18, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
"entry level radios are not cheap...u kidding? never happen this hobby has nothing to offer. got your share of nonsense on bands by old miserable ppl that troll, cheat on tests, non tech skills, cheap ppl who cry poor mouth, and the ARRL doesnt RESPECT or SUPPORT .. A Hands , Palms up Group that ONLY Worry about Photo Shoots and $ 49 BUCKS. Hams are CHEAP PEOPLE"

Anybody know what this means?
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by G8ADD on July 18, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
"Anybody know what this means?"

It means he is a misanthrope!
 
Entry Level Radios Reply
by W8RXL on July 18, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
There are plenty of radios chasing owners in this world, I can not see paying more than a few hundred for a entry level rig at most, shouldn't cost more than $400 to get on the air and be able to enjoy our hobby. What I find an eye opener is the idea we need new or newer equipment to enjoy the hobby, we don't.
 
Ye Olden Golden Daze... Reply
by VE3CUI on July 18, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
When I think back to the summer of 1972 (I got my ticket the previous year, but being just a cash-challenged & snot-nosed highschool kid, I couldn't afford a transmitter!) and what I made my very first working Ham station out of, I kinda shudder…

The receiver was a $40.00 third-hand Hallicrafters S-77A AC/DC set-up that used to "bite" me if I didn't have its plug placed into the AC wall socket properly oriented, & my transmitter was a single-tube, crystal-controlled 6T9 8-watt creation, gleaned from the pages of the March 1971 issue of QST…the power supply came courtesy of parts removed from a junked 1957 RCA television set, & was built on top of one of my mother's rectangular cake tins (I swiped it one day when she wasn't looking!).

Newcomers in 2017 would surely get a good laugh out of all this, so used as they are to the absolutely wonderful stuff that's available in both the new, and used, market to-day. But there I was, gamely & oh-so-enthusiastically carrying-on, heralding each new State worked from our basement on 40-meters with an immediate trip upstairs to share & exalt in all the glory with my family.

Fun days, without a shadow of a doubt --- but the material limitations back then merely served to hone & sharpen other skills to ensure some modicum of success on the air --- things like effective listening, tuning, timing, & all-round operator savviness, that I *hope* were instilled within me, & still reside therein.

I wouldn't trade those formative days for the world...
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by W4KVW on July 18, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Just about any price of a radio will do just fine if you invest in great antennas & feed line.It's far more important than the transceiver because a great antenna & feed line will make a not so great rig get out & hear much better than an expensive transceiver with a poor or not so good antenna.I prefer having an AWESOME signal so I got the total package because I'm only living once & I'm doing it the right way because I can.Spend that money because you are not taking any of it with you other than maybe into a hole in the ground & it's useless there.

Clayton
W4KVW
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by AC7CW on July 18, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Hams have been sold the idea that direct sampling is far better. The Elecraft rigs are not direct sampling and they perform as well as anything out there.

Since we already have computers with sound cards the very best way to make an inexpensive but fully functioning rig to get entry level users on the air is to make a monoband rig that uses the soundcard. That can be accomplished with no gate array, no expensive sampling A/D, from junkbox parts for some of us. Make it 100 watts and choice of kit or assembled and I'd probably build one. Heathkit could do this and get back into the Ham gig in a real way.
 
Entry Level Radios Reply
by K3FHP on July 18, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Learn cw and you can work the world with a <$200 radio.
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by N3HKN on July 18, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
The budding amateur is from the computer/cell phone generation. Approaching them with CW and SSB is difficult. It just sounds old. Granted some younger people will refresh old rigs just as they do old cars. However, a transceiver that incorporates the new technologies at a low price is bound to be more attractive than one which is far below the standards of most other stations.

Everything on a chip is every engineers dream and today's fabrication techniques are constantly battling toward that goal. I would guess that a $500 top price is about the limit for Daddy or the paycheck from Mac Donalds. At some place in time the ARRL will have to reduce its focus on contests and seriously develop the criteria needed to recruit new Hams. A balance is needed.
 
Entry Level Radios Reply
by N8EKT on July 18, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Cheap radios are nothing new

We can all remember Swan, Clegg, KDK, Santec, Azden, etc etc etc

They all "worked" and got you on the air cheap

And by TODAY's standards they would be high end radios

The difference today is that while the interference has gotten MUCH worse, the modern
entry level radios have in fact gotten worse at getting rid of it
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by VA7CPC on July 18, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
[quote] . . .
We can all remember Swan, Clegg, KDK, Santec, Azden, etc etc etc . . . [/quote]

No, not _all_ of us. I've never seen any of those rigs, much less owned or used one.

What I _have_ owned is an IC-706, an FT-817, and an FT-450. All of which are relatively "basic"/ "low-cost" / "entry-level" rigs. And each of them did its job quite well.

. Charles
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by W3TTT on July 18, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
My first station was a Heath HW-16 with vfo, a tuner and antenna dipole up in the trees. Total cost was $200 in 1990.
Upgraded to a Kenwood 520. Came with a mike, key, and he threw in a hy-gain vert. $250 in 1995.
Upgraded to a Icom 730 over eBay (I was a bit disappointed because no CW filter and the AM didn't work) $270 in 2001.
I also acquired various boat anchors, etc. Cost unknown.
So, in 2011 I sold all of the boat anchors, some other junk, for about $400. Threw in another $250 and bought a Icom 718. That was a great decision. I love it, and it loves me.
Now to my point - the Heath was bought and sold for about the same price, so I operated for five years basically for free.
The Kenwood was bought and sold for basically the same price, so those next five years were free.
I still have the Icom 730 and use it upstairs in my den.
I have the Icom 718 in the basement ("shack"). So, the current station cost $650/icom, $125/MFJ tuner, $99/Dipole with ladder line, so about $875. I have had it for almost 8 years (give or take), so that come out to $120 per year, or 33 cents a day. Not to mention that I will probably sell the rig eventually.
Thirty three cents a day! I don't know if there is any cheaper hobby!
Except that I love to send and receive QSL cards. (Each card 15 cents, stamp 35 cents. So fiddy cent to send out each QSL card. That's where the "real money" goes! hihi.

I just spent (well spent) $25 for pizza for my grandkids. That's another hobby that I love!

The ham radio hobby does NOT need to be expensive. I recommend to by an "entry level" radio NEW (like my Icom 718) and keep it a few years or more.

Vry 73 to all
W3TTT
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by K6UJ on July 18, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
wow, getting some real funny responses. The cheap ham post is a good one if you can decipher what he is saying, hihi. The post trying to convince us that
the softrock is as good as an IC-7300 is hilarious !
I agree that some of the new radios may not be affordable by everyone but there are some great used
radios that can be picked up pretty cheaply.

Bob
K6UJ
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by N0YXB on July 18, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I believe this started with a false premise, because adjusted for inflation many radios are cheap compared to the good ole days. The FT-450 and the IC-718 are good examples. Then there are used rigs. Lots of inexpensive rigs are available.
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by K6AER on July 18, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
When I first started hamstering, an entry level radio was anything you could afford.

I guess now an IC-7000, 7200 and 7300 are considered entry level radios.

An AL-811H is an entry level amplifier and a TH-33 is an entry level beam.

Reminds me of the phrase, "I like to go yacht racing but I can't afford the deck shoes".

I don't think radio cost is the limiting factor in the hobby's lack of interest.
 
Entry Level Radios Reply
by WA2FZB on July 18, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Entry level most often refers to a price point. I was QRT from 1992 until 2016. During that time, many great radios were built. All of these are now available used at a fraction of their original price tags. Some of these were flagship models, too, and they can be had for just above the cost of a new mid-level radio.

I got my Kenwood TS-850 for less than $500, and it is still a great radio. For a couple of hundred more, you can get a brand new Icom 718, Yaesu 450d, or an Alinco transciever, all of which are lightyears ahead of the entry level rigs of my Novice days 41 years ago.

If you can venture above the $1000 mark, you can get a brand new Kenwood TS-590 or Icom 7300, both of which are great radios. Adjusted for inflation, these high performance rigs are priced below the entry level radios of my youth and offer performance that wasn't even dreamed of in those days.

In my opinion, the "entry-level" price bracket of today offers the new ham more choices of high performance gear than at any other time in the history of ham radio. The greater challenge is getting younger people interested in the hobby, which they probably perceive as being pre-historic in both technology and appeal.
 
Entry Level Radios Reply
by WA2FZB on July 18, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Entry level most often refers to a price point. I was QRT from 1992 until 2016. During that time, many great radios were built. All of these are now available used at a fraction of their original price tags. Some of these were flagship models, too, and they can be had for just above the cost of a new mid-level radio.

I got my Kenwood TS-850 for less than $500, and it is still a great radio. For a couple of hundred more, you can get a brand new Icom 718, Yaesu 450d, or an Alinco transciever, all of which are lightyears ahead of the entry level rigs of my Novice days 41 years ago.

If you can venture above the $1000 mark, you can get a brand new Kenwood TS-590 or Icom 7300, both of which are great radios. Adjusted for inflation, these high performance rigs are priced below the entry level radios of my youth and offer performance that wasn't even dreamed of in those days.

In my opinion, the "entry-level" price bracket of today offers the new ham more choices of high performance gear than at any other time in the history of ham radio. The greater challenge is getting younger people interested in the hobby, which they probably perceive as being pre-historic in both technology and appeal.
 
Entry Level Radios Reply
by K6CRC on July 18, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I understand the points. But, is cost really the reason not to be a ham? People spend $800 on a TV, $100 for a good dinner for two, $60 for a pro baseball seat with $15 beers.
You can get a world class rig, an IC-7300 for instance, for a little over a grand. Not too much for most people wanting to join a hobby.
$4-500 will get you a 450 Yaesu, a good simple rig.
A new ham will have no problem borrowing a backup rig if needed. Hams tend to be generous with help when asked.
What prevents young hams from moving to HF?
1. Current hams - read the comments here, listen to 80m, go to a swap
2. Solar cycle - could be a couple of years before the magic of talking around the world becomes normal with simple antennas regularly.
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by K9MHZ on July 19, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
"Hams have been sold the idea that direct sampling is far better....."


"Far better," or just the way things are trending now? Of course the Elecraft guys will push back, but is this really even an issue at all? Just asking.
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by KF4HR on July 19, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Entry level radios simply have a reduced feature set.

Today's typical young tech savy ham operator is akin to a tech savy smart phone, TV, or other appliance operator. Basically turn the appliance on and memorize its operating features. It's not too difficult to become a good equipment operator, but this isn't what I consider to be tech savy.

Anyone remember in the back of Heathkit manuals where they described how each circuit worked?
 
Entry Level Radios Reply
by W9ZIM on July 19, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I posted a similar topic in the forums asking "Where's the low-priced HF gear?" where I wrote:

You can get VHF/UHF gear for pretty cheap these days, and I'm talking from reputable manufacturers like Yaesu and Icom and not Chinese junk. A new Yaesu dual-bander can be had for less than $200. A mobile box for less than $300.

So where is the correspondingly cheap HF gear? Why is there nobody but the Chinese and QRP kit manufacturers making inexpensive HF rigs? I'd love something like a no-frills Yaesu FT-817 for a couple hundred dollars. The closest I've seen is the Alinco DX-SR8T for $500, and that's without a power supply. (For that matter, why don't HF rigs come with built-in power supplies? But that's a topic for a different day.)

Is that just the nature of being a niche market within a niche market? If they can do it for VHF/UHF then why not HF?
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by WA1RNE on July 19, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
"The SDR radio is the best answer. It captures the technical interest, is low cost, and uses that computer that now becomes part of the Ham mix.

The 7300 is not an amazing rig. It is an over priced SDR with an expensive display."


How do you figure?

The Flex-6300 - their lowest priced SDR - is $2500 w/o a power supply, and add $1000 for a fancy console if you don't want to use computer control.

That's $3500+ versus the IC-7300 at $1300 plus a power supply - making it the underpriced SDR.

I've played with the 7300 and IMO it's a pretty amazing value for the money.

...WA1RNE
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by AB3MO on July 19, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
My "entry level" gear, S-85 and DX-35, in 1957 would sell for >$1300 in 2011. I bought an FT-857D + LDG Z100Plus tuner for $800 and a TS-590S in 2012 for $1495. Couldn't be happier!

Get an "Elmer" to help you evaluate the good to excellent used transceivers that are now coming on the market.
 
Entry Level Radios Reply
by WB4M on July 19, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I think entry level implies lower cost and less features.
 
Entry Level Radios Reply
by W1XWX on July 19, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Your Icom 718 suggestion is a good one may I add the FT450D. Also don't forget the old Flex 3000 which is being sold used directly from Flex radio (certified and 90 day warranty) for $899 right now; or the Icom 7100 going for about $829. There are some high end radios of a couple of years ago going at great prices now.

73
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by K5TED on July 19, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
"Entry level" hams today expect all the bands and all the modes at all the 100w level for under $200.

They can. however, be persuaded to spend $60/mo. to have Internet on their iPhones.
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by W4CNG on July 19, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
My entry level radio was a Heathkit DX-40 with VFO and a HQ-100A (new) and an antenna switching relay in a box feeding a 75 and 40 meter dipole as a novice in 1961. Next was a Galaxy V 5 Band radio and added a triband beam. Following that was Incentive licensing and a move to VHF/UHF using Motorola radio's, and the new Regency and other radio's along with new HT's. 2000 arrived with a new General Class license and then an Extra. Added a Ten-Tec Jupiter and Al-811H amp feeding attic antennas. Added an FT-817, 857, 897 to the mix. The SDR Jupiter beat all of them. Moved to a new built up from the ground home and added a Yeasu FTDX-3000 which is a real gem, but not an entry radio.
You should travel from Entry to as High as you want to. You cannot buy DXCC overnight as there are too many variables to challenge you. This is where growth is achieved by starting simple and adapting as you can to the current technology, or just staying where it is comfortable.
 
Entry Level Radios Reply
by W8LV on July 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Good article. "Entry Level" is such a relative term!

I worry that new or potential Hams encounter all of the Glossy Ads in the mags and take these much too seriously. So they never get the ticket, or on the air, and "Real Fun" gets replaced with "Maybe Someday." And Someday never comes.

My resources have always been quite limited, raising many children. You might be Low Income. Or a Student.
Or Disabled. Or Retired and on Fixed Income. But none of these Stations or Circumstances in Life should keep you from this Hobby!


Just think hard about what you want, and what you actually need. Wire and short Verticals give you quite a Bang for your Buck, and Towers, while nice, come with diminishing returns. Can you put up such a tower? Climb and maintain it? Mechanical problems with directional arrays, ice... A wire that comes down is really easy to repair or replace and doesn't set you financially back. High power for a few more S-Units seems really unnecessary, and you will make the contacts most of the time with QRP.

(Helpful Trick after you put up a short vertical. Lay out some radials, as you should, always, always, always! With the radials all around, you are of course omnidirectional. BUT, if you want a bit of directivity, just move them around towards your direction of interest. No Matter what the Books say, this WORKS. And you can do that, even if you are not in good enough shape to climb a tower.In my own Empirical Experience? RADIALS TRUMP HEIGHT IN PRIORITY! My tripod mounted Vertical is only twelve feet tall. Your mileage may vary...BUT...you can even do this from a wheelchair.)

My present rig is a Yaesu FT-450D, purchased used from Universal Radio, with whom I have doing business for over fourty years.

For my purposes, primarily QRP, the DSP built in makes this radio amazing.

Running at 5 Watts it of course doesn't even get warm,
since at this level, the Power Amplifier/Heat Sink/Fan is essentially "overbuilt"

Even on such an "Entry Level" radio, you will find so many features in comparison to rigs of just a few years ago. At specifications that were once Unobtainium.

I would highly recommend a used rig from a dealer as a good way to get started: You get a good price and have support this way.

In Lieu of funds, improve your own understanding of radio. Learn as much about propagation as you can.
Work towards Extra: The books are inexpensive. On Line Question Pools are free. ICOM has all of the question pools on line. And after you get Extra? Why not get the Commercial Tickets? GROL, GMDSS Operator/Maintainer, and Ship Radar Endorsement? ICOM has all of these commercial question pools online as well. Gordo has the GROL book.Combine these book and online resources for Maximum Gain, pun intended! On YouTube, Watch Ham Nation, AmateurLogicTV, W5KUB. Podcasts: The Doctor is In! All for FREE, the Experts right on your phone, and in your Living Room!

The Commercial Tickets are good for LIFE...Nothing to Renew! You will learn more about Radio... And even if you never find yourself on a ship, listing all of your Amateur and Commercial licenses on a Resume is helpful... In these days of frequent career changes, who knows where you might just end up?

I do believe that Ham Radio is a very cheap hobby: You buy a Rig, a Power Supply, a tuner, and an antenna.
And then you are all set. Simply divide the upfront cost into say even a Decade, and it's quite reasonable indeed!

This isn't an ad, but I do want to add this: When I first drive a car out of town at age sixteen, the two places I drove to from Sandusky, Ohio were Fair Radio Sales in Lima, (still in business!) and of course Universal Radio in Reynoldsburg. And when I sat my Commercial Exams over thirty five years later? I did those at Universal... A lifetime of Learning, and STILL learning!

Disclaimers:I do not represent or receive financial compensation from Universal Radio or Fair Radio Sales. But I am Good Friends with Certain Cats whom Reside at Universal, because they are so cute and cuddly.
So There.

No QRO Superstations, Linear Amp, or Tower Manufacturers were harmed in the posting of this Message.

73 and All the Best!
DE W8LV Bill

 
Entry Level Radios Reply
by KK2DOG on July 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
If a new ham buys a Flex 6500, I guess that could be called and "entry Level" rig then too.
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by WO7R on July 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
>>> Also don't forget the old Flex 3000 which is being sold used directly from Flex radio (certified and 90 day warranty) for $899 right now;

By any historical standard, that is an inexpensive radio. It will run circles around a lot of the radios of yore.

Sure, if you want to talk about 1970s pricing, it sounds like a lot. But if you want to talk about what those 1970s boxes would have cost today, there's no comparison.

And, remember, in the 1970s, people found the money for $3,000 dollar IBM PCs (the original) which has about the capability of an Arduino today (which costs four to thirty). You could go cheaper than that even way back when, but plenty of tech sorts (the kind that could and often did become hams) found that $3K.

Sorry, tech gear, like computer gear, has steadily given you more rig for the money for decades now.

Only the general level of inflation has kept this from being as obvious as it actually is.

Ham radio has never been more affordable. Really, truly, unconditionally true.

And, by the way, _nobody_ looks at rig prices in QST except for people already licensed (usually, long time licensed).

Newcomers will find out about the cost of radio _from us_, their Elmers.

Maybe we should get our heads out of the past and talk about what you can get at current prices and not try and scare them off with our too solid relationship with the past. As someone said, they buy 600 dollar iPhones. Multiple of them, in all likelihood, over time. 900 dollars for a Flex 3000 will not scare them. Nor will 1300 Icom 7300s. The rest can buy aging TS-930S machines (still excellent) and for around 500. Plenty of radio for the money, again.

I wouldn't advise a freshly-licensed millionaire to put up a tower. That individual does not know what he or she wants to do yet.

So, rich or poor, I'd tell them to set up a budget for the rig, put up a fan dipole or a G5RV, and see what they want to do. Maybe a 150 dollar HT for good measure.

But somewhere between 500 and 1500 dollars, just about all new hams will find something quite suitable; often far better than the beloved rigs of the past some are nostalgically discussing in here.
 
Entry Level Radios Reply
by AA4MB on July 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I'm a bit baffled why this subject continues to come up. But K1KP hits the nail square on the head; factor in inflation and it's never been cheaper to buy a brand new, state of the art 'entry level' radio. NEVER. You don't have to put it together, test it, debug it or align it like a Heathkit. Want more folks in the hobby? $ investment isn't where to look.

Not much to see here, folks. Move along.
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by N4KC on July 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!

I'm with you, AA4MB. The availability of an "entry-level" rig is not really an impediment to anyone who wants to join our ranks. I know what the real roadblocks--real or imagined--are because I researched the subject for one of my books.

Just in case you are interested, they are:

1) Being a bit skittish about putting a station together that will give a satisfactory on-air experience. And yes, price can be an initial but easily overcome obstacle. If we would quit all the carping about how expensive it is! Because it does not have to be!

2) Putting up an antenna. Scares the bejesus out of most folks! This and #1 above are why most first radios are an HT that speaks Chinese equipped with a rubber ducky. A satisfying on-air experience? Not hardly.

3) Worry about what to say and how to act on the air, including possibly getting scorned by some of the curmudgeons who think anyone who didn't pass his or her exam before 1955 is undeserving of sharing our precious bands with them. Try to remember how nervous you were going into that first QSO.

4) Not sure of what can actually be done once on the air. Everybody knows everything about the hobby? Nope. You would be surprised at the number of old-timers who still don't know or understand digital modes, IOTA, QRP kits, satellites, VHF propagation, etc. Imagine someone new to our hobby. And especially those who get licensed for a single specific purpose, such as weather spotting or emergency communications. No, you don't have to do it all, but we'll certainly attract and keep more people if they know what their options are.

5) The jargon. Anyone listening for a little bit will be puzzled about the language we--just as all other hobbies and pastimes do--have developed. Puzzled and thus a bit skittish. Even folks who have been around for a long time are clueless when they hear terms associated with new modes, new operating events, new ways to QSL, DX, contest, build, experiment, etc.

By the way, I hope I never again hear that old lame declaration, "Young people will never be interested in our hobby because they have cell phones and the Internet." Give me a break! The hobby continues to grow and we are attracting young folks, especially if we make certain every potential new ham is aware of the myriad opportunities offered in amateur radio.

It's not valid research methodology but in simply listening and striking up QSOs, I definitely hear more young and female voices--and keyboards and keys--on the air than ever. Our modern ham radio WILL appeal to many of today's younger folks just as powerfully as it did to the rest of us who first became infected as kids.

73,

Don N4KC
www.n4kc.com
www.donkeith.com
Author of the books RIDING THE SHORTWAVES:
EXPLORING THE MAGIC OF AMATEUR RADIO,
GET ON THE AIR...NOW!, THE AMATEUR RADIO
DICTIONARY, and the new DIAL DANCING


 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by AC7CW on July 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
With sample and hold hardware and sound card based SDR we can have inexpensive radios [A ten watt Avala 01 is ~$200, through hole soldering required] and it can run with various SDR software packages on both Windows and Linux, do digital modes, etc. It's "feature set" wouldn't be seriously compromised for most purposes compared to the highest end radios. It's rx capabilities might be like comparing a Heath rx with a Collins back in the day maybe but nonetheless lots of Hams got on the air with Heath equipment and had a lot of fun.. I'd say that if anything, the price of entry level has gone ahead of inflation.
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by K9MHZ on July 21, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
"It's "feature set" wouldn't be seriously compromised for most purposes compared to the highest end radios."

That's not true at all. Maybe look at some numbers before you make such claims. I like your attitude toward tinkering and experimenting, though. But apples and oranges don't compare well against each other.
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by K9MHZ on July 21, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
"I'm with you, AA4MB"

Great call! My son's in the All-American Marching Band at Purdue University.

Aw well...FWIW.
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by AI4WC on July 21, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Lots of good comments here, and I agree with most of them. Unfortunately, the facts are the facts; I just find it hard to sort them all out. I will just say that amateur radio, like all of my hobbies/interests, is a wonderful part of my life. To misquote Admiral Farragut (I think), "Damn the costs; full speed aheas!"
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by AC7CW on July 21, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
k9MHZ: Seriously? What features would a Flex 6700 use in everyday qso's that a station running with HDSDR wouldn't have?
 
Entry Level Radios Reply
by K4IA on July 21, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Feature for feature, rigs today are cheap. My DX60 was $99 in 1965. That crystal controlled, transmitter only, would be $737 in today's dollars. Transmitter only! The VFO was $39 or $290 today. Over $1,000 for just a transmitter that put out maybe 50 watts, and no SSB. People today pay $800 for a cell phone plus the monthly.

Compared to golf clubs or a bass boat, ham radio is a very inexpensive hobby. And, considering you can sell a current model rig for 80% of its original cost, you can operate a $1,500 radio for five years for $60 a year. I lay it all out in my book, "How to Get on HF - The Easy Way." EasyWayHambooks.com

Count your blessings.





 
Entry Level Radios Reply
by NO6L on July 21, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I have a different take on what "comprises" an entry level radio. Or rig. Take fire, there are three constituents of it; fuel, heat and oxidizer.

In our society and sciences there is always 3 main constituents. In this case affordability is one, but is equal with the others, approach-ability and practicality. Approach-ability means the controls are well thought out, can be used out of the box and the manual usable.

Practicality is next. It can be switched in an instant from band to band as the users curiosities change, and they change fast. It can be used at the shack, in the mobile, at a camp site, on Field Day and run on batteries in a pinch or even used to listen to "old fashioned" broadcast AM and FM. It sounds good on the air and there is a plethora of accessories to be had.

Affordability is the tough one. What's affordable to me may not be to you. But consider this, what is the newcomers desire to try Amateur Radio worth to YOU? If you saddle them with a vintage rig, like an FT-101, TS-520 or 530 it probably is not worth much. Because you have already set them up for failure. I've seen it over and over, all because someone was talked into saving a couple hundred bucks. I'm not wasting space here going through the reasons why, you know them. If you really want to help, steer them to the most practical, easy to use and affordable rig there is for a beginner. Unless something changes, an FT-857D is it. It's not perfect, but it does do everything well. And, it's in production and under warranty and smells great when you crack open the box, not like a stale ashtray full of butts.

Price? Really, these "kids" are walking around with $700 cell phones. Are you really going to gripe about price right here? Do you really want to help? Set them up with a 20 amp power supply, second hand 100W MFJ tuner, a little antenna party and a lot of encouragement and patience, that's where you will shine. If the cost is still not agreeable, then let it go, perhaps for them the $700 iPhone is what they are really interested in. A cheaper alternative will not help. Trust me, the last thing YOU want is to be married for the foreseeable future to a vintage rig you sold them, and you will be. That is until you give up and buy it back and the beginner gives up on Amateur Radio, and possibly you.

By the way, I wish I did, but I don't work for Yeasu, it's just a great entry level rig to date.
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by WO7R on July 21, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
An 857D is a great idea.

For a beginner, especially with basic antennas, 100 watts is a great practical advantage. Helps make up for some rookie "sins" as far as antennas an operations go. And, less frustration as well.

The rig also allows the beginner to have a "base" radio on VHF as well.

The rig is so good, I took it to some minor DXpeditions and it performed very well. If it can do that, it can do anything a beginner would wish to do.

If you can find one used, so much the better.

And, I agree that its price is not a serious barrier to most newcomers, especially given that it will fill the role of two or three radios (and back in the dark ages most of us are talking about it would have _been_ three radios, too). Compact, too.

If the kid wants on the air, we're basically talking about maybe holding on to the latest cell phone for a couple of extra years to pay for it. That is _not_ a barrier to most.
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by W4FID on July 22, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I have had a very nice clean complete working perfectly Kenwood TS-50 station listed with no interest. Has tuner, keyer, cables, power supply, Kenwood custom travel case -- the whole nine yards plug and play. For about what a mid priced rig only costs. Sad. A newer ham, a plug and play guy, a second station for an RV or cabin, a go box could all make great use of it.
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by ZR1PJA on July 22, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Just to add to my own article and the interest and good feedback it has generated, I have noticed again recently that the a larger portion of those joining the hobby are older people and not the youth which everyone tries to focus on.

They either have more time on their hands or retired and looking for a hobby that has generated their interests of in which in some cases has been of interested since their youth.

The same applies to them when purchasing rigs. Also they are not as reluctant to put up antennas even if they are of the stealth type.

It is becoming good fun as well because i can quite often pick up a OM all hours of the day and night for a chat.

Contrary to a lot of countries we do not have CB trash. CB here is actually quite pleasant and has been a good stepping stone for many new hams including myself. Here we only really use SSB. A lot of ham amateur elmers have been very good in helping making that step.
Regarding the equipment, they have spent quite a bit of money already.

Regards
Paul
ZR1PJA
 
Entry Level Radios Reply
by W8LV on July 22, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Swan, Clegg, National, Hallicrafters...
Oh, How the Mighty Have Fallen:

Every Dog has His Day.

These are Brands that no Young Ham would know.

They were brought down by what has been colloquially known as "The Rice Burners." They were once mocked and disparaged. Because they were cheaper. And considered wanky.

They were.

They got better. And cheaper.
And then they got MUCH better.
And at the same time?
Even cheaper.

Soon it was a no-brainer... Cheap price point and good quality made the choice for the Ham consumer Obvious.

There was still kit building: Fostered by a Post War Military Surplus. That still somewhat exists today, some Seventy Years(!) after the War. And those components (many built by our Grandmothers...and for some of us? Our Great Great Grandmothers!) are still good, many NIB today. They showed what the American Worker could do.
Because Rosie did.

Did you know that the US predicted at the beginning of the war that it might last until 1960 or 1965? But that was before the US bet the rent, and some Scientists in Los Alamos slapped a couple of blackboard erasers together, and out of that chalk dust came a Mushroom Cloud. That's why so many components were built, and still exist today. Fair Radio Sales in Lima, Ohio has been selling them since 1947, and today they even sell these radios and parts on the web.

But, in spite of these parts that could be had literally for fractions of pennies on the dollar, and a Post War Economic Boom that meant that people actually had pennies and dollars to spend, something else happened:

Very good imported radios became cheaper than kit building.


But there are other Tigers in Asia.

Today, they make wanky FM handhelds. Or (no doubt) private label for others. They will get better. Much better. And be cheap to buy.

They have some rather unprounceable and/or relatively unheard of names in the West. Marketing will change those names.

Soon, they will make HF and digital mode VHF/UHF radios. They may even take the SDR market by storm, still in it's infancy. Or maybe in Junior High School by now.

They will adopt names which will be pronounceable to Westerners. They will set up a presence in North America. And Europe. Just like scope manufacturers have.
In Ohio. More than one scope manufacturer, I might add. Yes, in Ohio.

What will happen to Yaesu, ICOM, and Kenwood at that point, if it indeed plays out this way?

It might be that what we call "Entry Level" radios and their price point today will have quite a different meaning indeed. Give it five years. Ten, Tops.

Time will tell.

73 and All the Best!
DE W8LV BILL


 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by AC7CW on July 22, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Try as I might I can't get into the idea of buying a rig to get on the air. Buying a fixer, working on it, getting to know it, then getting on the air:Thrill ride! Building a kit, getting to know how it works, getting on the air: Yeah!

Currently I'm set up to use a remote station, with logging software [never done that yet], with fldigi [never done that yet either]... so basically i didn't build any of that or repair it either: Waiting to see if there is a thrill in getting that on the air. It did take me hours to do a few minutes' work getting Log4OM, fldigi, and RCForb working together, there's that... but dang, no soldering iron work, no parts purchases, no visits to the surplus store! It just feels wrong!!
 
Entry Level Radios Reply
by PBJOK on July 23, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Glad to see.

Functional illiteracy lives.

As another ham demonstrates.

 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by GM1FLQ on July 23, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
"I have had a very nice clean complete working perfectly Kenwood TS-50 station listed with no interest."

Shock horror, what a surprise!!

It is only worth what the market is willing to pay.

Problem is many skinflint hams seem to price their gear relative to what they paid for it new or many years ago - blind to the fact this is irrelevant as it most often bears no relation to what is current day value for money.

Of course the other side of the coin is chancer boy (straight from the Jerry Springer show) and his "I'll give you a hard boiled egg & some peanuts for it"...........

 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by NN4RH on July 23, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Saw that. You're asking prices is at least 50% too much.
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by W1XWX on July 23, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Right now there are some great deals on radios.

New Icom 7100 $825

New Icom 718 $650

New Yaesu 450 D $700

Used Flex 3000 from Flex radio - $899 with warranty

Icom 7200 $800

and on and on-- pick your poison it's a great time in amateur radio.
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by AC7CW on July 23, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
"I have had a very nice clean complete working perfectly Kenwood TS-50 station listed with no interest. Has tuner, keyer, cables, power supply, Kenwood custom travel case -- the whole nine yards plug and play. For about what a mid priced rig only costs. Sad. A newer ham, a plug and play guy, a second station for an RV or cabin, a go box could all make great use of it."

Wow, the "World's Smallest Transceiver" until Ten-Tec brought out the Scout 555... which people liked a lot, and still bring some truly hefty prices on ebay.
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by AC7CW on July 23, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
"Glad to see.

Functional illiteracy lives.

As another ham demonstrates. "


aayeppp... and still humorless appliance ops too.
 
Entry Level Radios Reply
by KC8MWG on July 23, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
For those who say "hams are cheap", just take into consideration that "broke" does not mean "cheap". It means just that - BROKE. As in, "I'd spend more if I had it, but I don't have it so I am looking for a better deal so I can still get some enjoyment out of my hobby".

If you are patient, and aren't overly stuck on "newest, latest, and greatest", or absolutely MUST have WARC bands and 60 & 160 meters, you can sometimes find good deals on older 80m-10m transceivers online. Yaesu FT-101E transceivers (the ones that DON'T use sweep-tube finals), as well as late 1970's-1990's solid-state transceivers, can be had for a few hundred bucks. I managed to score a Kenwood TS-120S on EBay for $200; got a nearly new Xiegu X1M Platinum for about the same. Needed another $80 in repairs, but STILL not a bad deal for a working 100-watt rig. Semi-kits like the Bitx 40 or the Bitx 20 are not a bad way to go, either, and tinkering with them can teach valuable skills (including patience!). Heck, I can't afford a $1,000 rig (paying child support for two kids plays hell on the budget), but I still find ways to enjoy my hobby.

 
Entry Level Radios Reply
by KA4DPO on July 23, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
There was a time when getting on the air was not expensive at all and the term "entry level" rig meant mostly home brew. I started out with an old receiver and a home brew transmitter, not much to look at but it worked and I made DX contacts with it.

A person can still get into amateur radio for not much money if they really want to, an old used transceiver will work just fine and there are plenty of them out there. I can get a TS-520 or a HW-101 that work for less than $350.00. A wire antenna and a home brew antenna and antenna tuner can be built for peanuts using hamfest parts.

Manufacturers have been using the term entry level for years to entice new hams to buy new equipment. Truth be told, you could use a 1960's receiver and transmitter and work CW just as well as with a $3000.00 rig. No one will do that except old timers because they are afraid someone might think they are poor, or not in the club even though the guy on the other end of the QSO won't know the difference. You could say you're running a K3S and they would believe you.

I guess I wonder why anyone worries about such things. My personal observation is that the majority of new hams don't really want to learn any of the science of radio and radio propagation, they just want to talk.
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by AC7CW on July 23, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Hams before the age of CB might have been a different set of people. Homebrewing was a big thing in those days. Rigs were so simple you could build one that was adequate for cw if nothing else. War surplus stuff was very inexpensive... Do CBer's homebrew? I hope not, after working on ham gear they have horked up...
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by K8QV on July 23, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
From my experience I would say that most hams who fall for the latest high end gear don't use all the features they couldn't live without when they saw the advertisement. They mostly don't even know how to work them. A small minority of rabid contesters and fanatic DXers can indeed gain a slight edge over competition by spending five times what everyone else does. But mostly, the latest "improvements" go to waste in practice. Naming a product "entry level" is marketing at its best, or worst, depending on which side of the transaction you're on. What gets lost in the gear wars is the overriding importance of operator skill and optimal antennas.
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by N4KC on July 23, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
KA4DPO:

I agree that "entry level" has different meanings for different people, but I would not say manufacturers necessarily use it to "entice" newcomers. At least no more than they build any other product in order to "entice" someone to purchase based on the item's features, usability, pricing, availability or any other aspect of effective marketing.

I also disagree that anyone could work CW just as well with a 1960s receiver and transmitter. Not even close. I don't recall any of them having a built-in memory keyer, highly effective digital signal processing, and other features none of us could have imagined back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. I'd have to do some serious mods to use my DX-60 on 160, 60, 30 and 12 meter CW, too!

And finally, I also have to disagree with your statement that the majority of new hams have no interest in the technical side and only want "to talk." I'm not sure where your source of the research study but among the newcomers I encounter on the air, I find far more who have at least some interest in things technical. Maybe not to the degree you or some others might want, but they absolutely want to do more than "just talk."

Then, AC7CW, I am thrilled that you enjoy building so much. That is fantastic! But if others don't care for that aspect of the hobby, that is fine, too. Ours is a diverse pastime and we should pursue whatever parts of it that we enjoy. My own interests change, I know.

Just because you like chocolate ice cream doesn't mean those of us who prefer strawberry are dolts.

73,

Don N4KC
www.n4kc.com
www.donkeith.com
Author of RIDING THE SHORTWAVES:
EXPLORING THE MAGIC OF AMATEUR RADIO,
GET ON THE AIR...NOW!, THE AMATEUR RADIO
DICTIONARY, and the new book DIAL DANCING



 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by AC7CW on July 23, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
"Then, AC7CW, I am thrilled that you enjoy building so much. That is fantastic! But if others don't care for that aspect of the hobby, that is fine, too. Ours is a diverse pastime and we should pursue whatever parts of it that we enjoy. My own interests change, I know."

I'm not from the same universe as an appliance op that likes to talk about how many contacts he has made. No problem if that's his side of the hobby but not my universe so far, could happen i guess now that I'm on the air.
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by K6CRC on July 23, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
When an old timer asks why aren't more young people in hobby, I would point them to the comments here.
It is a free country, and you are entitled to your opinions, But, Hams constantly disparage the choices young people make with their time and money simply paints the hobby as one for cranky old guys. 'git offa my lawn!'
I have two boys in the early 20s. They have worked at 3 startups each, one has done pro music videos, the other just built an e-commerce website in an afternoon.
And, both are TYPICAL of kids their age in urban areas, not that special. So many young people have these skills and see no need to talk to cranky old farts on 80 meters. What is possibly interesting to younger people about ham radio is some of the digital modes, the community support and service elements, and expanding their IoT and RasberryPi board skills.
The world has changed since I build RXs with WWII Command Sets and fixed tube stereos and VW bugs so I could simply EAT while a college student.
Time to get over it guys. Help the kids, do not complain about their lifestyles and choices.
 
Entry Level Radios Reply
by WD9FUM on July 24, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I've been a ham for 40 years now. At one time I was doing quite well and had some very nice equipment. Then times got tough and I lost my job and became disabled to boot. Sold my nice radios to pay the bills. Got back on my feet and got some used gear on the cheap. Got it working with the help of some friends and I'm back on the air. I'm having more fun than ever. Moral of the story? With a few bucks and the help of friends, you don't have to spend a lot to have a great time in ham radio. I admit it. I used to bemoan the lack of 'affordable' gear. But good, affordable gear is out there.
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by GM1FLQ on July 24, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
"Ours is a diverse pastime and we should pursue whatever parts of it that we enjoy."

Yet when the view on diversity diverges from their view, the liberal minded virtue-signalers are quick to unleash the sneering. Blind to the irony of course.

It seems these self elected arbitrators of diversity have decided it universally = good.

 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by GM1FLQ on July 24, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
"But, Hams constantly disparage the choices young people make with their time and money simply paints the hobby as one for cranky old guys. 'git offa my lawn!'"

"So many young people have these skills and see no need to talk to cranky old farts on 80 meters."

Hey, brilliant - you may just find many of the cranky old farts find that the feeling is mutual.

This cranky one can't be bothered wasting his time with the entitled, fat, lazy, self-obsessed and perpetually offended snowflake variety typical of "today" - cranky here not only wants them offa my lawn but as far away from it as possible.
 
Entry Level Radios Reply
by DL1MEV on July 24, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
The finest feature overloaded rig is useless if no adequate antenna can be used.
Like in photography the professional camera-body does not help when a miserable wide range- zoom- lens is used. An entry level- body with a good prime lens can be the better choice.
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by N9AOP on July 24, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
You never said what you consider affordable and that would depend totally upon the financial status of the Ham.
Art
 
Entry Level Radios Reply
by AB1AW on July 25, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
How about something like this?
The BITX40 http://www.hfsigs.com/

For $59 you get a fully built digitally tuned mono-band SSB rig for 40 meters.

The PC boards are pre-built. The user needs only to wire-up the controls, antenna jack, etc. and mount it into a box.
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by AC7CW on July 25, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I did a study on the db differences between modes. There is about 55db between AM and JT9. Then I did a little study on db signal differences relative to Solar Flux Indices and came up with a rough figure of 50 SFI units to equal that same range. The solar cycle is a far greater influence on "what is a good entry level radio" than much else. Right now I'd want a rig that did all the digital modes.

If the sunspots do return, and some think we will go into a Maunder Minimum [alarmists are never in short supply of course] then in a few years I might want a boat anchor or two... at the sunspot peak once I had a 10 watt FM 10 meter rig and a housetop vertical. I could chat with hams all over the world with FM voice quality. That was a great entry level rig for it's time in the solar cycle.
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by HB0PET on July 25, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
This, of course, is an ancient discussion, often repeated and never ending. Entry level means to me, my equipment is simple, but not primitive. "Simple" does not mean cheap! If one also wants to have fun, then at least a minimum of quality should be present. Be warned, buy under no circumstances cheap junk of all this various third parties in the People's Republic of China, which ends not infrequently in disappointment and loss.
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by KA4DPO on July 27, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
agree that "entry level" has different meanings for different people, but I would not say manufacturers necessarily use it to "entice" newcomers. At least no more than they build any other product in order to "entice" someone to purchase based on the item's features, usability, pricing, availability or any other aspect of effective marketing.

I also disagree that anyone could work CW just as well with a 1960s receiver and transmitter. Not even close. I don't recall any of them having a built-in memory keyer, highly effective digital signal processing, and other features none of us could have imagined back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. I'd have to do some serious mods to use my DX-60 on 160, 60, 30 and 12 meter CW, too!

And finally, I also have to disagree with your statement that the majority of new hams have no interest in the technical side and only want "to talk." I'm not sure where your source of the research study but among the newcomers I encounter on the air, I find far more who have at least some interest in things technical. Maybe not to the degree you or some others might want, but they absolutely want to do more than "just talk."

Then, AC7CW, I am thrilled that you enjoy building so much. That is fantastic! But if others don't care for that aspect of the hobby, that is fine, too. Ours is a diverse pastime and we should pursue whatever parts of it that we enjoy. My own interests change, I know.

Just because you like chocolate ice cream doesn't mean those of us who prefer strawberry are dolts.

73,

Don N4KC
www.n4kc.com
www.donkeith.com
Author of RIDING THE SHORTWAVES:
EXPLORING THE MAGIC OF AMATEUR RADIO,
GET ON THE AIR...NOW!, THE AMATEUR RADIO
DICTIONARY, and the new book DIAL DANCING

That is a very patronizing response Don, quite frankly your opinions are not better than anyone else's. Evidently my experience has been a good bit different than yours. I have a Drake B-Line with an outboard audio DSP filter that I use for CW routinely and while it can't compete with my 7600 it does a pretty respectable job. I never said contest, I just said operate and frankly, if I was working you, you could not tell the difference. I do also have an electronic keyer but mostly just use a straight key on that particular rig.

As for newly licensed hams, I teach ham classes for the club here from time to time and I find that the mindset of the potential licensees is far different than mine was. As a kid I could not find enough reading material on the science of radio and electronics. Most new hams don't have any idea how their radio works. I typically run across extra class operators who can't build simple antennas and who buy auto tuners because they are convince that they somehow provide a better match than a manual one.

We talk about propagation in our classes, the different modes of propagation and the forces of nature that effect them, no one cares, they just want to work phone.

So our experiences are very different but that does not make mine, or the other hams who's thoughts on the subject don't quite mesh with yours any less true or valuable.

Thanks for you input Don, duly noted.
 
Entry Level Radios Reply
by W8WZ on July 28, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Radios today have better specifications and performance than ever before. They are also available at lower cost than ever before.

However, they are also less intuitive to use than radios from the previous few decades were.

When radios had dedicated and well labeled control knobs, switches and buttons one did not really need to read the manual to use them. Every control on my TS930 was clearly labeled and easy to change.

Now, everything has a menu and each button does 4 different things and you have told down one button while pressing a different button until you hear a beep, then you can turn the knob, etc etc.

When new people are entering the hobby today, I suggest the consider one of the rigs from the 1980s or 1990s so that they can enjoy using dedicated, clearly labeled controls.
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by GM1FLQ on July 28, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
"When new people are entering the hobby today, I suggest the consider one of the rigs from the 1980s or 1990s so that they can enjoy using dedicated, clearly labeled controls."

Or enjoy using a radio that is a radio rather than one of the new radios that is a TV.

You know, something a bit different from their IPhone or IPad - or maybe they are so attached via an unhealthy obsession for them they will feel more comfortable with their head cranked forward & buried in another device with a social media type LCD screen.

Who knows, maybe the next Icom will boot up straight into Google Chrome.

 
Entry Level Radios Reply
by W4JLE on July 29, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Tough to beat the 40-meter rig from HFSIGS.COM. $59.00 delivered to your door. Digital VFO and with available programs (sketches) capable of all modes.
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by N8FVJ on August 3, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Entry level new HF rigs are ICOM at $619. Yaesu FT-450 at $679 and Alinco at $469. All include free shipping. All the radios will provide good communications and frankly the bands are not crowded like 15-20 years ago so razor sharp selectivity is not normally needed.

Even if your budget only allows $300, used radios such as Yaesu FT-747GX, Icom IC-730 & Kenwood TS-430 are still modern radios with stable VFOs & solid-state finals. These radios perform well. There is no excuse for most not to have HF capacity.
 
Entry Level Radios Reply
by K3ZD on August 6, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I put a wanted ad on Craigs List for an IC-718. In a few days I had one in perfect condition for $350.
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by K1HW on August 6, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
The magic of hearing that voice come out of the box on the table and wanting to learn how it does it can never be replaced by a bigger, newer, more modern radio with all the bells, knobs and whistles with greater power. Maybe we should all start with a $5.00 crystal controlled receiver just to see what it is all about. Hard to sell to someone on their iphone talking to a relative three continents away, but still.....
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by G3RZP on August 8, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
A $300 transceiver may well be affordable for lots of people in the US or Western Europe. But there are parts of Europe, Africa and Asia where it certainly isn't because of the general poverty of much of the population.

I started with a 1939 HRO receiver and a home brew tx of my own design with a scrounged 807 and parts from old TV sets. The night I worked KV4CI on 7 MHz CW was a real red letter night!
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by K6PHL on August 9, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Amen!
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by WO7R on August 11, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
>>>>Or enjoy using a radio that is a radio rather than
>>>>one of the new radios that is a TV.

Try again, my friend.

Pro tip: If you want to attract people, meet them halfway -- more than halfway.

If they see a radio that they cannot distinguish from the distant past (say, the 1930s), they will wrongly conclude that the hobby isn't modern.

They _will_ rightly conclude, if that is all that they see, that the rigs aren't being marketed to them, but to their grandfather.

>>>You know, something a bit different from their IPhone
>>> or IPad - or maybe they are so attached via an
>>> unhealthy obsession for them they will feel more
>>> comfortable with their head cranked forward &
>>> buried in another device with a social media type LCD screen.

Let me say this as gently as I can: This is exactly the opposite of the attitude that is needed, my friend.

You might as well have asked my generation to give up their Howdy Doody or my kids to give up MTV. Doesn't work that way, not if you want to attract them to our hobby.

>>> Who knows, maybe the next Icom will boot up straight
>>> into Google Chrome.

That would actually be a pretty good idea.

Truth is, hams of the future will _expect_ modern interfaces. They will _expect_ touch screens and iPad-like functionality.

And, why shouldn't they? Providing such function is getting to be very cheap, maybe even cheaper than what you and I are used to.

Manufacturers are learning to give it to them and are doing so even in "entry" rigs, because the cost isn't that big a deal now. They know what they're doing. It is we that are going to have to adapt.
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by G3RZP on August 12, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
>>>Truth is, hams of the future will _expect_ modern interfaces. They will _expect_ touch screens and iPad-like functionality<<<

That may well be so. What is sad is that the level of knowledge of the technology of radio by amateurs will decrease even further than it is now.
 
RE: Entry Level Radios Reply
by AB1AW on August 12, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I disagree that the level of understanding of radio will decrease. As a 55 year old electrical engineer I must say that all this modern technology has made the hobby even more interesting and attractive to young folks. SDR technology alone has made both the theory and practice of radio (wireless communication) explode in the variety of new modulation techniques we use. This is all stuff I could only dream of when I first got started in ham radio all those years ago. I see the younger hams that I know latch onto this new tech. It not only makes the hobby more interesting, it also is a gateway for them to develop high paying, sought after skills.
 
Entry Level Radios Reply
by WB4TJH on August 12, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
The best bang for the buck, NEW entry level radio today, is the Yaesu FT-450D. Nothing out there now gives you so much performance and features as this radio for the money. The Icom IC-718 is 25 year old technology with audio DSP,, NOT IF DSP like the Yaesu. It is stone age compared to the FT-450D. The new FT-891 is also a good choice, but more menu driven. The IC-7300 is NOT entry level, price wise.
 
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