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Author Topic: Cheap HF rig with SUPERB receiver?  (Read 8246 times)
KD7JNW
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Posts: 20




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« on: June 11, 2003, 04:10:34 PM »

Warning: this is a topic designed to stimulate  debate!

I'm thinking of putting together another station, but it doesn't have to be as fancy as my primary one. The difficult part is that I love shortwave listening (SWL) as much as anything, but my budget for this station won't allow the purchase of a good SW receiver in addition to an HF transceiver.

So, the idea is this: get an HF transceiver with a superb receiver section, which can do dual-duty. Yeah, I know the IC-756 and competing rigs are great, but anyone can write a check - I want a challenge!

So, what's out there on the used HF transceiver market - for CHEAP - that has a superb receiver? That's right, it's "the best of the bargain rigs"!

Here are the only parameters:

1) Xcvr must cover down to 80m (160 would be nice, but 80 will do it.)
2) Must be solid state and have good frequency stability.
3) Must have a good record for repairs.

Please, when making your recommendations compare them to other rigs (both transceivers and SW receivers) that you have used so there is some way to benchmark them.

Let the debate begin!
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WB2WIK
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Posts: 20666




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« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2003, 05:48:02 PM »

My first choice in this regard if "size" were not an issue would be a Drake TR-7.  These are 25 years old, now, and larger/heavier than modern gear.  But, they are fully solid-state, very stable, cover from below 160m to 29.999 MHz continuously and provide incredible dynamic performance across the HF spectrum, rivaling the very best SW receivers I've ever used at any price.  But it's a transceiver, and runs >100W PEP output across the spectrum.  Three different IF filters may be installed (it only came with one, so two are options, still readily available) if you prefer wider bandwidth for AM reception, or narrower for CW.

The Drake R-7 receiver is still beloved as one of the most wonderful SW receivers ever manufactured at any cost, and the receiver section of the TR-7 is about the same.  And, because a lot of them were manufactured, and they're getting old now, they don't cost much.  I've seen TR-7s go for as little as $350, a truly excellent deal for a rig that sold for $2200+ twenty-five years ago.

WB2WIK/6
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WA4PTZ
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Posts: 528




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« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2003, 06:39:11 AM »

One of the best but cheapest radios that is often
found in flea markets is the Yaesu FT-101 it comes in
a variety of models: E, EE, EX
The EX version does not have a DC converter for
mobile operation and ,unless it was added, has no
speech processor. Frankly the processor is not all
that great anyway. They sell for $100 and up.
73 - Tim
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KL7IPV
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Posts: 984




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« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2003, 01:23:12 AM »

I found the TenTec Delta II to be  a great transceiver as well as a great SWL radio. It has a continuously variable Jones filter that works better than most filters I have used in over 35 years. TenTec stands behind ALL their gear and it is a comfortable radio to use. They are reasonably priced and are still found on e-Bay. TenTec may also have some they have taken in trade for people upgrading to other radios. They sound great on the air too.
73
Frank
Kl7IPV
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KL7IPV
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« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2003, 01:24:03 AM »

That is KL7IPV  not Ki7IPV
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NI0C
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Posts: 2435




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« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2003, 10:23:41 PM »

I understand that the Kenwood TS-440S (which I used for about 8 years) had a receiver comparable, if not identical, to the R-5000 SW receiver.  I liked the rig a lot (my son is using it now).  
 
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K7LD
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Posts: 1




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« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2003, 10:38:41 PM »

Can't beat the Icom IC-730.  Ham band only, quadruple conversion receiver (only available in top end xceivers), dual vfo, pbt, solid state 12vdc rig.  Great rig and cheap!  Checked ebay and several are listed and under $300.

 
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N6AJR
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Posts: 9927




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« Reply #7 on: July 04, 2003, 02:44:30 AM »

Icom 730  good reciever, and do the mod for warc bands.. a ft-101 ZD the best 101 ever made also has warc bands, a used ft 840 from yaesu, my favorite would be a used yaesu FT-847..  160 through 10 + 6m+ 2m + 440 mhz....  all modes on all bands.. satalite with the push of one button.. but probably a bit more expensive, but it is all in one and knobs and buttons not menus.

same thing in a menu driven rig would be the icom 706 mark... the yaesu ft-100 d  or the alinco dx70  
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K3VR
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« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2003, 05:34:11 PM »

Ten-Tec Triton IV. The stability can't compare to modern rigs, but as for a radio that hears well it is up there with the best. Case in point: Bill, KB3CX has an inverted V and lives one mile from me. I have an inverted V at a similar height and elevation. Over the past 11 years I've found that his Triton IV was able to hear as well, and in many cases, better than my KWM-2A, Yaesu FT-1000D, Kenwood 570D, Icom 756 Pro II, Drake TR-7, Drake TR4-C, Kenwood 830, etc., etc.

The Triton IV is an inexpensive radio without a lot of Bells and Whistles, which admittedly drifts - you need to keep a hand on the VFO - but as for an inexpensive radio with excellent hearing ability with a transmit section that has good tone and plenty of modulation, I don't think it can be beaten.
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WB2WIK
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Posts: 20666




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« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2003, 04:22:22 PM »

I think many of the respondants here missed the point of the original question, which was to find a ham transceiver that had a great receiver for *SWLing,* which means short-wave listening outside the ham bands.

The Triton IV and most other older rigs can't do that, as they don't receive outside the amateur bands.

WB2WIK/6
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KD5VHF
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Posts: 84




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« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2003, 09:31:29 AM »

"Here are the only parameters:

1) Xcvr must cover down to 80m (160 would be nice, but 80 will do it.)
2) Must be solid state and have good frequency stability.
3) Must have a good record for repairs. "     Yaesu FT-990..."cheap" compared to anything new available in it's class. Check the reviews here.
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W3DCG
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« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2003, 05:43:11 PM »

Cheap, general coverage receive, and RELIABLE. And solid-state.  A used IC-718 comes to mind- for very inexpensive for what you get; A TS-570D non G model also comes to mind.  The 718 might be had if patient by a person who got one with the free DSP module, otherwise I wouldn't bother.  Wait longer and maybe a 500 or whatever crystal filter will be available somewhere.  Or spend another 100 dollars and get an InRad.  Maybe a deal will crop up that already has a filter in it.  I have heard people say these are not Contest grade receivers, but I've heard lots of people contesting using these radios.  

Re excellent RX... and cheap...and solid state... I saw a TS 850SAT Buy It Now for 799.00 but no filters.  And it appeared he was offering 30 day 100% return policy. Now there- is a one of the best receivers of all time IMCO.  I worked a guy on 40m not long ago, who was running 1W, maritime mobile to some compromise vertical on a pleasure ship who was in the Pacific heading west, from my location here in GA, using a trap vertical ground plane on my roof.  He just kept calling and calling and calling CQ.  For so long, I think no one could hear him well enough to want to bother.  I heard him just fine though, on an 850.  On a night when prop was not remarkable in either direction.

But oh yeah, Cheap.  How inexpensive is Cheap?  There is a TS570D on the eBay block now, which ends in about 4 hours- 430 bux, excellent condition...get a new 98 dollar Inrad of your choosing = in it for well under 600 with enough bells and whistles to keep anyone happy.  Dual conversion simplicity.  Simple to operate.  RELIABLE.  The more complex any system, the more that can go wrong.
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K7VO
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Posts: 1010




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« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2003, 11:37:41 PM »

First, since you are interested in SWLing, disregard the recommendations for the Icom IC-730, Ten Tec Triton IV, and Yaesu FT-101 series.  They aren't general coverage.  The IC-730 is a great rig, and it's big brother, the IC-740 is even better, but they don't do what is being asked.

I agree that the Ten Tec Delta II is quite good, but mine was a bit subject to overload, so it's not great for SWLing.  Also, the QST reviewer (who unfairly trashed the rig) found the AM a bit flat sounding.  I hate to say it, but while it doesn't sound bad to me, other rigs sound better.

Here are the ones I would recommend: 1) the Icom IC-735.  Great sounding AM, an excellent receiver, and under $350 on the used market.  2) Yaesu FL-101/FR-101D twins.  Yes, it's two boxes, but the twins are where Yaesu went all out on the 101 series.  Internal construction will remind you of Collins.  The receiver is digital, fully solid state, and covers the common shortwave bands. The AUX slots can be crystalled for anything, including the WARC bands.  (The FL-101 can also be easily modified to cover the WARC bands.)  A nice pair will run you about $400.  3) Icom IC-728 or IC-729 -- a bit more expensive than an IC-735 with less features, but they are newer and still have great sounding AM.  The IC-729 has 6m coverage, which is a nice bonus.

I'm probably going to get some heat for this, but I don't recommend the Drake TR-7.  They were fantastic rigs in their time, but they are not aging gracefully.  Too many just need work by now, and they fetch top dollar collectors' prices.  I'm all for American rigs, but if you want a great Drake receiver then buy an R-8x and forego having another transceiver.

There are other cheap rigs that have a great reputation but which I have no personal experience with.  The Yaesu FT-747GX immediately comes to mind.  So do some of the older JRC transceivers and twins.

Whatever you decide, good luck to you.  There are a lot of interesting choices out there.

73,
Caity
K7VO
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K2VI
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Posts: 13




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« Reply #13 on: August 05, 2003, 09:24:29 PM »

ICOM IC-718 WITH THE DSP WILL STOMP ON ANY MID PRICED RADIO OF 10-15 YEARS AGO.YOU CANT GO WRONG WITH THIS SUPER RADIO.

TONY K2VI
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N8YV
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Posts: 103




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« Reply #14 on: August 14, 2003, 07:51:06 AM »

ICOM 718.  Hands-down.  Brand new, available well-under $600 and you get a FREE DSP (you have to send in for it and it takes awhile, but worth the wait for the cost of just a postage stamp).  At least one dealer will even ship it to you FREE, to boot!

The 718 has a VERY hot receiver---not the best for selectivity, but very respectable sensitivity, audio quality and coverage range. Nice noise blanker, too.

Since you want this for both SWL and amateur use, you won't lose anything on the transmit side, either. It is simple, doesn't have a ton of features, but it has the ones you NEED, such as continuously-variable power output, EXCELLENT audio quality, presets, smooth VFO, and it is built better than some rigs costing much more.

If funds improve for you later, you can easily add an even better receiver (Icom R75), connect the two units with a C-IV patch cable and a short RCA jumper, and a coaxial relay.  I operated a 718/R75 "pair" like this with excellent results. They look great side-by-side, recalling the days of "old" with separate T/R units, and the C-IV will tune BOTH units with either one's VFO.  

One final word---the 718 runs cool, even after hours of maximum-power operating, with good stability. You'll spend $400-600 on a used rig, and as the previous replies have shown, you may not get what you are after. Why not spend the same or less, have a great SWL rig and a decent transmitter at once, brand new and with a full warranty?

IMHO, you simply can't go wrong with a 718.
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