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Author Topic: $pending Big Buckaroos for Ham Gear  (Read 2521 times)
WA1RNE
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« on: November 22, 2003, 06:38:50 PM »

Is it just me or does anyone else find some of the price tags for SSB tranceivers getting a little ridiculous??

For example, around 1985, I had liked the IC740 and bought one used for about $500 and it came with a built-in AC supply. But now, it's $2250 for an IC746Pro, + $270  for an AC supply or ~$2520 !! Kenwood, Yaesu, Tentec, etc. are in the same expense category.

What about the antenna "farm"?  How much money is left in the budget to get that fancy signal into the ionosphere??

Is the DSP-equipped receiver a must? Do you really need a band scope to check for QRM? We're not taking about a communications system for a military outpost that demands the best equipement available to save lives.

I've tried some of these big buck rigs and they are nice. But when I sat back down in front of the '740, I didn't feel as though I was deprived if I didn't have the super-station.

Yes, I know you can pay less than this; you don't have to buy the rig with all the bells and whistles, but you're still talking $1200-1500, which is kind of the point;  where do you draw the line?? How much QRM do you need to be able to cut before you feel ready to get on the air without a second mortgage to do so??
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N8FVJ
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« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2003, 10:42:06 AM »

With inflation added to that 1985 $500, the TS-570DG or FT-920 are radios that have about equal performance, size and more operating features. I say they are actually less expensive dollar wise although $900 to $1100 sounds like a lot of money to us older folks.

My concern is how long are these $1K excellent performers going to be available? Personally, I would not spend $2K on a new radio.

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WB2WIK
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« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2003, 03:36:23 PM »

The antennas have always done all the important work.  I'd much rather have a 20+ year-old IC-740 connected to beams on towers than a brand-new $3000 do-everything gizmo connected to verticals and wires.  No comparison in what you can work -- but it's always been that way.

I think ham gear costs less today than it ever has, adjusting for inflation.  You can't compare a used $500 IC-740 to a new IC-746PRO.  One was used, the other isn't.  A used IC-746, which is very feature-rich, will outperform the IC-740 in most ways, and includes 6m and 2m besides the HF bands (and an automatic antenna tuner to boot) can be purchased for $700 right now, today...only $200 more for a rig that's better in almost every way, not to mention 20 years newer.  Not bad.

In the mid-60's when I was first licensed, a new transceiver that covered only five bands (80-40-20-15-10m) and didn't work nearly as well as most modern gear cost about $599 and used lots of tubes.  Most of those rigs suffered mortalities after only about three or four years of operation, due to tube and heat issues.  Adjusting for inflation from 1966 to 2003, the 1966 $599 rig would cost about $5995 today (yes, inflation over the past 38 years has been approximately 10x, if you go by the cost of living index).

But antennas are really what's important, and their cost has barely changed over time.  A new Telrex 20M317 twenty meter, 3-element monobander in 1966 cost $300.  A brand new 20M 3-element monobander today also costs about $300.  Virtually zero change, over a period where the CLI has increased 10x.  Now, *that's* a deal!

WB2WIK/6
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N8FVJ
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« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2003, 09:12:50 AM »

No wonder those inexpensve WWII Command sets were a winner back in the '50s & early '60s.
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OBSERVER11
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« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2003, 09:05:10 PM »

and in 1972, a Drake TR-4 was $549, this of course did not include after market filters, a required power supply, microphone, or key. Of course it did not include a s-230 plug for the mic or the 1/4 inch plug for the key.. new rigs include a hand mic and the plugs. These were 1972 dollars too... what are they worth now? Also the TR-4 was five band, no built in keyer, no general coverage receiver either. So, while i would not lay out $2500 for a radio, a $500.00 dollar 2003 rig seems quite the bargain!
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W4JFR
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« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2003, 10:39:51 PM »

Just as a point of interest, according to US Commerce Department data, the US Consumer Price Index (CPI) grew by a factor of 5.51 (not ten-fold as previously asserted) between 1960 and 2000.  This means that what $100.00 would buy in 1960, would cost $551.00 in 2000.
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WA1RNE
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« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2003, 01:55:32 PM »

Thanks for all the opinions; some very good points; inflation, etc.

What I can't justify is this:  When I was first licensed in 1973, a pair of Drake twins was the ultimate (or an S-Line) and the Japanese rigs were just starting to get popular. The Drake twins ran around $1400 with a power supply/speaker which at the time was out of the question.

Instead, I opted for a new Yaesu FT101B for $668 which my Dad helped me buy.(Remember Harrison Radio?) A great rig that I still own. For the price, it did the job and I could work just about anyone the guy with the Drake twins could work with the exception of some of the really weak DX that you needed fancy filters/notch filters to pull them out. I got by with an audio filter and some decent antennas - which of course were the real key.

Today, you can buy a new Kenwood rig for around $600- or go for a used, slightly older rig that will also do a great job. For $2500-$3000, I was not impressed enough to justify this amount of money with so many other equipment options out there - very similar to the decision I made back in '73. The fancy DSP receivers are NICE, w/6, 2, 1.2gig, etc. added in is nice too. Then consider the current sunspot cycle and activity on 6 and 2 SSB,etc.

I just don't see  the extravagant big-buck rigs as being the smartest decision for "mainstream" amateurs.
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VE3TMT
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« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2003, 12:00:28 PM »

I started out with the good old FT101E.  Great radio for its day.  I've since owned my share of DSP equipped rigs, albeit AF DSP not IF, but have since gone back to another TS850S.  Regretted trading my first one away and couldn't wait to get another.  Probably one of the best sounding radios on the market today, new or used.
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N8FVJ
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« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2003, 04:05:03 PM »

I prefer my FT-101ZD to my FT-100D on HF. The FT-100D is used mostly on 6 & 2 meters.
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N2WEC
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« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2003, 04:10:41 PM »

Yes, even used gear is expensive. But I would buy a used radio from a reputable person or dealer before giong to an over priced "too many bells & whistles" rig. I Like WB2IWK/6 use and love the Yaesu 736R, a great rig for the money. Been around, tried and true.
N2WEC
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N2WEC
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« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2003, 04:12:14 PM »

Let me correct a typo and appologize I agree with WB2WIK/6
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N5XM
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Posts: 242




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« Reply #11 on: February 24, 2004, 07:15:35 PM »

I've only been in the hobby for 8 years.  My first HF rig was the venerable Kenwood 520.  I paid 250.00 for it and had a fabulous time learning to use it, and using it.  There are some great buys out there on good used rigs, but you gotta be willing to do your homework and put in the time looking everywhere you gotta look to find a nice deal.  There is no way I could have the judgement about rigs then that I have now.  I've been very lucky to have acquired very nice used gear, and I've had the patience to trade up over time as my understanding what made a great radio improved.  How can you rationalize spending even small dollars for a radio you don't really understand?  Another consideration, maybe the most important, is how much disposable income you have available.  I do well with my little home station, thank you, but if I had the money, I'd have stacks and multiple high dollar radios myself.  I haven't met a radio I didn't like, but hey, that is not what this hobby is really about.  
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KC0LTV
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Posts: 26




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« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2004, 11:52:40 PM »

I'd have to disagree.  Maybe it's just me, but gear seems to be cheaper than it was seven years ago when I got into the radio hobby.  You can buy a good HF/6 rig with a built-in live bandscope, color LCD screen with different fonts and wallpapers (not too important, but still...) IF-DSP, built-in ATU, and great performance characteristics for $2250 (IC-756PRO2) with a free power supply unit (although I hear it produces bad hash) new...unimaginable then.  Sure, a promotion, but promotions on radios aren't too rare.  Or for under $1350 another high-performance transciever with the same or similar IFDSP engine, ATU, and 100W on 2 meters as well with free PSU (same as before)!  Such a deal would be unheard of at the time.  Personally, I'd have to think that prices are improving, if anything, and an inflation-adjusted dollar goes a lot further than it once did.

(Prices from AES, not that I'm trying to promote them or anything)
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KC0LTV
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« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2004, 11:58:43 PM »

Your $1400 "Drake Twins" would cost $5795.50 today (at least in 2003), according to < http://minneapolisfed.org/research/data/us/calc/ > .  For that price, I could buy a Ten-Tec Orion with internal ATU, PSU, and speaker, and still have plenty of money to burn on antennas and the like.   The $670 product you mentioned would now be $2,773.  
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