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Author Topic: HF/UHF/VHF rig vs seperate rigs  (Read 1033 times)
AI4LG
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Posts: 16




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« on: September 17, 2005, 10:17:36 AM »

Building a station after 20+ year absence.  Much has changed!  Intend to use 50% home base and 50% portable during extended motorhome trips - CW, phone, digital. Can someone help me with the +/- of the HF/UHF/VHF All Mode rig vs seperate rigs - beyond the obvious ability to monitor both simultaneously?  Is the performance of the 'one rig' models compromised?  If so, biased in which direction?  Other things to consider in making this decison?

No luck on a search on this specific issue.  If I missed it, please point me to the thread!

TNX
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WA4MJF
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Posts: 1003




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« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2005, 06:55:41 PM »

IMHO, seperate rigs are better.

You don't have all your eggs in one basket.

73 de Ronnie
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WA9SVD
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Posts: 2198




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« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2005, 09:50:22 AM »

Benefits of a "DC to Light " transceiver:

1.  All your eggs are in one basket.  You have only ONE radio to worry about, lug around for portable/rover/etc. use.
2.  You don't need multiple power cables, power supplies, microphones, and other accessories creating a rat's nest that even rat's couldn't figure out.  (Don't ask how I know...)
3.  Less space taken up at the operating position and in the shack, especially if space is tight.
4.  You don't have to learn how to operate/program/etc. a half dozen seperate radios.

5.  You don't get the pleasure of bragging/complaining about all the radios you own.


DISADVANTAGES:

1.  All your eggs are in one basket.  If something goes wrong, you ARE completely off the air on HF, VHF, and UHF all at the same time, until repairs are finished, whether it's a "DIY" fix or needs professional service.

2.  You have limited capability to monitor on more than one or two bands at a time.

3.  There is ALWAYS a compromise in operating features/performance of some sort when using an "all-in-one."

================================================
Advantages of seperate radios:
1. Your eggs are in more than one basket.  If you drop one, I mean, one radio dies, you are not completely off the air on other bands.

2.  Performance can be better optimized when radios fit a narrower scope.  (E.g. you don't necessarily want the same operating parameters/features on 80/75 Meters as you would want/require on 70 cm.)

3.  It's easy to monitor two or more bands at the same time.

4.  You may not need to switch antennas or antenna feedlines (either manually or by switch) when changing bands, such as from HF to VHF.

DISADVANTAGES of Seperate Radios:

1.  Your eggs are in multiple baskets.  You have to provide the extra space at the operating position and in the shack to accomodate two or more radios.

2.  Multiple power cables and/or power supplies to power multiple radios.

3.  Even a ravenous, cross-eyed gopher wouldn't be able to find it's way through the convoluted rat's nest of power cables, sound card interfaces, etc. necessary with multiple radios.

4.  if one radio dies, you will (most likely) have to tear the station apart to get it untalgled from the rest of the equipment.  (Again, don't ask how I know!)

5.  You NEVER know which mic to pick up when responding to that rare DX or brief Meteor Scatter contact... Or which radio is connected to the digital software on the shack computer.  (Using WSJT on 20M phone is not exactly "Good Amateur Practice,"  nor is calling CQ 20 Meters on 432.100 MHz.)

 

    One more thing:  Multiple rafdios WILL cost more than a single radio, But you will (most likely) get better performance from multiple radios.  It's a toss up, to be sure, and a personal choice and decision.
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AI4KK
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Posts: 107




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« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2005, 08:40:12 AM »

Great answer. You did an awesome job of laying out the pluses and negatives for each. Like you said, it's a personal decision and each of us has our own best answer. For me personally, I wanted good HF and VHF performance in my jumpkit. Some of the lessons I've learned this past year influenced what I was looking for. While we may be facing some different constraints and limits, perhaps what I considered might give you food for thought in your situation.

I wanted a setup that would at least do the following:

HF - I have used this at least once or twice on 2 of my deployments deployments this year.

2M-440 Crossband repeat- have wished I could use this a few times this year. It wasn't uncommon for hams to park outside their assigned post and then stroll around using an HT to maintain contact with the EOC via their crossband repeater in the car. If you drive a motorhome, this would be great for talking out of places that you can't take that monster.

VHF SSB - could have used that more than a couple of times for long-range simplex when the repeater was knocked out. With the proliferation of Swiss-army knife radios that include all-band all-mode, there are getting to be more and more folks on this band/mode to talk to.

Digital - while we haven't used it in an ES role yet, they keep threatening to.

The inability to crossband repeat and the feeling that any radio designed to do everything can't do it all as well as purpose-designed radios were the main reasons I didn't go for the 706. Of course, the 2A draw on receive and $1,000.00+ price tag weren't huge advantages either.

I ended up with a used IC-703+ for $455 inc. the 500hz CW filter. It is small (same size as the 706), but in place of the 2m/44 and 100w finals, it has an auto antenna tuner, DSP, a TCXO, and speech compression, all valid enhancements for HF operating....and when you hook that up to something like an Elecrafter VX144 transverter, all are good things on VHF SSB as well. It also covers 6M, which is fine by me since I don't have a 6M rig, and techically speaking, 6M seems much closer to HF than VHF and therefor not as much of a compromise. The 10W output is not much of a handicap since I have a 150W amplifier and the same goes for the 20W output of the transverter since my VHF amp is 100W.

I am also looking for a good used FT-8900 or the like to use as a crossband repeater and primary VHF FM radio. Since the IC-703+ also has FM modes, it could be used for VHF FM in a pinch via the transverter, but am sure it would never work as well as a purpose-designed rig.

All of this fits in an Icom LC-156 backpack along with a yo-tenna, a wire hanging j-pole, a 9.5 A/hr NiMH battery pack, and a couple of coax jumpers. In the mobile, it sits between the seats of my Suburban or the radios are pulled out of the backpack and fastened in QR brackets - which may or may not happen since I rarely operate HF mobile and already have a VHF mobile installed in the truck. I intend to use the same radios at home, operating them from the backpack just like I would on a deployment, in effect operating portable from home.

A pelican case will carry other support equipment such as amplifiers, power supplies and battery chargers plus a bigger battery pack and longer rolls of coax for getting an antenna up higher. It would also hold my 12V laptop (an Itronix 266 that is water and impact-resistant) and a TNC. For extended deployments (like our week in MS), I have several deep-cycle batteries from our sailboats that I carry in the back of my Suburban plus the old blue action-packerfor everything else I might take as spares etc.

The advantages of this setup are:

Covers the bands and modes listed above

Small enough to backpack - you don't know what fun is until you've had to move across an airport ramp with a rucksack full of camping gear, a Rubbermaid action-packer full of ham gear, a briefcase-style satellite telephone/radio, plus a case of MREs and a case of bottled water that were thrown in at the last moment. I want my station small enough to fit in a school-sized backpack (like my LC-156 from Icom) at an absolute bare minimum (just enough to get on the air with HF and VHF), with everything else that might be needed in a wheeled pelican case with tie-downs on the top so that I can also use it as a cart.

Each of the radios are very good at what they do. There are no compromises that I don't want to make, and with the transverter, I even have a measure of redundancy should my 2M radio fail. Yes, an all-band all-mode might do a better job of SSB 2m, but those are huge, heavy, and expensive, plus probably do not have half the features of the 703.
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